Among other provisions, this legislation restores control of education to state and local school boards by:
- Prohibiting any federal government entity from coercing or incentivizing states into adopting standards such as Common Core or specific assessments;
- Ending the U.S. Secretary of Education’s ability to influence state education policies through executive fiat and conditional waivers;
- Prohibiting the U.S. Department of Education from imposing any additional mandates on states and school districts in the areas of standards, assessments and state accountability plans, beyond what is specified in the legislation; and,
- Codifying that adoption of standards and assessments are solely the prerogative and responsibility of the states and not the federal government.
“As we move forward, we are hopeful that we can now focus on what is taking place inside Alabama’s classroom instead of politics and misperceptions,” said Jessica Hammonds, executive director of Alabama GRIT. “By reducing the role of the federal government in education in Alabama, our state and local boards of education can create clearer paths to help every child in Alabama reach his or her full potential in life, whether they continue on to college or directly enter the workforce after high school.”
The Alabama delegation, in both chambers, were split on the vote. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01), Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02), Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) all voted in support of ESSA. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-03), Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05), Rep. Gary Palmer (AL-06) all voted against it.