USED Office of Civil Rights Releases Title IX Guidance Package

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Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released a guidance package emphasizing the responsibility of school districts, colleges and universities to designate a Title IX coordinator. The package also contains an overview of the law’s requirements in several key areas, including athletics, single-sex education, sex-based harassment, and discipline. 

The suite of guidance includes three resources:

  •  Dear Colleague Letter to school districts, colleges, and universities reminding them of their obligation to designate a Title IX coordinator.
  • letter to Title IX coordinators that provides them more information about their important role. 
  • Title IX resource guide that includes an overview of Title IX’s requirements in several key areas, including recruitment, admissions and counseling; financial assistance; athletics; sex-based harassment; treatment of pregnant and parenting students; and discipline – all topics that frequently confront schools and their Title IX coordinators 

We Need Your Stories: How Are the Changes to the E-Rate Program Benefitting Your Schools?

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The application for FY15 E-rate applications recently closed. The FCC is now looking to collect stories/anecdotes on how the changes to the E-rate program are benefitting schools.
 
Please take a few moments to write back with a sentence, anecdote or narrative about what your district is able to do/plan on/apply for given the structural and funding changes in the E-rate program. Have you historically not had access to funding for internal connections, but the new changes mean you now do? How will your district harness/leverage the expanded connectivity?

Please send stories and anecdotes to Noelle Ellerson at nellerson@aasa.org.

Survey on Technologies in the Classroom

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AASA is pleased to partner with a major technology vendor to the education industry in support of their survey about technologies in the classroom. Your voice is critical to the conversation about education technology. The survey should take about 6-7 minutes to complete. All of your feedback is anonymous--no respondent or company will be identifiable by individual answers.

A limited number of people are being asked to participate, so your feedback is critical to the success of this study. This is strictly a market research survey and will be used to understand the growing use of tools and software in classrooms, and how effective they are.        

Simply click on THIS LINK to begin the survey.        

Please complete the survey before Sunday, April 26, 2015. Thank you very much for taking the time to share your opinions with us.

USED Dear Colleague Letter on Due Process

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Last week, the US Education Department issued a Dear Colleague letter to school districts related to filing due process complaints against parents who have gone directly to the state with a disagreement. The letter cautions against such activity, as it short-circuits a parent's ability to complain directly to the state about a special education dispute.

You'll recall that IDEA's due process is a core component of AASA's IDEA reauthorization priorities. Read our white paper.

EdWeek has a more detailed write up on the Dear Colleague letter. AASA is looking into this further.

UPDATED: Senate ESEA Materials: Bill Summary, AASA Analysis, and Letter of Support

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Today the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee is set to begin mark of up Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) of 2015, the bipartisan proposal to reauthorize ESEA.

AASA's been busy putting together an analysis, side-by-side, letter of response and a quick summary of the filed amendments. Stay tuned to the blog and follow Noelle on twitter (@Noellerson) for live tweeting of all the ESEA fun.

Related Materials

 

 

AASA and 49 Affiliated State Superintendent Associations Release Joint Letter on ESEA Reauthorization

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Today, AASA and 49 affiliated state superintendent associations sent a joint letter on ESEA reauthorization to the U.S. House and Senate.

In a related statement, AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech said “ESEA expired more than seven years ago. This means that our nation’s K-6 graders have spent every day of their K-12 experience under an outdated and broken law. Our students want and deserve more. We cannot continue to ask our nation’s schools and the students they serve to live under the approach offered by the administration’s waivers. Congress alone can and should address the shortcomings of the current law and the waivers. We (AASA and our state affiliates) are urging Congress to move forward with the very critical work of reauthorizing ESEA. We need legislation that supports state and local innovations that strike the appropriate balance between federal government authority, and state and local autonomy.”

From the letter:

"...Though Congress has been engaged in efforts to reauthorize ESEA for the past seven years, we cannot continue to ask our nation’s schools and the students they serve to live under the patch-work approach offered by the administration’s waivers."

"..Public schools in every corner of America are making remarkable strides in student learning. Individual school districts and schools are developing and innovating ways to improve student outcomes for all students.  ESEA reauthorization always represents an opportunity to breathe new life in to federal education policy, incorporating the latest research and actual experience to improve student outcomes and eliminate achievement gaps.Those efforts are under way: The House has moved its proposal—The Student Success Act (HR 5)—out of committee and is waiting for full floor action. The Senate committee is working through bi-partisan negotiations for a bill that will be marked up in the coming weeks. AASA has endorsed the House bill and is optimistic the Senate draft will make improvements on HR5 and further advance the ESEA reauthorization effort..."

"..We (the undersigned associations) urge Congress to move forward with the very critical work of reauthorizing ESEA and providing all of the nation’s schools with workable federal education policy that supports state and local innovations by striking the appropriate balance between federal government authority and state and local autonomy."

Legislative Update: Budget, Appropriations, Forest Counties, and More

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Budget & Appropriations: Last week, the House and Senate each adopted their FY16 budget resolution. You'll recall that the Congressional FY16 budgets, while lacking specifics for education funding, are so severe AASA opposes both. They are so cut-heavy that it is hard to imagine any scenario where either the House or the Senate are able to advance an LHHS appropriations bill that adequately supports the nation’s public schools and the students they serve. Read AASA’s letter of opposition.  

The Senate had a good old vote-a-rama, considering dozens of amendments in the process. I flag one of particular interest for the way it addresses sequester. Sen. Kaine’s (VA) amendment puts the Senate on record that the sequester caps for both FY16 and FY17 for both defense and non-defense discretionary dollars should be listed as equal, and that offsets should include both targeted spending cuts and cuts in tax expenditures. The amendment passed with bipartisan support, including Sens. Alexander, Ayotte, Collins, Corker, Graham and McCain. AASA sent a ‘thank you’ email to each of these Republican Senators for their support for the amendment.   

 Here are some fact sheets on the budgets, including a map of the consequences and state fact sheets.     On the appropriations front, AASA sent a letter with our FY16 funding priorities to the House and Senate LHHS appropriations subcommittees, calling for them to resolve sequester and invest as much as possible in IDEA, TItle I, education technology teacher development and rural education.  

Secure Rural Schools (Forest Counties): Buried within the House budget was crucial language to extend the Secure Rural Schools and Communities (Forest Counties) act. The House language provides a two-year extension of the program, a portion of which is retroactive, as funds had expired in September 2014. The program provided $270 million to 729 counties in the year ending in Sept. 2014. The two-year extension is located in section 524 of HR 2, Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. The SRS extension was included in a broader health care bill, the so-called ‘doc fix’. The Senate did not vote on the bill before adjourning for their Easter Recess, but is expected to do so when they return. AASA sent a letter of support, in coordination with the Association of Educational Service Agencies, the National Rural Education Association, and the National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition.  

 IDEA Letter: AASA was pleased to coordinate 14 other national organizations in a letter of support for increased investment in IDEA in FY16. You can read the full letter, which expounds on this excerpt: "While special education funding has received significant increases over the past fifteen years, including the one‐time infusion of IDEA dollars in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, funding has leveled off recently and even been cut. Federal funding has never come close to reaching the promised 40%,causing states and local school districts to find ways to pay for needed services. This means using local budget dollars to cover the federal shortfall, at the direct expense of local district needs and expenditures, and/or increasing local taxes, which is an especially high burden in times of fiscal austerity and uncertainty. Collectively, level funding through the appropriations process and the cuts of sequestration have exacerbated the need for school districts to raise taxes or use local budget dollars to cover an ever‐growing share of the federal contribution to special education. Investing in IDEA, a federal flagship formula program designed to help level the education playing field for students with disabilities, is an investment in our nation’s students and their future, and represents an indication that Congress is serious in meeting its commitment to helping school districts meet the needs of all students. Therefore, we strongly support full funding for IDEA."

Supporting groups included: American Federation of Teachers; American Speech‐Language‐Hearing Association; Association of Educational Service Agencies; Council for Exceptional Children; Council of Great City Schools; National Association of Elementary School Principals; National Association of Secondary School Principals; National Association of State Directors of Special Education; National Center for Learning Disabilities; National Education Association; National PTA; National Rural Education Association; National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition; and National School Boards Association.