Stakeholder Engagement is Critical, Not Optional
Op Ed by: Ruthann Jaquette, President Michigan PTA
This year, states and schools are grappling with a new education law—the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). While many teachers, students and parents won’t see immediate change in their schools and classrooms, work has begun behind the scenes to implement ESSA with the creation of new education plans that, hopefully, will soon make high-quality, well-rounded education a reality for every child.
For the first time, K-12 education law acknowledges the critical role parents and other community members play in student success and school improvement efforts by requiring that they be “meaningfully consulted” in the development of new education plans and implementation of the law. Parents and their children are the consumers of our nation’s public education system, and parents have always been essential partners in education. But, they haven’t always had a seat at the decision-making table. ESSA provides a unique opportunity for parents and families to give their input and hold states and districts accountable for their children’s educational experience.
Despite this promising start, the U.S. Department of Education’s recently released guide for states to use in developing their state education plans does not compel states to include a description of how they are engaging and consulting stakeholders like parents. Michigan PTA is extremely disappointed that stakeholder engagement is no longer prioritized in the state plan template. Stakeholders, particularly parents, play an essential role in the successful implementation of ESSA and ensuring that all children receive a quality education by providing valuable input and holding states and districts accountable.
ESSA provides an important opportunity for every community to unite in designing the best education system possible for our children. Stakeholder engagement is critical, not optional to ensuring the successful implementation of ESSA in our state. We hope that Michigan policymakers continue to recognize the importance of including families and other community members in this process to make sure our children receive the education they deserve and include how they plan to engage stakeholders in the state education plan.
Stakeholder engagement is critical, not optional to ensuring the successful implementation of ESSA in our state and district. Although we are encouraged by the collaborative process the Michigan Department of Education has conducted thus far, we want to reiterate that meaningfully engaging parents during this time is critical to the success of the new law and to ensure that every student succeeds. As the President of Michigan PTA, I call on all parents and family members to contact the State Superintendent, Brian Whiston to urge him to include a description of stakeholder engagement in the state education plan that will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education.
Ruthann Jaquette is the current President of Michigan PTA. She has been a member of the Michigan PTA for 20 years and has held many positions at both the local and state level. Ruthann graduated Summa Cum Laude from Siena Heights University with a Bachelor’s of Arts & Science and also holds an Associate’s degree in Human Services from Lansing Community College graduating Summa Cum Laude, Phi Theta Kappa. Ruthann is active in her community and has served on various committees for the Grand Ledge Public Schools. She also serves as a Trustee for the Michigan Education Association Scholarship Fund and as Commissioner for Grand Ledge Parks and Recreation Commission.
Ruthann has a passion for the work of the Michigan PTA especially in the area of advocating for every child and giving a voice to parents. She enjoys engaging with members and collaborating with them to move our collective mission forward. Ruthann and her family live in Grand Ledge Michigan.