Pelto Slams Every Student Succeeds Act – Calls on Obama and Congress to postpone adoption of ESSA Regulations

Jonathan Pelto, Green Party candidate for Congress in Connecticut’s 2nd Congressional District, is calling on President Obama and Congress to postpone adoption of the Every Student Succeeds (ESSA) Regulations until the new President and Congress take office in January, 2017.

“Limiting a parents’ fundamental right to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory standardized testing scheme and mandating that every child must take a standardized test ever year are just two of the damaging provisions of the ESSA draft regulations being proposed by the Obama Administration,” Pelto said.  “As presently written, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regulations continue many of the failed education policies of the federal government.  The President and Congress should, at the very least, postpone action on those regulations until the new president and new congress take office in 2017.”

Pelto condemned the legislation and new regulations explaining;

  • The ESSA regulations inappropriately require that ALL students take a standardized test every year. The most successful public education systems in the world DO NOT utilize mandatory annual testing.  Requiring such a practice is a huge waste of scarce public funds and valuable student instructional time.
  • The ESSA regulations do not provide clear concise language guaranteeing a parent’s’ fundamental and inalienable right to opt their child or children out of the annual standardized testing program. Failure to recognize a parents opt out right is a fatal flaw in the regulations and this issue must be corrected before any meaningful statute and regulation can move forward.
  • The ESSA regulations require that standardized assessments be focused exclusively on Math and English, thereby narrowing the curriculum and failing to provide the framework for the type of comprehensive education that all students need to compete and proposer in the 21st

As the Vermont State Board of Education noted in their recent testimony in opposition to the regulations;

‘By requiring that test scores in two subjects and graduation rates be given preferential weight, [the regulations] discourage schools from supporting truly broad opportunities to learn and the skills necessary for a healthy society.  In a world where violence and terrorism command the news, the education of our youth to participate in a strong civic life in a democracy is a fundamental skill. Similarly, we must equip students with the capabilities to address critical imperatives like global warming, environmental degradation and growing global inequality.’

  • The ESSA regulations require that states develop a single letter grade to rank order all schools. This is a false, inaccurate and invalid mechanism to inform students, parents, teachers and the public about an individual school or school system’s strengths and weaknesses.  Children, teachers and schools cannot be properly evaluated when complex factors are reduced to a single number.
  • The ESSA regulations maintain the federal government’s commitment to the privatization of public schools by requiring that states must implement programs to turn the “bottom 5%” of schools over to privately owned and operated charter schools or instituted an alternative type of privatization or turnaround program. This arbitrary system to turnover public schools to private interests limits the rights of state and local elected officials.”

According to the federal government’s ESSA regulation process, the public only has until August 1, 2016 to submit testimony and the regulations are presently scheduled to be adopted prior to or soon after the 2016 election.

“The ESSA regulations will serve to guide public education policy for an entire generation.  President Obama and Congress must halt the adoption of these harmful regulations until the next President and Congress have the opportunity to review and revise the ESSA law and its associated regulations,” Pelto concluded.

Background Footnote:  Senate Bill S. 1177 – The Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) – was passed Congress and signed into law by the President.  As a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Congressman Joe Courtney voted for the legislation in committee and in the House of Representatives. The Obama Administration is presenting working to adopt the regulations to implement the Act.

  • Jonathan, you have good company with NY Senator Todd Kaminsky!