Weekly Update-December 23, 2011

On December 23, 2011, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston


NASSP Announces New Digital Principal Award

The Digital Principal Award is an opportunity to honor principals who exhibit bold, creative leadership in their drive to harness the potential of new technologies to further learning goals. The award also allows us to showcase models of leadership that encourage the use of technology in instruction and for principals’ own professional use.

NASSP will honor three NASSP member principals in schools that cover any subset of grades K—­12. Criteria for the award are based on the National Education Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS*A), developed by the International Society for Technology in Education, and the applications of those skills to further the Breaking Ranks Framework for school improvement.

Applications are due January 17. Go here to learn how to apply and about the criteria: http://www.nassp.org/awards-and-recognition/digital-principal-award

And speaking of all things digital, don’t forget to follow NASSP staff on Twitter!


@akarhuse=Amanda Karhuse, Director of Government Relations

@kingston_m=Mary Kingston, Manager of Government Relations

@PrincipalDiff=Mel Riddile, Associate Director, High School Services


FY 2012 Appropriations

On December 17, the Senate approved the omnibus (package) appropriations bill containing education programs to fund the federal government through Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 that the House had previously passed. The Senate last weekend rejected the House-passed bill to offset the disaster-aid spending with an across-the-board cut of 1.83%. NASSP is happy to see this bill fail since this cut would have impacted education funding. Go here to see a great chart showing funding levels of education programs for FY 2012 as prepared by our coalition partner, the Committee for Education Funding. Note that these amounts are very slightly off the Department of Education’s calculations but are very close. For a summary of education program spending levels to accompany the chart, read this EdWeek article.


The House next convenes on January 17 and the Senate on January 23.



ESEA Reauthorization

On December 16, House Education and the Workforce Committee ranking member Rep. George Miller (D-CA) issued a statement expressing his disappointment that Chairman Kline (R-MN) has abandoned bipartisan talks on the House ESEA reauthorization. Miller said, “Partisanship means the end to NCLB reform in this Congress.” What is especially troubling about this statement is that Chairman Harkin (D-IA) on the Senate side indicated that the Senate would likely not move forward with its committee-approved ESEA bill unless the House can produce a bipartisan bill.


Seclusion and Restraint Bill

On December 16 Senator Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee introduced S. 2020, the Keeping All Students Safe Act, to “protect all school children against harmful and life-threatening seclusion and restraint practices.”  Rep. George Miller (D-CA), ranking member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, introduced a bill by the same name on the House side on April 6. (See NASSP’s blog post on this bill.) While NASSP supported Rep. Miller’s bill, we are not yet taking a position on Sen. Harkin’s bill. Go here to read the text of Sen. Harkin’s bill.



Twenty Organizations Receive Promise Neighborhood Grants

On December 19 the U.S. Department of Education announced 20 new winners for the Promise Neighborhood grant from a pool of over 200 applicants vying for $30 million in grant money. Five organizations will receive a first-year grant of up to $6 million (totaling up to $30 million over five years) to “support implementing cradle-to-career services that improve the educational achievement and healthy development of children.”  The other 15 organizations will receive up to $500,000 as planning grants. Read a U.S. Department of Education press release here and a blog post here.


Race to the Top Finalists Split $200 Million, Detail Implementation Plans

The seven runner-up states to last year’s Race to the Top grant are splitting the remaining $200 million of that grant to fund some unique and innovative undertakings, and particularly to implement common standards and improve teacher evaluation systems.

Here are some of the winners’ unique plans according to a summary by Education Week:

Arizona: Plans to establish five regional education centers, support the transition to Common Core State Standards, and improve data systems to inform educational decision-making.

Colorado: Plans to transition to college- and career-ready standards, improve educator effectiveness by providing statewide training to implement its new teacher-evaluation system, and continue with STEM integration.

Illinois: Plans to create a group of “reform exemplars” among participating districts that will agree to meet a high bar for implementing a comprehensive set of reforms, build systems and processes to continue and sustain improved student outcomes for all participating school districts, and build state capacity to extend reforms statewide.

Kentucky: Plans to focus on its “one-stop shop” technology support system for Kentucky educators and to scale up the AdvanceKentucky project, which is aimed at engaging underserved and underrepresented student populations in advanced STEM courses.

Louisiana: Plans to implement a performance-management system statewide to measure teacher and leader effectiveness and increase professional development resources available for STEM teachers, and develop and deliver professional development modules aligned with the Common Core in mathematics, among other things.

New Jersey: Plans to develop model curricula that will assist teachers and leaders in the transition to Common Core assessments; launch its newly created teacher evaluation system statewide and pilot a new evaluation system for principals; and enhance its charter school application review and renewal processes.

Pennsylvania: Plans to expand student and teacher access to quality courses and instructional resources to improve student achievement, particularly in STEM subjects, and refine and implement teacher and principal evaluation systems that incorporate student performance results as a significant factor.

Read the Education Week article here.

Hawaii in Danger of Losing Its $75 Million Race to the Top Grant

The U.S. Department of Education on 12/21 notified state officials that it is placing the state on “high-risk status” because the state has not made adequate progress in fulfilling its promises outlined in its Race to the Top application. In placing the state in “high risk status,” the Department is “limiting access to its remaining grant money, rejecting several requests for significant changes and delays in its Race to the Top plan, and planning an extensive on-site review in early 2012.” To read the rest of this Education Week article, go here.

Merged NCATE Accreditation Bodies to Raise Bar for Teacher Entry

The new Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, a merging of the two accreditation bodies for American teacher’s colleges, announced plans to require training programs to improve their processes for selecting candidates. Says James G. Cibulka, the president of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, or NCATE, “The new CAEP standards are going to be much more rigorous with regard both to admission policies and recruitment policies.” Quoting an Education Week article from 12/22, “His comments give the first inkling of what the new body will consider as part of a revamped accreditation process, and are germane to a growing debate about how to recruit more academically capable individuals into teaching, especially at the elementary level.” Read the rest of the article here.


Comparing Generations of Youth

From a U.S. Department of Education newsletter: “America’s Youth: Transitions to Adulthood” (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2012026), a new report from the Department’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), compares the current generation of youth and younger adults in the U.S. to youth and younger adults in 1980, 1990, and 2000.  As an example, the current generation is enrolled in school at higher rates than their predecessors.  In 2009, 69% of 18- and 19-year-olds, 52% of 20- and 21-year-olds, and 30% of 22- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in school, versus 46%, 31%, and 16%, respectively, back in 1980.”


NASSP Webinar Series on Common Core State Standards

NASSP and the College Board are collaborating to develop a series of six webinars on Common Core State Standards.  These webinars are directed specifically to school leaders. Below is listed the schedule and webinar titles. (There may be some minor changes to the titles.) All of the webinars will begin at 4:00 p.m EST. Block these times out on your calendar now and registration will be available soon on www.nassp.org/webinars.

Janaury, 18, 2012 – Overview

February 1, 2012 – ELA Standards

February 15, 2012 – Math Standards

February 29, 2012 – School Wide Instructional Practices

March 14, 2012 – School Leadership Role

March 28, 2012 – Changing the School Culture and Climate

Other NASSP Webinars

Cutting-Edge Technology Initiatives for the Classroom, January 11, 4-5 pm EST, presented by Melinda Maddox, Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) Director of Technology Initiatives, and Craig Bates, principal of Winterboro High School, Alpine, AL. Want to learn more about cutting-edge technology initiatives used every day in the classroom? Join Melinda Maddox as she discusses ALSDE’s highly regarded technology initiatives. Then listen as Craig Bates provides a principal’s perspective on how these initiatives work on the ground in schools, and what impact they are having on student achievement and engagement. Register now!

Best Practices in Teacher Recruitment and Retention, January 27, 3-4 pm EST.

Join Scott Ruehl, principal of Mt. Hebron High School in Ellicott City, MD, for a discussion on how to successfully recruit and retain exemplary teachers. Ruehl will describe how he actively recruits teachers that are the best fit for his school, and will highlight the professional growth and leadership opportunities he provides in order to retain excellent teachers who are constantly improving. Ruehl will be accompanied by a teacher at Mt. Hebron who will offer their perspective on the recruiting process and how Ruehl’s practices have benefited their teaching career. Register now!

U.S. Department of Education Introduces a New Blog

Check out the blog “Homeroom,” with information on issues searchable by topic and audience here




Weekly Update-December 16, 2011

On December 16, 2011, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston


FY 2012 Appropriations

The second FY 2012 CR expires today (12/16). Late Wednesday night, the House filed its FY 2012 omnibus bill (H.R. 3671) that includes the Labor-HHS-Education bill and cuts education funding by 0.189% or $86 million below the current amount through across-the-board program cuts. Despite this cut, NASSP is pleased to see increases for Title I (by $60 million) and IDEA (by $100 million), and can declare a victory in the $160 million allotted to the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program whose funding was zeroed out in 2011. Additionally, a Congressional Quarterly article notes that “The spending bill also would continue, and in one case even boost, the Obama administration’s competitive education grants that the previous GOP appropriations bill had zeroed out. However, while Race to the Top would continue under the omnibus spending bill, it would be cut by more than 20 percent from the fiscal 2011 level, from $689 million to $550 million.”

It is possible that education funding could be cut by another 1.83% or $1.3 billion if another House bill (H. Con. Res. 94) passes to offset disaster aid. The passage of both bills is dependent on Congress reaching a bipartisan deal on the extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut. For more on program funding amounts in the bill, go here.

Also, despite official notices to federal employees warning them of a potential government shutdown, it appears that Congress may indeed reach a deal. According to an article from Congressional Quarterly, “It appeared that congressional leaders were gambling on swift votes to clear the megabus and send it to the president. There were no plans for passing a short-term stopgap spending measure, even though the continuing resolution (PL 112-55) that has been keeping the government running will expire Friday. If the efforts to pass the megabus do not succeed, Congress might quickly act to extend the date on the current CR and buy a few more days to complete fiscal 2012 spending.”



On 12/8 Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard introduced H.R. 3614, the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation Act of 2011 (ATTAIN Act), supported by NASSP. The ATTAIN Act would amend the current “Enhancing Education Through Technology” program in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and would authorize up to $1 billion in annual funding for teacher training, education technology hardware and software, and student support for technological literacy. NASSP encourages members to contact their legislators to support this bill.


NASSP continues to support the Fixing America’s Schools Today (FAST) Act sponsored by Sen. Brown (D-OH) and Rep. DeLauro (D-CT) and encourages members to contact their legislators to support this bill. For more about the bill including a website dedicated to it, see my blog from this week.

Student Non-Discrimination Act

NASSP supports this bill (S. 555) introduced in the Senate by Sen. Franken (D-MN) in March and carrying 34 cosponsors to date. Quoting from a support letter NASSP sent to all Senators last week, “Federal law guarantees students’ rights to be free from discrimination based on race, gender, religion, disability, and national origin, but no such protection is extended to students based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The Student Non-Discrimination Act (“SNDA”) would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition against this type of discrimination and harassment in public elementary and secondary schools across the country. SNDA would provide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (“LGBT”) students with long overdue and much needed explicit federal protections against discrimination and harassment. The legislation also protects students who associate with LGBT people, including students with LGBT parents and friends.” NASSP encourages members to contact their Senators to support this bill.



Duncan’s Prediction of 82% Failing AYP This Year Is Far Above Actual Percentage

The Center on Education Policy released a report finding that the percentage of schools predicted to have failed AYP during the 2010-2011 school year is 48%, far below Secretary Duncan’s alarming prediction of 82% that he cited during a Congressional hearing earlier this year. From an Education Week article published yesterday, “Duncan said yesterday in a statement that even though the numbers are different, the message is still the same. ‘Whether it’s 50 percent, 80 percent, or 100 percent of schools being incorrectly labeled as failing, one thing is clear: No Child Left Behind is broken,’ he said. ‘That’s why we’re moving forward with giving states flexibility from the law in exchange for reforms that drive student success.’” Read the rest of the article here.

Nine States Win Race to the Top Early Learning Grants

The Department of Education announced this morning that nine states will share $500 million in Race to the Top Early Learning Grants. The nine states are: California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington. Of these states, the following five are repeat Race to the Top winners: Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island. In total, 37 states applied for this grant. According to an Education Week article, “The grants are made possible through an additional $700 million Congress set aside for the Obama administration’s Race to the Top brand in the fiscal 2011 budget deal reached earlier this year. While $500 million went to early learning, the other $200 million was offered to the nine finalists that did not win last year’s $4 billion general education-reform competition. The finalists, seven of which chose to apply for a small piece of the $200 million consolation prize, had to pick a part of their original application to pursue, with a special emphasis on the STEM subjects. Those winners could be announced as early as next week.” Read the rest of the article here: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2011/12/states_win_race_to_top_early_l.html.

Report Finds U.S. Instructional Time Similar To Those in High-Performing Countries

From a press release from the National School Boards Association: “Most U.S. schools require at least as much or more instructional time as other countries, even high-performing countries like Finland, Japan, and Korea; according to a new report on instructional time released by the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education.

The report, “Time in School,” measured the minimum number of hours of instruction per year (also known as compulsory hours) countries require their public schools to provide in a formal classroom setting. In the U.S., most states require between 175 and 180 days of school and/or between 900 and 1,000 hours of instructional time per year, depending on the grade level.”

Jim Hull, the Center’s Senior Policy Analyst and author of the report, “stressed that the relationship between time and student learning is not about the amount of time spent in school. Rather, it is how effectively that time is used. The report also showed that there is no relationship between simply requiring more time and increased achievement. The data showed that a number of countries that require fewer hours of instruction outperform the U.S., while the U.S. performs as well as or better than some other countries that require more hours of instruction.”

Access the report here: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Organizing-a-school/Time-in-school-How-does-the-US-compare.


A new study on English Language Learners from the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing finds that the longer students are classified as English-language learners, the greater the likelihood that they will drop out of school. And English-language learners who are reclassified as English proficient in earlier grades tend to be similar to non-English learners when it comes to achievement and dropout rates. Read an article summary of the study with a link to the report here.


Webinar on Principal Evaluation

Several organizations are leading efforts to improve principal evaluations, including a venture led jointly by the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. The groups are working on a plan to help schools and districts create evaluation instruments that focus on promoting the qualities they believe strong principals should have. This webinar talks about the research on the current state of principal evaluations and how experts believe they should be changed for the better. View the PPT from this webinar here: http://www.edweek.org/media/2011-12-13-principalevaluations.pdf

Insider’s Guide to 11 States’ NCLB Waiver Plans

Don’t have time to read through all 11 states’ plans but want to learn what they involve and stay informed about the waiver process? Check out this resource from EdWeek here.

American Jobs Act Investments Report and Interactive Maps

The Obama Administration on Thursday released a report, Education and the American Jobs Act: Creating Jobs through Investments in Our Nation’s Schools, and interactive maps that highlight estimated benefits that states and local school districts would receive if Congress acts to pass the American Jobs Act.  The maps and downloadable data sets behind them, for every state and school district in the nation, can be found here: http://data.ed.gov/american-jobs-act And the full report can be found at this link: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/aja_ed_state_by_state_report_final.pdf


Resolved to improve the unacceptable building conditions of too many of our nation’s schools and community colleges, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) have introduced the Fix America’s Schools Today (FAST) Act (S. 1597/H.R. 2948).

The bill would direct $30 billion in grants—paid for by taxes on those earning over $1 million annually—to implement school facility repair and modernization by the summer of 2012.

NASSP supports this legislation and signed on to a coalition letter along with 172 other wide-ranging organizations to express our support. As stated in the letter, the bill will “invest resources to repair, renovate and modernize America’s schools and community colleges while stimulating and creating some 300,000 jobs.” Given the nation’s persistently high unemployment rate and that the average public school building is 40 years old (according to a U.S. Department of Education blog) this legislation is timely and important.

The Senate bill currently has 13 cosponsors while the House bill claims 108. Despite resistance to the bill from members of Congress who oppose the offset tax, Sen. Brown and Rep. DeLauro continue to push hard for the bill’s passage. A website has been created to endorse the legislation, and the two bill sponsors hosted a Hill briefing on November 30 to further promote the bill. Sen. Brown has been trying to get a vote on the bill on the Senate floor, and it appears that a vote is likely to occur soon after the Congressional holiday recess.

NASSP encourages you to contact your legislators to urge their support of this important legislation, particularly if you are in a school that sorely needs repair and/or modernization and would benefit from this bill. Go to www.house.gov or www.senate.gov to find your legislators’ contact information and thank you for contributing your critical voice!


FY 2012 Appropriations

Congress is still finalizing what will likely be an FY 2012 “megabus” appropriations bill. The House is expected to pass the bill on December 15, and the Senate will follow suit the next day. It will include nearly all of the not-yet-completed appropriations bills, but the fate of the Labor-HHS-Education bill remains uncertain. Some of the outstanding and controversial issues in the bill include funding for the health care law and policy riders on abortion and other family planning issues. We expect to know later today whether the Labor-HHS-Education bill will be included in the megabus, but it’s likely to be wrapped into a year-long continuing resolution. Under that scenario, across-the-board cuts in all programs (including Title I and IDEA) are a foregone conclusion. An article from Congressional Quarterly is pasted at the end of today’s update!

School Construction

There is still a very slim possibility that Congress will consider the Fix America’s Schools Today (FAST) Act before the holidays. Supporters of the bill have created a Web site where individual educators can also voice their support for the legislation: http://www.fixamericasschoolstoday.org/fast-home/.

 Federal guidelines on use of race in school assignment/admissions

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice released joint guidelines that are meant to clarify how school districts may legally consider the race of students in their plans to promote diversity and limit racial isolation in schools. The guidance is based largely on three Supreme Court rulings that directly addressed the use of race in decisions about school assignments nd admissions by educational institutions: Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger.



 Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released an Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies, a new report summarizing current approaches in the 46 states with anti-bullying laws and the 41 states that have created anti-bullying policies as models for schools.

The report shows the prevalence of state efforts to combat bullying over the last several years. From 1999 to 2010, more than 120 bills were enacted by state legislatures from across the country to either introduce or amend statutes that address bullying and related behaviors in schools. Twenty-one new bills were enacted in 2010 and eight additional bills were signed into law through April 30, 2011.  

Out of the 46 states with anti-bullying laws in place, 36 have provisions that prohibit cyber bullying and 13 have statutes that grant schools the authority to address off-campus behavior that creates a hostile school environment.

The first Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit, hosted in August 2010 by the Department and other federal agencies, exposed an information gap regarding anti-bullying laws and policies across the country. The summit brought together government officials, researchers, policymakers, and education practitioners to explore strategies to combat bullying in schools. To address this information gap and respond to requests for technical assistance, the Department composed Anti-Bullying Policies: Examples of Provisions in State Laws, a guidance document outlining common key components of state anti-bullying laws. 

Following the Summit, the Department’s Policy and Program Studies Service contracted researchers to compile the analysis on state laws and policies. In preparing the report, researchers reviewed and coded legislation and policy documents in every state across the country along with an additional sample of 20 local school districts. The report sought to address the extent to which states’ bullying laws and model policies contained the key components identified in the December guidance. A follow-up study will aim to identify how state laws translate into practice at the school level. 

To learn about more key findings and to read the full report, visit http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/opepd/ppss/reports.html#safe.


 New Democrats Release ESEA Reauthorization Framework

Last week, the 42-Member New Democrat Coalition released a framework for the reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) designed to ensure American students receive a world-class education to compete for jobs in the 21st century global economy.  The principles, which were developed by the New Democrat Coalition Education Task Force under the leadership of Representatives Susan Davis (D-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO).

The framework calls for a comprehensive approach to reauthorizing ESEA that provides all students a well-rounded education, prepares them for college and the workforce, ensures there is an effective teacher in every classroom and encourages innovative educational approaches. 


Business and Education Leaders Unite to Better Prepare Students for College and Careers

Last week, business, education and foundation leaders united to form the 114th Partnership, an organization that will better prepare our nation’s students for future success by fostering educational cultures of college and career readiness.  The 114th Partnership—based on a proven business/ education model used by a top performing school system—will teach communities how to better leverage the strategies from business, the resources from foundations, and the skills and passion from educators to better prepare and inspire students to thrive in college and careers. 

The 114th Partnership will make this model available to communities nationwide, thanks to the support and talent of its founding corporate partners in Deloitte, Gallup, Kaiser Permanente, Pearson, Sodexo, and UnitedHealthcare. A pilot program is being developed for the San Rafael City Schools in California.

For more information, please visit www.114th.org

Leading Education Organizations Emphasize Alignment of P-3 Education

The nation’s leading education organizations have joined together to support alignment of preschool through third grade (P-3) education. The Pre-K Coalition—comprised of the American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Education Association, and the National School Boards Association (NSBA)—has released The Importance of Aligning Pre-K through 3rd Grade, which details best practices and recommendations for improving early learning. 

According to the brief, a comprehensive P-3 approach is critical to ensure that children develop a solid foundation in literacy, math, and social-emotional skills. Gains made in high-quality pre-k programs must be sustained and built upon throughout the K–3 years. The need to focus attention on children’s early learning years is now more important than ever since a third of the nation’s fourth graders are reading at below basic levels. Without a basic level of competency by third grade, students are more likely to struggle academically, have behavioral and social problems, be retained in grade, and drop out of school. 


House May Include CRs in ‘Megabus’

By Kerry Young, CQ Staff

Senior House appropriators on Wednesday said they may punt on one or more of nine remaining overdue spending bills for fiscal 2012 and avoid resolving difficult disagreements by passing continuing resolutions to cover their agencies and programs.

The possibility of one or more continuing resolutions being attached to a “megabus” that would wrap up remaining appropriations for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 would signal that congressional leaders want to close this chapter of the yearlong budget fight that has dominated the Capitol.

This step also could be the only way to resolve seemingly intractable splits between Republicans and Democrats, the thorniest of which involve the overhaul of health care and financial regulatory laws. Republican efforts to restrict the reach of these two overhaul laws are tying up two of the remaining spending bills for the year.

The most likely candidate for a continuing resolution in the final fiscal 2012 appropriations package is the Labor-HHS-Education bill (HR 3070). Senior Democratic appropriators said Wednesday that continuing resolutions are also possible for Interior-Environment (HR 2584) and Financial Services (HR 2434).

Resorting to continuing resolutions would be a defeat for appropriators, who have criticized the use of such stopgap measures to finance much of the federal government in fiscal 2011. They had vowed to complete all 12 regular spending bills that pay for routing government operations for fiscal 2012.

Even with time running short, intense work continues to wrap up the remaining fiscal 2012 work in a single package, said House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky. “My goal is not to do CRs,” he said, while conceding that one may be needed for the Labor-HHS-Education bill. “We are expending all efforts toward” finishing a nine-bill package, Rogers said.

The fall of 2009 — for fiscal 2010 — was the last time Congress cleared regular spending bills for the departments and agencies most likely to be subject to continuing resolutions for fiscal 2012. Those decisions were largely carried through fiscal 2011 using a full-year continuing resolution (PL 112-10) for that budget year, with the exception of some cuts made in specific programs.

End in Sight

A conference committee of House and Senate appropriators will meet Thursday on the Military Construction-VA bill (HR 2055), and may at that time agree to add to it the remaining unfinished fiscal 2012 bills.

The text of a final appropriations package for the year, in the form of a conference agreement, is expected to be released Dec. 12 or Dec. 13, allowing a mandatory two-day advance publication of the legislation before the House votes on it the middle of next week.

The conference agreement would not be subject to amendment, and both chambers would be under pressure to act on it before stopgap appropriations provided as part of an earlier fiscal 2012 appropriations package (PL 112-55) expire on Dec. 16.

Democratic appropriators are warming to the idea of using continuing resolutions for some of the most contentious bills, because that approach would block Republican efforts to use them to change existing federal policy.

“It’s always better to have a bill,” said Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the ranking Democrat on the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee. “That may not be possible.”

House Republicans have been pressing to bar the use of appropriated money to implement the health care (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) and financial services (PL 111-203) laws, which they oppose. Republicans also want to restrict appropriations as a way to block labor and environmental regulations that they say unfairly restrict business.

“In some ways, a CR is not the end of the world,” said James P. Moran of Virginia, ranking Democrat on the House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee. “Life will go on. The EPA will continue to function.”

There is a chance that a compromise might be reached on the Interior-Environment bill, even with a remaining controversy on as many as 40 policy provisions that Republican leaders want included in the bill, Moran said. He said the chairman of the subcommittee, Republican Mike Simpson of Idaho, was trying to negotiate a compromise. “If it’s up to Mike Simpson, we’ll have a bill,” Moran said.

House aides said that prospects also were good for the Financial Services bill, although Rep. José E. Serrano of New York, ranking Democrat on that subcommittee, said the bill might be a candidate for a continuing resolution.

Republicans want to use the Financial Services bill to set policy on abortion funding and needle exchanges for drug addicts in the District of Columbia, Serrano said. But, he said, Senate Financial Services Appropriations Chairman Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., has not given any indication that he will concede to these demands.

“I don’t know how you get an agreement unless Sen. Durbin says it is OK to do these things, and so far he has said no,” Serrano said.

House appropriators said Wednesday they have no appetite to let work on fiscal 2012 appropriations drag into January, and that there is a strong effort to finish by Dec. 16. Moran said that there was little chance of reaching compromises later that cannot be reached now, and that appropriators and party leaders want to avoid another short-term stopgap spending measure.

“I don’t think we want to have another two- or three-day CR,” Moran said.

Source: CQ Today Online News

Round-the-clock coverage of news from Capitol Hill.

© 2011 CQ Roll Call All Rights Reserved.

Weekly Federal Education Policy Update

On December 2, 2011, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston


FY 2012 Budget/Appropriations: We are currently operating under a continuing resolution (CR) that runs through December 16 and funds most programs at FY 2011 levels. Speaker Boehner this week said he is opposed to a year-long CR largely because a year-long CR would have lower defense numbers. Also, according to an article from Congressional Quarterly, “Of the nine remaining bills, the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill is the most contentious because it includes funding for the new health care law. Republican and Democratic negotiators remain miles apart on the Labor-HHS measure, an appropriations aide said.” It is speculated that we could have a CR that runs until February. Further, the House is extending its session by a week to meet the week of December 12 as some Republicans are expected to offer an omnibus spending package (many appropriations bills combined into one) on December 15.

ESEA: The Senate is expected to release their report on Senator Harkin’s (D-IA) ESEA draft bill within the next few weeks. As for the House, we have not heard any news on any movement of additional bills as part of their piecemeal approach, making it certain that nothing more with ESEA will happen in this calendar year. We remain hopeful that movement on ESEA will continue sometime soon in 2012.

NCLB Waivers: 11 states applied to the first-round deadline of November 14. Twenty-eight more states are expected to apply for the second round deadline, which is February 21. See the article below in the “News” section for an analysis of the submitted waiver applications.

The Threat of Sequestration to Education: As a quick refresher, you will recall that the 12-member bipartisan “Supercommittee” tasked with submitting a plan to reduce at least $1.2 trillion more from the federal deficit failed to come up with any plan. As stipulated in this August’s Budget Control Act, Congress must now enact a process called sequestration which implements across-the-board cuts to all federal agencies starting on January 2, 2013. The education community is very disappointed in the failure of the Supercommittee and is worried about this resulting threat of sequestration since education would be cut by an untenable amount. (For more information, see a letter sent by NASSP coalition partner Committee for Education Funding on the impact of sequestration on education: http://cef.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Joint-Committee.pdf). Various members of Congress are already trying to propose alternate plans for sequestration. Speaker Boehner has called on President Obama to help stop the defense sequestration cuts; House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan has said he plans to revise sequestration for defense in his FY 13 budget; and House Majority Leader Cantor is also circulating ideas (see Cantor floats year-end trigger bargain).

NASSP Signs on to Coalition Letter in Support of Fix America’s Schools Today Act: NASSP, along with an impressive list of 172 other organizations, has signed onto a coalition letter to urge members of Congress to support the Fix America’s Schools Today (FAST) Act, S.1597. To quote the letter: “The FAST Act will invest resources to repair, renovate and modernize America’s schools and community colleges while stimulating and creating some 300,000 jobs. The Fix America’s School’s Act will provide grants to states and local communities helping local communities provide modern, more energy efficient, greener and better schools and community colleges, improving the learning environment for students and enhancing the workplace for students, teachers and staff.  School and community college renovation and repair projects will generate local jobs as modern schools advance student achievement in urban, rural and suburban communities in every state.” For the entire letter go here: http://cef.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/FAST-Group-Sign-on-December-20111.pdf

Please contact your Senators and urge them to support this bill!


NCLB Waiver First-Round Applicants Show Wide Variation in Proposed State Accountability Systems

Eleven states applied to the U.S. Department of Education’s first round deadline for waivers from certain regulations of No Child Left Behind, and an Education Week article finds that these states propose very different accountability systems. Tasked with designing their own “annual measurable objectives” for student performance that will replace their AYP targets, these eleven states have proposed widely varying student achievement targets. Additionally, the proposed factors that comprise a school’s ranking vary widely by state, with some states using a letter-grade system and others using scores, or indices. Read the article here: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/12/02/13waivers_ep.h31.html?tkn=LWPFP%2FSl%2B23nE2DM93JgKs8UvTSsWgxzj4zC&cmp=clp-edweek.

School Districts, Colleges, and Universities Can Legally Consider Race to Make Decisions about School Assignments and Admissions

Federal civil rights officials this week made the decision that race can be considered in decisions on school assignments, admissions, and other programs that are intended to increase racial diversity. The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education together released these new guidelines, which will be sent to the roughly 15,000 school districts and 3,000 colleges and universities that receive federal funding. Read the article here: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2011/12/civil_rights_officials_issue_m.html

Nearly All Schools Can Now Track Data on Students

As described in a report released by the Data Quality Campaign, nearly all schools now have sophisticated data systems that can track students’ academic careers over time. Just as important, the data is now more accessible to relevant stakeholders. Data Quality Campaign Executive Director Aimee R. Guidera notes that “There’s been incredible progress this year in states’ ability to provide access to stakeholders, including teachers and principals and parents.” Read the rest of the article here: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/12/01/13data.h31.html?tkn=TZQFznRHcGZ8SbQSzM1nG2qT3buG%2FErmAwv6&cmp=clp-edweek.


Department of Education’s Report on Comparability: The Department of Education yesterday released a new report and a policy brief on school level spending within school districts and comparability. More Than 40% of Low-Income Schools Don’t Get a Fair Share of State and Local Funds, Department of Education Research Finds

Report on State Fiscal Conditions: The National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers this week released the Fall 2011 Fiscal Condition of States. According to the report, “In fiscal 2011, the program areas where many states made mid-year general fund expenditure cuts were K-12 and higher education, as 18 states reduced K-12 education and 19 states cut higher education.”  Also, “While fiscal 2012 state enacted budgets show a combined $19.4 billion increase in general fund spending for Medicaid, general fund spending on higher education was reduced by $3.2 billion. Additionally, although K-12 education saw an overall increase in funding, there were 12 states which enacted reductions in K-12 general fund spending.”