EXCLUSIVE: Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan Talks Common Core Failure and School Choice Expansion


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan, who was raised in Cincinnati, came back to Ohio Monday for the Ohio Christian Education Network’s InspirEd Conference. Brogan was one of the keynote speakers. He also participated in a press conference announcing Senate Bill 199, Sen. Matt Huffman’s (R-Lima) legislation which will allow families to participate in a federal tax credit program called Education Freedom Scholarships that has been introduced, but not yet passed, at the federal level.

Following those events, Assistant Secretary Brogan took the time to answer questions from The Ohio Star about common core, school choice and more.

“Under the leadership of Secretary DeVos and this administration, Common Core is dead at the federal level,” Brogan said.

“The notion that we should have high expectations for all students is obvious but Common Core, as defined by one-size-fits-all curriculum and assessments, has rightly been called out as an overreach by most Americans. As this call for more local decision-making capabilities grew louder, it became clear that Common Core could not survive. We now operate under ESSA, where assuring local control and accountability are pillars of the federal government’s involvement.”

The Asst. Sec. provided some details about the Administration and the Department of Education’s plans to further advance school choice options.

“Under the leadership of Secretary DeVos, the Department recognizes that a one-size-fits-all approach to education does not work, and that every student deserves access to the best education fit for them, regardless of status and zip code. We believe students and families need the freedom to choose the right fit for their educational needs,” explained Brogan.

“In addition to the Education Freedom Scholarships proposal, the Department encourages state and local leaders to be innovative and intentional when implementing awards administered through various grant programs.”

He further noted, “In addition to the several discretionary grants administered though Office of School Choice and Improvement Programs (SCIP), we recently announced a new initiative to promote education freedom in opportunity zones by encouraging the creation and expansion of public charter schools in economically distressed communities.”

The conversation turned to the recent NAEP results, known as “the nation’s report card,” which were concerning, especially for Ohio. One solution Brogan did not see as helpful or necessary was throwing more money at the problem. He did suggest further expansion of school choice and more local control.

“The annual release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP] scores causes us all to reflect on the importance of quality education for all students. The disappointing 2019 NAEP results serve as a reminder that addressing student achievement gaps with more money from the federal government is simply not the answer,” responded Brogan.

“We must acknowledge a shared responsibility to rethink our current education system to ensure low performing schools have access to resources necessary for dramatic change aimed at providing greater opportunity for students. America’s students and parents demand and deserve better. I believe that expanding education options for students will provide a platform for families to find the best educational fit for their children and will lead to improved achievement.”

He added, “I also believe that state and local leaders, not the federal government, are best able to make decisions on improving education outcomes of the unique populations they serve. Those closest to the students know what will and will not work best in their communities. At the federal level, our involvement is rightly limited.”

Lastly the Assistant Secretary spoke about the greatest need in American education today. The answer was increased education options.

“I believe the greatest need in education today is to dramatically rethink the way our education system can serve children. This can be achieved through continuing efforts to increase education freedom. Students and parents need the freedom to pursue the best education fit for them, regardless of income or zip code. Without the ability to choose an education model that serves individual students, many will continue struggling to recognize their full potential.”

“One important step forward is to advance Secretary DeVos’ Education Freedom Scholarship proposal. The proposal would establish a $5 billion federal tax credit to support and expand state designed and controlled programs, allowing states that opt-in to the program the flexibility to use the funds however works best to address the needs of their communities. States can use the funds to expand students’ access to educational opportunities by providing more access to apprenticeship and dual enrollment opportunities, giving students access to transportation to out of zone schools, and expanding tutoring programs.”

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Beth Lear is a reporter at The Ohio Star.  Follow Beth on Twitter.  Email tips to [email protected].






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