Even though it was short notice when I found out about these forums, I managed to attend the one in Puyallup yesterday. Here is the powerpoint that was used during the forum.
This powerpoint can be downloaded from OSPI’s web page about the forums. OSPI has another web page dedicated to the Every Student Succeeds Act. It has information about the various workgroups involved in developing the state’s ESSA Consolidated Plan.
The forum in Puyallup had around 70 people in attendance (including OSPI’s folks). Back in October 2010, OSPI held forums (we called them dog and pony shows) around the state about the Common Core State Standards. About 200 people total attended those forums so 70 people at one forum is impressive in comparison. It appeared that most of the people in attendance were school personnel. This was confirmed when someone asked for a show of hands of people who work in the classroom everyday. The show of hands looked to be about 75% of the people in attendance. The rest seemed to be administrators. It appeared there were only a handful of people who were not school personnel. Why is that? ESSA is going to impact every student and now is the time to provide input. It is important that parents get out to these forums and find out what is going on.
Gil Mendoza present information about ESSA and facilitated the open discussion. His presentation was about half an hour long with the remainder of the time used for open discussion.
It did not surprise me to hear it said that this law provides greater local control, limits the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDOE) authority, and that the state is in the driver’s seat. Yet ESSA requires the state to submit a plan which USDOE can approve or disapprove. It was stated that once a plan is approved, the plans become federal requirements for the state.
I commented to someone yesterday that I must have missed it when the meaning of local control was changed. If parents and communities really want to restore local control, they need to attend and take an active role in these kinds of forums. Restoring local control is not going to be an easy or quick process. A major re-education program for parents, communities and local decision makers will need to take place. Such a program should (among many other things) include making decisions, taking responsibility for those decision, and how to disengage from relying on corporate entities, foundations, and state and federal governments.