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Former Govs: ESSA Returns Power on Education to States

Washington, D.C. – The members of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Governors’ Council congratulate Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), and Reps. John Kline (R-MN) and Robert Scott (D-VA) on the passage of the conference report to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, reforming No Child Left Behind with a more state-focused proposal that restores the federal-state balance critical to a successful education system.

“ESSA makes important changes that restore state primacy over education by allowing states to create accountability systems, determine teacher qualifications, and innovate new, less onerous forms of assessment,” said council member and former Gov. Jim Douglas (R-VT). “Furthermore, the bill includes enhanced financial counseling for high school students. This provision is consistent with our recommendation that students be better educated about their career options and potential level of indebtedness post-college.”

“It is important to note that the conference agreement maintained a Senate provision, authored by Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), which gives governors a stronger role in the development of the state education plan. Because governors are so closely involved with the pre-K, college, and workforce readiness systems, it is vital that they be included in the elementary and secondary planning process to ensure a seamless progression from pre-K to work,” said council member and former Gov. Christine Gregoire (D-WA).

The council, which also includes former Govs. Mike Beebe (D-AR), Linda Lingle (R-HI), and Sonny Perdue (R-GA), applauds Congress for this important bipartisan achievement that will go a long way to promoting student achievement.