The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the largest federal law governing K-12 education, puts schools on track to ensure more children have a bright future. Effective implementation of ESSA at the state and district level is key to ensuring the law lives up to its promise. UnidosUS continues to work with our Affiliates, partners, community stakeholders, school districts, and directly with students and parents to make sure the law is implemented in the students’ best interests.
UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization, and the Urban League of Miami, a civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in historically underserved urban communities, are collaborating to keep community stakeholders throughout Florida informed about the requirements of this new law and other education equity issues so they can continue to effectively advocate for the needs of all students.
Last month, UnidosUS and the Urban League of Miami brought together leaders from organizations in South Florida for a conversation on the status of Florida’s Plan under ESSA, the outcomes of the 2018 Florida Legislative Session and next steps to continuing to advance an educational equity platform in Florida.
T. Willard Fair, CEO of the Urban League of Miami, welcomed the leaders and reminded everyone of the importance and responsibility we collectively have in vigilantly monitoring the implementation of equity wins. With that in mind, UnidosUS articulated the following education policy and advocacy goals for Florida:
- Ensure education fairness issues are front and center in local and state elections
- Amplify education fairness issues from a Latino perspective
- Educate policymakers and community leaders on education fairness and how it impacts Latino students
- Provide policy solutions that will close achievement gaps
UnidosUS has established key relationships with state policymakers who oversee K-12 education. Such relationships are vital for UnidosUS to keep legislators abreast of developments to Florida’s ESSA plan and to draw attention to problematic areas that could have a detrimental impact on students.
UnidosUS identified the following legislative policy solutions for the 2018 Florida legislative session:
- Include calculations for subgroups of students such as all major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, low-income students and English learners into the school grading system
- Include an English Language Proficiency (ELP) indicator in the grading or identification of schools
- Develop Native Language Assessments to more accurately measure the progress of English learners
Elaine Liftin of the Council for Educational Change and Dr. Rosa Castro-Feinberg, LULAC Florida are also taking tangible steps, including establishing partnerships between the education and business communities in Florida, to push closer to achieving these goals. LULAC Florida will host an Organizational Roundtable and Community Forum on June 15, 2018 in Miami that will focus on ESSA state and district plans.
EDUCATION ADVOCACY ACTIONS AND COMMITMENTS IN FLORIDA
To inform future advocacy for English Learners, UnidosUS has released English Learners and the Every Student Succeeds Act: A Tool for Advocates in Florida highlighting components of Florida’s submitted plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act regarding testing, accountability, and stakeholder engagement. Florida has the third largest K-12 English learner population in the nation. According to recent Florida state assessment results, double-digit gaps exist in graduation rates and academic achievement between English learners and their non-English learner peers.
Through the spring and summer, UnidosUS will be focused on the development of its 2019 Education Fairness Policy Agenda and on educating policymakers and candidates on the final approved Florida ESSA plan and its impact on Florida students.
Commitments by community leaders, like those in Florida, is a concrete step forward in making sure that Education Fairness is a top campaign issue, supported by outreach and communications activities, for the 2018 Elections.
More Information on Florida’s ESSA Plan and UnidosUS’s Position: