Another ESSA deadline came and went like a thief in the night. Did you notice?
In case you missed it — which you probably did, because nobody’s really been talking about it — Congress revamped No Child Left Behind and renamed it the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015. This new law changes a few things, but one of the most significant is that it hands over to states more control of their education systems.
One of the first steps in transitioning to ESSA is for states to submit accountability plans, essentially telling the feds how they plan to monitor themselves and hold themselves accountable within this new framework.
So, for the past year or so, states have been working on these plans, which will establish standards and accountability measures for things like upholding civil rights and serving traditionally neglected demographics.
Monday, April 3, was the first deadline to submit plans to the federal government. States were also given the option submit plans to their own governors on Monday, have them reviewed for 30 days, and then submit to the federal government by May 3. Colorado is doing that. In fact, nine states plus Washington D.C. submitted Monday, and more have announced plans to meet the April deadlne.
Here in Washington State, though, all is eerily quiet. Why aren't we seeing any developments on Washington's ESSA plan? Why is nobody -- aside from Chris Reykdal, who mentioned it once in a bizarre, obscure op-ed in the Eatonville Dispatch -- talking about it?
As I've said, it's hard to feel optimistic that Washington State, with its atrocious opportunity gaps and record of disproportionate discipline, will submit a plan to actually hold our schools accountable to standards they've never met. In fact, without vigilant public oversight, it's hard to see how our schools don't get worse through this process, which I had thought, given the current state of affairs, was inconceivable.
This whole ESSA process is supposed to include perpetual public input and feedback. Washington State has been utterly silent throughout this process. In fact, the state seems be intentionally minimizing public scrutiny — makes me all the more concerned about where we're headed.