Thursday, December 10, 2015

President Obama signs No Child Left Behind rewrite into law, and says that the new education law, which is dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act, is a "Christmas miracle...." By Cleveland Urban News.Com Editor-in-Chief Kathy Wray Coleman

By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News. Com and the Cleveland Urban News.Com Blog, Ohio's Most Read Online Black Newspaper and Newspaper Blog. Tel: 216-659-0473. Email: Coleman is a 23-year political, educational, legal and investigative journalist who trained for 17 years, and under six different editors, at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio.  

CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, CLEVELAND, OHIO-WASHINGTON, D.C.-President Obama, on Thursday, signed  the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law, a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which,  itself, was a re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965.

Calling the new education law a Christmas miracle, the president said that “there is nothing more essential to living up to the ideals of this nation than to make sure every child is able to live up to their God-given potential.”

Once  dubbed an unfunded mandate by teachers unions reluctant to embrace the legislative initiative, ESSA  minimizes the role of the federal government by giving states  and local school districts more autonomy.

It does, however, maintain  the standardized testing mandate that Obama says is in place to hold school districts and educators more accountable relative to educational outcomes.

Whether standardized testing is the proper yardstick for assessing student achievement is debatable, some educational scholars argue, particularly since Black  children,  due in part  to cultural bias, socioeconomic factors, and still existing vestiges of racial discrimination, traditionally do not fare as well as their White counterparts. 

The president said yesterday that the K-12 federal legislation transcends the educational arena. 

“I want this not just because it’s good for the students themselves, the communities involved and for our economy, but because it really goes to the essence of what we are about as Americans,” said Obama.

The bipartisan  measure includes many of the reforms the Obama administration has called on Congress to enact and follows more that eight years of infighting between congressional Republicans and Democrats.

Key components of ESSA include the following:

-Holding all students to high academic standards that prepare them for success in college and careers.

-Ensuring accountability by guaranteeing that when students fall behind, states redirect resources into what works to help them and their schools improve, with a particular focus on the very lowest-performing schools, high schools with high dropout rates, and schools with achievement gaps.

-Empowering state and local decision-makers to develop their own strong systems for school improvement based upon evidence, rather than imposing cookie-cutter federal solutions like the No Child Left Behind Act did.

-Reducing the often onerous burden of testing on students and teachers, making sure that tests don’t crowd out teaching and learning, without sacrificing clear, annual information parents and educators need to make sure our children are learning.

-Providing more children access to high-quality preschool.

-Establishing new resources for proven strategies that will spur reform and drive opportunity and better outcomes for America’s students.(