Here’s how Secretary King is living up to a 50-year-old promise
Kevin Kosar, a fellow at a conservative think tank, wrote a blog post for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute aimed at Education Secretary John King’s proposed approach to ensuring all children benefit from federal dollars governed by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Kosar took issue with Secretary King’s statementthat ESEA is a civil rights law.
Kosar’s arguments against calling ESEA a civil rights law are flawed, but what is troubling about his piece is that it distracts from the real issue.
Secretary King referenced the civil rights origins of ESEA as a means of justifying proposed rules that would require districts to prove they’re spending Title I funds given to them by the federal government on low-income students. Kosar attacks the civil rights argument in order to delegitimize King’s point that the federal government should direct more resources to the kids who need them the most.
Kosar acknowledges that while Secretary King isn’t the first to talk about ESEA being a civil rights law, the civil rights branding in this instance is offensive because it is used to mask federal overreach.
Kosar claims that ESEA, as adopted in 1965, was not a civil rights law, but an anti-poverty measure. Kosar supports this claim by observing that the statute neither says the words “civil rights,” nor did President Lyndon Johnson when he signed the bill at his hometown school, instead of one that served predominantly children of color. Kosar adds that ESEA didn’t create an entitlement or speak of equalizing spending.