Articles in the 2012 Presidential race category

Get your legislators’ attention, school board members told

With legislative debates looming in Congress over sequestration, the federal debt ceiling, immigration reform, gun control, and more, school board members looking to influence federal education policy have their work cut out for them.

That’s the assessment of Norman J. Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a respected observer of the national political scene.

“You’re going to need every talent you can muster when you go to [Capitol] Hill,” he told school leaders planning to visit federal lawmakers as part of NSBA’s Federal Relations Network (FRN) Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. He spoke at the meeting on Sunday. “Be sure that you get your legislators’ attention.”

Members of Congress are distracted by more than just the legislative challenges that lie ahead, he said. Among Republicans, the re-election of President Obama has some party members questioning the GOP’s hard-line stance on some issues—a stance that some believe has hurt the party’s support among the young, minorities, and other constituency groups whose support will be needed to win future elections.

These questions are all the more unsettling to Republicans because, in the final weeks of the 2012 campaign, some party leaders were convinced GOP candidate Mitt Romney had pulled ahead of the president in the polls—and thus his defeat was all the more shocking.

Amidst their soul-searching, some Republicans are questioning whether it’s time to show the American people some legislative accomplishments, even if it means some compromise with Democrats. It’s a position that has support among some older, influential members of the Senate who are looking to their legacy as legislative leaders.

One possible sign of this new attitude was the end-of-year compromise that put off across-the-board federal budget cuts—the so-called “fiscal cliff,” Ornstein says. In the Senate, 89 senators approved the deal, even though its passage led to an increase in some taxes. At the same time, a small group of senators from both parties is working on immigration policy reform.

“We have a very interesting dynamic at work,” he said.

None of this suggests that a new bipartisan attitude is taking hold in Congress, he warned. Partisan divisions still run deep, and lawmakers face formidable political pressure to hold to the party line. Among House Republicans, in particular, he said, the threat of a primary challenge from unhappy conservatives back home is potent.

What it does mean is that Congress may be stirring from its legislative gridlock and that school board members may face a challenge focusing lawmakers on education issues.

“To get the attention of legislators, to get them to focus on the long overdue need for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act … to make sure we continue to expand our ability to educate and prepare the next generation for our workforce … it is no easy task.”

Del Stover|January 28th, 2013|Categories: 2012 Presidential race, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, FRN Conference 2013, Governance, Leadership, Legislative advocacy, Public Advocacy|Tags: , , |

School boards warn of effects of “fiscal cliff”

If the so-called fiscal cliff occurs, school districts across the country will see larger classes, fewer teachers and program specialists, a decline in professional development, and potentially devastating cuts to programs that help disadvantaged students.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) hosted a media conference call to discuss the looming “fiscal cliff” and the impact it could have on federal K-12 programs. More than 200 school districts have passed resolutions urging Congress to spare education programs, which collectively make up less than 1 percent of the total federal budget.

Federal education programs face an estimated cut of 8.2 percent or more on Jan. 2, 2013, according to estimates by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, unless Congress takes action to cancel those cuts. These cuts are scheduled to occur through a process called sequestration, defined as the automatic, across-the-board cancellation of budgetary resources, which was put into place last year through a deal to avoid lifting the debt ceiling. Aside from Impact Aid, school districts would not see any impact until the 2013-14 school year because federal education programs are funded in advance.

But already, school board members say they are beginning their budget processes and cannot accurately plan until the issue is resolved. Currently, for every $1 million in federal aid a school district receives, NSBA estimates that $82,000 would be cut–more than the cost of one experienced teacher.

The cuts would not end in 2013, either, NSBA’s Director of Federal Legislation Deborah Rigsby said. Sequestration is slated to take place over the next 10 budget cycles with varying percentages of cuts, totaling $1.2 to $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Further, school districts would likely see state and local revenues decline because those governments would receive less money for programs outside of education.

“These cuts to our schools would be devastating and would hurt student achievement,” Rigsby said.

Jill Wynns, a school board member in the San Francisco Unified School District, said that districts across her state had seen decreases of 20 to 24 percent since 2008, and sequestration would impose another $387 million cut. Districts have been allowed to use state funds designated for disadvantaged students and specialized programs such as career and technical education to cover basic operating costs.

“Federal cuts would devastate these programs,” Wynns said. “We’re talking about actual programs for real students, teachers’ jobs—investments for our future.”

Dozens of school districts are bordering on insolvency, she added.

In Ft. Cobb, Okla., many students and adults rely on technical schools to learn new skills and improve their employment prospects, said Dustin Tackett, president of the Caddo Kiowa Technology Center Board of Education.

And in Charlottesville, Va., a district that would see immediate effects because it receives federal Impact Aid funds, sequestration cuts would likely eliminate teacher jobs, said school board member Juandiego Wade.

“All we’ve known the last four to five years are cuts, and we’ve already cut to the bone,” he said. “We feel like we’re under attack.”

NSBA is asking school districts across the country to pass resolutions as soon as possible to send the message to Congress that sequestration would significantly harm their schools. Members of Congress are meeting this week and may take action on a compromise plan in coming days, said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s director of federal advocacy and public policy.

To learn more about NSBA’s efforts to prevent sequestration, and actions that local school board members can take at the grassroots level, go to www.nsba.org/stopsequestration.

Joetta Sack-Min|November 15th, 2012|Categories: 2012 Presidential race, Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , |

School boards can help NSBA lobby to avoid fiscal cliff

Political pundits are already warning President Barack Obama and members of Congress not to spend too much time basking in their Nov. 6 victories. Beginning next week, Congress and the White House will start the tough negotiations to deal with the process of sequestration, which is the cancellation of budgetary resources.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 will impose across-the-board cuts of approximately 8.2 percent to education and other domestic programs in FY2013 unless Congress intervenes by Jan. 2, 2013. Most school districts would not see any impact until the 2013-14 school year, but those consequences will be severe. Districts that receive Impact Aid funds would see immediate cuts.

More than 100 school boards already have passed resolutions urging members of Congress to stop sequestration, which is also being called the fiscal cliff. The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is asking school boards to pass a resolution, write letters to local newspapers and take actions to publicize schools’ plights. NSBA also wants your stories about how these cuts could impact your students and schools. Learn more on the NSBA’s “Stop Sequestration” webpage for  a list of actions for local school board members and more information about the threats.

NSBA’s Advocacy department also has compiled these facts about sequestration:

  • For every $1 million of federal aid districts receive, they would lose $82,000; and, while districts can vary widely, on average, for every 5,000 students enrolled, districts would lose about $300,000.
  • The impact of an 8.2 percent cut to programs such as Title I grants for disadvantaged students would mean a cut of more than $1 billion, affecting nearly two million students.
  • Special education grants would be reduced by more than $900 million, impacting nearly 500,000 children with disabilities.
  • English Language Acquisition grants would be cut by approximately $60 million, affecting an estimated 377,000 students.
  • These budget cuts to education programs would take place during 2013-14 school year, with the exception of Impact Aid, with which cuts would become effective during this school year.
  • Sequestration’s budget cuts to these and other education programs would mean increased class sizes and less access to programs for children with special needs, as well as summer school, college counselors, early childhood education and after-school programming.
  • Certain school bond programs would also be affected by a 7.6 percent reduction in federal subsidy payments.
  • In addition to school systems losing federal education funds, there are two indirect impacts. First, federal cuts for programs to state and local governments in other areas may result in those units cutting their aid to schools as they scramble to make up the difference. Second, in communities with a large federal presence, such as military bases or government contracts, the across-the-board budget cuts could be devastating to their economies in terms of lost sales and property tax revenues that are often used, in part, to finance education.

If you have any questions or if you would like to send in a resolution, please contact Kathleen Branch, NSBA’s Director of National Advocacy Services at kbranch@nsba.org or (703)838-6735.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|November 7th, 2012|Categories: 2012 Presidential race, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Policy Formation, Public Advocacy|Tags: , |

Transcript: Presidential candidates briefly promote education plans during debate

President Barack Obama and GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney held their first of three debates last night, and while the debate focused on the nation’s economy and job creation, comments about education and job training bubbled up throughout the debate. Moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS asked one question specifically on education policies.

Michael A. Resnick, the director of the National School Boards Action Center (NSBAC), has examined Romney’s plan to give Title I and IDEA funds to students instead of schools. He estimates that an IDEA voucher would add up to $1,700 to 1,800 per child and Title I is much harder to determine because of the way it is distributed to schools and how those schools spend it, but it could be under $1,000 or as much as $2,000. He further noted that Romney’s plan would not likely spend any additional funds on K-12 programs. NSBAC, the 501c4 organization of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), has an analysis of the candidates’ education platforms and an election year message to the candidates on its website, www.nsbac.org.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) also has longstanding concerns about the Race to the Top program, the federal role in K-12 policy, and the inability of some school districts to compete for funds.

Following is a transcript of the most relevant portion of the debate. A full transcript can be found at the Washington Post website.

LEHRER: All right. Let’s go through some specifics in terms of what — how each of you views the role of government. How do — education. Does the federal government have a responsibility to improve the quality of public education in America?

ROMNEY: Well, the primary responsibility for education is — is, of course, at the state and local level. But the federal government also can play a very important role. And I — and I agree with Secretary Arne Duncan, he’s — some ideas he’s put forward on Race to the Top, not all of them, but some of them I agree with and — and congratulate him for pursuing that. The federal government can get local and — and state schools to do a better job.

My own view, by the way, is I’ve added to that. I happen to believe, I want the kids that are getting federal dollars from IDEA or Title I — these are disabled kids or — or — or poor kids or — or lower-income kids, rather, I want them to be able to go to the school of their choice.

So all federal funds, instead of going to the — to the state or to the school district, I’d have go, if you will, follow the child and let the parent and the child decide where to send their — their — their student.

LEHRER: How do you see the federal government’s responsibility to, as I say, to improve the quality of public education in this country?

OBAMA: Well, as I’ve indicated, I think that it has a significant role to play. Through our Race to the Top program, we’ve worked with Republican and Democratic governors to

initiate major reforms, and they’re having an impact right now.

LEHRER: Do you think you have a difference with your views and — and those of Governor Romney on — about education and the federal government?

OBAMA: You know, this is where budgets matter, because budgets reflect choices. So when Governor Romney indicates that he wants to cut taxes and potentially benefit folks like me and him, and to pay for it we’re having to initiate significant cuts in federal support for education, that makes a difference.

You know, his — his running mate, Congressman Ryan, put forward a budget that reflects many of the principles that Governor Romney’s talked about. And it wasn’t very detailed. This seems to be a trend. But — but what it did do is to — if you extrapolated how much money we’re talking about, you’d look at cutting the education budget by up to 20 percent.

OBAMA: When it comes to community colleges, we are seeing great work done out there all over the country because we have the opportunity to train people for jobs that exist right now. And one of the things I suspect Governor Romney and I probably agree on is getting businesses to work with community colleges so that they’re setting up their training programs…

LEHRER: Do you — do you agree, Governor?

OBAMA: Let me just finish the point.

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: The — where they’re partnering so that they’re designing training programs. And people who are going through them know that there’s a job waiting for them if they complete it. That makes a big difference, but that requires some federal support.

Let me just say one final example. When it comes to making college affordable, whether it’s two-year or four-year, one of the things that I did as president was we were sending $60 billion to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program, even though the loans were guaranteed. So there was no risk for the banks or the lenders, but they were taking billions out of the system.

And we said, “Why not cut out the middleman?” And as a consequence, what we’ve been able to do is to provide millions more students assistance, lower or keep low interest rates on student loans. And this is an example of where our priorities make a difference.

Governor Romney, I genuinely believe cares about education, but when he tells a student that, you know, “you should borrow money from your parents to go to college,” you know, that indicates the degree to which, you know, there may not be as much of a focus on the fact that folks like myself, folks like Michelle, kids probably who attend University of Denver, just don’t have that option.

And for us to be able to make sure that they’ve got that opportunity and they can walk through that door, that is vitally important not just to those kids. It’s how we’re going to grow this economy over the long term.

LEHRER: We’re running out of time, gentlemen.

LEHRER: Governor?

ROMNEY: Mr. President, Mr. President, you’re entitled as the president to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts. All right, I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding and — and grants that go to people going to college. I’m planning on (inaudible) to grow. So I’m not planning on making changes there.

But you make a very good point, which is that the place you put your money just makes a pretty clear indication of where your heart is. You put $90 billion into — into green jobs. And I — look, I’m all in favor of green energy. $90 billion, that would have — that would have hired 2 million teachers. $90 billion.

And these businesses, many of them have gone out of business, I think about half of them, of the ones have been invested in have gone out of business. A number of them happened to be owned by people who were contributors to your campaigns.

Look, the right course for America’s government, we were talking about the role of government, is not to become the economic player, picking winners and losers, telling people what kind of health treatment they can receive, taking over the health care system that has existed in this country for a long, long time and has produced the best health records in the world.

The right answer for government is say, How do we make the private sector become more efficient and more effective? How do we get schools to be more competitive? Let’s grade them. I propose we grade our schools so parents know which schools are succeeding and failing, so they can take their child to a — to a school that he’s being more successful.

I don’t want to cut our commitment to education. I wanted to make it more effective and efficient. And by the way, I’ve had that experience. I don’t just talk about it. I’ve been there. Massachusetts schools are ranked number one in the nation. This is not because I didn’t have commitment to education. It’s because I care about education for all of our kids.

 

Obama also made the following remark earlier in the debate during a session on the economy:

First, we’ve got to improve our education system and we’ve made enormous progress drawing on ideas both from Democrats and Republicans that are already starting to show gains in some of the toughest to deal with schools. We’ve got a program called Race to the Top that has prompted reforms in 46 states around the country, raising standards, improving how we train teachers.

So now I want to hire another 100,000 new math and science teachers, and create 2 million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that are out there right now. And I want to make sure that we keep tuition low for our young people.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|October 5th, 2012|Categories: 2012 Presidential race, Educational Finance, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, NSBAC|Tags: , , |

NSBAC analyzes presidential candidate’s education platforms

In anticipation of the upcoming presidential candidates’ debates this evening, the National School Boards Action Center (NSBAC), a new 501(c)(4) organization founded by the National School Boards Association (NSBA), has released “An Election Year Message to President Obama and Governor Romney.” The letter highlights the expectations and priorities needed for presidential leadership on education and specific action steps to prepare our students for success in college and careers.

Also, a new NSBAC report compares the presidential candidates’ positions on K-12 education policies. The in-depth analysis finds that President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney agree on holding public schools to high standards, supporting innovation, and expanding charter schools. But the candidates differ in some areas that are critically important to school boards, most notably on the federal role in education, school choice and funding.

“School board members want a president who will make a world-class public education system a top priority,” said Michael A. Resnick, Director of NSBAC. “Over the next four years, we must ensure our communities’ public schools are able to provide a high-quality education that will prepare students to succeed in life and boost our nation’s economy.”

The new publications will help school board members and the public understand the issues and advocate for strategies to boost student achievement in public schools. The reports are available at NSBAC’s website, www.nsbac.org.

The message to Obama and Romney advocates, “Having a world-class education that is second to none requires that all our people and all sectors of government, business, and civic life place a high priority on K-12 education. To provide the leadership that’s necessary, no person in America commands the attention of the nation more than the President of the United States. That’s why school board members believe that over the next four years, our President must make strengthening our nation’s schools a foremost priority and compellingly convey to the American people the urgency of the mission and their part to achieve it.”

A new NSBAC guide, “Ask Your Local School Board: Legislative Priorities for the 113th Congress,” is designed for local school board members to share with their candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to ensure that the candidates are aware of the challenges facing our local public schools and to encourage them to respond in a supportive manner.

For more information, visit NSBAC’s website at www.nsbac.org.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|October 3rd, 2012|Categories: 2012 Presidential race, Announcements, Board governance, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, National School Boards Action Center, Reports, School Board News, School Reform|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA to host Twitter chat during presidential debate at #debatedenverED

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) will be hosting a Twitter chat during the October 3 Presidential Debate, to be held from 9 – 10:30 pm EDT.

Be a part of this chat by using the hashtag #debatedenverED and share your thoughts about the debate and the emphasis placed on K-12 education. By using #debatedenverED in your tweets, you will be able to join in this virtual conversation. To see the entire conversation stream just go to Twitter and search #debatedenverED.

During the 2012 State of the Union, NSBA hosted a Twitter chat and according to Twitter, education was the top topic discussed. Now help us get education to be the top issue discussed on Twitter during the first presidential debate!

Alexis Rice|October 2nd, 2012|Categories: 2012 Presidential race, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, School Reform, Student Achievement, Teachers, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

NSBA creates Action Center to boost lobbying and advocacy in Washington

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has launched the National School Boards Action Center (NSBAC), a 501(c)(4) organization that will enable NSBA to expand its advocacy efforts and to increase its lobbying to include public advocacy activities not previously available. NSBAC is also designed to serve local school board members as an important resource for grassroots advocacy and for information on the political process and candidates.

Although NSBAC will not endorse specific candidates, it will analyze information and identify differences among the political candidate positions so that local school board members will be able to determine what candidates best serve the interests of our public school students.

As part of its mission to raise awareness of school boards’ top issues to candidates for federal offices, NSBAC has released an analysis of President Obama’s and Gov. Mitt Romney’s K-12 proposals. For more information, go to www.nsbac.org.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|September 28th, 2012|Categories: 2012 Presidential race, Announcements, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, Public Advocacy, School Board News, School Boards|Tags: , , |

NSBA president queries Romney on role of school boards

C. Ed Massey, president of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), queried GOP presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney this morning during a session at NBC’s Education Nation Summit.

C. Ed Massey

Massey asked for details about the candidate’s views on local school boards and parental involvement. Romney spent much of the session speaking about the need for parental involvement.

Romney used the question to further promote his beliefs that education begins at home and parents should be heavily involved in their child’s education. Romney has proposed a plan that would give students from low-income families or students who receive special education services—about 50 percent of all public school students, he estimates—access to the average per-pupil amount of federal funds under Title I or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to use at any school that best meets their educational needs. Currently the funds are given to states to distribute to local school districts by formulas based on need.

After the session, Massey said he was pleased with the opportunity to meet Romney and be able “to make sure he knew that school board governance was the critical factor in meeting the needs of the local community.”

“What I liked about [Romney’s remarks] was he did recognize the importance of parental involvement,” Massey said. “What he didn’t say much about was how that’s correlated through school boards.”

Massey and NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant are attending the event, held Sept. 23 to 25 in New York City. Watch the video (Massey appears at position 32:06) or read a transcript of the exchange:

MASSEY: Good morning. Ed Massey from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I serve as president of the National School Boards Association and sit on the National PTA board, as well. And I want to know a little more in detail how you view local school boards and parental involvement in the process of educational reform.

ROMNEY: Well, we have great organizations that represent the teachers. We have great organizations that represent the parents. But I’d like to see them have more clout. I’d like to see parents very much involved in evaluating the success of schools. If we had a more transparent system for evaluating the success of a school A through F, I think schools ought to have report cards the way they do in Florida. And if we had that, then if parents saw their school get a C or D or worse, those parents are going to be outraged. And they’ll want to gather together, become part of PTA organizations and talk about taking back the school. We can’t say and you have choice to go somewhere else. That’s a good thing to have that choice, but we also have to fix the school itself and parents are oftentimes going to be the impetus, the energy behind real change which must occur in a lot of our local school districts. I imagine you found the same thing. Is that right?

ED: I have. And sitting on a local school board for 16 years, I’ve found that the community engagement is so powerful, if you have parents in schools and you’ve engaged your community, the school will be successful. Regardless of the circumstances. That’s what I’ve found.

ROMNEY: That reminds me about the point about the Boston teachers who said if the parents show up at parent/teacher night, the kid will do just fine. And that just underscores the impact of parents. The idea that somehow schools are entirely separate from the home, from the economic circumstances of the home, from the social experiences of the home that’s just not reality. The home is an integral part of the education system and the best teachers in the world can’t possibly overcome a home pulling in the different direction. That’s why I propose in my state that the parents had to go to a training program to learn about the impact of education. I wasn’t able to get it done. It’s something I wanted to do and something that has merit. We have to pull the parents into education because they are an essential part of the education experience of their child.

ED: Thank you, governor.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|September 25th, 2012|Categories: 2012 Presidential race, Leadership, School Board News, School Boards, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |
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