Home > Uncategorized > Washington Post’s Education Writer Valerie Strauss Provides Excellent Synopsis of ESSA’s Flaws

Washington Post’s Education Writer Valerie Strauss Provides Excellent Synopsis of ESSA’s Flaws

I’ve written several posts decrying those organizations who supported ESSA’s passage, primarily because it sustains the testing regimen imposed by NCLB without providing the compensatory funding that was the original intent of Federal legislation. Valerie Strauss, the Washington Post education writer, provided a comprehensive analysis of ESSA earlier this month that flagged several other flaws that I missed in earlier posts, including:

  • Use of federal funds for “Pay for Success” programs allow wealthy investors to make profits from education investments, an issue that has concerned some special education advocates.
  • States will be required to fund “equitable services” for children in private and religious schools who are deemed eligible, and they must appoint an “ombudsman” to make sure the schools get their money.
  • The inability of the Secretary of Education to “mandate, Direct, control, coerce, or to exercise any direction or supervision over any of the challenging state academic standards adopted or implemented by a State”
  • The legislation provides for the use of federal funds by states and districts for a program known as “Pay for Success” in which investors put money into programs and make profits when a specific goal is reached. (See a recent post on Goldman Sachs’ pre-school program in Utah for how privatizers can rig the metrics to make sure they get compensated for “success”). 
Given the way this bill was rolled out— the details were withheld until hours before it was voted upon— I expect to see many troubling details emerge in the coming weeks and months. Here’s hoping progressive states like NH and VT can seize the opportunities in ESSA to show the way for other states where “reformers” will “run schools like a business”.

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