Maximizing Equity & ESSER III Funds: Smart Decision-Making for Districts to Accelerate Learning for ALL Students

Jon Hummell

Jon Hummell

Director of State Initiatives,
Lexia Learning

Brittany Martin

Brittany Martin

Education Department
Relations Manager,
Lexia Learning

 

As districts prepare for the remainder of this school year and the many needs ahead, educators must make crucial decisions for appropriate use of ESSER III funding. However, before purchasing priorities can be planned, there are important questions to ask and new funding parameters to explore that will help all educators make the best decisions to ensure educational equity for every student. Additionally, looking back at last year’s funding decisions can help inform the best use of new funds. Join Lexia® Learning’s Director of State Initiatives, Jon Hummell, and Education Department Relations Manager, Brittany Martin, for an illuminating podcast conversation about strategies and considerations for effectively leveraging relief funding. 

In this podcast, our funding experts will discuss: 

  • Determining whether district purchases with previous funds were effective or not
  • Lessons learned about the investments districts made so far
  • What do these purchasing decisions mean going forward? 
  • What are some of the best ways to use ESSER III funds?
  • How can spending decisions improve and advance a district toward equity?
  • And much more!

     

 

Guest Presenters

Jon Hummell

For more than 20 years, Jon Hummell has worked across political parties with every level of government and in both the legislative and executive branches, including serving as chief of staff to two governors, state budget director, and education policy adviser. He has championed, designed, and implemented successful education initiatives on: literacy, drop-out prevention, and technical education. As Lexia Learning’s director of state initiatives, he uses his knowledge of politics, legislative processes, state budgets, and school finance, as well as his relationships with national and state leaders, to improve literacy policies around the country.

Brittany Martin

Brittany Martin is the education department relations manager for the west at Lexia Learning. She brings a wealth of experience in education beginning in the classroom as a secondary teacher and through state department of education leadership, where she sought to bridge the gap between school improvement and fiscal processes. Martin offers the depth of knowledge our partners value as they navigate this new funding landscape.

Learn more about ESSER Funding and Research

Utilize federal funding for research-proven solutions to overcome learning loss. Learn More

 

Transcript

 

Narrator:
Welcome to EDVIEW360.

Pam Austin:
When we think about investments, what lessons can districts learn about the investments that they have made so far? I think you've led into that question. Can you expound on that a little bit?

Jon Hummell:
Yeah. Like I said, I think they need to look at what their goals were for spending ESSER I and ESSER II. Whether or not they achieved those goals? Whether or not they're the right goals? Then, particularly focus on: "Are the programs we're using, are the things we're spending the money on, proven through research to be most effective?"

Narrator:
You just heard Jon Hummell, Lexia® Learning's director of state initiatives. Mr. Hummell and Brittany Martin, education department relations manager, are our guests today on EDVIEW360.

PA:
This is Pam Austin. Welcome back to the EDVIEW360 podcast series. We are so excited to have you back with us. I'm conducting today's podcast from my native New Orleans. Our topic for today is maximizing equity and ESSER III funds. ESSER, which stands for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief. Our topic for today is smart decision-making for districts to accelerate learning for all students. As districts prepare for the remainder of this school year, and the many needs ahead, educators must make critical decisions for appropriate use of ESSER III funding. However, before purchasing priorities can be planned, there are important questions to ask, and new funding parameters to explore that will help all educators make the best decisions to ensure educational equity for every student. Additionally, looking back at last year's funding decisions can help inform the best use of new funds.

Today, we are excited to welcome Jon Hummell, director of state initiatives for Lexia Learning, and Brittany Martin, education department relations manager for Lexia Learning, as well. Welcome Jon and Brittany. Jon, I'll start with you. How should district and school administrators prepare for the next round of ESSER III funding for the upcoming school year?

JH:
Thank you, Pam. I think the most important place to start is to recognize what is the same and what is different from ESSER III as you look back to ESSER II and ESSER I. Obviously, the biggest difference, especially from ESSER I to ESSER III, is the amount of money involved. There's almost 10 times as much money available to districts through ESSER III as there was in ESSER I. The numbers, and the dollar amounts, and what you can purchase, those are all bigger decisions and bigger questions this time around. It's important to keep that in mind.

No. 2, another difference is that there is a specific requirement in ESSER III that did not exist in ESSER I or ESSER II that says the districts have to spend a certain percentage of their funds on activities related to learning loss. Which should not be a difficult thing to do. Certainly not a new challenge, but it is a specific requirement that will be included in the reporting and the accountability paperwork, and processes that follow on to the spending that occurs. Something to keep in mind, that 20% of the district's ESSER funds for ESSER III, have to be spent on learning loss. It's a new requirement that did not exist in ESSER I and ESSER II.

What's largely the same, and what's also very significant, is that the, generally speaking, the allowable uses, which were very broad in ESSER I got even more broad in ESSER II. They continue to be very broad in ESSER III. Other than the caveat that I mentioned earlier of having to spend 20% at least on learning loss activities or activities related to learning loss, there's still a lot of flexibility in what districts can use these funds for, which I think is a good thing. It allows district leaders, and building leaders, to decide what their greatest needs are, and what the opportunities might be to use these resources to have the greatest impact on their individual students.

PA:
Very good information to know. To recap, No. 1: Increase money and what the limitations are, maybe, on what to purchase, and maybe how broad it is. No. 2: The requirement is 20% on learning loss. I think districts will be very happy to hear that. No. 3: Some of the same allotments are being used. There's a broader view of what that funding can be used for. Thank you, John. I'd like for you to explain why it will be especially important for districts and schools to determine whether purchases with previous funds were effective, or not.

JH:
Yes. Thank you. That question reminds me of a conversation we had, Pam, the last time that I was able to join you. I think I used a line, back then, that I stole from The Avengers movies, which is, "With great power comes great responsibility." Well, I repurposed that a little bit to say, "With great resources or great funding comes great responsibility." The No. 1 answer to your question for me would be, this is a lot of money, unprecedented amount of money, being used for education purposes, right now. The stimulus funds on top of all the regular federal funding, on top of all the state funding and local funding. With that is going to come some expectations about what was achieved. There's going to be people, parents, certainly districts, administrators, state education organizations, governors, the media, members of Congress, are all going to be asking questions about what the money was used for, and how effective it was.

They're going to want to see changes and improvements in student outcomes, in addressing the learning loss challenges that were created by COVID. At some point, they're going to start asking those hard questions. It's important for all of us to have good answers. We partner with districts and schools every day so we're a part of that conversation. We're going to have to answer those hard questions, too. Most importantly, I think we all need to have a good story to tell about how those resources were used in the best interest of kids. I know that's what everyone is working very hard to do, and we will keep doing that until we get through these challenging times.

PA:
Oh, most definitely.

JH:
Yeah. Thank you, Pam. The most important thing I think you need to do is look back, and look at your journey. We started almost two years ago, now. COVID hit. ESSER I funding became available. Everyone was very much reacting to the emergency situation at the time, doing the best they could with what they had. Trying to get technology, hardware devices out to the kids. Trying to get WiFi hotspots and Internet access out to the kids. Trying to think about what content and programs we should be putting in front of them, what content works from home, as well as if it works from the classroom, and how effective is that? Trying to figure out, in some cases, just where are the kids, and why aren't they signing onto the class? How do we feed them? All of those challenges that came up. I think there'll be a lot of grace, and a lot of leeway given in the first round of ESSER I.

As you move through ESSER II, things settled out a little bit, we had some time to take a breath, make, perhaps, more strategic decisions. I recommended, when we spoke last, take a look back at your original strategic plan before COVID, and see if you can use the ESSER II resources to recenter yourself back on your original objectives. In most cases, those are still going to be valid. Certainly, the circumstances changed, but if you were trying to improve literacy scores before COVID, you're certainly still trying to improve them now. It's even more important, and there's a greater sense of urgency. Hopefully, everybody had a chance to take a step back and take a longer view, now that we know that COVID is not going to be here for six months, then gone, and back to normal.

Now, as we turn our attention to ESSER III, you really have to ask yourself: "What did we spend the money on, the first two rounds? What did we get for it? What story do we have to tell? What progress can we show? Is there a numerical, or an objective, criteria we can use to determine whether or not those purchases were wise or not?" Perhaps your goal in ESSER I and ESSER II was to get to a one-to-one situation with devices and students. If you've done that, certainly that's a measurable goal that you've achieved, and that's great. I do think it's time, as we turn our attention to ESSER III, to start thinking more about the effectiveness and the quality of the programs. The device in itself isn't going to teach a child how to do much of anything. The question is what are they doing with those devices?

We've certainly learned, now, with the Omicron variant that we can't assume that everything's going to go back to the classroom. We can't assume that everything's going to stay at home. A lot of schools are in flux, and going back and forth. I would guess it'll probably be that way for some time. We also need to keep an eye toward using programs that can have the flexibility to be effective in both the home settings, and the classroom setting, and the hybrid setting. An important component of that, that I think people don't pay enough attention to is the programs have to have these intrinsic, motivational capabilities that make the children want to do them. You can have the best program in the world, but if my 11 year old gets bored after 10 minutes, he's not going to learn anything. I think that's an important component of this that we lose sometimes when we're talking about research and efficacy, and alignment to science of reading, and all those things that are very important. It's also very important that it be fun and an engaging activity, or it's not going to work.

PA:
The effectiveness factor, right? That learning, that engagement, the motivation, it's all there. For lack of a better phrase, we want to make sure that that funding was not wasted. As you said, we want districts to have a good story to tell, those positive outcomes for teachers and students, and a return on investment. That's what I'm hearing you say. Is that correct, Jon?

JH:
That's right. You said it.

PA:
We think about investments, what lessons can districts learn about the investments that they have made so far? I think you've led into that question. Can you expound on that a little bit?

JH:
Yeah. Like I said, I think they need to look at what their goals were for spending ESSER I and ESSER II. Whether or not they achieved for those goals? Whether or not they're the right goals? Then, particularly focus on: "Are the programs we're using, are the things we're spending the money on, proven through research to be most effective?" Most effective, in a normal time, would be helping students stay on grade level with their work. These times, really, we need it to do better than that. We need to do greater than one year's gain in one year's time, to make up for some of the lost learning time that occurred during COVID. I think we need to pay a greater attention to that. Look harder at research and efficacy. We need to look at the quality of the research that these programs have, that support them.

You can use the ESSA ratings. The Evidence for ESSA website that Johns Hopkins runs. There's other tools out there that can help you do that. That can speak to you about the quality of the research that has been done regarding the program. Then, another piece that people often forget, is that you can have a quality research study. It doesn't mean the kids learned anything. There's really another component. Lot of times what I'll say is evidence-based and research-proven. The research-proven is is there a statistically significant difference in the way that students performed, who used the program, versus the students who didn't? You need to have a good study to do that, but then you also need to measure the difference in learning. If you go to the Evidence for ESSA website, you can see there's effect sizes, and this gets pretty technical. I'm definitely no statistician. If you want an effect size that's certainly positive, 0.1, 0.2, or higher, we would recommend.

What that's showing you is that there was a pretty statistically significant difference in the amount of learning that occurred with students that used a specific program versus the students who didn't. I think we need to be more thoughtful about that, at this point. What I see happening in a lot of places right now, which is great, great work is they're looking at whether or not the programs they're using are aligned to the state standards, which is really good and necessary, needs to happen. A lot of states are looking at whether or not the programs they're using are aligned to the science of reading, which is really great, and needs to happen.

Those are really the first two steps. The third step is crucial, which is there's a million programs out there. I always say, "Life is a bell curve." Some of those programs will be really good. Some of those programs will be not so good, and most of them will be somewhere in between. If you're a district administrator or even a state administrator, how do you determine which are which? Alignment is a part of that, but another big part of it is to make sure the program actually works. It's effective and has quality research to back it up. It can show a positive effect size on student learning. Those are the conversations that we have with state leaders. I have them with mostly governors and state legislators, and others. Bri has them at the Department of Education level. I think that's really the next step for literacy, as we think about how to bounce back from the challenges it's more important now, more than ever, that we get this right. We don't have any time to lose because those kids are advancing through the grades. We got some work to do to catch them up.

PA:
Oh, most definitely. As you were talking, I stopped and then reflected on that word effectiveness, that comes again when you laid out all the things that districts should consider, alignment with standards, science of reading. Has it worked? For the previous ESSER funds, there were some purchasing decisions that were made. Moving forward, what would you say about those next set of decisions? How do we move forward now based on, "Hey, did it work? Did it not work?" Could you expound on that a little bit? You began answering that question before I asked it, Jon, so I think that, maybe, you're a little bit clairvoyant. Can you add any more detail to those next steps for moving forward based on what districts used previously?

JH:
Yeah, I would say, if you have something that's working well, the obvious answer is to do more of it. Don't be afraid to change and make a shift if you feel like what you're spending on was not as effective as you would like it to be. I think, at the end of the day, everybody wants to do what's in the best interest of the kids. If that means going in a different direction, then everyone should have the courage and ability to do that. They should have the support from the leadership. I think the most important thing as we go through the rest of COVID, for however long that is, is that you're using technology to its greatest ability. You're using the teacher to their greatest ability. Then, you're using a program that is based on research and is proven to work.

PA:
In all aspects, quality counts. Would you agree with that?

JH:
Absolutely.

PA:
All right. Thank you so much, Jon, for sharing your insight with districts. I know that they're very excited to hear your input. Brittany, I do have a few questions for you. Now, I do understand you work with state departments. Am I correct in saying that?

Brittany Martin:
That is correct. Yes, Pam.

PA:
Well, with that in mind, what are some of the best ways that these ESSER III funds can be used? Can you give us some examples of the states where you're seeing the stimulus funds being used, or implemented, here we go, that word again, effectively?

BM:
There are many best ways to use ESSER III funds, and this is largely supported by the broad permissibility afforded through federal guidelines for use of ESSER funds. It opens the door for educators to think outside of the box. I know it's a term we've heard very often when we talk about using ESSER funds, but we really want educators and state department leaders to think about what has never been done before. One of the questions, I would say, is a critical consideration is: "What is it that your state desperately needs to help students have a better day-to-day experience?" A couple things I would highlight as best ways to use ESSER III funds. This is also remembering that we are in a very different stage of the pandemic than we were in 2020.

Our use of ESSER funds, back then, was probably a lot more reactive. This is an opportunity for state department leaders to be more proactive and forward thinking in terms of use of funds, and how that will impact the ongoing needs of the schools in their state. One, I would think about systems, right? We talk a lot about data, but many states lack the infrastructure to collect this information in a meaningful way. I look at states like Idaho that have made recent investments using ESSER funding to grow their data-collection capabilities, and improve their overall federal reporting. That's something that's really important and is tied to continued funding, help collecting that data and ensuring that the reporting is accurate. The second would be high-quality instructional materials. If a state is listening now, and you haven't, now is the time to really affirm the term evidence-based in your state. Define what that means in your state and district context, set policies, and invest in the tools that will ensure all students have access to the highest-quality resources.

A great example is in Nevada, where their work around evidence-based instruction and expanding access to those resources and interventions predates ESSER funding, but has supported the use of these funds across districts, currently. Another area was recruitment and retention of teachers. Ensuring that teachers have the tools and the training they need is crucial during this time. Teachers are, and they'll always be, our frontline workers in education. Now is the time to take a close look at the demographics, and consider how to attract new talent, and also promote effective instructional strategies and pedagogy for current teachers in the classroom. The last thing I'll say, on this point, around best ways to leverage ESSER III funds, and if I say nothing else at all, literacy. It's an investment. It's like a gift that keeps on giving. It'll last a lifetime.

When students really struggle with reading, they struggle in all subjects, and there's consequences of this. There are long-term implications for their life outcomes. Right now, especially with the impact of interrupted learning on our earliest learners, if we really want to ensure that they have the opportunity to progress through their K–12 journey, it is important that we educators invest in ESSER funding to address those literacy issues. These will not only help with our immediate needs, but they'll close those opportunity gaps. They'll diversify student makeup, and special programs like Korean technical education and advance placement courses, and certainly increase graduation rates. These are all really great ways to invest ESSER III funds by being proactive, and keeping our eye toward the future, and what students and teachers really need.

PA:
Oh, Brittany, you gave a wide and varied recommendation for investment of those ESSER III funds, but I heard the same theme throughout, and that was shifting from being reactive to proactive. I love hearing that shift. The investment in systems, the idea of investing in those systems that are going to help us find out exactly, "What can we do for having positive outcomes for both teachers and students?’

BM:
And teacher retention.

PA:
I agree with you 100% there. You gave us some examples of states that were using the stimulus funds, and how they're being implemented effectively. Do you have another story to share?

BM:
For example, New Mexico has a very interesting approach to using their ESSER fund for professional learning for their teachers. I think this is driving at our teacher retention and recruitment priority area. One of those areas that I highlighted as a best way, and also coupling that with literacy. In New Mexico, it's a collaborative effort between the state department and their elected bodies. Their legislature, they've come together on a single accord, that literacy is one of their most important issues in education. That during this time where, and John mentioned this unprecedented amount of funding, that this is the time to build the infrastructure to support those long-term outcomes.

Without going too deep into their implementation style, this scaffolded approach, year-over-year, to build capacity and infrastructure is a fantastic example of how a state is not only leveraging these funds, but creating a coalition across their state department and their legislature to move this kind of initiative forward. I think that is a template for other states to follow. It really sets the tone for what the state believes is important in public education. It provides a guide for how we achieve this work at scale. We're talking about large-scale implementations, and so we need to bring together different bodies, and parties within a state, to move these initiatives forward effectively. I think New Mexico is an exceptional state to highlight for their use of ESSER funds.

PA:
Thank you, Brittany. Building infrastructure, building capacity, that sounds like creating a strong foundation from where I'm hearing it.

BM:
Yes, absolutely. That is what's important right now. This is what we want states to do with their ESSER funds. We want them to establish that infrastructure that will continue to deliver on the kind of results that they want to see, not only in student outcomes, but also in teacher capacity, and in their teachers’ capability to reach their changing students' demographic needs.

PA:
Well, this is a great segue into the next question. The example, you just gave, might answer this question, but if you can expound by giving me some more examples, that would be great. Our listeners want to know how they can use the ESSER funds in ways which they might not be aware of.

BM:
That's a great question. Everyone, right now, we've seen that they are laser focused on the academic piece, and also on the social and emotional learning piece, creating those healthy learning environments for students. These are very, very important areas. Human capital investments and evaluation are areas that are less explored, but are very much so important. Again, we want to think outside of the box, and about what we can do to improve the way students and communities experience the education system. Thinking from a systems-level approach, human capital investments, ESSER funds are allocable for those purposes. Similarly, for evaluation.

This is another wise investment choice because there will come a time when we have to look back and quantify the impact of our funding decisions today. Oftentimes the capacity, the fiscal capacity, of states and our districts to do this kind of work with an external evaluator is not there. This is a time where we have that opportunity to allocate these funds for that purpose, to ensure that we know what works for our students within their learning context, and also to ensure that we have the administrative capacity and the instructional capacity to deliver, again, on those results that we want to see into the future. These are some other ways that we can leverage ESSER funds.

PA:
Oh, most definitely. Again, you're building that foundation in so many different ways. Thanks for those examples that are very direct. With these ESSER III funds, how can districts, or schools, think about their spending decisions that would help them approve and advance them toward equity?

BM:
I love this question, and I love to discuss equity, and how we achieve that work. How do we achieve this term? Right? We hear it very often. The single-most important things that a state and district can do to improve and advance their equity trajectory is to spend the dollars on resources that work. Spend the funding on things that meet the highest level of ESSA evidence, or demonstrate a very reliable impact potential on their student community. When we talk about equity, it's important. We should also think about access to high-quality resources and particularly for students with the greatest need. Oftentimes, we see that districts that don't have as high of a spending power, but have a student demographic that is very diverse and has diverse needs, they lack access to resources, and also to the human capital so that they can provide their students with a quality learning experience.

Right now, when we talk about how we use these dollars to promote equity, it is imperative that we think about high-quality resources, and what that means in the context of our state and of our districts. I would implore district and state leaders to really think about what systems that they have in place to evaluate, to understand setting goals and priorities for ensuring that in each classroom there's the highest level of instruction and also high-quality resources that have the research behind it and also have impact on other student populations.

PA:
Basically, it's understanding what teachers and students need, and differentiate it, accordingly.

BM:
Absolutely, and really approaching that from a strategic, and very thoughtful and considerate way. Yes.

PA:
Thank you. We know that state departments also have ESSER funds. Can you talk about the distinction between district and SEA relief funding?

BM:
Yes. A state department is by nature a pass-through agency. Their role is primarily to, in terms of funding, is to administer those funds to the school districts. Often, they can maintain a certain percentage. The percentage will vary depending on the source of funding, and for ESSER funds, this was kept consistent. State departments have what we refer to as a reserve, or you may hear it referred to as a set aside. With these dollars, the states can really look at the overall needs of the state and address those needs through this state set aside. Now, for ESSER I and for ESSER II, it was an option for the states to maintain that reserve. We saw states like California completely allocate all of their funding to school districts. They did not maintain any reserve. We also saw some states that used their reserve funding to provide relief funding to districts that did not qualify for Title I. They were not allocated ESSER funds.

That's one of the ways that we saw states use their set aside for ESSER I and for ESSER II. We also saw states use those funds to lead large-scale initiatives like professional learning or to adopt digital infrastructure and ensure that all students had access to broadband and had Chromebooks or iPads, or some device of sort. That's one way. Now, ESSER III was much more prescriptive, and it required that states maintain 7% of their ESSER fund to address a few things. One, it was to respond to student's academic, social, and emotional needs through summer-enrichment programs, through comprehensive after-school programs, or through the implementation of evidence-based interventions aimed specifically at addressing learning loss. It is on the state to maintain that 7%, and allocate those dollars for those purposes, expressly. The districts, they don't have this set aside. That is the main distinction between the state's ESSER funds and the district's ESSER funds. The state does pass through those funds to the district. However, they do maintain a small percentage which a state can use to address more generalized issues across the state.

PA:
You mention how some state department's reserve funding or make decisions on how the funding is to be used. What should the state department leader consider when they award their reserve ESSER funding?

BM:
I wish I could shout it from the mountain tops, Pam. Data. Really think about the data and what does that data say about the needs across the state? That's the first place that the state should look. Now, they may find that, "We don't actually have a lot of data to make these really considerate decisions." That's one of the things they may want to do with the fund is establish a data system so that they can collect data and be proactive in the future. However, we want states to look at the different geographic needs of states. When I think about access and equity, I immediately think about rural communities and how we create equity and access in those areas. I would also say that the state should think about how do we expand opportunities for students at the secondary level?

We think very much about the elementary level and the K–5 arena, what we do to make sure that those students may continue throughout their K–12 trajectory successfully. We do have secondary students who were also greatly impacted during this time. We want to ensure that those students successfully complete their K–12 tenure and graduate on time. That's another priority area. How do we address the needs of our full K–12 spectrum? Then, the last thing I would say that a state should ensure that they consider as they leverage their state set aside is their own internal capacity. What does that look like? How does the state department lead for equity? How do they lead for excellence? How do they lead for the outcomes that they want to see in their state? They can use some of those funds to build the muscles that they need, internally, to do that kind of work.

PA:
Oh, Brittany, love to hear you express your thoughts here. You were not shy in regards to your response. I'd be right there with you at the top of the mountain, shouting data.

BM:
Yes.

PA:
How to use it? How to award it in regards to what the needs are? We distribute by need, again, I have to say it, we differentiate.

BM:
Yes. I’ll add one other thing to this. I was a former state department leader, and so I experienced a lack of transparency across our systems. That really had an impact on the way we were able to lead. I think that we were not unique in any sense. I think that many state departments have a similar story to tell. This one I talk about using data, and you may realize you don't have the data that you need. We know we have assessment data and that's great, but we may find that the system itself needs to be improved to create that end-to-end transparency from the school straight up to the state department, and back down. That is a really great opportunity for states to use this funding and create that transparency and inclusive decision-making that we want to see across every state.

PA:
Oh, most definitely. When we think about other ways that the state department can support, and we're thinking equity priorities as you mentioned, with emergency relief funding, how do we go about that?

BM:
We talk about equity, sometimes we go straight to racial and ethnic makeups, but there are so many other components that help us to create an equitable system that provides opportunities for all students. That ensures that the community, their families, can participate in that journey. That's very important. One, I alluded to this in a previous response, the state department should consider how to support school districts that have not received relief funding due to their Title I status. Ensure that that level playing field we want to achieve is attainable for all school districts. These districts have also felt the impact of interrupted learning. If they weren't before, they're also facing issues with student outcomes. In the spirit of supporting equity, the state department leaders should also think about the needs of all districts and help them to meet those needs.

There's an opportunity for the state department to use this funding to directly address equity as a strategic priority of the agency. What does that mean? How do we establish the partnerships that help to create a common language and direction for the state? In Nevada, for example, the Nevada Department of Education, they established a partnership with an organization and they really were able to think through what equity meant in the state. They were able to establish commitments to racial and social justice and build this sort of a language around equity that did not exist before. This is one of the ways that we can support equity priorities. We want to think about those partnerships. A state department wants to think about the partnerships that will help them to build that common language, establish a real definition for equity in your state, and craft that trajectory.

What is it that you want to achieve? What are those benchmarks? It will be different for every state because every state has its own unique challenges and its own unique context for teaching and learning. That has to be addressed in the way you design that trajectory. I think those partnerships can really help a state department to take a step back from their administrative space and think about what their duty is. We are all educators. Some of us move out of the classroom and go on to do other things in administration, but we still wear that cap of being an educator. There is, sometimes, a need for us to step into that space again, think about the student, think about the classroom, what it is that the student really needs, and create that safe and respectful learning environment based on what we identify in our own unique context.

PA:
I have to say, Brittany, once that education cap is earned, it's never removed. I have to agree with you there.

BM:
It never, never goes away. You are so right, Pam.

PA:
It never goes away. The idea of the strategic priorities for each state, dare I say, using the data to really understand what the needs are in the districts, provide those opportunities, and level those playing fields, as you said. Thank you so much. Both Brittany and Jon, you provided our listeners with a lot of wonderful information. Some things to reflect on when we are considering those ESSER III funds. Thank you for joining us for our EDVIEW360 today. It’s been a pleasure visiting with you. Tell us where we can learn more about high-quality instructional resources.

BM:
Absolutely. Thank you all so much for joining us. Thank you, Pam, for exceptional facilitation of this conversation. If you want to learn more, I encourage you to visit our website, www.voyagersopris.com. You'll find a wealth of information on what our product portfolio looks like, our services, and how we can support your state and your district with leveraging these funds effectively.

PA:
Thank you. This is Pam Austin bringing the best thought leaders in education directly to you.

Narrator:
This has been an EDVIEW360 podcast. For additional thought-provoking discussions, sign up for our blog, webinar, and podcast series at voyagersopris.com/EDVIEW360. If you enjoyed the show, we'd love a five-star review wherever you listen to podcasts, and to help other people, like you, find our show. Thank you.