Articles in the Educational Legislation category

Schools starting to get the credit they deserve

NSBA’s Center for Public Education was ahead of its time.

When they released their “Better Late than Never” report few policymakers especially at the state and federal levels, talked about giving credit to schools for those students who took longer than four years to graduate high school. However, thanks to the Center’s report along with NSBA’s Advocacy staff and the hard work by our state associations times are a changing. Some states are now recognizing what school board members have been advocating for,that schools should be given credit for all the students they graduate not just those who graduate within four years. As a matter of fact, according to the National Governors Association (NGA) 22 states now report late high school graduation rate, nine of which have been approved to count late high school graduates for federal accountability. And the good news is that NGA expects these numbers to increase as states collect additional years of data.

A webinar earlier this week by the American Youth Policy Forum provided an overview of what states are currently doing to give credit to schools for not giving up on those students who fall behind and sticking with them until they earned a standard high school diploma. This is an important step forward to ensure schools are given credit for doing the right thing, which is graduating their students even if it takes longer than four years.

However, many state accountability systems still basically count late high school graduates as dropouts simply because they needed extra time to complete the requirements to earn a standard high school diploma. This is despite the fact that the Center’s report shows that late high school graduates are more successful after high school than dropouts or even GED recipients. On the other hand, late graduates are nearly as successful after high school as their on-time graduating peers whether one judges success based on post-secondary education, employment, or civic engagement.

This is an important point to remember as the debate on the reauthorization of ESEA heats up. There are those who argue that giving credit to schools for late graduates lowers the expectations bar. However, late graduates are still expected to jump the same bar to earn a standard high school diploma as their classmates who graduated on-time, they just needed more time to do so. So BoardBuzz asks, is it really lowering the bar? Or does allowing students extra time to meet their graduation requirements better prepare them for life after high school? What do you think?

Jim Hull|April 29th, 2011|Categories: Center for Public Education, Educational Legislation, Governance, High Schools, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

NSBA analyzes final fiscal year 2011 budget and program cuts

NSBA’s advocacy department has provided the following analysis of the final appropriations bill (H.R. 1473) for fiscal year 2011, which will fund the remaining six months of this fiscal year. President Obama signed the bill on April 15.

While the measure does not impose the range of cuts to domestic programs that was debated earlier this year, it reduces funding across most federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education, by more than $38 billion.

In addition, elementary and secondary education programs are subject to a 0.2 percent across-the-board cut that could total about $836 million. The FY2011 Continuing Resolution directs the Education Department and other agencies to submit in-depth expenditure or operating plans to the House and Senate appropriations committees within 30 days of the bill’s enactment “for fiscal year 2011 at a level of detail below the account level.” Therefore, the exact funding levels for programs including Title I grants, special education (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), and Impact Aid may not be available from the Department until mid-May.

The law also directs the Education Department to share findings from program evaluations of Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, “including impact evaluations and interim progress evaluations, of activities conducted using funds previously obligated” under the economic stimulus.

While the law continues funding for newer competitive grant programs and provides increases for early childhood education, it reduces and eliminates funding for other education programs.

Increases to new and existing programs:

Specifically, $700 million is provided for another round of Race to the Top competitive grants program to states, as well as a new grant program for “improving early childhood care and education” that would be administered jointly between the Departments of Education and Health & Human Services. Based on the law’s provisions, grants would be available to states to help create and improve high-quality early learning programs and services and increase enrollment among infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The program would be based on earlier legislation that NSBA supported in FY2010 for an Early Learning Challenge Fund.

Other program increases include $150 million for another round of grants under the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund, a $20 million increase for Promise Neighborhoods grants ($30 million total), and a $340 million increase for Head Start ($7.56 billion total).

Program cuts listed within the law include a $475 million reduction to Teacher Quality State Grants (remaining funding approximately $2.46 billion). Within this program, a new component of competitive grants totaling approximately $29 million would be available to groups that provide teacher certification services.  (One of the previous FY2011 short-term continuing resolutions eliminated specific funding for teacher certification boards.)

Other program reductions/eliminations include:

  • The elimination of the Enhancing Education Through Technology State Grants ($100 million);
  • A $138 million reduction to Career and Technical Education grants, which may include the elimination of the Tech Prep component that supports a transition from high school to postsecondary institutions for academic education and career/technical training and education;
  • Elimination of Smaller Learning Communities ($88 million);
  • A $79 million cut to Safe and Drug-Free Schools National Programs;
  • Elimination of the Striving Readers program ($250 million);
  • Elimination of Arts in Education ($40 million);
  • Elimination of Even Start ($66.5 million), which helps integrate early childhood education, adult education, and parenting programs;
  • A $15 million reduction to English Language Acquisition grants (remaining funding approximately $735 million);
  • A $10 million reduction to School Improvement grants (remaining funding approximately $535 million);
  • Elimination of Reading is Fundamental ($24.8 million).

NSBA will provide an updated chart reflecting the Department’s most recent calculations as soon as possible. Also, NSBA’s letter to Congress regarding H.R. 1473 is available here. The letter expressed strong opposition to the continuance of the District of Columbia voucher program, which was included in the April 8 continuing resolution, and urged Congress to reconsider increases to programs that are competitively funded when cuts are imposed to key programs, such as Title I grants that benefit more students.

The House of Representatives’ roll call on the passage of H.R. 1473 by a vote of 260 -167 is available here. The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 81 to 19.

Funding for Voucher Program for District of Columbia Included in Continuing Resolution

NSBA thanks you for responding to our calls to action to defeat the proposal to fund the District of Columbia Voucher program. Despite a broad-based, ongoing lobbying effort by NSBA (in addition to our  extensive coalition efforts with the National Coalition for Public Education), the Continuing Resolution for FY2011 adopted by both the House and Senate on April 14, included an extension and expansion of vouchers in the District of Columbia, as passed by the House in H.R. 471 and introduced by House Speaker John Boehner. The voucher program would extend vouchers of up to $7,500 per student, in a set aside of up to $15.5 million per year for the next five years.

Voucher amendments have only been successful as “riders” to CRs, and have not been passed by both chambers as free-standing bills. Only when included in a massive, all-encompassing bill have vouchers been enacted into law. NSBA will keep you apprised of any additional voucher proposals as they surface on Capitol Hill and necessary action steps.

Joetta Sack-Min|April 20th, 2011|Categories: Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Programs, School Board News, School Vouchers|

Reforms spur governance changes

School reforms going on in major urban districts could also be changing the landscape of governance, according to a Thursday session of the Council of School Attorneys’ (COSA) School Law Seminar.

Deborah Rigsby, NSBA’s director of federal legislation, advocacy, and issues management, gave an overview of the current federal reform efforts, including Race to the Top.

School Improvement grants (SIGs) were started in 2007 by the U.S. Department of Education. They were started “out of concerns that we needed a greater focus on the schools on the bottom percentile,” said Rigsby.

Of the four current reforms for SIGs, the two most popular are the transformational model – 71 percent are using this model – and turnaround – 21 percent are using this. Restarts are at 5 percent and school closures are at 3 percent.

With the federal budget being strongly debated in Congress right now, the money for continuing these reforms could be in question, she said. “If this hits Title 1 and IDEA, it could affect those programs.”

The attorneys for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the Boston Public Schools (BPS) discussed the system-wide reforms going on in their districts. Diane Pappas, associate general counsel for LAUSD, said that her district’s reform efforts were spurred by the 2006 attempt by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

After things quieted down,” said Pappas, “we worked out a partnership with the mayor.” The district established a network of partners, one of which was the city of L.A., which took control of schools in poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Schools run by the district’s network partners must still employee union member but can do their own hiring.

The district has charter schools; 170 of them are independent. Other charters are dependent, which means that the school board remains the governing entity, but they have latitude in other areas.

In 2009, she said, the district put up 38 low performing schools and allowed outside groups to bid on them to take them over.

“We have a lot of competition in L.A.,” she said. “It’s good for kids.

In the Boston schools, which have had a mayor-appointed school board since 1991, new state legislation is requiring the district to put into place three different reform models: turnaround, innovation, and in-district charter schools, said Alissa Ocasio, BPS’s legal advisor.

Turnaround schools develop plans that must be approved by the school committees. Any school can apply to be an innovation schools, which is like a pilot program. The in-district charter schools can be started by the superintendent and are subject to the district’s governance structure.

“The plans are designed to improve achievement; that’s the primary focus,” she said. “Any of these schools can be shut down if they are not meeting their goals.”

Kathleen Vail|April 8th, 2011|Categories: Educational Legislation, Federal Programs, NSBA Annual Conference 2011, School Board News, School Law, Urban Schools|

Advocacy, CPE sessions give overview of current legislative issues

Want to know more about what’s happening on Capitol Hill—and how you can get involved with NSBA’s advocacy efforts? Need a better understanding of a specific federal program or regulation? Or just wondering how you can best use education data to improve student learning in your district?

Members of NSBA’s legislative advocacy staff and the Center for Public Education, NSBA’s independent research arm, will lead numerous sessions on issues that will affect school boards and education policies. Below is a list of the sessions that address the current and most pressing topics:

Friday, April 8—1:30 –4:30 p.m.Pre-Conference Session: The Data Made Me Do It! Using Data for Continuous School
Moscone Convention Center, Room 131
Data is fundamental to effective school board governance but many school board members are not experts in education data. Explore how you can use data to set goals, align resources, and monitor actions to improve outcomes for their students. This data-decision making entitled “Good Measures for Good School Governance” was developed by NSBA’s Center for Public Education in partnership with state school boards associations in California, Illinois, and Michigan.
Presenters: Patte Barth, Kathy Gemberling, Center for Public Education

Saturday, April 9—8–9:30 a.m.
Special Event; National Networks Meeting (Federal Relations Network and National Affiliate Advocacy Network)
Moscone Convention Center, Room 222-226
Join NSBA’s advocacy staff to learn about new Congressional education initiatives, such as pending revisions to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, federal funding, vouchers and what the new childhood nutrition reauthorization means for your school district. Build the skills and confidence to become more involved in the federal policy arena.
Presenters: Kathleen Branch, Lucy Gettman, Deborah Rigsby, Roberta Stanley & Katherine Shek, NSBA Advocacy staff members

Saturday, April 9—8:30–9:45 a.m.
21st Century Learning: Are Your Students Developing 21st Century Skills? Assessments You Can Implement Now to Find Out
Moscone Convention Center, Room 306
21st Century students need 21st Century instruction, and school boards need some means for knowing that they’re getting it. NSBA’s Center for Public Education has produced a toolkit specifically for school boards to help them set policies and engage their communities in assessing students’ abilities to think creatively and critically about the subjects they learn. Attendees to this session will test their knowledge on sample 21st Century assessments and learn strategies for implementing similar assessments in their districts. Come with your thinking caps on, but leave your number two pencils at home.
Presenter: Patte Barth, CPE

Saturday, April 9—9–9:30 a.m.
Special Event: Discussion with Special Assistant to U.S. Secretary of Education regarding Race to the Top Program
Moscone Convention Center, Room 222-226
Immediately following the National Networks Meeting, Ms. Ann Whalen, Special Assistant to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, will be leading a discussion to solicit feedback about the Race to the Top Program in preparation for a newly proposed round of funding directly to local school districts. Please join other school board members to share your insights, provide recommendations, and determine whether this would be a grant opportunity your school district might be interested in pursuing.

Saturday, April 9—12:30–2 p.m.
Special Events: National Networks Luncheon (Federal Relations Network and National Affiliate Advocacy Network)
San Francisco Marriott Marquis, Salon 1-3
Jim Brazell, a technology forecaster, strategist, and public speaker will provide the keynote address, Messaging Innovation and K-12 Investment in a Sound Byte World. Mr. Brazell will present anecdotes about learning, innovation, and 21st century skills relevant to our current legislative environment. He will share stories of intrigue, novelty, humor, and fact—to help position and message often difficult ideas in simple sound byte stories. This ticketed event is open to all Conference registrants. Tickets must be purchased in advance at the Conference registration area.

Saturday, April 9—12:30–2 p.m.
ESEA Update: Local School Board Issues & Priorities
Moscone Convention Center, Room 103 (Repeated Monday, 12:15-1:30 PM; Same room)
With Congressional leaders having voiced their commitment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), local school boards have an opportunity to discuss their priorities and the legislative process. This session will address such issues as common core standards, assessments, teacher and principal effectiveness, accountability, and new requirements that may influence the implementation of the new law.
Presenter: Roberta Stanley, NSBA Advocacy staff

Saturday, April 9—1:30–2:45 p.m.
Preparing Students for Graduation and Beyond
Moscone Convention Center, Room 250-262
Preparing all students for college and the workforce has come to the forefront of education discussions in recent years. The Center for Public Education’s senior policy analyst Jim Hull will take you through what schools can do to keep students on-track to graduate as well as demonstrate what knowledge and skills students need to be prepared for life after high school in the 21st century.

Saturday, April 9—2:15–3:15 p.m.
Special Event: NSBA’s Pre- K Legislative Committee
San Francisco Marriott Marquis, Pacific H
Hear the latest on Pre-K initiatives and research.
Presenters: Lucy Gettman, Katherine Shek, Kathleen Branch, NSBA Advocacy staff, Patte Barth, CPE

Saturday, April 9—3:30–4:30 p.m.
Special Event: NSBA’s Teacher and Principal Effectiveness Legislative Committee
San Francisco Marriott Marquis, Pacific H
Hear the latest on teacher and principal effectiveness.
Presenters: Lucy Gettman, Katherine Shek, NSBA Advocacy staff, Patte Barth, CPE

Saturday, April 9—3:45 PM–5:00 PM
Building a Network of Education Activists in Your Community
Moscone Convention Center, Room 103
Learn from the NSBA advocacy staff how to create a strong network and build coalitions in your community to support advocacy initiatives for public education. By involving the larger community and other organizations, school boards can create a larger presence at both the federal and state levels to influence public education legislation.
Presenters: Kathleen Branch, Deborah Rigsby, NSBA Advocacy staff

Sunday, April 10—8:30–9:45 a.m.
Sharpen Your Lobbying Skills for Effective Meetings with Members of Congress
Moscone Convention Center, Room 103
In this interactive session, learn how to get the most out of a face-to-face meeting with members of Congress. Viewing NSBA’s video on How to Lobby Your Members of Congress (Part I) you will learn strategies for gaining control of the meetings and getting a stronger commitment from your members of Congress. You will also strengthen your lobbying skills through role-play of a meeting.
Presenter: Kathleen Branch, Lucy Gettman & Katherine Shek, NSBA Advocacy staff

Sunday, April 10—8:30–9:45 a.m.
Charter Schools: Finding Out the Facts
Moscone Convention Center, Room 307
Charter schools are one of the most controversial subjects in education today. Some claim they will save public education while others fear they will destroy it. Unfortunately such claims are rarely based on facts. The Center for Public Education’s senior policy analyst Jim Hull will provide you with the facts on how effective charter schools really are and what policies impact their effectiveness. National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) director of federal affairs Roberta Stanley will provide an update on what is happening with federal charter school legislation.
Presenters: Roberta Stanley, NSBA Advocacy staff, Jim Hull, CPE

Sunday, April 10—1:30–2:45 p.m.
From Data Collection to Data Use: Shifting the Paradigm to Quality
Moscone Convention Center, Room 130
Effective data use begins with access to high quality data that is appropriate for particular district roles?school boards, administrators or teachers?and is delivered in a timely actionable format. Representatives from the Data Quality Campaign and NSBA’s Center for Public Education will discuss ways districts can navigate the state/district relationship around data use and will share best practices with regard to linking teacher and student data that is critical to inform local decision making.
Presenters: Patte Barth, Center for Public Education, Paige Kowalski & Rebecca Shah, Data Quality Campaign

Sunday, April 10—1:30–2:45 p.m.
Burning Hot Topics on Capitol Hill
Moscone Convention Center, Room 120
Every day on Capitol Hill and at the Department of Education decisions are being made that affect your district. This is your chance to learn about the latest issues and how your National Affiliate dollars are being used to influence those efforts on your behalf.
Presenters: Kathleen Branch, Lucy Gettman, Deborah Rigsby, Roberta Stanley, & Katherine Shek, NSBA Advocacy staff

Sunday, April 10—3:15–4:30 p.m.
CUBE: Urban Advocacy Skills Building

How to Tell the Urban Public Education Story: An Important Tool for Successful Advocacy
Moscone Convention Center, Room 200-212
Learn from NSBA’s advocacy staff how to successfully share local impact data to influence legislation on the federal level and how to conduct effective meetings with members of Congress.
Presenters, Kathleen Branch, Deborah Rigsby, NSBA Advocacy staff

Monday, April 11—8–9:15 a.m.
National Education Spotlight: Legislative Update
Moscone Convention Center, Room 103
Join NSBA’s advocacy staff to learn about new Congressional education initiatives impacting student achievement and school delivery of educational services. Expand your knowledge about federal legislation and policy and how you can get involved with NSBA’s advocacy.
Presenters: Kathleen Branch, Lucy Gettman, Deborah Rigsby, Roberta Stanley, Katherine Shek, NSBA Advocacy staff

Monday, April 11—12:15–1:30 p.m.
ESEA Update: Local School Board Issues & Priorities
Moscone Convention Center, Room 103 (Repeated from Saturday)
With Congressional leaders having voiced their commitment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), local school boards have an opportunity to discuss their priorities and the legislative process. This session will address such issues as common core standards, assessments, teacher and principal effectiveness, accountability, and new requirements that may influence the implementation of the new law.
Presenter: Roberta Stanley, NSBA Advocacy staff

Joetta Sack-Min|April 7th, 2011|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Annual Conference 2011, School Board News|

Vote for ineffective D.C. voucher program is a waste of money, NSBA says

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 225-195 on March 30 to allot $20 million a year to vouchers for students in the District of Columbia and reopen the program to new students.

NSBA urged members  to vote against H.R. 471, the Scholarships for Opportunity Results (SOAR) Act, which would renew and expand the failed District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program, the only federally-funded voucher program. The program stopped accepting new students in 2009.

“Today’s vote hurts the school children of our nation’s capitol,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s Associate Executive Director for Federal Advocacy and Public Policy.  “Vouchers have been proven ineffective in raising student achievement and this failed federal voucher program is unnecessary spending that will cost U.S. taxpayers $100 million over the next five years. Congress must focus on investing in and improving public schools, where the majority of our children attend, as public schools are currently facing budget shortfalls, laying off teachers, and cutting programs that advance student achievement.”

The pilot voucher program, which based on federally-mandated studies, has repeatedly failed to show effectiveness in improving student achievement over the last seven years, a letter issued March 28 from NSBA’s advocacy department states.

The $14 million program has given vouchers of up to $7,500 for about 1,700 students each year, but the new legislation would expand that amount. While the program technically expired in 2008, it was funded for additional years in the FY 2009, FY 2010 appropriations bills and the FY 2011 continuing resolution. The current program, based on a 2009 compromise bill, allows participating students to continue in the program and stipulates that no new students will be added.

President Obama has announced his opposition to the bill, but has not threatened a veto, according to the Washington Post. The bill could become part of negotiations for an Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization or other education bill, the Post reports.

The SOAR (Scholarships for Opportunity and Results) Act was introduced in January by Speaker of the House John Boehner.

NSBA notes that numerous studies have found no significant gains in the reading and math achievement of students who had attended traditional public schools in Washington. A report by the General Accounting Office, Congress’s watchdog agency, found numerous accountability problems, including federal taxpayer dollars paying tuition at private schools that do not even charge tuition, schools that lacked a legally-required city occupancy permit, and schools employing teachers without bachelor’s degrees and/or certification. That report also noted that children with physical or learning disabilities were underrepresented compared to public schools.

Joetta Sack-Min|March 30th, 2011|Categories: Educational Legislation, Privatization, School Board News, School Vouchers|

Obama warns that cutting education funding is irresponsible

President Barack Obama was at TechBoston Academy in Boston yesterday and warned that cutting funds for education is irresponsible and harmful to our nation’s long-term economy noting, “There’s nothing responsible about cutting back on our investment in these young people.”

View the video of Obama’s speech:

Alexis Rice|March 9th, 2011|Categories: Educational Legislation, Federal Programs, High Schools, Middle Schools, Multimedia and Webinars, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

NSBA asks for examples of unneeded NCLB regulations

NSBA has an opportunity to influence language in the upcoming Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization related to federal mandates, data collection requirements and reporting requirements.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce is soliciting examples from school districts of unnecessary and burdensome requirements.  NSBA’s advocacy department is asking school board members and superintendents or other administrators to complete this survey on Federal Requirements and Mandates by Monday, March 14.

NSBA will consolidate and submit the information to help bolster its case to remove unnecessary and burdensome requirements.  NSBA also will provide information by Congressional district in targeting selected members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

In today’s headlines, the Washington Post reports on the Obama administration’s efforts to reauthorize ESEA, noting that the president “is pushing an agenda very similar to his predecessor’s,” former President George W. Bush.

Joetta Sack-Min|March 8th, 2011|Categories: Announcements, Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, School Board News|

NSBA sees showdown looming on federal budget bills

NSBA is expecting significant differences between the House and Senate budget bills as members of Congress work to create a spending plan for most education programs for the rest of fiscal 2011.

On Feb. 19, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would cut funding for many K-12 programs, including Title I, according to the GOP’s analysis. The bill, H.R. 1, passed by a 235-189 vote, with three Republicans joining Democrats in opposition.

According to an analysis by NSBA’s advocacy department, H.R. 1 would reduce funding for more than 70 education programs by more than 16 percent, or $11.6 billion. The bill would reduce funding for Title I grants for disadvantaged students by $694 million, cut $337 million from Title I School Improvement Grants, and impose a $500 million cut to Teacher Quality State Grants.

NSBA’s advocacy efforts helped rescind a provision that would have cut special education funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by almost $558 million.  The House approved an amendment sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., to reinstate the funding, but the offsets would include the cuts to School Improvement Grants and Teacher Quality grants.

Because Congress did not pass a fiscal year 2011 budget last year for the Department of Education and several other agencies, K-12 programs have been funded at fiscal 2010 levels by a continuing resolution that expires March 4. Congress must now pass, and President Obama must approve, a new spending plan for those federal programs to continue to operate by March 4 or those federal agencies will be forced to shut down until a measure is approved.

The Senate is expected to create its own spending bill when its members return next week, and NSBA is anticipating significant differences between the House and Senate bills.

“While the House wants to cut key programs, the Senate wants to keep funding at fiscal 2010 levels,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s associate executive director for advocacy. “NSBA will be fighting vigorously to maintain funding for all education programs, especially IDEA and Title I.”

NSBA sent a letter to members of Congress on Feb. 17 thanking them for their support of the IDEA funding amendment and urging them to invest in education.

President Obama has proposed a fiscal 2012 budget that would give modest increases to Title I, IDEA, and competitive grant programs.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 24th, 2011|Categories: Educational Legislation, School Board News|Tags: |

State associations support governors’ moves to curb tenure, union influence

(updated to include letter from Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Ohio governor’s plans to scale back proposal).

As school board members, administrators, and teacher representatives met in Denver on Feb. 15 and 16 for the  first-ever conference on labor-management issues, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, lawmakers in several states were proposing plans to end or rework teacher tenure, collective bargaining, and other measure designed to curb the power of the unions. CNN reports that “States, GOP go after teachers unions in budget crisis.

Some of the most notable actions include:

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie’s education commissioner announced a plan that would grant tenure only after a teacher had been judged effective for three years in a row, and revoke tenure after two consecutive years of poor ratings, The Record reports. The plan would also base a portion of teachers’ evaluations on student performance.

The New Jersey School Boards Association supports the plan. “Tenure now serves as nothing more than a lifetime system of job protection that makes removal of an underperforming teacher difficult, time-consuming and expensive,” said NJSBA Executive Director Marie S. Bilik in a press release.

The Tennessee School Boards Association is supporting a move by the state legislature to repeal the state’s collective bargaining law for educator unions. The bill is expected to clear both chambers of the GOP-led legislature and has the support of new Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, The Commercial Appeal reports.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a “budget repair bill” that would remove most of the collective bargaining rights of public employees, including teachers. The measure would remove the ability of unions to bargain over pensions, health insurance and working conditions. Employees would be required to contribute significantly to pension funds and school districts would have more control over health insurance and Increases in wages would be limited to increases in the Consumer Price Index, according to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.

“Gov. Walker’s proposal will provide school boards with flexibility in containing benefit and wage costs. Together, these measures will assist school boards to ensure limited resources are going to the classroom to provide the best classroom experience for our state’s students,” WASB Executive Director John Ashley wrote in this statement. However, in a Feb. 15 letter to leaders of the state legislature, Ashley indicated that the state’s school board members were “deeply divided” on the issue of curtailing collective bargaining, as many were concerned that it could erode local control and established relationships between board and union leaders. While many WASB members appreciate the flexibility the measure could give them in crafting budgets, it “goes well beyond anything the
WASB’s members have requested in terms of altering the employer-employee relationship,” Ashley wrote.

In what could best be described as a volatile and political landscape, Gov. Walker threatened to lay off more than 12,000 state employees on Feb. 25, while union supporters in New Jersey and Indiana rallied to support the Wisconsin workers and stave off similar efforts in their states, the Washington Post reported.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, has also laid plans to dismantle most of the state’s collective bargaining laws for all public employees as part of his budget plan.  Republicans say the plan is needed to prevent the state from going bankrupt, but the state legislature made some modifications to allow negotiations over wages, the Associated Press reported.

And Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants to restructure the state’s pension system and require teachers and other public employees to make contributions. FSBA Executive Director Wayne Blanton explains the proposals and potential impact for school boards in this video:

Joetta Sack-Min|February 18th, 2011|Categories: Announcements, Educational Legislation, School Board News, Teachers|

Obama budget plan focuses on education, competitive grants

President Obama proposed a modest boost for most education programs in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal, a plan that overall includes sizable cuts to many other domestic programs. However, NSBA is particularly concerned about minimal increases to formula grant programs, including Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The $3.7 trillion budget plan, released on Feb. 14, requests $77.4 billion for programs under the U.S. Department of Education, up from $64.1 billion for fiscal 2010, although most of the new funding will go to higher education grants. Education programs have been operating on a continuing resolution for fiscal 2011, funded at the fiscal 2010 levels, as Congress failed to pass a comprehensive budget plan last year. The current continuing resolution expires March 4.

“President Obama clearly sees that investing in education is vital, not just for future generations of our children but to propel our economy and increase our global competiveness,” said NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant. “In these extremely challenging economic times, we can’t lose sight of the federal government’s responsibility to support and fund the efforts of local school districts to achieve the necessary reforms and innovations to advance public education.”

NSBA has had longstanding concerns that some of the Obama administration’s signature programs, including the Race to the Top grants and School Improvement Grants (SIG), are based on competitive awards. Many small and rural school districts would be at a disadvantage against school districts that have full-time grantwriters and more capacity to apply for grants.

About 84 percent of the funding under the Obama plan would be given out through formula grants, a slight increase from fiscal 2010, and the proposal would add a new, unspecified amount to the Race to the Top program specifically for rural schools.

The plan would also give a $300 million boost to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and a $200 million boost to Title I grants, slight increases from the fiscal 2010 levels. Both of those programs are funding priorities for NSBA.

“Local school districts would be better served by a stronger emphasis on formula grant programs,” Bryant added. “As school districts are struggling to maintain key programs, Title I and [IDEA] in particular, larger funding increases are necessary to prevent school districts from cutting other important programs to meet these federal mandates.”

President Obama released the plan at a middle school in Maryland, calling it a way “to win the future” for the next generation.

“I’m convinced that if we out-build and out-innovate and out-educate, as well as out-hustle the rest of the world, the jobs and industries of our time will take root here in the United States” Obama said. “Our people will prosper and our country will succeed.”

The proposal, however, will have to pass a more skeptical Congress, including the Republican-led House of Representatives, where many Republican members have called for much deeper cuts.

Details of the Obama administration’s plan include:

  • Race to the Top would be continued at $900 million with a dedicated funding stream for rural schools. The request would also include a $54 million increase for School Improvement Grants (currently funded at $545 million). The i3 (Investing in Innovation) grants would continue at $300 million.
  • A new Early Learning Challenge Fund would receive $350 million.
  • Promise Neighborhoods programs would be funded at $150 million, a $140 million increase, with a specific emphasis on early education.

The plan would reduce funding for Perkins Career and Technical Education grants by $264 million to $1 billion.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 15th, 2011|Categories: Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Programs, School Board News|
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