January 31, 2018

(ESEA) Permanent link

Coalition Letter Asks: Where's the ESSA Homework Gap Report?

Among other things, ESSA included language requiring reports on a handful of topics. Three in particular are of interest to AASA:


  • A report looking at rural education and the role of USED in assuring rural opportunity and the unique needs of rural schools/communities
  • A report looking at the ESSA Title I formula and how it's weighting constructs do (or do not) truly meet the goal of ensuring dollars are allocated equitably, with greater dollars flowing to areas of greater need
  • A report looking at the homework gap, or the frequency with which students lack internet access at home

All three of these reports were due in June of 2017, 18 months after the bill was signed into law. As of today, ony the rural report has been released, and even that one was six months late.

To that end, AASA was pleased to be one of 20 national organizations signing a joint letter to the director of the Institute of Education Sciences asking about the status of the report. Read the letter.


January 26, 2018

(ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

AASA Call to Action: Pass DREAM Act NOW!

Background: AASA is committed to efforts that advance and support federal education policy that supports and strengthens public education. As such, we are closely following the very current conversation around Congress reaching a final resolution on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA was a program created by President Obama through executive order. When President Trump announced the end of DACA protections for young people brought here as minors, he started a six-month clock for Congress to resolve this issue. That timeline expires in March, meaning Congress has less than two months to find common ground. Democrats are interested in a clean DACA deal, the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation that provides a path to citizenship. AASA supports the DREAM Act. More recently, DACA has become a bargaining chit in the FY18 appropriations issue. DACA became a point of leverage during the last shutdown, with Democrats initially refusing to fund the government without a DACA vote. That resulted in the shutdown. The DACA vote was not completed as part of the deal to end the shutdown, but Majority Leader McConnell assured a Senate vote on an immigration proposal on/before February 8. We are under the assumption that McConnell will honor his word and bring the vote; the real item to watch is if the House will pass what the Senate adopts. And if they don’t (which could happen!) will Dems again draw the line, and trigger another shutdown around February 8? As it stands, AASA supports the DREAM Act as a comprehensive solution to DACA protections.



  • Curious about what DACA means in your state and Congressional district? How many people are eligible for DACA recipients? What economic impact would the end of DACA have? Check out this map
  • This fact sheet details current DACA recipients by education, industry, and occupation.

Call to Action: Contact your FULL Congressional delegation, your Representative and BOTH your Senators. Call the Congressional Switch board (202) 224-3121 and ask to be transferred to your Senators/Representative. The person who answers is taking a tally of votes for and against, and the script you can read is below.


  • Congress must act NOW to adopt a clean DREAM Act as a final resolution to the DACA program. 
  • We work and live with DACA recipients in our classrooms and our communities. Despite the challenges they face, they continue to leave impressive marks on our community, state and nation’s economy. These students and young adults must be continue to be able to do so, free from fear and anxiety.
  • Public support for the DREAM Act is overwhelming and bipartisan. A Sept. 2017 Fox News poll found that 83 percent of Americans support some pathway to citizenship for these individuals. A Sept. 2017 Washington Post-ABC News poll found more than two-thirds of adults—69 percent—support allowing these individuals to stay in the United States if they had arrived as a child, had completed high school or served in the military, and had not committed a serious crime. A more recent Jan. 11 poll from Quinnipiac University (NY) finds that 79 percent of American voters overall, and 64 percent of registered Republicans, believe Dreamers should be allowed to remain in the U.S. and apply for citizenship.
  • The cost of deporting individuals with DACA statues would exceed more than $60 billion in lost tax revenue (national) and cause a $280 billion reduction in economic growth in the next decade. 
  • AASA supports the DREAM Act. As the most inclusive bipartisan legislative solution, DREAM provides DACA recipients with the permanent protections they deserve.
  • DREAM provides multiple pathways to citizenship, including higher education, military service and employment.
  • DREAM is clear that to qualify, individuals must have entered the US as minors and remained here continuously for four years before the date of the bill’s enactment. 
  • Congress must act NOW to vote for the DREAM Act of 2017.



January 24, 2018


Guest Blog: How Superintendents Can Be Effective in Local Politics

This guest blog post comes from Paul Hill,founder of the Center on Reinventing Public Education. 

We at CRPE have been working with superintendent-led initiatives for nearly three decades. We’ve seen a lot of smart and committed people try sensible initiatives, but often fall short of making lasting improvements in the schools.

As we have seen, the most common mechanism for the failure of good ideas is local politics, in the form of opposition from unions, neighborhood groups, the school board or the central office.  We also saw that the man or woman on horseback – who presents a fully developed plan, presumes cooperation and brooks no opposition –doesn’t last long, and his or her work usually disappears without a trace. 

As political scientists, Ashley Jochim and I had seen this before, in what might seem a surprising place, the American presidency. 

A classic book on our field, Richard E. Neustadt’s Presidential Power, starts from the premise that presidents are responsible for a wider range of activities than they can control directly, and that things they try to do all by themselves mostly fail and often backfire. The president’s only real power is to gain the cooperation of other free agents who don’t need to go along. 

Thinking that exposure to Neustadt’s principles might be helpful to current and aspiring district leaders, we looked back at dozens of interviews and case studies for examples of superintendents using power effectively, or failing to do so. We’ve just published the result in our new paper, Unlocking Potential: How Political Skill can Maximize Superintendent Effectiveness. As we show, superintendents gain the power to be effective by:


  • Bargaining and building coalitions.
  • Developing and capitalizing on a professional reputation, based on having clear goals, being resilient and a trustworthy ally, and following through.
  • Always being aware of how particular actions affect their ability to bargain effectively in the future.


Our report unpacks these generalities and provides examples. We hope readers will benefit by seeing politics as a resource and a means to effectiveness, not just a source of annoyance and constraint.  

Paul T. Hill is Founder of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) and Research Professor at the University of Washington Bothell.


January 22, 2018(1)


Speak Up Survey Closes THIS WEEK: Have you weighed in?

School leaders from across the country are sharing their views right now as part of the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning. Be sure to have your views included.

More than 350,000 students, teachers and parents have participated so far, but the project needs more input from administrations to be sure your voice is included in final national reports.

In addition to the state of educational technology today (and what wakes you up in the middle of the night!), this year’s survey also includes questions about digital citizenship and math attitudes.

The state and national survey findings will be shared with policymakers and educational leaders to inform their work. Surveys take about 20 minutes to complete and are 100% confidential.

As a thank you and an incentive, we are offering the chance to win a free registration to the 2018 National Conference on Education to those who participate in Speak Up. Once you’ve shared your views, you can complete the final, optional question to enter to win. To maintain confidentiality, that identifying information will not remain with your survey responses; it will only be used for the registration give-away.

Don’t let your voice be left out: Take the Speak Up survey today (Select “Educators” from the drop-down list of surveys and then district administrator):https://speakup.tomorrow.org/

Speak Up, a national initiative of Project Tomorrow, is both a national research project and a free service to schools and districts everywhere. 

January 22, 2018


Toolkit: Leverage National Service in Your School

UPDATED: The toolkit URL is currently not live/available given the federal shutdown. It will return once Congress re-opens government. 

Last week the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) released their Superintendent’s/Principal’s Toolkit detailing how to utilize national service to support student success. Many people don’t always realize that CNCS is a federal agency and that about half of their annual budget supports education-related programs.  This toolkit is intended for use by principals, superintendents, and other education stakeholders to better access and leverage federal resources.

New Superintendent's/Principal's Toolkit on Using National Service
Strengthen Schools and Student Success

Educators, do you wish you had resources to:


  • Provide one-on-one tutoring to students to increase academic achievement?
  • Mentor students to improve attendance and graduation rates?
  • Work with community partners to develop after-school or summer programs?
  • Advise students on applying for financial aid for college?
  • Help support your implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act?
  • Conduct fundraising and outreach?
  • Create a pipeline of future teachers?


If you answered YES to any of these questions, check out the new Toolkit and start leveraging national service in your schools.  The toolkit has useful information for state and local officials as well as other education stakeholders.

Each year 90,000 trained AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers provide in-school and after-school support to at-risk youth.  With federal funding from CNCS, schools across the country are using this proven source of human capital to help students succeed in school and fulfill their potential after graduation. 

Almost 12,000 schools across the country are leveraging national service programs to meet local needs including kindergarten readiness, third grade literacy, attendance improvement, support for low-performing schools, and on-time graduation.  Learn more from our CNCS education overview "National Service Strengthens Education," and on their Education webpage.

Access the toolkit today! 




The toolkit helps you determine your school's needs, find the right national service program, and apply for the resources that best fit your school or district.

January 10, 2018

(ESEA) Permanent link

USED Letter Details School Improvement Grant Flexibilities

USED Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Jason Botel sent the following letter to state education agencies detailing flexbilities within the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program:


Dear Colleague:

I am writing regarding the implementation of the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), to follow up on the Dear Colleague letter (available at https://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/sigdirapplicationltr3292016.pdf) sent on March 29, 2016, regarding the use of remaining SIG funds and to update you on SIG reporting requirements. 

Use of remaining SIG funds

In the letter dated March 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) explained that a State must continue to comply with the SIG final requirements throughout the period of availability of any remaining SIG funds, including any extended period of availability pursuant to waivers of the period of availability of SIG funds.  The letter also explained that a State could, but was not required to, use funds that it reserved in fiscal year 2017 and future years under section 1003(a) of the ESEA, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), to support full implementation of SIG awards initially made with prior-year funds. 

Many States have contacted the Department to request additional flexibility regarding the use of remaining SIG funds.  States have cited as reasons for their request waning interest from local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools in applying for or implementing SIG in light of the new requirements in ESSA, the large amount of remaining SIG funds and the States’ focus on fully transitioning to ESSA.  Given these reasons, the Department supports States’ interest in increased flexibility for the use of SIG funds.  

Accordingly, pursuant to the authority to ensure an orderly transition authority to the ESSA, a State may, at its discretion, use any remaining SIG funds either: (1) consistent with the SIG final requirements; or (2) consistent with the requirements of section 1003 of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA.  A State that decides to use some or all of its remaining SIG funds consistent with section 1003 of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, may, at its discretion, permit an LEA that is currently implementing SIG to transition to the requirements of section 1003 of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, with its remaining SIG funds.   

SIG reporting requirements

The SIG final requirements require each State to submit a number of SIG-specific data and reporting elements for SIG schools to the Department on an annual basis.  Because the SIG program is eliminated under the ESSA, it is no longer necessary for States to continue to meet those SIG-specific reporting requirements.  Thus, consistent with the provisions of the ESSA that authorize the Secretary to ensure an orderly transition to the new law, the Department will no longer require a State to report SIG-specific data to the Department (see EDFacts C167 at https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/edfacts/eden/non-xml/c167-12-0.doc).  

Should you need further clarification or have any questions, please contact your State program officer in the Office of State Support.

January 9, 2018

(WELL-BEING) Permanent link

EPA Considering Changes to the Lead and Copper Rule

Yesterday, I participated in a conversation with the EPA about an issue about which we are seeing increased attention in recent years - the Lead and Copper Rule. Currently, federal law mandates that water utilities test the water from a sample of homes they serve. They are not, however, mandated to test school water. Some states have stepped in to require school water be tested, but school water in most states is not required to be tested. 

The EPA is beginning to consider changing the Lead and Copper Rule, and brought together stakeholders to discuss these possible changes. The change that would affect schools is the proposal to require water utilities to test all schools that they serve. This would give schools a better taste for their water safety and would save districts from financing and administering their own tests. We will be moving forward with the EPA to discuss the implications any changes in this rule would have on schools and how we can work together to keep  kids safe from ingesting lead.

January 8, 2018


The Advocate, January 2018

By Noelle Ellerson Ng, associate executive director, policy and advocacy, AASA

New Year, Not So New to Do List

2018 is just over a week old, and already Congress’ to-do list looks a LOT like that of 2017. And for good reason: much of the work at the top of their to-do list is a spillover of items they did not complete in 2017.

Front and center are the final negotiations around the FY2018 funding bills. Federal fiscal year 2018 (FY18) started October 1, 2017. While Congress failed to fund the government, they avoided a shutdown by using a short-term continuing resolution (CR), which keeps government running while buying Congress more time to complete its work. They passed a CR that went until Dec 8, then a CR that went to Dec 22, and then the CR we are under right now, one that runs through January 19.

2018 is the start of a mid-term election year, so we shouldn’t expect any major legislation, and we can expect that Congress will want to wrap up appropriations work as soon as possible so as to clear room for campaigning. It is not as simple as appropriations work alone, though: Congress has nearly two years’ worth of back-logged items they are trying to address in the first three weeks of 2018: FY18 appropriations, raising the caps, resolving the deferred action on childhood arrivals (DACA) program, Secure Rural Schools (Forest Counties) and Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), among others.

Once Congress comes back from recess next week, there is not enough time for them to complete their work, so we can expect at least one more short-term CR, likely into February. Congress will continue its work to reconcile the differences between their proposed spending levels, which are significant when it comes to education: The House cuts U. S. Dept. of Education by $2.2 billion; the Senate provides a nominal $29 million increase. The funding conversations will hopefully include a resolution for the lack of funding currently available for CHIP and Secure Rural Schools.

An additional wrinkle related to the FY18 effort is the ongoing dialogue about raising the funding caps. Without explicit effort to raise the funding caps, Congress will be bound to the FY18 funding cap, which is BELOW FY17. Carrying over from previous years, the conversation about raising the caps raises debate about the size of the increase, how (or if) to pay for the increase, and whether or not to maintain parity between defense and non-defense discretionary funding (AASA supports parity).  Defense hawks want to provide a funding increase for defense, but not non-defense discretionary funding, which is where education dollars fall. Democrats are committed to parity. We have to see how this plays out.

While not related in terms of policy, the politics overlap: When President Trump announced the end of DACA protections for young people brought here as minors, he started a six-month clock for Congress to resolve this issue. That timeline expires in March, meaning Congress has less than two months to find common ground. Democrats are interested in a clean DACA deal, the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation that provides a path to citizenship. AASA supports the DREAM Act. Republicans are interested in expanding the conversation to include some of their broader immigration priorities, including money to build a portion of the wall, ending chain migration, and a few other things. A bipartisan group of Congress is expected to meet the week of January 8, and that should give a good indication of if a bi-partisan deal can move forward.

I am at the end of my word allocation and have managed to give a lay of the land without detailing a specific outcome. And that is largely because we cannot predict with certainty how any of these discussions will go. We will continue to monitor these conversations and let you know how they unfold. 

January 3, 2018



Congress must act to fund the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program in January. Congress recessed for the Holidays pushing final FY 2018 funding decisions to January 19.  Congress left Washington again without acting to fund Secure Rural School for the 9 million students in 4,400 school districts in 775 forest counties in 41 states across the country.

The SRS safety net is unraveling in 775 counties and 4,400 school districts serving 9 million students in 41 states.  Congress failed again to act on SRS and forest management.  The SRS safety net program for forest communities are based on historic precedent and agreements begun in 1908 removing federal lands from local tax bases and from full local community economic activity. 

Congress also just failed to provide additional hurricane aid and support for wildfires. Congress should fund these programs and ACT to fund Secure Rural School and Forest communities. 



  • ASK your Representatives to STAND UP, SPEAK UP, ACT NOW FOR Secure Rural Schools in January when Congress funds FY 2018 and disaster relief. Immediate action is needed for short term Fiscal Year 2016-2017 SRS funding to support essential safety, fire, police, road and bridge, and education services. Tell your Member what lost SRS funds mean for students, roads and essential services. Give examples of cuts to education, roads, bridges, police, fire, and safety programs.
  • THANK the 35 Senators who joined Senators Hatch (R-UT) and Wyden (D-OR) in asking Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer to include SRS in final 2018 funding measure. Ask your Senators to renew this request to Senate Leaders.   
  • ASK your House Representative to join Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) as H.R 2340 cosponsor extending the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act and to ASK House Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi to fund SRS. 
  • Contact LOCAL PRESS: Tell your press what lost SRS funds mean for your students, roads and essential services. Give examples of cuts to education, roads, bridges, police, fire, and safety programs in your schools and communities. Unless Congress acts in January, your community and other forest county communities will continue losing irreplaceable essential fire, police, road and bridge, community and educational services.    



If you need contact information for any office in your congressional delegation, please let us know.