On June 22, Utah School Boards Association had the tremendous opportunity to host Michael Zola, Associate Executive Director and Kim Richey, Senior Government Affairs Counsel, both of National School Boards, at Little America for an information presentation on ESSA, Every Student Succeeds Act.
Along with my fellow board members, Heather Bennett, Melissa Ford and our Superintendent, Dr. Cunningham, we attended their presentation.
When I was attending the NSBA meetings in Boston, as Officers of Utah School Boards Association, we felt strongly that this information needed to be shared with our members here at home. It was a great meeting! Their presentation included a general ESSA overview, and addressed specific information on the accountability regulatory action that’s taking place in the US Dept. of Education and information on the 2 sets of rulemaking that were proposed by the Department of Ed. We also learned about the legal requirements and the timelines that are required for the 2016-2017 school year. The turnout was great, we had Superintendents, Business Administrators, Board members, representatives from the Governor’s office, State School Board leaders, and State School Board members in attendance. This truly is welcome legislation, the whole focus is to guarantee local governance and we are anxious to ensure that our local boards have as much authority and opportunity as can be provided. There are several steps to this and we’ll all be involved in the planning and implementation. Board members that attended that presentation, hopefully become familiar with the requirements and opportunities that this law provides.
We were all asked to call our Congressional representatives, voicing our concerns about the regulations being proposed by the Department of Education, as well as to remind our representatives, they still have over sight of this very important piece of legislation.
Our representatives don’t serve on Education committees, but they all have a vote and a voice, I encouraged them to stay on top of the progress of these regulations and maintain the requirements of state and local decision-making under the law.
I was one of our Utah USBA delegation in June, which met with legislative staff in Washington DC. The information we provided was to inform our representatives to be our voice and the voice of our students when considering important issues like, ESSA, the Child Nutrition Act or the Perkins Act , which fund our Career and Technical Education options (CTE) in our local districts.
As a local board member, it’s critical we stay apprised of the legislative issues from the Federal Government as well as our own Legislature. Many times legislation is written with good intention, to help provide resources to contribute to the success of our students, however, the best legislation is legislation which allows for local governance and decision-making at the local level. As a parent, community member and elected official for the school district of Salt Lake City, I know our students best. I will continue to advocate for flexibility, resources and decision making, to be done at the local level, along with our educational experts, teachers, parents, and students.