David Chodak

David Chodak is the Associate Director of Advocacy at NASSP. Follow him on Twitter @dnchodak.

President Obama Unveils His Final Budget

On February 9, President Obama released the final budget of his presidency. This comes days after congressional leaders announced that Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), would not be invited to testify on the FY 2017 budget. As testifying is a tradition typically afforded to the director of OMB, this likely signals a looming budget and appropriations battle in the final year of Obama’s presidency.

The three education investment themes in the president’s budget are:

1) Increasing equity and excellence (more…)

Higher Education Act Reauthorization Expected in 2016

Just before the New Year, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Educator Preparation Reform Act (S. 2419) aimed at better preparing teachers, principals, and other educators to be effective and profession-ready on day one. In announcing the introduction of the bill, Senator Reed cited the body of evidence that shows the impact teachers and principals have on student achievement and also warned of the looming shortage of teachers and principals prepared to serve in high-need schools. Senator Casey also discussed the correlation between what students learn and what they earn later in life.

NASSP endorsed this legislation in the 113th Congress, and after submitting minor policy recommendations to Senator Reed’s staff that were included in the updated version, NASSP again supports this bill. (more…)

Congressional Resolution Honors NASSP’s 100th Anniversary

Everyone is getting in on NASSP’s 100th anniversary. Principals are celebrating the history of their profession and NASSP’s continued growth into a new century. Student leaders from several generations are fondly remembering how NASSP helped them amplify their voices and build their leadership skills.

And now, Congress is joining the celebration.

H.Res.570, a resolution recognizing 2016 as the year of the 100th anniversary of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, was introduced on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and into the federal record on December 17—just in time for NASSP’s 2016 celebration. (more…)

Massive Budget Deal Advances with Several Key Education Increases

After two short-term continuing resolutions (CR) to keep the government running past October 1, it appears that lawmakers have reached an agreement on a $1.149 trillion spending deal for FY 2016. Since the deal was filed early Wednesday morning, the soonest that the House can vote on this legislation is Friday, which means another short term CR will need to be passed to keep the government open through December 22. That should give lawmakers on the House and Senate more than enough time to drum up support from their respective caucuses and get a bill to President Obama’s desk before the New Year.

As a previous School of Thought blog post explained, a two-year budget deal was passed on October 27 that lifted the sequester caps for defense and non-defense discretionary programs. (more…)

NASSP Applauds ESEA Reauthorization Framework Approval

On Thursday, November 19, House and Senate leaders participating in a joint conference committee approved a bipartisan framework to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The bipartisan bill, which will be known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, reconciles elements from H.R. 5 and S. 1177, which the House and Senate respectively passed in July. This was the first time House and Senate leaders held a conference committee on ESEA since the passage of NCLB in 2001, and it is the closest we have come to reauthorization of the law since it expired in 2007.

The conference committee was composed of a bipartisan group of legislators from the House Education and the Workforce Committee and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. (more…)

Budget Deal Passes, Education Funding Levels Still Undecided

Shortly before midnight on October 27, the White House in conjunction with House and Senate leadership announced a bipartisan two-year budget deal that would lift sequester caps for defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs, which includes federal education programs. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 would increase NDD spending by $25 billion in FY 2016 and by $15 billion for FY 2017. There was also an increase of $8 billion to the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account for both 2016 and 2017.

This legislation passed the House on October 28 by a vote of 266-177 and the Senate by a vote of 64-35 on October 30 at 3:00 a.m. after Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) filibuster attempt fell short. (more…)

Curbing the School-to-Prison Pipeline

On Wednesday at the National Press Club, Education Secretary Arne Duncan delivered a speech that called for reducing state and local correctional expenditures in order to increase teacher salaries in high-poverty schools. Throughout the speech, Secretary Duncan discussed the inseparable link between education and incarceration and reminded the audience that more than two-thirds of state prison inmates are high school dropouts.

Shortly after, the U.S. Department of Education released a state-by-state breakdown of annual correctional expenditures, teacher salaries in high-poverty schools, and the estimated impact of reallocating 21 percent of funding for correctional facilitations towards teacher salaries. By reinvesting these funds, states could increase teacher salaries in high-poverty schools by $15 billion annually, which could help school districts recruit and retain highly qualified teachers in the highest-need schools. (more…)

Senate Passes ESEA Reauthorization Bill, Sets Stage for Conference Committee

Less than two weeks after the U.S. House of Representatives moved to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) by passing the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), the Senate followed suit by passing the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) by a vote of 81 to 17.

This historic achievement comes seven years after No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was due for reauthorization. The bill was opposed by 14 Republicans who felt the bill did not go far enough to restore local control in education and three Democrats because of concerns over missing civil rights provisions.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) issued the following statement after the bill passed the Senate:

“Last week, Newsweek Magazine called this the ‘law that everyone wants to fix’—and today the Senate’s shown that not only is there broad consensus on the need to fix this law—remarkably, there’s also broad consensus on how to fix it.”

(more…)

Committees Advance Education Funding Bills

The Republicans on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees continue to move forward with their goal of passing all 12 appropriations bills before the September 30 deadline, but not without a fight from the White House and Committee Democrats who have serious concerns with the proposed funding levels in the FY 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (L-HHS-ED) Appropriations bills. They believe that in order to provide robust funding for education, the sequester caps must be increased by striking a deal similar to the Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreement in 2013.

For the first time in six years, the House Appropriations Committee marked up the L-HHS-ED Appropriations bill, which was approved on a party-line vote of 30-21 on June 24. The bill would cut funding for the Department of Education by $2.8 billion while also eliminating 27 education programs, including the School Leadership Program, the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program, School Improvement State Grants, Investing in Innovation (i3), and Preschool Development Grants among others.

The bill does provide small increases for Title I, IDEA, Head Start, Impact Aid, and Charter School Grants to name a few. The Committee for Education Funding (CEF) created a full summary of the House L-HHS-ED bill, which can be accessed here. (more…)

The Opt-Out Movement Gains Steam

Since the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, tens of thousands of students across the country have opted out of federally mandated assessments. The opt-out movement has become a way for parents and students to protest the implementation of the Common Core State Standards as well as the overabundance of testing in schools.

One of the key provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law requires school districts to maintain a 95 percent assessment participation rate. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently told states they risk losing federal funds if they fall below 95 percent compliance. This could have major implications for low-income and rural school districts that rely heavily on federal funding to hire staff, upgrade schools, and incorporate new programs. (more…)