Monday, October 25, 2021
Oct. 25, 2021

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State recalls plan for Every Student Succeeds Act

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State education officials released, then recalled their plan for how Washington will deal with the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Already facing pressure to give the public more time to review the plan, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction sent a news release early Monday declaring “changes are coming to education policy in Washington.” It invited the public to weigh in on a 241-page draft of the plan that would set new academic goals for students, outline support for teachers, overhaul the school accountability system and much more.

But within about 90 minutes, the superintendent’s office removed the document from its website. A news release sent later in the day blamed a “technical process error.”

That excuse didn’t sit well with parents and teachers who, despite the lack of a plan, on Monday attended the first of a series of forums scheduled this month to gather feedback on it.

Deputy Superintendent Gil Mendoza, who hosted the Monday event at Highline High School, tried to assure the audience that they soon could access the draft plan again.

“Our plan is done. It’s in draft form, and it’s going to go out for public comment,” Mendoza said, adding that he and Superintendent Randy Dorn had “a miscommunication” over the weekend.

“He asked that I pull it down from the site because there were a couple things he wanted to finish. It will probably be up in the next day or two,” Mendoza said.

Some parents and teachers who successfully downloaded the draft plan before its removal shared early criticism of the proposal.

Emijah Smith, president of the parent-teacher association at Dearborn Park International Elementary School in Seattle, wondered why the plan didn’t call for holding schools accountable for racial disparities in student discipline until 2018-19. She wanted that sooner.

Others worried the plan wouldn’t provide enough protections for school librarians or children with special needs. And most agreed that they wanted the superintendent’s office to delay its self-imposed deadline of submitting its plan to the federal government. The plan doesn’t have to be submitted until March, but the superintendent’s office plans to send it in December.

The State Board of Education last week similarly urged Dorn to delay submission of the plan.

“Knowing what this policy means takes time,” said Maribel Montes De Oca, education organizer for the Seattle-based immigrant advocacy organization OneAmerica.

“Not only has this policy not been accessible to us, it also hasn’t been translated,” she said. “So if we’re talking about making it the most successful to the folks who are the most impacted, we need to make it accessible to them.”

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