Civil Rights groups urge Black parents to lead on ESSA state plans

Shayla Simmons | NNPA Newswire Contributor | 8/17/2017, midnight

States must submit their ESSA plans to the Education Department by Sept. 18.

When it comes to ESSA, education advocates say that parents and community leaders should voice their concerns and expectations for their local school districts.

“One really important way for parents to have their voice heard is during the public comment process, in which a state releases its draft plan for what it’s going to do to create change in its schools and to make sure schools are working well,” said King. “During those public comment periods, everyone has the opportunity to communicate with [his or her] state school board and say what their priorities are for their community and their child.”

King added: “We also need to make sure parents are communicating with the press and that the media is reflecting interest in the attitudes and beliefs of communities of color … we encourage parents to reach out and to let the media know what their priorities are.”

King said that, the truth is, there is strength in numbers.

“We encourage parents to work with one another to come together with community organizations to really advocate for the priorities and changes that they want to see in their state, in their school district and their school,” said King.

Kwesi Rollins, the leadership programs director for the Institute for Educational Leadership said that the most important thing is awareness about the new law.

“We want parents, families, and community-based organizations, grassroots leaders, and teachers, as well, to be aware of what’s required of them, in terms of support, in their communities, and to be in a better position to hold their school district and their state accountable for what’s required in the law,” said Rollins.

Even though the road may be tough, education experts agree that investing in a child’s education is worth the sacrifice.

“The rewards are so fruitful in the end,” said Gant.