Ohio to Delay Submitting Education Plan for Federal ESSA

Ohio School Superintendent Paolo DeMaria [Mark Urycki / ideastream]
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The Ohio School Superintendent plans to hold off on submitting the state’s new education plan to the federal government next month.  The move comes the same day that the US Secretary of Education announced that states would have much more flexibility.   

Secretary Betsy DeVos and Congress are stripping away many of the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA and its predecessor No Child Left Behind.  She dropped one requirement that states take input from stakeholders such as educators and parents. 

Coincidentally, Ohio school superintendent Paolo DeMaria said it was speaking to stakeholders that stopped him from submitting Ohio’s proposal next month, as planned.

“I didn’t want the submission of this template to be a divisive event and I felt that’s where things sort of stood,” said DeMaria.

The president of the national American Federation of Teachers union Randi Weingarten released a statement saying DeVos is betraying the intent of the law.

“One of the problems of education reform over the last two decades was the attempt by billionaires and politicians to impose top-down dictates about what schools should do and how they should do it, and to strip the voices of those closest to kids—their parents and teachers. That was changed by ESSA through its requirement of ‘stakeholder engagement,’ which brings in parent and teacher voices and reflects America’s deep connection to public education,” according to the AFT statement.

In Ohio, DeMaria said the legislature is not on board with his ESSA template.  House Education Committee chairman Andrew Brenner said the delay is a good idea and Senate Education chair Peggy Lehner agreed.

“This decision to withhold our application at this time I think is smart, especially since ESSA might go away before we actually do it,” Lehner quipped.

Critics have argued the state’s ESSA plan didn’t do enough to reduce testing but DeMaria spent an hour spent explaining to the Ohio Board of Education that most state testing is required by the feds.  But in pausing to rethink the state’s approach to ESSA, he downplayed the role of Washington.

“The federal government is a very minor partner education in the state of Ohio, right?  And so even as we go forward we should give more credence to our own desires, for own policies, for our own students, for our own educators,” DeMaria said.

The state will submit its ESSA plan in September.  

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