Noelle Ellerson Ng
Associate Executive Director, Policy and Advocacy
AASA, The School Superintendents Association
No Rest During Recess!
Please note: There will be no The Advocate during August. We will return in September.
Every July, AASA holds its annual legislative advocacy conference. This year, it was July 10-12, and more than 200 superintendents and school business officials from across the country came to DC to make the case for continued investment and policy that supports and strengthens the nation’s public schools.
2018 is a mid-term election year, one that seems exceptionally partisan and political. Even as things heat up on the campaign trail and Congress begins to turn its attention to home states and home districts over the summer (August) recess and fall rolling up to the November elections, the fact remains there are a bevy of issues that could be impactful and consequential to education. Those issues are the ones that were highlighted during the advocacy conference, and are the ones that you and your fellow educators can use as the basis for any advocacy or outreach you may do during the summer recess and fall, when you may be able to meet with your Congressional delegation while they are home.
The education policies that are salient and certain for action are annual appropriations, Perkins Career & Technical Education, and the Higher Education Act. We also did a quick round up of the other topics that may garner news coverage, come up in conversations in your community, or otherwise emerge on your radar. All of these topics are summarized in our talking points. Use these resources to make the most of the August recess and fall campaign period. Members in the home district are ripe for a visit to a public school, an opportunity to see what the district is doing, what it needs, and how federal policy can bolster the two. We’re bulleting the talking points for our hot issues below, and a fuller summary is available in these talking points. Here’s a quick summary:
- Thank your members of Congress for the final FY18 package, which provided a $3.9 billion increase to USED, a critical investment that worked to restore the continued pressure of recession cuts. The FY18 allocations must be the starting point for any FY19 discussions. Even with this significant funding increase, the final FY18 allocation is below what it would have been if Congress had level funded USED since FY12 and just adjusted for inflation.
- AASA and ASBO oppose any effort to direct public dollars to private education. We oppose all vouchers and privatization schema. We ask Congress to continue to prioritize investment in critical formula programs designed to level the playing field, including IDEA, Title I and Title IV.
- Urge your delegation to increase investment in the LHHS bills, and direct a larger share of the overall increase in non-defense discretionary funding to LHHS, to support education.
- Higher Education Act
- Oppose the PROSPER Act! It will harm the district’s ability to hire quality new teachers and will leave teachers with higher debt and fewer incentives to remain in the classroom.
- Talk about teacher shortage issues in your district, if applicable, to illustrate the reality of the issue in the Representative’s district and provide them with cover for opposing.
- For Democrats, thank them for their commitment to supporting future teachers, as they are all committed to opposing the PROSPER Act.
- Perkins Career and Technical Education Act
- I support the accountability and improvement structure in the House bill. It ensures districts receive technical assistance if they fail to meet performance goals. It also gives districts 3 years to meet state targets before they must implement an improvement plan and receive technical assistance from the state. In contrast, the Senate bill only gives districts 2 years to meet state-determined goals and allows the state to threaten taking a district’s funding away if they do not meet these goals adequately.
- I do not support language in the Senate bill that requires districts to continuously improve. There are many circumstances in which a decrease in numerical performance levels may not represent an actual decrease in the quality of the program, but instead might be reflective of changes in program offerings, student populations served, economic conditions, etc. There are many examples where a program may not be able to continually improve and we reject the continuation of this construct in a program that is woefully underfunded.
- The funding level of Perkins is close to that of ESSA Title IV. We saw a purposeful structure of Title IV to be designed with flexibility and deference to state and local education leaders, much like ESSA overall. We are concerned that Perkins, while similarly funded, has a disproportionately high accountability construct.
- Other Topics (topics listed below, content in the talking points document)
- Anti-Integration rider (in the approps bill)
- WiFi on buses
- STOP School Violence Act
Use this article and the related talking points as a spring board for your summer and fall advocacy. And, as always, should you need additional information or have any questions, reach out to the advocacy team.