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Education advocates worry about state, federal ESSA accountability

Delaware Public Media

Delaware submitted its updated Every Student Succeeds Act plan to the federal government last month. But concerns remain among some First State education advocates.

Those worries center on the plan’s implementation at both the state and federal level.

Atnre Alleyne is Executive Director for the Delaware Campaign for Achievement Now. He’s concerned Delaware’s ESSA updates are just an exercise in compliance.


“Is this just a nice document – and all of the work, the time that was spent getting feedback from people – is this just what they need to get approval from the U.S. Dept. of Education, or are we really serious about getting to a place where we’re closing the achievement gap?" Alleyne said.


When the feds sent Delaware’s plan back in June, they said the state’s goals weren’t ambitious enough. But Rodel Foundation President and CEO Paul Herdman says even with changes there aren’t federal regulations in place to enforce such a standard.


“From a legal perspective – because the federal government didn’t really put any parameters around what ambitious looks like, then it’s really up to the states to determine that," Herdman said. "And in many cases, they can push on it, they can raise questions about it but they don’t have a legal framework in many cases to really define it.”


The Obama administration released proposed regulations in May 2016, and again last November, after public input.


But the Trump administration hasn’t approved them. And now, Congress is considering a resolution to rescind ESSA regulations proposed by the Obama administration.  

“I don’t think that aside from ensuring civil protections, that the federal government is positioned at this point to get into the details of micro-managing the individual plans," Herdman said.

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