Civil Rights and Education Groups Call on DeVos to Reject New York’s ESSA Waiver Request

Education News 11.29,17

WASHINGTON 17 civil rights and education organizations came together today to urge U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to reject New York’s requested waivers under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

In its consolidated state plan submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on September 18, the New York State Department of Education formally requested a waiver of two statutory requirements of Title I, Part A of ESSA, which are critical to ensuring all students have equal access to a quality education. Under the new law, states must develop educational accountability systems that ensure a high-quality education for all children in the state and comply with established guardrails.

If granted, these waivers would undermine students’ access to the general curriculum and would be contrary to the spirit and intent of the ESSA. New York’s state plan should be a declaration of its commitment to educate all children in New York, developed in partnership with the students, parents and families who have faced barriers to success in the state and the input of these communities should drive the development of the plan.

“The Department of Education must ensure that all state plans and waiver requests advance educational equity and serve the interests of all children. Low-income children, children of color, children with disabilities, English learners, and Native children have been left behind for far too long and deserve no less than a robust and thorough state plan review to ensure an excellent and equitable education,” the letters states.

New York’s request asks Secretary DeVos to grant waivers to:

  1. allow school districts to administer grades 3-8 assessments in English Language Arts and mathematics to students below their chronological grade-level for students with disabilities, and use students’ results on these examinations when making participation and accountability determinations at the elementary and middle school levels, and
  2. exclude English learners from the state’s assessment system for one year and accountability system for two years in English Language Arts after they have enrolled in schools in the United States. 

The letter can be found here.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit