New Solutions and Updates
ALERT - Support the Reed Amendment - Notify your Senators
As you may have heard by now, Senator McCain has offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016 that would increase the funds available to the Pentagon by increasing the overseas contingency operations (OCO) fund by $18 billion. This maneuver allows for increased defense spending above the caps, without the need for offsets and has generally been used for wartime spending, though it was extended to some base operations and NDD programs in last year’s budget deal. If passed alone, this amendment would seriously violate one of NDD United’s key messages – parity. We believe that for each dollar that defense gets of relief from cuts, so should NDD.
Fortunately, our friend in the Senate, Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Senate Jack Reed has offered an amendment that would provide equal OCO funds to NDD programs including:
Thirteen States Now Require Grads to Pass Citizenship Test
By Jackie Zubrzycki on June 7, 2016 11:13 AM
Thirteen states now plan to require high school graduates-to-be to take or pass a citizenship test before receiving a diploma. That's up from four at this time last year—and zero at this time the year before.
Legislators around the country have passed laws requiring students to take or pass the exam, which is required of those applying for U.S. citizenship. Arizona and North Dakota were the first states to pass the requirements, in January of 2015. The Arizona-based Joe Foss Institute's Civics Education Initiative has pushed for the bills, and aims to introduce the requirement in every state by 2017. Several states' legislative sessions are ongoing, so there's a chance even 2016 will see more states added to the tally.
Lucian Spataro Jr., the chairman of education initaitives at the Joe Foss Institute, said the goal of the Civics Education Initiative is "to bring attention to quiet crisis. We see it as a good first step toward balancing curriculum in [the] classroom and bringing emphasis to soft disciplines." Spataro said he believed that subjects like social studies and civics were getting short shrift in schools.
Here's the Joe Foss Institute's map of where bills have passed or been considered as of late May 2016:
Those who are applying to become U.S. citizens are asked to answer six out of ten questions from this list of 100 questions correctly. The new laws ask students to correctly answer different numbers of questions.
Spataro said that the test is simple and short enough that States have taken different approaches to implementing the test. In Arizona, some 8th graders may take the exam soon after they finish their U.S. history courses. In North Dakota, some school districts administered practice tests. Two independent groups of students have created apps to help students practice for the exam.
Most of the states that have passed the test requirement so far lean right politically —but bills have gotten bipartisan support in a number of states, and the list of states for next year covers the ideological spectrum.
hasn't drawn much backlash, though some have argued that memorizing facts to prepare for a multiple-choice test is not the most effective way to build an engaged citizenry.
Spataro said that while the questions may be simple, "if [students] were learning this in schools, they should be able to answer them correctly." He said that the test encourages teachers to teach about topics like the Bill of Rights and checks and balances and students to actually memorize the information.
And he said that having students learn about government is critical at a time when many Americans feel disenfranchised or frustrated with elected officials. "If you understand the rules of engagement, how the republic operates, everyone's on that same platform, and it's easier to come to consensus...you'd still have disagreement but at least you'd be trying to meet in the middle."
Map source: Joe Foss Institute
Story from Education Week Blog
Senate Panel OKs Tiny Hikes for Key K-12 Grants, $300 Million for ESSA Block Grant
By Alyson Klein on June 7, 2016 1:35 PM
School districts and states wouldn't see big increases to funding for special education, or Title I money for disadvantaged students under a spending bill approved Tuesday by the Senate panel that oversees education, labor, and health spending.
And, to the chagrin of many advocates, a new flexible spending fund created under the Every Student Succeeds Act—called the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program—would be slated to receive only $300 million, or a little more than the roughly $278 million the programs that make up the block grant (such as Advanced Placement and elementary and secondary school counseling) are getting currently.
In March, lawmakers gave U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., grief when he testified on the budget request for the administration's $500 million ask for the new program, which is a lot less than the $1.6 billion authorized under ESSA. Advocacy groups sent letters to Congress complaining about the budget request. And obviously, $300 million is even less than the administration wanted.
The spending bill includes an overall cut of $220 million to the U.S. Department of Education in fiscal year 2017, which would bring the agency's budget to $67.8 billion, comparable to current levels. The committee had a tight budget allocation, so there wasn't much room to maneuver, lawmakers said. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who helped craft the agreement as the top Democrat on the panel, said during debate that she wished there had been more money for education and other priorities.
It includes what amounts to a tiny hike for Title I grants for disadvantaged students, bringing the program from $14.9 billion currently to $15.4 billion. That $500 million might sound like a big increase. But it is not, in part because the $450 million School Improvement Grants were eliminated under ESSA and added to the broader Title I program. What's more, advocates for districts have maintained that the program needs a $250 million boost, in addition to the school improvement funding, to ensure districts don't lose money, thanks to changes ESSA made to the way the grants flow. This proposal doesn't go that far.
Special education state grants would receive a small, $40 million increase, to $11.95 billion. Career and technical education would be flat-funded, at a little over $1 billion.
K-12 Winners and Losers
Other programs would see slight increases, including Impact Aid, which helps districts make up for lost tax dollars due to a federal presence, such as a Native American reservation or military base. The program would get a $10 million boost, to $1.3 billion. Grants for charter schools would also see a $10 million hike, bringing the program to $343 million.
The department's office for civil rights, which is handling an unprecedented number of investigations, would see a small, $3 million increase, to $110 million. And support for homeless students would increase $7 million, to $77 million. Homeless students are also a focus of ESSA—the new law requires states to break out test score data for homeless kids, just as they did under the No Child Left Behind Act for racial minorities, disadvantaged kids, and other special populations.
And other programs received level funding, including Preschool Development Grants, which help states expand and improve the quality of their early-education programs. The program, which was a huge priority for Murray, during ESSA's development and is now located in the Department of Health and Human Services, would receive about $250 million.
The Promise Neighborhood program, which encourages districts to pair education with wraparound services, would receive $73.2 million, the same amount the program is currently getting. The bill includes new language aimed at supporting the extension of strong Promise Neighborhood programs.
And the Education Innovation and Research program, the successor to the Obama administration's Investing in Innovation grant program, would be slated to receive $120 million, the same amount i3 is currently getting.
There were also some cuts, including to state grants for teacher quality, which are funded at about $2.3 billion, a roughly $200 million decrease from current levels.
On the higher education front, the bill includes a proposal for year-round Pell Grants. which would allow students to take advantage of the program during the summer. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the education committee, said during Tuesday's subcommittee markup that he sees this as a great step forward, but he wants to "keep a close eye" on the cost of the change, to make sure it remains affordable.
House Speaker Ryan's Policy Blueprint Includes Early Learning, Career Education
By Andrew Ujifusa on June 7, 2016 11:15 AM
The policy blueprint laid out by GOP Speaker of the House Paul Ryan includes proposals dealing with early learning and career and technical education, and also praises the Every Student Succeeds Act for providing additional support to charter schools.
"A Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America" was created by the House Republicans' Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility in order to address a variety of policy issues. It was presented to the public by Ryan and other House Republicans, including Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, on Tuesday.
The report doesn't spend a ton of time dealing with K-12, but there are a few things worth noting in the 35-page plan.
Early Education: The report states that while access to "high-quality" prekindergarten programs is important, the federal government has 14 programs that "explicitly provide early care or education for children" that do not deliver long-term results to disadvantaged children. It also criticizes federal Head Start programs for the much-discussed "fade out" effect, in which gains from these programs dissolve by the time children complete the 3d grade, according to research.
The solution? "A Better Way" wants more research to highlight the best early-education programs; less "redundancy" in the early-education and child-care programs Washington pays for; and a broader array of options for parents when choosing such programs.
At-Risk Youth: A decent chunk of this section on disadvantaged children and those who enter the juvenile-justice system is spent promoting school choice. The blueprint praises ESSA for its "federal support for high-quality charter schools."
"Providing all children—particularly the most vulnerable children—better educational choices will give them a better chance to succeed beyond the classroom," the report states.
The House Republican report also notes changes that ESSA makes to educational services for children in correctional and other juvenile-justice facilities. (On a related note, the National Center for Youth Law has put together a detailed fact sheet about how ESSA handles students in the juvenile-justice system as well as students in foster care.)
The GOP blueprint also calls for at-risk children to be made more aware of the various services available to them for issues like substance abuse and mental health; recognizes that different regions might need some services more than others; and promotes school choice like the District of Columbia's Opportunity Scholarships program, which provides vouchers to students in D.C.
Career and Technical Education: Noting that in the 2012-13 academic year 11 million students in the country enrolled in career and technical education programs, "A Better Way" notes that federal funding for CTE programs isn't particularly flexible from states' perspectives. (The federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which provides just over $1 billion annually to CTE, was last reauthorized in 2006, and in March, then-Acting Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. called for it to be reauthorized so that, among other things, the courses that make up a good CTE program are better defined.)
In keeping with other sections of the report, Republicans on the task force want federal officials to "meddle" less with state and local decisions about workforce training. The blueprint also calls for better partnerships between CTE and local business in order to improve alignment between programs and in-demand jobs.
Photo: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. is surrounded by the media as he arrives for a House GOP conference meeting at the Capitol last October.
News and Information
From the Executive Director
June 2016 has been a busy month for ASIAA. Please note the following:
Section 8002 Final FY2013 Payments Released
Final payments for FY 2013 have been released and should reach your banks by Monday, June 20. Vouchers are being emailed.
"Our final review of FY 2013 grants revealed a few 8002 grantees that did not receive the full FY 2012 final payment due under the statutory formula," according to the U.S. Department of Education's Impact Aid Office. "We are correcting this. We processed final FY 2012 payment adjustments to recover funds needed to pay all applicants the full amount they are due for 2012. In almost every instance these were very small overpayments and the funds are recovered through offset from the FY 2013 payments."
Overpayment notices and vouchers are being mailed through USPS to those school districts receiving reduced final payments. Vouchers showing the overpayments are also being emailed to districts. No action is required if you receive a notice.
Please contact the Impact Aid Program at 202-260-3858 if you have questions about these final 8002 payments
During the markup, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., expressed dismay at the $300 million allocation for the block grant, which is supposed to help districts cover the cost of technology, student health and wellness, safety, arts education, and more.
"Without strong funding, I fear the incredible potential of this program won't be realized," she said.
And advocates quickly circulated statements expressing their frustration. Here's a sample, from the STEM Coalition, which works to expand and improve science, math, engineering, and technology education:
"We are very disappointed in the Subcommittee funding level of $300 million for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program, Title IV, Part A. This critical program, included by overwhelming bipartisan consensus in the Every Student Succeeds Act, would provide schools with the flexible resources they need to support wide range of activities like science, technology, engineering, and math competitions, hands-on learning, and bringing high-quality STEM courses—including computer science—to high-need schools. The Subcommittee funding level is more than a BILLION dollars below the level authorized under ESSA and this is unacceptable. We look forward to working with the members of the full committee to increase this funding level going forward."
Both of ESSA's key architects—Alexander and Murray—would have liked to have seen more money for the flexible spending fund. But both seemed to put a premium on getting a bipartisan spending bill for education, health, and labor programs— something that hasn't happened in more than a half a dozen years.
In a quick interview after the markup, when asked if he was disappointed with the $300 million allocation, Alexander stressed the big picture.
"I'm not disappointed with this bill," he said. "Year-round Pell Grants are the most important higher education" step of the past couple years. He was also pleased that the bill includes a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health. "That's terrific," he said, even if it means he can't fund K-12 programs as much as he would have liked.
And Murray believes ESSA implementation will proceed more smoothly if Congress is able to pass an honest-to-goodness spending bill for the Education Department, rather than simply extending funding at last year's levels, a congressional aide said. (This budget, for fiscal year 2017 which starts on Oct. 1, is the first official spending plan for ESSA. The new law made a bunch of programmatic changes—eliminating some programs and combining others—so an extension bill could get very complicated.)
On another issue, it doesn't appear that the bill includes any policy riders that would seek to put the kibosh on the department's approach to supplement-not-supplant, which governs how federal dollars relate to local and state spending. During negotiated rulemaking for ESSA, the department put forth a proposed rule on the issue that drew serious criticism from Alexander, the National Governor's Association, state chiefs, advocates for districts, and more.
The negotiated rulemaking committee failed to come to agreement on the issue, so the department will get to write its own regulation, which will be subject to congressional review. Alexander said at a hearing earlier this year that he could use the appropriations process to help put the brakes on supplement-not-supplant regulations that he feels oversteps congressional intent in ESSA.
Story courtesy of Education Week Blog
Information Alert: $10M Increase for Impact Aid in Senate Bill
Today, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-Health and Human Services-Education marked up a bipartisan Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 spending bill. Included, is a $10 million increase for Impact Aid over FY 2016 enacted levels, including an $8 million increase for Basic Support and a $2 million increase for Federal Properties.
This is a huge win for the Impact Aid community at a time when overall discretionary spending is flat; increases for the Impact Aid program in the Senate have been scarce; and the Administration has repeatedly eliminated funding for Federal Properties in its budget requests.
"There's still a long road ahead for funding this year," said NAFIS Government Affairs Director Jocelyn Bissonnette, "but this is a moment to celebrate the success of the NAFIS Family and recognize all of our united efforts to advocate for the entire program."
The full Senate Appropriations Committee will vote one the bill Thursday. The House is expected to release its equivalent bill later this month. We will continue to keep you updated as additional information becomes available.
Post to Your Calendar
Republican National Convention
Democratic National Convention
40th Annual Law Conference
Arizona Rural Schools/ASIIA Conference
FISEF Impact Aid Application Workshop
July 18 - 21, 2016
July 25 - 28, 2016
September 7 - 9, 2016, Phoenix, Az
September 15 - 16, 2016, Flagstaff, Az
October 27-28, 2016, Flagstaff, Az