Better hurry – time is short to read the 1059 page Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) before it’s voted on by Congress. ESSA is the name of the massive bill slated to replace No Child Left Behind (NCLB) (which is only 670 pages long) and officially reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) which in recent years has been held in place with a patchwork of federal waivers.
Whatever ESSA does, one thing is certain – this act will create more confusion. Any law that wholly impacts the intricate web of relationships in a complex system such as public education is by definition disruptive. States and school districts will need lawyers and other industry experts to help them understand and implement the new law. Teachers will have to attend seminars and other events to learn how the law impacts the classroom. Tests and standards across the nation will be changed, developed and reconfigured. Weary parents will valiantly attempt to understand yet another round of changes and what it means for their children. Students, of course, will bear the brunt of this turmoil as the end consumers of a product they had no say in developing. And ultimately ESSA will set off the next round of bitter disputes and debates across the country over its “pros” and “cons” as the law takes effect and its impact is felt and experienced by the stakeholders.
Sudbury breaks this cycle of confusion. Sudbury students aren’t buffeted by waves of change in standards, tests or curriculum. Rather they are buoyed by the immutable principles of democracy, freedom and individual responsibility. Change happens from within at a Sudbury school through democracy. Most importantly it happens with the full input and equal participation of the most important stakeholders – the students.
UPDATE (Let the debates begin…)