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Action Needed to Save ESSA in Senate Before February 17, 2017

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Action Needed to Save ESSA in Senate Before February 17, 2017

  • Julie Warshaw
  • February 14, 2017

Here is an urgent action alert from COPAA to save ESSA from repeal. ACT NOW – before February 17, 2017! 

Tell the Senate to vote NO on Resolution to Rollback ESSA Accountability Regulations this week!

ISSUE:  Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) with broad bipartisan support in late 2015. Implementation is not yet underway as states were given time to develop their plans. Unfortunately, last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to overturn important regulations made final in late 2016 that assure state accountability systems under the ESSA include key components advocated for by COPAA. If the Senate also votes to overturn the regulations and that bill is signed by President Trump, states will then only be held to ESSA’s statutory language which could result in reduced accountability for all students, including students with disabilities. 

Senators need to hear from you now! Below is a full explanation of the importance of ESSA.


COPAA testified before the House and the Senate in February and May 2016 respectively about the importance of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) role in issuing regulations to implement the ESSA. In the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood and Elementary Education COPAA’s Legal Director, Selene Almazan stated: “…via Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council the role of the US Department of Education is vital in the implementation of the ESSA and its provisions. The Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether to grant deference to a government agency’s interpretation of a statute that it administers. In this case the ESSA.”

Almazan further stated: “This regulatory action is necessary and appropriate to fulfill the requirements of the law. At no time has the Secretary of Education had the authority to promulgate regulations that are inconsistent with or outside the scope of federal law. We know from past history regarding civil rights laws that we need regulations in order to ensure the law is implemented. The effect of no regulations means that courts must adjudicate the intent of the statute.”

As ESSA implementation proceeded, in August, 2016, COPAA commented extensively on draft ESSA Accountability rules issued by ED which were finalized in late 2016. COPAA was very pleased with the final rules which provided states further direction on how they will:

  • develop a system for school ratings so they can then determine which schools and districts need to provide intervention and support to students not meeting state-determined college and career ready standards;

  • establish state and district defined timeline(s) for identifying and intervening in struggling schools;
  • identify the new statewide indicator(s) of school quality, in addition to test scores and graduation and;
  • describe how they will support districts in reducing bullying, harassment and the use of aversives (e.g. seclusion and restraint).


With the election of President Trump and Republican Congressional leaders’ desire to further limit the authority of ED, in early February, Chairman Virginia Foxx introduced House Joint Resolution 57 (HJ Res 57) which invokes a little used mechanism under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) allowing Congress to revoke regulations made within about a six-month window. The ESSA accountability regulations fall into this timeframe which has made them a Congressional target. On Thursday, February 9, the House voted to pass HJ Res 57. Action is expected in the Senate on the resolution this month and could be as early as this week. If the Senate succeeds and President Trump signs the bill (which he is expected to do), ED is then prohibited from issuing any further regulations on the specified parts of the law until Congress takes further legislative action. Secretary DeVos has already acknowledged the action by House and written to state education Chiefs to clarify what will happen without regulations.


COPAA believes this resolution is extremely harmful because:

1.      Use of the CRA to revoke regulations that fall within the authority of ED sets a damaging precedent of undermining the agency’s authority to regulate; and,

2.      The ESSA regulations and the substance therein are essential to assuring that every state develop meaningful accountability systems so that all students have every opportunity to achieve college and career ready standards, schools are identified for support and intervention is provided when student subgroups need it.

Call or Email your Senators:

  • Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for the office of your Senators
  • Identify yourself as a constituent and the organization that you represent (if any)


Suggested email or phone call comments could include:

I’m connecting with you to urge a NO vote on the resolution coming forward under the Congressional Review Act that would eliminate the accountability regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Students with disabilities are at great risk of being made invisible in state accountability systems without essential regulations that assure every group of students will matter when schools are identified as in need of intervention and support. My child/children with a disability deserve to attend a school that is held to the same high expectations as all others in my state and the ESSA regulations will help guide states in the design of a rigorous and meaningful accountability system.


ESSA was passed on a strong bi-partisan vote. Please support the implementation of ESSA and vote NO on the resolution that will revoke the accountability rules that support all students. Our children are depending on strong state accountability systems so they can succeed no matter where they attend school.