Middle Level Reform

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…)

Tech Ed and Literacy Showcased at Senate Caucus Event

Once considered an add-on program, career and technical education (CTE) continues to raise its profile in mainstream education. And now, CTE is being recognized as a method for building core skills.

A Hill briefing last Wednesday focused on the crucial, yet rarely recognized, connection between literacy and CTE. Held by the Advocates for Literacy (of which NASSP is a leading member) and the Senate CTE Caucus, this event marks an important step in the CTE movement—underscoring that CTE success requires student literacy skills, which can be advanced in the context of high-quality CTE programs.

No one can address this topic with greater authority than 2014 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year Dr. Sheila Harrity, who presented her school’s success in programming that combines traditional high school academics with CTE curriculum. (more…)

Senator Kaine Introduces Middle School Technical Education Program Act

In an important step to improve college and career readiness among middle level students, today Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)—co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus—introduced the Middle School Technical Education Program (Middle STEP) Act. Cosponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Mark Warner (D-VA), the bill has received several endorsements from national education organizations—including strong support from NASSP.

This legislation would greatly benefit middle level students by presenting them with CTE programs to foster their college and career development—giving them a leg up on their future. Middle schools would partner with postsecondary institutions and local businesses to create opportunities such as apprenticeships and project-based learning, which are usually reserved for high school or postsecondary programs. (more…)

NASSP Quarterly Advocacy Update – October 2013

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

While there seemed to be little optimism at the beginning of the year that the 113th Congress would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the summer months saw a LOT of activity on Capitol Hill. The law, currently known as No Child Left Behind, has been due for reauthorization since 2007.

Bipartisan negotiations on ESEA failed in the spring, so the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House education committees went their separate ways on developing education policy. At one point, four separate proposals were floating around Capitol Hill, but ultimately a Democratic proposal was approved by the Senate HELP Committee in June and a Republican proposal (H.R. 5) was passed by the full House in July. Debate in both chambers centered on the appropriate federal role in education and a conversation about how to provide more flexibility for states and local school districts. (more…)