ESEA: What Should Reauthorization Look Like?
Although the Show-Me Institute typically focuses on state-level education policy issues, discussions regarding the controversial Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) have been popping up lately.
The ESEA was created in 1965 as a part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” The statute funds state primary and secondary education. Currently, Missouri school districts receive about 10 percent of revenue from the federal government.
The ESEA has been reauthorized every five years, and each presidential administration has left its mark on the original act. Most recently, it was reauthorized during the Bush Administration as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Because Congress has not reauthorized the act during Obama’s presidency, there is concern the administration might be using the act as leverage to incite favored reforms.
The Department of Education has instituted “waivers” from NCLB. The adoption of the Common Core State Standards and tying teacher evaluations to student data are policies states must adopt to receive a waiver. Waivers have faced criticism, as, under similar conditions, some states have received them while others have not. Last month, Oklahoma was given its waiver back.
The question is: Assuming states continue to receive federal monies (and the act will be reauthorized), what should the ESEA’s reauthorization look like?
In an op-ed in the Washington Times, Heritage Foundation Fellow Lindsey Burke made the following recommendations:
- Eliminate any federal mandates concerning NCLB;
- Reduce the number of programs associated with NCLB; and
- Allow states more portability with Title 1, the component of NCLB that allows students in failing schools the option of transferring to a higher-quality public school.
Burke’s recommendations don’t end federal intrusion into state education altogether, but this does seem to be a compromise between keeping the ESEA and giving power back to the states.
Should the federal government stay out of education completely, including federal funding? What do you think of Burke’s recommendations?