The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) promises to return fundamental decisions about education to the students, parents, and educators with the most at stake in our public schools, while continuing to focus on students who need the most support. But the law’s ultimate success depends on it being successfully implemented at the local and state level – and that, in turn, requires collaboration and partnership between these key stakeholders.
“Family and community engagement is a priority. Our collective voices are crucial,” says NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “We need to co-create and advocate for solutions that work for kids. We will squander this opportunity if we don’t work together.”
NEA and the National PTA (NPTA) are working together to marshal resources and expertise to help ensure that both educators and parents have a seat at the table as states design their plans for the new education law, which will be submitted in Spring 2017.
What New Mexico is Doing
The problem, says Laura Bay, president of the NPTA, is that “states are struggling to engage parents.” The key is to build in structures and opportunities for ongoing engagement.
In New Mexico, the state chapter of PTA and NEA New Mexico have been working together to bring parents into the process, and to learn from each other as well.
NEA New Mexico invited PTA New Mexico to a training or convening in November. “It was a great opportunity for our members to hear what teachers are thinking,” says Renata Witte, president of NM PTA.
The convening, which gathered NEA-NM members from 23 school districts, had three primary goals:
- Educate NEA-NM members on ESSA
- Extend the conversation to the community
- Prepare NEA-NM members to partner with stakeholders in their communities
“It wasn’t just educators talking about ESSA. It was all of us our partners working together,” recalled NEA-NM President Betty Patterson. “We offered a lot of information about parents’ feelings and concerns about the new law. We made them part of our presentation to our groups.”
The big lesson learned, Patterson said, was that PTA is a vital strategic alliance for educators and parents.
“This convening laid the ground work for additional opportunities moving forward,” Patterson added.
Learn more, watch our webinar recording
NEA and the National PTA discussed implementation of the law at the state and local level and the opportunities that educators and families have to become involved. The event featured National Education Association – New Mexico and the New Mexico PTA. Register and view the webinar.