When the Every Student Succeeds Act got signed into law late last year with bipartisan congressional support, many state education leaders were quick to laud its passage and what it would mean for local control over schools.
Phil Pavlov, chair of the Michigan Senate Education Committee, said it opened the possibility for states to set their own policies, “without constant fear of federal intrusion and repercussions.” In Ohio, Sen. Peggy Lehner hailed the start of a new era in U.S. education policy.
“[It] is the most significant education reform bill in the past 14 years,” the chair of the state Senate Education Committee said, and would provide “new tools to advance the education of the children of Ohio.”
But as both Pavlov and Lehner noted, that additional flexibility will come with greater responsibility for states. As the new law begins to be fully implemented, the federal government will take a step back in some key areas of education policy and rely on states to step up.
“That means finding ways to strengthen schools that really need our help,” says Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers. “Five or seven years from now, it’s going to be really important, for the credibility of states, to show that our lower-performing schools have improved. Congress has trusted the states to get this right, and we have a window to do that.”