Governor calls education plan 'incomplete vision'

Governor calls education plan 'incomplete vision'

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Governor John Bel Edwards said the State's current education proposal pushed by Superintendent of Education John White is an incomplete vision.

The plan is due to the federal government this year as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a bill passed under the Obama administration in 2015 with bipartisan support.

Governor Edwards asked White to refrain from submitting the plan to the Department of Education until mid-September.

White said the plan should be submitted quickly in hopes of implementing reform in the next school year, responding to the Governor's criticism in a letter, "political processes have impeded the bar in evaluating the performance of Louisiana's schools. This must come to an end. We cannot delay any longer."

The new federal law essentially hands the reigns of education back to state and local control while maintaining federal testing in grade schools.

"What changed is the accountability, defining accountability measures. So some of them have to be academic and based on that testing, the state decides what weight to give them and what other measures, both academic and non-academic, might be included in an overall report or school score," said Kristan Van Hook, with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET).

Educators at the 17th National TAP conference in New Orleans met over the weekend, highlighting some changes made through ESSA, and hope the law will allow teachers and parents more of a voice in their education plans.

"There's always opportunity when control becomes greater back to the local level and the state level for greater engagement because it's closer to home where decisions are being made," said Lowell Milken, founder of NIET.

"I think this discussion at the state level and certainly at the district level gives teachers sometimes a better way to get in. Sometimes it's hard for them to feel their voices are making it all the way to Washington but at the state and district level they have a little better entry and we're hopeful that it gives them more of an ability to have an impact on the decisions that are being made," Van Hook said.

But Governor Edwards doesn't think that's happening, writing in a letter to White that the plan "is in critical need of additional information and the inclusion of stakeholder's priorities."

White said his department has offered that chance holding 136 meetings on the plan, he said, despite the Governor's concerns, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will vote on sending the plan to Washington next week and continue to work on the plan with a hope to finalize it in the summer so it can potentially be implemented by the upcoming school year.

Governor Edwards urged White to refrain until mid-September and said more than half of other states in the country are also waiting until fall to submit their plans.

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