Skip to Content

Education Insider January 2016

logo

January 29, 2016
January 22, 2016
January 15, 2016

January 29, 2016

Record-setting storm shuts down nation’s capital

snow storm The U.S. House of Representatives postponed all votes this week because of the “severity of the winter storm in the D.C. area,” according to a notice sent to lawmakers. Dubbed “snowzilla,” the storm deposited nearly two feet of snow over the course of two days—the fourth highest total in Washington, DC, since record-keeping began in 1888.

Child nutrition bill heads for Senate floor

child nutrition The Senate could vote on a bipartisan compromise bill to renew child nutrition programs in the next few weeks; the House has yet to take up child nutrition reauthorization, but may do so next month. The Senate bill largely preserves the current guidelines for healthy school meals, expands the farm-to-school program, enhances the summer food program, and provides an extra snack for kids in child care settings—all take action NEA priorities. We continue to push for clarification that training for food service personnel is to be conducted during paid working hours. In addition, we are very concerned that a proposed change in verification requirements could cause some students to lose eligibility for school meals and impose a significant burden on school districts at the same time they are implementing the new ESEA law.

Click on the “take action” button and tell Congress to protect the guidelines for healthy school meals, improve training for school food service professionals, and strengthen programs that help kids eat when school is out.

FY2017 budget proposals to be released soon

2017 budget graphic

President Obama will release his FY2017 budget proposal on Feb. 9, followed by the House Republican budget resolution before the end of the month. The budget will help set the stage for what may be an active appropriations process this year, as Republican leaders in both chambers press to pass all 12 bills funding the government. NEA will be pushing hard for more money for education and health programs, especially for the students most in need. Despite small targeted increases in some education programs, the take action FY2016 increase in Labor-Health-Education was less than half the average increase for other non-defense programs. After adjusting for inflation, education funding for disadvantaged students is 10 percent below FY2010 levels due to years of budget caps and sequestration, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Click on the “take action” button and urge Congress to provide a larger allocation for the Labor-HHS-Education funding bill so that we can increase investments in programs benefiting children.

Cheers and Jeers

thumbsup

President Obama for planning to propose, as part of his FY2017 budget, to reduce child hunger by investing $12 billion over ten years in a permanent Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (Summer EBT) program

January 22, 2016

Child nutrition bill passes out of committee, heads for Senate floor

child nutrition The Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously passed a bipartisan compromise bill to renew child nutrition programs on January 20. The measure largely preserves the current guidelines for healthy school meals, expands the farm-to-school program, enhances the summer food program, and provides an extra snack for kids in child care settings—all NEA priorities. We continue to push for clarification that training for food service personnel is to be conducted during paid working hours and are very concerned that some students could lose eligibility for school meals due to atake action proposed change in verification requirements, as well the potential for a significant new burden on school districts at the same time they are implementing the new ESEA law.

The full Senate could vote on the measure in the next few weeks; the House has yet to take up child nutrition reauthorization, but may do so next month. Click on the “take action” button and tell Congress to protect the guidelines for healthy school meals, improve training for school food service professionals, and strengthen programs that help kids eat when school is out.

ESSA implementation draws more than 100 comments

ESSA graphic Many individual educators were among those who answered the U.S. Department of Education’s call for comments on implementing and regulating programs under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the successor to No Child Left Behind.

NEA also submitted comments this week, asking the Department to provide guidance in particular on pending transitions from current law to the new one, as well as focusing on its proper role under the language of the statute.

NEA wrote: “We also encourage ED, in developing its regulatory plans, to give high priority to discerning the intent of Congress in any possible area of rulemaking. The new law represents a bipartisan compromise by a Congress that listened closely to education stakeholders around the country concerning the harms created by No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In response to those concerns, Congress has passed a law reflecting its disenchantment with the kinds of high-stakes testing and excessive federal management of standards, assessments, accountability and school interventions that typified NCLB.”

More than 250 comments on ESSA were submitted before the January 21 deadline. Check them out here.

Senators vow to make college more affordable

#inthered

Senate Democrats introduced a package of bills Thursday, January 21, to coincide with a renewed campaign to make college more affordable. NEA Student President Chelsey Jo Herrig participated in the event to announced the legislation. Called #IntheRed, the campaign aims to build support for the three-part legislative package that would:

  • Allow students to refinance and lock in an interest rate of 3.86 percent on their loans, a bill from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
  • Make two-year degrees free at community colleges, a bill from Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
  • Increase Pell grants by the rate of inflation each year, a bill from Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

The $120 billion cost of the package over 10 years would be covered by closing tax loopholes for the “very wealthy,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). “The goal should be debt-free college.”

Cheers and Jeers

thumbsup

Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) for her letter urging House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) to resist GOP efforts to slash funding for education and other discretionary programs in 2017. “An FY17 budget resolution that reneges on enacted discretionary spending levels would send a clear and unmistakable signal that the Republican majority continues to support confrontation and brinkmanship, rather than regular order,” said Lowey.

thumbsup

President Obama for proposing to restore year-round Pell grants. The proposal could help nearly 700,000 students in the coming year, providing them with an additional $1,915 on average to pay college bills.

January 15, 2016           

President notes education in final State of the Union address

Obama STOU President Obama again touted education, including a nod to the recently passed rewrite of No Child Left Behind, in his final State of the Union address. He also cited several NEA-supported objectives: making early childhood education available to all, boosting STEM programs, ensuring college is affordable for all, and providing “two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student.” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said, “The president’s vision rightly reflects educators’ inherent can-do optimism and our strong belief that the road to economic prosperity begins with a nation that provides more opportunity for all students regardless of ZIP code.”

Got comments on ESSA? Submit them by January 21

essa graphic NEA President Lily Eskelsen García testified January 11 at the U.S. Department of Education’s first hearing on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). She applauded “kicking off the implementation process so soon,” but also stressed the importance of taking the time to ensure deep engagement of all stakeholders, like educators. “This kind of monumental transition will require deep collaboration among multiple stakeholders, some of whom are not used to working together, and making sure more voices are at decision-making tables. None of us should be seeking a shortcut in this collaboration.” Garcia also reminded policymakers that NEA fought for and won a paradigm shift in which the new law places student learning – not testing – at the center of education decisions.

Make your voice heard again and submit comments to the Department of Education on implementation of this landmark law. Comments are due Thursday, January 21. Go here to submit them. Some ideas to share with the Department:

  1. The signing of ESSA into law creates an enormous opportunity for states and local districts to close opportunity gaps to ensure that a zip code does not determine a child’s education.

  2. We encourage the Department to use an open and transparent process as they create their regulations. The two open hearings and initial comment period should just be the beginning of the discussion. We encourage the involvement of educators in the process because we know when educators speak, students win.

  3. The effective date of ESSA provides for 18 months of collaboration and discussions at the state and local levels to have conversations about what the state accountability systems should look like including what indicators should be included. The federal regulatory process should not take away from that robust opportunity for the development of next generation accountability systems. States and locals should have the maximum flexibility available by statute to show what they can do to help students succeed.

And for more information visit NEA’s ESSA implementation website.

Child nutrition rewrite to move forward this week

kid in cafeteria The Senate Committee on Agriculture will “mark up” the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016 on Wednesday, January 20. Child nutrition programs include school lunch and breakfast, as well as out-of-school-time feeding programs. Click on the take action “take action” button and tell Congress to protect the guidelines for healthy school meals, improve training for school food service professionals, and strengthen
programs that help kids eat when school is out.

 

Cheers to our cyber-lobbyists!

From Capitol Hill to the classroom, your voice AND your membership matter. NEA thanks all 617,250 of our cyber-lobbyists and extends a special thank you to the 50 who sent the most emails to Congress in 2015, listed below.

Rebecca Baca, TX

Garrick Balk, IL

Linda Balla, IL

Courtney Barber, IN

Teresa Sophia Barut, MA

Rhonda Braylock, OH

Linda Casey, NJ

Janice Clark, KS

Ryan Danzinger, IL

Kathy Elliott, OH

Michael Friedman, NY

Michael Friend, CA

Sara Lee Garcia, TX

Armando A. Garcia, CA

Paula Garfield, OH

Esther Garvett, FL

Kathy Goetz, PA

Annabel Gunsallus, VA

Art Hanson, MI

Robert Haynes, OH

Zachary Houp, PA

Sherry Hoy, PA

Justine Hurley, WA

Audrey Ide, PA

Rebecca Jasman, VA

Jonathan Kern, PA

Katherine King, PA

Joy Kirk, VA

Anne Kressly, WI

Guy Krout, PA

Cheryl Laskasky, IL

Jacqueline Lousier, TX

Douglas Marinos, PA

James Monroe, CA

Cassandra Montague, NJ

Alvin Nash, CA

Wende O'Brien, MA

Cheryl Ordway, MA

Marjorie Phillips, PA

Kay Reinfried, PA

Kenneth Robertson, MO

Benita Sandoval, AZ

Chasidy Simplot, WI

Julie Skelton, MI

W. Andrew Stover, PA

Rosemary Walker, VA

Nathaniel Wallace, MD

Jill Watson, ME

Carolyn Wilson, OH

Jacquelin Woods, IL

Cheers and Jeers

thumbsup

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for inviting NEA member Alexis Ploss to be her guest at the State of the Union address. Alexis has spoken eloquently to members of Congress about the need to make college more affordable, including reducing student loan debt.

thumbsup

Senate Democrats for launching the “In the Red” campaign to bring greater attention to the issue of rising student debt. It will feature a prominent social media push (#InTheRed) and expected legislation with solutions to tackle the increasing cost of higher education.