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State’s Every Student Succeeds Act to create equity

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

The U.S. Department of Education approved New York State's Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says it’s a plan that pushes for equity in education. 

“We think that the work that the state on the ESSA plan has a lot of potential to advance equity,” responded Ian Rosenblum, executive director of Education Trust-New York.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos approved the state's ESSA plan saying New York "met the requirements of the law” and she was “happy to approve it.” 

Rosenblum tells WBFO News ESSA calls for school accountability and student success. He compares it to Governor Cuomo's proposed education funding plan.

“ESSA provides transparency for the first time on the school level funding gaps. The governor’s goes a step further and requires action and specifically it says that the largest school district in the state has to submit how they plan to allocate their funds for approval from one school district to another and the data that that draws on is, for the first time ever, per pupil at the school level,” remarked Rosenblum.

Huge disparities remain in school districts across regions divided by economic and racial lines. Often schools in the same district are not receiving funding they need.

Governor Cuomo is proposing a three-percent increase in school aid, with the poorest districts getting funding. 

Rosenblum says the governor is referring to it as the “trickle down education.”

“We’ll not only be able to see where those gaps exist, but hopefully require districts to take steps close those gaps. We need to follow the money to make sure the students with the greatest needs receive the most resources,”  

Secretary DeVos also noted New York's plan should not be set “as a ceiling”, but a “foundation” in which to improve education for students. 

New York's ESSA plan also calls for improving chronic absenteeism, a major concern in a district like Buffalo and to make improvements for college and career ready. 

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) said  ESSA is expected to be implemented by this spring.  The NYSED said with approval by the USDE  ensures New York will  "continue to receive approximately $1.6 billion annually in funding from the Federal government to support elementary and secondary education in New York state schools."  

“Through a tremendous amount of effort and collaboration, New York State developed an ESSA plan that focuses on bringing greater equity to education and on educating the whole child,” Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “I would like to thank all of the stakeholders—superintendents, school board members, teachers, parents, community members and thought partners including Linda Darling-Hammond and Scott Marion – who helped shape New York’s path forward in education through this plan. While USDE has approved our vision, going forward we will continue to evaluate our plan and revise it as appropriate, to ensure we remain focused on promoting equity and achieving success for all children.”

“New York’s ESSA plan reflects more than a year of collaboration with a comprehensive group of stakeholders to develop an inclusive plan that ensures our core focus is on promoting equity and increasing the success of all students,” Commissioner Elia said. “Our plan includes new accountability components that go beyond test scores and establishes a more well-rounded educational system. We are pleased that USDE has approved the plan so that we can accelerate our efforts to implement these initiatives that are critical for educating students across the state.”

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