- Though Florida has become a model for some education reforms in the past, the state’s reluctance to comply with certain aspects of the Every Student Succeeds Act has placed it in an adversarial position against hardliners who want strict enforcement of provisions they feel help protect historically disadvantaged student populations, Education Week reports.
- Florida contends that black and Hispanic students are already performing better under its current model, and that the required reporting changes would skew its system by double- or triple-reporting students in different demographic groups. It also argues that the state’s English-only laws should prevent schools from offering tests in another language.
- While the educational debate of equality over equity remains in Florida, critics of the state’s approach are watching to see how strictly ESSA provisions are being enforced and what impact they will have in the long run.
Florida has managed to get U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Democrats and civil rights advocates on somewhat of the same page with its refusal to follow some of the guidelines in the Every Student Succeeds Act. Some critics see Florida’s position as a refusal to protect historically-disadvantaged populations, while the state contends that its approach has worked well in the past in one of the most diverse states in the nation.
The current educational climate has most states on edge, which is, to some degree normal during a major shift in policy. But ESSA give states more decision-making power — and thus more headaches — when it comes to how they approach educational practices and accountability systems. The issues that Florida and a handful of other states are facing now as they seek approval of ESSA plans are pushing the boundaries between federal oversight and states' rights. Whether this results in an educational "civil war" remains to be seen.