In March 2017, former U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. paid a visit to USC Rossier shortly after becoming the new CEO and president of Education Trust. His message? More than ever before, states had to lead the way if we were to continue to ensure equitable outcomes for all students.
Historically, educational oversight had been left to state and local governments. That changed in 1965, when Congress passed President Lyndon Johnson’s landmark legislation, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). It mandated equal access to a quality education for all students.
Nearly 20 years later, in 1983, President Ronald Reagan’s National Commission on Excellence in Education issued “A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform,” which painted a bleak picture of America’s educational system as a whole, emphasizing the need to improve the nation’s curriculum standards.
While “A Nation at Risk” played a role in shaping George W. Bush’s reauthorization of ESEA in 2001, known as the No Child Left Behind Act, it also set the stage for the state and local education measures that began to proliferate in the 1990s. Some of those milestones that have come to shape our state’s educational landscape are listed on pages 4 and 5. President Barack Obama’s reauthorization of ESEA in 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act, is yet another step toward increased state control.
This is part of the background we had in mind when we set about gathering the stories for this issue. Is there a California Way of navigating the future of K-12 education policy?
Unlike the uncertainty we are experiencing today on a national level, our state is witnessing an extended period of stability and cooperation among practitioners, policymakers, researchers and state agencies. As the stories in this issue show, USC Rossier faculty, students and alumni are part of this collaboration to lead all students of California to a more equitable future.