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 U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that states would have much more flexibility.
Secretary 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," DeMaria said.
The president of the American Federation of Teachers union, Randi Weingarten, released a statement saying DeVos betrays the intention 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," Weingarten said. "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."
In Ohio, DeMaria said the legislature 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," Lehner said, "especially since ESSA might go away before we actually do it “
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, DeMaria downplayed the role of Washington
“The federal government is a very minor partner education in the state of Ohio right?" DeMaria said. "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.”
The state will submit its ESSA plan in September.