Articles in the Educational Legislation category

Fiscal cliff cuts would further strain public schools, NSBA warns lawmakers

As lawmakers reconvene to discuss alternatives to the fiscal cliff, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is again urging Congress and President Barack Obama to forge a bipartisan solution that puts our children’s education first and protects their future, as well as the future of our country.

With the fiscal cliff looming, more than 600 school boards have passed resolutions urging Congress to stop the across-the-board cuts that would have a detrimental impact upon their school districts through the sequestration process. These federal cuts would total more than $4 billion this fiscal year. Furthermore, these cuts would continue over a 10-year period and greatly impact our schools, eroding the base of funding for key programs year after year.

“The federal cuts to education would be a regression to the progress our school districts have made in student achievement, from deep cuts to Title I grants for disadvantaged students and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, to House-passed legislation that would impose mandatory reductions eliminating automatic eligibility of 280,000 low-income students for free school lunches,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s Associate Executive Director for Public Policy and Federal Advocacy.

K-12 education programs have already been reduced on the federal level with cuts to elementary and secondary education funding in Fiscal Year 2011. The ability to absorb additional budget cuts and provide an enhanced curriculum for all students is extremely limited for many school districts.

“An agreement is urgently needed now that protects education, as federal investments in education yield returns that result in greater productivity, global competitiveness, higher revenues, and increased employment,” said NSBA’s President C. Ed Massey, a member of the Boone County (Ky.) Board of Education.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 28th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs|Tags: , |

NSBA urges House to reject “Plan B” legislation to avoid fiscal cliff, GOP leaders cancel vote

A GOP-backed “fiscal cliff” compromise bill, which is opposed by the National School Boards Association (NSBA), appeared to be in jeopardy when Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives abruptly cancelled a vote Thursday evening.

NSBA sent a letter to all House members of urging them to strike down the Budget Control Act, more commonly known as part of the “Plan B” legislation. The Budget Control Act would ease some of the tax hikes that are slated to occur on Jan. 2, 2013, but would also significantly cut K-12 education and other programs. The Washington Post reported that House leaders were unable to secure enough votes for passage.

The act of sequestration, across-the-board budget cuts that are scheduled as part of last year’s deficit reduction plan, would cut all federal education programs about 8.2 percent, or $82,000 for every $1 million a school district receives in federal funds. According to the Post, the lack of a vote “throws into chaos efforts to avoid the fiscal cliff, just 11 days before more than $500 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts are set to take effect. Unless Congress acts, many economists predict the nation will again descend into a recession.”

The bill “would impose record budget cuts to elementary and secondary education programs, which would be well beyond the reductions legislated in the Budget Control Act,” the NSBA letter states. “From deep cuts to Title I grants for disadvantaged students and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to mandatory reductions that would eliminate automatic eligibility of 280,000 low-income students for free school lunches, these measures would be a regression to the progress our school districts have made in student achievement.”

NSBA is continuing to monitor any action by Congress. Both chambers are scheduled to reconvene on Dec. 27. For more information and resources, visit NSBA’s Stop Sequestration website.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 21st, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , , |

School board leaders urge Washington officials to resolve the fiscal cliff

Sequestration is scheduled to take effect in three weeks, and the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging President Barack Obama and members of Congress to do everything in their power to protect K-12 education programs from the automatic budget cuts.

NSBA held a press call on Dec. 12 with school board members in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio to detail the impact of the so-called fiscal cliff on their schools. Those across-the-board cuts to federal spending, including education funds, are scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 2, 2013 unless Congress and the White House can negotiate a new budget plan.

“This is a political failure that could lead to an educational catastrophe,” said NSBA President-elect David A. Pickler, a member of the Shelby County (Tenn.) Board of Education. “It would have the most profound impact on our most fragile and at-risk students,” given that the two largest federal K-12 programs—Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—benefit disadvantaged students and students with disabilities, he added.

Using budget figures from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, NSBA’s legislative advocacy department estimates public education would see cuts of about $4 billion in the next academic year; locally, that adds up to about $82,000 from every $1 million in federal funds that a school district receives. NSBA’s Director of Federal Legislation Deborah Rigsby noted that the cuts would continue for the next 10 budget cycles, and schools may also see ensuing cuts from state and local budgets.

School board members said that those cuts would lead to larger class sizes, cuts to research-based academic supplemental programs, after-school activities and summer school, and many extracurricular programs. And more teacher and staff layoffs will further hinder economic growth.

“We have tolerated cut after cut after cut,” said John Pennycuff, a school board member in Winton Woods City Schools in Cincinnati. Ohio schools have not seen state funding increase since 2009, and his teachers and superintendent have not received raises in several years, he said. At the same time, the poverty rate in his school district has increased 70 percent and the number of English Language learners has quadrupled.

Pennycuff urged his representative, Speaker of the House John Boehner, “Please do not do this to my students.”

If sequestration occurs, “All the advancements we’ve made in various reforms across the state will go into regression, almost overnight,” said NSBA President C. Ed Massey, a member of the Boone County (Ky.) Board of Education. “If we lose this ground, it will take decades to overcome.”

More than 430 school boards across the country have passed resolutions asking Congress and the White House to spare education funding from federal cuts.

To learn more about NSBA’s efforts and see sample resolutions, editorials, and other materials, go to the Stop Sequestration webpage at www.nsba.org/stopsequestration.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 12th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Governance, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, School Boards|Tags: , , , |

NSBA President writes about Louisiana voucher ruling

C. Ed Massey, president of the National School Boards Association, has written “Lessons Gleaned from the Louisiana School Voucher Ruling” for the Transforming Learning blog. The blog is a project of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of 16 national level education organizations, and hosted by Education Week.

Massey wrote, “While this particular battle is far from over — Gov. Bobby Jindal and State Superintendent John White have vowed to appeal — this decision is a major victory for all school boards and public education advocates across the United States. (NSBA) supported our state affiliate, the Louisiana School Boards Association, because we saw the case as a direct threat to public education. The pro-school choice advocates were flooded with outside money and have put forth a sophisticated public relations operation.”

Massey is also a member of the Boone County (Ky.) Schools Board of Education. Read more at Transforming Learning.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 11th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Governance, Policy Formation, Privatization, Religion, School Law, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA takes first round of “Stop Sequestration” resolutions to Capitol Hill

National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel presented Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) with more than 360 resolutions that have been passed by local school boards across the country urging Congress to stop sequestration. During the December 4 meeting, Gentzel thanked Murray for her efforts and stated the concerns of local school boards regarding the impact of the impending federal budget cuts, also known as the “fiscal cliff.”

Thomas Gentzel and Sen. Patty Murray

Murray, a former school board member and a strong supporter of public education, is a key player in the debates on dealing with the proposed federal budget cuts, having co-chaired the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction. In the upcoming the 113th Congress, she will chair the Senate Budget Committee.

In addition to the private meeting with Murray, NSBA staff also met with and presented the first round of resolutions to key House and Senate offices, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). The resolutions were also presented to the White House on November 30.

NSBA received comments from both members of Congress and the Obama administration expressing a great appreciation for the resolutions and the details of the impact the budget cuts would have on local schools. White House and Congressional staff also noted an editorial published in the Capitol Hill newspaper Politico from NSBA President C. Ed Massey, which details how the across-the-board cuts would affect school districts.

NSBA’s Stop Sequestration webpage has more information on the proposed cuts, sample resolutions for school boards, and tools that school boards can use in local advocacy efforts to contact members of Congress and raise the level of awareness about sequestration in local communities. As the negotiations continue NSBA will continue to lobby members of Congress to “amend the Budget Control Act to mitigate the drastic cuts to education that would affect our students and communities, and to protect education as an investment critical to economic stability and American competitiveness.”

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 5th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA President: Fiscal cliff would have a major impact on public education

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) President C. Ed Massey, a member of Kentucky’s Boone County Schools Board of Education, wrote a Nov. 28 article for Politico urging members of Congress to avoid the devastating impacts the scheduled federal budget cuts will have on public schools in his district and across the country. Politico is a leading Capitol Hill newspaper.

“As a local school board member, I see firsthand the impact of the planned reductions in federal funding for education,” Massey wrote. “The end result for many of our nation’s public schools would be larger class sizes, fewer course offerings, four-day school weeks, fewer extracurricular activities, less access to intervention programs and teacher/staff layoffs.”

The impact of sequestration, which is the automatic budget cuts scheduled to occur in all federal programs at the beginning of January under the deficit reduction act, would hit public education particularly hard given that schools already have seen years of reductions. NSBA’s “Stop Sequestration” website has numerous actions for local school board members to contact their members of Congress.

Massey cited several examples of districts that were planning to cut teacher jobs, reading and support programs for struggling students, and other programs critical for students’ academic success.

“Closing the doors of opportunity for our students is not an option for economic recovery and deficit reduction,” Massey continued. “I urge members of Congress to continue bipartisan negotiations that will produce a plan that respects the value of education, and I encourage them to protect the investments in the future of our county — our students and schools.

Share your thoughts through comments on Politico about how these federal cuts to education would affect your community.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|November 28th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Teachers|Tags: , , , |

NSBA supports Louisiana school boards in voucher case

A lawsuit filed by school boards will determine the fate of Louisiana’s school voucher plan, which may already be jeopardized after a federal court ruling this week.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is supporting a lawsuit filed in state court by the Louisiana School Boards Association (LSBA), the state’s main teachers’ organizations, and 43 school districts that challenges the constitutionality of a plan to provide vouchers to Louisiana students in low-performing schools. The first hearing on this lawsuit is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Nov. 28, in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge, La. LSBA’s Legal Counsel Robert Hammonds will be arguing the case on behalf of LSBA’s members.

The law allows students to attend any private or parochial school that is approved by the Louisiana Department of Education, and many of these teach specific and in some cases extremist religious philosophies. Further, the program does little to hold these schools accountable for student learning or financial management of taxpayer funds—for instance, schools that accept less than 40 students with vouchers are not subject to rigorous accountability requirements for student achievement. State legislators and educators have questioned the state’s process to choose the private and parochial schools that are eligible for public funds, while state officials have launched an advertising campaign to promote the plan, which was pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

In a separate but related court ruling on Monday, a federal judge halted the voucher program in Tangipahoa Parish schools, saying that portions of Jindal’s education plan conflicts with a desegregation agreement because the school choice provisions would lead to more segregation in schools. That ruling in New Orleans-based U.S. District court could affect other school districts that are under desegregation orders. State superintendent John White has said the administration will appeal that ruling. It was unclear what the ruling would mean for the students who are already attending schools with vouchers this year.

In a letter to the editor of the The Advocate in Baton Rouge, LSBA Executive Director Scott Richard notes that the voucher program will siphon resources away from public schools with little or no accountability to local school district governance.

The program “is diminishing public school systems’ ability to provide necessary services for all students by diverting public funds to private and parochial entities under the guise of ‘choice,’” he wrote. “What’s wrong with giving parents a choice of where their children go to school under the current voucher program? The private or parochial schools that accept vouchers will not be held to high standards for students’ learning nor the taxpayer dollars they spend — if at all.”

Public schools—governed by local school boards—are best equipped to meet the needs of all students, Richard continued. But those schools need a resources to implement programs that will improve student achievement, including early education, strong interventions for students who are falling behind, and highly qualified teachers and staff.

“LSBA is not defending the status quo in our public schools,” Richard wrote. “We need our elected officials to commit to ensuring that Louisiana has the best public school system available to all of its families and the infrastructure to support it — for the sake of our children and our state.”

NSBA President C. Ed Massey will attend the state trial and bring a letter of support from NSBA to Baton Rouge at the start of the trial on Wednesday.

“It is clear this law was not created with the best interest of all children in mind; instead it promotes a narrow political agenda and will harm community public schools that serve the best interest of all children,” Massey said. “It also deprives the public schools of valuable resources that are necessary to carry out the mandate to provide a free and appropriate public education.”

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|November 27th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Diversity, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, Privatization, Public Advocacy, Religion, School Board News, School Boards, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , |

School boards warn of effects of “fiscal cliff”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

School boards can help NSBA lobby to avoid fiscal cliff

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

NSBAC analyzes presidential candidate’s education platforms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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