Articles in the Federal Programs category

Step by step: Creating, building, sustaining relationships with Congress

When school board members sit down with their members of Congress, they often find themselves frustrated by the brief, often controlled, content of the chats. That’s why a trio of NSBA advocacy team members offered a Saturday clinic at NSBA’s annual conference on getting the most out of such meetings, and on sustaining ongoing relationships.

Reginald Felton, assistant executive director for congressional relations, offered a primary on how Congress works – slowly – in part because K-12 issues are tied to what he called “the public education triad” — politics, business, and academics.

“Clearly, the politics of education is there. The academics are to ensure (that) our students are learning and becoming career and college ready,” Felton said. “And there is the business because of the cost. We all know we are being challenged to have sufficient resources.

“Board members who think they only want to work on one part of the triad are often disappointed. The whole issue is that there is a political piece, an academic piece, and a business piece,” he said.

“Our concern is not that we don’t believe that school board members are active; we know you are. If you can have the relationship so they know you, and you’ve built that relationship when there isn’t a crisis, they are more likely to respond,” Felton said.

Kathleen Branch, director of NSBA’s National Advocacy Services, said the national association has a host of resources to help board members in lobbying and meeting with members of Congress.

“You have enough to do in your daily job as board members. We understand that. When you raise your hand and say, ‘I want to advocate as the national level,’ you are not on your own,” she said.

Part of the session involved viewing of a 27-minute NSBA-produced video entitled, “How to Lobby Members of Congress.” The video covers such pointers as:

• Never assume members of Congress know who you are and who you represent

• Look at their past voting record (NSBA has the information)

• Be passionate about issues but be respectful

• Focus on your voice as coming from a community in the Congressman’s district

• Talk about the local impact

• Follow up on the meeting; invite the Congressman to local district events.

Deborah Rigsby, NSBA’s director of federal legislation, echoed the messages on the video.

“Face-to-face time is important,” Rigsby said, “and it does influence votes.”

Rigsby also encouraged board members to connect with staff in their members of Congress district and Washington, D.C., office, citing an example of one district whose leaders get regular contacts by its Congressman’s staff when education issues are raised.

The NSBA team encouraged board members to get involved in the annual Federal Relations Network (FRN) conference each January.

Brad Hughes

Erin Walsh|April 13th, 2013|Categories: Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, NSBA Annual Conference 2013|

NSBA’s Delegate Assembly elects new officers, adopts beliefs and policies

Anne M. Bryne of New York’s Nanuet Union Free School District was named as president-elect of NSBA during Friday’s Delegate Assembly. John Tuttle of Kellyville, Okla., was elected secretary-treasurer.

Under NSBA’s constitution, current President-Elect David A. Pickler of Tennessee’s Shelby County Schools will become board president during Monday’s General Session. C. Ed Massey, the current president, becomes past president.

The Delegate Assembly also elected the following as regional directors: Tim Sivertson of Wisconsin (Central Region), JoDee Sundberg of Utah (Pacific Region), Robert F. Alvey Jr. of Tennessee (Southern Region), Neil G. Putnam of South Dakota (Western Region), and Kristin Malin of Maine (Northeast Region).

In other business, the Delegate Assembly adopted a series of beliefs and policies to help govern NSBA and guide the Board of Directors and association staff in the year ahead. Among them:

• NSBA supports the need for comprehensive strategies to significantly reduce poverty in the U.S. that undermines public education’s ability to educate and fully develop the potential of our student population. NSBA further recognizes and supports the importance of holding high expectations for all children.

• NSBA supports local school boards to consider (1) out-of-school suspensions as a last resort to address behavior issues in schools; and (2) increase the use of other proven strategies and interventions that maximize the opportunities for all students to have a safe and successful in-school experience.

• NSBA opposes any efforts to subsidize tuition or expenses at elementary and secondary private, religious, or home schools with public tax dollars. Specifically, NSBA opposes vouchers, tax credits, and tax subsidies for use at non-public K-12 schools.

The Delegate Assembly also passed a series of resolutions urging Congress:

• To authorize and fully fund Impact Aid.

• To fully fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

• To maintain the federal tax exemption for interest on bonds issued by state and local governments, including school districts.

• To support the governance role of local school boards from unnecessary requirements and costs imposed by the U.S. Department of Education.

• To provide greater and sustained resources for locally determined programs that are critical to school safety such as school resource officers, school counseling, emergency preparedness, and response training, interagency coordination, and a comprehensive resource guide on available federal assistance.

• To complete the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

• To support research and implementation of local developed strategies to improve teacher and principal effectiveness.

• To strengthen the E-rate program to ensure its efficient operation, improve the quality and speed of connectivity in our nation’s schools, and address the technology gaps that remain.

Del Stover|April 12th, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, NSBA Annual Conference 2013|

Gun lobby pushes to arm school personnel

School resource officers should receive more weapons training and “selected and designated school personnel” should also be trained and authorized to carry arms, according to a National Rifle Association (NRA) task force report, which was reported by Legal Clips, a publication of the National School Boards Association (NSBA).

The report was released last week as President Barack Obama urges Congress to consider several gun-control measures, which could include increased background  checks and bans on certain assault-style weapons. The Senate could announce compromise legislation as early as this week.

Public schools spend billions each year on school resource officers, according to a report on NPR’s Marketplace Morning Report. One officer could cost between $50,000 and $80,000 per year, depending on the district.

Responding to a gun emergency is a complex, multifaceted task that requires the coordination of trained law enforcement officers and other emergency response professionals, NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. told NPR. “It’s not just simply about being able to defend,” Negrón said, “but about being able to address and respond quickly in the whole security scenario that law enforcement officers are trained to do.”

Lawrence Hardy|April 8th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, School Climate, School Security|Tags: , |

School board legislation gains new support in the U.S. Congress

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has signed on to the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, a measure proposed by the National School Boards Association (NSBA). The bill, H.R. 1386, is designed to protect local school district governance from unnecessary and counter-productive federal intrusion from the U.S. Department of Education.

The bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 21 by Reps. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) It is now cosponsored by Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), and David Valadao (R-Calif.).

NSBA is now seeking an original sponsor for the legislation in the Senate, and it is urging school board members to contact their members of Congress to support the bill while the lawmakers are in their home districts next week.

“As a former school board president, I believe that the combination of parents, educators, employers and the local community must work together to ensure all children develop the skills and acquire the educational tools they will need to become successful. I believe a big part of this is ensuring local school boards do not have their authority eroded by regulators in Washington,” said Schock. “Not all education regulations are misguided, but the ones that are need to be taken off the books. The focus has to be expanding the opportunity to learn; not tying the hands of local administrators with more red tape by federal bureaucrats. My legislation ensures this encroachment does not continue and restores the local authority school boards need.”

Members of Congress are at home in their districts/state until Monday, April 8. This is an excellent opportunity to communicate with your members of Congress the importance of co-sponsoring the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act. Make sure you call, email, or meet with your members of Congress to discuss the importance of co-sponsoring this bill.

Joetta Sack-Min|March 29th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Governance, Policy Formation, School Boards|Tags: , |

Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act introduced in U.S. Congress

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) praised today’s introduction of the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act in the U.S. House of Representatives that would protect local school district governance from unnecessary and counter-productive federal intrusion from the U.S. Department of Education.

“Local school boards and local educators play a vital role in educating our nation’s schoolchildren which should not be eroded by unnecessary federal regulations,” said C. Ed Massey, NSBA President and member of Kentucky’s Boone County Board of Education. “The Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act would ensure that local school boards have the ability to make decisions to create greater academic success for all students, efficiency, and responsiveness to the desires of local communities.”

This legislation, introduced by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), would ensure that the U.S. Department of Education’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 the Department of Education would need to take prior to initiating regulations, rules, grant requirements, guidance documents, and other regulatory materials. The legislation is also supported by the American Association of School Administrators.

“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 U.S. 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. “

Additionally, the legislation is intended to provide the House of Representatives and Senate committees that oversee education with better information regarding the local impact of U.S. Department of Education’s activities. The legislation is also designed to more broadly underscore the role of Congress as the federal policy-maker in education and through its representative function.

“As a former school board president, I believe that the combination of parents, educators, employers and the local community must work together to ensure all children develop the skills and acquire the educational tools they will need to become successful. I believe a big part of this is ensuring local school boards do not have their authority eroded by regulators in Washington,” said Schock. “Not all education regulations are misguided, but the ones that are need to be taken off the books. The focus has to be expanding the opportunity to learn; not tying the hands of local administrators with more red tape by federal bureaucrats. My legislation ensures this encroachment does not continue and restores the local authority school boards need.”

NSBA is encouraging school board members to contact their members of Congress to support passage of this legislation.

Alexis Rice|March 21st, 2013|Categories: Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs|Tags: , , , , |

Education Talk Radio previews NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference

Kanisha Williams-Jones, Director of Leadership & Governance Services at the National School Boards Association (NSBA), was a guest today on Education Talk Radio providing a preview of NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference. Thousands of school board members, administrators, and other educators will be coming to San Diego to take part in the April 13-15 event.

Listen to the broadcast:

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on Blog Talk Radio

The conference will feature more than 200 sessions on timely education topics, including federal legislation and funding, managing schools with tight budgets, the legal implications of recent court cases, new research and best practices in school governance, and the Common Core State Standards. A series of sessions will focus on school safety and security.

Expanded education technology programming will include site visits to the University of San Diego and Qualcomm’s Mobile Learning Center to explore its research laboratory on mobile learning; Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to examine the technology in science education and STEM; Encinitas Union School District to view its One-to-One Digital Learning Program; and the San Diego Zoo to learn about the cutting-edge learning tools used to teach at-risk students. U.S. Navy SEALs will show leadership and team building skills during another workshop.

The meeting also includes one of the largest K-12 educational expositions, with some 300 companies showcasing their innovative products and services for school districts.

General Session speakers include Academy Award winning speaker Geena Davis, who will be speaking about her work off-screen as founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for children 11 and under. She will explain how media plays a key role in children’s development, and how her organization is making a difference.

Television star Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates, will headline Sunday’s General Session. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. He has been a frequent guest on “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, R”eal Time with Bill Maher”, and “Jeopardy!”. Tyson hopes to reach “all the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”

Monday’s General Session features acclaimed researcher and author Diane Ravitch, who has become one of the most passionate voices for public schools. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools.

Learn more about the common core standards, new research on differentiated learning styles, and teaching “unteachable” children at the Focus On lecture series. Learn about new technologies for your classrooms as part of the Technology + Learning programs.

It’s not too late to register, visit the Annual Conference website for  more information.

School boards look for more ways to cut budgets as sequester becomes reality

With across-the-board federal cuts taking effect today through sequestration, school boards will need to make tough budget decisions to account for the decrease in federal education funding. As school boards begin to craft budgets for the 2013-14 school year, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is calling for Washington leaders to work out a deal to ensure schools are able to continue programs and avoid teacher and staff layoffs.

“Congress and the Obama administration must act now to alleviate these cuts to education before school districts have to issue pink slips and inform parents that vital programs and resources are going to be cut,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s Executive Director. “These new federal cuts to education will push back the progress our school districts have made in student achievement. School districts are going to have to make difficult choices as they develop their budgets for the next school year, and for years to come as the cuts continue.”

More than 700 school boards have passed resolutions urging Congress to avoid the sequestration process, which will now impose across-the-board cuts of about 5 percent to education and other domestic programs beginning in FY2013. Nationwide, K-12 programs and Head Start would face almost a $3 billion reduction for Fiscal Year 2013, according to the White House. These new cuts are an additional reduction to federal funding for education, as K-12 education programs were already reduced on the federal level with cuts to education funding in Fiscal Year 2011.

According to Feb. 14 written testimony by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Title I federal grants for disadvantaged students would be cut by $726 million, reducing instructional support to almost 1.2 million educationally disadvantaged children and eliminating more than 10,000 teachers and aides, and special education funding would be reduced by $579 million, shifting those costs to states and school districts. These federal budget cuts are scheduled to continue through 2021 and will have a substantial effect on our schools, eroding the base of funding for key programs year after year.

Earlier this week, NSBA President C. Ed Massey, a school board member for the Boone County Schools in Florence, Ky., was featured on NPR discussing the impact to his school district from sequestration noting that he expects to see a significant hit — between $1.1 and $1.3 million to Boone County Schools which would be a loss of approximately 15 teachers.

Joetta Sack-Min|March 1st, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Policy Formation, Student Achievement, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Education leaders discuss sequestration’s impact to public education

National School Boards Association (NSBA) President C. Ed Massey participated in a Feb. 27 press conference call to rally against the scheduled federal budget cuts, known as the sequester, that are schedule to take place on Friday. The call was organized by the Committee for Education Funding, a coalition of 100 national education organizations including NSBA, to highlight the planned program cuts and teacher layoffs that will occur if Congress does not intervene.

Massey’s school district, the Boone County Schools in Florence, Ky., would see particular impact on programs for disadvantaged programs. The 20,000-student school district will have to eliminate about 15 jobs funded by Title I grants and will have to scale back programs that help struggling students learn to read by providing reading coaches in classrooms.

“In those areas where we struggle the most, those are the areas where we will be hardest hit,” Massey said. “This takes away [disadvantaged students’] resources to make progress in this very competitive world we live in.”

On that call, CEF Executive Director Joel Packer said that the sequester would lead to the largest education cuts ever at the federal level, and would bring the total K-12 budget back to the level of the fiscal year 2004 budget.

Packer noted that Head Start, which provides early education services to low-income children, would see immediate cuts that would eliminate slots for about 70,000 children and cut 10,000 teacher jobs.

The U.S. Department of Education would see cuts of $2.5 billion, but because all K-12 programs except for Impact Aid are funded for the next school year, the effect of the cuts would not be seen until the 2013-14 school year.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 27th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation|Tags: , , , , , |

School boards prepare for layoffs, program cuts as federal deadline looms

School boards across the country will be forced to lay off thousands of teachers and teacher aides in coming weeks as they create their budgets for the 2013-14 academic year because of the federal budget cuts scheduled to take place March 1.

The sequester, which will require across the board budget cuts for all federal programs on March 1, will eliminate about 5 percent of funding for K-12 programs and Head Start. However, representatives from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) pointed out in a press conference call this week that those cuts disproportionately affect school districts that are educating large populations of disadvantaged students.

Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s Associate Executive Director for Federal Advocacy and Public Policy, noted that many school districts are beginning to plan next year’s budgets, and in an informal survey, three-quarters said they would be issuing layoff notices this spring.

For some school districts, the process of issuing pink slips has already started.

Minnie Forte-Brown, a school board member in Durham, N.C., and chair of NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education, said her school district planned to eliminate 34 teacher and staff positions. Title I cuts would be about $800,000 of about $1.7 million in cuts that the 33,000 student school would endure for the next 10 years, special education would amount to another $600,000 each year.

The school board has already stopped filling vacant positions and has cut all travel and professional development.

“We are implementing extreme measures,” said Forte-Brown. “This is not the promise we made to our families when we said we were going to educate excellently.”

In rural Alabama, Steve Foster, vice president of the Lowndes County Board of Education, said his school district has already seen significant state cuts in recent years, and a further reduction from the federal government would diminish books and classroom supplies, teacher retention and professional development programs, and cuts to the library, where many parents and students who do not have home computers or internet access go to work on school assignments.

”Our school system has made great strides in the last 10 to 12 years. These cuts are going to affect the programs that help us make progress,” said Foster, who is also President of the Alabama Association of School Boards.

President Obama has frequently used education and early childhood examples in recent speeches about the impact of sequestration on the country. The White House released state-by-state estimates that include how much K-12 funding each state stands to lose, the number of teacher and staff jobs, the number of children that will lose access to Head Start, and other details. (The Washington Post published this graphic detailing the cuts.)

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program on February 24 to warn of the impact of the looming cuts to K-12 programs.

More than 700 school boards have passed resolutions urging Congress to stop the sequester. Go to NSBA’s website, www.nsba.org/stopsequestration, for sample letters, resolutions, and other activities for school boards.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|February 26th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, School Boards, Teachers|Tags: , , , , , , |

Proposed USDA rules on snack foods will burden school districts

Every U.S. school district will be affected by new rules on school snacks proposed earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the National School Boards Association (NSBA).

No state currently has standards that fully comply with the Department’s proposal for “competitive foods,” which include foods sold in vending machines, school stores and a la carte lines , said NSBA’s Director of Federal Programs Lucy Gettman.

The rules are part of the 2010 Child Nutrition Act reauthorization that requires the Secretary of Agriculture to issue mandatory standards for competitive foods. The proposed rule sets requirements for calories, total fat, saturated fat, transfat, sugar and vitamin or nutrient content of all foods sold outside the school meal programs, on the school campus and at any time during the school day.

Further, school districts would be burdened by new reporting and monitoring requirements, Gettman said. Maintaining receipts, nutrition labels and product specifications for competitive food service would apply throughout the campus, not just to the school food authority.  NSBA is carefully analyzing the proposal and plans to send comments to the USDA.

NSBA has had ongoing concerns about the impact of the law, known as the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, and the ensuing regulatory standards. Restrictions on competitive foods, for one, could dramatically lower revenues used to fund athletics and extracurricular activities.

“The USDA is regulating in the dark when it comes to the impact on instruction and school revenue from competitive food sales, because there is no comprehensive data on how much revenue schools raise and how it is used,” Gettman said.

The USDA, which has been criticized for its heavy-handed approach to what traditionally has been a local issue, noted in its announcement that the proposed regulations would still allow parents to send in bagged lunches of their choosing or treats for activities such as birthday parties, holidays, and other celebrations.

The proposal also would allow schools to continue “infrequent” fundraisers and bake sales, as long as they are not conducted in the cafeteria or during regular meal times. And foods sold at after school sporting events or other activities would not be subject to the requirements.

The USDA characterizes the proposed rule as a minimum standard.  Additional state or local standards may impose more stringent requirements if they are consistent with the Department’s final rule.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 12th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Food Service, Nutrition, Obesity, Policy Formation|Tags: , , , |
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