NAPE Blog

Ask Your Governor to Prioritize ESSA in State Plans!

On Wednesday February 22 we want to make sure every Governor and their staff across the country know that, in order to meet their goals to prepare students for the future, achieve more economic opportunity, and have more STEM workers in their state, it is essential to ensure great STEM learning opportunities continue and grow under ESSA.

Governors will play a unique and brand new role under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): the new law requires that the Governor sign-off on the plan the state department of education is developing before it can be submitted for approval to the US Department of Education. Please join the Every Student Succeeds with STEM effort in telling your Governor to prioritize STEM in ESSA state plans.

Get Involved with these Easy Steps on Wednesday, February 22nd (also outlined in this toolkit on the engagement hub):

  1. Contact your Governor – urge them to ensure STEM is a priority before they sign off on the new state ESSA plan.
  • How do I do that?  To make it easy to do, the Every Student Succeeds With STEM hub (successwithstem.org) includes a directory of contact information for the governors.
  • Who should I talk to? If you are not able to speak to the governor, you can also speak to the Governor’s Education Policy Advisor (GEPA) who is typically the point person on STEM and ESSA.

Pro Tip: At our last Mobilization Webinar, our experts shared some thoughts on how to approach talking with the Governor’s office staff, including: Have honest, respectful conversations with them; Talk about how STEM impacts students; and Provide a way to hold them accountable with a promise they will follow up or take a next step.   

  1. What should I say? Pull together your thoughts?

There are talking points and sample policy guidance available at Every Student Succeeds with STEM. As we learned from our experts on our Mobilization Webinar, there are a few key points in particular to raise with Governors:

  • Focus on the workforce first: Many governors are focused on workforce development, so letting the governor know the essential role STEM learning plays in preparing future workers with the skills they need for STEM-Related jobs – and that soon virtually all jobs will require some STEM skills – can help underscore why STEM needs to be a priority under ESSA.
  • Underscore how STEM learning opportunities are part of a well-rounded education, and how the critical thinking, problem solving skills help students succeed in college, career and life.
  • Offer some specific steps the governor could take:
    • STEM could be included in the state’s new accountability system as part of a “work-readiness indicator”
    • The shortage of STEM teachers must be addressed to realize the goal of all students being prepared with 21st Century skills
    • Our goals of providing greater opportunity for success for all students, wherever they live, and for greater equity for historically disadvantaged students, requires greater investment in STEM to reach all students in the state, including for example greater access to higher level courses in science and math in all schools.
  1. Follow up with your Governor.

After your reach out to the governor and the governor’s staff, there are a few ways to follow up with them:

  • Send a quick email to thank them for their time and interest, and promise to follow up with specific questions they may have asked.
  • Tweet your thanks: A public acknowledgement like a simple tweet of thanks for their commitment to STEM goes a long way.
  • Promise to follow up: Hold them accountable for follow up over the next few weeks and months.
  1. Let us know what happened!

Keep us informed: After you take your action, let us know what you did via this very short form. This will help us support you further. For example: Were they supportive? Did they have questions that need more information? What ways did they suggest we could take action to support STEM teaching in learning under the new ESSA? We’re all ears at successwithstem@100Kin10.org, so please write with additional opportunities or ideas.

Why now?

Governors across the country have public pledged their support for STEM. Some governors in their recent “State of The State” addresses have spoken directly about STEM education, while most others addressed the need to prepare citizens with the skills they need so their state can lead in innovation, on 21st century jobs, and can be competitive in today’s economy.

This is a good moment engage with all state governors. Beginning February 23, the governors will gather in Washington DC for their annual National Governors Association (NGA) winter meeting, and contacting them before they travel to DC will help reinforce the importance of STEM with each of them before they come together. In addition, some governors will soon be signing-off on the first state ESSA plans (17 states plus DC plan to submit them by April 3). But as we learned from our experts on the last Mobilization Webinar, we shouldn’t wait for the final due-date to contact the Governor: talking to them now, early in the process, can help positively impact how STEM is represented in education plans in every state.

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