Trump, Congress, ESSA and More: Six Issues to Watch in 2019
Happy New Year! It’s 2019, which means that the Every Student Succeeds Act is more than three years old, and finally having an impact on school districts. President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have been on the job for almost two years, with no major school choice initiative in sight. And Democrats are about to take over the U.S. House of Representatives.
Here’s what to watch for next year
• Congressional Oversight: Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., will become chairman of the House education committee. And he’s bound to call in DeVos and her team to discuss their rollback of Obama-era civil rights measures. That includes guidance seeking to crack down on discipline disparities, which Trump’s school safety commission recommended ditching late last year. Other areas ripe for oversight: implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, DeVos’ move to delay an Obama rule calling for states to ensure that minority students aren’t disproportionately identified for special education, and the Education Department’s decision to replace Obama-era sexual assault guidance and replace it with a directive that gives more rights to the accused. DeVos’ push to reorganize the department could also come under scrutiny.
• Congress Actually Legislating: With Congress divided, it seems unlikely that major legislation (think a renewal of the Higher Education Act) will make it over the finish line. But that doesn’t mean lawmakers won’t try. Scott, for instance, is interested in trying to push an infrastructure bill that might include funding for school construction. Other legislation to watch: the Education Sciences Reform Act, which governs the Institute for Education Sciences; a rewrite of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA; and an update to child-abuse prevention laws. None of those will get big headlines, but they deal with programs that matter to educators.