July 14, 2016
July 8, 2016
July 1, 2016
July 14, 2016
Reach out while Congress is back home
Congress has headed for the exits for a seven-week recess (until September 6). When you’re not at the pool or getting your classroom or school ready, please take the opportunity to reach out to your members of Congress while they’re back home and schedule a meeting to discuss what’s happening in your school and what your students need. And, continue to weigh in on ESSA implementation, education funding, and other critical issues via the Legislative Action Center. The Education Insider will also take a recess unless developments warrant updates or action.
Just 2 weeks left to submit comments on ESSA regulations!
Educators have submitted thousands of comments to the Department of Education on the proposed regulations on accountability provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). But there are still 2 weeks to add your voice!
The draft regulations would continue the overemphasis on standardized testing and limit the role of opportunity indicators in new accountability plans. How educators react is of paramount importance—now is the time to speak up! We have until August 1 to raise concerns and make sure the new law becomes the game changer it promised to be. Check out the proposed regulations, and then click on the button and submit your comments. And for more information about ESSA and help with implementation, check out getessaright.org.
House committee votes to cut education funding by $1.3 billion
Discretionary education funding was slashed by more than $1.3 billion in the NEA-opposed FY2017 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill passed by a House committee this week. By flat-funding Title I, the bill threatens the Every Student Succeeds Act’s potential to enhance opportunities for America’s students. The bill also cuts funding for professional development and class size reduction, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Pell grants, and eliminates the magnet school program entirely. Policy riders unrelated to education, also part of the bill, prohibit any funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct research related to gun violence, and block the National Labor Relations Board from enforcing rules that facilitate union elections.
Before October 1, the start of the new fiscal year, Congress is expected to pass a short-term funding bill possibly into December, and then complete work on a year-end bill during the lame duck session. With more than 16 million children living in poverty, America needs to invest more—not less—in education to help close opportunity gaps. Click on the button and tell Congress the year-end bill must do better by students and make greater investments in the students most in need.
House committee defers action on Social Security offsets
Due to bipartisan concerns about potential cuts in payments to Social Security beneficiaries, the House Ways and Means Committee deferred action on the Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act (H.R. 711). In its current form, the bill would create new winners and losers among retirees subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO), which unfairly penalize and reduce the Social Security benefits of millions of educators and other public employees. H.R. 711 attempts to address inequities perpetuated by the WEP, but broadens its impact and fails to address the GPO, which reduces Social Security spousal and survivor benefits.
NEA will continue working with the Committee toward a better bill and we strongly support the Social Security Fairness Act (S. 1651/H.R. 973), which would fully repeal both the GPO and WEP. Click on the take action button and tell Congress to fully repeal the GPO and WEP.
Tell Congress to take common-sense steps to prevent gun violence
Despite the appalling level of gun violence that claims lives daily, neither the House nor the Senate took further action before adjourning until September. In fact, the House failed to take a single vote on any gun violence measure even as the issue takes on heightened interest from voters demanding action.
Keep the pressure on! NEA’s calls to action have sparked nearly 15,000 emails to Congress. Click on the button and tell your representatives to support common-sense reforms to help prevent gun violence and keep our children and communities safe.
Cheers and Jeers
Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) for offering amendments to the education funding bill to restore cuts in Pell grants, other education programs, and the magnet schools program, and reverse the ban on CDC research on gun violence; the amendments failed
Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA)for offering an amendment to the education funding bill to eliminate ideological policy provisions such as blocking the gainful employment regulation that safeguards higher education students, recent Administration guidance to protect transgender students, and preventing the National Labor Relations Board from enforcing its own rules on union elections; the amendment failed
Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) for offering amendments to the education funding bill to increase funding for the CDC’s lead poisoning prevention program, and to restore year-round Pell Grants; the amendments failed
Representative David Price (D-NC)for offering an amendment to the education funding bill restore the $400 million cut in teacher quality state grants; the amendment failed
Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA)for convening and chairing a forum on school segregation in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, and Representatives Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Mark Takano (D-CA)for their thoughtful questions on the issue.
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH)for introducing the “Stronger Together School Diversity Act” aimed at increasing socioeconomic and racial diversity in our schools.
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member on the HELP Committee, for her forceful and pointed comments about the Department’s ESSA regulations during a hearing this week.
GOP House Leadership for failing to bring to the floor for an up or down vote any bill to help reduce the epidemic of gun violence, including even bipartisan bills to require background checks on gun purchases or to help close the “no fly, no buy” loophole.
July 8, 2016
Speak up for students: Comment today on ESSA regulations
Activists back home—like you—need to speak up today and join the thousands of delegates at NEA’s annual meeting who submitted comments on proposed regulations drafted by the U.S. Department of Education to implement accountability provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The proposed regulations limit the role of opportunity indicators in state-developed accountability plans, do not truly base accountability on multiple measures, and continue to over-emphasize testing.
How educators react is of paramount importance—now is the time to speak up! We have until August 1 to raise concerns and make sure the new law becomes the game changer it promised to be. Check out the proposed regulations, and then click on the button and submit your comments. And for more information about ESSA and help with implementation, check out getessaright.org.
House moving on career tech renewal bill
Students from middle school through high school, college and beyond could benefit from the bipartisan career tech renewal bill passed unanimously by the House Education and the Workforce Committee on July 7. The NEA-supported Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 5587) reflects many of NEA’s key principles and recommendations.
In addition to involving educators in more state and local decision-making processes than ever before, H.R. 5587 strengthens professional development, especially with regard to English-language learners and special needs students; seeks to close the skills gap; and allows local programs flexibility to address local labor market needs. Concerns include language about maintenance of state funding efforts, which could lead to a loss of resources for students and schools. Click on the button and urge your representative to support strengthening career and technical education.
Urge Congress to vote to prevent gun violence
Infighting among Republicans scuttled GOP leadership’s plan to vote this week on even a watered-down, NRA-backed bill on gun purchases by suspected terrorists. Meanwhile, House Democrats, who previously held a sit-in, again took to the floor to demand an up-or-down vote on bipartisan legislation on universal background checks for gun purchases. This time, Democrats went to the microphones, held photos, and shared names of victims of gun violence.
NEA’s calls to action have sparked more than 13,000 emails to Congress. Keep the pressure on! Click on the button and tell Congress to pass common-sense gun reforms to help make children and communities safer.
House bill cuts education funding by $1.3 billion
In a party-line vote on July 7, the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees education spending approved a bill that cuts education funding by $1.3 billion in FY2017, with inadequate funding for Title I and deep cuts to teacher quality state grants. The bill also blocks Administration action on the “gainful employment” rule aimed at cracking down on for-profit colleges that contribute to high student debt. The full committee is expected to mark up the NEA-opposed bill next week. Click on the button and tell Congress to provide our students with the resources they need, especially as schools begin implementing ESSA.
Cheers and Jeers
Senate HELP Committee chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA), recipients of NEA’s 2016 Friends of Education Award at the Representative Assembly
Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA), Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IL) for addressing their respective state caucuses at the NEA Representative Assembly on issues ranging from ESSA to opportunity and equity, and to retiring Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) for addressing the NEA GOP Educator’s Caucus.
Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Democratic whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) for vowing to continue the fight for thoughtful gun legislation and votes—including “no fly, no buy” and universal background checks—at a gun rally that NEA participated in, held on the steps of the Capitol this week.
Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and Barbara Lee (D-CA) for introducing amendments to an FY2017 funding measure that would restore cuts in programs for children, families and education, and lift the ban on having the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct research related to gun violence.
53 senators who voted for the NEA-opposed Stop Sanctuaries Cities Act (S. 3100); the measure failed.
239 representatives who voted for the NEA-opposed House Financial Services and General Government FY2017 appropriations bill, which also renews the private school voucher program in the District of Columbia.
July 1, 2016
Take action: Submit YOUR comments on ESSA regulations
“A law is only as good as its implementation,” Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, told Education Secretary Dr. John King at a June 29 hearing on proposed regulations drafted by the U.S. Department of Education to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
At the hearing, several senators stressed the need to engage stakeholders, especially educators, in the decision-making process.
Another concern was the timeline for implementing the new law—getting it right is more important than going fast, senators said. “When we wrote the law, we envisioned that states would have time to transition to the law,” said Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
Senators also stressed the importance and value of the new “opportunity indicators” ESSA requires. Senators repeatedly told King to look—and listen—to them if there is any confusion about congressional intent in this or any other area. “The words we used were debated and carefully and deliberately chosen. We meant for the words to mean what they say—nothing more, nothing less,” Sen. Alexander noted.
NEA’s concerns with the proposed regulations echo those expressed during the hearing, including limiting the role of opportunity indicators in state accountability plans, truly basing those plans on multiple measures, and continuing to over-emphasize testing.
How educators react to the draft regulations is of paramount importance—now is the time to speak up! We have until August 1 to make our concerns heard and make sure the new law becomes the game changer it promised to be.
Check out the proposed regulations, and then click on the button and submit your comments. And for more information about ESSA and help with implementation, check out getessaright.org
Tell Congress: Pass common-sense gun reforms to make children and communities safer
Building on last week’s sit-in on the House floor, Democrats declared Wednesday a “National Day of Action” and held rallies in San Francisco, Chicago, Austin, San Antonio, Louisville, and other cities across the country to dramatize the need for common-sense reforms to help prevent gun violence. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has announced the House will vote next week on an NRA-backed gun measure. Democrats have also indicated they may revive their sit-in.
The public wants Congress to take sensible action, with 86 percent of voters supporting the “no-fly, no-buy” approach to prevent potential terrorists from purchasing firearms and 93 percent supporting universal background checks, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll, released June 30.
Already, NEA’s calls to action have sparked more than 10,000 emails to Congress. Keep the pressure on! Click on the button and tell Congress to pass common-sense gun reforms to make children and communities safer.
House moving on career tech renewal bill
As early as next week, the House Education and the Workforce Committee could take up the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act” (H.R. 5587), a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career Technical Education Act. The bill released this week reflects many of NEA’s key principles and recommendations to Congress with regard to career and technical education (CTE). We applaud the bill’s professional development provisions, particularly those related to students with special needs and English-language learners; the specific involvement of CTE educators in more of the decision-making process; early exposure to CTE for the middle grades; and local flexibility related to labor market demands. At the same time, we are concerned that the bill adjusts a funding mechanism that could create a loss of resources at the local level. Click on the button to tell the House what you want to see in a CTE renewal.
House Committee may vote soon on Social Security offset plan
The House Ways and Means Committee may soon vote on a plan to attempt to address some of the inequities created by the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) that unfairly penalizes and reduce Social Security benefits earned by educators and other public employees. However, the bill (H.R. 711) also creates new winners and losers.
Among NEA’s concerns with HR 711 are: 1) It does not address the Government Pension Offset (GPO); 2) It will widen the impact of WEP to more individuals; 3) It eliminates the exemption from GPO/WEP for those with 30 years or more in the system; 4) It would pay for the change by increasing enforcement of GPO and could result in over 10 times more people who lose benefits compared to those who gain benefits. In short, we should not rob Peter to pay Paul to solve theexisting problem.
NEA continues to strongly support the Social Security Fairness Act (S. 1651/H.R. 973), which would fully repeal the GPO and WEP. Click on the take action button and tell Congress to fully repeal both the GPO and WEP.
Cheers and Jeers
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at the ESSA hearing for noting that many low-income students are attending schools where they don’t have access to the classes and programs they need.
Senator Al Franken (D-MN) at the ESSA hearing for asserting how important it is for school districts to focus on students’ mental health issues.
Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) for stressing the importance of including educators’ voices throughout the ESSA implementation process.
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) for noting that the draft ESSA regulations impose more requirements than the law itself, particularly with regard to the summative rating for schools.
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) for speaking at NEA’s Student Leadership Conference on college affordability and Senate Democrats’ “In the Red” campaign.
Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and 22 Democratic senators for their letter to Senate leaders requesting removal from an appropriations bill of a long-standing provision that prevents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting research on gun violence.
Representatives Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Bob Dold (R-IL), Scott Rigell(R-VA), Robin Kelly (D-IL), John Carney (D-DE), Peter King (R-NY), Mike Thompson (D-CA), and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) for introducing a compromise measure related to the “no fly, no buy” proposal to limit gun purchases by suspected terrorists.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for teeing up votes next week on anti-immigration bills, including barring distribution of federal funds to states and local communities with humane immigration policies – a bill from Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA).