Eliminating ESSA protections won’t help our students

Including strong accountability regulations in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was critical to NCLR’s support for the law. We worked closely with stakeholders and the Obama administration to help draft and provide meaningful feedback on those rules, which are designed to better track and improve children’s educational performance. However, the recent House vote to strip ESSA of those accountability protections is cause for concern. If the repeal succeeds, it could have dramatic consequences for children around the country.

The accountability regulations guiding states on how to craft their ESSA state plans were finalized this past November. Under ESSA, states were given considerable leeway to create their own accountability plans. However, ensuring equity requires a strong federal responsibility to step in when schools consistently fail to meet the needs of low-income and minority children. The Trump administration has been vocal about their opposition to these accountability protections, and this sentiment was acted on by the House vote to overturn them. Even though a letter from Secretary DeVos encouraged states to continue their planned timelines, she also emphasized that the U.S. Department of Education would be assessing the law in hopes of requiring only what they view as absolutely necessary under ESSA.

When the draft regulations were released last May, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía outlined why having strong accountability is so crucial for Latino students:

“Latino students account for 25% of our nation’s public school students and their success is intrinsically tied to our nation’s future economic success,” said Murguía. “These new regulations are a step in the right direction to ensure that the state accountability systems are serving the interests of all of our nation’s schoolchildren.”

Abandoning these hard-won accountability protections would be a setback for Latino kids at a time when they most need support to continue the gains that we have seen in achievement. The regulations the House voted to strip from the bill would have provided such support.

For children, parents, and other family members interested in preserving accountability in one of our signature civil rights laws, NCLR has resources for you to use to help fight this misguided policy. Whether at the state level or the federal level, we need your help in making sure lawmakers understand how ESSA helps our community, and why the rollback of accountability regulations would hurt our kids.

You can continue to follow this issue by signing up with our Action Network. With your help, we can make sure that all of our kids can receive a fair, world-class education that sets them up for future success.

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This week, states submit their final plans to the Department of Education about how they’ll measure student success based on rules set in the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA. […]