July 8, 2016
ESSA Planning Opportunities
On June 23, 2016, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., issued a key policy letter highlighting the importance of stakeholder engagement in the planning and implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Signed into law on December 10, 2015, ESSA creates a new federal-state partnership that supports a “well-rounded education” (the arts are included in the subjects listed); it also provides greater flexibility for states and school districts. ESSA’s opportunity for success lies in part on well-developed planning and implementation, from the federal level to states and districts. Secretary King stresses that meaningful and ongoing stakeholder engagement will produce valuable information that will help states and districts design the best possible education systems for students.
A timeline of past and upcoming ESSA activities can help unpack opportunities for participation for arts stakeholders:
Dec. 10, 2015
President Obama signs ESSA into law. Days later, U.S. Department of Education begins to convene meetings across the country, seeking early input as it plots a course forward.
May 31, 2016
U.S. Department of Education publishes notice of proposed rulemaking on accountability, state plans and data reporting. Notice encourages stakeholder feedback; comment period is currently active.
August 1, 2016
Comment period for feedback on ESSA rules closes.
U.S. Department of Education finalizes and publishes official ESSA rules.
States develop and submit their plans to U.S. Department of Education.
New systems are in place for 2017-2018 school year; many ESSA requirements take effect.
Secretary King’s letter also provides guidance on “supporting high-quality stakeholder engagement and removing barriers to genuine stakeholder engagement.” In support of meaningful and broad engagement, he recommends that states and districts:
- hold meetings/hearings at varying times during the day;
- hold multiple meetings/hearings across the state;
- ensure meetings include a broad range of stakeholder voices;
- facilitate broad participation beyond those who can attend meetings in person;
- allow participants to provide substantive input;
- provide accommodations to ensure meetings are accessible; and
- ensure transparency on the process, timeline and opportunities to engage.
The secretary’s letter certainly demonstrates the commitment of the U.S. Department of Education to public engagement that is inclusive, substantive and ongoing.
The launch of ESSA demonstrates that there are new opportunities for arts education and advocacy related to it. Education Commission of the States (ECS), which manages the Arts Education Partnership, recently published two special reports that provide helpful context for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The first report, ESSA’s Well-Rounded Education, explores the meaning of a “well-rounded education” within the framework of ESSA (the act references the term more than 20 times). The second report, Collaborative Stakeholder Engagement, provides meaningful insights about how states can productively involve stakeholders in the development of new state plans. ECS’s commissioners include education leaders from all states, including governors, legislators and appointed education leaders. See this issue’s State to State column for a current example of how a state arts agency (Tennessee) is addressing ESSA requirements.
To further assist state arts agencies (SAAs) and colleagues in navigating this terrain, NASAA and Americans for the Arts are teaming up to organize an arts education advocacy forum, which will take place at NASAA Assembly 2016 in Grand Rapids. Set for Saturday afternoon, September 17, SAA executives, council members and staff and State Arts Action Network (SAAN) members are invited to participate in a session designed to help SAAs and state arts advocacy organizations collaborate to lead successful efforts connecting arts education to state ESSA plans and implementation. As details unfold, we’ll post agenda updates on the NASAA website, so please stay tuned.
In this Issue
State to State
- Alabama: DesignAlabama
- New Jersey: Arts Management Intern Program
- Tennessee: Arts Education Policy Convening
More Notes from NASAA
From the CEO
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