A “Community Conversation” about the ESSA Act and better schools

By Kevin Shannahan

The upcoming Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was the subject of a presentation at the Natchitoches Jr. High-Frankie Ray Jackson Nov. 10. Earnestine Winslow, president of the Natchitoches chapter of the Louisiana Association of Educators, chaired the presentation. Approximately 30 community members, parents and educators attended the event. Natchitoches Mayor Lee Posey and school board members Steven Harris, Ralph Wilson and Rhonda Guidroz were also in attendance.

The ESSA was signed into law by President Obama Dec. 10, 2015. The act takes the place of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), signed into law by President Bush in 2001. It will take effect in 2017. Walter Brown, a member of Gov. Edwards’ state ESSA team, gave the audience an overview of the law and how it differs from the NCLB. Karran Harper Royal of the Louisiana Alliance to Reclaim Schools gave a presentation on community involvement in local schools.

One of the main differences between the two acts is that ESSA will have a decreased emphasis on high stakes testing. The act is also designed to encourage community involvement and input into the schools. That requirement was the focus of the main event of the evening. The audience divided up into two groups and discussed two questions: What do schools need to ensure a better future for our children? and What ideas do you have for creating the schools that ensure a better future for our children?

Other meetings are being planned and will be announced shortly.