Congress Erases K-12 Rules, A Financial Aid Foul-Up And Other Education News
The case of transgender high school student Gavin Grimm, seen here last year, has been sent back to a lower court by the Supreme Court.
Once again, it was another big week for national education news. Here's our quick take on the top stories.
Senate scraps federal regulations
On Thursday, the Senate voted to roll back Obama-era rules that clarified and elaborated on a wide range of accountability requirements in the federal education law known as The Every Student Succeeds Act.
The vote was narrow, 50 to 49. To be clear, Congress is not scrapping or even changing the law itself. When it comes to school accountability, ESSA still requires that states flag schools where groups of students are "consistently underperforming." And it requires that the measurement of school performance include not just test scores and graduation rates but also some other indicator of school quality, including absenteeism or access to AP courses.
After ESSA became law, the Obama administration was tasked with writing rules to clarify key sections. What the Senate voted to do this week was to scrap the previous Education Department's interpretation of the law's accountability requirements, not the requirements themselves.
If that's not clear enough, here's a handy, point-by-point comparison of the law and that interpretation by Education Week's Alyson Klein.
Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who is himself a former Education Secretary, hailed the change. He called the vote "a victory for everyone who was fed up with Washington telling them so much about what to do about their children in 100,000 public schools, and I look forward to President Trump's signature of this resolution."
The Education Trust, an advocacy group where John B. King Jr., the most recent education secretary under President Obama, is now president and CEO, called the rollback "misguided." "This resolution will cause unnecessary confusion," the group said in a statement, "disrupting the work in states and wasting time that students — particularly those who are most vulnerable — cannot afford for us to waste."