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Congressman Joe Courtney

Representing the 2nd District of Connecticut

Courtney Submits Letter To The Department Of Education On Proposed ESSA Regulations

July 29, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary John B. King Jr. on the proposed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regulations that the Department released on June 1, 2016. The submission period for comments on the proposed regulations will close on August 1.

“I was elected to Congress in 2006 and have served as a member of the Education and Workforce Committee for eight years,” wrote Courtney. “One of the primary reasons I asked for that assignment was to address the widespread frustration across Connecticut’s Second District with over-prescriptive, unworkable rules generated by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

“… The bipartisan effort to write Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was such a promising development. The final bill protects Title I funding from destructive cuts that initially passed in the House and its clear language to develop state and local defined indicators of school success and teacher performance was a definite sea change from NCLB's fixation on tests as the only valid measurement of the same. Indeed, in the wake of ESSA's enactment, the state of Connecticut has begun the collaborative process of developing indicators with stakeholders at the table who had been excluded for the prior fourteen years.

“Unfortunately, the proposed regulations undermine what I believe was ESSA's clear intent - namely, to empower state and local educators in the process of developing indicators for achievement and a method for remediation that does not invoke NCLB's despised punitive regime. In particular, the proposed regulations 95% testing requirement language with disciplinary sanctions for non-compliance overrides the collaborative state process. At best, it sends a confusing message to stakeholders like those in Connecticut trying to implement a broader system with multiple measures. At worst, it undermines entirely what I believe is the clear intent of Congress in the language of the statute as well as the floor comments made at time of passage. 

“Hopefully, the Department will heed the input of thousands of concerned educators and legislators from both parties that echo this comment. Restoring common sense flexibility to federal education policy with a clear focus to protect equal access to quality education was the mission of ESSA. As such, I believe that the regulations should call for states to be transparent in disclosing the methodology they employ in measuring school performance to give the Department the oversight capability called for in ESSA. The outpouring of concern that the proposed regulations have generated should be interpreted as a friendly but firm reminder that the Department needs to comport with both the spirit and letter of the law’s supporters.”

Read the entire letter online by clicking here

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