Thread on ESSA – Response to CDE

Dear Ms. Kessel,

Thank you for your prompt response to our letter regarding ESSA implementation. If we may ask, why will the State Board of Education not consider adding any parent stakeholders to the California Practitioners Advisory Group at this time? I understand that the current committee members were appointed in March 2016, but is there any reason why more members couldn’t be added, particularly since the committee currently does not include any parents from the special needs community, who are undoubtedly a vital part of this conversation, given the scope of the disability community in California?

We have indeed encouraged our members and partners to join the CDE ESSA Update listserv, and I appreciate you letting us know that CPAG meetings are open to the public. We will encourage our members to make every effort to attend and to submit comments. However, we still think that the CPAG and the disability community in California would be better served if someone representing the disability community was an active part of the CPAG.

In regards to specific requests for website improvements and email addresses for outreach and the listserv, we will solicit feedback for these, and share them with you after our next meeting.

Regards,

Cathleen Small

From: ESSA <ESSA@cde.ca.gov>
Sent: Monday, July 11, 2016 10:07:12 AM
To: Cathleen Small

Subject: RE: California ESSA implementation and the ESSA/CPAG planning committee

 

Dear Ms. Small and Ms. Kulzer-Reyes,

 

Thank you for contacting the California Department of Education (CDE) and for your interest in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We value your feedback and wanted to take the time to respond to your requests.

 

Regarding adding members to the California Practitioners Advisory Group (CPAG), unfortunately we are unable to add members to the group at this time. Current CPAG members were appointed in March 2016 for two and three year terms. The State Board of Education, who appoints members to the CPAG, will not request applications for new members until these terms are completed. However, CPAG meetings are open to the public and public comment and participation from advocacy organizations is highly encouraged.

 

The best way for interested members of the public to stay informed about the development of California’s ESSA State Plan and transition activities is to join the CDE ESSA Update Listserv. Please encourage members of the Family Empowerment Centers and Parent Training and Information Centers to join the listserv by sending a blank e-mail message to join-essa@mlist.cde.ca.gov. If you can provide me with a list of e-mail addresses, I would be happy to add these contacts to the list manually.

 

Regarding transparency, while we strive to go above and beyond the statutory requirements around public notices and communication, we can always improve. We are working on making our CPAG and ESSA Web pages more user-friendly and we would be open to any specific suggestions you and your colleagues may have about how to do this.

 

I look forward to a continued dialog with you about how we can support your engagement in California’s transition to the ESSA. If you have any questions, please let us know.

 

Sincerely,

 

Joy Kessel, Education Programs Consultant

Every Student Succeeds Act Office

California Department of Education

1430 N Street, Suite 6308

Sacramento, CA 95814-5901

Phone: 916-445-7765

JKessel@cde.ca.gov

Congressional Task Force on Down Syndrome

California has a whopping fifty-three congressional representatives. Since May 2015, seven of them have joined the Congressional Task Force on Down Syndrome. This task force exists to keep our representatives apprised of legislation which directly impacts our community. It is a no-cost request (#ask).

If your representative has not yet joined, we urge you to reach out to him/her today. Here is a list of the current #DSTaskForce members:

  • Julia Brownley (D-CA 26)
  • Tony Cárdenas (D-CA)
  • Michael Honda (D-CA 17)
  • Ted Lieu (D-CA 29)
  • Zoe Lofgren (D-CA 19)
  • Kevin McCarthy (R-CA 23)
  • Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA 40)

Neither of our senators has joined.

 

I have templates for letters, if you need one.

 

#advocacymatters

Kelly

Letter to the CDE ESSA and Disability Representation June 2016

UPDATE on July 25, 2016: Response from CDE (copied to organizations which signed on)

 

From: ESSA <ESSA@cde.ca.gov>
Sent: Monday, July 11, 2016 10:07:12 AM

Dear Ms. Small and Ms. Kulzer-Reyes,

 

Thank you for contacting the California Department of Education (CDE) and for your interest in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We value your feedback and wanted to take the time to respond to your requests.

 

Regarding adding members to the California Practitioners Advisory Group (CPAG), unfortunately we are unable to add members to the group at this time. Current CPAG members were appointed in March 2016 for two and three year terms. The State Board of Education, who appoints members to the CPAG, will not request applications for new members until these terms are completed. However, CPAG meetings are open to the public and public comment and participation from advocacy organizations is highly encouraged.

 

The best way for interested members of the public to stay informed about the development of California’s ESSA State Plan and transition activities is to join the CDE ESSA Update Listserv. Please encourage members of the Family Empowerment Centers and Parent Training and Information Centers to join the listserv by sending a blank e-mail message to join-essa@mlist.cde.ca.gov. If you can provide me with a list of e-mail addresses, I would be happy to add these contacts to the list manually.

 

Regarding transparency, while we strive to go above and beyond the statutory requirements around public notices and communication, we can always improve. We are working on making our CPAG and ESSA Web pages more user-friendly and we would be open to any specific suggestions you and your colleagues may have about how to do this.

 

I look forward to a continued dialog with you about how we can support your engagement in California’s transition to the ESSA. If you have any questions, please let us know.

 

Sincerely,

 

Joy Kessel, Education Programs Consultant

Every Student Succeeds Act Office

California Department of Education

1430 N Street, Suite 6308

Sacramento, CA 95814-5901

Phone: 916-445-7765

JKessel@cde.ca.gov

 

 

Recently CDAC sent this letter to the California Department of Education about the lack of representation on the CDE ESSA California Practitioner Advisory Group – the group tasked with the successful implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

 

June 22, 2016
California Department of Education 1430 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Ms. Murchison and California ESSA advisory team:

According to the “Building a Grad Nation 2016” report on California from 2016, students with disabilities continue to graduate at much lower rates—21.4 percent lower—than other students and face reduced employment options, impacting their quality of life and independence post- graduation. Additionally, many students with disabilities are segregated from their typical peers during their school years. Further, students with disabilities face expulsion at much greater rates than their typical peers. And in some cases, students with disabilities are allowed to remain enrolled in school but are routinely sent home early for issues that would not normally result in early dismissal, allowing districts to collect apportionment without providing students with a full day of educational services.

The long-term social and economic effects of poor inclusion, routine early dismissal, high expulsion rates, and low graduation rates of individuals with disabilities are detrimental not only to the State of California, but also to the country. Therefore, it is critical that students with disabilities and their families be included as key stakeholders if the California Department of Education is to fulfill the ESSA’s civil rights mandate.

The successful implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the key to ensuring that ALL students achieve success, thus ensuring California’s future for generations to come.

According to the 2013 Legislative Analyst’s Office Overview of Special Education in California, students with disabilities make up more than 10 percent of the total student population, or approximately 686,352 people. This is far too many Californians to exclude from the conversation.

Under ESSA, states are given more planning discretion; as such, each state has the opportunity to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Our coalition of California disability rights organizations wants our state to meet students’ needs, improve outcomes, and serve as a “best practice” for other states.

Our organizations understand there are planned regional stakeholder meetings scheduled in June, and we look forward to attending. However, this does not address the absence of parents of students with disabilities on the California Practitioners Advisory Group (CPAG).

Our groups request the following:

  1. The addition of at least two parents of students with disabilities, including one who takes alternate assessments and one who takes the general assessment, to the current ESSA/CPAG planning committee;
  2. The addition of a representative from a disability rights organization;
  3. The dissemination of information about California ESSA implementation and stakeholderinput opportunities by adding Family Empowerment Centers and Parent Training and

Information Centers to the recipients list for all ESSA updates, meetings, proposals, and

information; and
4. Increased transparency in decisions, communication, and planning. The website

dedicated to ESSA is very difficult to navigate. Finding the meeting schedules for CPAG and regional meetings was difficult.

We respectfully request prompt attention to our concerns, prior to the next meeting of CPAG and any other committee that may be involved in ESSA plan development. We would like to request attention to our requests and a response explaining the CDE’s action.

Sincerely,

The Arc California
California Down Syndrome Advocacy Coalition
Center for Educational Rights
Club 21 Education and Resource Center
Down Syndrome Association of Orange County
Down Syndrome Association of San Diego
Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area
Down Syndrome Information Alliance
Exceptional Family Center
Kern Down Syndrome Network
Parents Helping Parents
South Bay Down Syndrome Association
United Cerebral Palsy

ESSA with Ricki Sabia

What an honor to have Ricki Sabia, NDSC’s Senior Policy Advisor on Education meet with us last week! Talk about advocates “in the know”. We have a draft letter to the California Dept of Ed, and organizations are signing on. If you or your organization is interested in learning more, please send Kelly a note: californiadac@gmail.com

 

Brews and Blues

As a microbrew lover and mother of a child with Down syndrome, there are a few important things to point out about Special Ed’s Brewery’s controversial language and marketing.

On the Special Ed’s Brewery Facebook page, one of the owners posted, “I never wanted the intent to be that I’m insensitive or some of the horrid things I’ve been called today”. Get in line. Horrid name-calling is soul damaging. That is why this brewery’s choices are inappropriate, unacceptable, and horrifying.

Using slurs against any group is unacceptable. Period.

People with intellectual disabilities have been called names and treated as sub-human for countless generations. That must stop. Freedom of Speech is not freedom of hate speech, and these beer names perpetuate derogatory behavior and language. How could I order a “One, Two, Twee” without ridiculing a person with a speech disorder? Or a “Back of the Bus” Brown Ale without being a bigot? And how exactly is “’tard tested, ‘tard approved” supposed to be a compliment? If you can answer that, I might just buy you a beer, but certainly not anything served at Special Ed’s Brewery if they ever open.

It is not funny, charming, tongue-in-cheek cute, or adorable. If you would like help naming beers, check out the fabulous “lighthearted, feel-good”
beers around the country with fabulous names like “Hopdish” named for Minnesota’s famous regional “hotdishes” from Liftbridge Brewery in Stillwater, Minn. Head to Beaver Island Brewery in Saint Cloud, Minn. Yes. Beaver Island. It’s named for Beaver Island in the Mississippi River. Cute. Adorable and delicious. Or head to Bakersfield, California, and have Temblor Brewing Company’s Six Six One, adorably located in the 661 area code. Try one. Try all three. They are great. Not one of these delicious brews needed to bully for beer-lovers to enjoy them. Their hops speak for themselves.

The national trend of bullying people with disabilities is appalling. This is a horrible business plan, clearly, but it says more about the times we find ourselves in than we might like.  When actors, comedians and politicians use people with disabilities as the butt of their jokes or to get a reaction from a crowd, we must pay attention and act. We are responsible for demanding their attention and their corrective action.

This brewery made a horrible choice, but, perhaps, it could be an opportunity. There is no reason why good cannot come from this. One of the reasons bullying occurs is lack of exposure. Segregated classrooms, where children with disabilities are removed from the rest of the world, remove the opportunity for interaction for typically-developing peers. If you are not raised with diversity, you may not learn that it is an essential part of the human experience. You can choose to learn later, as I chose to do, but the easiest way to fix this problem is to include all learners in the world starting at birth. No segregation.

Derogatory language allows people to continue deceiving themselves by thinking this language is benign. It is not.

It hurts. It damages. It separates. It shapes how we think. How we use language says more about us than it says about those we disparage.

Please do not misunderstand, this is not a matter of political correctness.  It is a matter of humanity. No one accidentally bullies and degrades others. It is a choice.

We have a choice. I choose kindness. I choose inclusion. And I choose to vote. What do you choose?

Kelly Kulzer-Reyes
California Down Syndrome Advocacy Coalition, Co-chair

NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington

BWW 2016 Leave Behind FINAL 2

The three “asks” at BWW reflected the legislative agenda of NDSS beautifully. NDSS Staff was very careful to recognize that advocates have different priorities and passions. These asks reflected a “something for everyone” approach. The details are within the Leave Behind above.

  1. ABLE to Work (#DSWork)
  2. Accurate Education (HR 3771)
  3. Join the Congressional Task Force on Down Syndrome