Articles in the Educational Legislation category

Not Black and White

NSBA and the College Board have released a report spotlighting the Court’s most recent decisions and what they mean to schools as they try to decipher how to forge ahead while maintaining high quality education for all students. This report, titled “Not Black and White: Making Sense of the United States Supreme Court Decisions Regarding Race-Conscious Student Assignment Plans,” will be showcased at NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) Annual Conference in Atlanta this weekend. The report explains the Court’s decision and its impact on race-conscious policies and practices districts may currently have in place. It also discusses how best to pursue diversity-related educational goals, as well as how to manage the associated legal risks in the future.

The Supreme Court rulings earlier this year are a topic of discussion as school systems across the country strive to answer the question, “What does this mean for us?” The topic is not new to BoardBuzz, we covered the issue here and here.

When the news hit back in June, media coverage on the Court’s decision was widespread and NSBA’s General Counsel, Francisco Negron told ABC News, “We have our work cut out for us, but I think it’s a task that school boards all over the country are up to.”

For more information on NSBA and the College Board’s latest publication view the press release and for answers to your FAQ, click here.

If you want to get NSBA’s legal news delivered to your e-mail inbox, subscribe to Legal Clips published by NSBA’s Office of General Counsel and the NSBA Council of School Attorneys.

Erin Walsh|September 27th, 2007|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Law|Tags: , , , |

Resolution revolution

BoardBuzz recently told you about NSBA’s push for school districts to pass resolutions in support of H.R. 648, the No Child Left Behind Improvements Act of 2007. NSBA believes that Congress will only act now if they hear from their constituents. And proving the power of local governance, an unprecedented 320 school districts have passed the resolution, which calls on Congress to improve the federal law by supporting H.R. 648. The bill fully addresses concerns raised by parents, educators, local school board members, administrators, and other stakeholders.

NSBA hopes that the collective voice supporting recommendations to improve NCLB will be heard by Congress, because our schools deserve a workable federal law that supports, not abandons our public schools.

Is your school district among those supporting the bill? Check the list and see.

Erin Walsh|July 5th, 2007|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

The hits keep comin’

It’s mayoral takeovers again! BoardBuzz just can’t get enough of this one (and apparently neither can a number of mayors throughout the country). For different reasons, we think.

Today’s lesson is Constitutional Law. Yes, that’s right, straight out of Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa‘s takeover bid (which we’ve covered here, here, and here) has hit yet another snag. If you recall, a Superior Court judge declared the law, which was hastily pushed through the legislature, unconstitutional. Ah, but Villaraigosa was undeterred and appealed.

But as is the case in these hero and villain stories, Villaraigosa has been foiled again (here). Not by Batman, but by the California 2nd District Court of Appeals, which also declared the takeover bid unconstitutional. In the 44-page opinion, Justice H. Walter Croskey wrote, “The citizens of Los Angeles have the constitutional right to decide whether their school board is to be appointed or elected.” Does the story end here? Will our villain succeed in his attempt to gain control of the local school district and its multi-million dollar budget? Tune in next time for the latest installment of Mayoral Takeover Madness.

Erin Walsh|May 3rd, 2007|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

The not so takeover

The Washington Post reports that that the D.C. Council (the district’s legislative body, er, along with big papa Congress) voted yesterday to support Mayor Adrian Fenty‘s takeover of the Washington, D.C. public schools. That is unless it all doesn’t work out, in which case the Council can take back the schools from hizzoner if there isn’t “sufficient progress in education” in five years. Well, well, it seems the Council has learned its federal lesson well and crafted its very own No D.C. Child Left Behind.

But, all of this leaves BoardBuzz wondering, if the Mayor’s plan is terrific enough to justify uprooting the first elected body in this last remaining federal colony, why will it take five years to show even “sufficient progress?” That means BoardBuzz’s hypothetical kindergartener would be ready (or not) for middle school before the Council decides whether the Mayor’s plan is working.

Sounds like a heavy burden for the ersatz school board and Mayor cum-chief-state-school-officer must also contend with building roads, running the jails, making sure the city’s bond rating isn’t junked, getting the trash picked up on time, creating housing opportunities, providing quality after school programs, improving fire and police services, and well, running the nation’s capital. BoardBuzz may be dripping with skepticism here, but in the light of so much to do, we can’t help but wonder whether the Mayor can pull it all off, especially since one of his supporters on the DC Council says he can be “single-minded.” Er, Councilmember, didn’t you mean to say, “multi-tasking?”

Aligning with BoardBuzz’s past speculations, the Post article notes that, “As part of the new structure, the council would have line-item budget control, and the school board would set academic standards.” It looks like the almighty budget monster rears its ugly head again.

And, as they take this monumental first step it seems city government oberservers are waking up to the fact that the Council is happy to make fundamental changes to D.C.’s “constitution” without full representation on the D.C. Council. You can read more coverage here.

Yep, you get it. BoardBuzz is not too happy with this latest vote. We aren’t happy with the Mayor’s proposal either. So, there, we said it.

Erin Walsh|April 4th, 2007|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

U.S. House approves budget resolution with education increase

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 216-210 Thursday to adopt its fiscal year 2008 budget resolution (H.Con.Res.99) that includes $7.9 billion more for education than the Administration’s request. Roll call vote is here.

The House passed the measure the Budget Committee had approved last week. The proposed increase of $7.9 billion includes $5.9 billion in 2008 funding and $2 billion in advance funding from FY2009. According to House Budget Committee staff, approximately one-third of the proposed increase would be targeted towards special education.

H.Con.Res.99 will be reconciled with the Senate-passed budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 21) in order to establish final budget allocations for education programs and other areas of spending.

The Senate’s Budget Resolution (S.Con.Res.21) proposed a $62.3 billion allocation for the U.S. Department of Education, while the House Budget figure is $64.1 billion.

Next steps for education advocates will be to urge approval for the higher overall allocation for education programs and then encourage House and Senate Appropriations Committees to provide the increases that are needed for Title I and IDEA and to restore funding for other key programs that have been impacted by cuts in recent years. Stay up to speed on the budget and appropriations process at NSBA’s Advocacy Web site.

Erin Walsh|March 30th, 2007|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

176 members of Congress have signed the Pledge to America’s Schoolchildren

The Pledge to America’s Schoolchildren is at full steam now! Nearly a third of all members of Congress have signed on in support of public education. BoardBuzz has told you about the Pledge in the past, here, here, and here. As of today, 176 members have signed the Pledge, committing to:

Improve the No Child Left Behind Act to give my school district(s) better measures for student and school performance, and the support needed to close the achievement gap.

Help my school district(s) meet the needs of students with disabilities by supporting the funding goals of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA).

Support school readiness programs for children entering kindergarten in my school district(s).

Help my school district(s) to attract, train and retain highly qualified and effective teachers.

Help my school district(s) to provide all students with 21st Century skills and knowledge, including math, science and technology.

Has your member signed the Pledge? Click here to see a list of all signers.

Erin Walsh|March 28th, 2007|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Congress considers school climate

Brian Perkins, steering committee chairman for NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) and principal investigator for two studies on school climate, spoke on the topic during a briefing for members of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Perkins, a member of Connecticut’s New Haven Board of Education, was on a panel that discussed the role of school counselors in school safety and crisis response. He discussed CUBE’s 2006 survey of urban students, Where We Learn, and previewed the upcoming Where We Teach, a survey of urban teachers and administrators that will be released later this month.

Other panelists included Peter Yarrow, a member of the folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary, and founder of the anti-bullying group “Operation Respect”; Betsy Thompson, director of student services for Colorado’s Jefferson County Schools; and Cheri Lovre of the Crisis Management Institute. The panel was sponsored by the American School Counselor Association.

Erin Walsh|March 8th, 2007|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Ed gets small increases as Congress completes work on last year’s budget

Nearly halfway through the current fiscal year, Congress has finally passed the FY 2007 budget for most federal agencies, including education. Most agencies had been operating on a continuing resolution that the previous Congress put in place in lieu of actually passing the appropriations bills last year.

The Senate voted 81-15 on the measure that will fund education and other domestic programs for the remainder of the fiscal year that ends September 30. The House passed it in January.

The measure will provide a $250 million increase in Title I grants, including $125 million for School Improvement grants for NCLB; and a $200 million increase for IDEA (special education) grants. Despite the small increases, total FY07 funding for Title I will still be about $12 billion below what Congress authorized for it this year under NCLB, and FY07 funding for IDEA will still be almost $6 billion below the level Congress authorized for it this year.

Looking ahead to the FY08 budget process, NSBA is urging Congress to provide a $2.5 billion increase for both Title I and IDEA. More info on that here.

Erin Walsh|February 15th, 2007|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

FRN conference rocked the house … and senate

The NSBA Federal Relations Network Conference, which wrapped up yesterday with Hill visits by 1,000 school board members, scored big on several fronts this year. Notables such as Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Rep. Michael Castle (R-Del.), and Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.) addressed conference attendees, while Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) received awards for their commitment to public education.

The conference received a great deal of press this year, too. This piece from North Adams Transcript (Mass.) notes Kennedy’s vow to “soften the federal No Child Left Behind Act’s deadlines and discipline while providing a new surge of money and encouragement.” The article also pointed out that

Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, said President Bush and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney “hate public schools” and set No Child standards so high that they could not be reached.

“The key (to what Kennedy’s) saying is we want to get there, but we’re going to do it with carrots instead of whips,” Koocher said.

The Washington Times covered Secretary Spellings’ remarks to the group and the comments and questions from conference attendees that followed. A delegate from Detroit told Mrs. Spellings that when it comes to charter and private-school policy, ‘you should leave that decision up to the states.’ He also complained NCLB law is ‘woefully underfunded.’” And the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (Alaska) spotlighted Rep. Young’s award. “Young said geographic, economic and cultural factors prevent schools from meeting [NCLB's] mandates. He said his bill would hold schools accountable but address unintended consequences of the law.”
Check out all of BoardBuzz’s conference coverage here and here. Wished you had been there? Watch this clip from C-SPAN.

Erin Walsh|January 31st, 2007|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Secretary Spellings outlines the administration’s priorities

Yesterday afternoon, at the Federal Relations Network Conference, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings outlined the administration’s priorities for NCLB for nearly 1,000 school board members in attendance. You can read Spellings’ complete Building on Results: A Blueprint for Strengthening the No Child Left Behind Act here.

In her remarks, Spellings advocated for the reauthorization of NCLB. “No Child Left Behind has transformed the education enterprise. Before this law, we took for granted that our education system was meeting the needs of our students,” Secretary Spellings said. “No Child Left Behind changed all that. The law brought standards, data-driven decision making and accountability to the system. And it set a historic goal of every child performing at grade-level by 2014.”

BoardBuzz was happy to note that Spellings acknowledged that the law “isn’t perfect,” which is a change from her 99.9% pure comment in September. She also faced tough questions from school board members in the audience, including whether or not she had seen and would take the time to read the No Child Left Behind Improvements Act (which is in line with NSBA’s own recommendations for the law–read more here)–that has been introduced in the House by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska).

Young and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) were honored yesterday by NSBA for their commitment to public education and for the legislation that each has introduced in Congress. The FRN Conference concludes today with nearly 1,000 school board members hitting Capitol Hill to lobby their members of Congress to support public education issues and sign the Pledge to America’s Schoolchildren.

Erin Walsh|January 30th, 2007|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|
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