Questions Boards should ask about their ESSA plans
John King, Former US Secretary of Education, The Education Trust
Michael Magee, Chiefs for Change;
Sandy Boyd, Achieve (moderator)
Boyd: Talk a little bit about where we are currently at. ESSA changed things. Since then, a number of things: regulations rescinded. What are states to make of that?
King: Great to be with all of you again. Thanks to Kris again for her leadership. Where I think we are, in the absence of regs, greater urgency for kids. Use flexibility to close gaps. Arts. Computer Science. Focused attention on districts that aren't providing opps. Clear commitment for stakeholder engagement - - will ensure success of the law. Relies on State leadership and that is why you are here.
Magee: Thanks to all on SBEs. Chiefs for Change is membership org supporting State Superintendents. Incredible education for us to support them. Chiefs are taking seriously "equity and evidence" in ESSA, as well as new opportunities around new flexibilities around Title funding. The Budget speaks to how much funding will be put in to support plans.
Amundson: No question we are at one of those inflection points. The pendulum had most certainly swung to the point where an almost universal sense that something had to be done. Swung back to giving authority to States. The opportunities are tremendous. It's essential that we never lose sight of what we are about. Secretary DeVos said what Michael Fullan says: excellence is the fundamental equity proposition. We have to be cognizant that hard work is necessary.
Boyd: The pendulum has a way of swinging. Interested to hear about what you see as the opportunities from States that's worth replicating.
Amundson: Some of what Kansas did (Kansas CAN) is worth replicating. The SBE and Commissioner together: what do you want a KS high school graduate to know and be able to do at age 22? Tremendous buy-in from stakeholders. Contributed to the flip in the legislature.
Magee: Teacher leadership and advocacy work begun in Louisiana - began with 5 teachers, now 20,000 teachers. Teacher voice at the center.
Boyd: Rand did a study. LA teachers actually trust what they hear from the State...
Magee: Speaks to the quality of support teachers receive. All plans from our States are putting in 7% set-aside for PD. 3% set-aside for students in high school
King: States are taking advantage under ESSA to go beyond NCLB proficiency. 1). Ability to look at growth. Are students making progress at this school? Inclusion of growth is critical. 2). Populations within schools is vital and States recognize that. Attention to that is critical. 3). Work Massachusetts is doing on the part of "turn-arounds" (Lawrence Public Schools, under state receivership). Not enough to have an accountability system, what areyou going to do about it?
Boyd: Tell me what is your biggest worry at this point?
Amundson: If anything close to the "skinny budget" happens, makes me very nervous. Fed money is very small, but it does what nothing else does. Budget are always things you need to worry about. Second thing: the initial emphasis on stakeholder engagement - important and lived out - it's a boatload of work and you do not always hear what you wanted to hear - - it's not a PR activity. That Stakeholder Engagement is not in the template - I don't want to keep fighting that fight.
Boyd: States have been very serious about the stakeholder engagement work.
Amundson: It's hard to organize on the part of the Board and the Chief. Enormously time-consuming. Not enough to listen, then you've got to do stuff.
Magee: Strong on Stakeholder Engagement. Building consensus. Need a coalition to support implementation of your plan. I'm encouraged by what I have seen our members doing. Use the old template if you need to, to keep it going. I'm most concerned about: consistent stakeholder engagement going forward. Governance structures in MA is another great model.
King: one thing you can control is making sure that in your State's accountability system, kids are not invisible. Let's take ELLS: will that school be identified within your accountability system? You can influence federal and state budgets. Responding requires resources. Advocating for resources. SROs but now School Counselors. There are folks who want to say they want to abandon public schools but I think they are wrong. We must stand up and support them.
Boyd: How do we make State ESSA plans a shared comon expectation? Our kids? Everybody's kids? Feels like a convo that can be siloed.
Amundson: I think it was Cheryl at Chamber of Commerce who said: If you're going to start your plan without a vision, you're never going to get where you want to.
Magee: There's a great deal of urgency to do things differently. Sees charters and school choice as vital in doing that. Sees uniform enrollment and accountability for all schools.
King: Telling comment from Cheryl. She knows that every business community knows that success means all our kids must be successful. We have to hold up a mirror.
Boyd: What do you think the role of SBEs is in this process, now and in the future?
King: Ask tough questions. What happens when we don't get the results? Keep asking tough questions.
Magee: Represent the Public. Move them if they're not where you think they should be. Hold your Departments and Chiefs to serving the Public. Makes the policies and practices sustainable.
Boyd: I don't view this ESSA planning as a one and done event. When do you revisit? Make adjustments? I think you'll have lots of flexibility under the Secretary. College is a destination that most American parents have for their kids.
Amundson: Power of the Question. SBEs look different - elected, appointed. Need a sense that the plan is going to move your State on where you want to go. We came up with 7 different questions for SBEs to ask. Not to give you the answers, but to equip you. SBEs have the power to be the citizen voice. that's what you're there for. Take the paper with you when you leave (or download on the app).
And that's a wrap.