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Other States Get To Comment On Their State Education Plan – Missourians Do Not

Friday, March 17, 2017 9:33
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The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was meant to return local control of public schools to the states, but it didn’t really do that because it still requires states to submit a Consolidated Education Plan to the USDED Secretary for review and “acceptance.” The law is very specific about what states must do in the development of this plan to ensure that it is representative of what the stakeholders in each state want in their schools. This includes gathering input from an enumerated list of such stakeholders which includes parents. Ohio and Michigan got the message. Missouri – not so much.

ESSA ‘‘SEC. 1111. STATE PLANS provided a list of entities to be consulted in the development of Consolidated State Plans as stated below:
‘‘(a) FILING FOR GRANTS.—
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—For any State desiring to
receive a grant under this part, the State educational agency shall file with the Secretary a plan that is—

‘‘(A) developed by the State educational agency with timely and meaningful consultation with the Governor, members of the State legislature and State board of education (if the State has a State board of education), local educational agencies (including those located in rural areas), representatives of Indian tribes located in the State, teachers, principals, other school leaders, charter school leaders (if the State has charter schools), specialized instructional support personnel, paraprofessionals, administrators, other staff, and parents.

That says that THE PLAN must be developed in consultation with those stakeholders. It does not say that there should be public listening sessions, conducted in traditional delphi manner to solicit answers only to the questions you want to consider,  about what people want in a great wish list for public schools. What ends up in the PLAN is what the stakeholders care about. Michigan and Ohio posted their draft plans on their state education websites for public comment. A search of the MO DESE website only revealed a PPt of their work plan to develop a plan. If the Plan itself is there, it is difficult to find and another sign that the Department is incompetent when it comes to making their website user friendly.

The federal law also states that Governors shall consult in the development of the Plan and have the opportunity to review it 30 days prior to submission. Since DESE has stated their intent to file by the first statutory deadline of April 3, 2017, we are in that 30 day window for gubernatorial consultation.

SEC. 8540.;NOTE: 20 USC 7920; CONSULTATION WITH THE GOVERNOR.

“(a) In General.–A State educational agency shall consult in a
timely and meaningful manner with the Governor, or appropriate officials from the Governor’s office, in the development of State plans under titles I and II and section 8302.
“(b) Timing.–The consultation described in subsection (a) shall
include meetings of officials from the State educational agency and the
Governor’s office and shall occur–
“(1) during the development of such plan; and
“(2) prior to submission of the plan to the Secretary.
“(c) Joint Signature Authority.–A Governor shall have 30 days
prior to the State educational agency submitting the State plan under
title I or II or section 8302 to the Secretary to sign such plan. If the
Governor has not signed the plan within 30 days of delivery by the State educational agency to the Governor, the State educational agency shall submit the plan to the Secretary without such signature.”

This week a letter, co-signed by Missouri Coalition Against Common Core, Missouri Eagle Forum and Concerned Women For America, was hand delivered to Governor Greitens’ office to request that he be proactive in reviewing and, if necessary, postponing DESE’s submission of Missouri’s Consolidated State Plan for application of Title I dollars under ESSA.

Confounding the issue is the fact that the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) was attempting to direct this process and had developed their own template for these plans that state’s were encouraged to use. When the new Secretary DeVos issued a streamlined consolidated State plan template that would “require only descriptions, information, assurances and other materials that were ‘absolutely necessary’ for consideration of such a plan, consistent with ESEA section 8302(b)(3)”  this put the work of CCSSO in jeopardy. The Secretary has now allowed states to use CCSSO’s alternative template. (DeVos letter to SEAs.) This makes an unaccountable NGO, one which received $25 million from the Common Core fanatical Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last year, very influential in the nature of state education plans.

That word “assurances” makes us nervous, however, since it was the four assurances, promised by the governors in relative secret back in 2009 in exchange for the millions/billions of State Fiscal Stabilization Funds that brought us Common Core and the expanded State Longitudinal Databases. These unnamed assurances are why it is so critical for the public and all the stakeholders to be able to see the proposed PLAN prior to its submission.

If Michigan and Ohio can do it, why can’t Missouri?

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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