All Eyes on ESSA

As you’ve likely seen, the fireworks in Santa Fe are well underway. And while there’s plenty of energy around the state budget, and marijuana legalization, public education is the hottest topic in the roundhouse.

Important within these conversations is the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). For those unfamiliar with ESSA, it is the new federal law guiding public education. Every state must submit an ESSA plan to the US Department of Education this summer.

This week New Mexico First released a report detailing their community conversations from across the state. The “New Mexico Rising” tour collected feedback in six communities, speaking to nearly 2000 people including 700+ teachers.

If you haven’t already, I suggest you check out the report and PED’s corresponding follow-up. NMPED has stated they will immediately take action on the feedback in the following ways:

  • Increase efforts to recognize and celebrate the teaching profession
  • Reduce the amount of time spent on student assessments
  • Support legislation to decrease the weight of student growth in teacher evaluations
  • Increase the number of days teachers can take off without penalty from three to five

These are encouraging responses which incorporate community feedback while also ensuring student achievement remains front and center. We must always have clear, in-depth data on how our students and schools are doing. There is strong evidence that consistent, high standards positively impact student learning.

Over the next few weeks and months I will continue to provide updates on New Mexico’s ESSA plan as it has serious implications for our schools and students. ESSA is our opportunity to maintain a high bar of expectations, not lower expectations which would leave our students further and further behind.

It is imperative we hold the NMPED accountable to create an ESSA plan that upholds high expectations while also embracing the uniqueness of the Land of Enchantment. Let us as parents, grandparents, tías and tíos remain engaged in the process to ensure our children receive the education they need to be New Mexico’s future leaders, business owners, teachers and citizens.