Articles in the Policy Formation category

NSBA joins state and local government groups to push for ESEA reauthorization

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has signed on to a letter urging key members of Congress to pass a comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) this year.

The Feb. 4 letter was coordinated by the National Governors Association (NGA) and was signed by nine groups representing state and city leaders and elected officials. It was sent to leaders of the House and Senate education committees.

The ESEA reauthorization “is truly ‘must pass’ legislation,” according to the letter. It notes that the current law is flawed and shifts too much control away from states and local governments and focuses on punishments rather than rewards.

The letter states: “Only a full reauthorization of ESEA can adequately address the challenges state and local governments face in education. Policymakers at the state, local, and school district level need a long-term resolution and solution to NCLB. As we struggle to reallocate scarce federal resources and face economic uncertainty, we need greater federal funding flexibility. Most of all, we need federal policies that authentically support state and local innovation so that every student will be prepared for college or careers.”

The coalition, which includes NGA, NSBA, the National Conference of State Legislatures, The Council of State Governments, National League of Cities, International City/County Managers Association, National Association of Counties, United States Conference of Mayors, and National Association of State Boards of Education, wrote two similar letters in 2012 pushing for an ESEA reauthorization.

 

 

FRN meeting kicks off with rally to protect federal funds, promote school board governance

Participants in the National School Boards Association’s Federal Relations Network will focus on stopping planned budget cuts to federal K-12 programs, advocating for a bill to promote local school board governance, and pushing yet again to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

At the opening session the more than 700 attendees also learned about what NSBA leaders are calling the “New NSBA,” the organization’s plan to focus further on advocacy for school board governance and public education.

With Congress having “kicked the can” on dealing with the debt ceiling and sequestration’s across-the-board program cuts now slated to take effect around March 1, FRN attendees have come to Washington at an opportune time to influence members on Capitol Hill, said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s associate executive director for federal advocacy and public policy. The session served as the kick-off point for the annual FRN conference meeting, where attendees selected by their state associations spend two days being briefed on current topics and then lobby their members of Congress.

On sequestration, Resnick noted that after the deal reached to raise tax levels at the new year, federal programs will be subject to an across-the-board cut of 5.9 percent on March 1, and those cuts will continue for the next nine years. That means for every 5,000 students in a school district, those districts will lose about $250,000, or more if they receive Title I funds for disadvantaged populations.

But keep in mind K-12 programs make up less than one percent of the entire federal budget, and while cuts would be significant to school operations it would be miniscule to managing federal debt, Resnick said.

“When it comes to education we will not sacrifice the vehicle our children need to tackle the economic situation ahead,” he said. “A child does not get to re-do an inadequately funded third-grade education, or the years after.”

NSBA President C. Ed Massey emphasized that public education is being attacked by people who want to privatize systems for their own profit.

“I am so tired of hearing about the cost or expense of education,” Massey said. “Education is not a cost or expense—it is the greatest investment our public can make.”

NSBA has also proposed legislation that would seek to prevent the U.S. Department of Education from overreaching its authority. The proposed bill prohibits the Education Department, in the absence of specific legislation, from issuing a regulation or grant condition that would interfere with local governance, require the Education Department to go through a more rigorous process that would allow school boards and others to comment, and each year require an annual report to Congress on public education law.

Massey also introduced new NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel, who joined the organization in December. Massey noted that the NSBA Board of Directors undertook an exhaustive process to find a leader.

Gentzel spoke about the increased legislative advocacy of the new NSBA based on the phrase “from, with and through.” That means more legislation and other initiatives will come from NSBA, the organization will partner with other like-minded groups to promote legislation and other initiatives. Most importantly, he noted, NSBA will mount a strong defense against any proposal that would harm public education or school board governance.

“They’re going to have to come through us to get that done,” Gentzel said. Further, he added, “We are facing a critical moment right now in terms of public education.”

Resnick also noted that in spite of naysayers who use terms such as “failing schools,” data and test scores show that public school students are improving.

And while some naysayers criticize the institution of school boards, Resnick noted that local school board members, the vast majority of whom are elected to their jobs, have proven to be a far more effective governance structure than Congress, which continues to stall on dealing with the debt ceiling and budget cuts, favors continuing resolutions instead of new budgetary guidelines, and has not reauthorized ESEA in 11 years.

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 27th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, FRN Conference 2013, Governance, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, Privatization, School Reform, State School Boards Associations|

Facts on vouchers to counter National School Choice Week

As the National School Choice Week begins, the Voucher Strategy Center at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) recommends several resources to counter arguments for vouchers and the privatization of K-12 education.

Patte Barth, director of NSBA’s Center for Public Education (CPE), recently wrote an editorial for the Huffington Post outlining many of the problems with vouchers and other forms of choice that do not hold private and parochial schools accountable for their students’ learning. In  “School Choice Does Not Mean All Choices are Equal,” Barth  discusses recent research that shows many school options have not lived up to their promises, and instead merely drain resources and funds from each community’s public schools.

Barth also wrote a blog for CPE’s EDifier this week discussing recent allegations that a cybercharter school in Pennsylvania inflated enrollment numbers to gain taxpayer funds.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) is promoting a Twitter hashtag, #Vouchersfail, to share stories where school vouchers have proven problematic.

The AU has also set up a website, www.au.org/voucherFAIL, with research debunking propaganda being put forth by voucher proponents.

“No matter their motivation, these organizations share the same goal: shifting as many tax resources as possible from the public school system, which serves 90 percent of America’s schoolchildren, to private academies that play by their own rules and aren’t accountable to the taxpayer. Proponents of ‘School Choice Week’ would rather not talk about the many problems inherent in voucher programs,” the website states.

The Voucher Strategy Center also has resources and articles on the evolving field of school choice.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 26th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Center for Public Education, Charter Schools, Conferences and Events, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Educational Research, Federal Advocacy, Governance, Online learning, Policy Formation, Privatization, Public Advocacy, Religion, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA works with White House on school safety issues

President Barack Obama issued 23 executive actions today that he says will strengthen school safety and prevent gun violence. He also called on Congress to pass tougher gun-control measures, including banning some assault rifles and magazines and requiring  background checks for purchasing all guns, one month and two days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) was represented by Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel at the White House event. Obama announced a campaign entitled “Now is the Time” that outlines his plans for preventing gun violence.

The executive actions pertaining to school safety include:

  • Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers;
  • Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship, and institutions of higher education;
  • Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations;
  • Launch a national conversation on mental health with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The orders and proposals were “based on an emerging consensus from all the groups we heard,” said Vice President Joe Biden. At the request of the president, Vice President Biden oversaw a task force designed to field recommendations from key stakeholder groups to curb gun violence in the United States. The White House has emphasized that local school leaders would be able to choose the safety measures for their schools as they see fit.

“We commend President Obama for his efforts to ensure that all schools are safe places,” Gentzel said. “We look forward to working with the administration and Congress in a collaborative effort to address this important issue.”

NSBA called for the expansion of school safety zones and more school resource officers during a Jan. 9 White House meeting with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder, and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, who fielded recommendations from about a dozen major education groups as part of the vice president’s task force.

NSBA’s Director of Federal Legislation Deborah Rigsby participated in that session and also recommended greater access to mental health services and resources for greater coordination between law enforcement agencies and school districts.

Other organizations represented at the event included the American Association of School Administrators, National PTA, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, School Social Work Association of America, Council of Chief State School Officers, Mothers in Charge, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Council for Exceptional Children, and Council of Great City Schools.

Some of the groups discussed ideas such as creating a federal interagency council on school safety, and training development and support for school principals on preparation and preparedness.

NSBA and some other groups did not take a specific position on gun control, but others expressed opposition to arming teachers with guns, Rigsby said.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 16th, 2013|Categories: Bullying, Crisis Management, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Governance, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, School Climate, School Security, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , |

New law will help provide better education services to foster children

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) praised the passage of the Uninterrupted Scholars Act, which allows school districts to provide educational records to child welfare agencies that are legally responsible for the care and protection of a student, including the educational stability of a child in foster care. This new law, signed by President Barack Obama on Monday, amends provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

“Assuring the educational success of vulnerable children, such as those in the child welfare system, is an important priority for local school boards,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s Associate Executive Director for Public Policy and Federal Advocacy. “Federal policy increasingly calls for public school districts to collect and share data on individual students. Federal initiatives require data collection to ascertain, among other things, individual student progress, student demographics, and student disciplinary actions.”

While it is important to respect a student’s privacy, NSBA recognizes that this data collection and sharing may be necessary to achieve important goals such as interagency collaboration in youth services, closing the achievement gap, and improving instruction and student outcomes.

“The Uninterrupted Scholars Act is a step forward in assuring successful educational outcomes for some of our most vulnerable children,” said Resnick.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 15th, 2013|Categories: Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation|Tags: , , |

School choice doesn’t lead to equal choices, CPE director writes for Huffington Post

Patte Barth, director of the Center for Public Education at the National School Boards Association, writes about the perils of the school choice movement in a new blog for the Huffington Post. Barth, a leading researcher, takes on claims that more choices lead to a better education for children.

She writes: “Unfortunately, the opportunities choice advocates propose do not bring a guarantee that the choice will be a good one for kids, and it can even be worse. School districts have been experimenting with choices for over 20 years, first in the form of charter schools and vouchers that individuals can take to private schools, and more recently, virtual schools. Clearly, some myth-busting schools of choice have demonstrated that low-income children can absolutely achieve to the highest levels — just as some noteworthy traditional public schools have. But research to date has not produced any evidence that ‘choice and competition’ in itself produces consistently better results.”

With the exception of schools such as KIPP Academies and the Harlem Children’s Zone, many alternative schools have not produced better academic results than the students’ previous schools, Barth notes.

Read the full article in the Huffington Post.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 9th, 2013|Categories: Center for Public Education, Center for Public Education Update, Charter Schools, Educational Finance, Educational Research, Governance, Policy Formation, Privatization, Religion, School Boards, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , |

Fiscal cliff deal still leaves K-12 funding in limbo

Education funding received a two-month reprieve from across-the-board budget cuts under the fiscal cliff measure passed by Congress this week. The National School Boards Association is continuing its campaign during this critical time to protect K-12 programs from the proposed cuts that could significantly harm public education.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign a measure that would relieve many of the individual tax increases that were scheduled to go into effect on January 2 in plans to avoid the nation’s debt ceiling. The deal reached by House and Senate leaders and the White House in the final hours of 2012 delayed the issue of the across-the-board budget cuts, also known as sequestration, for federal agencies until early March.

“The pressure is now increasing on members of Congress to start identifying areas that can be cut,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s associate executive director for federal advocacy and public policy. “NSBA will be on Capitol Hill continuously lobbying legislators to protect education funding, as public schools cannot withstand any further cuts without significantly impacting their academic programs and student achievement.”

Working with NSBA and its state school boards associations, more than 600 school districts now have passed “stop sequestration” resolutions urging lawmakers to protect K-12 education funding as an investment in the nation’s economy.

Learn more about sequestration and the Budget Control Act of 2011, and actions that school board members can take to advocate for their school districts, at NSBA’s Stop Sequestration web page.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 3rd, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation|Tags: , |

School board leaders urge Washington officials to resolve the fiscal cliff

Sequestration is scheduled to take effect in three weeks, and the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging President Barack Obama and members of Congress to do everything in their power to protect K-12 education programs from the automatic budget cuts.

NSBA held a press call on Dec. 12 with school board members in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio to detail the impact of the so-called fiscal cliff on their schools. Those across-the-board cuts to federal spending, including education funds, are scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 2, 2013 unless Congress and the White House can negotiate a new budget plan.

“This is a political failure that could lead to an educational catastrophe,” said NSBA President-elect David A. Pickler, a member of the Shelby County (Tenn.) Board of Education. “It would have the most profound impact on our most fragile and at-risk students,” given that the two largest federal K-12 programs—Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—benefit disadvantaged students and students with disabilities, he added.

Using budget figures from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, NSBA’s legislative advocacy department estimates public education would see cuts of about $4 billion in the next academic year; locally, that adds up to about $82,000 from every $1 million in federal funds that a school district receives. NSBA’s Director of Federal Legislation Deborah Rigsby noted that the cuts would continue for the next 10 budget cycles, and schools may also see ensuing cuts from state and local budgets.

School board members said that those cuts would lead to larger class sizes, cuts to research-based academic supplemental programs, after-school activities and summer school, and many extracurricular programs. And more teacher and staff layoffs will further hinder economic growth.

“We have tolerated cut after cut after cut,” said John Pennycuff, a school board member in Winton Woods City Schools in Cincinnati. Ohio schools have not seen state funding increase since 2009, and his teachers and superintendent have not received raises in several years, he said. At the same time, the poverty rate in his school district has increased 70 percent and the number of English Language learners has quadrupled.

Pennycuff urged his representative, Speaker of the House John Boehner, “Please do not do this to my students.”

If sequestration occurs, “All the advancements we’ve made in various reforms across the state will go into regression, almost overnight,” said NSBA President C. Ed Massey, a member of the Boone County (Ky.) Board of Education. “If we lose this ground, it will take decades to overcome.”

More than 430 school boards across the country have passed resolutions asking Congress and the White House to spare education funding from federal cuts.

To learn more about NSBA’s efforts and see sample resolutions, editorials, and other materials, go to the Stop Sequestration webpage at www.nsba.org/stopsequestration.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 12th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Governance, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, School Boards|Tags: , , , |

NSBA President writes about Louisiana voucher ruling

C. Ed Massey, president of the National School Boards Association, has written “Lessons Gleaned from the Louisiana School Voucher Ruling” for the Transforming Learning blog. The blog is a project of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of 16 national level education organizations, and hosted by Education Week.

Massey wrote, “While this particular battle is far from over — Gov. Bobby Jindal and State Superintendent John White have vowed to appeal — this decision is a major victory for all school boards and public education advocates across the United States. (NSBA) supported our state affiliate, the Louisiana School Boards Association, because we saw the case as a direct threat to public education. The pro-school choice advocates were flooded with outside money and have put forth a sophisticated public relations operation.”

Massey is also a member of the Boone County (Ky.) Schools Board of Education. Read more at Transforming Learning.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 11th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Governance, Policy Formation, Privatization, Religion, School Law, School Vouchers|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA takes first round of “Stop Sequestration” resolutions to Capitol Hill

National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel presented Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) with more than 360 resolutions that have been passed by local school boards across the country urging Congress to stop sequestration. During the December 4 meeting, Gentzel thanked Murray for her efforts and stated the concerns of local school boards regarding the impact of the impending federal budget cuts, also known as the “fiscal cliff.”

Thomas Gentzel and Sen. Patty Murray

Murray, a former school board member and a strong supporter of public education, is a key player in the debates on dealing with the proposed federal budget cuts, having co-chaired the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction. In the upcoming the 113th Congress, she will chair the Senate Budget Committee.

In addition to the private meeting with Murray, NSBA staff also met with and presented the first round of resolutions to key House and Senate offices, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). The resolutions were also presented to the White House on November 30.

NSBA received comments from both members of Congress and the Obama administration expressing a great appreciation for the resolutions and the details of the impact the budget cuts would have on local schools. White House and Congressional staff also noted an editorial published in the Capitol Hill newspaper Politico from NSBA President C. Ed Massey, which details how the across-the-board cuts would affect school districts.

NSBA’s Stop Sequestration webpage has more information on the proposed cuts, sample resolutions for school boards, and tools that school boards can use in local advocacy efforts to contact members of Congress and raise the level of awareness about sequestration in local communities. As the negotiations continue NSBA will continue to lobby members of Congress to “amend the Budget Control Act to mitigate the drastic cuts to education that would affect our students and communities, and to protect education as an investment critical to economic stability and American competitiveness.”

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 5th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation|Tags: , , , , |
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