Home > Uncategorized > ESSA’s Warts Becoming Increasingly Evident

ESSA’s Warts Becoming Increasingly Evident

Washington Post article this weekend and a blog post by Diane Ravtich follower Peter Greene point out the warts in the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.

Valerie Strauss, the Washington Post education write turns over her column to Kenneth Zeichner, a professor of teacher education at the University of Washington at Seattle, whose column cites his “deep concerns”, which include:

* Provisions in the legislation for the establishment of teacher preparation academies are written to primarily support non-traditional, non-university programs such as those funded by venture philanthropists.

The legislation “oversteps the authority of the federal government” in several ways, including by declaring that

…the completion of a program in an academy run by an organization other than a university results in a certificate of completion that may be recognized by states as “at least the equivalent of a master’s degree in education for the purpose of hiring, retention, compensation, and promotion in the state.”  The federal government absolutely has no business in suggesting what should and what should not count as the equivalent of a master’s degree in individual states.

* The legislation seeks to mandate “definitions of the content of teacher education programs and methods of program approval that are state responsibilities.” As a result, it lowers “standards for teacher education programs that prepare teachers for high-poverty schools … by exempting teacher preparation academies from what are referred to as ‘unnecessary restrictions on the methods of the academy.’ ”

In short, the bill opens the door for the privatization of programs for teacher training and could conceivably water down the requirements needed for entry in to teaching. It is unclear how this will help close the learning gaps the federal legislation is supposed to do…. but very clear who benefits.

The title of Peter Greene’s post will sound familiar to those who’ve read my critiques of ESSA: “ESSA Doesn’t Solve Any Problems, It Shifts Them to States”. His post highlights the disparities that are likely to emerge as the bill is put in place but misses two big point in doing so. First, he doesn’t mention the compromised curriculum standards that will undoubtedly occur once anti-evolution State Boards and anti-climate change legislatures delve into science education. And secondly, and most important, the passage of this bill with support from teachers and both parties means that public education policy will not be a part of the national debate moving forward. Given the massive amounts of money privatizers have invested in candidates in both parties, this is clearly not a bug… it is a feature. As states begin implementing their new policies, I shudder to think what Abbott (TX), Brownback (KS), Walker (WI), Rauner (IL), Kasich (OH), and Christie (NJ) will dream up… and those are only the first tier of pro-privatization governors. ESSA isn’t only shifting problems to states, it’s giving states the opportunity to solve them by eliminating the union work force altogether.



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