Stakeholder Engagement: Using Lessons from Perkins V for the Stimulus Application

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) released the state plan application for a portion of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund last month. In March, states were given access to two-thirds of the ARP ESSER funds, and the remaining third will be made available once state plans are approved by ED. The plan must include how states will:

  • Ensure the state and districts are demonstrating transparency in their planning; 
  • Identify and meet the needs of students most impacted by the pandemic; 
  • Choose effective evidence-based interventions; and 
  • Prioritize educational equity, inclusive stakeholder engagement and strong fiscal safeguards. 

A significant component of this application is the requirement for state-level stakeholder engagement. The following groups are named as ones that must be included and have an opportunity to provide input: students; families; Tribal Nations; civil rights and/or disability rights organizations; teachers, principals, school leaders, other educators, school staff and their unions, school and district administrators; superintendents; charter school leaders; and other stakeholders representing the interests of children with disabilities, English learners, children experiencing homelessness, children and youth in foster care, migratory students, children who are incarcerated and other underserved students.

State and local Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders have just recently undergone widespread stakeholder engagement during the development of each state plan under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). The stakeholder engagement and ongoing consultation has led to a more holistic approach to implementing high-quality and equitable CTE in many states. Just like with Perkins V, the required stakeholder engagement at the onset should be viewed as a floor and not a ceiling and an opportunity, not a burden. Continued consultation during the use of these stimulus resources will ensure that there is statewide alignment on how to meet the unique needs of all learners. 

Stakeholder input also supports successful implementation of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education, particularly “Principle 2: Each Learner Feels Welcome in, Is Supported by and Has the Means to Succeed in the Career Preparation Ecosystem.” A career preparation ecosystem must be designed with an equity lens in order to meet the unique needs of each learner. Involvement from a large range of stakeholders is instrumental in ensuring that each learner’s voice is represented in program development.

In April 2021 Advance CTE published two resources on stakeholder engagement and Perkins V, one on “Engaging Representatives of Learners with Special Population Status” and the other on “Opportunities to Advance Statewide Collaboration and Engagement in CTE.” Though these resources are geared towards Perkins V, they provide lessons learned and state promising practices that can be applied in this situation. Not only will the applications provide information about how this funding will be used, but it will also inform ED’s technical assistance to states and districts and its approach to monitoring implementation of funds. Plans must be submitted by June 7, 2021 and additional information can be found here.

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

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