No Child Left Behind officially ended last week. Mostly.

Under the new Every Student Succeeds Act, much of NCLB’s more stringent testing is history, although students will still face federal testing annually in grades 3-8, and once in high school. However, rather than being subject to uniform federal standards, individual states will now be responsible for setting most standards, evaluating teachers and schools, and deciding how to rectify schools under their jurisdiction.

But then, the federal government recently has been pretty accommodating in granting exemptions from certain NCLB standards. So, ESSA sort of just puts the writing on the wall (that everyone agreed NCLB wasn’t working) into official paper form. 

The law is a step in the right direction (it also gives funding to some early education programs, which I am for), but it’s just that, a step. It’s the equivalent of admitting there is a problem, which is only the first step to solving a problem.

With power reverting to the states, one would think this is a good time to put the old “laboratories of democracy” concept to work, allowing states to experiment with new ideas and policies and see what works. I might be inclined to agree, but unfortunately for Indiana, the people running our lab are pretty out of touch.

So, I hope this is a new beginning for the discussion of improving the education system in this country, not the end of it for a while. Sadly, though, I think Indiana is out of luck as far as effective reform goes until we get a new Governor and state legislature.

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