Tester, Juneau Give Montana a Voice in Education Policy

Senator, Superintendent Highlight Importance of Rural Perspective in Every Student Succeeds Act Rollout

(Missoula, Mont.)-Senator Jon Tester and Superintendent Denise Juneau today hosted a roundtable with the U.S. Department of Education to give a voice to local education officials as the Department rolls out the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Tester and Juneau were joined by Senior Advisor to U.S. Education Secretary Ruthanne Buck, as well as teachers, administrators, and school board members from across Montana to discuss the rollout of new federal education guidelines that will return more control of the classroom from Washington, D.C. back to state and local leaders.

“The goal of the Every Student Succeeds Act is to give Montana teachers, administrators, parents, and school boards more control of the classroom,” Tester said. “Today’s discussion will help ensure that Washington is listening to folks ON the ground in Montana as they provide children with a quality public education here in Montana.”

Tester helped Congress pass‎ ESSA last year, which replaces No Child Left Behind as the nation’s primary federal education law and returns important decision making powers back to teachers, administrators, parents, and school boards.

The roundtable follows Tester’s amendment to ESSA that pushes the Education Secretary to receive input from local stakeholders, like school boards, before developing new rules. Tester is also pushing the U.S. Department of Education to ensure less time is spent on standardized tests as ESSA is implemented.

“Montana’s educators and parents know what’s best for our students, which is why I’m so excited to see the federal government get out of the way and give local leaders a seat at the table in determining the future of our schools,” Superintendent Denise Juneau said. “More Montana students are graduating than ever before, and we will continue that trend under the Every Student Succeeds Act.”

The Office of Public Instruction is working with a group of educators, school board leaders and parents to develop Montana’s new accountability system under ESSA. Juneau intends to have Montana’s draft plan submitted to the U.S. Department of Education by mid-December.

During the event, participants and attendees were able to provide public comment in advance of the new accountability system that will go into effect next school year.