Re: “Maine looks to capitalize on education power shift” (Dec. 21):

Your article about Maine education officials reading the massive new federal education law in eager anticipation of all the regulatory freedom they will gain in 2016 and beyond invites comparison to children figuring that Santa surely will deliver the wishes on their lists. However, while jolly old Saint Nick tries to make children happy, the Washington establishment is famous for dashing hopes.

Soon enough, state and local educators will discover the truth about the 1,061-page Every Student Succeeds Act. For example, they will find federal control more deeply entrenched in statutory law than it ever was under No Child Left Behind or the Obama administration’s regulatory forays.

They will find that they have to develop curricular plans, subject to review by the U.S. education secretary, that align with no fewer than 11 different federal statutes, including those governing workforce development and Head Start.

Arne Duncan, who worked to centralize control of K-12 as education secretary for the first seven years of the Obama presidency, expressed his glee at back-room deals with Republican leaders that produced big ESSA.

“The core of our agenda from Day One, that’s all in there – early childhood, high standards (meaning Common Core), not turning a blind eye when things are bad,” he told Politico Pro. “For the first time in our nation’s history, that’s the letter of the law.”

The bottom line is that stultifying federal control will be increasing, not shrinking. And not even Santa can do anything about it.

Robert Holland

senior fellow for education policy, The Heartland Institute

Arlington Heights, Ill.