Thursday, December 8, 2016

Work ESSA from the ground up, Weingarten urges lawmakers | American Federation of Teachers

Work ESSA from the ground up, Weingarten urges lawmakers | American Federation of Teachers:

Work ESSA from the ground up, Weingarten urges lawmakers 

Weingarten during a SIx plenary session
AFT President Randi Weingarten called on state legislators this month to seize the opportunity behind the federal Every Student Succeeds Act by taking an approach that begins with collaboration and planning in partnership with teachers, school staff, parents, students and community stakeholders.
 Speaking at "ESSA: An Opportunity for States to Shape Education Policy," a plenary panel discussion hosted by the State Innovation Exchange (SiX) at its 2016 National Conference for legislators in Washington, D.C., Weingarten stressed that the only way states can achieve the letter and spirit of the new federal law is to work it from the "ground up"—crafting plans for school accountability, testing and other ESSA-related matters with meaningful input from the community. The rewards for this big-tent approach are enormous, Weingarten added. With community engagement, ESSA can help reset the focus of schooling and place it where it needs to be: on children's well-being, on creating the conditions for powerful learning, on strengthening building-level capacity and on fostering collaboration.

"ESSA enables us to give kids the public schools kids deserve" by doing more than just "tinker with existing policies," Weingarten told state lawmakers at the conference. "We just have to work together to get it done."
SiX is a national resource and strategy center that supports state legislators in advancing and defending progressive policies; that means the organization couldn't be more important when it comes to ESSA, Weingarten noted, because states still hold the primary responsibility for education. Under ESSA, statehouses hold sway on essential conditions in education—ensuring that schools are evaluated on more than just test scores; making real supports available to struggling schools; and, above all, establishing a climate where schools are able to focus on improving teaching and learning.
Communities are counting on state legislators to see to it that all children get a free, high-quality public education. And key to those efforts, Weingarten said, are ESSA and "the $15 billion in Title I funding protected under the law."
Use your position, your voice, your oversight to help communities, parents, teachers and school staff have a voice in the process as well, Weingarten told the audience. That way, we can give kids the excellent public education they deserve.
[Mike Rose, Leilah Mooney Joseph]
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