In this Issue:
Call To Action: ESEA
June 15, 2015
Call To Action: ESEA
This week and next, both the House and Senate could potentially have their respective ESEA proposal on their chamber’s floor. The Senate is most likely to move; the House activity is less certain. We have been holding off on a ‘call to action’ until now; given the pressure to move the bills (preferably before the July4th recess, which starts the week of June 29), the first half of this week is the time to weigh in with your full delegation.
Overview and Talking Points:
AASA has endorsed the Senate bill. It took the major focus of our advocacy (pulling back the federal overreach and prescription in current law) and pulled it back, eliminating AYP, AMO, supplemental education services, and more. It consolidates/block grants the programs in Title II (professional development) and Title IV (school climate/safety). Unlike the House bill, the committee amendment process reinstated a variety of previously eliminated programs, including the educational technology program, among others. It maintains annual assessment, keeps accountability while returning leadership and autonomy to the state and local control, and ensures state/local leadership re: high quality standards. The Senate version addresses the three major concerns we have with the House bill; the Senate bill maintains maintenance of effort, does NOT include portability/vouchers and does not include funding caps.
As you make contact with your Senate offices, please feel free to use the talking points outlined below. We anticipate many of the amendments filed in committee to be re-filed for the floor, and have linked to our summary/analysis of the committee amendments in the resources section. We do not have the final list of amendments to be considered on the floor, as they can be filed/offered on a rolling basis. As such the talking points focus on the specific policies we anticipate being addressed:
Support the Every Child Achieves Act as passed out of committee. We strongly support the bipartisan, comprehensive reauthorization and commend the committee and Senate leadership thus far in working toward completing this process.
- OPPOSE any amendment to insert Title I portability or vouchers.
- OPPOSE any measure that increases the high-stakes nature of testing. This includes amendments that would mandate accountability models to identify the bottom 5%, to identify schools with a low graduation rate, to cross tabulate data by student sub group, and to relax restrictions on the Secretary’s regulatory authority.
- The bill as passed out of committee cleared the field of federal over reach and is consistent with the long-running sentiment of over reliance on high stakes testing. With the field clear, it is important that state and local education leaders have an opportunity to run their systems and demonstrate what they can do. While many states and districts likely will identify their bottom 5% or those with low graduation rates, that does not justify a federal mandate. Reinstatement of any of these provisions is a return to high-stakes testing and toward ‘AYP 2.0’.
- OPPOSE any amendment that would expand data collection/reporting beyond items collected in through the Office of Civil Rights. We understand and support the importance of data in highlighting trends in discipline and school safety, as well as efforts to streamline the collection and analysis of existing report items/data.
- We OPPOSE the expansion of further data collection.
- We anticipate a bullying amendment. Among other things, we are opposed to private right to action in these types of amendments. We will have more specifics as amendment negotiations conclude.
- OPPOSE Senator Vitter’s privacy-related proposal. His amendment (if it is filed) will hinder the ability of schools to provide robust educational opportunities, including personalized learning, to make evidence-based decisions, to close equity gaps and to prepare all student for success after high school graduation.
The House bill is virtually identical to the one passed by the full House floor in 2013. It took the major focus of our advocacy (pulling back the federal overreach and prescription in current law) and pulled it back, eliminating AYP, AMO, supplemental education services, and more. It consolidates/block grants the programs in Title II (professional development) and Title IV (school climate/safety). It maintains annual assessment, keeps accountability while returning leadership and autonomy to the state and local control, and ensures state/local leadership re: high quality standards. The House bill, which AASA did endorse, contains three problematic provisions: portability of Title I funds, elimination of maintenance of effort, and funding caps. AASA will support any amendments on the floor to strike portability, reinstate MoE, and to modify the program caps.
The House bill is highligly partisan, and as such, the pressure is on Republicans to vote for the bill. Please do still reach out to your Representative regardless of their party affiliation to communicate the need for complete reauthorization, and to relay our concerns with anticipated amendments:
- AASA supports HR 5 as passed out of committee, and looks to the amendment (or conference process) to make key improvements, which include:
- Eliminating Title I portability, reinstating Title I maintenance of effort and replacing the authorizing caps.
- In our support, we recognize the bill is far from perfect. That said, the bill is a solid improvement over current law. A vote against HR 5 is a vote for current law, for waivers, and for two more years of Secretary Duncan’s implementation of waiver-related policy.
- AASA opposes ANY amendment to insert or expand vouchers/portability in the bill.
- AASA opposes the A-Plus act or related legislation which would block grant education fund at the state level. This proposed no-strings-attached block grant is an overreaction to federal overreach.