Under ESSA, communities can push policymakers to include factors that focus on more than test scores. For example, in the week preceding key legislative votes, MSEA members made more than 700 phone calls to legislators specifying the need for a sound ESSA plan, less testing, and the prevention of school privatization.

In collaboration with other community stakeholders, MSEA sent more than 4,000 emails to legislative offices urging legislators to support POSA and balance “opportunity to learn” indicators with “testing” indicators as a measurement of school success.

As POSA moved through the Maryland legislative process, the dividing line between support and opposition came down to commitment for public education. Parents groups, like the Maryland PTA, strongly supported the bill, while national school privatization groups opposed.

“This legislation makes it clear that local stakeholders, especially parents, now get the first say in how low-performing schools are improved,” said Elizabeth Ysla Leight, Maryland PTA president. “Not the partisans and not the so-called experts pushing their own agenda. Top-down, one-size-fits-all solutions have never worked.”

Gerald Stansbury, president of the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP, stated in a letter to senators: “We have an obligation to our children to try something new and change the status quo. It’s time to lead the nation in closing the opportunity gaps that lead to inequality in schools. The Protect Our Schools Act does exactly that.”