Articles in the Federal Advocacy category

More members of the House of Representatives join growing co-sponsor list for NSBA bill

Fourteen lawmakers from the U.S. House of Representatives have joined the 24 existing co-sponsors on the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act (H.R. 1386), since Feb. 2014. The bi-partisan bill recognizes the benefits of local school district governance and ensures that maximum local flexibility and decision-making are not eroded through U.S. Department of Education (ED) actions.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) attributes this wave of legislative support to the dedicated work of the hundreds of school board members and state school boards association leaders who attended NSBA’s new Advocacy Institute, held Feb. 2-4, 2014 in Washington. In addition to building year-round advocates for public education and local school governance, the institute arranged Capitol Hill visits for attendees to speak with their members of Congress about protecting local school district governance from unnecessary and counter-productive federal intrusion.

Thirty-eight Congressional co-sponsors have now signed on to the bill. Introduced by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-lll.) on March 21, 2013, this legislation had as original co-sponsors Reps. Schock, Rodney Davis (R-Iowa), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), and David Valadao (R-Calif.).

H.R. 1386 would ensure that ED’s actions are consistent with the specific intent of federal law and are educationally, operationally, and financially supportable at the local level. This would also establish several procedural steps that ED would need to take prior to initiating regulations, rules, grant requirements, guidance documents, and other regulatory materials. The legislation is also supported by the AASA, the School Superintendent Association.

“In recent years local school board members and educators have become increasingly concerned that the local governance of our nation’s school districts is being unnecessarily eroded through over reaching federal policies and requirements established by the U.S. Department of Education,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director. “Public education decisions made at the federal level must support the needs and goals of local school districts and the communities they serve. The Department of Education should not be imposing its rules and priorities to our nation’s more than 13,500 school districts by trying to by-pass Congress and input from the local level.”

School board members are encouraged to contact their House members to become co-sponsors. Increased focus is now being directed to urge senators to introduce a companion bill in the U.S. Senate. School board members also are encouraged to contact their senators and urge them to sponsor similar legislation.

Staff|March 11th, 2014|Categories: Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy, School Boards|Tags: , , , , , , |

School boards encourage FCC to modernize E-rate program

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel issued the following statement on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Public Notice on the Wireline Competition Bureau Seeks Focused Comment on E-rate Modernization to modernize the E-rate program and increase the quality and speed of Internet connectivity in our nation’s schools.

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 also is steadfast in its support for the ConnectED initiative and Broadband deployment in education, so that students are prepared to be competitive and successful in the global marketplace.

To assure that these goals can be met, NSBA renews its call for the FCC to address the funding needs of schools and libraries. Other than inflationary adjustments authorized in 2010, there has been no increase in the $2.25 billion cap on E-rate resources since the program’s inception in 1996, and demand has consistently been much higher than the available funding. The current demand is $4.9 billion.

Modernization of E-rate is essential to increasing the quality and speed of Internet connectivity and to close technology gaps that remain, and NSBA will carefully consider the FCC proposal to explore a new future for the program. However, NSBA cautions against redirecting static resources without regard to the impact on the beneficiaries of the E-rate program – high-need students, schools and libraries.

E-rate has been successful largely because it allows school boards and other district and school leaders to make decisions based on their students’ and local communities’ needs. The Public Notice acknowledges NSBA’s position that local decision making has been one of the hallmarks of the E-rate program. Any changes to the E-rate program should not undermine innovation by local school districts through mandates and should maximize local flexibility.

Alexis Rice|March 6th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs|Tags: , , , , , |

NSBA, education groups collaborate at national Labor-Management Conference

Local, state and national education leaders from across the country are  partnering to plan together for effectively  implementing college- and career-ready (CCR) standards  as they meet at  a third major conference on labor-management collaboration, Feb. 27-28, in St. Louis, Mo.

The conference, which is co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education; AASA, The School Superintendents Association; American Federation of Teachers (AFT); the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO); Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS); National Education Association (NEA); the National School Boards Association (NSBA); and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, will focus on the development of effective implementation plans by labor and management teams working at the district and state levels. Teams from 32 districts and four states will identify and prioritize critical next steps at the conference.

This year’s event will examine how school leaders, teachers and other staff can work together to ensure college- and career-ready standards are successfully integrated into classrooms across the country. The conference will work to support effective implementation of CCR standards by providing examples of collaboration and supporting teams as they create plans that reflect shared priorities.

The six national membership organizations will release a new joint tool at the conference that can be used by administrators, teacher’s union leaders and board members across the country to develop a plan for implementation together.

Virginia B. Edwards, President of Editorial Projects in Education (EPE), the publisher of Education Week, will moderate the opening session that features leaders from the partnering organizations including CGCS Executive Director Michael Casserly, AASA Executive Director Daniel Domenech, NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel,  CCSSO Executive Director Chris Minnich, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, and AFT President Randi Weingarten.

“This conference is an excellent opportunity for school leaders and educators to collaborate and engage with their peers and subject-matter experts who will help them find ways to fully implement college and career-ready standards,” said Edwards. “The participants will gain a deeper understanding of the standards, support to help build professional development, and tools to assess their district’s implementation.”

Past Labor-Management Collaboration Conferences have highlighted successful and effective partnerships and their impact on student outcomes.

The co-sponsoring organizations will also release a series of solution-based guides resulting from a smaller labor-management collaboration convening in 2013 addressing some of the most significant and prevalent challenges in standards implementation.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 27th, 2014|Categories: Conferences and Events, Educational Research, Federal Advocacy, Policy Formation, Professional Development, School Reform, Teachers|

NSBA and AASA express concern about new restraint and seclusion bill in U.S. Senate

Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), and Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued a joint statement today in response to new legislation introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chairman, U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The new bill would reduce the authority of states and local school districts to decide the appropriate use of restraint and seclusion in public schools. Restraint and seclusion are used as a last resort in situations that may endanger the safety and welfare of students, teachers and other school personnel.

We agree with Harkin that routine use of restraint and seclusion is indeed inappropriate. However, we believe this legislation is a federal overreach—it fails to recognize the need for local school personnel to make decisions based on their onsite, real-time assessment of the situation. This includes school officials’ consideration of lesser interventions before making the decision to use restraint or seclusion. Our primary concern must be the safety of all students and school personnel.

Seclusion and restraint are only exercised to protect students and school personnel when other measures fail. A 2011 survey of AASA members found that 70 percent of districts invest local funds in annual training to ensure that school personnel use seclusion and restraint judiciously, first engaging in de-escalation techniques and other nonviolent crisis intervention strategies.

Of equal importance, we’re also concerned that the bill would allow parents to go to court without first exercising administrative procedures afforded to them under the current Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This bypass encourages litigation and diminishes congressional intent that parents and school districts collaborate to address student special needs. We’re also concerned that the federal court system does not have the capacity to take on these additional cases.

Even with limited funding, local school board and school administrator policies continue to demonstrate best practices beyond state requirements on the use of seclusion and restraint. This is further supported by a 2011 survey, in which nine out of 10 superintendents said their school districts would benefit from additional funding to implement school-wide positive behavioral support and intervention systems and nonviolent crisis interventions.

We urge Harkin to reconsider his position and work closely with local school boards and superintendents to develop legislation that ensures maximum authority to local school districts while ensuring safety for all students.

Alexis Rice|February 12th, 2014|Categories: Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, School Climate, School Security, Special Education|Tags: , , , , , , |

NSBA honors House members for work on ESEA, federal overreach

U.S. House of Representatives members, Aaron Schock of Illinois, Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, and Ron Kind of Wisconsin, were honored this week with the Congressional Special Recognition Award, given by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) for their strong support for public education.

Schock, Meehan, and Kind worked together to introduce and promote the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, HR 1386, which would better establish local school boards’ authority and curb overreach by the U.S. Department of Education on issues that impact local school districts unless specifically authorized in federal legislation. Provisions of the bill were approved as an amendment to the House version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), HR 5, which passed the House last summer.

“We are proud to honor Reps. Schock, Meehan, and Kind with NSBA’s Congressional Special Recognition Award for their tireless efforts to help improve school boards’ abilities to lead our public schools,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Their leadership on the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act and the ESEA reauthorization amendment are extremely important to public school leaders across the country who deal daily with federal regulations that hinder their abilities to improve student achievement. We appreciate their support for local school boards.”

The awards were announced at NSBA’s Advocacy Institute in Washington, which focuses on building year-round advocates for public education and local school governance in public, legal, and legislative arenas. More than 750 school board members are attending the three-day conference, which includes visits to their members of Congress on Capitol Hill.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|February 5th, 2014|Categories: Assessment, Conferences and Events, Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Governance, Legislative advocacy, National School Boards Action Center, NSBA Recognition Programs|Tags: , , , |

Public advocacy is a must, NSBA panelists tell school boards

School board members must speak up and speak out about the successes and challenges of their local public schools, panelists told 750 school board members at the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) first annual Advocacy Institute.

Competing interests — including those who want to privatize the system — are already defining the message and potentially putting school boards and public schools out of business, some media experts warned.

NSBA also announced its national campaign, which will promote public schools and help local school board members engage their constituents. The campaign includes a new website and national print and online advertisements featuring celebrities such as former NBA star and education advocate Earvin “Magic” Johnson, television personality Montel Williams, and Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy.

Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education, noted that last year’s annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll on public education reported an all-time high — 53 percent — of Americans surveyed graded their local public schools with an A or B. Nearly three quarters of public school parents would give the school their oldest child attends an A or a B. However, when asked about the nation’s public schools overall, only 18 percent gave public education an A or B.

And those results —  support for  local public schools, but skepticism of public education in general  – were mirrored in several other poll questions, Busteed said. “There is a huge gap between the reality of the local level and nationally.”

Washington Post columnist Valerie Strauss, who writes The Answer Sheet blog, told school board members  that they must do a better job working with local and national media. That means finding important stories about their community’s public schools and bringing them to journalists.

“When you don’t speak up, your critics define you, and that’s what’s happening,” she said. “I don’t hear much from you, either individually or as groups.”

Further, school board members should understand student performance data in order to rebut false claims about public education. “You have to play the data game and you have to do it better,” Strauss added.

In an earlier panel, NSBA invited school voucher advocates, including representatives from the CATO Institute and the American Federation for Children (AFC), organizations that have pushed for expanded school choice, to present their ideas and K-12 platforms. While the panel was designed to showcase oppositional ideas, the panelists and school board members found common ground with CATO’s dislike of federal regulations and AFC Executive Counsel Kevin P. Chavous’ remarks on the need for student achievement.

 

Lawrence Hardy|February 5th, 2014|Categories: Charter Schools, Federal Advocacy, School Reform, School Vouchers, Uncategorized|Tags: , |

Advocacy Institute shows school boards how to be year-round advocates

More than 750 school board members are learning about national education issues and public engagement at the National School Boards Association’s Advocacy Institute, a three-day conference in Washington that includes visits to their Congressional representatives on Capitol Hill.

The event focuses on building year-round advocates for public education and local school governance in public, legal, and legislative arenas. Advocacy Institute is the successor to NSBA’s popular Federal Relations Network conference and covers a wider array of topics.

Speakers at the Feb. 2-4 event include Bob Woodward, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author; Rev. Bernice King, the orator and daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., and members of Congress. NSBA President David A. Pickler, a school board member from Shelby County, Tenn., welcomed the group and underscored the urgency of becoming year-round advocates.

“We must make sure that all public schools have the funding, resources, and support that is needed to educate all students in this rapidly changing world economy,” he said. “This is nothing less than a national security interest.”

NSBA also is honoring U.S. House of Representatives members Aaron Schock of Illinois, Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, and Ron Kind of Wisconsin with the organization’s Congressional Special Recognition Award for their strong support for public education.

Schock, Meehan, and Kind worked together to introduce and promote the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, HR 1386, which would better establish local school boards’ authority and curb overreach by the U.S. Department of Education on issues that impact local school districts unless specifically authorized in federal legislation. Provisions of the bill were approved as an amendment to the House version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), HR 5, which passed the House last summer.

“We are proud to honor Reps. Schock, Meehan, and Kind with NSBA’s Congressional Special Recognition Award for their tireless efforts to help improve school boards’ abilities to lead our public schools,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel.  “Their leadership on the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act and the ESEA reauthorization amendment are extremely important to public school leaders across the country who deal daily with federal regulations that hinder their abilities to improve student achievement. We appreciate their support for local school boards.”

Other Congressional speakers include Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania, a member of the House Education & the Workforce Committee; and Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions of the House Education & the Workforce Committee.

On Feb. 2, NSBA also unveiled its new advertising campaign promoting public education and discussed polling and public advocacy strategies for school board members.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 3rd, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, FRN Conference 2013, Governance, Legislative advocacy, National School Boards Action Center, NSBA Recognition Programs|

NSBA featured in major media on school choice concerns

After Republicans introduced legislation that would allow states to send up to $24 billion in federal funding toward school choice programs, National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel offered a reality check on the performance of charter schools, vouchers, and other measures. Gentzel appeared on Fox News and was quoted in The Washington Post and The New York Times stories on the measure.

“We certainly haven’t seen any consistent evidence anywhere in the country that these kinds of programs are effective or producing better results,” said Gentzel, who appeared on a segment during Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier on the Senate proposal, introduced this week by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has introduced legislation in the House that also would include some students with disabilities and use funds from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Watch the video segment.

In the New York Times article, Gentzel countered proponents of school choice who claim that traditional public schools have not improved fast enough, and that low-income families should have other choices.

“The big issue is really that lack of accountability,” Gentzel told the Times. “Frankly, our view is every child should have access to a great public school where they live.”

In The Washington Post, Gentzel discussed Alexander’s proposal, the “Scholarships for Kids Act,” which would allow states to create $2,100 scholarships from existing federal K-12 programs, including Title I, to “follow” 11 million children whose families meet the federal to any public or private school of their parents’ choice. The total cost would be $24 billion—41 percent of the current federal education allotment.

“School choice is a well-funded and politically powerful movement seeking to privatize much of American education,” he told the Post. “We’re not against public charters, and there are some that are well-motivated. . . . But our goal is that public schools be schools of choice. We need to invest and support public schools, not divert money and attention from them to what amounts, in many cases, to experiments.”

Reginald Felton, NSBA’s Interim Associate Executive Director for Federal Advocacy and Public Policy, also told Governing magazine that Title I would inevitably face cuts under Lamar’s plan, along with other programs that benefit disadvantaged children. For states that would choose not to opt into the proposed program, that means less money is available for their most vulnerable populations, he said.

“It’s hard for us to believe that a $24 billion reallocation could exist without drastically reducing funding for Title I students,” he told Governing.

The Ohio Schools Boards Association (OSBA) recently showcased how funding to choice programs hurts neighborhood public schools. In its December newsletter, OSBA notes, “Ohio Department of Education data shows traditional public schools will lose more than $870 million in state funding to charter schools in fiscal year (FY) 2014. That’s an increase of 5.4 percent over FY 2013, when approximately $824 million was transferred from traditional public schools to charters. This increase comes amid ongoing reports of charter school mismanagement, conflicts of interest and felony indictments and convictions.”

According to CREDO (Center for Research on Educational Outcomes) research on charters, states that empower multiple authorizing agencies are more likely to report the weakest academic results for charter schools. Local governance – enacted by local school boards – offers transparency and accountability along with a direct focus on student achievement versus profit.

In 2008, 64 percent of Ohio’s charter schools were on academic watch or emergency status, compared to 9 percent of traditional public schools, according to “The Regulation of Charter Schools” in the Jan./Feb. issue of American School Board Journal.

While the state changed its regulations in 2008, ASBJ cites the case of Hope Academy Cathedral, a K-8 charter school in Cleveland, as an example of the loopholes that exist in Ohio’s charter law. The school was ordered to close in 2011 after repeatedly being rated as in “academic emergency.”

Less than two months later, a new K-8 charter — Woodland Academy — opened in the same building, with 15 returning staff members, the same authorizer, and the same for-profit management firm, wrote ASBJ Senior Editor Del Stover. In its first year of operation, the new charter school also was judged to be in academic emergency.

 

 

Following State of the Union, NSBA calls for prioritization of public education issues

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel issued the following statement following the 2014 State of the Union:

The National School Boards Association, working with our state school board associations and the 90,000 school board members across the country, looks forward to engaging with President Barack Obama and his administration on the education priorities raised in the State of the Union. We welcome the President’s proposals on early childhood education and high-speed Internet access for schools and we ask that the President work closely with local school boards as these initiatives are developed.

We share the President’s commitment to guaranteeing that every child has access to a world-class education and NSBA believes every community should have great public schools.

Public education must be a priority for the administration and the U.S. Congress. We are deeply concerned about maximizing federal investments in K-12 education. A lack of federal funding in tandem with cuts in state and local funding is jeopardizing local school district operations. This is having a devastating effect on our students by imperiling programs that directly impact student learning, including many programs that close achievement gaps; raise graduation rates; and improve teacher training, recruitment, and retention.

The U.S. Senate must take action on its bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Strengthening America’s Schools Act. School board members from across the country are anxiously awaiting progress on this important legislation given that the U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of ESEA reauthorization last year. America’s school boards can’t continue to operate under a failed ‘No Child Left Behind’ system. Local school boards need the flexibility to create and implement innovative approaches to improve academic performance to prepare all students for post-secondary education or the workplace and ensure that the U.S. Department of Education does not encroach on community schools.

Alexis Rice|January 28th, 2014|Categories: Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy, No Child Left Behind, School Boards|Tags: , |

NSBA host State of the Union Twitter chat on education issues at #EdSOTU

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) will be hosting our third annual Twitter chat during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, starting at 9 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

Join the Twitter chat by using hashtag #EdSOTU and share your thoughts about the president’s speech and his plans for K-12 education.

By using #EdSOTU in your tweets, you will become a part of this virtual conversation. To see the entire conversation stream just go to Twitter and search #EdSOTU.

Alexis Rice|January 27th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , , , , |
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