Federal Legislative Updates
News from Capitol Hill. . .
August 1, 2014
Congress heads into August recess with much left undone—contact members back home
Congress has adjourned for a five-week recess (until September 8), so members will be home—making it a great time to reach out. Take advantage of their time back home to schedule an in-person meeting to discuss what’s happening in your schools and weigh in on critical issues like over-testing students, college affordability, and education funding. See alerts on these issues below, and on these and other issues on our special August recess page on the NEA Legislative Action Center.
The Education Insider is taking a break while Congress is in recess, but your advocacy is still needed. Keep sending those emails telling Congress to take action on the issues that matter most to you and your students!
Share your story about toxic testing, urge Congress to take action
NEA’s campaign to end toxic testing, launched at the Representative Assembly in Denver earlier this month, continues to gather steam. Share your story about the impact of high-stakes testing on your students and urge your Representative to join the growing ranks of members to co-sponsor the Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act (H.R. 4172). The bill would reduce the number of federally-mandated tests from 14 to 6. Fewer federally-mandated tests would free up time for instruction, enabling educators to give greater attention to the students most in need.
TAKE ACTION TODAY! Urge Congress to reduce the federal role in testing
Future educator tells her story to spur action on college affordability
NEA student member Alexis Ploss, from New Hampshire, met with the Senate Democratic caucus on Wednesday to talk about why it is so difficult for children from low-income families—like her—to go to college. Ploss is studying to become a high school physics and astronomy teacher and will be $100,000 in debt by the time she graduates. She is the fourth NEA member this year to testify before senators on critical issues. NEA’s Degrees Not Debt campaign continues to shine a spotlight on the pressing need to make college more affordable.
TAKE ACTION TODAY! Tell Congress Americans deserve degrees, not debt
Tell Congress to put equity first, increase funding for core programs for students most in need
Congress headed home no closer to passing a final education funding bill for the upcoming FY2015. While the FY2014 funding bill partially replaced the devastating sequester cuts, much remains to be done. For example, the Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee bill would increase FY2015 funding for Title 1 grants to local education agencies by $50 million and IDEA state grants by $40 million above the FY2014 funding level.
To ensure equal educational opportunity for all, funding needs to be fully restored to pre-sequester levels and greater investments made, especially for core formula grant programs like Title I and IDEA that provide targeted help for the students most in need. When Congress returns in September, it will have just a few weeks to pass a new funding bill before the start of the fiscal year on October 1.
TAKE ACTION TODAY! Tell Congress to support an FY15 Labor-HHS-Education funding bill that ensures opportunity and equity for all students.
Cheers and Jeers
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Ellison (D-MN), Judy Chu (D-CA), Yvette D. Clarke (D-MD), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Jared Polis (D-CO) for Wednesday’s ad hoc hearing on the humanitarian crisis on our southern border, sponsored by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which featured three child refugees and four expert witnesses who stressed the importance of putting children’s best interests first.
Republican Reps. Jeff Denham (CA), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL), Walter Jones (NC), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), and David Valadao (CA) for voting against the NEA-opposed Child Tax Credit Improvement (CTC) Act (H.R. 4935), which would make permanent new tax cuts for affluent families; let the CTC disappear altogether for many of the nation’s poorest working families; and make it impossible for many low-income immigrant parents to get any tax credit.
Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) for introducing the NEA-supported All Students Count Act, which would require states to break down data on K-12 Asian American and Pacific Islander students the same way the U.S. Census does.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for his statement in support of the U.S. Department of Justice challenging attempts by Ohio’s Secretary of State to restrict early voting and same day registration. “There is no greater symbol of our democracy than our citizens’ right to vote,” Brown said. “Any attempt to restrict access to the ballot box is a clear violation of our nation’s founding principles. I applaud the U.S. Justice Department for its efforts to prevent discrimination and ensure that every Ohioan’s voice is heard and counted.”
House GOP leadership for their NEA-opposed "supplemental" funding bill that is woefully inadequate to help ensure the safety and well-being of the child refugees entering the country and would accelerate possible deportations. The House passed the bill on a nearly party line vote before leaving town for recess.