Abstract

This article offers an analysis of the legacy of the Obama Administration’s education agenda, focusing on implications for American federalism. Faced with partisan gridlock in Congress—which was not able to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) until the last year in office—the Obama Administration opted to make education policy through creative, expansive, and controversial uses of executive power that changed the national political discourse around education and pushed states to enact important policy changes regarding charter schools, common core standards and assessments, and teacher evaluation. The administration’s aggressive efforts on school reform, however, eventually led to a political backlash against those same reforms and federal involvement in education more generally and resulted in an ESEA reauthorization (the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act) that rolls back the federal role in K-12 schooling in important ways. One of the enduring legacies of the Obama presidency may well be the invigoration and expansion of the state role in education.

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