Senator Joe Griffo is calling on U.S. Secretary of Education John King to reconsider a proposed regulation that would punish school districts for having too many students opt-out of standardized tests.

This move, Griffo says appears to contradict the new 'Every Student Succeeds Act,' that suggested the federal government was going to return more control to states and local school districts over their education policies.

Griffo believes that King is pushing the new law too far by requiring states to develop a way to penalize school districts if more than 5% of students fail to take any annual standardized tests.

“When the Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law, many education stakeholders believed that this was the moment when the federal government was finally going to empower states and, more importantly, local school districts to govern their own education systems,” Senator Griffo’s letter reads. “However, this proposed regulation seems to indicate that the federal government has no interest in getting out of the business of telling states, school districts, parents and their children what to do.”

Griffo is encouraging the public to submit any comments or concerns about the proposed legislation via an online forum before the August 1, deadline.

He says it is his hope that the U.S. Education Secretary will honor the spirit of the Federal ESSA law that was enacted on behalf of our children, parents, teachers, and allow local communities to determine what's best for their students.

If you would like to share your thoughts about the proposed law, visit the Regulations.gov website and click on the 'Comments' link.

Here is a copy of the letter Senator Griffo sent to Secretary King:

The Honorable John B. King, Jr.
Secretary
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20202

Dear Secretary King,

Your proposed regulation §200.15 is disconcerting, to say the least. When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law, many education stakeholders believed that this was the moment when the federal government was finally going to empower states and, more importantly, local school districts to govern their own education systems. However, this proposed regulation seems to indicate that the federal government has no interest in getting out of the business of telling states, school districts, parents and their children what to do.

Requiring states to develop a system to punish school districts by assigning a lower summative rating due to a lower than 95% participation rate on standardized assessments is not empowering states and districts. This is instead the federal government requiring states to do something that the federal government wants, not what states and its school districts feel is the right approach to education. This proposed regulation seems to fly in the face of the law’s intent.

Senator Lamar Alexander, author of the legislation in his house, stated at the bill’s passage: “The huge bipartisan vote in both the Senate and the House reverses the trend toward a national school board and makes clear that, in the future, the path to higher standards, better teaching and real accountability will be through states, communities and classrooms and not Washington, D.C.” Proposed regulation §200.15 runs counter to this statement by allowing the federal government to impose its will on states, communities and classrooms.

It is my sincere hope that you will embrace the original intent of this law and truly allow states and school districts to determine what is best for their students. New York has witnessed first-hand the deficiencies of federal involvement in education through No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Any continuation of that type of involvement will only continue to disrupt our education system.

I look forward to your response regarding this very important matter.

Sincerely,

Joseph A. Griffo
Senator, 47th District