ESSA and the Administrative State

Chad Aldeman on the delegation of policy making in ESSA:

Congress was able to reach broad bipartisan agreement on ESSA mainly because it punted on a number of of key policy questions. Any reading of ESSA leaves one wondering what exactly Congress meant when it asked states to “meaningfully differentiate” among schools, when it required that states give “substantial weight” to each indicator, or when it stipulated that academic indicators count for “much greater weight” than non-academic ones.

While I am pleased that ESSA will give states more latitude to develop school accountability models, I share Aldeman’s concern that we don’t really know how any of the candidates for president would approach ESSA rule making. This exemplifies a long-term trend in which Congress cedes power to the administrative agencies tasked with implementing legislation - a topic covered in the most recent episode of The Federalist Radio Hour.

If this habit is not broken, we will continue to find ourselves lamenting the uncertain implementation of major legislation.