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Obama Signs Every Student Succeeds Act

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Thursday, December 10, President Obama signed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said in a statement, “Great news! This morning, President Obama officially signed the Every Student Succeeds Act into law. This has been a long and difficult process, but I am pleased we have now replaced No Child Left Behind with a new law that gives greater control over K-12 education to the states and local school districts. The bill also includes strong language to prevent the federal Secretary of Education from coercing states into adopting Common Core or other academic standards. The Obama Administration did not like those provisions, but I am glad the President ultimately agreed to sign the bill.”

While many conservatives supported the legislation which limited the federal government’s control over K-12 education.  US Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) thought the bill did not go far enough to end what he called, “Unnecessary federal intervention into education.”

Sen. Shelby said in a statement, “While this bill may be well-intentioned and makes some improvements to our current policy, it is a missed opportunity to truly put an end to unnecessary federal intervention into education.  I have always believed that education decisions should be made at a local level and that Congress should empower parents and teachers – not Washington bureaucrats.  Instead, this bill extends some of the same failed policies that could provide a path for top-down federal mandates like Common Core.”

Sen. Shelby said, “I know that local communities make better decisions for their students, parents, teachers, and administrators than Washington does.  That is why I will continue to fight against bureaucratic red-tape and misguided policies like Common Core.  It’s time to restore local control over our nation’s education system and get Washington out of our classrooms.”

US Representative Martha Roby supported the legislation.

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Congresswoman Roby said, “The federal government has overstepped its bounds in education policy and it’s we have to rein it in.  Our ‘state authority’ provisions will prevent undue influence by the federal government by taking away the Department of Education’s ability to attach curriculum and assessment policy strings to special grants and waivers. Local and state leaders are best positioned to determine policies that affect Alabama’s students because they have direct interaction with parents and teachers in their communities.”

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement, “This bipartisan plan — the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) — is good news for our nation’s schools. It is a compromise that builds on the work already underway in states to raise expectations for students and to help them graduate college and career-ready. The bill reflects many of the priorities we’ve put forward over the last six and a half years…Today, high school graduation rates are at all-time highs. Dropout rates are at historic lows. And more students are going to college than ever before. That’s thanks to educators across the country.  ESSA will help cement that progress. All students will be taught to high learning standards that will prepare them for success in college and career. More children will have access to high-quality preschool, delivering educational opportunity earlier for our nation’s youngest learners.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) also supports ESSA.  Ryan said, “This is the biggest rewrite of our education laws in 25 years. This shows what we can do when both parties work together. With this bill, we are sending power back to the people. We’re saying no more Washington-mandated interventions. Instead, we let the states write their own standards. And we require them to publish the results so that parents can hold them accountable. We consolidate 49 duplicative programs. And we send that money back to the states.  We also give parents more choices by promoting high-quality charter schools.  I am very proud of this bill. I’m very proud of our members and our conferees. All of our members have done fine work. This is a good moment. And so I want to commend them on a job well done.”

ESSA replaces the controversial No Child Left Behind Act promoted by President George W. Bush (R) and the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).

Hash Tags: ESSA, Alabama, education, President Barack Obama, Sen. Richard Shelby, Congress, Rep. Martha Roby, Rep. Bradley Byrne, No Child Left Behind, Common Core, Common Core, Arne Duncan

Brandon Moseley
Written By

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with over nine years at Alabama Political Reporter. During that time he has written 8,297 articles for APR. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.