School Board News Today, an online publication of NSBA, provides timely and relevant stories and analysis from NSBA and other news outlets to school board members, administrators, and all others interested in K-12 education.
Articles in the Educational Legislation category
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging the U.S. Senate to take action on its bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Strengthening America’s Schools Act, S. 1094.
In a letter, NSBA asks the chairman and ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to schedule the bill for a Senate floor vote within the next 30 days so that the bill could be considered in a joint conference committee. In addition, further delays could mean that the U.S. Department of Education would initiate another round of waiver requests early next year only for local school districts to subsequently have the new ESEA law take them in a different direction. Reauthorizing ESEA now would “avoid confusion and waste of resources locally to the extent legislative policy differs from waiver requirements,” the letter states.
“There has been no movement on the Senate bill since it was approved by the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee three months ago,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “As the new school year begins and districts continue to grapple with the unreasonable requirements of the No Child Left Behind law, school board members across the country are anxiously awaiting progress on this important legislation.”
NSBA had asked the members of the HELP Committee to make substantive changes in the measure during committee discussions. However, not enough changes were made to warrant NSBA endorsement at that time. NSBA hopes such concerns will be resolved during the Joint Conference Committee deliberations.
“Local school boards across the nation appreciate the fact that S. 1094 contained many of the positive provisions that are in the current No Child Left Behind law such as early childhood development, teacher and principal effectiveness through preparation and professional development, rigorous college and career-ready standards with valid and reliable aligned assessments,” the letter states. “However, school board members were disappointed that S. 1094 contained many requirements that would significantly increase the requirements for local data collection, reporting, and plan development and implementation.”
NSBA also signed on to a Sept. 12 letter put forth by numerous government and education organizations, including the National Governors Association and the National Council of State Legislatures, that also urges Senate leaders to bring the ESEA bill to a floor vote.
View NSBA’s ESEA advocacy resources.
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is disappointed in the House of Representatives’ proposed fiscal 2014 budget for K-12 programs and is calling on House members to restore funding.
The budget would create “devastating” cuts to many education programs, including $4.5 billion cuts to Title I and the main federal special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, if the budget cuts were to be applied across the board, according to NSBA.
In a July 24 letter to members of the House Appropriations Committee, NSBA wrote, “Local school boards have grave concerns over the Subcommittee’s overall 302(b) funding allocation that would impose greater budget cuts to programs implemented at the local school district level. Local school boards are also concerned that federal funding to support K-12 education is being significantly reduced at a time when there should be increased investments in our nation’s future.”
The NSBA letter refers to the overall subcommittee allocation, which was approved by the full committee more than a month ago.
The U.S. House of Representatives began debate on H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, the House’s version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The National School Boards Association (NSBA) was pleased that an amendment on local school district flexibility that includes key provisions of NSBA’s bill, the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, H.R. 1386, passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 239-187 vote on July 18. The amendment was put forth by Reps. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), and additional provisions of NSBA’s bill were included in the bill the Committee on Education and the Workforce took to the floor.
H.R. 5, with local school district flexibility amendment, focuses on specifically ensuring that the U.S. Department of Education does not encroach on local school board governance.
On Wednesday, NSBA sent letters to all House members to urge them to support H.R. 5.
H.R. 5, “makes significant improvements to restore greater flexibility and governance to local educational agencies that will enable these agencies to better meet the unique needs and conditions of their local schools and students. It also re-affirms the appropriate roles and responsibilities between the Executive and Legislative Branches of government that are vital to the representative decision-making at the federal level that under girds public education as a democratic institution across all three levels of government,” the letter stated.
NSBA is opposed to Rep. Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) Title I portability amendment as it would require school districts to reallocate Title I funds on a per-pupil basis and set up a system of public school choice. The vote on that amendment is expected on July 19.
NSBA wants to thank school board members for contacting their members of Congress. On July 19, please call your representative at (202) 224-3121 (Capitol switchboard) and follow-up with a letter to vote NO on the Cantor Title I portability amendment and YES for final passage of the bill. The consideration of additional amendments continues through Friday.
In anticipation of a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives later this week, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) has written to all House members to urge them to support the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization. Specifically, NSBA is supporting an amendment that would give school districts greater input in the development of federal regulations, and it would prohibit the U.S. Department of Education from extending its authority to make regulations outside specific legislative authority.
NSBA also has concerns about the funding authorizations included in the bill, H.R. 5. It has urged House members to support the reinstatement of Maintenance of Effort requirements to ensure that schools receive adequate state funding in an era of tight budgets.
Finally, NSBA announced its opposition to an amendment that would require school districts to reallocate Title I funds on a per-pupil basis and set up a system of public school choice. “Title I portability would cause irreparable harm to high-needs schools and the students they serve,” the letter states.
H.R. 5, also called The Student Success Act, “makes significant improvements to restore greater flexibility and governance to local educational agencies that will enable these agencies to better meet the unique needs and conditions of their local schools and students. It also re-affirms the appropriate roles and responsibilities between the Executive and Legislative Branches of government that are vital to the representative decision-making at the federal level that under girds public education as a democratic institution across all three levels of government,” the letter states.
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) supports a budget plan passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee that would increase funding for K-12 education, including Title I grants and special education. Most importantly, the bill would reverse the automatic budget cuts that will impact all K-12 education programs by this fall, known as sequestration.
A July 10 letter sent to all Senators noted that the proposed fiscal 2014 budget blueprint would help sustain targeted investments, and praised its increases to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the main federal special education law, and early education. “Protecting baseline funding for these priorities, and providing the increases needed to help address existing shortfalls, will help our school districts and states avoid reductions to the scope and delivery of education services and advancement,” the letter states. However, more money for IDEA is needed, the letter adds.
The bill also emphasizes early education by allotting a $1.6 billion increase for Head Start, including funds to expand Early Head Start and build a new Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships to serve children and families from before birth through age 3.
According to NSBA’s advocacy team, Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said that she will push to get the bill on the Senate floor for debate. The last time an education funding bill was debated by the Senate was 2007, she stated.
The House Appropriations Committee has adopted an overall allocation for the Labor, HHS, Education Subcommittee that could reduce funding for education by more than 18 percent, which would equate to more than a $4.5 billion cut to Title I grants and special education, according to NSBA’s advocacy team. The future of that measure is uncertain.
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) offered support for a House bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which the Education and the Workforce Committee passed June 19. But NSBA is concerned that its funding provisions would stifle federal and state education funding.
This week NSBA sent a letter to Chairman John Kline and Ranking Member George Miller that praised the legislation’s provisions that would help restore local governance and give local school districts more flexibility to improve student achievement based on local needs.
“H.R. 5 builds on the constructive features of [the No Child Left Behind Act] and eliminates many of those requirements that have negatively misdirected the federal role,” the letter states. “However, in supporting passage of the bill out of committee, we strongly urge that the state maintenance of effort (MOE) provisions be reinstated and the hard freeze on authorized funding levels over the six-year duration of the legislation be raised.
The letter also asks that H.R. 5 include the language of the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, H.R. 1386, which is the NSBA-backed bill that would establish a framework for improved recognition of local school board authority when the U.S. Department of Education acts on issues that impact local school districts unless specifically authorized in federal legislation.
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has issued a report calling on the U.S. Senate to reconsider a provision in its new Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill that seeks to ensure school districts give equitable support to students in high-poverty schools.
The ESEA legislation would change the current method for determining how school districts allocate comparable resources to their Title I schools. Based on NSBA’s report, “The Challenges and Unintended Consequences of Using Expenditures to Determine Title I Comparability,” the provision in the Senate bill will not achieve its goal.
“NSBA supports the concept of ‘comparability’ and ensuring that students in Title I schools receive equitable services,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “However, the proposal for the Title I comparability provision would be burdensome for school districts and it could even unintentionally harm Title I schools and other schools that have high operational costs or special services.”
As a condition for receiving Title I funding, ESEA requires that school districts show they are providing comparable services from local funds to their Title I schools through measures such as teacher-student ratios. The purpose is to show that the federal money is used in addition to local resources for Title I schools. Under the Senate bill’s plan, school districts would have to take into account new factors, such as the cost of each teacher’s salary and benefits, and other expenses that are not tied to student learning, such as transportation.
NSBA’s report found that the plan could force local school districts to shift money away from Title I schools because the provision does not account for wide variances in expenses such as student transportation, the availability of social services or grant funding to some schools, or other building-related costs.
As part of the report, NSBA surveyed school officials on the comparability provision in the Senate bill from the last Congress. Nearly 300 Title I program administrators and school business officials and other school officials responded. These on-the-ground practitioners reported that the proposed requirement was too difficult to administer and contained too many variables to make valid expenditure comparisons between Title I and non-Title I schools.
NSBA’s report shows that the proposed methods in Senate’s 2011 bill and the bill introduced this week are flawed because of wide variances in teacher salaries and benefits as well as other expenses in a school district. For example, factors such as variances in teachers’ salaries, employer-paid heath premiums, matching pension contributions and experience do not necessarily correlate to teacher effectiveness.
While the new Senate provision does not require the involuntary transfer of teachers, the provision would still appear to cause the bookkeeping problems raised in NSBA’s report and could still result in teacher transfer issues.
The new Senate provision seeks to respond to NSBA’s concerns regarding how certain expenditures that are not relevant to student learning would be accounted. It would allow school districts to adopt a method based on education expenditures that is of an equal or higher standard. However, those alternatives must be developed before the reauthorization is enacted and approved by the U.S. Secretary of Education.
Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s Associate Executive Director for Federal Advocacy and Public Policy noted, “That option simply passes the buck to the federal agency to define what would still be a difficult to administer expenditure-based comparability system and would still result in the various unintended consequences cited in our report. There are far better approaches to ensure that all Title I students are receiving effective teachers and adequate educational resources.”
NSBA’s report was praised by the AASA, The American Association of School Administrators.
“NSBA’s report clearly shows that Congress needs to reject this provision and focus on supporting local efforts that will add to the resources needed for education rather than spending resources on bookkeeping and other adjustments that really aren’t on target to reach the intended goal,” said Bruce Hunter, AASA’s Associate Executive Director for Advocacy, Policy and Communications.
Democrats in the U.S. Senate introduced their bill to overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act, and the National School Boards Association’s advocacy team is hopeful that efforts to reauthorize the massive K-12 law could progress this summer.
“In conversations with key staff members, it’s clear they are eager to move a bill through the committee in short order” said Michael A. Resnick, the Associate Executive Director for Federal Advocacy and Public Policy at NSBA. “But some of the philosophical divide will need to be resolved.”
A key issue will be the role of the federal government in education policy, in addition to assessments and other accountability measures.
The Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin, the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and co-sponsored by the Democratic members of the committee. The ranking Republican member of that committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander, is expected to offer the Republicans’ version of the ESEA reauthorization when the bill is marked-up in committee. NSBA is currently addressing the legislation. The Democrats’ bill, called the Strengthening America’s Schools Act, which is more than 1,100 pages long and the Republicans” bill, the “Every Child Ready for College and Career Act,” is less detailed at 200 pages.
The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is now six years overdue and each attempt to overhaul the massive federal education law has floundered in Congress.
Members of the House education committee also have recently told NSBA’s lobbyists that they plan to introduce an ESEA reauthorization bill, Resnick said.
On May 21, members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee queried U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at a hearing on the Obama administration’s budget proposal. Duncan noted that the Department of Education is committed to working with Congress to get an ESEA reauthorization completed this year.
At that hearing, some Republican members were more interested in questioning the secretary about his budget priorities, particularly President Obama’s initiative to greatly expand prekindergarten education. Some said the money would be better spent to fully fund the nation’s main special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.