NASSP Weekly Federal Policy Update

On March 18, 2011, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston

Announcements:

The Senate this Tuesday passed the 3-week continuing resolution (CR) that the House had passed last Friday to keep the government running through April 8. This CR cuts $2 billion in federal spending per week, or $6 billion total, but the good news is that it does not cut any more from education programs than the previous CR does. However, a few programs key to NASSP members-the School Leadership Program (which provides training, mentoring, and professional development to principals), and the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program (which provides comprehensive birth through grade 12 literacy) were eliminated in this CR, and NASSP Government Relations staff will continue to advocate to restore this funding for a year-long CR. At a DC event this past Wednesday, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) ensured the crowd that he would not allow a federal government shutdown, and that this CR through April 8 would be the last short-term CR. He said Republicans, Democrats, and the Administration must negotiate a compromise in the next 3 weeks for a final year-long CR through the end of the FY 11 fiscal year (September 30.) Read more in the brief description in the “News” section below.

This past Monday President Obama visited Kenmore Middle School in northern Virginia where he urged reauthorization of ESEA before students return to school for the 2011-2012 school year, and where he also urged appropriators not to cut education funding for FY 11 or FY 12. Go here for the blog and video coverage: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/03/14/president-obama-it-s-not-enough-leave-no-child-behind-we-need-help-every-child-get-a), and go here for a fact sheet: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/03/14/president-obama-calls-congress-fix-no-child-left-behind-start-next-schoo and the Secretary’s remarks at http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-kenmore-middle-school-arlington-virginia). Read more in the brief description in the “News” section below.

The White House recently held a Conference on Bullying Prevention. Approximately 150 students, parents, teachers, advocates, and policymakers gathered to discuss how they can collaborate to make our schools and communities safer. “If there’s one goal of this conference, it’s to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage, or an inevitable part of growing up. It’s not,” President Obama said. “Bullying can have destructive consequences for our young people. And, it’s not something that we have to accept.” See NASSP’s press release to read about the participation of one of NASSP’s Board members, B.J. Paris, in the Summit: www.nassp.org.
Go here for more information on the Summit: www.whitehouse.gov.

News

New Short Term CR Freezes Education Spending, No New Cuts

Congress passed a new short-term continuing resolution that would fund the government through April 8th. The bill cuts an additional $6 billion dollars in spending, though none of that money is taken from the Department of Education. Congress now has an additional three weeks to compromise on a budget for FY11, which began Oct. 1st of last year. To read more click here: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2011/03/senate_passes_spending_bill_fl.html

Wisconsin Judge Blocks Controversial Union Law

A Wisconsin judge temporarily blocked the state’s controversial anti-union law from going into effect. Judge Maryann Sumi made the decision, contending the legislative committee that passed the bill failed to give the required 24-hour notice before meeting. Assistant Attorney General Steven Means has said the state will appeal the ruling. To read more click here: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/03/18/413811_ap.html

Obama Warns Congress, Budgets That  Cut Education Will Be Blocked

During a speech at a Virginia middle school, Obama said he expects Congress to reauthorize ESEA before the start of the new school year and added he would not a sign a bill that cuts education spending. The President told the gathering, “A budget that sacrifices our commitment to education would be a budget that’s sacrificing our country’s future. And I will not let it happen”. To read more click here: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/03/14/26obama.h30.html

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Examine Education Red Tape

Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have introduced a bipartisan bill that would create a national task force responsible for examining federal, state, and local education regulations and making policy recommendations for removing red tape. The Senators have already created a task force to examine regulations in Colorado and Tennessee. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who supports the bill, will co-chair the task force along with the two Senators. To read more click here: http://bennet.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=1607e534-6c50-4ec7-9fbe-44f107fd484a

Teacher Retirement Spikes in Wisconsin Schools

Despite a temporary court-ordered block of the anti-union bill, more teachers in Wisconsin are opting to retire years earlier than planned, rather than face uncertainty over health and retirement benefits. Districts across the state are reporting retirement numbers three times above average. John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc, said of the spike in retirement, “that’s a major brain and skill drain. That will have a major negative impact on the educational program”. To read more click here: http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2011/03/16/mct_wiretire.html

From NASSP’s Principals’ Policy Blog

House Education and Workforce Subcommittee Examines Education Regulations

The House Education and Workforce subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, and the subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training recently held separate hearings on the impact of federal regulations on public schools. The hearings were intended to inform Education and Workforce committee members of the obstacles schools currently face as the committee prepares to rewrite and reauthorize ESEA legislation. Though the two hearings focused on different levels of education, the underlying issues were the same: the unwieldy amount of reporting and data collection required by the federal government overburdens schools and ultimately takes invaluable resources-tangible and intangible-away from the classroom. Read the rest of the blog here: http://www.principalspolicyblog.org/blog/.

Congressional Briefing Held on Children of Immigrant Families

First Focus held a briefing Thursday to discuss policy issues, including education policy, that affect the children of immigrant families. A study released by First Focus in conjunction with the briefing finds children in immigrant families account for nearly one-fourth of all children in the U.S. The majority of these children-88 percent-are U.S. citizens. In addition, an estimated 1.8 million children are undocumented. Many were brought to the United States at a young age and have spent the majority of their lives in the U.S. Under a 1982 Supreme Court Ruling, undocumented children who were brought to the United States by their parents cannot be denied a K-12 education. Though 65,000 undocumented children graduate from American high schools each year, they are unable to pursue college or career opportunities. Read the rest of the blog here: http://www.principalspolicyblog.org/blog/.

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