PROCESS and PROTEST: Promising Practices

5. ALIGNMENT: Double Down

Aggregate and analyze community feedback from separate and parallel efforts to identify areas of agreement, amplify the voices of the underserved, and build support for reform.

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State Examples:

New Mexico Benefited from a Parallel Process with in-State Partners: In developing its consolidated state ESSA plan, the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) convened a series of community meetings in partnership with New Mexico First. While this process was ongoing, the Learning Alliance of New Mexico (LANM) created a parallel, supplemental process for stakeholder engagement, in partnership with the University of New Mexico Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR), the New Mexico School Superintendents’ Association (NMSSA), and the New Mexico Coalition for Charter Schools (NMCCS).

This parallel process, intended to be supplemental, decentralized, and supportive to PED’s efforts, used a Stakeholder Feedback Toolkit to gather and organize broad, structured input from stakeholders on four main topics: challenging academic content standards; high-quality student academic assessments; teacher accountability; and school accountability. Prior to the submission of the New Mexico ESSA plan, LANM and CEPR publicly released an analysis of this data for consideration by state legislators and policymakers. PED’s reports on the NM Rising tour and LANM and CEPR’s analyses contain similarities as well as some thought-provoking differences. Also of note is that LANM translated its supportive materials into four languages, with the support of the community engagement office in the Albuquerque School District.

Louisiana’s Separation of Powers Brought Additional Focus to Equity and ESSA: Louisiana’s state plan was developed in a very politically charged environment. The separation of powers in the state, and the differing perspectives of those powers, resulted in separate stakeholder engagement processes run by the Governor, by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDE), and Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). While this did result in some duplication of process and some newsworthy public disagreements, the process around the development and approval of the state plan enabled conversations that may not otherwise have been politically feasible.

This dialogue, which occurred simultaneously in public forums and in closed, private settings, brought renewed attention to matters of educational equity and excellence in the state, including the need for district-level accountability and data analysis and the possibility of formalizing stakeholder engagement requirements at a local level, requiring engagement among local superintendents and a range of groups, including local chambers of commerce, advocacy organizations, and other stakeholders.

Room for Growth For All States:

Separation of powers and duplicate efforts should serve equity and inclusion: The separation of powers in states often lends itself to multiple simultaneous stakeholder engagement efforts that can work decisively in favor of equity when different cross-sections of the stakeholder community are being engaged meaningfully at different times and by different actors.

Additional Resources:

Additional examples of promising practices from states with recently submitted state plans (September and October, 2017) are forthcoming.