Education Week December 10, 2010 Posted
President Signs ESEA Rewrite, Giving States, Districts Bigger Say on Policy
For the past quarter century, federal education policy has been moving in one direction: toward standards-based education redesign, a greater reliance on standardized tests, and bigger role for Washington when it comes to holding schools accountable for student results.
President Barack Obama reversed course with the stroke of a pen Thursday, putting states and districts back at the wheel when it comes to teacher evaluation, standards, school turnarounds, and accountability, through a new iteration of the five-decade old Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Before signing the legislation, Obama said the Every Student Succeeds Act "builds on the reforms that have helped us make so much progress already."
"This bill upholds the core value that animated the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act signed by President Lyndon Johnson, the value that says education, the key to economic opportunity, is a civil right," Obama said.
He said that while the authors of the No Child Left Behind Act, the previous iteration of ESEA, were well-intentioned, "In practice it often fell short" and led to too much time spent on testing, among other problems. And while his administration offered NCLB waivers, he said, "The truth is, that could only do so much."
Standing before a packed and smiling audience, Obama praised the law for, among other things, focusing on putting students on track to be ready for college and career.
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