House and Senate Education Bill Introductions

Monday, February 17th, 2020

House and Senate Education Finance and Policy Bill Introductions

For Weekly Legislative Updates See the Weekly Advocate

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Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

Congressional Update

President Trump Submits Fiscal Year 2021 Education Budget Request to Congress

The White House released President Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget request this week, including his proposed budget for the Department of Education. The president asked Congress to cut the Department of Education’s total budget by 8.4% and urged legislators to combine 29 Elementary and Secondary Education Act programs – including Title I – into a single funding stream called the “Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged Block Grant”.  Under the president’s proposal, the new block grant would receive $19.4 billion, which represents a $4.8 billion cut to the covered programs. NSBA does not expect Congress to adopt the president’s request – he has sought similar cuts every year of his tenure – but the size of the proposed reductions is notable. Delivery of the president’s budget to Capitol Hill marks the beginning of the annual congressional budget process. During the coming weeks, the Senate and House appropriations committees will hold several hearings before beginning to draft the twelve separate bills that annually set funding levels for federal operations and programs.

Senate and House Focus on Cybersecurity, including Cyber Attacks on School Districts

The Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity director  testimonythis week before the Senate Homeland Security Committee that at least “89 universities, colleges, or school districts were impacted by ransomware” in 2019. This figure does not include dozens of other types of cyberattacks on school districts, including phishing and other hacks that did not feature demands for ransom, but which nonetheless were costly and compromised student, teacher, and other employee data. At the same hearing, the Executive Director of the Texas Department of Information Resources echoed DHS’s concern about schools’ network security, noting that at least 15 Texas school districtswere subject to recent ransomware attacks. Separately this week, the House Homeland Security Committee approved a bipartisan bill called the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act to “make grants to States to address cybersecurity risks and cybersecurity threats to information systems of State, local, Tribal, or territorial governments, and for other purposes.”

 Administration Updates

Administration Establishes School Safety Clearinghouse

The Trump Administration launched a new School Safety Clearinghouse website: SchoolSafety.gov. The clearinghouse is designed to serve as a “one-stop-shop of resources for K-12 administrators, educators, parents, and law enforcement to use to prepare for and address various threats related to safety, security, and support in schools.” In conjunction with the announcement, Secretary Devos said, “[a]ll students deserve a safe learning environment, and the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse is an essential resource for information and best practices…because every school community has its own unique needs, SchoolSafety.gov equips decision makers with resources for developing, customizing, and implementing actionable school safety plans.” The site includes a “School Safety Readiness Tool, an assessment that assists users in evaluating their respective school’s safety posture across 10 foundational elements of school safety.”

Department of Ed Invites Comment about Proposed Sexual Misconduct Study

Section 8546 of the Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to have laws, regulations, or policies in place that prohibit all state education agencies, districts, schools, or any school employee, contractor, or agent from “assisting an individual in obtaining new employment if they know, or have probable cause to believe, that the individual has engaged in sexual misconduct with a student or minor in violation of the law.” The U.S. Department of Education has proposed to examine the development and implementation of such laws and policies, including evaluating the challenges states are having in implementing the requirements of Section 8546. The Federal Register noticeannouncing the study indicates that it is not intended to determine compliance with this particular section of ESSA, rather it will be used to inform the Department in technical assistance efforts to states. The Department is accepting comments about the study until March 11, 2020.

Department of Ed Invites Applications for Special Education Personnel Grants

This week, the Department of Education invited applications for the following IDEA competitive grant: “Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities – Leadership Development Programs: Increasing the Capacity of Leaders to Improve Systems Serving Children with Disabilities”. This discretionary grant focuses on personnel preparation in special education, early intervention, related services, and regular education to work with children and youth with disabilities, and to ensure those personnel have the skills and knowledge to be successful serving those children. The estimated available funds for the competition are $1,600,000. Applications are due by April 13, 2020. Further information is available here.

New K-12 Bills

H.R.5854To authorize the Secretary of Education to make grants to eligible schools to assist such schools to discontinue use of a derogatory or discriminatory name or depiction as a team name, mascot, or nickname, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Pallone, Frank, Jr. [D-NJ-6]

Public Opinion Poll:The poll commissioned by NSBAC can be found by going to the NSBAC website at https://nsbac.org/. States are free to distribute or use information from the poll in newsletters or other means. We are in the process of finalizing the release of additional information and will get that to you as soon as we can.

Public Schools Week and Digital Learning Day: We want to remind everyone that Public Schools Week is from February 24 to 28, 2020 and Digital Learning Day is also during that week on Thursday, February 27, 2020. NSBA will doing advocacy and social media around both campaign events. We encourage states and local school board members to visit schools, issues proclamations, and participate in other ways around these two events to focus on local schools. NSBA will be focusing on specific topics each day and will provide additional information next week. You can learn more about Public Schools Week at https://learningfirst.org/publicschoolsweekand Digital Learning Day by visiting https://digitallearningday.org/.

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House and Senate Education Bill Introductions

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

House and Senate Education Finance and Policy Bill Introductions

For Weekly Legislative Updates See the Weekly Advocate

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Constitutional Amendment a good first step, but needs to go further to ensure funding and other challenges

Recently former Supreme Court Justice Alan Page and Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari held a summit with business and community leaders to discuss how a Constitutional Amendment could close the achievement gap.

The proposed language would replace Art. XIII, Sec. 1 of Minnesota’s constitution in its entirety, and reads:

EQUAL RIGHT TO QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION. All children have a fundamental right to a quality public education that fully prepares them with the skills necessary for participation in the economy, our democracy, and society, as measured against uniform achievement standards set forth by the state. It is a paramount duty of the state to ensure quality public schools that fulfill this fundamental right.

The current constitution reads:

UNIFORM SYSTEM OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools. The legislature shall make such provisions by taxation or otherwise as will secure a thorough and efficient system of public schools throughout the state.

MSBA President Deb Pauly, Executive Director Kirk Schneidawind, and Director of Policy and Legal Services Terry Morrow met with Justice Page and President Kashkari last week to discuss the impact of the proposal on school districts and students.

MSBA agrees with the broader goal of closing the achievement gap, but believes the amendment does not go far enough to ensure funding for education or address other challenges associated with the achievement gap.

If you want to hear more about the proposed amendment, The Fed will be offering listening sessions around the state. The first meeting is planned for 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 19, at the City Council Chambers in Mankato. To RSVP, go to https://www.minneapolisfed.org/events/2020/children-first-a-community-conversation-in-mankato-on-educating-all-children.

A second meeting is planned for 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, at 125 Live Center in Rochester. To register, go to https://www.minneapolisfed.org/events/2020/children-first-a-community-conversation-in-rochester-on-educating-all-children.

Some questions you may want to bring up are:

  • Minnesota’s public schools receive federal and state funding that is not sufficient to meet student needs. For this reason, most Minnesota schools must pursue voter-approved operating levies. Will the amendment’s phrase “paramount duty of the state” effectively end districts’ reliance on voters to approve property tax increases and operating levies?
  • Poverty has a direct and significant impact upon academic proficiency. How will this amendment address poverty and other factors-often called the opportunity gaps-that affect students throughout Minnesota?
  • The amendment refers to the ‘paramount duty’ of the state to ensure that students receive a quality education.  Can you assure locally-elected school board members that their public service will not expose them to the litigation that this amendment will likely create?
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House and Senate Education Bill Introductions

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

House and Senate Education Finance and Policy Bill Introductions

For Weekly Legislative Updates See the Weekly Advocate

 

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National School Boards Action Center (NSBAC) Released Results of National Poll

 NSBAC Publishes Voter Opinion Poll About Public Education

In conjunction with NSBA’s 2020 Advocacy Institute, the National School Boards Action Center released the results of its national poll of voter opinions and attitudes about public education, federal policymaking and key issues impacting public schools and student achievement. The poll, “America Speaks on Public Schools: Results from the 2020 NSBAC Public Education Poll,” shows that voters strongly support public schools and are opposed to taking away funds from public schools to fund for-profit charters or private schools.

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Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

Congressional Update

House Subcommittees Focus on Child Care and Workforce Challenges

This week, the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education held a hearing titled “Solving America’s Child Care Crisis: Supporting Parents, Children, and the Economy.” Subcommittee Chairman Sablan opened the hearing by noting that the cost of childcare in America has increased 2000% in the last 40 years. Ranking Member Allen noted that the federal government funds several early childcare programs and said we need to ensure the programs provide options for parents.

Senators Seek Insights from Department of Education about Early College Opportunities

A bipartisan group of 19 Senators sent a  letterto Secretary DeVos asking the Department of Education to examine how school districts are using federal funding opportunities under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to support increasing student access to high quality dual and concurrent enrollment and other early college high school programs.

Administration Update  

Administration to Publish Fiscal Year 2021 Education Budget Request

The Administration is scheduled to publish President Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget request, including proposed funding levels for the Department of Education, on Monday, February 10. As part of the announcement, the Department of Education is scheduled to hold a briefing starting at 2:00 p.m. (EST). The briefing will be livestreamed hereand thebudget materials will be posted here. Delivery of the president’s budget to Capitol Hill marks the beginning of the annual congressional budget process, including committee hearings where executive branch leaders, including Secretary DeVos, will testify about the budget request. As this process unfolds, we will begin conversations with the Senate and House about the importance of federal education programs.

President Gives State of the Union Address with Considerable Focus on Education

The President’s State of the Union had considerable focus on “choice” issues and “privatization” of public education through his call for the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act. The proposed legislation is a $5 billion federal tax credit program to fund scholarships for 1 million students to attend private school—many of which would be religiously affiliated and can restrict admittance to certain students. The scholarships are an attempt to avoid the term “vouchers” though they operate in much the same way. By giving an individual a tax credit so they can give it to a scholarship program, the scheme simply eliminates the money flowing directly from the government but the impact to public education is the same and since the money directly flows from other sources there are less safeguards to protect students. The result is that government has $5 billion less at the end of the day to fund public education and other important programs. The National School Boards Action Center released a poll the day prior to the State of the Union that found that 73% of likely voters agree with the statement we should NOT take away public funds from our public schools to fund private, religious, and home school education. Moreover, 64% of voters are much less likely to vote for an elected official who supports taking away funds from public schools to give to private schools, including 47% who would be much less likely to do so. The poll received considerable media attention. Data and messaging learned through the poll will play a valuable part of the advocacy agenda throughout the year. The SOU also included language highlighting the President’s recent activity on prayer in school.

New K-12 Legislation

 

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