Elementary and Secondary Education Act
Status of ESEA Reauthorization
Congress left for August recess with no movement on ESEA reauthorization, and are now on recess until November 13, or after the elections. As a result, there’s no chance ESEA will be completed during the lame duck period (before the 113th Congress assumes their posts in January 2013). While waivers and Race to the Top seem like the law of the land for principals and assistant principals in some states, the presidential and congressional elections will have a HUGE impact on whether they remain in place beyond 2014. For example, Governor Romney’s education advisors have already noted that if Romney wins the election, his administration would review the waivers to determine their efficacy, and would consider revising or eliminating the required criteria President Obama put in place and that states must sign on to (such as modified teacher and principal evaluations, among others) in order to receive waivers.
NASSP will continue to push for a comprehensive ESEA reauthorization that includes a focus on our key issue areas: school leadership, literacy, middle level and high schools, and education technology.
On September 6, seven more states (Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and West Virginia) plus Puerto Rico and the Bureau of Indian Education applied in Round 3 for a waiver. Thirty four states plus D.C. have now been approved for waivers, and three states’ requests are still outstanding: California, Iowa, and Illinois. Six states have yet to apply: Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming.
NASSP continues to monitor the waiver process as well as the content of waiver applications to ensure they align with our positions on relevant issues. We are particularly concerned about states’ targets for and weighting of graduation rates as part of their accountability systems. Some states’ waiver applications set graduation rate targets and weighting too low, while others set them so high that schools may be incentivized to “push out” students not ready for graduation in order to meet the high targets. NASSP has met with key Congressional staff on the House education committee to express our concerns, and will continue to monitor this issue as well as others contained in the approved waiver applications.
NASSP on Capitol Hill
During this quarter, NASSP staff participated in a number of meetings with Congressional staff to discuss our recommendations for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), including key bills to improve school leadership and provide additional resources for middle and high schools. Offices being visited during this time period include: House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), and Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD).
FY 2013 Budget/Appropriations
Congress began Fiscal Year 2013 on October 1 with a 6-month continuing resolution (CR) which level-funds all programs from their Fiscal Year 2012 levels through March 27, 2013. At that point, Congress will need to agree on and pass a year-long CR to cover spending for the remainder of FY 2013. Agreement on spending levels now seems difficult, since the House and Senate appropriations committees in their allocations for education programs currently have a gap of $1.5 billion that the leadership in appropriations will have to reconcile. New members of Congress after the November elections could also change these spending levels in a way we cannot predict right now, so stay tuned for more updates on FY 2013 appropriations after the elections!
(As a reminder, sequestration is the drastic, across-the-board cuts to education that are scheduled to occur on January 2, 2013. These across-the-board cuts will occur-unless Congress acts to stop it-as stipulated in the August 2011 Budget Control Act. Congress put this measure of sequestration in place in case a 12-member Congressional committee was unable to approve a plan to reduce another $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit; this committee failed, triggering sequestration.
Sequestration would impose the largest education funding cuts ever, chopping funding for programs in the Department of Education by roughly $4 billion, or 8.4%, which would have a devastating impact on state and district budgets.)
NASSP Government Relations staff has met with Congressional offices this quarter specifically on the issue of sequestration to urge legislators to prevent sequestration and instead find a solution to deficit reduction that is balanced and responsible. We met with the following Congressional offices: Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Inouye (D-HI) and Ranking Member Sen. Cochran (R-MS), and House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rep. Dicks (D-WA). NASSP’s coalition partner, the Committee for Education Funding, has organized meetings with several other Congressional offices this past quarter as well to deliver our unified message about education funding.
NASSP encourages you to tell your legislators that sequestration is unacceptable by sending an action alert to your legislators through NASSP’s Principals’ Legislative Action Center at www.nassp.org/plac. As of October 22, 537 people have responded to this action alert, and as a result 1,368 letters have been sent to legislators on this issue. We also encourage you to access a toolkit of resources on sequestration available at http://cef.org/cef-grassroots-campaign-2/. Here you can access sample Tweets, letters to the editor, and action alerts to urge your legislators to stop sequestration. Thank you in advance for your advocacy!
School Principal Recruitment and Training Act
NASSP continues to advocate for the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act, although the bill was not reintroduced during the 112th Congress. The bill would authorize a grant program to recruit, select, train, and support aspiring or current principals with track records of transforming student learning and outcomes and prepare these principals to lead high-need schools. Selected aspiring principals would be provided with a pre-service residency that lasts for at least one year as well as ongoing support and professional development for at least two years after they commence work as school leaders. Grant funds would also be used to provide mentoring and professional development to strengthen current principals’ capacity in the areas of instruction, supervision, evaluation, and development of teachers and highly effective school organizations. NASSP is currently working with staff of Sen. Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) to prepare a bill for introduction in the 113th Congress.
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) reintroduced the Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act (H.R. 2272/S. 929) in 2011. The bill would authorize $2.35 billion for comprehensive state and local literacy initiatives, building on the best components of the federal Early Reading First, Reading First, and Striving Readers programs. Districts would support schoolwide literacy initiatives that include professional development for principals and teachers to incorporate literacy across the curriculum and targeted interventions for struggling students.
The LEARN Act currently has 15 House cosponsors and 6 Senate cosponsors.
Success in the Middle Act
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) reintroduced the Success in the Middle Act (H.R. 1547/S. 833) in 2011. Under the bill, states are required to implement a middle school improvement plan that describes what students are required to know and do to successfully complete the middle grades and make the transition to succeed in an academically rigorous high school. School districts would receive grants to help them invest in proven intervention strategies, including professional development and coaching for school leaders, teachers, and other school personnel; and student supports such as personal academic plans, intensive reading and math interventions, and extended learning time.
The Success in the Middle Act currently has 18 House cosponsors and 7 Senate cosponsors.
Graduation Promise Act
Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) and Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) reintroduced the Graduation Promise Act (H.R. 778/S. 1177). The bill would support the development of statewide systems of differentiated high school improvement that focuses research and evidence-based intervention on the lowest performing high schools, and improves the capacity of the high schools to decrease dropout rates and increase student achievement. The bill would also provide competitive grants to states to identify statewide obstacles hindering students from graduating, and provide incentives for states to increase graduation rates.
The Graduation Promise Act currently has 34 House cosponsors and 1 Senate cosponsor.
National Principals Month Resolution
On September 12, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) introduced a resolution officially recognizing October 2012 as National Principals Month, along with 12 cosponsors, and the resolution was passed by the Senate with unanimous consent. On the House side, Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) introduced the same resolution but due to current House rules, no resolutions can be passed in the House. NASSP is proud of the recognition Congress has given for principals through these resolutions, as well as the recognition that several states have given through similar proclamations that were passed in large part to the excellent advocacy conducted by the corresponding state associations. To see a map indicating the states with these proclamations as well as other resources for National Principals Month, go to www.principalsmonth.org.
Educator Preparation Reform Act
On September 20, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) introduced the Educator Preparation Reform Act (S. 3582/H.R. 6447) to improve the quality of teaching and school leadership in high-need schools by reforming and strengthening accountability of educator preparation programs and supporting partnerships to meet the needs of educators and educational leaders. NASSP President Denise Greene-Wilkinson spoke at a press briefing the day of the bill’s release and said: “We are pleased that The Educator Reform Act recognizes the unique leadership skills necessary for effective principals while also making it clear that ongoing professional development opportunities is necessary for all school leaders.”
The primary focus of the legislation is on teacher and principal preparation and amends the Higher Education Act (HEA). It also improves Title II of the HEA—the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants Program—by expanding the residency programs to include principals and providing partnerships flexibility in meeting the instructional needs of local school districts.
The bill additionally proposes to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s (ESEA) Title II teacher quality state formula grant program to better coordinate these initiatives with educator preparation programs and professional development. NASSP has strongly spoken out about ESEA policies that have inadvertently overlooked principal professional development, as currently only 3% of ESEA Title II funds are spent on principal activities.
Broadening Opportunities through Education Act
On September 19, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) introduced a bill (H.R. 6434) to provide resources and support for schools in states that elect to raise the dropout age to 18. Rep. Edwards’ staff approached NASSP for assistance in drafting legislation after reading our position statement on raising the compulsory school attendance age. Under the bill, states that have enacted laws to raise the compulsory attendance age could apply for a competitive grant to improve programs in their middle level and high schools. Funding would be used to establish or expand CTE programs, implement an early warning indicator system to help high schools and their feeder middle schools assist struggling students, create grade and school transition programs, personalize the school experience, provide extended learning opportunities, and increase counseling and other nonacademic supports for students.
Although Congress is unlikely to act on any education bills before the November elections, the Broadening Opportunities Through Education Act will likely be considered in future discussions of Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization.
NASSP on Capitol Hill
NASSP at the US Department of Education
NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti, NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly, and government relations staff from both associations attended two meetings in July with senior officials at the US Department of Education. The first meeting was held with the new Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, Deb Delisle, to introduce the associations and our key policy issues. The second meeting was held with Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss to discuss how the Department of Education can better support school leaders.
In August, JoAnn Bartoletti and government relations staff attended a teacher leading convening at the US Department of Education to discuss the administration’s RESPECT proposal to transform the education profession.
On September 13, NASSP and NAESP cohosted a briefing featuring the components and recommendations of our new report on principal evaluation titled “Rethinking Principal Evaluation: A New Paradigm Informed by Research and Practice.” Presenters at the briefing included: NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly; Matthew Clifford, American Institutes for Research; Steven Ross, Center for Research and Reform in Education, Johns Hopkins University; Principals Janice Koslowski, principal of Potomac Falls High School, VA, and Jon Millerhagen, principal of Washburn Elementary School, MN; and NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. The executive summary and full report is available at http://www.nassp.org/Content/158/EVALUATION_REPORT_FINAL.PDF.
Coalition for Teacher Quality
NASSP visited with key Congressional staff this quarter as members of the Coalition for Teacher Quality. (With nearly 90 members representing civil rights organizations, disability groups, parents, educators, and grassroots community activists, the coalition is deeply committed to the development of well-prepared, experienced, and effective teachers for all communities, and to ensuring that every student has a fully prepared and effective teacher in the classroom.) NASSP and coalition members met with the following offices: Senate appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), and with House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Rep. George Miller (D-CA). In these meetings, we shared our goal to include, as part of the FY 2013 appropriations bill, reporting requirements about the location of teachers in training who are currently labeled as “highly qualified” and the number and types of students they teach (whether they are English Language Learners or students with disabilities, for example) in order to inform the issue of highly qualified as a standard for the next ESEA reauthorization. NASSP is pleased to report that as a direct result of our lobbying efforts, the provision in federal law that allows teachers in training to be deemed “highly qualified” has been extended for only one year, and the reporting requirements we sought have been put in place to be reported by the Secretary of Education by December 31, 2013.
State Principals of the Year
The 2013 State Principals of the Year spent an entire day on Capitol Hill on September 20 meeting with their Congressional offices to have a significant collective impact on the federal conversation around secondary schools and school leadership. The MetLife/NASSP National Principals of the Year and finalists also spoke with House and Senate education committee Congressional staff in a roundtable discussion to share their stories and feedback on current federal education policies.
News from the White House and the US Department of Education
Department of Education Awards $290 Million for the 2012 Teacher Incentive Fund
On September 27, the U.S. Department of Education awarded 35 grants to modify pay structures, reward excellent teachers and principals and offer greater professional opportunities to teachers in high poverty schools. Grantees include districts, partnering districts, states, and nonprofits that together serve nearly 1,000 schools in 150 urban, suburban, and rural school districts in 18 states and D.C.
According to a U.S. Department of Education press release, “All applicants submitted proposals, developed in part by teachers, that provide opportunities for teacher leadership and advancement, put in place district-wide evaluations based on multiple measures that include student growth, and improve decision-making through better evaluations.”
For more information on the TIF program and the 2012 grantees, go to http://www2.ed.gov/programs/teacherincentive/awards.html.
Nearly 900 Groups Submit Intent to Apply for the $400 Million Race to the Top District-Level Competition
As of August 31, the U.S. Department of Education announced that 893 potential applicants have submitted their intent to apply for the 2012 Race to the Top-District program, which will distribute almost $400 million to support local reforms to personalize learning, close achievement gaps and prepare each student for college and their careers.
This district-level competition asks applicants to demonstrate how they can personalize education for all students. The list of those who have indicated their intent to apply can be found here: www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district. Potential applicants that did not submit intentions to apply may still apply for funding. According to the Department’s press release on August 31, “The Department plans to support high-quality proposals from applicants across a variety of districts, including rural and non-rural districts as well as those already participating in a Race to the Top state grant and districts not participating. These 4-year awards will range from $5 million to $40 million, depending on the population of students served through the plan. The Department is expecting to make 15-25 awards.”
More information can be found at: www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district. Applications are due Oct. 30, with awards being announced no later than Dec. 31, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of Education Warns of Impact of Sequester on Education Funding in Congressional Hearing
On July 25, U.S. Secretary of Education was one among a handful of witnesses to testify to members of the Congressional Senate appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education about the significant impact that sequestration would have on education funding if it occurs on January 2, 2013. (See pg. 4 for a summary of sequestration). As stated in a July 25 Department of Education press release: “Duncan urged Congress to work with President Obama, who has submitted a plan that includes $4 trillion in deficit reductions and calls for targeted cuts in spending.
‘We have tightened our belts in a responsible way,’ Duncan said. ‘Most importantly, the President’s plan is a long-term fix. It will put an end to the see-saw budgeting that leaves state and local officials wondering if they can count on the federal government to be a partner with them on education and other vital programs.’ For Title I, special education and other large K-12 programs, the cuts would take effect in the fall of 2013. Duncan pointed out that in a recent poll 80 percent of school administrators said they would be unable to replace the lost federal funds with state and local money.
Duncan also highlighted the potential impact on Head Start, child care, health research and other programs that support children and their families.”
To read an accompanying report from subcommittee Chairman Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) on the impact of sequestration on education, go here: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/ht-labor.cfm?method=hearings.view&id=3e179839-d43a-4002-8c16-bf0050f4f4a5.
NASSP Federal Grassroots Network
The Federal Grassroots Network held its quarterly call on August 21 and a make-up call on August 22. The five “hot topics” the Network reported on in their states and that NASSP Government Relations staff created action items on, in order of importance to members, were: state education funding, teacher evaluation, implementation of common core state standards, principal evaluation, and No Child Left Behind waivers. At this point, Federal Grassroots Network members will no longer participate in quarterly calls (only state coordinators will), but will continue to receive email updates twice per week summarizing the latest news and events in federal policy and funding. If you or your colleagues are not yet members of the Federal Grassroots Network and would like to become one, please email Mary Kingston at firstname.lastname@example.org. For an overview of what membership in the Network involves, please go here: http://www.nassp.org/Legislative-Advocacy/NASSP-Federal-Grassroots-Network.
NASSP State Coordinators
NASSP welcomes several new coordinators to their roles: Jon Collins (AR), Jane Griffin (LA), Lon Jorgenson (MN), Peter Kruszynski (NY), Randy Schlueter (NE), and Vicki Puckett (WA).
As noted above, the quarterly calls that previously included all members of the Federal Grassroots Network will now only include state coordinators. The quarterly call dates for the remainder of 2012-2013 are the following (members will choose one date/time per quarter):
• November 2012: Tues Nov 13, 10 am EST; Wed Nov 14 2012, 3:30 pm EST
• February 2013: Tues Feb 12, 10 am EST; Wed Feb 13 2013, 3:30 pm EST
• May 2013: Tues May 14, 10 am EST; Wed May 15 2013, 3:30 pm EST
NASSP Advocacy in the States
NASSP Director of Government Relations Amanda Karhuse and Manager of Government Relations Mary Kingston were in Rhode Island on August 1 to speak to the Rhode Island Association of School Principals and deliver a federal policy and grassroots advocacy briefing.
Mary Kingston was in Las Vegas, NV September 30 and October 1 to speak to representatives of Region VII state associations and deliver a federal policy and grassroots advocacy briefing as well as training on how to use Twitter for advocacy purposes.