Articles in the Legislative advocacy category

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against the need to address Congress’ promise to fund the federal share of a 39-year-old mandate for IDEA that has superseded other local budget priorities for the majority of school districts and communities.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: , , |

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: , , , , , |

U.S. Department of Education study shows racial disparities in school suspensions

A new study released by the Department of Education shows African-American students as young as preschoolers are more likely to be suspended than their white counterparts—a statistic that the National School Boards Association (NSBA) calls “unacceptable.”

According to the report, “Black students represent 16% of the [K-12] student population, but 32-42% of students suspended or expelled. In comparison, white students also represent a similar range of between 31-40% of students suspended or expelled, but they are 51% of the student population.”

Read the snapshot of the study.

Reggie Felton, NSBA’s interim associate executive director for federal advocacy and public policy deemed these rates “unacceptable” in an Associated Press story. Felton also brought up the NSBA’s awareness efforts and the importance of keeping students in school. NSBA has been working in local districts across the US to talk about the crisis in out-of-school suspensions, which are particularly harmful to students of color and students with special needs.

“Local school boards are addressing these issues in many states with elimination of zero tolerance policies and establishment of more effective policies,” Felton said.  “Local school boards also recognize the need to shift toward in-school suspension policies to ensure access to quality learning, even if students are removed from a specific classroom.”

Just last year, NSBA released a comprehensive policy guide for school boards addressing the out-of-school suspension crisis. The policy guide offers questions for policymakers, educators, and parents as well as case studies of capacity-building programs in districts where racial equity has been addressed.

As the NSBA report found in April 2013: “When students are forced to leave the school environment, they are denied an opportunity to learn. While overly harsh school discipline policies can affect all students, they have a disproportionate impact on students of color. Research shows that African American, Latino and Native American students, in particular, are far more likely to be suspended, expelled, and arrested than their white peers, even when accused of similar behavior.”

Read the policy guide: Addressing the Out-Of-School Suspension Crisis

 

Staff|March 21st, 2014|Categories: Discipline, Diversity, Dropout Prevention, Governance, High Schools, Legislative advocacy, Preschool Education|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: , , , , , , |

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: , , , |

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: , |
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