Opinion
Federal Opinion

To See the Future of Education, Look Beyond ESEA

By Robert Rothman — January 16, 2015 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Over the past week, much of Washington’s education-policy community has been consumed with talk of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (and a former U.S. Secretary of Education) introduced a “discussion draft” bill, and Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the committee’s ranking Democrat, outlined her principles for reauthorization in a speech on the Senate floor.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also laid out his ideas for reauthorization, and numerous policy groups, civil rights organizations, and think tanks issued statements and papers putting forth their plans. Twitter has been lighting up with comments from partisans on all sides.

While the activity suggests that the long-delayed reauthorization might actually happen, much of the discussion focuses on fighting the last war, as Bob Wise, the president of my organization, the Alliance for Excellent Education, put it recently. The biggest flash points appear to be over whether to require states to test students in every grade or just some grades, and whether the federal government should relax some requirements and allow states to make more decisions on their own. That is, the fights are over whether to retain or scrap provisions in the twelve-year-old No Child Left Behind Act. There is little discussion about the future of education and how the federal law might support that.

Two other, less-heralded, events from last week are more heartening. They show that some people in Washington, at least, are looking ahead to what education can be.

One was the release of a report by the Innovation Lab Network, a group of leading-edge states working under the auspices of the Council of Chief State School Officers (and a regular contributor to this blog). The report offers a guide to states to support local districts in developing and advancing student-centered, personalized learning models. It presents decisions state departments of education need to make around the expectations for student learning, how those expectations will be assessed at all levels, how measures of learning inform accountability and reporting, and how to support schools. The report also shows that these ideas are not just dreams for the future--it provides examples of states that are already moving in this direction.

Another promising event was the announcement by the Department of Education and the Alliance for Excellent Education of twelve regional summits for district leaders. These summits, part of the “Future Ready” initiative, will allow more than 500 leaders to share ideas and access resources to help them design new education systems that harness the power of technology to support higher levels of learning for all students. But while technology will undergird the efforts, the real focus is on student learning goals and how to meet them, with technology as a supporting element.

To be sure, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is critically important. Since its original passage fifty years ago, the law has played a vital role in promoting and ensuring equity. But in 2015, new ideas are needed to realize the promise of an excellent education for every child. The ILN report and the Future Ready initiative show that these ideas are on the table.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Learning Deeply are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Feds to Probe Whether Texas Ban on School Mask Mandates Violates Disability Rights Laws
The Education Department has already opened investigations in six other states that ban universal school mask requirements.
2 min read
A staff member holds the door open for kids on the first day of school at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.
A staff member holds the door open at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas in 2020. This year, Texas has prohibited school districts from requiring all students to wear masks.
Mikala Compton/Herald-Zeitung via AP
Federal New Federal Team to Work on Puerto Rico School Improvement, Oversight
The Puerto Rico Education Sustainability Team will focus on creating better learning environments and improving financial management.
3 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Teresa Canino Rivera/GDA via AP
Federal Pandemic Tests Limits of Cardona's Collaborative Approach as Education Secretary
He's sought the image of a veteran educator among former peers, but COVID has forced him to take a tough stance toward some state leaders.
10 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during their visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during a visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP