Detroit Families Deserve to Know How Our Kids’ Schools Are Doing

Yesterday, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) released its draft plan for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal law that replaced No Child Left Behind. I can say that state Superintendent Brian Whiston assembled a diverse group of organizations to participate in a working group tasked with giving MDE their ideas and recommendations on what should or should not be in this plan.

These groups include The Urban League-Grand Rapids, the NAACP, EdTrust Midwest, the Detroit Chamber of Commerce, New Detroit, the Michigan College Access Network and Hispanic Services Grand Rapids and Council for a Strong America, just to name a few.

Passed in 2015, ESSA requires states to develop plans for how they will measure and make available information on school performance, establish ambitious and achievable school goals, hold schools accountable for serving every group of students well and supporting improvement when a school is not meeting the needs of all groups of students.

No one knows better than Detroit parents how hard it is to find a school that will meet a student’s needs without accurate, easy-to-understand information outlining how well a school is serving kids like theirs. Without simple data showing how well a school works with children with disabilities, say, or kids learning English, enrolling your child in a school that happens to have a seat is the high-stakes equivalent of rolling the dice.

Of course there are plenty of powerful people who would be just as happy to see this information continue to be hard to find and interpret. The groups listed above have a good understanding of what’s at stake, but state officials will also need the voices of parents and students if they are to succeed in getting good and accessible data for Michigan families.

Based on current MDE plans, the release of the proposed plan will begin a period of review and public comment on the draft plan, which is expected to continue through March 16. MDE is then expected to revise and finalize the implementation plan by April 3. They may elect to encourage greater dialogue and public input by not finalizing the plan until September 2017.

I hope they extend the review process so more constituents from around the state will have an opportunity to weigh in on this issue. This will affect every school district in the state of Michigan one way or another. Feel free to go to the link to read the plan’s 20 page overview: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/Overview_of_Michigan_ESSA_Consolidated_Plan_Draft_551663_7.pdf

Or you can read over the entire plan (which is 153 pages) at this link: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/Michigan_ESSA_Consolidated_Plan-Draft_for_Public_Comment_551642_7.pd.

Let us know how you feel about this plan on Facebook at Detroit School Talk or on Twitter @DetroitSchlTalk. #Voices4Ed #MIEducation #ESSA

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