Email Deadline: Friday, June 30thEmbed from Getty Images
Indivisible Ventura is joining with Indivisible Conejo’s action and those of other groups to ensure that all children, even those with special needs, count in California’s classrooms and that underperforming schools are quickly identified and assisted in improvement.
President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have been busy dismantling Obama’s bipartisan “Every Student Succceeds Act” (ESSA) and our own state Board of Education has stated that they will only meet “minimum federal requirements”.
Great! What could go wrong?
One key ESSA element being relaxed is the assessing of whether kids in particular groups (disabled, english-language learners, foster children, etc.) are getting a good education. An assessment requires a minimum number of students, and educators recommend 10 for each group. The Feds recommend 30, a number so large that nearly 50% of schools could duck out of academic performance assessments.
California’s draft plan for implementing ESSA uses three years of graduation-rate data to determine which public high schools aren’t graduating at least a third of their students. These schools would be eligible for special support and improvement planning programs. However, there’s no reason they can’t identify these schools faster, putting fewer teens at risk of a poor educational outcome.
Schools’ performance ratings, especially for students with special needs, should be made transparent to their families. In addition, ESSA required that the academic achievement of 95% of students be assessed. However, the new plan has no penalties for schools fiddling the numbers to achieve a higher rating by eliminating underperforming subgroups. Kids are the losers in this game. We give this plan an “F” grade.
Sample email (change it up a bit): I am writing to urge the board to insist upon the highest possible standards in mandating accountability for our schools. Education is a civil right for all American children. California’s Board of Education shouldn’t use the Fed’s downgrading of ESSA rules to widen the education gap for struggling students. We ask you to make schools effective for and accountable to all – especially those who are most marginalized.