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Letter to the Senate on additional amendments to "The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015” (S. 1177)

July 09, 2015

Dear Senator: 

On behalf of the three million members of the National Education Association and the students they serve, and as a follow-up to our letter on the underlying bill, the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (S. 1177), we wish to share our views on selected amendments to be voted on as soon as today. Votes associated with these issues may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 114th Congress. We will send additional letters on upcoming amendments during debate on the bill. 

On amendments that may be voted on as soon as today we urge you to:

  • Vote Yes on Amendment 2079 by Senator Fischer (D-NE) to ensure local governance of education.
  • Vote yes on Amendment 2095 by Senator Peters (D-MI) to include financial literacy programming as an allowable use for Title I Parent and Family Engagement funding.
  •  Vote yes on Amendment 2120 by Senators Warren (D-MA) and Gardner (R-CO) which provides for the reporting of valuable data about all groups of students.
  • Vote no on Amendment 2110 by Senator Daines (R-MT), more commonly known as the A-PLUS Act, this amendment would abdicate the federal role in education and permit states to consolidate federal funds for any educational purpose permitted by state law, which could include federal dollars for private school vouchers and could inequitably distribute federal dollars away from students most in need.
  • Vote yes on Amendment 2103 by Senator Manchin (D-WV) on volunteerism and community service.
  • Vote yes on Amendment 2099 by Senator Brown (D-OH) regarding site source resource coordinators.
  • Vote yes on Amendment 2096 by Senator Kaine (D-VA) on career and technical education.
  • Vote yes on Amendment 2098 by Senator Feinstein (D-CA) on homeless certification.  

Additionally, on the issue of background checks for school employees, we urge you to take the following actions:

  • Vote Yes on Amendment by Sen. Toomey (R-PA) / Manchin (D-WV) bipartisan agreement on background checks.  

Background checks for school employees are a critical part of ensuring that every student has a safe learning environment.  The negotiated amendment works to encourage proper reporting and investigation of allegations of child sexual abuse by school employees and allows for transfer of such employees only after proper reporting and investigation have taken place and either the employee is exonerated or there is no probable cause to support a case against them.  Additionally, if authorities decline to take action for a period of four years, then such a transfer is also allowed.  While we support the overall intent of this amendment and the requirements it sets forth, we are concerned that four years of inaction by the proper authorities to investigate allegations of child abuse is much too long and believe it should not extend beyond two years. We should do whatever we can to prevent further abuse from taking place, which includes swiftly investigating such allegations and taking the proper next steps, be they full exoneration or prosecution.   

We thank you for your consideration of our views on these amendments, and look forward to continuing to work with all senators to pass the strongest possible bill that provides all students with a quality, well-rounded education no matter their zip code. 

Sincerely,

Mary Kusler
Director of Government Relations