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Restructuring the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s Approach to Equity

By Kimberly Jenkins Robinson. Full text here.

Abstract: “Many celebrated the 2015 passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as a much-needed reduction in the federal footprint in the nation’s public schools. It repealed the prescriptive interventions into failing schools in the No Child Left Behind Act and eliminated the emphasis on common standards and assessments as well as teacher evaluation linked to student performance required by Department of Education waivers to No Child Left Behind. Given that one of the principal aims of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is to promote equity, the passage of the Every Students Succeeds Act provides an opportune time to examine the effectiveness of the law in advancing educational equity. This Article proposes a model for institutional design for equity that contends that students need fair funding, an equitable distribution of effective teachers, high-quality preK-12 opportunities to learn, and schools that are economically and racially integrated. The Every Student Succeeds Act will be ineffective in helping states and districts provide these building blocks for equity. This Article then recommends how a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act should adopt an incremental approach for reforming education federalism that would provide more effective incentives and conditions that helps to ensure that the building blocks for equity are provided to all children.”