Skip to page content

Professor co-authors new policy brief to enhance elementary, secondary education

  |   Kathryn Kao   |   Permalink   |   News Release,   Students and Faculty

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) recently released a policy brief by lead author Elizabeth DeBray, a professor in the College of Education’s department of lifelong education, administration and policy.

Elizabeth Debray

Titled “A Civil Rights Framework for the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA),” the brief serves as a guide to help policymakers redesign the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) using an equitable and evidence-based framework.

Passed in 2015, ESSA replaced the No Child Left Behind Act and governs K-12 public education policy. The act retains standardized testing requirements but shifts the law’s federal accountability to states.

“My colleagues and I considered the lessons of the pandemic for education and made recommendations to build upon ESSA’s core purpose and its critical history as a civil rights law,” said DeBray. “These are designed to ensure it is responsive to racial and social inequities across systems that affect students’ educational experiences and outcomes.”

The co-authors of the brief suggest that educators foster racial and socioeconomic equity in alignment with the law’s original intent.

According to the brief, federal policymakers should consider a structural approach that includes three main elements to best promote equity in crafting the next iteration of ESEA:

  1. ESSA should be restructured so that the law’s titles focus on systems, students and staff.
  2. The law should be refocused on three principles: racial equity, an ecosystem approach to serve students’ needs across policy silos (e.g., housing and health) and a focus on research evidence.
  3. Congress should develop and advance a coherent strategy for reauthorization with a focus on specific policy components focused on systems, students, and staff.
Along with DeBray, the brief’s co-authors include professor Kara Finnigan of the University of Michigan, associate professor Janel George of Georgetown University Law Center and professor Janelle Scott of the University of California-Berkeley.
© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602