Legislative News

Wednesday, 1 July, 2015

FY 2016 Education Appropriations Budget Chart

Washington Partners has prepared the budget in the link below for Triangle Coalition for STEM Education.

There was much activity in FY 2016 education appropriations during the week of June 22-26, please click the link below to access the updated budget chart, based on the numbers in the House and Senate bills released and debated recently.

Budget Chart FY 2016

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Wednesday, 13 May, 2015

2016 Budget Plan Troubling to Education Advocates

Members of the House were not in Washington, DC when the Senate passed the FY 2016 budget resolution that the House approved over a week ago. The spending plan for next fiscal year almost ensures that education spending will not grow and will then likely see significant cuts in future years. The Committee for Education Funding—a large group of organizations that advocates for federal investments in education—sent Congress a letter warning of the adverse effects of the spending plan. The letter said that if the discretionary cuts required by the budget resolution are applied equally to all agencies, the Department of Education would be cut by about $3.5 billion in FY 2017, and Head Start, which is run through by the Department of Health and Human Services, would be cut by $421 million. It urges Congress to fix sequestration and adequately invest in the programs that are crucial to domestic policy priorities.

While the content of the budget plan is troubling to education advocates, its passage means that FY 2016 spending decisions are officially in the hands of the appropriations panels and subcommittees, and associations, organizations and advocates will be meeting with appropriators and their staff in coming weeks. Even though Republicans came to the 114th Congress committed to devising an FY 2016 federal budget via “regular order,” the spending levels in the plan, veto threats from the White House on any bill that adheres to sequestration spending levels, partisan rhetoric and a presidential campaign that gets closer by the second suggest that government shutdown showdowns are ahead.

There hasn’t been any news about when the Senate or House might debate their respective Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization proposals. Senate leadership still hopes to have the Every Child Achieves Act on the floor after the Memorial Day recess. Staff working for Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) have filed the Committee Report on the bill, which has finally been formally introduced and has a bill number—S. 1177. While leadership has the bill slated for floor debate in June, staff have been told to stand ready for action, in case there are any changes to the schedule. In the House, there hasn’t been any news regarding how they might address HR 5, the Student Success Act, after it was pulled from the floor months ago. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) will surely be watching the Senate floor debate of S. 1177 closely. If it ends with Senate passage of an ESEA reauthorization, he might decide to see if that bill can win enough votes on his side of the Capitol to get a revised ESEA to the President’s desk by the end of the year.

Prepared for Triangle Coalition for STEM Education by Washington Partners, LLC

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Wednesday, 18 February, 2015

House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Tech and Student Data Privacy

Last Thursday, the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education held a hearing, “How Emerging Technology Affects Student Privacy,” the Subcommittee’s first hearing in the 114th Congress.  Members generally agreed on the importance of leveraging technology in the classroom while maintaining student data privacy.  Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) argued that it is imperative to hold “bad actors” accountable, but affirmed the innovative uses of technology in the classroom that are evident by the success of individualized, blended and distance learning.  Chairman Rokita asked the witnesses to conclude the hearing with succinct takeaways for Members to consider.

Shannon Sevier, vice president for advocacy at the National Parent Teacher Association, advocated for parents to be consulted [more often] on the use of their children’s data and for clearer permissible uses of student data in schools.  Allyson Knox, director of education policy and programs at Microsoft, claimed that it is possible to “strike a balance” in protecting students data while encouraging innovative learning.  Dr. Sheryl Abshire, chief technology officer at Calcasieu Parish Public Schools in Lake Charles, LA, urged the Subcommittee to carefully consider the effects of changing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and to seek professional input throughout the process.  Joel Reidenberg, founding academic director at Fordham Law Schools’ Center on Law and Information Policy, said that a modernization of FERPA should protect all student information, not only educational records, and that privacy protections should be required by all participants, not only schools.  For more information, go to: http://edworkforce.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=398317.

 

 

Prepared for Triangle Coalition for STEM Education by Washington Partners, LLC

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Friday, 13 February, 2015

House Education and the Workforce Committee Holds Markup of HR 5

On Wednesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee hosted a very well-attended, ten-hour markup to debate and amend legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  The bill was last reauthorized in 2002, and Congress has been trying to reauthorize current statute since 2007.  The debated bill is a revised version of the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), which was passed by the House in June 2013.  Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) reintroduced an updated version of the bill on February 4 and decided to bring H.R. 5 directly to markup without holding a single hearing, which infuriated the Democratic Members of the Committee.  After a 10-hour markup of H.R. 5—with the consideration of 26 amendments—the Democratic substitute amendment failed by a party line vote of 16 to 21, along with 18 other Democratic amendments that were defeated.  Chairman Kline’s manager’s amendment, as further amended through the proceedings, was passed by a vote of 21 to 16.  The bill will be reported out favorably to the House by the Committee, with an expected floor debate during that last week of February.

Washington Partners wrote a full summary of the markup, which can be found at: http://wpllc.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/HouseEandWSSAMarkupFeb112015.pdf and for an archived webcast of the markup, go to: http://edworkforce.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=398329.

 

Prepared for Triangle Coalition for STEM Education by Washington Partners, LLC

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Wednesday, 11 February, 2015

Support K-12 Engineering Education Legislation

Submitted by  Patti Curtis, Director, Washington Office for the National Center for Technological Literacy at the Museum of Science, Boston.

This week, Congressional Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY), Joe Kennedy, III (D-MA), David McKinley (R-WV), Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) plan to reintroduce the Educating Tomorrow’s Engineers Act (ETEA) in advance of Engineers Week. They are currently seeking organizational supporters.  If your organization would like to support this legislation, please contact Patti Curtis at curtisp@mos.org. Triangle Coalition for STEM Education is proud to continue its support of this bill.

ETEA amends the current Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  They are also working on simpler amendment language to the House and Senate committee bills that will embed engineering and computer science into these proposals.  ETEA lays the groundwork for the amendment process.

Additional information:

 

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Wednesday, 11 February, 2015

House Committee Holds Hearing on School and Workplace Opportunities

Last Wednesday, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing, “State of American Schools and Workplaces: Expanding Opportunity in America’s Schools and Workplaces,” that covered a broad range of issue areas, including, career and technical education, early childhood education, the minimum wage, the demand for manufacturing jobs, immigration, and other topics.  The hearing—the first of the 114th Congress—revealed priorities for some new Members of the Committee and demonstrated the frustration of Democrats at Chairman John Kline’s (R-MN) quick timeline for consideration of legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Governor Mike Pence (R) of Indiana testified as a witness and discussed his vision for high schools in his state—a vision that includes more school choice and pathways for career and technical education.  Throughout the hearing, bipartisan support for career and technical education was evident, with the caveat that such pathways do not eclipse traditional academics.  The future of manufacturing was discussed at length, with Democratic Members favoring an increased minimum wage and modernized labor standards that include paid sick leave, while Republican Members argued against increased federal control, contending that regulatory burden will hinder America’s global competitiveness.  For more information about the hearing, including written testimony and an archived webcast, go to: http://edworkforce.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=398288.

 

Prepared for Triangle Coalition for STEM Education by Washington Partners, LLC

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Wednesday, 11 February, 2015

House Ed and Workforce Committee Democrats Hold Forum on ESEA

On Thursday, Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) conducted a forum with committee members, educators, researchers and advocates in an effort to better inform efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  In his opening statement Ranking Member Scott said, “Unfortunately, the Republicans on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce have chosen to move forward with their reauthorization process without holding a single committee hearing or seeking any input from Democrats.”  Over the course of three hours, panelists presented their perspectives of success in current statute—known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)—as well as their views on the House Republican ESEA bill.

Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of Great City Schools, noted that the funding mechanisms in Chairman John Kline’s (R-MN) ESEA reauthorization bill will “fatally undermine the intent of Title I funding and lead to a ‘disinvestment’ in public education.”  Katrina Kickbush, a teacher at Wolfe Street Academy Public Charter School in Baltimore, MD, spoke to the need for continued targeted funding in high need districts and schools, such as hers in Baltimore.  She also stated that adding a “student growth dimension” to teacher evaluations would help that process truly reflect the type of education that schools are providing.  Katy Neas, executive vice president for public affairs at Easter Seals, highlighted key outcomes that are a direct result of greater access to the general curriculum for students with disabilities (e.g., increased graduation rates) due to NCLB requiring that the performance of all students mattered “for the first time in our educational history.”  Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, said we need to “double down” on educating our students and to “not let up” on annual assessment and accountability for performance and graduation outcomes for all students in a new ESEA reauthorization.

For an archived version of the forum, go to:  http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/blog/watch-live-committee-holds-forum-esea-reauthorizationrewriting-no-child-left-behind-nclb-most.

 

Prepared for Triangle Coalition for STEM Education by Washington Partners, LLC

 

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Monday, 9 February, 2015

Senate HELP Committee Hosts Roundtable Discussion on Innovation

On Tuesday, February 3, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a roundtable discussion titled, “Fixing No Child Left Behind (NCLB): Innovation to Better Meet the Needs of Students.”  It was the third—and final—scheduled hearing regarding the NCLB reauthorization.  Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) convened the roundtable by noting nine points of contention that he asserts need to be resolved to better serve the goals of K-12 education.  He also strongly criticized the federal government for becoming “mandaters” in K-12 education policy instead of enablers of quality teaching and learning.

Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) focused on a child’s right to a quality public education—one that would make them ready for success in college or the workforce after high school graduation—in her opening remarks.  She asserted that it is the role of the federal government to empower innovation in states to close achievement gaps and provide opportunities for students to succeed.

At the end of the roundtable discussion, Alexander gave each panelist the opportunity to share brief remarks on points and arguments they might want Committee members to take away from the discussion.  Notably, Dr. Susan Kessler, executive principal at Hunters Lane High School in Nashville, TN, declared that we must stop using “one test on one day” to evaluate student performance or to blame teachers and districts; she emphasized the need to recognize the teaching profession in a positive way, as teachers have devoted their careers to helping children.

Dr. James McIntyre, Jr., superintendent of Knox County Schools in Knoxville, TN, noted that the federal government should assure that every state has rigorous expectations and standards, but it should not dictate those standards.  He also stated that reasonable accountability systems, tied to standards and objectives, would allow for flexibility and innovation in schools.  Dr. Robert Balfanz, research professor for the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, asserted that schools need to implement evidence-based teaching in conjunction with evidence-based student support.  He suggested that some portion of Title I funding be available for these strategies in exchange for regulatory relief.  Henriette Taylor, community school coordinator at the Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School in Baltimore, MD, stressed the importance of wraparound services that provide for the health and wellbeing of students; she emphasized that wraparound services are necessary for a teacher to successfully teach.  Ken Bradford, assistant superintendent of the Louisiana Department of Education in Baton Rouge, LA, noted the need to preserve annual assessments and accountability because they allow us to know if innovative solutions are working. These assessments are not weapons, he said, but tools to drive innovation and transparency.

In closing the discussion, Alexander said he hopes to have a final bill “soon.”  It has been reported unofficially that he intends to markup a bill later this month.  For more information about the hearing, including written testimony and an archived webcast, go to: http://www.help.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=b7082021-5056-a032-5289-1341f4ce3f01.

 

Prepared for Triangle Coalition for STEM Education by Washington Partners, LLC

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Sunday, 1 February, 2015

Senate HELP Committee Passes ESRA Reauthorization

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held an organizational meeting and a markup of the Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA), introduced by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA).  The legislation would amend and reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) through fiscal year 2021, which authorizes the funding of research activities at the U.S. Department of Education.  A nearly identical bill was passed through the Senate HELP Committee in the 113th Congress as a substitute to the House reauthorization of ESRA after a bipartisan, bicameral agreement was agreed upon.

The current bill, S. 227, would make changes to the Institute for Education Sciences; make education research more accessible to teachers and more relevant at the state and local levels; and require collaboration and reduce unnecessary duplication of research efforts.  In addition, the bill strengthens the National Assessment Governing Board and its responsibility for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—that provides biennial information on the academic achievement and progress of elementary and secondary school students.  SETRA passed out of the HELP Committee with unanimous support, and was lauded by leadership on both sides for improving the research that will be made available for educators to utilize in better teaching their students.  Murray commented on the passage of the bill [out of the HELP Committee] saying, “Strengthening education research will give teachers, school leaders, and policymakers valuable information on what works in the classroom.”

Read more in the HELP Committee’s press release and view the full text of the bill here.

 

Prepared for Triangle Coalition for STEM Education by Washington Partners, LLC

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Friday, 30 January, 2015

HELP Committee Examines Teacher and Principal Training

On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing, “Fixing No Child Left Behind (NCLB): Supporting Teachers and School Leaders.”  It was the second of three planned hearings regarding the NCLB reauthorization led by the new Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN).  While the mood of the hearing was relatively friendly, it was clear that there were partisan differences about the federal role as it relates to teacher and principal training as well as professional development.  The draft bill offered by Chairman Alexander, earlier this month, includes a new and controversial provision that creates full flexibility in both Title II and Title IV by allowing states and districts to make decisions about the use of these funds with full interchangeability.

Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) explained that the intent of Title II flexibility is to give states and districts the ability to meet their local needs without being mandated by Congress to spend money on anything specific, such as training and technical assistance.  Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) began her statement by saying, “One of our best investments in kids is to invest in teachers” and lamented about the lack of dedicated funding for teachers in the draft ESEA bill.  One area of clear common ground was the Committee’s appreciation of witness Rachelle Moore, a 1st grade teacher with a student body primarily comprised of at-risk students.  Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) went so far as to actually bow down to her.  Chairman Alexander concluded the hearing by thanking the Committee members and panelists for what he called a “very helpful” hearing.  He noted that it was the second hearing in which he and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) agreed on the panel of witnesses, which he believes makes the hearing more bipartisan and more useful.  Murray echoed Alexander’s thanks and concluded, “We want to fix NCLB in a bipartisan way.”  More information about the hearing, including written testimony and an archived webcast, can be found here.

 

Prepared for Triangle Coalition for STEM Education by Washington Partners, LLC

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