By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, March 17, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) announced he has established a State implementation committee for the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
Gov. Bentley said, “Every state, school and classroom needs the certainty and fairness of a flexible education law. I support the Every Student Succeeds Act 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. This legislation is the greatest devolution of federal powers to the state in 25 years. I challenge Alabama’s implementation committee to create a plan that will continue to move Alabama’s education system forward while keeping in mind the needs of the students being taught.”
Alabama Legislative Watchdogs Director and Rainy Day Patriots Co-Chair Ann Eubank said, “The Governor has only expanded the educational bureaucracy, again. Seems to be one of the things he does best. The more government involved in education the better, right?” Eubank is an outspoken critic of the Common Core aligned Alabama College and Career Ready Standards as well as federal education policy.
Congress passed and President Barack H. Obama signed ESSA into law on December 10, 2015. ESSA replaces the very controversial No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Proponents argue that the legislation shifts the power of education from the federal government and returns power and control to the states to determine best practices for the implementation of academic standards, testing, accountability, school improvement and teacher quality. Opponents argue that it leaves too much power in the hands of federal bureaucrats at the US Department of Education.
The law requires that each state develop a state plan for implementing the new law.
Governor Bentley announced that the Alabama ESSA Committee will consist of the following members or their designee: two vice chairs, appointed by the Alabama State Schools Superintendent; two appointments by each Alabama State Board of Education member, excluding the Governor; the Secretary of the Department of Early Childhood Education; the Governor’s Education Policy Advisor; the new Director of the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs; three representatives in workforce development programs or related entities appointed by the Governor; a representative of the Alabama Public Charter School Commission, appointed by the Governor; one member from the Alabama Senate, appointed by the Senate President Pro Tem; one member from the Alabama House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the House; and additional members as needed, appointed by the Governor.
Eubank added, “The recent US Senate approval of John King as the Secretary of Education signals, to those of us who know how radical he is, that federal control of education has not, and will not lessen. As long as we accept the “Federal Dollars for Education,” we must accept the federal rules. What Governor Bentley didn’t say was that the Feds have to approve what these state committees do. So how has ESSA changed anything?” “Until we reject the “payola” from the Department of Education and return to total Alabama educational sovereignty, the Federal government can, and does, tell Alabama what we will, and will not, teach our children.”
The Committee will submit the final Alabama ESSA plan by December 1, 2016.