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Trump Signs Executive Order Requiring DeVos to Review, Evaluate Federal Education Policies

May 8, 2017

On April 26, as part of a flurry of executive orders signed as the Trump Administration approached its 100th day in office, the President signed an executive order directing his Secretary of Education to study and evaluate a broad range of existing programs and policies in the U.S. Department of Education.

The Washington Post carried an article by reporter Emma Brown that reported:

President Trump signed an executive order on April 26 that requires Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to study whether and how the federal government has overstepped its legal authority in K-12 schools, a move he framed as part of a broader effort to shift power from Washington to states and local communities.

“Previous administrations have wrongfully forced states and schools to comply with federal whims and dictate what our kids are taught,” Trump said at the White House. “But we know that local communities do it best and know it best.”

The order does not invest DeVos with any new authority. She already has broad powers to revise or withdraw policies that her predecessors promulgated.

Rob Goad, a department official, said the order gives DeVos 300 days to conduct a review to identify any regulations or guidance related to K-12 schools that is inconsistent with federal law. The review will be led by a task force headed by Robert Eitel, a senior counselor to DeVos who previously worked for a for-profit college company.

The GOP has long been home to lawmakers who say that the federal government should not be involved in public education. But complaints of federal overreach intensified during President Barack Obama’s administration as the department wielded billions of dollars in stimulus funds – and promises of relief from the No Child Left Behind law – to push states toward adopting new teacher evaluations and Common Core academic standards.

The bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 transferred much authority over public schools from the federal government to the states. Many on the right are looking for signs that Trump will do more to unwind the federal role in education.

Trump’s order brings “welcome attention to a much-overlooked problem of behavior that has festered through all administrations,” said Jeanne Allen, a veteran of the Reagan administration who runs the D.C.-based Center for Education Reform, which advocates for vouchers, charter schools and other forms of choice.

Allen said she’s hopeful that DeVos will get rid of the department’s guidance to schools on a variety of issues. The secretary could do that without an executive order and without involvement from Congress, as she did in February when she withdrew controversial guidance to schools on accommodating transgender students.

To read the complete story from the Washington Post, click here.

In Washington, DC, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) greeted Trump’s action. NSBA Executive Director & CEO Thomas J. Gentzel released the following statement:

“NSBA is encouraged by the Trump administration’s executive order reaffirming the state and local role in K-12 education decision making. Our public schools have been enhancing public education in spite of federal mandates and regulatory requirements that curbed school board members’ ability to devise even more innovative educational opportunities. Federal regulations should promote balanced federal-state-local partnerships, not rigidly impose top-down controls. Restoring governance to local decision-makers, including school boards which represent their community’s beliefs and values and know what their students need to succeed, will be a remarkable milestone. NSBA is ready to work with the administration in the review of provisions and requirements that have exceeded the scope of the federal role in education to ensure states and school board members are able to better serve the needs of students, parents, and their communities.”

Source:  Washington Post

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