Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

ESSA Toolkit

Implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) continues to draw nearer. Now is the time for principals to sit down at the negotiating table to make sure their voices are heard. However, effectively advocating for one’s cause is not always easy. That is why NASSP recently released the ESSA Toolkit. This toolkit can help you analyze and understand the key components of ESSA, while also providing tips and suggestions on how to properly advocate on behalf of your issues to your elected representatives. The toolkit has a number of other different ways it can help an individual to:

  • Engage in direct discussions with your district about the recruitment, professional development, quality, and access of all students to effective teachers, and school leaders.
  • Collaborate and work with other principals in your state and district to influence your states’ plan for using federal funds to better support students, schools, and principals.
  • Draft legislation and policies for your state that highlight the importance of school leaders through the toolkit’s model legislation tool.
  • Effectively utilize the power of your message through regular and social media channels with the Communication Kit.

If you don’t make your voice heard to your state and federal representatives, you can rest assured that other groups will. Make sure that you advocate ensuring you’re helping students, schools and principals!

FGN Newsletter

Earlier this month, NASSP released its November Federal Grassroots Network Newsletter (FGN). Each month the FGN focuses on key policy issues and events that influence education. This month’s FGN provides a detailed look at the election results, a special video recap of the  National Principals Month, a breakdown of ED’s teacher preparation regulations, and information on how to register for next year’s National Principals Conference. If you would like to sign up for future FGN updates, please feel free to do so here.

Budget Negotiations

Election season is over and Capitol Hill is back in full swing. The main obstacle for Congress in 2017 is passing a bill to fund the government. The current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on December 9, and members are now meeting with one another to determine the best funding options for FY 2017. With these debates ongoing, now is the time for school leaders to make their voices heard.

NASSP currently has two Action Alerts that make it quick and easy to reach out to your representatives. Your representatives in Congress need to know what you stand for and how they can help. Stand up and let your legislators know that you support funding directed at advancing student growth, developing school leaders and keeping students safe.

Promoting Safety in Schools

Since the presidential election concluded, there have been reports from around the nation of individuals suffering harassment from others who seem to have grown emboldened over Donald Trump’s victory. One of the key locations where harassment seems to be occurring quite often is in schools, as students are bullied for their race, religious beliefs or a variety of other factors. Students should always feel safe in their schools, and harassment of this nature has no place in education, or in America as a whole. NASSP joined over 100 organizations in sending a letter to President-elect Donald Trump asking him to publicly denounce these acts of hatred, and to deliver a message of peace and unity to all Americans.

Inside the Beltway

What’s going on in Washington?

The buzz returned to Washington, D.C., this week as Congress returned to session and the Donald Trump transition team begins vetting individuals for the president-elect’s administration. Republicans held their leadership elections in both chambers of Congress, while the Democrats held theirs in the Senate only as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has delayed leadership elections for Democrats in the House of Representatives. There were few surprises on the Republican side as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) both won their elections to remain the leaders of the party in Congress as Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader. Democrats elected Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) to replace the retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) as Senate Minority Leader. In an interesting move, Democrats also placed Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) in their leadership team to serve in a newly created role as Chair of Outreach. Also, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) has come out and said that he will run for House Minority Leader in opposition to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Meanwhile, the Trump transition team announced that Betsy DeVos will be Trump’s pick to serve as secretary of education. DeVos is a Michigan native, and she currently chairs the American Federation for Children, an advocacy group that promotes school choice by pushing to expand charter schools and school voucher programs that provide families with public money to spend on private schools.

 

Why Should Principals Care?
With the appointment of Betsy DeVos, it appears that Trump is moving forward with his plan to enact spending $20 billion on block grants that will expand charter and private school options for children in low-income households. The selection of DeVos has already drawn the ire of teachers’ unions as many fear her appointment will lead to decreased funding for public schools in the future. NASSP remains steadfast in its belief that universal public education provides an essential foundation for a democracy that aspires to involve all of its citizens. Where ED policies aim to enhance public education and address areas of weakness, the secretary-designee will find in NASSP an ally and a partner. Misguided policies that weaken public education by diverting public funds from already strained public schools or by enriching private companies at the expense of our neediest students, however, will continue to meet NASSP’s vigorous opposition. Once the nomination and approval process is completed, NASSP looks forward to an opportunity to share its concerns with DeVos directly and to construct with her a powerful vision for public education as moving forward.

Chairmen and Ranking Members have not yet been decided by either party in the House of Representatives. However, Senate Democrats have already laid out who will serve as Ranking Members in the Senate, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) will continue to serve as Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will also continue serving in his role as chairman of the HELP Committee in the 115th Congress. Republicans in the House of Representatives should figure out the committee’s makeup and assignments before December 9. House Democrats will not know their committee assignments until after their leadership elections are finished, which are scheduled to occur on November 30.

In the Press

Holding States Accountable for High-Achievers in High Schools, Fordham Institute

Sometimes lost in education conversations is how states and schools are working to develop and incentivize their high-achieving students. A new report looks at how each state accountability plan currently rates and evaluates the progression and development of high-achieving students. The report also notes that ESSA provides states with a number of new opportunities for them to alter their accountability systems to better serve and motivate high-achieving students.

Election Leadership in State Elections, Education Commission of the States

With the results of the federal election grabbing most of the headlines this year, it may be difficult to remember that many state election results will have a great impact on education policy. The Education Commission of the States provides a detailed breakdown on important state races, including results for gubernatorial races, state legislatures, Chief State School Officers, and State Board of Education members.

Raising Admission Standards for Teacher Preparation Academies, National Council on Teacher Quality

In order for students to succeed, they must have access to high-quality teachers. However, a new report found that many teacher preparation academies have lowered their admission standards in recent years. The report notes that lowering standards means less qualified candidates are able to participate in these programs. It also discredited the claim that lowering admission standards to these academies would help circumvent a teacher shortage.

A Principal’s Perspective on Title II Funds in ESSA, ED Homeroom Blog

Title II under ESSA provides many new opportunities for principals to help in developing themselves and other educators to better benefit students. A new piece by Principal Ambassador Fellow Jean Paul gives a firsthand perspective on how Title II funds are able to be used, and what can be achieved when these funds are used effectively.

A Guideline for State Accountability Systems, Fordham Institute

As full implementation of ESSA draws closer, many states are working hard to determine their new accountability standards. A new piece from the Fordham Institute examines what factors states should use when developing their accountability systems, and it also examines what weight each of these factors should have in those systems.

Using Federal Dollars to Develop a School Safety Program for Principals, University of Missouri

Since the end of the presidential election, there have been a number of reports that there has been an increase in the bullying and harassment of students. Research has shown that principals play a key role in improving and maintaining the physical and emotional safety of schools. However, there is currently no scientifically proven training program for principals that aids them in improving school safety. A new program created at the University of Missouri aims to change that. The University of Missouri recently received a grant for $4.1 million which will be used to help principals create and maintain safe learning environments.

Studying the Importance of Equity in Education, Scholastic

Education policy has recently seen a shift moving away from striving for equality to striving for equity for all students. While students should have equal access to high-quality educators and resources, equity means that students have the individual supports needed to reach their greatest potential. A new report examines how important teachers and principals believe equity in education has become. It found that 97 percent of teachers and principals believe that equity in education should be a national priority. It also examines barriers that educators and students face in working towards achieving equity, including school funding limitations, poverty, and barriers outside the school environment.

Helping States and Districts Measure Progress Under ESSA, Chiefs for Change

Chiefs for Change recently developed a new tool that is designed to help state and district leaders in setting learning goals and measuring progress under ESSA. The allows users to input the percentage of racial subgroups in their schools, as well as input percentages for other subgroups as well, such as English Language Learners, special education students, and low-income students.

Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools, National Women’s Law Center

Last week, NASSP joined the National Women’s Law Center and over 80 other advocacy organizations to send an open letter to all local, state, and federal policymakers asking them to condemn the use of corporal punishment in schools. More than 109,000 students were subjected to corporal punishment in public schools in the 2013-14 school year. While this may be a drop from the 163,333 that were affected in the 2011-12 school year, it is still extremely concerning that corporal punishment is a legal form of discipline in 19 states. Secretary of Education John King also sent his own letter this week asking that states and schools end the harmful practice as well.

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