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Public education continues to be a hotbed topic in the United States, with buzzwords like “school choice,” and “vouchers,” being bandied about during political debates, social media conversations and news segments alike. In these ever changing times, for parents and other community stakeholders, it can be difficult to understand how educational policies may affect the young people in their lives. However, one thing remains consistent: the desire to see our children graduate from high schools that have prepared them for college, career and the lives of their dreams. In order to make that happen, we all must ensure that our youth have access to the sort of high-quality public education that they need to succeed

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) seeks to do just that. Signed into law in December 2015, the act determines how the U.S. Department of Education supports state and local education systems and schools with funding and guidance. Individual states are tasked with developing and submitting plans for ESSA implementation; while some have already completed this process, others are still in the planning stages—and able to receive feedback from citizens regarding their vision for the children of their communities.

Find out what you need to know about ESSA, and how you can get involved with the push for better public schools:

  1. At its core, ESSA is a civil rights law. ESSA seeks to ensure that each child has the same opportunities and access to a high-quality education—no matter their race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status—while providing more resources for the schools that need the most help.

2) ESSA has replaced No Child Left Behind, and it differs from the previous law in some important ways. For example, under ESSA, states and districts have more responsibility for determining how to:

  • Evaluate schools
  • Step in to improve schools that aren’t educating their children
  • Administer student tests, including whether to reduce testing and/or use different types of
    assessments

3) In every state, leaders are creating plans for implementing ESSA. Each plan will outline how state resources will be spent and the way in which the state intends to improve schools. The U.S. Department of Education will review and approve each state’s plan before the plans are implemented in the 2017-18 school year. To see the status of your state’s ESSA plan, click here.

4) Parents, caregivers, and community members can make their voices heard. Your input as a parent or someone who wants to see the children in their life succeed is imperative. Visit the Department of Education website to learn about your state plan and ways to let leaders know what you want for your schools and children.

To become more involved in ESSA plans for your state, sign up for alerts and follow the organizations listed below:

The “Dignity in Schools “Campaign http://www.dignityinschools.org/essa-state-plans

The 74 million: https://www.the74million.org/

The TNTP blog: https://tntp.org/blog/

Edutopia: https://www.edutopia.org/

BlackPressUSA: http://www.blackpressusa.com/category/education/

Check State Plans https://checkstateplans.org

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