WILL Press Release | Every Student Succeeds Act Creates Opportunities for Wisconsin, But Obstacles With Evers, DPI Exist

WILL releases memo that explains new federal education law and its impact on Wisconsin

January 5, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – Passed by Congress in December 2015 with bipartisan support, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the new – and massive – federal law governing K-12 education, replacing No Child Left Behind.  Because it touches nearly every aspect of education and schools – such as federal funding, school choice, accountability, and state education policy – it is essential for every Wisconsin policymaker, school leader, and concerned citizen to understand the new law.

A new memo, authored by WILL’s CJ Szafir, Vice President of Policy, and Libby Sobic, Associate Counsel, explains the law, highlighting the ways it impacts Wisconsin education law and policy and what decisions policymakers will be making in the coming months.

ESSA mandates that all states develop a “state plan” that includes requirements for making state policy decisions, such as a statewide report card system, creating academic standards, and how to intervene in low-performing public schools (i.e. charter school conversion or choosing new leadership).  The development of the state plan must be done with “meaningful consultation with the Governor and members of the State legislature.”

But, to date, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers is making unilateral decisions on ESSA’s state plan with very little input from Governor Scott Walker or the Wisconsin legislature.  Because Superintendent Evers and the Department of Public Instruction have historically been an opponent of school choice and education reform, there is a risk that ESSA implementation here will be less than optimal with respect to the empowerment of parents and the development of new and varied approaches.  The state legislature must ensure that does not happen.

The memo addresses: how ESSA differs from No Child Left Behind, how Wisconsin’s existing report card does – and does not – comply with ESSA, the ways Wisconsin must choose to intervene in failing schools, the appointment of the ombudsman position to enforce the requirement that public schools provide Title services to private school students, the ending of the federal requirements of Common Core and the educator evaluation systems, and why ESSA could change under the Trump Administration.

The full memo can be found here.  Attorney Sobic has spoken about ESSA and its impact on Wisconsin to over 100 school leaders across Wisconsin, representing over 33,000 students.


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