Articles in the Federal Advocacy category

Pickler looks back on his presidency

AC_pickler

David Pickler, NSBA’s 2013-14 President, gave an overview of his year at the Second General Session on Sunday at NSBA’s Annual Conference.

“We said, nearly a year ago, that if we did not have a seat at the table, we could find ourselves on the menu,” he said. “We realized the power of our board members and stakeholders to stand up for public education and proclaim the real truth about public schools and the essential role of school board governance.”

He recalled the beginning of the Army of Advocates, which started out with about 3,700 members a year ago and now has more than 1 million members. “We have built a foundation to be a leading advocate for public education in America,” he said. “We are just getting started.”

Part of that foundation is NSBA’s national public advocacy campaign, “Stand Up 4 Public Schools“. Celebrity spokespeople such as Sal Khan, Montel Williams, and most recently, Magic Johnson, have brought the campaign to national prominence.

“Together, we will show the world the real voice of public education,” he said. “The power of partnership will become the power of possible.”

He pointed to NSBA’s partnership with the filmmakers of “12 Years a Slave” to distribute the movie to 30,000 high schools nationally at no cost to the schools. This partnership led director Steve McQueen to wear the signature Stand Up 4 Public Education red wristband while receiving his Academy Award for Best Picture.

State school board associations are recruiting their own local celebrities to personalize the campaigns for their states.

Pickler told the audience that NSBA was the only K-12 education group invited to testify in front of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee on the 2015 federal budget.

“We were truly at the table, engaging in direct dialogue with elected leaders who determine the budget,” he said. “This invitation is recognition of NSBA growing in influence and importance. It established this federation as the leading advocate for public education in the U.S.”

He reaffirmed his belief that publication education is a civil for our children. “It is the great equalizer. It makes sure our children can make a living and lead a life of limitless potential.”

Pickler closed with his signature line: “Together we can. Together we must.”

Kathleen Vail|April 6th, 2014|Categories: Federal Advocacy, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, Public Advocacy, School Boards|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Gentzel urges audience to ‘Stand Up 4 Public Schools’

nsba_gentzel

As the leading advocate for public education, NSBA has a mandate to “call attention to what’s working well, to promote our vision and needed changes, and to take on those who seek to dismantle the public schools of America.”

That was the message of NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel at the association’s Annual Conference First General Session Saturday as he reflected on his eventful first year as executive director, which included seeing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy cite NSBA’s brief in a major employment law case and seeing NSBA’s “fingerprints” in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. He also announced the launch of the Stand Up 4 Public Schools national campaign.

Gentzel explained that this national grassroots campaign will raise public awareness through credible spokespeople and powerful personal messaging.

“[Last year], we promised to mobilize our forces – you, the school board members of America, along with colleagues and other friends of public education – to take the offensive,” said Gentzel. “Our goal was to set the agenda for education, and not simply to react to what others think. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.”

Gentzel announced celebrities Sal Khan, Montel Williams, and Magic Johnson are on board as official spokespersons for the campaign. Johnson will address the conference audience on Monday. Gentzel spoke about the importance of the message these luminaries have to share:

“These spokespersons are able to say, honestly, that their lives were shaped in powerful ways by the public schools they attended.  They each have great stories to tell. We want to speak directly to the public that hears a barrage of unwarranted criticism about our schools. The truth is that today’s public schools really are better than ever.”

Gentzel encouraged the audience and public school students, educators, and school boards across the county to get involved to define their story and share gains in student achievement, graduation rates and school performance. This campaign, he explained, is for people who’ve dedicated their lives to public education.

“Here’s what we’re NOT saying: Public schools are perfect. They’re not, and we must acknowledge that we have work to do in some schools that are struggling to serve students well.”

Sharing the real stories of public education will be easier, Gentzel promised, with the rollout of the new NSBA website, which was unveiled at the conference. The new site features a robust search function, better functionality, including a responsive “mobile-friendly” design, and better content organization for easier access.

“We want to encourage every state association and local school district to join in this campaign,” explained Gentzel. “All these efforts are linked together and serve a common purpose: To fulfill our commitment to be the leading advocate for public education, to call attention to what’s working well, to promote our own vision and needed changes, and to take on those who seek to dismantle the public schools of America.”

Staff|April 5th, 2014|Categories: Federal Advocacy, NSBA Annual Conference 2014|Tags: , , , , |

Delegate Assembly approves NSBA advocacy agenda

NSBA Delegate Assembly

NSBA’s Delegate Assembly approved the association’s hard-hitting advocacy agenda around public education at its business session Friday in New Orleans. The meeting was held right before the start of NSBA’s Annual Conference, which opens Saturday.

“This will now form the basis for NSBA’s advocacy efforts and become part of our enduring beliefs,” said David Pickler, the 2013-14 NSBA President. He referred to the three core policies voted on by the assembly as the three “legs” of the association’s aggressive and ambitious advocacy agenda.

The first “leg” is opposition to unlawful expansion of executive authority. According to the resolution, NSBA supports “an appropriate federal role in education.” However, it opposes the “federal intrusion and expansion of executive authority by the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies” in the absence of authorizing legislation, viewing it as an “invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority.”

Such overstepping has had a detrimental effect on schools and districts, including imposing unnecessary financial and administrative requirements and preventing local school officials from making the best decisions for their students based on their close knowledge of community needs and priorities.

The second “leg” is opposition to privatization — vouchers, tuition tax credits, and charter schools not authorized by local school boards. Privatization has resulted in a “second system of publicly funded education” that sends tax-payer money to private schools, fails to hold private schools accountable for evaluating and reporting student and financial performance and abiding by open meeting requirements, and often has the effect of resegregating schools.

High academic standards, including the Common Core State Standards, are the topic of the third “leg.” NSBA supports high academic standards, including Common Core, when they are voluntarily adopted by states with school board input and when the standards are free from federal directions, mandates, funding conditions or coercion.

Local school boards are responsible for the implementation of any new academic standards. Instruction and materials should be locally approved, to reflect community needs. In the resolution is a “call to action” to states to provide the financial and technical support that school districts require to implement voluntarily adopted rigorous standards in an effective and timely manner.

Also at the meeting, the assembly elected NSBA’s new officers and regional directors. They will take office on Monday, April 7.

The 2014-15 NSBA President, Anne Byrne of New York, was formally sworn into office at Delegate Assembly. “I promise to work hard for you to advance the mission of NSBA,” she told the group. “Leading children to excellence is my theme. To me, it is a deep commitment to the children we all serve.”

The Delegate Assembly is the policy-making body of NSBA, and it consists of delegates chosen by state school board associations. This year, changes in the Delegate Assembly meeting included holding small-group briefing sessions so delegates and state association leaders had a chance to fully understand and debate the issues around the three core elements.

Also new was an online forum for the delegates to review and debate the issues before they arrived in New Orleans.

Kathleen Vail|April 5th, 2014|Categories: Common Core State Standards, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , , , , , , |

NSBA provides FCC with recommendations to improve E-Rate

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel issued the following comments on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Public Notice on the Wireline Competition Bureau Seeks Focused Comment on E-rate Modernization to provide key recommendations to modernize the E-rate program and increase the quality and speed of Internet connectivity in our nation’s schools and libraries.  NSBA applauds the FCC’s proactive efforts to ensure efficient operation and integrity of E-rate; increase the quality and speed of connectivity in our nation’s schools; and address the technology gaps that remain.

Gentzel’s full comment are available and an excerpt of the recommendations are below:

“For nearly twenty years, NSBA has supported the goals of the E-rate program to increase Internet connectivity and provide digital learning opportunities to underserved students, schools and libraries. NSBA is steadfast in its support for the ConnectED initiative and applauds the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) focus on broadband deployment in education, so that students are prepared to be competitive and successful in the global marketplace.

“To successfully usher in a new future for E-rate, NSBA urges the FCC to ground modernization of E-Rate in the individual circumstances of the nation’s 14,000 school districts and 98,000 public schools. Put eloquently by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association: School entities across the nation are diverse in their composition and their needs. Local decision-making and local flexibility should be maximized in implementation of the E-rate program.

“Further, NSBA’s recommendations are predicated on the need for additional resources in the E-rate program. Simply repurposing or rearranging priorities for the $2.5 billion E-rate program is not sufficient to achieve the ambitious goals of the ConnectED initiative, and could impact school district finances and operations in ways that make it even more difficult for low-income and rural schools and libraries to meet the instructional needs of their students. Therefore, in addition to NSBA’s filings of September 16, 2013 and November 8, 2013, we recommend the following:

“1. Focus $2 billion in one-time funding for E-rate on Priority 2 services for broadband deployment, and assure that additional schools and libraries have access to the funds. The onetime funding described in paragraph 7 is best suited for initial and one-time investments in broadband deployment such as internal connections, as opposed to ongoing operating costs. Further, there has been a dearth of funding for Priority 2 in recent years, so that only a small number of schools benefit. NSBA recommends that affirmative steps be taken to assure that a one-time infusion of Priority 2 funds is disseminated to schools and libraries that have not had access to such funds in the last five years.

“2. Voice and other legacy services – Establish a menu of options for schools and libraries making transitions to broadband. NSBA supports refocusing E-rate on broadband connectivity, but cautions against eliminating eligible uses of E-rate funds without support for school districts during the transition. An across-the-board approach to elimination or phase down of support for legacy services as described in paragraphs 40 – 46 is not responsive to school districts, whose current equipment, hardware, connectivity, access to broadband, contracting obligations, and other circumstances will vary. NSBA recommends a case-by-case approach and flexible timeframes for transitioning E-rate eligibility to broadband.

“3. Demonstration and pilot programs – Eliminate demonstration programs, pilots, or other carve outs from E-Rate 2.0 unless they are resourced by other Universal Service or alternative funds. While there is great potential in the innovations described in paragraphs 55 – 61 to streamline E-rate and make the program more efficient and effective at meeting the needs of schools and libraries, they should not come at the expense of the School and Libraries Fund itself, which is severely oversubscribed.”

View NSBA’s Issue Brief on E-rate.

 

Alexis Rice|April 4th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, Federal Advocacy, Rural Schools, School Boards, School Buildings|Tags: , , , |

NSBA encourages Congress to support full funding for IDEA and Title I

The National School Board Association (NSBA), along with other education organizations, signed on to coalition letters urging Congress to maximize education investments in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by establishing a path toward fully funding the federal share promised more than three decades ago. The groups also urge Congress to strengthen investments in Title I grants for disadvantaged students.

NSBA believes that investing in public education is one of the single most effective ways to not only help students succeed in an increasingly competitive global workplace, but also a way to help stabilize and grow the nation’s economy.

Title I ensures that critical federal education dollars reach and support students with limited resources and provides additional educational supports for more than one million students that have disabilities. Special education and related services generally cost about double what it costs to educate a student without disabilities. Since 1975, IDEA has included a commitment that the federal government to pay up to 40 percent of this excess cost to help local school districts appropriately educate children and youth with disabilities. Today, the federal share is less than 16 percent.

Funding for competitive grant programs should be weighed against the need to address Congress’ promise to fund the federal share of a 39-year-old mandate for IDEA that has superseded other local budget priorities for the majority of school districts and communities. For both IDEA and Title I, local school districts still need capacity-building support for professional development, curriculum development, course materials and instructional changes to meet federally sponsored standards and assessments.

Alexis Rice|April 2nd, 2014|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy, School Boards, Special Education|Tags: , , |

New fluorescent lighting rules would be expensive and unnecessary for schools, NSBA tells EPA

Saying new regulations would be costly and unnecessary, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and two other prominent education groups are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to issue further requirements concerning the removal of a group of harmful chemicals — Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) — that are commonly found in light fixtures in public buildings constructed prior to 1980.

In a joint letter to EPA’s Director of the National Program Chemicals Division, NSBA; the Association of School Business Officials International; and AASA, The School Superintendents Association said a recent survey the three groups conducted of more than 1,200 school board members, superintendents, school business officials, and maintenance/facilities personnel found that the vast majority of school districts are aware of the issue and “are overwhelmingly already removing PCBs.”

Of those responding to the survey who have buildings their districts constructed prior to 1980, 77.5 percent said they were aware of PCB issues in their schools, with 66 percent actively removing PCBs in all or some of the schools in their district. Only 11.5 percent were aware but not actively addressing these issues. In addition, only 2.1 percent of the 1,200 respondents reported having any PCB-related issue in their schools in the past two years.

“School administrators, school board members, and school business officials remain steadfast in their commitment to providing the students they serve with an excellent education in a safe learning environment, which includes removing potentially harmful environmental factors (like PCBs),” the letter said. “With any federal policy/regulation, the success of the end goal — in this case, elimination of light ballasts with PCBs — depends as much on the policy itself as it does in recognizing the importance of not only state and local leadership but also the unintended consequences, costs and burdens that may come with the rule.”

The new regulations could pose significant financial and operational challenges to schools, which would be responsible for identifying, inspecting, and upgrading light figures that were installed before 1980 to ensure that PCBs were eliminated.

Lawrence Hardy|March 27th, 2014|Categories: Environmental Issues, Federal Advocacy, School Buildings|Tags: , , , , , , |

NSBA President urges U.S. House of Representatives to invest in public education

NSBA President David A. Pickler testifies on education funding

NSBA President David A. Pickler testifies on education funding

On Tuesday, March 25, 2014, National School Boards Association (NSBA) President David A. Pickler testified on education funding issues before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Pickler was the only witness selected from the K-12 community to address specifically the funding needs of America’s public schools.

In his testimony, Pickler, a 16-year member of the Shelby County Board of Education in Memphis, Tenn., spoke on challenges confronting public schools, including the impact of federal budget sequestration on schools, issues concerning competitive grant programs, and the need for the federal government to fully fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Although much of the funds affected by federal budget sequestration have been restored in Fiscal Year 2014, many school districts have suffered a significant loss of resources. K-12 programs and Head Start were affected by a reduction of almost $2.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2013. Pickler noted that strong public schools are essential to America’s economic stability and global competitiveness and encouraged Congress to develop a plan to protect the nation’s educational investment.

“Our school districts have weathered the storm; but the storm cannot and must not continue,” said Pickler. “Looking to Fiscal Year 2016, we urge you to proactively develop a plan that will protect education investments as a critical asset for economic stability and American competitiveness.”

Pickler noted, “The increase in competitive grants programs has prompted significant concern, in that new programs are being created while foundational programs with proven success–such as IDEA and Title I grants for disadvantaged students–are at stagnant funding levels. Increasing the federal share of funding for these key programs is paramount.”

Pickler was one of 22 witnesses invited to testify. Other education groups represented include colleges, health organizations, charitable groups, and various health and human services organizations.

Following Pickler’s testimony ranking member Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) thanked Pickler for his testimony and acknowledged the massive drop in the federal funding for public education.

Pickler’s full submitted testimony is available on NSBA’s website. You can watch Pickler’s testimony, but due to some audio issues, while Pickler’s remarks begin at 02:27:05 timestamp, audio is not corrected until 02:31:47 timestamp.

Alexis Rice|March 25th, 2014|Categories: Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Special Education|Tags: , , , , |

Watch live: NSBA President to testify on the funding needs of America’s public schools

National School Boards Association (NSBA) President David A. Pickler has been invited to testify on education funding issues today, March 25, 2014, before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Pickler is the only witness selected from the K-12 community to address specifically the funding needs of America’s public schools.

“Providing informed testimony around public education before a key U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations subcommittee is a great honor,” said David A. Pickler, board president, National School Boards Association. “As subcommittees are the ‘workhorses’ of Congress, school boards are the ‘workhorses’ of America’s public schools. Our inclusion in this federal fact-finding process lends voice to America’s 50 million public schoolchildren.”

The hearing started at 10 am EST and you can watch it live right now on Ustream.

Pickler is one of 22 witnesses scheduled to testify, starting at 10 a.m. EDT in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Rayburn House Office Building in Washington. Other education groups represented include colleges, health organizations, charitable groups, and various health and human services organizations.

In his testimony, Pickler, a 16-year member of the Shelby County Board of Education in Memphis, Tenn., will speak on challenges confronting public schools, including the impact of federal budget sequestration on school finances, issues concerning competitive grant programs, and the need for the federal government to fully fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Although much of the funds affected by federal budget sequestration have been restored in Fiscal Year 2014, many school districts have suffered a significant loss of resources. K-12 programs and Head Start were affected by a reduction of almost $2.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2013.

Because strong public schools are essential to America’s economic stability and global competitiveness, Pickler will ask Congress to develop a plan to protect the nation’s educational investment in Fiscal Year 2015 and beyond.

Alexis Rice|March 25th, 2014|Categories: Educational Finance, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , , , , , |

NSBA makes recommendations on Race to the Top Preschool Development Grants

Lucy Gettman, Director of Federal Programs at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) spoke at a public meeting on the Race to the Top Preschool Development (RTT-Preschool) Grants, which was held at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in Washington, D.C. on March 20.

The public meeting gave an opportunity for several education community voices to go on record with recommendations and priorities for the Department of Education and the Department of Health & Human Services as well as reply to questions from constituents about the upcoming grant competition.

Although ED has rolled out a new website to handle constituent feedback, NSBA wanted to ensure the public would be heard during this process. Gettman urged Department leadership to institute new processes for handling public feedback.

“Given the high interest in and importance of early learning, NSBA first and foremost recommends that implementation of the RTT-Preschool program include a formal Public Comment and rulemaking process through the Federal Register,” said Gettman. “This will ensure reliability for stakeholders submitting Comments, as well as transparency and responsiveness to public input.”

As part of the meeting, Gettman also stated NSBA’s six top-level recommendations to the Department to ensure local governance is getting the support needed to implement. NSBA urges the agencies to:

· Require significant local educational agency involvement in the development and implementation of state RTT-preschool applications;

· Support capacity building for local eligible entities, not just states;

· Refrain from conditioning receipt of funds on development, adoption or implementation of new nationally-recognized standards;

· Preserve local authority with regard to workforce issues;

· Require at least 80 percent of competitive grant funds be disseminated to local eligible entities as sub-grants;

· Publicly release the required report to Congress.

To listen to Gettman’s full statement, please navigate to the 10:00 minute mark on the recorded public meeting.

Learn more about NSBA’s position on early education.

 

 

Staff|March 21st, 2014|Categories: Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Policy Formation, Preschool Education|Tags: , , |

Education, health, and social welfare coalition urges Congress to boost K-12 education spending

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) joined more than 1,000 groups asking Congress to restore funds to the appropriations bill that includes education and related programs to the fiscal year (FY) 2010 level of $163.6 billion.

A letter signed by 1,065 groups representing the health, education, labor and social services sectors, based in Washington and in each state, was sent to Congressional leaders on March 13. The letter noted that despite the profound impact on the country’s health, education, and productivity, the budget for the federal programs and services remains below FY 2010 levels and the impacted groups are buckling under the weight of increased demand. Specifically, the FY 2014 allocation remains 3.6 percent below FY 2010 in nominal dollars, and almost 10 percent lower than FY 2010 when adjusted for inflation.

The increasing costs of “must pay” programs—such as nonprofit student loan servicers and support for unaccompanied refugee children from war-torn areas—erode discretionary funding available for other programs in the 302(b) allocation to the Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill, the letter stated. NSBA urges Congress to examine how more funding could ease the student achievement gaps by race and socioeconomic status. Restoring the lost funding could improve the United States’ standing compared to our industrialized counterparts in student achievement, high school graduation, and college attendance and completion rates.

The letter urged the chairman and ranking members of the Committee on Appropriations for both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to recognize the value of health, education, job training, and social services in improving global competitiveness.

 

Staff|March 14th, 2014|Categories: Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs|Tags: , |
Page 1 of 1212345...10...Last »