Source: White House webcast.

President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act during a White House ceremony on Dec. 11, 2015. He is flanked by Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, left, and Patty Murray, D-Washington, right, whom Obama praised for their bipartisan leadership in guiding the bill through Congress.

Calling a bipartisan bill signing a “Christmas miracle,” President Barack Obama wasted no time signing the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, titled the Every Student Succeeds Act, which the Senate had overwhelming approved less than 24 hours earlier.

The law replaces the current – and now mostly  maligned – iteration of the act, the No Child Left Behind law, or its acronym, NCLB.

“This law makes long overdue fixes to the education law, replacing the one-size-fits-all approach to reform,” Obama said. “It creates real a partnership between the states, which will have new flexibility to tailor their improvement plans, and the federal government, which will have the oversight to make sure that the plans are sound.”

The law commits states and schools, he said, to focus on “the national goal of ensuring all students graduate prepared for college and future careers” and it “requires states to invest in helping students and schools improve the lowest-performing schools and close their achievement gaps.” Obama also praised the law for  working with states to reduce the amount of standardized testing and for its commitment to early leaning. “We know that early years can make a huge difference in a child’s life, so this law lays the foundation to expand access to high-quality preschools.”

The speed at which the president signed the law was a marked contrast to the eight years of gridlock in Congress on the NCLB law since it came up for reauthorization.

However, it will be awhile before the nation’s schools are entirely out of the shadows cast by NCLB. This law only takes effect in the 2017-18 school year, and as Obama warned this morning, “now the hard work begins.”

“Laws are only as good as their implementation,” he said. “We have to make the promises of this law a reality.”

Obama pointed to progress that has been made during his administration in reducing dropout rates, increasing both high school and college graduation rates. But, he said, “We are here because we know there is a lot more work to be done. We know there are other schools that are not hitting the mark yet.

 


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  1. Gary Ravani 6 months ago6 months ago

    Finally, the legislatively recognized fact that the top-down, command-and-control, model--from the federal level, to the state level, to the district level, to the school level, to the classroom level--flat did not work. In fact, good documentation from the National Research Council, and many others, indicated that NCLB style, market based style, pseudo-accountability style, standards and testing based style, was counterproductive for learning in the country. The recently released NAEP scores clearly showed the national needle … Read More

    Finally, the legislatively recognized fact that the top-down, command-and-control, model–from the federal level, to the state level, to the district level, to the school level, to the classroom level–flat did not work. In fact, good documentation from the National Research Council, and many others, indicated that NCLB style, market based style, pseudo-accountability style, standards and testing based style, was counterproductive for learning in the country. The recently released NAEP scores clearly showed the national needle had not moved over the course of the life of NCLB. The main, among a number, of reasons for this, explained by some almost incessantly, was that the wrong groups, local school administrators and teachers were being held “accountable” for conditions over which they has no control: the community support systems, first language, and economic and social backgrounds of students. And then there was funding, a particularly abysmal subject for CA schools.

    Some will suggest CCSS run counter to the new era of flexibility introduced at the federal and state levels. And they could be right, if implementation goes awry and the policy prescriptions of the usual group of school critics, who have been solidly wrong for over a decade about policy issues, are followed and some evil twin of NCLB emerges. However, it does appear that current trends are moving in the direction of more flexibility for the school system and more autonomy for classroom teachers. Those developments can only be a good thing for learning and students.

  2. Mary 6 months ago6 months ago

    Is there any more federal ed office needed now? How will “slow” states be pushed to quality education? I am looking forward to more in-depth reporting on the new state of ed particularly with regards to achievement goals, transparency, assessments and accountability as well as parent’s role and choices.

  3. Tabitha Fenn 6 months ago6 months ago

    thank god now my disabled daughter now has a chance to get an education .thank you to all who helped get this passed

  4. Don 6 months ago6 months ago

    You can be sure that when republicans and democrats agree on anything in Congress it is going to be a watered down compromise with giveaways for each party’s support. And that is exactly what it is.

    Replies

    • Tom 6 months ago6 months ago

      Agree that our congress has been pretty bad the last several decades with all the influence and pandering to ALL interest groups, special exemptions, etc. However, would argue that a vote of congress is preferable to executive orders from King Obama, Queen Hillary, or King Trump! The founding fathers are rolling over in their graves about the abuses of executive orders and little that can be done about it. All … Read More

      Agree that our congress has been pretty bad the last several decades with all the influence and pandering to ALL interest groups, special exemptions, etc. However, would argue that a vote of congress is preferable to executive orders from King Obama, Queen Hillary, or King Trump! The founding fathers are rolling over in their graves about the abuses of executive orders and little that can be done about it. All citizens of whatever stripes should be worried.

  5. Tom 6 months ago6 months ago

    Nice to see Republicans and Democrats agreeing to something on education! There is a lot more to this story and I look forward to deeper reporting particularly what flexibility the States are allowed on testing, common core, etc.

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