NSBA Asks the Department of Ed to Support Local Governance in Accordance with Congressional Intent to Restore State and Local Decision-making Authority in K-12 Education

September 9, 2016

Alexandria, Va. (September 9, 2016) – Today, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) expressed support for local governance and asked the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) to amend the proposed regulations to remove provisions and requirements that exceed the scope of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and minimize the emphasis on federal compliance by providing an opportunity for state leaders and local school board members to focus on the academic success of students. The Department also should delete provisions in proposed rules that are unnecessary, outside the scope of ESSA, and establish regulatory requirements that effectively limit the authority of state leaders and local school board members.

NSBA conveyed these points in comments it submitted to the Department on a key proposed rule: Title of Collection: Title I—Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged—Academic Assessments.

“Flexibility in the hands of local decision-makers, best equipped to determine how to support and help students succeed, will further public education,” stated Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director and CEO, National School Boards Association. “Conversely, requirements that strip local decision-makers of the authority to govern will be detrimental and significantly impede local school districts’ abilities to utilize, to the fullest extent, the opportunity and flexibility authorized by ESSA.”

The Department should promulgate federal regulations that assist states and school districts in implementing provisions of ESSA and to reaffirm ESSA’s clear directive to restore local governance and community ownership of public education. The Department’s regulations should promote a balanced “federal-state-local partnership” that encourages states to work with local school districts, promotes flexibility, and ends the current “top-down” approach to education that has proven so ineffective.

Gentzel stated, “Full restoration of local governance can only occur if prescriptive, rigid components of federal oversight are eliminated. It is our hope that the Department will amend the proposed regulations to support and strengthen local governance of public education.”

School boards, elected or appointed by their communities, represent the community’s beliefs and values. They also shoulder the responsibility to ensure that every child receives a high quality education, and for preparing children to live productive and satisfying lives. Given the unique understanding of their communities and vital role school boards have, federal regulations should empower state and local leaders to make decisions, which Congress clearly intended when it passed ESSA.

On the issue of assessments, federal regulations should support the authority granted, through ESSA, to local school board members, as locally elected officials, to participate in the process of determining the type of assessments that are administered at the local level. Additionally, states must meaningfully engage with locally elected officials, such as local school board members, to determine how statewide assessment systems can foster student success and growth. 

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S.

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