President Barack Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 in a move that was aimed at reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The act substituted the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) established during the presidency of George W. Bush. Legislators appraised the ESSA for returning power to the states by undertaking a better approach to learners’ testing and institutional accountability. This measure is a step to return American to its place as a leader in education worldwide, but it is not without critics.
Normally, the American presidency assumes supremacies and takes on functions indescribable to the founders. “Each touches on the daily lives of everyone in the United States and affects tens of millions of people around the world” (12.2 Greenberg). In relation to the NCLB Act on education, the democratic process was followed and was meant to enhance the education sector. Additionally, the changing environment of the education sector enabled the legislators and the president to work in collaboration to ensure the law was passed. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law on December 10, 2015, which ended the No Child Left Behind Act, which was a burdensome federal program that assumed the needs of schools for more than a decade (Hirschfield). The passage of the law was attained through a bipartisan legislative procedure, a development that is uncommon in the United States.
“The path by which a bill becomes a law is not an easy one however, and the legislative labyrinth is so strewn with obstacles that few bills survive; in fact, only about 6 percent of all bills introduced are ultimately enacted” (11.4 Greenberg). However, Congress easily passed ESSA due to three primary reasons. First, Congress passed ESSA as a rejoinder to the executive outwit through programs like Race to the Top and NCLB abdications. The United States Department of Education (USDOE) and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan applied these programs to incentivize and persuade states to modify regulations surrounding teacher assessment, morals, and liability systems more broadly. Second, 2015 began with a new headship in three of the four main Congressional leadership positions. This change in the house leadership endorsed fresh consultations. Third, main interest organizations shifted their support away from federal participation in educational policy. The two primary teacher unions opposed federal attempts to tie teacher appraisals to student test grades. Moreover, these organizations started to distance their entities from the Obama Administration. Afterward, the Chamber of Commerce, National Governors Association, and hundreds of civil rights groups collaborated with unions in support of ESSA.
Even though President Obama supported the bill, “presidents cannot always count on the members of the Congress to agree with them” (12.2 Greenberg). Nonetheless, the largest interest groups in the education sector supported change. The strong alliance by all these bodies triggered the bipartisan congressional support for ESSA that followed a democratic process. Therefore, the Act was not a misuse of presidential power or the democratic process. However, some may argue that the legislators felt inferior to having an objective debate on the Act due to the pressure from all other bodies in supporting the Act.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law in 2015, transformed the function of the federal government. Essentially, the law allows states to have specific provisions of the liability system, especially in the education sector. Due to the pressure from other organizations in the United States, the law attracted bipartisan congressional support.
Greenberg, Edward S., and Benjamin I. Page. The Struggle for Democracy. 12th ed., Pearson, 2016.
Hirschfield, Julie. “President Obma Signs into Law a Re-Write of No Child Left Behind.” New York Times, 10 Dec. 2015.