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Education Insider February 2016

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February 26, 2016
February 19, 2016
February 12, 2016

February 5, 2016

February 26, 2016

NEA vice president Becky Pringle testifies on ESSA implementation

Becky Pringle testifies on ESSA implementation NEA Vice President Becky Pringle stressed the need for “deep collaboration among multiple stakeholders, some of whom are not used to working together, and making sure more voices are at decision-making tables” in testimony February 23 before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). “It is only through the authentic commitment of all stakeholders to engage in the deep listening, professional respect and collective effort that this new law will be successful for all students,” Pringle said. Watch the full hearing here. Also this week, Acting Secretary of Education John King testified before both the Senate and House education committees and NEA submitted nominations to the Department of Education for the negotiated rulemaking panel, which begins its work in March. Remember: to help educators advocate for implementing ESSA effectively, NEA has created a repository of online resources: nea.org/essabegins. Check it out!

Tell your senators to support a hearing and vote on Supreme Court nominee

Scalia's chair draped in black All 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee vowed that they will not hold a hearing or vote on whomever President Obama nominates to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Prodded by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), GOP senators seem intent on even holding the customary courtesy meetings to discuss the nominee’s credentials. Such obstruction, if carried forward until a new President is sworn in, would be unprecedented and would leave the Court’s bench incomplete for more than a year. take action

As provided in Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution, it is the duty of the President to nominate Supreme Court justices and the duty of the Senate to provide “advice and consent”—meaning to act on such nominations. Click on the “take action” button and tell your senators to support hearings and a vote on a Supreme Court nominee.

Tell Congress to provide more money for the students most in need

budget graphic As wrangling within the Republican caucus continues to delay action on the FY2017 budget, educators are busy making the case that more resources must take action be devoted this year, especially to students most in need. Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is an opportunity to call on Congress to provide resources sufficient to ensure that all students, regardless of zip code, have access to the support, tools, and resources they need to succeed. Click on the “take action” button and urge Congress to give the Labor-HHS-Education bill a bigger share in the FY2017 budget.

Cheers and Jeers

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Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), who introduced the Nurses for Under-Resourced Schools Everywhere (NURSE) Act, which would help schools hire full-time nurses, especially in rural areas, to help identify and address students’ hearing, vision, and mental health needs.

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Republican Senators Mark Kirk (IL) and Susan Collins (ME),  who broke ranks with GOP leaders to declare their support for a hearing and a vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. “I recognize the right of the president, be it Republican or Democrat, to place before the Senate a nominee for the Supreme Court … I also recognize my duty as a senator to either vote in support or opposition to that nominee following a fair and thorough hearing along with a complete and transparent release of all requested information,” Kirk wrote in an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times.

“It is the duty of the Senate, under the Constitution, to give our advice and give our consent or withhold our consent,” Collins said in an interview on CNN.

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Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar (MN), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Ben Cardin (MD), Al Franken (MN), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Chuck Schumer (NY), Mazie Hirono (HI), Brian Schatz (HI), Bob Menendez (NJ), Jeff Merkley (OR), Maria Cantwell (WA), Chris Murphy (CT), Debbie Stabenow (MI), and Bob Casey (PA), who held a forum, “The Supreme Court: Fulfilling the Senate’s Constitutional Responsibilities.” With Sen. Klobuchar serving as moderator, legal and constitutional scholars discussed the Senate’s constitutional responsibility to act on the Supreme Court vacancy. 

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House Education and the Workforce Committee chairman John Kline (R-MN) and ranking member Bobby Scott (D-VA) for questions they posed to Acting Secretary of Education John King during a hearing on Department of Education’s FY17 budget request. Kline asked why the budget doesn’t do more for existing under-funded programs like IDEA. Scott raised concerns about the Flint, Mich. children and families exposed to lead in the water and prodded the Department to develop a plan to help. "There are a lot of things that need to be done," Scott said, like providing extra early childhood education and special education services. "Early intervention can go a long way in mitigating the problems." Representatives Scott and Dan Kildee (D-MI) also led the convening this week of a panel discussion on the impact of lead poisoning on child development.

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All 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, for sending a letter to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promising to “withhold consent” and “not hold hearings on any Supreme Court nominee until after our next President is sworn in on January 20, 2017.”

February 19, 2016

GOP struggles to produce budget; educators urge greater investment in kids

budget graphic While discord within the Republican caucus over funding levels is impeding efforts to pull together a budget for FY2017, educators must continue to make the case to Congress that take action increased funding for students most in need remains a priority. The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) presents an opportunity for educators to demand that Congress provide the resources needed to help implement the law effectively so that all students, regardless of zip code, have access to the support, tools and resources they need. Click on the “take action” button and urge Congress to devote more money for the Labor-HHS-Education bill.

NEA board urges Congress to make college more affordable

Make college more affordable Last week, NEA’s board of directors lobbied Congress to allow student loans to be refinanced when interest rates drop—like mortgages and other kinds of loans. Two out of three students borrow money to attend college, and many graduate with take action crushing debt that constrains their future—they cannot afford to buy homes or cars, start businesses, support families, invest, or contribute to economic growth in other ways. Many Americans with student loan debt are locked into interest rates approaching 7 percent or higher—nearly twice the rate new borrowers pay. Click on the “take action” button and urge your senators and representative to support legislation to allow student loans to be refinanced when interest rates drop.

Congress ramps up ESSA oversight; NEA to testify

Members of Congress may have flashbacks to last year’s reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as both education panels hear testimony this week about implementation of the new law. On Tuesday, the Senate HELP Committee will hear testimony from educators, state and local leaders about what’s needed for effective implementation of the law. NEA Vice President Becky Pringle is among the witnesses. Two days later, the House Education and Workforce Committee will hear from and question Acting Secretary of Education John King on the Department’s role in implementation. It will be a busy day for Dr. King, as he appears Thursday afternoon before the Senate HELP Committee, which will consider his formal nomination to be Secretary of Ed.

Cheers and Jeers

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Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee urging the GOP to stick to the recent budget agreement: "The majority should quit the contortions, honor the bipartisan budget agreement enacted just three months ago, and work with Democrats to enact clean appropriations bills that invest in hard-working American families."

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for threatening, within hours of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to block the person President Obama nominates to fill his vacancy on the Court. “The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” he said. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

February 12, 2016

Tell Congress to give students most in need a bigger share

budget graphic Two days after President Obama released his FY2017 budget, NEA’s board of directors descended on Capitol Hill to lobby for more funding for students most in need and to help implement the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), noting that years of budget cuts started by sequestration has left funding for disadvantaged students 10 percent below FY2010 levels.
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Despite rumbling on the far-right to cut even more, House GOP leaders are expected to move quickly on the FY2017 budget—and they have pledged to return to “regular order” and attempt to pass all 12 separate appropriations bills instead of a single year-end, catch-all “omnibus” spending bill. Click on the “take action” button and urge Congress to allocate more money for the Labor-HHS-Education bill to help get ESSA off to a strong start, especially for the students most in need.

NEA joins key stakeholders in push to implement ESSA right

In comments submitted to a House education subcommittee in connection with its hearing this week on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), NEA stressed that “the key to successful implementation is collaboration from start to finish—having students, educators, parents, community members, and other stakeholders work together to improve their schools.” Ten leading education and policymaking groups, including NEA, noted in a letter to the U.S. Department of Education this week, our commitment to work together closely to ensure implementation is done right. Both the House and the Senate will hold additional hearings on implementing the new law in coming weeks, and NEA will testify.

Remember: to help educators advocate for implementing ESSA effectively, NEA has created a repository of online resources: nea.org/essabegins. Check it out!

Senate prepares to take up child nutrition bill

2017 budget graphic The Senate may vote on a bipartisan compromise bill to renew child nutrition programs in the next few weeks; House committee action could follow shortly as well. The Senate bill, passed by the Agriculture Committee, 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. But, we continue to push for clarification that training for food service professionals 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 administrative burden at the same time schools are beginning to implement the new Every Student Succeeds Act. take action

In meetings with members of Congress and their staffs this week, NEA’s board of directors stressed the link between good nutrition and student learning. 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.

Cheers and Jeers

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Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), minority whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Democratic Steering and Policy Committee co-chairs Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Donna Edwards (D-MD), and Representative Dan Kildee (D-MI) for leading a special hearing with local officials and health experts, “The Flint Water Crisis: Lessons for Protecting America’s Children,” designed to bring more attention to the crisis.

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GOP House Freedom Caucus for urging the leaders of their own party to disregard the two-year bipartisan budget agreement and again slash spending on domestic programs, including education, to sequester levels in FY2017.


February 5, 2016

NEA members urge Congress to address student loan debt

Bergen Community College professor Mecheline Farhat Roldan Chelsey Jo Herrig, chair of NEA’s student program, and Mecheline Farhat Roldan, a New Jersey Education Association member and professor at Bergen Community College, testified before 20 Senate Democrats February 3rd about the continued challenges facing tens of millions of Americans saddled with student loan debt, and why Congress should address college affordability. Herrig will be $45,000 in debt when she graduates next year. Roldan and her husband together borrowed $170,000 to pay for their education—more than the mortgage on their house. The NEA-supported Reducing Educational Debt (RED) Act, take action introduced last week by Senators Baldwin (D-WI), Hirono (D-HI), and Warren (D-MA), would allow students to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates; increase federal funding to states that commit to free community college; and increase Pell Grants for the poorest Americans.

Click on the “take action” button and urge Congress to support efforts, like the RED Act, to make college more affordable.

President Obama to release FY2017 budget Tuesday

2017 budget graphic President Obama’s FY2017 budget will be released February 9 and House Republicans’ counterproposal before the end of the month. The budget releases will kick off an expedited process by Congress this year to attempt to move individual appropriations bills and avoid a year-end catch-all spending bill. NEA will be pushing hard for greater investments for education programs, especially for the students most in need. Despite small targeted increases in recent years, take action education funding for disadvantaged students is still 10 percent below FY2010 levels (when adjusted forinflation), according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Click on the “take action” button and urge Congress to allocate more money for the Labor-HHS-Education measure and programs for the students most in need.

ESSA implementation ramps up!

2017 budget graphic Signaling that it is serious about its oversight role of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the recently enacted rewrite of No Child Left Behind, on February 10 the House education committee’s Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education will hold a hearing, “Next Steps for K-12 Education: Implementing the Promise to Restore State and Local Control.” Expect similar hearings by the Senate HELP Committee this winter as well.

Also, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) this week released guidance to help states reduce unnecessary and redundant tests. Check out NEA’s statement. ED also announced the dates that a still-to-be-named panel of stakeholder will begin the “rulemaking” or regulatory process on assessments and the “supplement, not supplant” provision in ESSA. The panel will meet March 21-23, April 6-8, and April 18-19 if needed. Remember: to help educators advocate for implementing ESSA effectively, NEA has created a repository of online resources: nea.org/essabegins. Check it out!

Cheers and Jeers

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Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) for inviting NEA student program chair Chelsey Jo Herrig to speak at the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee’s February 3 hearing on college affordability, and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) for inviting New Jersey Education Association member and college professor Mecheline Farhat Roldan to participate in the hearing.

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Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) for opposing vouchers at the House education committee’s February 3 hearing on school choice. “Where there may be freedom for that school, there’s no accountability,” he said.

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GOP Representatives Bob Dold (IL), Richard Hanna (NY) and John Katko (NY) who joined nearly all Democrats on February 3 in upholding President Obama’s veto of legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act. It was the GOP-led House’s 63rd failed attempt to eliminate the law that has brought health care coverage to 12.7 million Americans, many of whom are students.reedom for that school, there’s no accountability,” he said.

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240 House Republicans and 1 Democrat who voted, unsuccessfully, to override President Obama’s veto of legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act.