Oh, No Not Another Federal Program

Education is loaded with acronyms. Remember EPSS, HEP, ELL, CSI, TSI, SEL or C2C teams? I once thought I would write a whole "Know Your Rights" column in acronyms. Well, add a new acronym to your vocabulary: ESSA or the Every Student Succeeds Act. It will be used by all educator a great deal for the foreseeable future.

ESSA is the successor to No Child Left Behind which preceded Race to the Top. The Obama administration in 2015 developed the ESSA which the Wall Street Journal called the "largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter of a century" (Severns, 2015). In 2016, Governor David lge mandated a Governor's ESSA Team to develop a blueprint for Hawaii's schools consistent with the ESSA law. In January, 2017, the Blueprint was completed and printed for mass distribution.

The Blueprint will coexist with DOE Strategic Plan (2016), Hawaii DOE Implementation Plan (1917) and the Hawaii Consolidated State ESSA Plan (1917). This raises the question: are the plans compatible? Surprisingly, yes. The plans all contain some of the same elements and as far as I can tell the plans do not contradict elements in any of them.

The Blueprint has three foci: student success, educator success, system success. The DOE Implementation Plan identifies ideals: School Design, Student Voice and Teacher Collaboration. Let's take a closer look at the DOE's implementation plan because it is the one that best represents the Superintendent's thinking. This plan was submitted to the Federal Department of Education and approved by the Federal Department on January 19th. It contains three components: School Design, Student Voice and Teacher Collaboration.

In the plan School Design contains ten action items. A few include efining school empowerment and embedding it into leadership training, create a five year technology plan to support schools and system efficiencies and create a pre-k expansion plan with a focus on low socioeconomic area.

The section on Student Voice also has ten action items. Just a few include create opportunities for students to engage in design thinking. Another action is to include student choice in classroom and school courses, assignments and projects.

Finally, the action items included in Teacher Collaboration call for identifying schools which create time for teachers to collaborate on curriculum development, find private partnerships to develop teacher housing in high need areas and to prioritize professional growth opportunities.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating so the cliché goes. Now the hard work begins. An independent review of the consolidated plan by the Bellweather Education Partners found that the "how" was missing in a number of areas. And the how is the key to the success of the planning. All eyes will be on the work ahead. I hope that all of this hard work doesn't end on the shelf like so many other plans.

By Joan Lee Husted, HEA Board Member

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