On February 25th, we heard from voices around Mississippi on the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and its implications for issues of educational equity in the state. This webinar was an opportunity for some of Mississippi’s key stakeholder representatives to talk through important aspects of the law and the ways that stakeholders can and should engage with the process.
The panel consisted of:
Joyce Helmick, Educator, De Soto County and President, MS Association of Educators
“Some of our schools have made improvements because the community has become involved in what we’re doing. That has made a huge difference… Some of our “F” schools have moved up to “B” schools because our community has come and supported [them].” (1:01:50)
Sanford Johnson, Deputy Director, Mississippi First
“Pre-K should be part of the discussion because it is so important. If you look at our lowest performing kids, you will see schools where access to high quality early childhood education is very limited.” (49:40)
Etta Taplin, Former President, Mississippi State School Board Association
“If we are going to have high expectations, we need to be clear, communicate, and collaborate… We can change the way we look at how we implement things and take on a more open-minded approach about who we are going to invite in.” (29:00)
Joyce Parker, Executive Director, MS Delta Catalyst Roundtable
“Many times, we don’t agree across the board on everything, but even in this conversation we agree with more things than we don’t, and when we are given the opportunity to have a real dialogue and respect and regard what everybody brings to the table, we will be so much further ahead and be able to make those measurements count.” (1:06:57)
“[ESSA] will provide an opportunity - if all stakeholders are engaged - to replicate success, rather than to focus on failure.” (1:10:15)
Dr. Kent McGuire, President and CEO, Southern Education Foundation
“Whether [ESSA] works on behalf of all kids or not is very much a function of how well it is implemented… It is going to be really important for there to be as much dialogue between state, districts, schools and stakeholder groups in Mississippi as we can have.” (10:50)
The panelists led a lively conversation about the promise of the new federal law, especially highlighting the opportunity for federal and state agencies:
to truly invite new voices and perspectives to take part in the design and implementation of these new systems of support for our schools and students;
to design systems of accountability, assessment and support that “help, not hurt” our schools;
to align efforts and support effective collaboration by including the perspectives of all of the caring adults that are part of students’ lives;
to advance recent efforts around school climate as a significant part of understanding student and educator experiences; and,
to work together, even when “we don’t agree across the board on everything,“ to advance policies that ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn—especially our least advantaged.
In the coming months, Mississippi will need to engage all of its stakeholders - educators, community based organizations and non-profits, state, district, and school leaders, families, advocates, and others—in developing and implementing changes to MS’s accountability system, providing resources and supports for equitable implementation, and determining the most appropriate intervention and support plans to ensure equity and excellence for all students. We are grateful to all who participated and will be working alongside our Mississippi Partners as implementation continues.
This live video-conference was presented in collaboration with: