How Arizona Advances Equity Through ESSA

Public education is arguably the best and most impactful way to create equal opportunities for children, families, and communities to succeed. Unfortunately, communities of color are too often left outside of education reform efforts, just as students of color are “left behind” by poorly funded, inequitable school systems.

The Greater Phoenix Urban League’s initiatives support local and state advocacy, engagement, and reform/innovation efforts in concert with the National Urban League’s Equity & Excellence Project. The GPUL works with the City of Phoenix and surrounding areas to help children and young adults innovate their education and get the learning they need.

The GPUL believes students, parents, and community stakeholders should opt in to a vision of education reform and innovation that expands and deepens opportunity, upends inequity, accelerates progress, and delivers more fully on the promise of public education.

As Arizona legislators develop the budget, education advocates seek public education investment that advances equity by providing more funding for students with the greatest needs and fewest assets.

“It should not be the case that I can travel to any metropolitan city and understand what the trends are for Black children as it relates to literacy and reading issues. These are systemic issues,” said Adenike Huggins, senior director of education policy and advocacy for National Urban League, at the Engaging Arizona in Advancing Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) event in Phoenix.

“We must use opportunities like the Every Student Succeeds Act to re-imagine what education is like for students who are most vulnerable, but also for those who could benefit the most from good quality education, because that’s what equity is.

Presenters at the Engaging Arizona in Advancing Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) event in Phoenix. Second from the left Natalie Alvarez with Greater Phoenix Urban League, Adenike Huggins with National Urban League, then moving right Dr. Erica Maxwell with Arizona Dept. of Ed, Teniqua Broughton with The State of Black Arizona, Rep. Dr. Gerae Peten, George Dean with Greater Phoenix Urban League, Dr. DeMarcus Jenkins with African American Taskforce.

Equity for all students through ESSA Recently, education advocates, community leaders, legislators, and nonprofits came together to look at how effective Arizona is at advancing equity for all students – especially students of color and students from families with low incomes – through its Every Student Succeeds Act state plan.

“Educators, stakeholders, district and system leaders are tasked with the extraordinary responsibility of ensuring that all of our students are equally provided a high-quality education, but Every Student Succeeds Act legislation considers the process of engaging stakeholders as an essential component for student success,” Dr. Jenkins said.

Since Arizona’s ESSA plan was posted in March 2017, the state has had some federal monitoring, and there have been revisions in the accountability ratings system, said Dr. Erica Maxwell, associate superintendent of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the Arizona Department of Education.

Dr. Maxwell has been meeting with organizations and local education agencies to discuss some of the challenges students face and strategizing solutions to provide safe, equitable and inclusive student environments.

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