05.18.16

Senator Murray Calls for Accountability and Collaboration in ESSA Implementation

Murray reaffirmed her commitment to ensure the law works for all students and families in Washington state and across the country

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered opening remarks at a hearing on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As the Department of Education and state governments develop new systems and policies to begin carrying out the new law, Murray is closely monitoring several issues to ensure ESSA lives up to its intent to provide all students with a high quality education, including the law’s accountability measures and eliminating barriers that stakeholders face in getting involved in the implementation process.

 

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Right now, the Department of Education and states are taking this law from legislative text to action steps. While the Department goes through this process – and as states develop new systems and policies – I will continue to closely monitor several issues to make sure our law lives up to its intent to provide all students with a high quality education. I expect the Department to use its full authority under the Every Student Succeeds Act to hold schools and states accountable. While we were writing this law, we were deliberate in granting the Department the authority to regulate on the law and hold schools and states accountable for education. That includes things such as ensuring states and districts take action every year to improve student achievement in any school that has groups of students who are struggling. I will be taking a close look at any guidance or regulations from the Department for school intervention and supports.”

 

“One important part of holding schools and states accountable for educating every child is fiscal accountability. I hear from teachers and principals in my home state of Washington about how important federal funding is to supporting their work. We need to make sure federal investments in education support state and local resources and do not simply replace them. The regulation, known as “supplement not supplant,” is an important fiscal accountability measure, and it is important to get this right. Many stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, and civil rights groups have provided thoughts on how to regulate in this area. I hope that as the process moves forward, the Department will continue to work with these groups on this issue.”

 

“Collaboration will be critical – not just for one particular regulation or another – but throughout the process to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act. Getting input from teachers, civil rights groups, parents, and many more will be essential in making sure the law works in the coming months and years. I’ve been frustrated to hear from many stakeholders that they don’t feel like they have a seat at the table as their states work on implementation. This includes teachers who aren’t receiving time off work to be part of state planning sessions, and parents, who can’t attend meetings held during the workday. I – along with Ranking Member Bobby Scott in the House – have asked the Department to help states and districts eliminate the systemic barriers that stakeholders face in getting involved in the implementation process.”

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Thank you, Chairman Alexander, for holding this hearing.

 

“And, I appreciate all of our witnesses for taking the time to be here today.

 

“Last year, Chairman Alexander and I worked together on legislation to fix No Child Left Behind.

 

“We both agreed – in fact, nearly everyone around the country agreed – the law was badly broken.

 

“And I’m proud we were able to break through the partisan gridlock in Congress, find common ground, and pass the Every Student Succeeds Act with strong bipartisan support. 

 

“At its heart, the nation’s primary elementary and secondary education law is a civil rights law.

 

“And it is in that spirit that I along with my colleagues worked to help make sure all students will have access to a quality education, regardless of where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make.

 

“Now that our new law is on the books, I am committed to making sure it helps: students, parents, teachers, and schools, in my home state and across the country.

 

“Here’s what our education law does:

 

“The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states more flexibility.

 

“But it also includes strong federal guardrails for states as they design their accountability systems. 

 

“It preserves the Department’s role to implement and enforce the law’s federal requirements.

 

“It also reduces reliance on high-stakes testing.

 

“And it makes significant new investments to improve and expand access to preschool for our nation’s youngest learners, to name just a few provisions in the law. 

 

“Right now, the Department of Education and states are taking this law from legislative text to action steps.

 

“While the Department goes through this process – and as states develop new systems and policies – I will continue to closely monitor several issues to make sure our law lives up to its intent to provide all students with a high quality education.

 

“I expect the Department to use its full authority under the Every Student Succeeds Act to hold schools and states accountable.

 

“While we were writing this law, we were deliberate in granting the Department the authority to regulate on the law and hold schools and states accountable for education.

 

“That includes things such as ensuring states and districts take action every year to improve student achievement in any school that has groups of students who are struggling.

 

“I will be taking a close look at any guidance or regulations from the Department for school intervention and supports.

 

“Those things will be critical to helping low-performing schools improve.

 

“One important part of holding schools and states accountable for educating every child is fiscal accountability.

 

“I hear from teachers and principals in my home state of Washington about how important federal funding is to supporting their work.

 

“We need to make sure federal investments in education support state and local resources and do not simply replace them.

 

“The regulation, known as “supplement not supplant,” is an important fiscal accountability measure, and it is important to get this right.

 

“Many stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, and civil rights groups have provided thoughts on how to regulate in this area.

 

“I hope that as the process moves forward, the Department will continue to work with these groups on this issue.

 

“Collaboration will be critical – not just for one particular regulation or another – but throughout the process to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act.

 

“Getting input from teachers, civil rights groups, parents, and many more will be essential in making sure the law works in the coming months and years.

 

“I’ve been frustrated to hear from many stakeholders that they don’t feel like they have a seat at the table as their states work on implementation.

 

“This includes teachers who aren’t receiving time off work to be part of state planning sessions, and parents, who can’t attend meetings held during the workday.

 

“I – along with Ranking Member Bobby Scott in the House – have asked the Department to help states and districts eliminate the systemic barriers that stakeholders face in getting involved in the implementation process.

 

“I’ll continue to encourage stakeholders – like those represented here today – and many more to stay active and make their voice heard throughout the implementation process.

 

“It is up to all of us to uphold the legacy and promise of our nation’s primary education law works for all students.

 

“And I look forward to hearing from each of you on how we can make sure this law helps provide a good education for every child. 

 

“Thank you.”

 

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