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Education Insider March 2015

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March 29, 2015
March 22, 2015
March 15, 2015
March 8, 2015
March 1, 2015

March 29, 2015

House and Senate Pass Budgets that Shortchange Students

budgetIn party-line votes, the House and the Senate passed their respective budget resolutions for FY2016 this week, both of which NEA strongly opposes. The two chambers will attempt to craft a compromise in mid-April, after a two-week recess that began March 27.

The GOP’s proposed FY2016 budgets perpetuate the austerity approach for another decade, slashing investments in our nation’s future without adding a penny in revenue from corporations or the wealthiest among us. Click for further details about the resolutions passed by the House and the Senate, including their potential impact on Title I, IDEA and Head Start in each state.

NEA is urging Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion, build on the FY2014-15 Murray-Ryan deal, and end sequester-level cuts while leaving room to invest in education programs like Title I, IDEA, and Head Start that target the students most in need.

Get Involved in ESEA Wave of Action

In preparation for Senate action on its version of ESEA reauthorization—scheduled to begin April 14—NEA organized a briefing on Capitol Hill this week featuring Board-certified teachers to provide real-life examples of educators taking ownership of their profession and why ESEA must empower the workforce to help transform isolated pockets of improvement into system-wide excellence. The teachers, all of whom are NEA members, met with lawmakers and staff from their home states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington—among them, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA).

esea rallyNEA’s April wave of action coincides with the upcoming congressional recess—a great time to get involved by scheduling a lobbying visit, teach-in, rally, or other event. This week in Denver, Colorado, for example, more than 200 educators, students, parents, and community members gathered on the steps of the capitol to the learning time and resources lost to excessive standardized testing.

Advocate for getting ESEA right by clicking on the “take action” button. NEA’s core goals takeactionfor this reauthorization are:

• A new accountability system with an “opportunity dashboard”
• Less testing to give students more time to learn
• Decoupling high-stakes testing and accountability
• Ensuring qualified educators and empowering them to lead

House Approves Help for Rural Schools

In an overwhelming vote, the House approved a two-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, which provides critical funding for over 4,400 schools in 770 rural counties near national forests across the United States. Representative Greg Walden (R-OR), championed the extension and was instrumental in its passage. The extension, part of a larger package, expected to pass the Senate when it returns in April.

Cheers & Jeers

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Several House Republicans who crossed party-lines to vote against the GOP leadership’s draconian budget, including Reps. Barbara Comstock (VA), Rick Crawford (AR), Chris Gibson (NY), David Jolly (FL), John Katko (NY), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), and David McKinley (WV).

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Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) for sponsoring the briefing on what educators want to see in the next version of ESEA featuring NEA members.

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Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) for offering an amendment to the Senate budget to replace sequestration for the next 2 years. The amendment failed in a party-line vote.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for offering an amendment to the Senate budget to make college more affordable by allowing student loan borrowers to refinance for lower rates. The amendment failed in a party-line vote.

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Cheers to 6 GOP senators who joined with Democrats in supporting an amendment by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) that any adjustment in replacing sequester level cuts to Defense be applied equally to Non-Defense programs. The GOP senators were: Lamar Alexander (TN), Kelly Ayotte (NH), Susan Collins (ME), Bob Corker (TN), Lindsay Graham (SC), and John McCain (AZ).

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for offering an amendment to the Senate budget to increase Defense spending by cutting Non-Defense programs like education, health and job training even more. The amendment was overwhelmingly defeated.

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for offering an amendment to the Senate budget to cut funding for public schools by offering tuition tax credit vouchers for private schools.

March 22, 2015

GOP Budgets Shortchange Students and Families

The NEA-opposed House and Senate GOP budget resolutions for FY2016 passed out of committees in party-line votes this week, and will be on the floor of their respective chambers next week. The resolutions would perpetuate the austerity approach, cutting investments by trillions of dollars over the next decade without adding a penny in revenue from corporations or the wealthy.

“This budget does not ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García of the House budget. “Instead, it aims to balance the budget on the backs of families and students by slashing investments in education, job training, health care, and nutrition assistance for families and children most in need.”

NEA is urging lawmakers to prevent the return of sequester-level cuts; ensure that non-defensediscretionary (NDD) programs—education, job training, food stamps, and more— receive the same “relief” as defense programs; and prioritize formula-grant programs like Title I and IDEA. Notably, the Senate budget includes language to allow for a bipartisan deal later this year to restore pending cuts. Click the “take action” button to weigh in and email Congress on this vital issue.

Tell Congress to Get ESEA Right

Time is getting short to make sure Congress hears from educators about what a new Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) must look like. The Senate HELP Committee plans to mark up its version of ESEA reauthorization the week of April 13, with a vote by thefull Senate thefollowing week. Advocate for getting ESEA right by clicking on the “take action” button.

NEA’s core goals for the next ESEA are:

  1. A new accountability system with an “opportunity dashboard”
  2. Less testing to give students more time to learn
  3. Decoupling high-stakes testing and accountability
  4. Ensuring qualified educators and empowering them to lead

Cheers and Jeers

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Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Judy Chu (D-CA) for leading a “Dear Colleague” letter urging the House Appropriations Committee to increase Title I funding significantly.

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House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) for urging the House Budget Committee to increase funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

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Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), David McKinley (R-WV), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Tim Walz (D-MN), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Richard Hanna (R-NY) for leading a “Dear Colleague” letter urging the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS and Education “to support significant funding for IDEA in FY16 to put us on the path to full federal funding within ten years.”

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Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for reintroducing the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which would allow students who took out loans before July 1, 2013, to refinance and pay the same low rates as new borrowers.

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House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) for their draconian FY2016 budget proposals, which slash funding for domestic programs like education and job training by hundreds of billions of dollars, cut Medicaid and Medicare, and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

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Representatives who supported the House resolution of disapproval of new National Labor Relations Board election rules that would make the process run more smoothly and predictably—to the benefit of employers, workers, and unions.

March 15, 2015

Senate Plans to Take Up Bipartisan ESEA Bill in April

Some 6,000 NEA members participated in a special tele-town hall this week, led by NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, featuring a call to action on ESEA reauthorization. Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced the markup of a bipartisan ESEA bill the week of April 13, with a vote by the full Senate shortly thereafter. It is unclear how soon the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), the House version of ESEA reauthorization, could come back to the floor.

takeactionNot much time is left to be heard. The last time Congress reauthorized ESEA, it did not listen enough to educators and parents—the result was a No Child Left Behind Act that has not worked for students. Don’t let that happen again! Advocate for getting ESEA right by clicking on the “take action” button.

NEA’s core goals for the next ESEA are:

  1. A new accountability system with an “opportunity dashboard”
  2. Less testing to give students more time to learn
  3. Decoupling high-stakes testing and accountability
  4. Ensuring qualified educators and empowering them to lead

FY2016 Budget Resolutions to be Marked Up Next Week

The return of the sequester that caused devastating cuts in programs for the students most in need is among the key issues in the FY2016 budget resolutions, which will be marked up the week of March 16 takeaction and come before the full House and Senate the week of March 23. A small, bipartisan group of senators is working toward an agreement that would cover both defense and non-defense discretionary programs, including education. NEA is urging lawmakers to prevent the return of sequester-level cuts, ensure that non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs receive the same “relief” as defense programs, and prioritize formula-grant programs like Title I and IDEA. Click the “take action” button to weigh in and email Congress on this vital issue.

Cheers & Jeers

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Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bob Corker (R-TN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Angus King, Jr. (I-ME) for reintroducing the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would raise billions of dollars in revenue by allowing states to require out-of-state businesses, such as those selling online or through catalogs, to collect and use taxes already owed under state law.

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Sen. Dick Durbin for reintroducing the Fairness for Struggling Students Act, which would allow borrowers who file for bankruptcy to write-off private student loans.

March 8, 2015

NEA to Congress: This Time, Get ESEA Right!

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) continue working toward a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization bill, but a Committee markup is yet to be scheduled. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) has indicated that he hopes to bring the House version of ESEA reauthorization, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), to the floor the week of March 16; leadership pulled the bill last week amid controversy over the Department of Homeland Security funding bill.

Since the start of 2015, NEA members have sent 95,700 emails and thousands of phone calls urging members of Congress to get ESEA right. The last time Congress reauthorized ESEA, it did not listen enough to educators and parents—the result was a No Child Left Behind Act that has not worked for students. Don’t let that happen again! Advocate for getting ESEA right byclicking on the “take action” button.

NEA’s core goals for the next ESEA are:

• A new accountability system with an “opportunity dashboard”
• Less testing to give students more time to learn
• Decoupling high-stakes testing and accountability
• Ensuring qualified educators and empowering them to lead

FY2016 Budget Resolutions to be Marked Up Week of March 16

The House and the Senate Budget Committees are scheduled to mark up their respective FY2016 budget resolutions the week of March 16. NEA is urging lawmakers to prevent the return of sequester-level cuts, ensure that non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs receive the same “relief” as defense programs, and prioritize formula-grant programs like Title I and IDEA. Click the “take action” button to email members of Congress on this vital issue.

Cheers and Jeers

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Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies: “The education of America’s children is critical not only to prepare them for the workforce, but to strengthen the economic health of our nation as a whole,” he said. “While the vast majority of funding and responsibility for public preK-12 education lies at the state and local level, the federal government plays a limited but important role in supporting educational opportunity for those students most in need, including students with disabilities and from low-income families.”

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Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), a member of the House LHHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee for touting private school vouchers during an education funding hearing this week.

 

March 1, 2015

Friday, the U.S. House delayed a final vote on their Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill, and it’s unclear when it will be rescheduled.

However, the Senate is moving full steam ahead and we’ve always expected this to be the key fight. So, I’m emailing you with this incredibly important request, it only comes around every 13 years or so…

Help me tell the Senate to get a new ESEA right for our students.

It’s not too late to make a difference on this. The real action is in the Senate, and it’s so important. From resources to testing, it affects every angle of student learning.

Will you please take a moment to email your Senator right now?

Tell them to support our proposed solution. It’s very simple really— they must give YOU the tools to lead in your own districts.

How?

By creating a dashboard that would identify the opportunity and resource gaps that currently exist, and give us what we need to make sure that every single student, regardless of ZIP code, has a fair shot.

Our students deserve more. High stakes standardized tests have eroded their learning time, while doing nothing to shed light on the achievement gaps between schools.

You can’t see any of that in a test score.

Please join me in emailing the Senate this week. Tell them to pass a bill that advances opportunity for all students, ensures more time for students to learn, and empowers us as educators to lead.

Thank you for standing with me during this historic moment.


- Lily

Lily Eskelsen García

P.S. If your colleagues don’t know about this, we would appreciate your help spreading the word. Please click here to tell them now.