Every Student Succeeds Act for Education

Every Student Succeeds Act for Education

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Every Student Succeeds Act for Education


The operation and maintenance of public schools in the U.S is primarily a function of the state governments. State governments have a responsibility to establish, regulate, and select curriculums, instructional materials, and teaching methods in public schools within their jurisdictions. States and communities along with public and private organizations play integral roles in the regulations adopted in schools (U.S Department of Education, 2017). Despite the predominant role of the state government and local authority, the national government plays some diminutive role in the education policy. The first major issuance of the educational policy by the federal government occurred in 1965 and since then, the influence of the government has grown. The enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 represented a step forward in the efforts by the national government to have a resounding influence on the education sector. Apart from reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), ESSA also rescinded some provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) act signed into law in 2002 (U.S Department of Education, 2017). The paper sets out to discuss the historical and constitutional background of the education policy and the impact of checks and balances, media, and voting and election process on education policy.

Historical and Constitutional Background

Although this paper focuses on the Every Student Succeeds Act enacted in 2015, it is important to understand the efforts and steps of the federal government in the education sector. Prior to the introduction of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965 under President Johnson’s administration, the federal government had enacted other laws to help drive the education sector. The laws by the federal government that have a resounding influence on the education sector focus on ensuring equal access to education and safeguarding of the teachers and students constitutional rights (Find Law, n. d.). The creation of the first Department of Education in the U.S occurred in 1867 and it was responsible for the collection of information on teaching and schools that would facilitate the establishment of the effective school systems. Down the line, the name of this department and its position in the executive branch of the government has changed following the creation of numerous federal policies. Some of the laws enacted by the federal government prior to the ESEA in 1965 include Second Morrill Act in 1890, Smith-Hughes Act in 1917, George-Barden Act of 1946, The Lanham Act in 1941,  Impact Aid laws of 1950, and National Defense Education Act (NDEA) in 1958 (U.S Department of Education, 2017).

The passing of the ESEA into law in 1965 was perhaps the cornerstone of President Johnstone’s social welfare program deemed “War on Poverty”. The law targeted bridging the poverty gap by guaranteeing equal opportunities to more than five million educationally deprived children in the U.S (Chaveriat, n. d.). President Johnson saw the need to fight the war on poverty because there was an inequality in the education system, i.e., the quality of education received by students depended on their income levels. The federal dollars went to program improvements, materials, and professional development along with parental involvement. After the passing of ESEA, there was a shift in the federal role in education. From 1965 to 2000, this law underwent several amendments in a bid to increase the role of the federal government in the education sector (Chaveriat, n. d.). In 2002, President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law with the provisions of this act increasing immensely the role of the federal government on state schools. However, a lot of testing provided by this Act led to slipping of the U.S education system on the world stage and as such, it was essential to rescind some of this provisions by another law thus the enactment of ESSA. The current education policy came into full effect in the 2017/2018 school year with the major notable change being the shifting of the accountability to the states and local districts. Throughout the developmental history of education policy, the federal government involvement is more of an “emergency response system” that comes into the fore when a gap in the state and local school systems arises that needs immediate filling.

Checks and Balances

Policy and laws are what help keep our educational programs accountable. The signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act into law during President Obama’s administration has since shifted the accountability of the school systems to the state and local districts. At the time of the signing of this bill, President Obama stressed that the goals of the NCLB were still relevant (Egalite, Fusarelli, and Fusarelli, 2017). Even so, the cookie cutter reforms championed by the NCLB had derailed the education system relative to school systems in other developed nations. Therefore, ESSA rescinded some of the provisions of the NCLB but upheld the core of the preceding law. Apart from acting as an “emergency response system”, the federal government has sought to ensure that all children have equal opportunities to education regardless of the income levels of their families.

The federal government mandated testing and school improvement to the states are just one of the checks and balances of government. Nonetheless, the differences in the economic development from state to state imply that the more developed state governments have the capability to pump more financial resources to the public schools compared to the less developed governments. The variation in the funding of education from state to state might result in discrepancies in the quality of education. However, the development of the school curriculum, teaching and instructional materials along with teaching methods occurs within a state’s jurisdiction. With the challenges that the states face as things start to shift back to them, they will now have look at the current policy to ensure equitable outcomes. Professional development and student outcomes are some of the integral variables that the state policymakers will have to analyze to guarantee the alignment of the needs with the goals of the state on the education sector. The states will also need to intervene for those schools that have not closed those achievement gaps in the subgroups. Low-income families must have access to quality schools considering that in 2013, 51% of the students nationwide were from low-income families (Egalite, Fusarelli, and Fusarelli, 2017).

Public Policy, Elections, and Media

Advancements in technology have resulted in the emergence of web-enabled architectures, which have consequently led to the formation of social networking platforms. Today, the high connectivity of people across the globe has reduced the world into a village through increased speed of information sharing. This aspect of globalization has had a positive impact even in the political circles. The absence of internet and consequently social media in the past decades implies that the proponents of particular bills had to use somewhat outdated forms of creating awareness in the public. Because there had not been social media until the early years in 2000, no one had the opportunity to use social media to advocate for policies or against policies (Supovitz, 2017). Today, social media make it possible to reach a large group of people within a very short time thus making them relevant and effective platforms for spreading awareness. Apart from their influence on policies, social media also have instrumental roles in politics, debates, and elections.

Despite the psychological and social drawbacks associated with social media, studies reveal that some people use these platforms daily. In fact, experts in written communication and related fields contend that social media instigated the creation and evolutions of discourse communities, e.g., online virtual communities. Reports indicate that even the current president of the United States uses Twitter daily. In recent past, social media has played a central role in the adoption of some laws and policies in the U.S, e.g., the Common Core State Standards. The goal of relying on social media was to inform policymakers, raise awareness for collaboration, and raise the awareness on student’s achievement level (Supovitz, 2017). This initiative won the policy war but lost the political battle on the social media site Twitter. When the Jonathan Supovitz tracked the debate about Common Core on Twitter, it proved how much social media can play in the political debates and will give people another avenue to voice their opinion. Apart from this illustration, the full coming to effect of the ESSA in the 2017/2018 school year even after the end of President Obama’s term indicates the impact of media on policies (Goldstein, 2017). Recently, President Trump has also indicated that he intended to sign a similar resolution that the Senate has passed. There is some controversy in the media about President Trump appointing Betsy DeVos as the secretary of education. Although she currently serves as the U.S secretary of education, Betsy DeVos has had numerous run-ins with the public due to her numerous unforgiving statements. The fact that President trump went ahead to appoint her might be detrimental to future adoption of policies in the education sector.

Voting and the Election Process

The political class has mastered the art of wooing the public into voting them to power especially by promising heavens on issues that touch on children welfare. Politicians use advisors who do research on issues that require addressing as per the opinion of the public. Anchored with such information, the political aspirants then take positions on podiums during political rallies and promise their inputs. In particular, studies indicate that a politician can easily sway the public if he or she promises to push for policies that safeguard the constitutional rights of children. Since children are the hope of tomorrow’s generation, the success of students subjected to the prevailing laws can have a pronounced influence on how people choose to vote and engage in the election process (Gross and Hill, 2016). Statistics indicate that the difference in the nationwide poverty index is still an issue thus affecting students’ education. Furthermore, civil rights and continuing segregation issues will influence how people vote. According to the Marcia Fudge, Ohio’s representative of the 11th district, the government ought to drum for the adoption of a universal pre-k program, which would go a long way in promoting equality in the quality of education in all states (Gross and Hill, 2016). She states that we as Americans need to demand more for our children. If 51% of our students were from low-income families in 2013, then 51% of Americans can demand better for their children in how they vote (Saultz, Fusarelli, and McEachin, 2017). The design of the Every Student Succeeds Act influenced constituency groups because the NCLB act was more of a one-size fits. The failings of the NCLB resulted in the adoption of the ESSA. With the succession of presidents, the shift of the federal role has been from funding to requiring greater accountability. Using his role as president, Obama took advantage of the policy window and expanded the executive power which in turned funneled nearly $100 billion to education (Saultz, Fusarelli, and McEachin, 2017). It created an incentive program for states to alter policy for an opportunity to receive increased federal dollars.


In conclusion, the Every Student Succeeds Act is central to the running of education sector across the country. The developmental history of federal laws along with the changing roles of the national government in the school systems has an integral role in defining the value of the American education. The development of the checks and balances in the government focused on ensuring that no one particular branch would be too powerful to tame. Every branch of the government has a role to play in promoting smooth running of the government. The enactment of policies by the legislature ensures that the public gets the best laws to sustain their social, economic, and political development. For children to become successful, they need their states and the federal government to support that success. The federal government ensured success in educational sector by signing to power the ESSA, which shifted the accountability of the school systems to people that are actually close to students.


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Egalite, A., Fusarelli, L., and Fusarelli, B. (2017). Will Decentralization Affect Educational Inequity? The Every Student Succeeds Act. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com.proxylibrary.ashford.edu/doi/pdf/10.1177/0013161X17735869

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Fudge, M. (2017) Reinvesting in Public Education, A Cornerstone for America’s Success. Harvard Journal on Legislation, Vol. 54 Issue 2, p201-224, 24p. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.proxylibrary.ashford.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=6&sid=2cbc88e6-e1e7-4b16-8b7f-e1b7d0ae2c00%40sessionmgr4008

Goldstein, D. (2017). Obama Education Rules Are Swept Aside by Congress, The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/09/us/every-student-succeeds-act-essay-congress.html

Gross, B., and Hill, P. (2016). The State Role in K-12 Education: From Issuing Mandates to Experimentation, Harvard Law & Policy Review. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.proxylibrary.ashford.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=13&sid=8c39566e-20e5-4333-8f25-8bf6f5c7a857%40sessionmgr4008

Saultz, A., Fusarelli, L., and McEachin, A. (2017). The Every Student Succeeds Act, the Decline of the Federal Role in Education Policy, and the Curbing of Executive Authority, The Journal of Federalism, Volume 47, Issue 3, Pages 426-444. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/publius/pjx031

Supovitz, J. (2017). Social media is the new player in the politics of education. Phi Delta Kappan. Vol. 99 Issue 3, 50.; Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.proxylibrary.ashford.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=11&sid=31b3648d-832c-4148-8c34-6e80d14c1c5a%40sessionmgr4009

U.S Department of Education. (2017). The Federal Role in Education. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/role.html

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