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Articles in the Educational Legislation category

NSBA to Congress: Hands off E-rate

NSBA is urging Congress not to jeopardize Internet, broadband, and Wi-Fi access for millions of students or block improvements to E-rate, the federal program that provides connectivity resources for schools and libraries.

Student access to high-speed Internet connections is critical, and 80 percent of schools currently have slow or an inadequate number of Internet connections. An amendment to limit options for schools and libraries under E-rate would halt progress in providing urgently needed access to students and schools. Such an amendment to the appropriations bill also would hamper the FCC’s efforts to modern the 20-year-old program.

NSBA has written a letter to Congress asking for a “No” vote on any amendments to the E-rate program in HR 5016. As a member of Education and Libraries Network Coalitions (EdLiNC), NSBA is adding its voice to the coalition’s letter to Congress urging the same.

Kathleen Vail|July 15th, 2014|Categories: Educational Legislation, Educational Technology, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , , |

NSBA discusses school lunch concerns with USDA

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) was one of 16 organizations that met today with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Under Secretary of Agriculture Kevin Concannon, and “Let’s Move!” Executive Director Sam Kass to discuss problems implementing new regulations for school meals stipulated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFK) and methods for improving child nutrition. Lucy Gettman, NSBA’s Director of Federal Programs, represented NSBA to call for recognition of the impact of the legislation on school district budgets and operations.

Gettman thanked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for “including school district governance in this conversation and for taking a leadership role in convening this group of stakeholders, many of whom have never been convened as a group before. Hopefully, this will be the first of several conversations.”

School boards and administrators have struggled to implement HHFK’s provisions, which require districts to serve school meals meeting strict nutritional and portion guidelines that many children find less filling and less palatable. School districts are reporting more food waste and lower rates of participation in school meal programs, and must cover unfunded cost increases somehow, usually through staff and program reductions.

In addition to school meal requirements, the law also has provisions for competitive foods that went into effect July 1, 2014. Forthcoming requirements include training and education standards for school food service personnel, and expanded requirements for local school wellness policies, further affecting districts’ operations and bottom lines.

Gettman urges policy makers, “Be mindful of the cumulative effect of these requirements across school systems that are also implementing Common Core State Standards, Elementary and Secondary Education Act waivers, trying to administer assessments, trying to get a highly-effective teacher in every classroom, and make sure that ‘the wheels of the bus go ‘round and ‘round.’ We have to work together to make sure that it all fits together and works together, and that the child nutrition reauthorization isn’t having an impact on the rest of the educational system that isn’t supported financially and that doesn’t acknowledge local authority and control.”

Representatives from the following organizations were in attendance:

• Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
• Alliance for a Healthier Generation
• American Academy of Pediatrics
• American Heart Association
• Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
• Center for Science in the Public Interest
• Food Research & Action Center
• Mission: Readiness
• National Education Association
• National Food Service Management Institute
• National Parent Teacher Organization
• National School Boards Association
• Pew Charitable Trusts
• Public Health Institute
• School Nutrition Association
• United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association

Margaret Suslick|July 10th, 2014|Categories: Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Food Service|Tags: , , , , , , , |

NSBA urges House committee to boost IDEA funding

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging members of the U.S. House of Representative’s Appropriations Committee to continue to sustain and protect spending for federal K-12 education programs, particularly the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the nation’s main special education law.

Below is language from a June 9 letter sent to members of the committee by NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel:

On behalf of the 90,000 school board members and the state school boards associations representing more than 49 million public school students throughout the nation, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is writing regarding the FY2015 Labor-Health & Human Services-Education Appropriations bill.

Your leadership to restore the majority of the budget cuts from sequestration for FY2014 was extremely vital to our students, school districts and communities; and, we urge you to sustain these key investments in Fiscal Year 2015.

NSBA greatly appreciates the Subcommittee’s efforts to protect key education investments that are helping improve student achievement, such as Title I grants for disadvantaged students and special education. Foremost, NSBA urges you to provide the highest possible allocation for grants under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Local school district budgets continue to face cuts while special education costs are increasing. Special education expenditures by local communities take up higher percentages of school budgets each year, often forcing school districts to either raise taxes or dip into general education budgets to make up the shortfall. A path toward full funding of IDEA is needed to help districts fulfill the federal IDEA requirement that has existed for almost 40 years, but has never been fully funded. For FY2014, the average federal cost share per student under IDEA is less than 16 percent, rather than the 40 percent promised by Congress when IDEA was first enacted in 1975. Protecting funding for this priority, as well as Title I, will help our school districts and states avoid reductions to the scope and delivery of education services and advancement.

A Fiscal Year 2015 funding bill that will enable our states and school systems to thrive without making further cuts to curriculum is essential. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to working with you as the FY2015 appropriations process moves forward.

Joetta Sack-Min|June 10th, 2014|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Policy Formation|

NSBA praises the U.S. Senate introduction of the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) praises the introduction today of the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act (S. 2451) in the U.S. Senate by Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.). The legislation would protect local school district governance from unnecessary and counterproductive federal intrusion from the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

“We appreciate Sen. Inhofe’s leadership on the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, which would ensure that local school boards are able to make sound decisions based on the needs of their students and their communities,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director. “Federal regulations that fail to recognize the value of strong local governance put politics before the best interests of our nation’s students.” The Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act would:

  • Establish local school boards’ authority and curb overreach by ED on issues that impact local school districts unless specifically authorized in federal legislation;
  • Ensure that local school board concerns and issues are solicited and addressed in the process of creating new federal regulations;
  • Create procedural steps that ED would be required to take prior to initiating any regulations, rules, grant requirements, guidance documents, and other regulatory materials; and
  • Ensure that ED’s actions are consistent with the specific intent of federal law and are supportable at the local level.

The new Senate legislation is a companion bill to H.R. 1386 introduced last year in the U.S. House of Representatives, which has 43 bipartisan sponsors and co-sponsors. The House’s version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization, H.R. 5, approved by the full House last summer, also includes key provisions of H.R. 1386. NSBA is encouraging school board members to contact their senators to support passage of this legislation.

“The Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act will give state and local school boards a voice in how the federal government issues regulations and guidelines for education,” said Inhofe. “It’s time for the Department of Education to be accountable to the parents, teachers, and local elected officials who work first hand with our nation’s children. Education needs are unique to each community, and in order to give the next generation of Americans a better future and wealth of opportunities, my legislation will give state and local school boards the authority they need to carry out the education goals that are best suited for their children.”

Recently, Inhofe received NSBA’s top Congressional honor, the Congressional Special Recognition Award, for his leadership to advance America’s public education. Watch the video of the award presentation:

Alexis Rice|June 10th, 2014|Categories: Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy, School Boards, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

NSBA urges U.S. House members to oppose school voucher bill

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel sent a letter today to members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging them not to support the CHOICE Act as it would provide federal resources for voucher schemes and fund private schools that are not fully accountable to the same laws and civil rights that govern public schools.

Representatives Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) are expected to introduce the CHOICE ACT on Thursday, May 29, 2014. The bill would provide vouchers to students educated under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students who reside in military installations, and students enrolled or waiting for vouchers through the DC Opportunity Scholarship program.

The letter notes:

On behalf of the 90,000 school board members who govern our nation’s public school districts which educate nearly 50 million students, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is writing in strong opposition to the CHOICE Act (Creating Hope and Opportunities for Individuals and Communities through Education Act) that is scheduled for introduction on May 29. Therefore, we urge you not to support the CHOICE Act.

NSBA urges Congress to maximize resources for our public schools, which serve all students regardless of gender, disability or economic status, and adhere to federal civil rights laws and public accountability standards. Hence, NSBA opposes private school vouchers and urges Congress to reject using any federal funds or incentives for a national voucher program, including any special education vouchers for military children and/or specific subgroups of ,students. NSBA also opposes amendments to make vouchers part of a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), or other legislation.

An overwhelming majority (70 percent) of Americans oppose private school vouchers, according to the 2013 PDK Gallup poll. Likewise, based on the policies adopted by our Delegate Assembly, NSBA opposes any efforts to subsidize tuition or expenses at elementary or secondary private, religious, or home schools with public tax dollars. Specifically, NSBA opposes vouchers, tax credits, and tax subsidies for use at non-public K-12 schools. Public funds should not be used directly or indirectly through tax credits, vouchers, or a choice system to fund education at any elementary and/or secondary private, parochial, or home school.

NSBA supports federal investments in our public school students and applauds Congress’ work to improve our nation’s public schools.

Alexis Rice|May 28th, 2014|Categories: Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, Privatization, School Boards, School Vouchers|Tags: |

School board member shows how Brown decision changed lives

Neil Putnam, a board member of Mitchell School District #17 in South Dakota, reflected on this month’s 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision in his local newspaper, the Daily Republic. Putnam also is a Western Regional Director for the National School Boards Association’s board of directors.

Growing up in South Dakota, Putnam noted that he was not exposed to the inequities faced by the students involved in the Brown lawsuit. So he asked two fellow school board members from Kansas and Mississippi to tell about their firsthand experiences as students after the landmark ruling, and how it has impacted their work with their school districts.

Putnam wrote, “Perhaps it is coincidence that three school board members whose families come from agrarian beginnings — Kansas exodusters, Mississippi sharecroppers and Dakota homesteaders — would eventually be presidents of our state school board associations and are having a conversation about the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. I rather think that is what is the legacy of Brown: all board members, educators, parents and citizens working together to insure all students regardless of abilities, circumstances and means can attend any public school. Now, 30 years later from the time I was handed a diploma, I am recognizing those who toiled and sacrificed for my education, but moreover commemorating those who fought for the right I took for granted.”

Read more in the Daily Republic.


Joetta Sack-Min|May 23rd, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Diversity, Educational Legislation, Rural Schools|Tags: , |

Gentzel calls for school board oversight of charters in USA Today letter

Thomas J. Gentzel, executive director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) said that federal legislation on charter school law should recognize the need for accountability for student performance in charters, given the low performance of the majority of charter schools. His letter to the editor was published in the May 21, 2014 issue of USA Today.

Gentzel wrote, “In 2013, Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes revealed that only 25% and 29% of charters outperformed traditional public schools in reading and math assessments, respectively. These low percentages were actually an improvement over the 2009 data. CREDO attributed many of the improvements to the actions that authorizers — key among these local school boards — are taking to close down ineffective charter schools.

“Strong local governance matters. It cannot and should not be excluded from education reform initiatives. To give America’s schoolchildren strong accountability centered on student outcomes, the National School Boards Association calls for local school boards to serve as the sole authorizers of charter schools.”

USA Today also published comments from Twitter related to charter schools. Read more.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 21st, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Charter Schools, Educational Legislation, Educational Research, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, Privatization|Tags: , |

Coalition urges Senate to keep funding bond program for school renovations

The Rebuild America’s Schools coalition is supporting legislation to extend the Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) program, which helps give low- or no-interest financing to school districts for school renovations and upgrades.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is a member of Rebuild America’s Schools, a coalition of national education and civil rights groups and 42 large-city school districts that works to create federal support to help local communities build, renovate and modernize schools.

“QZABs and other low-cost federal financing programs provide crucial assistance to budget-conscious school districts so that they may provide better facilities and technology upgrades that help foster student achievement,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel.

A bill in the U.S. Senate would extend the authorization of QZABs, which began in 1997, for another two years. In a May 12 letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Finance, Rebuild America’s Schools notes that QZABs are being used by school districts in every state.

QZABs and a similar program, the Qualified School Construction Bond, “are helping repair, renovate and modernize America’s school infrastructure and stimulating and creating jobs in Oregon and every state,” according to the letter written by Rebuilding America’s Schools Chairman Bob Canavan to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “These jobs are generated in the construction industry among suppliers, ranging from architects and engineers to roofing, heating and cooling contractors and other skilled construction workers who modernize, renovate and repair schools. Modern, energy efficient schools are helping local communities increase opportunities for all students to develop the educational skills necessary to achieve and succeed in the 21st century workforce.”

The extension for QZABs is part of S. 2260, the Expire Act, which would extend federal tax credits and deductions for a wide variety of programs.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 15th, 2014|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Educational Technology, Federal Programs, School Buildings, Uncategorized, Urban Schools|

Call for proposals for NSBA’s 2015 Annual Conference

2015 NSBA Annual Conference

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is requesting proposals for breakout sessions to be conducted during our 75th Annual Conference in Nashville, Tenn., March 21-23. The conference will draw thousands of attendees, exhibitors, and guests representing nearly 1,400 school districts, and will feature distinguished speakers and hundreds of workshops, presentations, and other events that will help school board members develop leadership skills, boost student learning, and improve school districts’ operations.

If your school district or organization has an idea for a high-quality breakout session that focuses on a topic of critical interest to school board members for presentation at this conference, please complete a proposal online by the deadline of Monday, June 16 at 5 p.m. EDT. Only proposals submitted through the online process  will be considered. Breakout sessions will be 30, 45, or 75 minutes in length and will be scheduled throughout the conference.

Proposals are being solicited for the following focus areas:

• Innovations in District Management
• Legal and Legislative Advocacy
• Professional and Personal Development
• School Board/Superintendent Partnerships
• Student Achievement and Accountability
• Technology + Learning Solutions

School board member blasts fed’s rescission of NCLB waiver for Washington state

In a strong and incisive letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Washington school board member David Iseminger has decried the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to rescind the state’s waiver of some of the more onerous requirements of No Child Left Behind, a move that will cause nearly all state schools to fail to reach the law’s student achievement benchmarks and require school districts to send “failure letters” to parents if they want to receive critical federal funds.

Last week, the department said it was rescinding the wavier because the state has not moved fast enough on its promise to use student test data to evaluate teachers and principals. The waivers allow states to escape from the law’s requirements that all schools educate 100 percent of their students to proficiency and math and language arts by this year–a provision widely criticized by educators and researchers as nearly impossible to meet.

In his letter, which was published on the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog, Iseminger characterized Duncan’s action as arbitrary and detrimental to schools and students.

“Your reason for revoking our waiver: we didn’t pass legislation you wanted,” wrote Iseminger, a board member for both the Lake Stevens School District and the Washington State School Directors’ Association. “More precisely, we passed legislation, but it didn’t have the wording (actually, one specific word) you wanted.”

Noting that Washington, D.C., is nearly 3,000 miles from his state, Iseminger offered to tell Duncan about “this other Washington” where “we have strong leadership in our board rooms, schools, and classrooms” and students who “are capable, confident, and work extremely hard.”

“In Lake Stevens — and in school districts across America — we lead by example,” Iseminger said. “We create confidence, capacity, knowledge, and opportunity for everyone in our community. There is a palpable and ubiquitous culture of excellence in Lake Stevens, where it’s common knowledge that each individual is supported, challenged, engaged, and empowered. Such things don’t appear overnight, they’re not accidental, and I have no intention of having our work undermined by distant labels and bracketed explanations.”

Among the schools that the education department would have the state call “failing” are “Schools of distinction one of them four years running,” Iseminger said, as well as Washington Achievement Awards schools and a Reward School. He said Lake Stevens has won a Magna Award from the National School Boards Association (NSBA)’s American School Board Journal and is a recognized Board of Distinction.

With NCLB reauthorization languishing six years in Congress, the law “has been subverted into a name-calling, label-applying bully pulpit,” Iseminger said.

“We tried to help,” Iseminger said. “With input and work from many education advocates, Congress was provided an extensive list of fixes that would make NCLB workable and forward-thinking, and keep us all accountable. I was there too — as a member of the (NSBA’s) Federal Relations Network (FRN), I made the trek to Washington D.C., multiple times to ask our members to reauthorize, year after year. While there, many of us from Washington also met with people from your Department of Education, in your building, trying to create relationships and press for a change in policy and tone: ‘Stop telling our students and educators they’re failing,’ I said.”

Iseminger works for Microsoft in its Business Intelligence Group, part of the Cloud + Enterprise Division. He said if the Education Department follows up the rescinding of its waiver by withholding Title I money and other key funds, disadvantaged students will suffer.

“If you pull our funding, you’ll be forsaking Washington’s most needy students — the very students for whom the original ESEA legislation was passed 50 years ago,” Iseminger wrote. “You’ll be abandoning those students, but we won’t. In Lake Stevens — and in every district across America – we’ll do whatever we must to ensure no child is left behind, waiver or not.”

Joetta Sack-Min|May 6th, 2014|Categories: American School Board Journal, Assessment, Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Programs, NSBA Recognition Programs, School Reform, Teachers|Tags: , , , , |
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