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The Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE) sent an open letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on January 11, urging him to closely examine states’ applications for Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waivers and only grant waivers to states that meaningfully engaged low-income and communities of color in their application development process.
“By mid-century, today’s students of color will make up nearly half of the adult workforce. More than just a moral imperative, none of us can economically afford to disregard their education,” said Michael Wotorson, CHSE executive director. “We must ensure that these young people graduate from high school prepared for college, career and beyond.”
CHSE — a coalition of leading civil rights and education advocacy organizations — was disappointed to learn that several states participating in the first wave of waiver applications last November did not take seriously application guidelines requiring them to: 1) engage a diverse set of stakeholders to inform applications, 2) support strong graduation rate accountability, and 3) create accountability systems comprising all student subgroups.
In the open letter, which is posted in full on the CHSE website at http://bit.ly/xQq6xy, CHSE partners say that, “Flexibility must not replace accountability, and we hope that Secretary Duncan does not abandon the ambitious, achievable goal of closing achievement gaps and improving education for all students by letting states backtrack on the progress made in ensuring that all students receive a high-quality education.”
For the applications due to be submitted in the second wave in February, the civil rights community is appealing to Secretary Duncan and the Department of Education to use the federal guidelines — all of them — as a standard for evaluation. Only by implementing these guidelines as a whole can states truly be accountable to the waiver application process requirements.
For information about CHSE’s policy priorities, visit www.highschoolequity.org/plan-for-success , join the CHSE community on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hsequity , or “follow” the conversation onwww.twitter.com/hsequity, hashtag #Plan4Success.