Is ESSA Better Than NCLB? Flaws & Violations

Congress overwhelmingly passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) with bipartisan support. Does that mean they got it right?
NCLB (No Child Left Behind) was passed in the same bipartisan manner.

So it’s the public that needs to take a closer look at the law, what it does, and decide, is ESSA better than NCLB?

What changed with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced NCLB?

The major flaws of NCLB were many. Countless articles and papers expound upon its flaws in various ways.

#1: Overemphasizing Standardized Testing

 #2: Deprofessionalization of Teachers

 #3: Disregard for Education Schools (alternate certification)

#4: Marginalization of Social Studies Education

So, is ESSA better than NCLB based on this list of major flaws?

Yearly standardized tests → still in.

Teachers? “Highly qualified” terminology was changed to “effective versus ineffective,” but no, the major problems remain.

Alternate routes to certification → set to expand without improving quality assurances.

Social Studies: It is addressed! Well, kind of. ESSA established a Presidential and Congressional Academies for American History and Civics. But we don’t know who the private “eligible entities” are that will receive funding to write our history and civics priorities.


Is federal training of civics educators through FOR-PROFIT providers a reform? Or simply privatization? And, they only have to show “evidence” of “potential” to improve.






What about federal funding for charter schools?

“School Choice” was first introduced by President Clinton’s ESEA reauthorization. President Bush expanded “choice” in NCLB. Then President Obama expanded it further in signing ESSA. And the resultant expansion of charter schools and voucher-type funding has exploded through Secretary of Education DeVos’s use of ESSA.

And as the NAACP has made clear, we should be very concerned about the effect of charter schools on the public education system.

Is ESSA better than NCLB?

Well, we should not ignore the violations that have been voiced in the Child Abuse in the Classroominitiative where excessive collection and use of children and family data is of major concern. It has been enough of a concern to prompt a Public Service Announcement from the FBI.

Here are a couple of the concerns parents and activists have expressed about student data privacy issues.

ESSA continues data collection (p43) “as existing in Federal, State, and Local reporting.” Longitudinal data systems were part of the Race To The Top spending.

Data Trafficking: States Release Personally Identifiable Information, PII, to 3rd Party Contractors: State Departments of Education are able to enter into written agreements with businesses, foundations, higher education, and other Departments, releasing PII because of the loopholes in FERPA, (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) that redefine school officials.

In other words, state departments of education are signing agreements giving 3rd party contractors access to Personally Identifiable Information.

ESSA asks for consistency with FERPA (pp46,52,212,250,321). “Consistency with” isn’t enough “to protect” children and family data from misuse and abuse.

Is ESSA better than NCLB?

Repeatedly, the public heard tell that ESSA is better than NCLB.

DO NOT accept that as the truth.

Look further.