Very few states have seen the level of educator engagement on ESSA that has been occurring in Hawaii. Aloha state educators know this is their opportunity to add their voice to this conversation if ESSA implementation to advocate on behalf of their students and their profession.

In 2016, Gov. David Ige assembled an ESSA task force, made up of educators, lawmakers, parents and members of the private sector, charged with creating a “blueprint for education” to implement the law in the state. After an initial version was completed in late 2016, the task force took the design ideas back out to the community for further discussion, feedback and elaboration.

Prior to the passage of ESSA, members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) were already mobilizing around “Schools Our Keiki Deserve,” an evidence-based report by the HSTA Speakers Bureau used to guide public policy decisions around public education. HSTA member Amy Perruso, a nationally recognized social studies teacher and member of the ESSA taskforce, created the Speakers Bureau to organize the community in support of public schools, which had proved invaluable during the ESSA implementation process. The Speakers Bureau has been incredibly active in the ESSA town halls and other opportunities for community engagement that have been occurring in multiple locations on every island across the state.

“We are building not only a movement around the ‘Schools Our Keiki Deserve’ via ESSA organizing,” explains Amy Perruso, “but also school-based leadership familiar with the language and possibilities of ESSA that will help us as we move into implementation.”