President Obama signed off on a new federal education law Thursday and it will bring changes to Oklahoma schools. 'No Child Left Behind' will be replaced with the 'Every Student Succeeds Act’ (ESSA).
One of the biggest changes is control. Some decisions made about education in the nation's capital will now be left to local officials.
“I know it’s easier for parents to talk to a local school leader and a local legislator at the Capitol. It’s impossible to talk to people in Washington, D.C. and see a difference be made,” said Ryan Owens, Co-Executive Director of Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA).
On its website, CCOSA is described as an incorporated, not for profit organization which establishes close and continuous communication and cooperation between educators, taxpayers and legislators to improve the effectiveness of professional school administrators and to communicate the needs of the schools.
The newly signed permission slip goes for testing, accountability and teacher certification.
“They’ve said, ‘States – you decide what it takes for a teacher to be certified and in a classroom.’ And in a state like ours, where we’ve got a thousand teacher shortage, we need that flexibility,” Owens said.
It also means more access to early childhood education in Oklahoma. The ESSA will take effect in 2017/2018 school year. In the meantime, state leaders will be at the Capitol working to decide exactly how they'll take advantage of this new liberty.
“My hope is that our legislature recognizes local control is important and puts the emphasis of school improvement back in the hands of teachers in the classroom, local school boards and district leadership,” said Norman Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joseph Siano.
Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said Wednesday in a statement:
“We are pleased that the United States Congress has passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This critical legislation – which essentially replaces No Child Left Behind – gives Oklahoma education stakeholders at the state and local level the authority and responsibility they have long sought. With a deep resolve for strong accountability and high-quality standards, I applaud the efforts of our federal delegation who sought to limit federal over-reach and strengthen state control of teacher evaluation, assessments, academic standards, accountability and innovation.”