Federal Advocacy Weekly Update

Congressional Update

IDEA Full Funding Bills May Appear on House Agenda Later this Year

Congress is on an extended recess until September 9, but looking ahead to the fall, we expect the House Education and Labor Committee to shine a light on the federal government’s failure to sufficiently fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. For many years, bipartisan bills have been introduced in the Senate and House to require the federal government to pay a higher percentage of the costs associated with serving the nation’s special education students. Earlier this year, Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA) and 113 cosponsors, including 13 Republicans, introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act (H.R.1878) to increase the federal share of IDEA Part B funding over time. More recently, Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and six cosponsors, including two Republicans, introduced the Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act (H.R.4107), which would increase the federal share of IDEA Part C funding, and would require increased federal investments in infants and toddlers and preschoolers. NSBA expects both measures to be the focus of the House education committee’s IDEA work later this year.

Appropriations will be on Senate’s Agenda in September

When Congress reconvenes after Labor Day, the Senate Appropriations Committee will launch a furious effort to make progress on the fiscal year 2020 spending process, including the Department of Education’s budget. With a two-year budget deal now in place, Senate staff are working hard during the long summer recess to lay the groundwork for several subcommittee and committee spending votes in September. NSBA’s advocacy team is focused on making sure that the major education formula programs – ESSA Title I and II, IDEA Part B – and other school board funding priorities are protected in the Senate bill’s that will be considered. We do not yet know when the Senate Labor, HHS, Education Subcommittee will vote on the Department of Education’s fiscal year 2020 budget, but we will provide regular updates about the process to the membership.

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North Star accountability system results will be available in August


Results from the North Star accountability system will be released in August. The major dates for release are:

  • Monday, August 26 — Embargoed release of the public North Star file to districts.
  • Noon Wednesday, August 28 — Embargoed release of the public North Star file to the press.
  • Noon Thursday, August 29 — Public release, including updated data on the Minnesota Report Card, and general availability of the public North Star file.

As of noon on Wednesday, August 7, district and school staff with secure reports access were be able to see data for the North Star accountability system.

In the Accountability Secure Reports section of secure reports, users can access the North Star Report on the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) website (log-in required).

This report provides information about school and district performance on each indicator in the North Star system.

Users can also download secure rosters for:

  • academic achievement and progress;
  • progress toward English language proficiency;
  • and consistent attendance (secure rosters for graduation have been available since the spring).

Direct questions to Michael Diedrich at 651-582-8332 or michael.diedrich@state.mn.us

Source: Minnesota Department of Education

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Advocate for education at the State Fair


If you plan on attending the Minnesota State Fair this year, MSBA encourages members to discuss education issues with legislators at the House of Representatives’ booth.

Visit www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/leginfo/19memfair.pdf for the schedule of representatives planning to attend the fair.

The House booth will again feature its annual opinion poll. This year’s poll will include a question concerning using a tax credit for funding private school scholarships.

The House of Representatives booth is located in the Education Building on Cosgrove Street, just north of Dan Patch Avenue.

Source: Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services

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MSBA Participates in Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan’s Roundtable on Child Centered Government

This morning Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) participated in a small roundtable discussion with other early education and childcare stakeholders to discuss how working together to invest in Minnesota’s youngest students can increase equity and bridge the opportunity gap for children, youth and families.

Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan recently reintroduced the Children’s Cabinet initiative and their priority to ensure all children have a healthy start, access to affordable and quality childcare and early education, access to mental health supports and stable housing. The goal is to center government on children and families and want to work with organizations, like MSBA, to “come together and help propose and enact sound and transformational investments and policies.”

Minnesota’s Children’s Cabinet is an inter-agency partnership the Governor has charged with helping make Minnesota the best place to raise a family — for everyone.


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Federal Administrative Weekly Update

Department of Education Invites Special Ed Grant Applications

This week, the Department of Education published the following notices about discretionary grants managed by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services:

  • “Applications for New Awards: Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities – National Technical Assistance Center for Systemic Improvement” – The purpose of this program is to “promote academic achievement and to improve results for children with disabilities by providing TA, supporting model demonstration projects, disseminating useful information, and implementing activities that are supported by scientifically based research.” This competition includes one absolute priority: National Technical Assistance and Dissemination Center for Systemic Improvement. The estimated funds for this cooperative agreement total $6,250,000. Applications are due by September 9, 2019, and further information is available here.
  • “Applications for New Awards: Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities – Technical Assistance and Dissemination Center for the Development and Implementation of High-Quality Instruction, Interventions, and Services for Children with Disabilities” – The focus of this grant is to create a Center that will develop resources  in order to enable children with disabilities to progress in light of each of their own circumstances;  support LEAs, CMOs, private school associations, and schools to develop high-quality individualized educational programming. The estimated available funds for this award total $2,000,000. Applications are due by September 6, 2019, and further information is available here.
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Federal Advocacy & Policy Weekly Update

Congressional Update:  While Congress has adjourned for August recess there are still a few items of interest.

Democratic Senators Express Concern about New Tax Forms Impact on Student Aid Applications

Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sent aletterto Secretary DeVos highlighting how the changes to tax Form 1040 could create difficulties for students using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and questioned the Department of Education’s plans to alleviate disruptions for students.This problem is arising at a time when some states, such as Louisiana, are requiring all high school seniors to complete the FAFSA to boost postsecondary enrollment rates.



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Walz, Flanagan Announce $2.5 Million Grant to Provide Proven Drug and Alcohol Reduction Curriculum in Schools

[ST. PAUL, MN] – Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan today announced that the State of Minnesota was awarded a $2.5 million grant to implement a groundbreaking, evidence-based social-emotional learning curriculum in middle schools across the state.

The grant, awarded by Arnold Ventures, will allow as many as 40 middle schools to offer the LifeSkills Training program. Based on more than 35 years of rigorous scientific research, the LifeSkills curriculum includes skills in resisting peer and media pressure to smoke, drink, or use drugs while also informing students of the consequences of substance abuse.

“We see every day the impact of substance use on Minnesota, and on our young. Too many deaths, too many damaged lives—we need to invest in evidence-based policies that have strong record of success,” said Governor Walz. “This grant from Arnold Ventures will help provide schools with a powerful tool to promote prevention and positive, long-term health of our kids.”

The LifeSkills curriculum is proven effective at helping reduce rates of anxiety, depression and physical aggression, and prevent substance abuse. Researchers at the University of Iowa and Cornell University found that high school seniors who participated in the LifeSkills Training program while in middle school were 20 percent less likely to smoke and 10 to 15 percent less likely to misuse alcohol or illicit drugs.

Results First, a unit of Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), views this grant as part of its effort to identify and implement cost-effective evidence-based practice. The team also expands MMB’s capacity to use science to help policymakers understand the degree to which other services are achieving their intended results. The 2020-21 biennial budget includes $87 million for services across seven state agencies that Results First found evidence of effectiveness.

“Prevention is a smart investment,” said Myron Frans, commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget. “We are driven to support Minnesota by identifying programs that work and are cost-effective, such as LifeSkills Training. We owe it to all Minnesotans, especially those most impacted by substance use.”

The Minnesota Department of Human Services and Minnesota Management and Budget will partner to administer the grant. “This is an example of government collaborating and using proven methods to make a difference in the lives of Minnesota students,” said Acting Commissioner Pam Wheelock of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. “We are excited about this partnership and look forward to seeing real results.”

Public, private and nonprofit middle schools are eligible for training, materials, and technical assistance to implement the curriculum for three years. They will work with an independent evaluator to measure the impact of the program and evaluate its effectiveness. For more information and application, visit https://mn.gov/mmb/mmb/behavioral-wellness/. Selected schools will start the curriculum in Fall 2020.

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