Who Says There Are No Second Acts? Let’s Talk ESSA—And Take A Poll!

So you missed last week’s deadline to get your comments in to OSSE on its draft plan to judge our public schools? That’s not exactly surprising, as we DC citizens had a total of 33 days, tops. (Which is actually a few days more than DCPS chancellor Antwan Wilson had.)

But you can STILL get a word in to the group that is tasked with approving–or not–OSSE’s draft plan!

On Wednesday March 15, our state board of education is meeting–and the public can testify in person there or in writing about ESSA and OSSE’s draft plan before the state board votes to approve it (or not) on March 22.

The March 15 meeting will be held at 441 4th St. NW starting at 5:30 pm, in the old council chambers. Just notify board staff by phone, 202-741-0888, or email–sboe@dc.gov–two days ahead of time if you wish to testify or submit written testimony.

The state board will also hold two other meetings this month related to ESSA (all meetings are listed here):

March 13, 6 pm: the state board’s ESSA committee will meet to prepare the state board’s recommendations for the draft plan. This is not a meeting at which the public can testify. Address as above, room 530S.

March 22, 5:30 pm: the state board will meet and vote on the ESSA draft plan. It is not clear what will happen if the state board does not approve it. But if the state board votes to approve the draft plan, OSSE will submit it to the federal government by the end of March. The public can testify at this meeting by calling 202-741-0888 or emailing sboe@dc.gov two days in advance. Address as above, old council chambers.

Now, you may feel like you said your ESSA piece many times over (here is what I sent in to OSSE, and others’ comments are here and here (scroll down for the latter)).

Indeed, as we learned last week, charter advocacy group Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) ensured that lots of DC residents said something to the state board about ESSA–albeit what DFER hoped they’d say, given their lobbying–oops, I mean phone banking–effort to ensure the draft plan would go forward immediately, with its 80% test weight and plan for “additional parties or operators” to take over public schools that do not show test score gains (yeah–see page 59 of the draft plan).

Here’s where that poll comes in: CHPSPO, the Ward 6 education council, has a nifty new poll to gauge whether anyone besides DFER and its supporters really does want that 80% weight and the rush to submit the plan now, when we could have until September.

Take the poll now–it’s fun, fast, and possibly illuminating if enough of us do it.

Speaking of influence peddling–oops, I mean phone banking: last week, I filed this FOIA request to find out exactly who the people and organizations were that met with OSSE regarding the draft plan and, most importantly, what they said. I did this because at a CHPSPO meeting a few weeks ago, OSSE staff repeatedly mentioned how they have held 50 meetings on ESSA since January 2016 with 100 different organizations. All those meetings, they intimated, supported that 80% weight.

This not only goes against what is recounted in the draft plan itself, but also what was said by the public at that CHPSPO meeting.

So take the poll, write/speak a few (more) words–and maybe, just maybe, we will buy ourselves some time to make DC’s ESSA plan much better than it currently is.

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