Principal's Policy

Advocacy Update

Inside the Beltway

Congress returns from August recess after Labor Day on September 8 and the current continuing resolution keeping the government funded runs out on September 30. The Iran deal has been taking up airwaves as President Obama courts votes. On the budget front, conservative Republicans have threatened to derail the budget process if Planned Parenthood is not defunded, but Republican leadership is anxious to avoid that scenario.

In the Press

2015 PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, PDK/Gallup

This month, PDK International and Gallup released their annual poll data on the public’s attitudes toward public schools. (more…)

Advocacy Update

Take Action on ESEA

Congress is still on recess, but NASSP is working hard to ensure principals have a voice in ESEA reauthorization. Working with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the American Federation of School Administrators, NASSP sent a detailed letter to lawmakers on Capitol Hill outlining our concerns and priorities going forward with the ESEA conference report. Lend your voice to the cause today by sending an email to your senators and representatives through the Principal’s Legislative Action Center!

Inside the Beltway

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced more than $16.2 million in grants to improve school leadership in the nation’s lowest performing schools through the Turnaround School Leaders Program. Grants are used to build systems at the district level to provide training to new and current school leaders to prepare them to lead turnaround efforts in schools that have received School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds. (more…)

The Next Big Thing: Student Data Privacy

Throughout the spring and summer a flurry of legislation was introduced concerning student data privacy. As representatives of principals across the nation, NASSP and the National Association of Elementary School Princpals (NAESP) agree that any legislation should ensure student data remains private but available for use to improve learning and instruction without placing undue burden on school principals.

The variety of bills introduced present a range of options that could result in big changes to how schools are asked to store and use student data. With the increasing use of education technology in classrooms using student data to enhance and personalize the student learning experience, lawmakers must carefully consider how to protect the right to privacy for students and their families. Moreover, legislators should rely on the voices of those working in school buildings to ensure policies have no unintended consequences.

NASSP and NAESP will continue to work together to review all legislation and meet with congressional staff to ensure they include our shared vision. Now that the House and Senate is on recess we have outlined here what has happened on Capitol Hill surrounding student data privacy since the beginning of the 114th Congress in January. (more…)

Advocacy Update

Welcome to the new blog version of the weekly advocacy update! A few things have changed to make the weekly update as useful as possible. You can look forward to more unique content, summaries of articles and reports of interest to secondary schools, and insight about how these issues affect school leaders.

Inside the Beltway

The House and Senate are on recess through Labor Day. In the meantime, education advocates are anticipating the formation of a conference committee between House and Senate leaders to reconcile differences between the two bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Now is a good time to schedule meetings with your representatives in their home offices to talk about what principals need in a reauthorized law. (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…)

After Long Delay, House Approves ESEA Reauthorization Bill

Months after their bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was pulled from the floor due to a lack of votes, the House squeaked through final passage of the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) in a 218-213 vote on July 8. If enacted, the bill would replace the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act as the law governing elementary, middle, and high schools.

“For too long, Washington’s priorities have outweighed what parents, teachers, and local leaders know is best for their children,” said House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) in a press release about the bill’s passage. “Today, we took an important step in a bold, new direction. After years of working with education stakeholders and members of Congress, I’m pleased the House has advanced responsible reforms that would give the American people what they deserve: a commonsense law that will help every child in every school receive an excellent education.”

Before the final vote, the House considered a series of amendments, including one offered by Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) to add the A Plus Act to the bill. NASSP strongly opposed this proposal, which would have consolidated a number of federal programs into a block grant and allowed states to direct the funding to any purpose under state law. Fortunately, the amendment was defeated in a 195-235 vote. (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…)

New Data Privacy Bills Could Threaten Innovation in Schools

As we reported in a blog post earlier this month, student data privacy continues to be a hot topic on Capitol Hill with a whopping five legislative proposals in circulation. While earlier bills focused on education technology companies and their use of student data, the new proposals would reauthorize the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and have a great impact on principals and how they run their schools.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) released a discussion draft to totally rewrite FERPA in early April. The draft would grant parents the right to inspect and review their children’s education records and require educators to grant requests within 30 days. Educational agencies would be prohibited from releasing education records or personally identifiable information (PII) of students without written consent of their parents with few exceptions. Unidentifiable student data could be released for the purpose of education research, but the draft proposes a requirement that parents be notified of the studies and be given a reasonable amount of time to opt out. (more…)

Student Data Privacy Is the Newest Hot Topic on the Hill

As the use of digital technology rises in schools, so does the concern about the security of student data. Numerous state bills have been introduced and passed in the past few years, but now Congress is starting to examine a federal response and NASSP has been at the table for these discussions. Our objective is aligned to the position statement approved by the Board of Directors in February 2015: to ensure the protection of student privacy and appropriate use of student data to improve teaching and learning in the classroom. (more…)