March 13, 2017

Wyden Urges Education Secretary to Spell Out Trump Plans to Increase Graduation Rates at Public High Schools

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today asked Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to spell out the Trump Administration’s plans to help public high schools increase graduation rates in Oregon and across the country.

In a letter today, Wyden specifically asked DeVos how she would implement a Wyden priority to increase graduation rates that was included in the new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Congress passed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015 to give all children better access to quality education and give more control to states and educators. The Wyden provision in the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act provides struggling public schools with federal funding to improve their graduation rates.

However, last week, congressional Republicans rolled back guidance from the Obama Administration that gave schools a blueprint for how to comply with accountability provisions included in the new education law. The vote creates uncertainty for schools, school districts and states that are working to submit their graduation improvement plans to the administration next month.

Oregon has struggled with a high school graduation rate of about 75 percent, which is below the national average of about 82 percent.

“In light of legislative attempts to strike down Obama Administration regulations implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act and reports of harmful federally funded private school voucher programs from the Administration, clarity about graduation rate policy is more important than ever,” Wyden wrote in the letter.

Wyden also stressed the importance of keeping taxpayer funding going to public schools, which are required to track and report student success.

“Under ESSA, the federal government provides young Oregonians, and our public schools, with the resources, federal funding, and flexibility they need for students to succeed. Moving limited funding away from public schools and toward unaccountable private schools that do not serve all students, or our common civic values, will ultimately harm public education,” he wrote.

Wyden asked for a response from DeVos in 30 days.

Read the full text of the letter here.