NASBE: Relentless Pursuit of Equity in Education

I'm in the Montpelier Room with panelists Peter Cookson (AIR); Guy Johnson (Partners for each and every child); Dr. Estela Lopez (CT Board of Education); and Kimberly Charis (NASBE) for a session on the relentless pursuit of equity in education policy*. Live-blogging, updating as we go.

Panelists introduce themselves.

Peter Cookson: DeVos has given us a danger and and opportunity". The Opportunity is in 4 parts in ESSA: 1). Higher Order skills for all students 2). multiple measures for assessing schools and performance 3). resource equity and 4). equitable strategies. Linda Darling-Hammond calls these the four pillars necessary for equitable success in this century. The transformation is going to be huge.
  1. Higher Order thinking skills: 21st c curriculum, ability to work in groups, solve problems, create a thinking person who is a life-long learner. Standards and learning goals. What are they?
  2. Assessments: Never been a fan of multiple choice testing. ESSA allows for portfolios, learning is horizontal and vertical.
  3. Equitable Strategies: what are the opportunities to learn? Access to excellent teachers. The quality of teaching is the biggest area that makes a difference.
  4. Access to resources: you know there isn't equitable access to resources. Technology integration. School climate.
Guy Johnson: Grew out of the Equity & Excellence Commission. we work in 7 states at the moment, as a bridge between SBEs and community. Stakeholder engagement - important but insufficient on its own. What we know so far - clear trajectory on ESSA:
  • Passage of ESSA - transfer of authority from federal to state actors
  • Repeal of regulations - elimination of numerous federal "guardrails"
  • New US/ED ESSA Plan Template - SEAs have to report only what's "absolutely necessary"
"Light touch" from US/ED
What to aim for?

  • Transparency and inclusion
    • collaboration across government units
    • reliable data, accessible materials
  • Ongoing involvement with diverse base of stakeholders
      • prioritize the historically underrepresented
        • especially on important/relevant topics
    • CBO/NGO Partnerships to fill needs
  • Setting up systems to support continuous improvement
The plan is submitted on April 3 - - what happens on April 4?

Areas of Focus
  • cross-governmental engagement and policy environment
  • Supports for LEA implementation
  • Community Engagement & Engagement on specific issues and programs
  • Continuous improvement
Equity requires:
  • parent, family and community engagement and consultation
  • accountability for the achievement of all students
  • easily accessible and user friendly data
  • equitable resources aligned to student needs
Estela Lopez: provided all of us with a copy of the Connecticut State Board of Ed''s 5-yr comprehensive plan (2016-21). Wanted a concise document with actionalble steps and outcomes. How to get to equity? Discussions and diversity workshops, including gender and sexual identity. Difference between equity and equality. Believe - a shared value - that every child can learn. Must be about equity because it is all about children. Commitment to equity and excellence in education. Three areas:
  • High expectations for every student
  • Great teachers and leaders
  • Great schools
You want see achievement, but must have growth.

Kimberly Charis, NASBE: New initiative, provide a systemic plan for professional development for State Boards of Education (SBEs). Needs assessment will be emailed to SBEs, followed by Piloting portions. 

Q: What is your definition of equity and what does it look like?
Lopez: You've seen it on facebook - it's that fence thing. Not everyone is the same height. Everyone must be able to see over the fence.
Johnson: Equity is not equality; we see it as equal opportunity for each to make decisions about education. Support. Integrity.

Q: PD plan - does that include legislators?
Charis: We're designing this training for SBEs; if you want to invite your legislators...you could.

Q: SBE capacity.
Johnson: Each group drew out what they would focus on.

Q: How do you think the national convo will have an impact on equity issues?
Cookson: That's the question of the hour. I'm sure there are multiple perspectives. Some ideas around school choice are around equity, but there are some risks: segregation; loose accountability of schools.
Lopez: CT/SBE approves charters. Renewal includes accountability measures. Equity does apply.

Q: Equity of expectation. Title IIA funding (for teaching and excellence) is proposed elimination in the budget.
Q: School to prison pipeline. SROs. How to address?
Lopez: reports about suspension and expulsion for everyone to look at the data.
Charis: SRO is a local issue. WV/SBE created a model MOU. SBEs can create guidelines
Johnson: Civil Rights Data Collection may see changes under this administration.

Q: We've been at this quest for equity in education since 1965 (ESEA); 2001 (NCLB). Not seen great progress...what is different now?
Lopez: I know some things have failed but I cannot afford not to keep trying.

That's a wrap.

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* Nathan is attending: Ensuring High-Quality Educators for All Our Students Teachers and school leaders have a profound impact upon student learning and school conditions. This session will cover challenges and opportunities states face in supporting teachers and school leaders to improve their craft and ensuring equitable access to high-quality educators. This “policy and proof points” session will feature the latest research available along with practical on-the-ground approaches by states.
Panelists: Melinda George, Learning Forward;
Steve Tozer, University of Illinois