May 27, 2016
May 20, 2016
May 13, 2016
May 27, 2016
ED releases proposed “regs” on ESSA accountability
The U.S. Department of Education released on Thursday, May 26 proposed regulations for implementing the accountability provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said about our initial review of the regulations: “We want to ensure that the Department of Education’s proposed accountability regulation, as well as its forthcoming regulations, uses every tool at our disposal to ensure that each and every student in America receives not just the same opportunities and resources, but equitable opportunities to succeed. We also want to make sure that the regulations capture the spirit of the bipartisan law that called for educators, parents, and communities to be full participants in designing their own state accountability systems that work for students and reflect ESSA’s clear rejection of the test-label-punish regime of the failed No Child Left Behind law.”
While a Congressional hearing is likely in the coming weeks as members of Congress weigh in, it will be paramount that the voices of educators play a major role in what the Department hears before issuing the final regulations. The comment period starts May 31 and closes August 1.
NEA will share very soon more information on what we want to see in the final regulation. And to the point above, we will also encourage educators to submit comments so that the regulations indeed help fulfill the promise of ESSA to improve the education of all students.
Students take to D.C. to support incarcerated classmates
Five classmates of a group of North Carolina students currently incarcerated in a federal detention center as part of recent raids by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) traveled to Washington, D.C. this week with their teacher to raise awareness of the problem.
“I want elected officials to know that this is not just an immigration problem. It’s an education problem,” said Pamela González, a high school senior and classmate of Wildin Acosta, who was arrested by ICE while on his way to school in January. Acosta fled gang violence in Honduras to join his family in the U.S., where he was on track to graduate in June and has been studying to become an engineer.
The students participated in a panel discussion with members of Congress sponsored by NEA and other leading advocates for immigration reform. They also met with Education Secretary John King and Department of Homeland Security officials.
“I’ve seen students break down in tears in class. They’re afraid that their families, their friends won’t be home when they get there,” said high school senior and aspiring teacher Morgan Whithaus.
Read more about their efforts in Washington this week.
Tell Congress to increase funding for students most in need
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is expected to offer an NEA-opposed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 2943) after the Memorial Day recess that would boost defense spending by $17 billion while ignoring the precedent of also ensuring an equal increase to non-defense programs as provided by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.
As states and school districts begin implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), it is essential for Congress to increase Title I funding, especially for programs serving the students most in need. Click on the button and urge Congress to boost funding for Title I, IDEA and early education.
Take advantage of Congressional recess to meet with Members
Congress is on its Memorial Day recess, which presents another opportunity for educators to connect in person with Members of Congress to discuss issues like ESSA implementation, funding, and more. Set up a meeting with them while they are home. “Recess” ends June 6 for Congress. Check out our new Legislative Action Center for ideas on key issues you can raise.
Cheers and Jeers
Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC), Congressional Black Caucus chair G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) and Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) for sponsoring and participating in the briefing this week with classmates of North Carolina students incarcerated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Congressional Black Caucus Chair G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Representative Sanford Bishop (D-GA) for visiting student Wildin Acosta at the federal detention center in Georgia where ICE official sent him following an immigration raid.
Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) for reintroducing his amendment to bar federal contractors that discriminate against LGBT employees. Unlike last week, the resolution passed this week with 43 Republicans joining all voting Democrats in support. The House later rejected the entire Energy and Water Appropriations bill amid broader GOP pushback on the amendment.
Representative Robert Pittenger (R-NC) for planning to introduce an amendment to every appropriations bill to block the administration from withholding federal funds to North Carolina due to a new state law preventing people from using bathrooms based on their gender identity.
Representative Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services, for including in its appropriations bill the full reauthorization of the Washington, D.C. private school voucher program.
May 20, 2016
Nine educators head to DC to make the case for nine justices
Nine civics, history, and social studies teachers came to Washington this week, the 62nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Brown v Board of Education. Their mission: to advocate for congressional action on the President’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, chief judge of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
During their visit, the educators lobbied their senators, including Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. To draw attention to Judge Garland’s sterling qualifications and the importance of having the full complement of nine justices, they attended a mock hearing conducted by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. They also participated in a lively roundtable discussion at the White House with senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett and chief of staff to the president Denis McDonough.
“It’s hard to explain to students, who believe they should be able to trust what they’ve learned about the constitution and our system of government,” said Marisol García, a middle school teacher from Phoenix. “Students understand expectations, and they don’t understand why senators aren’t meeting theirs.”
The Supreme Court has already considered—and may revisit—nearly every issue that matters to educators: the right to equal access to free public education, America’s promise of equal opportunity, school funding, private school vouchers, access to health care, fair elections, and more. More than 16,000 educators have signed a petition urging Senate Republicans to hold a hearing and an up-or-down vote on Judge Garland. Click on the button and add your signature to the petition telling the Senate to do its job.
HELP Committee holds second hearing on implementing ESSA
NEA president Lily Eskelsen García testified on May 18 before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as congressional leaders and the Department of Education vigorously debate the regulatory process for the new law.
“At this critical juncture, the devil is in the details. Those details are complex, as is our mission: developing new state accountability systems built around multiple measures, not just standardized test scores,” she said. “Educators and other stakeholders must stand up, speak out, and advocate for their students. And all of us must insist on keeping the focus where it belongs: on equity and opportunity for all students, no matter what zip code they live in.”
House committee passes NEA-opposed child nutrition bill
On May 18, the House Education and the Workforce Committee marked up and passed, on a party-line vote, the NEA-opposed Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act (H.R. 5003), which could cause more children to go hungry, threaten access to school meals, and create additional administrative burdens for schools and districts at the same time they are implementing ESSA. Check out NEA’s letter for more on why we urged Committee members to vote “no.”
Given the contentious markup, it is unclear when the bill will be considered on the House floor. Click on the button and tell Congress to reauthorize child nutrition programs the right way—students need to be well-nourished to succeed.
Cheers and Jeers
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Democratic members of the Committee, and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) for holding a mock hearing on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Sen. Leahy personally thanked the nine NEA civics, history, and social studies teachers who attended the hearing.
Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) for being the only Republican to cross party lines and join Democrats in opposing a harmful block grant for child nutrition programs.
Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) for offering and Reps. Lou Barletta (R-PA), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Joe Heck (R-NV) for joining Democrats in supporting an amendment to the child nutrition bill to compensate school food service workers for training required to ensure healthy school meals.
Representative Mark Takano (D-CA) for offering an amendment to remove harmful provisions of the child nutrition bill that could cause eligible children to lose access to school meals, as well as increase the administrative burden on schools and districts at the same time they are implementing ESSA.
Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) for offering an amendment to undo drastic changes in the community eligibility provision of the child nutrition bill that would impact 3.4 million students in 7,000 high-poverty schools.
213 House Republicans who voted against an amendment by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) that would have barred federal contractors from securing government funding if they discriminate against the LGBT community. (The amendment failed by one vote even though 29 Republicans supported it, along with all the Democrats who were present.)
Representative Glenn Grothman (R-WI) for offering an amendment (it failed) to turn the entire child nutrition program into a block grant that would limit students’ access to school meals and other nutrition programs.
May 13, 2016
NEA Members discuss child nutrition with House leaders
Ranking member of the House Education and Workforce Committee Bobby Scott (D-VA) invited school food service workers to share their experiences working with school meals programs with Democratic members of the Committee Thursday, May 12. NEA secretary-treasurer Princess Moss; NEA member Shan Lighty-Green of Richmond, Virginia; NEA member Pat Lieberman of Sayreville, New York; and NEA board member Donna West of Scottsboro, Alabama discussed the importance of school meals to hungry children, healthy eating, and ensuring access to training for school food service workers who prepare and serve healthy meals.
The discussion took place as the Committee inches toward a potential markup to reauthorize the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which governs school meal and other child nutrition programs. NEA is urging the Committee to preserve the community eligibility program, a nationwide option that currently allows 7,000 high-poverty schools to provide all 3.4 million of their students with healthy free meals. NEA’s priorities also include preserving the current guidelines for healthy school meals, improving training for school food service professionals, and strengthening programs that provide meals for kids when school is out. Click on the button and tell Congress to take action on child nutrition.
White House honors ESPs as ‘Champions of Change’
Five NEA members were among the 12 education support professionals (ESPs) honored as “Champions of Change” at a White House ceremony on May 11. “ESPs are our public schools’ unsung heroes,” said NEA president Lily Eskelsen García. “They are dedicated professionals who serve their students, willing and generous role models who makes a difference in students’ lives inside and outside of school, and advocates for public education.”
Senate hearing on ESSA implementation to be held May 18
NEA president Lily Eskelsen García will testify on Wednesday, May 18, at the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s hearing, “ESSA Implementation Perspectives from Education Stakeholders.” We’ll provide further details in next week’s edition of Education Insider and be on the lookout for coming action items related to the Department of Education’s regulatory guidance.
Tell the Senate to do its job and act on Supreme Court nominee
More than 12,000 educators have signed a petition urging Senate Republicans to hold a hearing and an up-or-down vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, chief judge of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The Supreme Court has already considered—and may revisit—nearly every issue that matters to educators: the right to equal access to free public education, America’s promise ofequal opportunity, school funding, private school vouchers, access to health care, fair elections, and more. Click on the button and add your signature to the petition telling the Senate to do its job.
Cheers and Jeers
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), the ranking members of the Senate and House education committees, for their letter urging Secretary of Education King to act quickly to help remove barriers to “meaningful stakeholder collaboration and active participation” in ESSA implementation—specifically, by taking steps to ensure that educators are given release time for planning activities.
Representatives Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Susan Davis (D-CA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Mark Takano (D-CA) for joining ranking member of the House education committee Bobby Scott (D-VA) in hearing from NEA members and food service professionals during a roundtable on child nutrition.