Civil Rights and Education Groups Urge DeVos to Reject Florida’s Submitted ESSA Plan

Education News 11.9.17

WASHINGTONToday, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, along with 17 civil rights and education groups, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, expressing significant concerns regarding Florida’s submitted state ESSA plan. 

The letter strongly agrees with and reinforces the views set forth in a September letter to Governor Rick Scott and Florida’s Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart from nearly two dozen Florida organizations and individuals representing English learners, students of color, students with disabilities, low-income students and other communities, which expressed the signatories’ opposition, “in the strongest terms,” to the state’s draft waiver.

The national letter to Secretary DeVos states: “Despite the valid concerns of the Florida stakeholders, the state did not reverse course on the majority of the problematic policies it proposed. Instead, the state decided to simply submit a plan which, by its earlier admission in the waiver application, does not meet the requirements of the law. Florida’s plan must be rejected on both accounts: failing to serve the interests of marginalized students in the state, and failing to comply with the requirements of the law.”

The specific problems the groups cited in Florida’s plan were:

  • Denying students access to native language assessments, including the more than 200,000 English learners who speak Spanish;
  • Excluding subgroups defined by race/ethnicity, language, disability and family income from the accountability system; and
  • Excluding the state’s measure of English language proficiency from the accountability system.

The letter to Secretary DeVos can be found in its entirety here.