Three simple messages Congress needs to hear from school board members during the August Congressional Recess

MSBA has been monitoring the progress of the three most timely education topics on Capitol Hill. We are cautiously optimistic that meaningful legislation will result when Congress returns in September. Now is the time to make our voice heard with three simple messages on three issues that have potential to become law:

  1. Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
  • One Simple Message: Increase flexibility and authority for locally elected school boards.
  1. Fiscal Year 2016 Federal Funding for Public Education and Sequestration
  • One Simple Message: Fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Support a ten-year plan to achieve full-funding.
  1. Reauthorization of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (which authorizes the school lunch program)
  • One Simple Message: Restore local school board authority in reauthorization of Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

 Scroll down for more information about these three important issues.


Reauthorization of ESEA

Background: This year, Congress made significant progress to reauthorize ESEA in both bodies. Both bills reaffirm the importance of local control and community leadership in our school districts. However, much more work remains to keep these bills moving through the legislative process. In this regard, both bills must be reconciled and re-voted upon by both the House and the Senate before it can go to the President for his signature.

Talking Points:

  • Thank you for making public education one of the most important issues before this Congress.
  • Keep the momentum going to reauthorize and modernize ESEA this fall while the differences between the two bills are reconciled.
  • Give the President a final bill to sign that reaffirms local governance and decision-making in public education and rejects private school vouchers.
  • School boards have meaningful language in both the House (H.R. 5, Sec. 6531) and Senate (S. 1177, Sec. 9540A) bills to prevent coercive, misguided policies. Please continue to support these provisions.

Here is a sample email (as provided by National School Boards Association) that you can send to your U.S. Senator or Representative:

Dear Senator or Representative [name)],

As a school board member from [list school district] representing [list number of students], I want to thank you and your colleagues on both sides of the political aisle for making public education one of the most important issues before this Congress. I ask that you keep the momentum going to reauthorize and modernize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) this fall while the differences between the two bills are reconciled. Please give the President a final bill to sign that reaffirms local-governance and decision making in public education and rejects private school vouchers.

School boards have unique language in both the House (H.R. 5, Sec. 6531) and Senate (S. 1177, Sec. 9540A) bills to prevent coercive, misguided policies.

I ask that you please continue to support these provisions as the bill continues its journey to the President.

I thank you for making public education a priority and for considering my requests.

Sincerely,

[Your name]


Fiscal Year 2016 Federal Funding for Public Education

Background: The House Appropriations Committee bill would raise the federal investment in special education grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by $500 million, and would sustain funding for Title I grants for disadvantaged students. The Senate Appropriations Committee’s respective bill would also increase the IDEA investment by $125 million and would provide an additional $150 million to Title I grants.

Talking Points:

Protect education as an investment critical to economic stability and American competitiveness, including Title I and IDEA.

Your leadership and involvement in bipartisan discussions will be critical to amend the Budget Control Act and forge a solution that will address the across-the-board cuts to education that would affect our students and communities.


Child Nutrition

Background: The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (the current version of the Child Nutrition Act), expires on September 30, 2015. It authorizes six federal food programs, including the school lunch and breakfast programs. Over 30 million children rely on these programs as part of their educational experience.

Many districts report increased costs, decreased participation and other unintended consequences that challenge school districts’ ability to deliver on the law’s promise. Whole grain requirements and sodium reduction targets are two examples, but inadequate federal reimbursement, competitive food standards and new reporting/administrative requirements also present operational and fiscal challenges.

Talking Points:

  • Craft a child nutrition reauthorization bill that gives local school districts the authority and flexibility to make adjustments honoring the spirit and intent of the law so they can provide students with healthy, nutritious and appetizing meals that children need to succeed.

About mnmsba

The Minnesota School Boards Association, a leading advocate for public education, supports, promotes and strengthens the work of public school boards.
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