Amanda Karhuse

Amanda Karhuse is the Director of Advocacy at NASSP. Follow her on Twitter @akarhuse.

Congress Considers Bill to Tackle the Homework Gap

Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT) and David McKinley (R-WV) recently introduced the Digital Learning Equity Act (H.R. 3582) to ensure students and their families have broadband Internet access in their homes. A companion bill, The Digital Learning Equity Act of 2015 (S. 1606), was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Angus King (I-ME) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). This bill will help provide students and their families with equitable access to the Internet at home to support family engagement in their child’s education and will allow students to accomplish essential tasks such as completing their homework, applying for colleges, and seeking post-graduation employment.

According to a letter of support sent to House Energy and Commerce Committee leadership by education groups (including NASSP and NAESP), the bill: (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…)

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…)

Senate Education Committee Unanimously Approves Bipartisan ESEA Bill

After two days of debate and consideration of nearly 90 amendments, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved its bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in a historic, 22-0, vote on April 16. The Every Child Achieves Act was the end result of weeks of bipartisan negotiations between Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), and their leadership was evident throughout the cordial committee debate.

NASSP was pleased that the first amendment approved by committee would authorize a competitive grant for states and districts to audit their assessment systems, including the number of tests and the time spent on test-taking, in order to reduce redundant or unnecessary state and district assessments. The amendment was based on the SMART Act (S. 907) and introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) who also sponsored the bill. (more…)

Senate Releases Bipartisan ESEA Bill, Markup Scheduled Next Tuesday

After weeks of negotiations between Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), the committee released a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and set a date for the markup on April 14. The purpose of the Every Child Achieves Act is to “enable states and local communities to improve and support our nation’s public schools and ensure that every child has an opportunity to achieve.”

The following is a summary of Titles I and II of the bill:

Unlike No Child Left Behind, the latest iteration of ESEA, the bill does not provide a specific amount for Title I or any other programs in the bill but instead authorizes “to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2016 through 2021.” (more…)

BEST Act Seeks to Elevate Professional Development for Educators

Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Jack Reed (D-RI) yesterday introduced the Better Educator Support and Training (BEST) Act that amends Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to elevate the teaching and principal professions, support educators, improve student achievement, and ensure equity in the nation’s schools. The BEST Act would accomplish this by increasing the capacity of states and local educational agencies to develop and sustain a coherent, comprehensive, and aligned professional continuum for teachers, principals, and other educators that leads to accomplished practice, leadership opportunities, and increased student learning.

““I’m proud to introduce the Better Educator Support and Training (BEST) Act to ensure that our teachers and principals receive the support they deserve to give our children the best education possible,” said Senator Casey. “By providing greater support and training for educators, we can keep the best teachers in the classroom and better prepare our students for the college or career of their choice.” (more…)

New Legislation Aims to Redesign High Schools for the Next Generation

In an effort to help high schools that enroll traditionally underserved students in the development and implementation of comprehensive, evidence-based reform, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has introduced the Next Generation (NextGen) High Schools Act. NASSP strongly supports the bill, which mirrors many of the recommendations contained in the Breaking Ranks framework for school improvement.

“A high school diploma is the gateway to success and the ultimate goal of a K–12 education,” said Sen. Baldwin in a press release. “Unfortunately, the promise of a high-quality education is not realized by many of the nation’s youth, especially students of color and those from low-income families. By personalizing education, integrating coursework with career-based learning, and connecting their learning to real-world experiences, the NextGen High Schools Act will ensure our students are well situated to graduate college and career-ready.” (more…)

NASSP Scores a Win in the House ESEA Bill

During consideration of the House bill (H.R. 5) to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), an amendment was approved that underscores the vital role school principals play in their schools every day. NASSP worked closely with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA) to encourage Reps. Susan Davis (D-CA), Robert Dold (R-IL), and Jared Polis (D-CO) to introduce the amendment and activated our grassroots network to ensure its approval. (more…)

Rallying Support for #PD4Principals

We know that the principalship is important, but only in recent years have we been able to quantify just how important. More than a decade of rigorous research by the Wallace Foundation has confirmed that the quality of leadership is second only to the quality of instruction in school-based factors that affect student learning. But do not let that “second” label lead you to believe schools can do without effective leadership. The Wallace Foundation was unable to identify a single instance of a school turning around to become high achieving without a strong, skillful leader. To further quantify the principal’s impact, a research project led by Robert Marzano calculated that a full 25 percent of schoolwide achievement can be attributed to how the principal chooses to dedicate time, what the principal emphasizes, and the culture the principal fosters. (more…)