On June 14, 2016, organizations from across the national education community participated in a live online conversation to explore the implications for equity and the role of stakeholders in the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
The Panel Consisted of:
Tony Smith, State Superintendent of Education, Illinois State Board of Education
Christopher Edley, Jr., President, The Opportunity Institute
Ralph Martire, Executive Director, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability
Donna Harris-Aikens - Director, Education Policy & Practice Department, National Education Association
Beth Antunez - Deputy Director, Government Relations, American Federation of Teachers
Susie Saavedra - Senior Director for Policy and Legislative Affairs, National Urban League
Sylvia Puente - Executive Director, Latino Policy Forum
Claire Voorhees - Director for K-12 Reform, Foundation for Excellence in Education
Leslie Finnan - Senior Legislative Analyst, American Association of School Administrators
The panelists led a lively conversation about the promise of the new federal law, especially highlighting the following:
To make progress on equity, we will have to build strong relationships between stakeholders, advocates and the public.
There are several decision points within ESSA that call for public engagement. All stakeholders must have an opportunity to participate and engage in the process to improve equity for all of our children.
Most effective engagement will those opportunities in which stakeholders are well prepared and knowledgeable to constructively engage with education officials.
Stakeholder engagement opportunities should be at times and places that are convenient to all stakeholder groups including educators, community groups, parents and those unavailable during traditional business hours. Conveners should consult with district, local union, and community leaders, parent and student groups to get their input at places and times that allow for their specific participation. Education officials should enlist their help in increasing awareness and participation.
“We believe, deeply, that local wisdom and insight that resides in communities is critical to drafting a new state plan. The opportunities in ESSA are not to just re-think the state role, but to rethink local authority and local autonomy.”
- Tony Smith, State Superintendent of Education, Illinois State Board of Education
“There needs to be a concerted effort to go beyond the choir, if you will, to really get to the voices and communities that may not have been traditionally organized and do not necessarily have a process to get organized and to provide stakeholder input.”
- Sylvia Puente, Latino Policy Forum
“To have meaningful stakeholder engagement states must ensure that all communities have a seat at the table…[Decision making] really hasn’t represented community leaders, parents, students, and families from historically underserved communities. ESSA provides an opportunity to change this culture and mindset.”
- Susie Saavedra, National Urban League
“Feedback must be early, must be ongoing, and must be taken into account. We need to move from transactional to transformational.”
- Susie Saavedra, National Urban League
“For Tony’s troops in the field, and for community groups and advocacy groups, and parents, this statute asks for a lot, asks for a new way of doing business. We are not going to get the most out for the statute unless we are willing to take on that challenge.”
- Christopher Edley, Jr., The Opportunity Institute
“It’s a small thing, but the language on buy-in is different from commitment...We can be committed to a new accountability system that takes a fuller account of the whole child, that pays attention to what it means to be a more engaged citizen of the world… The ability to hold the well-being of every child and the access to quality, that is what our accountability system should be built around.”
- Tony Smith, Illinois State Board of Education
“For far too long, report cards have been an afterthought...we want to see a report card that does not just check the box but is really a living breathing tool.”
- Claire Voorhees, Foundation for Excellence in Education