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Bentley Endorses “Every Student Succeeds Act”


By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Monday, November 30, the National Governors Association (NGA) has issued an endorsement of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which could be voted on by the US House of Representatives as early as this week.

robert-bentley2Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) supports the legislation.  Gov. Bentley said in a statement: “Every state, school and classroom needs the certainty and fairness of a flexible education law,” said Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, vice chair of the committee. “We support this bill because it provides governors a central role in implementation and governance and gives us the flexibility to shape our schools and prepare our students from early childhood into the workforce.”

The National Governors Association has not endorsed a bill in nearly 20 years, demonstrating the strong bipartisan support for the legislation.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) said, “We want to ensure that every student receives a strong foundation for future success.  ESSA will help provide that foundation by facilitating great work at the state level, like the bipartisan committee we established in Virginia to propose innovative testing reforms. This bill proves that a high-quality education for all and state flexibility can and must coexist.”

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert (R) said, “This is a significant step in the right direction in our work to ensure state control of education policy. This bill reinforces that accountability and responsibility for K-12 education rests with the states.  It is a clear example of cooperative federalism, which is a core tenant of this association. It emphasizes that states and localities have the freedom to provide students the world-class education they deserve.”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee wrote, “The Every Student Succeeds Act received this historic endorsement because it underpins the work and innovation taking place in the states to increase educational opportunity for all students, and because current federal requirements are unworkable.  Governors have been working diligently with Congress to ensure that our priorities are included in reforming federal education law. We greatly appreciate the hard work and leadership of the bill’s sponsors.”

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The conference report for the Every Student Succeeds Act is expected to be voted on by the House this week. It will then move to the Senate.

Alabama School Board Member Betty Peters (R) is not in favor of passage.  She wrote in a statement, “Remember Gov. Bentley campaigned against the Common Core State Standards Initiative in 2010. Then he spoke quite eloquently at the 2011 AL State School Board meeting when he, Stephanie Bell and I voted to repeal CC. Now he’s Vice Chair of this important NGA committee and is one of four governors to be quoted for their support of this bill. Remember, the National Governors’ Assoc., along with the Council of Chief State School Officers, worked with ACHIEVE to develop the CCSS and the former two trade organizations own the copyrights to standards.”

Peters said, “Those who rightfully criticized Nancy Pelosi for rushing bills thorough without giving Congress or the public time to study them (she said you can read the bill after you pass it) should be shamed by the public if they vote to sneak this through. We the parents and grandparents are not “speed readers” and we need at least a month to read and discuss such a long, complex bill. And can our representatives cast an informed vote when they haven’t read the bill either? What is the big hurry–Congress saw no rush in reauthorizing the long-expired ESEA law. Why not wait until we have a NEW president who can work WITH US on getting an excellent bill that will serve our students well? Please call your rep tomorrow and ask him or her to VOTE NO.   The capital switchboard is 202 224-3121. Thanks. Betty”

National Journal’s Emily DeRuy wrote that the massive overhaul of the increasingly unpopular No Child Left Behind Act does several things: It would reauthorize the nation’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act for four years instead of the standard five, giving the new President the ability to change it; Dozens of programs would be rolled into a single block grant and states would have more flexibility in how they use the funds; States would still be required to test students’ math and reading abilities each year between the third and eighth grades and once in high school, but teachers jobs will not be tied to the scores and the federal government would no longer be able to set consequences for schools that fall below that mark; States have to track how sub­groups of students including English language learners and poor students are doing; It would still require that states file plans for intervening in schools that are in the bottom 5 percent, high schools with graduation rates below 67 percent, and schools where subgroups are struggling;  States have to have standards, but not necessarily the controversial Common Core standards.

This is the version of the bill that has been approved by the Conference Committee so no amendments are allowed at this point.  It will be a straight up or down vote in both houses.  If it passes the Republican controlled House, it will then go on to the Senate.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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