Policy and Advocacy Presentations at NCE

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The policy and advocacy team is busy here in San Diego at NCE. Today, we're presenting on AASA's 2015 legislative agenda, policy research and effective grassroots campaigns, and advocacy in action with AASA's president, past president, and president-elect. Tomorrow, we have two presentations for a federal policy update

If you are in San Diego with us, please join us for the rest of our presentations. If not, check out our presentations and let us know what you think.

AASA Advocacy Materials for NCE 2015

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Here's everything advocacy related you need for NCE 2015. We'll post presentations and materials as the sessions conclude.

Connect directly with the Advocacy Team at NCE via twitter: @Noellerson, @LeslieFinnan, and @fm_duffy.

ICYMI: Yesterday, the governing board adopted the 2015 Legislative Agenda.

Thursday February 26

  •  9 am, Knowledge Exchange Theatre (KET): The Superintendent’s Social Media Lounge, Part 1
    Gayane Minasyan & Francesca Duffy  
  • 9 am, 26A: 2015: New Legislative Agenda, New Congress, New Outcomes?
    Leslie Finnan
  • 11:45 am, 29: Federal Relations Luncheon, featuring Pedro Noguera
    Sponsored by Ameson, hosted by AASA Advocacy & the AASA Collaborative
  • 1:15, 26A: Policy Research: Effective Grassroots Campaigns & Public Education
    Leslie Finnan & Francesca Duffy  
  • 1:15, KET: AASA Leadership: Advocacy & Policy in Action
    David Pennington, Amy Sichel, David Schuler, & Noelle Ellerson  

Friday February 27

  • 10:30 am, 26A: Federal Relations Update I*
    Noelle Ellerson & Leslie Finnan
    This is NOT a repeat of Federal Relations Update II. They are complementary and separate.   
  • 12:15 pm, KET: Federal Relations Update II*
    Noelle Ellerson & Leslie Finnan
    This is NOT a repeat of Federal Relations Update II. They are complementary and separate.   
  • 1:30 pm, 26A: The Affordable Care Act & Public Schools
    Randy Collins, Steven May & Joe Spurgeon  
  • 1:30 pm, KET: The Superintendent’s Social Media Lounge: Part 2
    Gayane Minasyan & Francesca Duffy



UPDATED: AASA Endorses House ESEA Bill (HR5)

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This post has been updated to reflect AASA's response to the amendments under consideration in conjunction with HR5.

AASA, The School Superintendents Association sent a letter to the House of Representatives expressing our support for the Student Success Act (HR5). HR5 is the House proposal to reauthorize ESEA, now more than 7 years past due for reauthorization. You can also read our letter in response to the amendments under consideration.

AASA members have long prioritized ESEA reauthorization. While HR5 is not perfect, it gets far more right than it gets wrong, and moving an imperfect bill out of the House with room for improvement in conference is a better option than defeating a bill and with it, any hopes (however slim they remain) for reauthorization this Congress.

Some context:

AASA  opposed No Child Left Behind since the legislation was introduced, citing the law’s federal overreach, punitive measures, assumption that federal government knows best what local schools need, and unworkable mandates and requirements. More than a decade of NCLB implementation has demonstrated the problems AASA predicted, and has highlighted how current law relies on ineffective, costly requirements rather than supporting and trusting public school leaders to improve student outcomes.  Congress must address the shortcomings of current law.   AASA strongly believes that reauthorization is crucial to providing the nation’s schools with relief from current law, which is both broken and lacking in the flexibility states and local school districts need to support student learning and achievement. 

As ESEA reauthorization efforts enter their eighth year, AASA’s position remains the same: We strongly support and prefer complete reauthorization of ESEA as the best and most meaningful way to provide relief from the broken and outdated constructs of current law to all students and all schools. We remain opposed to the continued use of, existence of, and reliance on ESEA waivers in place of complete reauthorization. We urge Congress to work together to advance a bipartisan bill that can pass to and through the President’s desk, ultimately delivering a much needed modernization of ESEA to the nation’s schools and the students they serve. 

As a starting point for discussions to reauthorize ESEA, HR5 is a strong step in the right direction because it restores a more proper balance between federal, state and local government in public education. HR5 takes the pendulum of federal overreach and prescription and places it more squarely in the area of state and local expertise and autonomy. The bill recognizes the importance of empowering state and local leaders to use their professional knowledge and proximal location to make the decisions necessary to successfully adhere to their educational missions.  HR5 makes significant improvements in the federal role in accountability, standards and assessments that AASA supports. These improvements include:

Maintain student disaggregation by subgroup

Eliminate the 100 percent proficiency mandate

Eliminate SES/Choice 

Eliminate Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO)

Return ownership of the accountability system to the state/local level

Maintain school improvement for low performing schools, under state direction

Require that assessments measure proficiency and  growth models 

Remove caps on alternate assessments, allowing the IEP team to ensure that children are assessed in a meaningful, fair and accurate manner

Maintain supplement/supplant language      

Reduce federal overreach into school improvement/turnaround strategies

Put states in charge of designing a teacher evaluation system

Eliminate requirements related to Highly Qualified Teacher provisions

Provide option for 5-, 6-, and 7-year graduation rates. 

Reauthorization of the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP)




2015 Legislative Agenda Adopted

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Today, the AASA Governing Board came together and adopted AASA's 2015 Legislative Agenda. This serves as a guide for our lobbying for the year so we can best represent the interests of our members. Not much has changed from last year's legislative agenda. Our legislative priorities for this year are to reauthorize ESEA, fully fund IDEA, and limit federal intrusion into state and local education policies. 

We added a piece on the Higher Education Act regarding teacher preparation programs and a piece on student data privacy, urging Congress to clarify definitions and provide guidance on the scope of different privacy laws (FERPA, PPRA, COPPA). 

We also made a trifold version, which is a great advocacy tool to leave behind with your representatives, so they are aware of our main priorities. 

2014 Superintendent Salary and Benefits Study Now Available

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 Today, AASA released the 2014 AASA Superintendents Salary and Benefits Study. This is the third edition coming from AASA, and received over 1,700 responses from all 50 states. Thank you to all of you who participated!


The survey’s key findings included:

Base salaries ranged from $36,000 to $315,000, with an average salary of $122,000 and a median salary of $113,000.

Respondents are predominately male (79 percent), White (94 percent) and from intermediate-sized districts (300-2,499 students) regardless of their gender.

Female respondents were, on average, older than male respondents (53.1 to 51.7 percent respectively).

A three-year trend of improving economic conditions continues. Slightly more than half of the respondents (53 percent) reported their districts’ economic conditions as stable (50 percent in 2013; 45 percent in 2012).


The survey revealed a small trend toward longer longevity compared with 2013 results. Over half of respondents described their districts’ economic conditions as stable for the first time; this year, 53 percent said so, compared to 50 percent in 2013 and 45 percent in 2012. Despite this positive change, nearly four in 10 respondents still described their districts’ economic conditions as declining.


The survey is available here: http://aasa.org/uploadedFiles/Publications/2014_supt_salary_public.pdf


Advocacy Spotlight: State Affiliates and AASA Members' Outreach on Title I Portability

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 This week the House Education and Workforce Committee marked-up their ESEA bill, HR5, the Student Success Act. One of the amendments to HR5 that was supposed to receive a stand-alone vote focused on Title I portability. AASA had deep concerns with how Title I portability would dismantle local efforts to close achievement gaps and generally undermine local control over limited federal resources. You can read about Title I portability here.

In light of this news, AASA launched a call-to-action asking some our members and affiliates with connections to House Education & Workforce members to weigh in on the House ESEA bill. In a matter of hours, emails and calls flooded into Capitol Hill. I heard from staff that they were being “bombarded” about the Title I portability amendment from superintendents. A few House members that we thought would not vote in favor of an amendment to strike portability even told me they were now “on-the-fence” after talking with their local superintendents.

While the amendment process never worked out as we had hoped, the effort by our state affiliates—particularly our PA and OK affiliates—to engage the appropriate superintendents, coupled with our active advocacy network of AASA members who reached out, represents an advocacy victory. It’s not unrealistic to think we could have another chance on the floor to strike these Title I portability provisions from ESEA, and we’ll certainly have a chance to engage on this issue in the Senate side, but thanks to our committed superintendents who found a few minutes to call up staff and send some emails, we are now ahead of the game.


AASA Comments on House and Senate ESEA Bills

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As you have heard, ESEA reauthorization is finally moving through both the House and the Senate! Last week, the Senate announced it would proceed with a bipartisan bill, so Democrats and Republicans are negotiating now. The House bill is in committee mark up today, and will be sent to the floor in the last week of February.

We sent letters to Senator Alexander and Representative Kline with comments on each bill. We also created a side by side comparison of the House and Senate ESEA proposals.