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Education Insider October 2015

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October 25, 2015
October 18, 2015
October 11, 2015
October 4, 2015

October 25, 2015

 

Election for Speaker of the House set for Thursday


Paul Ryan

Support for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as the next Speaker of the House solidified within the Republican caucus, and Ryan formally announced he will run for the post. The internal GOP vote is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 28, followed by the vote of the entire House the next day. The resignation of the current speaker, John Boehner (R-OH), is scheduled to take effect on Friday, Oct. 30.




Tell Congress to restore ESEA’s focus on student opportunity

As we recently noted, House and Senate education committee take action leaders are in negotiations on a final ESEA bill with details expected to soon merge. Continue to raise your voices and urge Congress to end to the era of No Child Left Behind and restore ESEA’s original focus on student opportunity. Click on the “take action” button to push Congress to complete action with a new law that provides more opportunity for all students, regardless of zip code.

Congress eyes debt ceiling bill, budget talks to follow

Jack Lew

While typical political theater may add some suspense, indications point to Congress moving a bill to raise the debt ceiling ahead of the November 3 deadline. Once the debt ceiling is raised, discussions on funding the federal government after December 11 are expected to intensify. Congressional leaders and the White Housetake action are contemplating a budget deal that could avoid a year-long continuing resolution, raise the sequester-level funding caps, and provide relief equally to defense and non-defense programs like education. Click on the “take action” button to urge Congress to raise the funding caps with much-needed revenue (not more cuts as tradeoffs) and invest in programs that benefit the students most in need, like Title I and IDEA.

House votes to renew DC voucher program

By a vote of 240-191, largely along party lines, the House passed the NEA-opposed Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act (H.R. 10). The bill extends the Washington DC private school voucher program, which is diverting $20 million per year from public to private schools while essential programs like IDEA are severely underfunded.

Urge Congress to protect seniors from Medicare cost hike


Absent Congressional action, millions of seniors—including educators already unfairly impacted by GPO/WEP Social Security offset penalties—will face a 52 percent increasetake action in Medicare Part B premiums. Most other Social Security beneficiaries will be held harmless from the premium increase. NEA is working with labor and retirement security allies to extend the same financial protection to public servants currently hurt by the GPO/WEP penalties. You can help by urging Congress to support S. 2148 by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and H.R. 3696 by Representative Dina Titus (R-NV), which would extend the hold harmless provision to all Medicare beneficiaries.

Cheers and Jeers

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Republican Representatives Mike Bost (IL), Ryan Costello (PA), Bob Dold (IL), Sam Graves (MO), Morgan Griffith (VA), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Dave Reichert (WA), and Mike Simpson (ID) for crossing party-lines and opposing renewal of the DC voucher program.

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Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Adam Smith (D-WA) for leading a letter to House leadership urging equal relief from sequester-level cuts for non-defense and defense programs.

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Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and John Katko (D-NY) for introducing the NEA-supported “Improving School Nutrition Training Act,” a bill which ensures that school food service professionals are able to access appropriate trainings primarily during work hours and other common-sense protections essential to their work in serving our students nutritious meals.

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Democrat Representatives Dan Lipinski (IL) and John Delaney (MD) for supporting renewal of the DC voucher program.

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The House Republican Study Committee for putting forward legislation that threatens a national default unless nearly $4 trillion in cuts to programs, including education, are enacted.

October 18, 2015

GOP Leadership decisions still in flux

As Congress returns from recess this week, the race to replace outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will intensify. Significant numbers in the GOP caucus have urged Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) to run, but he gave no new indications during recess on whether his previous “no thanks” position would change. Boehner had planned to step down October 30 but will stay on until a new speaker is elected.

Tell Congress to restore ESEA’s focus on student opportunity

esea kid green shirt Continuing meetings and discussions among House and Senate education committee leaders and staff suggest that agreement on a final bill could be reached soon—bringing take action Congress ever closer to ending the era of No Child Left Behind and possibly restoring the law’s original focus on student opportunity. But we need to keep the pressure on. Click on the “take action” button to push Congress to complete action now with a new law that provides more opportunity for all students, regardless of zip code.

Fiscal showdown looms as debt ceiling deadline approaches

Jack Lew

With GOP House leadership still in flux, two major fiscal deadlines are rapidly approaching: raising the debt ceiling and funding the federal government after December 11. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that the debt ceiling must be raised by November 3—to avoid an unprecedented national default—as signs pointed to a potential desire for outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to resolve the impasse with congressional Democrats and the White House before his take action resignation takes effect. Meanwhile, discussions on funding the federal government after December 11 continued with leaders contemplating apotential budget deal that could avoid a year-long continuing resolution, raise the sequester-level funding caps, and provide relief equally to defense and non-defense programs like education. Click on the “take action” button to urge Congress to raise the funding caps and invest in programs that benefit the students most in need, like Title I and IDEA.

Urge Congress to end the DC voucher program

two kids The NEA-opposed Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act (H.R. 10) is expected to come to the House this month. The bill would extend the Washington, D.C. voucher program, which is diverting $20 million per year from public to private schools while essential programs like IDEA are severely underfunded. Students with special needs who take action usevouchers lose many rights granted by the Individuals with DisabilitiesEducation Act (IDEA) and may not have the protection of an individualized education plan. Four U.S. Department of Education reports have found no significant improvement in achievement or satisfaction among participating students while two U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) document serious shortcomings in accountability. Click on the “take action” button to urge your representative to vote NO on H.R. 10.

Cheers and Jeers

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Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) for leading a sign-on letter urging Senate leadership to close the “carried interest” loophole—a gimmick that reduces taxes for wealthy hedge fund managers—to increase federal revenue, raise the budget caps, and avoid cuts in essential programs.

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Senator David Vitter (R-LA) for his anti-immigration bill on so-called “sanctuary cities,” which would limit federal funding to communities nationwide; the bill will be voted on this Tuesday, October 20.

October 11, 2015

House GOP leadership chaos continues

The Republican search for the next Speaker of the House continues, after presumptive favorite and current Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA) abruptly withdrew from the race minutes before the GOP caucus planned to vote on the race. The stunning move prompted outgoing Speaker John Boehner (OH) to postpone all leadership elections to the end of October and announce he will stay on as long as it takes until a new Speaker is elected.

Heading into the weekend and upcoming Congressional recess, pressure was mounting to attempt to convince Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (WI) to run for Speaker. Declared and potential candidates included: Representatives Jason Chaffetz (UT), Daniel Webster (FL), Lynn Westmoreland (GA), Michael Conaway (TX), and Bill Flores (TX), with others speculating that an interim or caretaker Speaker could be tapped, include retiring John Kline (MN), the current Education and Workforce Committee chair. Stay tuned!

Tell Congress to finish ESEA for the sake of our students

esea kid holding hat A busy Congressional agenda is no excuse for dropping the ball on ESEA, especially when the last major hurdle is crafting a final bill based on legislation already passed by the Senate and the House.

The good news? Education Committee leaders (Senators Alexander and Murray and take action Representatives Kline and Scott) continue to meet and work toward an agreement. Take advantage of the upcoming Congressional recess to remind Congress to finish the job NOW on ESEA! Click on the “take action” button to make your voice heard and push for a new law that provides more opportunity for all students, regardless of zip code.

Pressure mounts for a budget deal

Hundreds of educators and other advocates joined members of Congress at an October 7 rally to underscore the need for a budget deal  that avoids a year-long continuing resolution, raises the sequester-level funding caps, and take action provides relief equally to defense and non-defense programs like education. The current short-term funding measure expires December 11, but while initial discussions among President Obama and House and Senate leaders from both parties has begun, many obstacles remain, including the continued uncertainty of the GOP leadership fight. Click on the “take action” button to urge Congress to make a budget deal that raises the funding caps so investments can be made in programs, like Title I and IDEA, that benefit students most in need.

Bill to reauthorize DC voucher program advances

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 16 – 14 in a party line vote to reauthorize the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act (H.R. 10), the Washington D.C. private school voucher program. NEA strongly opposes the program, which diverts $20 million per year from public to private schools at a time when sequester-level budget cuts are leaving essential programs like IDEA severely underfunded. The Committee’s actions also ran counter to the expressed wishes of the overwhelming majority of the District of Columbia City Council, which wants to end the voucher program, noting it has not improved student achievement, and instead invest in the public schools sector.

Cheers and Jeers

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Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer (NY), Jack Reed (RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and  Representatives Steny Hoyer (MD), Nita Lowey (NY), Chris Van Hollen (MD), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM), and Robin Kelly (IL) for rallying with NEA and coalition partners on Capitol Hill to underscore the need for a bipartisan budget deal that lifts the sequester-level funding caps.

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President Barack Obama for signing the NEA-supported Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, a common-sense fix to the Affordable Care Act that will help hundreds of small and mid-size school districts continue to provide more affordable, quality healthcare coverage to educators.

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Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for introducing legislation to extend the Washington, D.C. private school voucher program until 2025.

October 4, 2015

Secretary Duncan stepping down

Another Friday brought another resignation announcement, as Education Secretary Arne Duncan Arne Duncan announced he will step down in December. President Obama has tapped Deputy Secretary and former New York State Education Commissioner John King to serve as acting Secretary after Duncan’s departure.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García wished Duncan well in his future endeavors, saying: “NEA and Secretary Duncan have always been in clear agreement that we need to strengthen public education and make sure all students have the opportunity to succeed. He has made important strides in the promotion of early childhood education, college affordability and teacher leadership.    We've also had our disagreements. There is a lot to be done to ensure the success of all our students, including fixing overtesting and making sure every child in every zip code has a quality education.”

Government shutdown avoided, budget talks up next

budget

On Wednesday, only hours from the deadline to act, the House passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government operating until December 11th.  While a harmful shutdown was avoided, the larger fight is just starting, as Congress now works toward a budget agreement. President Obama and House and Senate leadership from both parties have begun discussions toward a possible budget agreement but the threat of a detrimental year-long CR is real. If that occurred, domestic non-defense programs like education would face cuts.

NEA is urging Congress to reach a bipartisan budget deal that avoids a take action year-long CR; raises the sequester-level funding caps; and provides reliefequally to non-defense programs, like education, and defense programs. The funding caps must be lifted to allow for increased investments in programs that target the students most in need—like Title I, IDEA, and Head Start. NEA’s Board of Directors lobbied Congress on Thursday urging them to pass a budget deal that raises the funding caps.  Click on the “take action” button to add your voice too. 

Keep the pressure up and tell Congress to finish ESEA

ESEA time for action NEA, joined by nine other leading education organizations, sent Congress a joint letter this week urging them to finish work on ESEA and deliver a bipartisan bill to the President’s desk this fall so that students do not have to continue waiting for a better law. The NEA Board of Directors also conveyed that message to take action Congress during Hill visits on Thursday.

With a busy Congressional calendar and new leadership elections in the House, it is critical that we continue to raise our collective voices in pushing Congress to complete its on ESEA. Click on the “take action” button and tell Congress to stay focused on finishing an ESEA bill that provides more opportunity for all students, regardless of zip code.

House & Senate approve important fix to Affordable Care Act

The House and Senate swiftly passed bipartisan legislation supported by NEA that is expected to keep more affordable and quality healthcare coverage available to educators in hundreds of small school districts. The bill, H.R. 1624, changes the designation category for employers of 51-100 people. Absent the change, school district health plans with 51-100 employees participating in consortia would be forced out of affordable and high quality health plans and into the more expensive small group market. The White House announced President Obama will sign the legislation.

Who’s up next in the House? 

In the wake of Speaker Boehner’s (R-OH) retirement announcement, a handful of Republican leadership hopefuls have thrown their hats in the ring for leadership posts. The GOP caucus will meet October 8 to vote on new leadership, though the official vote for Speaker is expected at the end of October. The current candidates are:
Speaker of the House

  • Kevin McCarthy (CA), the current Majority Leader
  • Jason Chaffetz (UT), the current Oversight Committe
  • Daniel Webster (FL)

Majority Leader

  • Tom Price (GA), the current Budget Chairman
  • Steve Scalise (LA), the current Majority Whip

Majority Whip

  • Patrick McHenry (NC)
  • Pete Sessions (TX), the current Rules Chairman
  • Dennis Ross (FL)

Cheers and Jeers

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Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee, for urging  a budget deal: “…we can move on to a new budget deal that cancels sequester, raising the [funding] caps equally for defense and non-defense domestic spending….The budget deal will give us a framework for an Omnibus funding bill that invests in America…”

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Representative Hal Rogers, (R-KY) Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, for opposing a year-long CR, “While I firmly believe this legislation [a CR] is the best path forward at this time, it is also my strong opinion that Congress should do its job and enact actual, line-by-line Appropriations bills.” He also expressed, “…a CR doesn’t reflect our most current budgetary needs. It creates uncertainty across the government.”

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Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Tom Udall (D-NM) for their call for a renewed sense of bipartisanship. Senator Merkley remarked from the Senate floor, “I rise today with my friend and colleague, Tom Udall, the Senator from New Mexico, to talk about how to come together to fix our broken Senate and specifically to invite our colleagues from both sides of the aisle to engage in a dialogue together to address the dysfunction that we see so evident on the floor of the Senate day after day.”

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Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH) for calling on Secretary Duncan to place more accountability on Ohio’s charter schools after the Department of Education awarded the state, that has had significant charter accountability problems, with the largest amount of charter school funding. "I call on the U.S. Department of Education to work with the State of Ohio to make sure the proper oversight and transparency are in place to ensure accountability and success before federal taxpayer funds are distributed to an Ohio program that has so far failed in providing effective oversight."

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Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Sens. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) for sponsoring and leading the passage of H.R. 1624 (and the Senate companion), that will keep more affordable, quality healthcare coverage available for educators in hundreds of school districts.

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Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores, (R-TX), for opposing any lifting of the domestic non-defense funding caps. “The only way you can change the caps is to increase defense to meet our national security needs and take the savings out of nondefense discretionary and entitlement reform. That’s the only way that we’ll consider looking at busting the caps. We’re not going to increase nondefense discretionary spending.”