Senators Discuss New Education Approaches During ESSA Hearing

POLITICO Pro reports that Senate HELP Committee members gathered at a Capitol Hill hearing on the Every Student Succeeds Act on Tuesday, February 23, 2016.


Committee members shared their anticipation for new and different approaches to education under ESSA. Sens. Michael Bennet and Sheldon Whitehouse, both said they hope to see the new law unleash innovation in the states. Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander said that “finding a way to reward outstanding teaching is the holy grail in public education,” but that it can’t be done from Washington, D.C.


The final ESSA bill wasn’t as focused on innovation as some previous drafts, Whitehouse said. “I hope that we can see the public process try to reinvigorate that” as implementation of the law moves forward, he said.


Senate HELP Committee ranking member Patty Murray wanted to know how states are going to engage education advocates and avoid the potential downsides of reducing the federal role in education.


“It’s critically important” to listen to different education stakeholders as states gear up to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, Murray said. She asked Wisconsin Superintendent Tony Evers what he would be doing on that front.


“We need to have a broad group, and clearly our teachers are an important part of that,” Evers said. He added that ESSA has already given the state a fresh chance “to reach out to people that haven’t been at the table.” He stated that he believes other areas will do the same as they move past No Child Left Behind.