Wisconsin Superintendent Chosen To Help Craft New Federal Education Law

Mar 9, 2016

A new national education policy is taking shape.

It’s called the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA. As of December, it replaces No Child Left Behind as the nation’s cornerstone education law.

ESSA is a big deal. It’s a blueprint that lays out what states can and can’t do in terms of K-12 public education policy.

Want to change your state’s standardized test? ESSA sets the guidelines. Wondering what standards you have to teach? Check ESSA.

The law is also long overdue, in many eyes. Its predecessor hadn’t been updated in well over a decade.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced a group of stakeholders who will help nail down the specifics of the law. Among them is Wisconsin Superintendent Tony Evers. 

Evers says he wants to help the feds get the new law right.

"Our schools are working so hard, that the last thing they need is to spend a lot of time doing things for the federal government that they really don’t need to do in order to lift up achievement," Evers says.

Evers knows he has the chance to help shape major education policy issues such as on funding for low-income students and standardized tests.

Tony Evers listens to music students at Bruce Guadalupe Community School.
Credit Rachel Morello

  "I’m hopeful to be able to go in there and be a voice of reason, and make sure that the rules that are implemented are consistent."

Evers will be one of two-dozen people nominated to serve on the advisory group. Others include teachers and principals, tribal leaders and students.

As for why Evers is among them, one reason is that he heads a group of state superintendents from around the country.Those leaders will have more leeway under the new law, according to Andrew Ujifusa, an assistant editor at Education Week.

"The general sentiment many people have about the new law is that it gives states significantly more discretion over education policy in at least some key areas," Ujifusa explains. "Obviously, you would expect state school superintendents to be interested in making their voices heard. So I think that’s probably why Tony was picked."

Evers and the rest of the rulemaking committee will meet at least twice over the next two months.

The feds haven’t yet released a date when final plans will be due.