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This Week’s ESSA News: Maryland Studies How Public Transportation Is Fueling Student Absenteeism, Parents Reflect on What Drives Engagement With Their Schools & More

By Ashley Inman Zanchelli | April 1, 2019

This update on the Every Student Succeeds Act and the education plans now being implemented by states and school districts is produced in partnership with ESSA Essentials, an ongoing series from the Collaborative for Student Success. It’s an offshoot of their ESSA Advance newsletter, which you can sign up for here! (See our recent ESSA updates from previous weeks right here.)

Andrew Ujifusa reports for Education Week that the Trump administration’s budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Education once again includes major cuts. “Trump wants to eliminate $2.1 billion in federal funding for teacher training under Title II, $1.2 billion in after-school funding in the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, and $1.2 billion in block-grant money for districts to use to enhance academic offerings and improve school climate under Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act.”

This is the third year in a row that the administration has proposed such massive cuts to the Education Department’s budget. “And although his administration’s approach to pushing education choice shifted somewhat in his budget request last week for fiscal 2020, the president’s priorities — which include a $5 billion sweetener for school choice — will likely fall short again on Capitol Hill,” reports Ujifusa.

“We find those programs to be either ineffective, duplicative of other activities, or better funded by state and local governments,” says James Blew, the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development. In total, Trump and Education Secretary DeVos “also support the elimination of 29 department programs, including those dealing with arts education, gifted and talented programs, and literacy work, for $6.7 billion in budget savings.”

See below for more of this week’s top ESSA headlines:

In Maryland, studying how use of public transportation can drive absenteeism

This Education Dive piece takes a look at a recent study of Baltimore City Public Schools, which shows that student use of public transportation to get to and from school is “associated” with growth in absenteeism.

The survey found that among 2,801 students surveyed, who stayed at the same address from eighth grade to ninth grade and used public transit to attend school, “the average student missed 11.3 more days in high school than in the previous year.” With “districts now learning more about the multiple reasons why students might miss school, searching for innovative strategies and being required to track the data under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the study is timely,” author Linda Jacobson notes.

Understanding how states will start reporting school-by-school financial transparency

This Thursday, April 4, at 2 p.m. ET, Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab (a partner with the Building State Capacity and Productivity Center) will host an interactive webinar — “Taking stock in ESSA’s school-by-school financial requirement as SEAs begin releasing data” — which will take a look at ESSA’s financial reporting requirement as states release initial school-by-school expenditure data. The webinar will also explore “how leading states are incorporating financial transparency data in school and district report cards” and determine “what can be learned from these early adopters and applied to states that plan to publish in late 2019 or early 2020.” Click here to register.

Parent engagement — under ESSA and in the real world

In this piece in The 74, six parent-activists talk about their education engagement practices and how their efforts were driven by wanting better for their children — and all children.

These advocates started by “reaching out to other moms and dads and grandmothers and caretakers, giving them the information needed to speak up for their kids in school systems that can sometimes be intimidating,” and from those relationships, “parent networks were built that could effect change.” Now, ESSA “prioritizes the kind of parent engagement these six women practice in their school communities every day” and “mandates that disadvantaged schools put a portion of their federal dollars toward engaging parents.”

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