Articles in the Federal Advocacy category

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: , |

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: , , , |
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