ESSA Committee

If you hadn’t heard, the names of the individuals for the ESSA Committee were released at the end of July. The committee will be “responsible for finding consensus while sifting through wide-ranging opinions about how Colorado should run its schools under ESSA.”

ChalkBeat lists the 13 members:

  • Evy Valencia, governor’s office
  • Ken Delay, Colorado Association of School Boards
  • Lisa Escarcega, Colorado Association of School Executives
  • Linda Barker, Colorado Education Association
  • Don Anderson, Colorado BOCES Association
  • Diane Duffy, Colorado Department of Higher Education
  • Jesus Escarcega, Colorado ESEA Committee of Practitioners
  • Jim Earley, Jefferson County parent
  • Ross Izard, Independence Institute
  • Luke Ragland, Colorado Succeeds
  • Jeani Frickey, Stand for Children
  • Kirk Banghart, Moffat School District, Colorado Rural Alliance
  • Dan Schaller, Colorado League of Charter Schools

Does anyone notice anything concerning about this list of people making decisions that impact ALL kids? One of our wonderful advocates did and she wrote a letter.

Dear Mr. Chapman,

Thank you for taking on the vital role of guiding Colorado’s ESSA implementation. This crucial process will impact our educational policies for years to come.

Due to the far-reaching effect to Colorado’s schools and families, it is imperative to have a thoughtful and comprehensive team representing all stakeholders. After viewing Chalkbeat’s article on Colorado’s new ESSA committee, I have earnest concerns regarding the team composition.

Specifically, I am concerned about the profound lack of representation by major Colorado education stakeholders. Both large and marginalized groups were completely overlooked. Some groups are grossly over-represented.

PARENTS: there is currently only one parent representative, Jim Earley. We have 854,265 school aged kids in 178 districts in Colorado. One parent from the metro area couldn’t possibly represent all of them. We need parents from around the state to provide appropriate representation.

PTA: Colorado PTA membership represents 22,000 families in our state. The state’s largest and oldest child advocacy group should have representation on the committee.

WOMEN: There are TWICE the number of men as women representing the team. Women account for half the population and far outnumber men in education in teaching, school volunteers, advocacy efforts and PTA. Please add women to the team to balance this discrepancy.

ELL/DISABILITY/GT/SPECIAL ED: The ESSA implementation recommendations must allow for the special needs of these marginalized groups. Laws regarding these subgroups are both specific and complicated, especially regarding testing. The committee should allow a representative to guide them on the unique legal and practical needs of these sub-populations.

ECONOMIC DISADVANTAGE: 27.4% of our schools receive Title 1 funds and 40.8% are eligible for free and reduced lunch. The stringent regulations of testing will heavily impact these populations. Their voice deserves representation.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: There are 170 charter schools and 1,843 public schools in Colorado–about 10% of our school system are charters. I’ve shown several populations above with far greater population numbers deserving a place at the table. In addition to Dan Schraller (Colorado League of Charter Schools) the team is heavily pro-reform/pro-charter school. Charter schools are important to our education system, but there should be balance.

REFORMERS AND POLITICS: Schools aren’t Republican or Democratic, red or blue (or purple).

This team should not be political. This is about KIDS, not POLITICS. A majority of the team members show a blatant and unabashed political agenda. This agenda promotes minimal government and a free market enterprise school system that promotes charter schools. It ignores the relevance of socioeconomics on teaching and testing. Ross Izard is a part of an extremist right-wing political think tank. On a team that must build consensus and work toward the middle to create compromise, a political extremist seems like an irresponsible choice.

***All statistics referenced are from the CDE and/or the National Center of Education Statistics.

We need a true collaborative effort to shape Colorado’s Education Policy. I would like to continue this conversation with you in person, via phone, or email. Let’s open a dialogue on how we can continue to build upon the framework in place to best represent the interests of our kids.

Warmest regards,

Sally Kate Tinch


And that’s how it’s done, folks
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Please advocate for our kids! We have to work together to remove politics from the backs of our kids and get the focus back on facts and education. is the email if YOU want to write a letter.