January 26, 2019(2)

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Introducing Public Education Policy (PEP) Talk, the AASA Advocacy Podcast!

We’re trying something new in the new year: we’re launching Public Education Policy (PEP) Talk, the AASA podcast. 

PEP Talk is the officially unofficial podcast for the AASA advocacy team, and this podcast is one more way to engage with our advocacy team. 

PEP Talk will focus on the research, advocacy, and policies impacting public school superintendents. Guests will include superintendents, researchers, advocates, policymakers, and other folks doing interesting things in the field. If we do it right, with each episode you’ll learn something new and hopefully come away thinking about some of these issues in a new light.

Each episode will be a new topic from a different angle. We’ll talk federal, state and local policies impacting superintendents and public education. We’ll talk advocacy. We’ll bring in folks to discuss new and interesting research and emerging trends in the field. . . and any other topic we think you might want to hear about. 

 

If you have a show idea or guest you think we should have on, shoot me a note: nellerson@aasa.org or on twitter @Noellerson.

Check out our first episode, where Sasha and I talk all things AASA Advocacy, including everything to expect and consider in 2019!!

January 26, 2019(1)

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USED Releases Non-Binding Guidance on Supplement, Not Supplant Provision in ESSA Title I

As if the temporary end of the shutdown wasn’t exciting enough, on Friday, USED contributed to a busy education-policy new cycle by releasing non-binding guidance related to the supplement, not supplant provisions of ESSA Title I.

 

  • Background: ‘Supplement, not supplant’ (SNS) is a provision in federal law designed to ensure that federal funds are in addition to—not in place of—state and local dollars. The guidance released on Friday applies only to ESSA Title I, but not to other federal education programs that may have separate SNS provisions. Under NCLB, the SNS provisions had been beefed up to a level that was burdensome and unnecessarily complicated. While the core provision remains unchanged from NCLB to ESSA, the big change is that under ESSA, no LEA can be required to identify that an individual cost or service is supplemental. This provision rules out requiring an LEA to use the three presumptions to comply with the supplement not supplant requirement, which were based on an analysis of individual costs. LEAs no longer have to demonstrate SNS at the individual cost or service level. Congressional Research Service released a good primer on SNS in early 2015.
  • New Guidance: The guidance released by USED is a very light touch, especially compared to the regulations proposed under the Obama administration. The guidance released on Friday aligns much more closely with the guidance document that had been released in the summer of 2015 (before ESSA was even reauthorized!) You’ll recall AASA had deepreservations regarding the Obama regs, which mandated equalized spending and would have resulted in forced transfers, among other concerns. The new guidance avoids those traps, also clarifies that LEAs do not have to publicly disclose their SNS methodology on their websites, but does clarify that LEAs can’t simply use their per-pupil spending to demonstrate compliance with SNS. The guidance includes sample methods LEAs can use in demonstrating SNS, clarifies that list is not finite, and reiterates that USED cannot mandate the SNS methodology.

 

You can read the guidance here.

January 26, 2019

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Join Us for a Fun Run at NCE! See You in LA!

This blog comes from Noelle Ellerson Ng, associate executive director for policy and advocacy, avid runner, and someone who loves to share a great running community with AASA members.

We interrupt the policy focus of this blog to share information related to a fun run opportunity at NCE. 

After 4 years of successful ‘officially unofficial fun runs’ at the AASA advocacy conference, we are bringing the fun to NCE. Pack a set of work out clothes, throw in your sneakers, and #justshowup for a little #freefitness and fun before the Friday meetings.

As you know, I love education policy, DC and running. I also love running in new cities, and NCE represents a great way to host a fun run, a way to combine running in LA before we get to the education policy and education leadership work of NCE. It’s a chance to get some fresh air, see the city before it fully wakes up, before a day of networking and learning.

This year, for our inaugural ‘Officially Unofficial Fun Run’ at the National Conference on Education in LA, we will run on Friday morning, February 15, at 6 am. The run is open to any and all fitness levels and paces. We will be working out with November Project LA, the LA chapter of my favorite DC running community.

 

  • What to Expect: The workout is circuit based, meaning it is NOT point to point, so no need to worry about pace, getting lost, or being left behind. The workouts always include options for modifying up/down based on your fitness level or workout goals. Generally speaking, November Project workouts combine running (usually ¼ - ½ mile at a time, broken up with ‘spice’, different types of body weight exercises: squats, pushups, burpees, and the like). You can go as fast or slow as you like. 
  • Details: We will workout with the LA chapter of my favorite DC run club, November Project. The group is one of the most welcoming running communities I have run with, and I have brought supts to not only the DC location, but also San Diego and New Orleans when our conferences were in those cities. And now, LA!!

 

If you are interested in participating in this year's run (including if you aren't sure but want to receive information about it!, please submit your name and email address at the RSVP link here

Please note that this is a fun run, and all runners/walkers participate of their own will. Participants assume all responsibility for any related fun, enjoyment, sweating, or incident.  

 

 

January 25, 2019

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The federal shutdown is, well, shut down. For now.

Late on Friday, both the House and Senate passed a short-term continuing resolution and the president signed it into law, bringing the longest partial government shutdown in history to close in its 35th day. Following increased pressure amid growing negative polling, and air stops in major airports due to lack of workers, which sent ripples up and down the east coast, the president announced he would sign a funding deal to temporarily end the shutdown. 

The agreement level funds the portions of the government that had been shutdown, buying Congress time to wrap up the appropriations work for FY19. In addition to funding the government through February 15, the agreement creates a conference committee on homeland security. This committee will have the three week work period to negotiate the deal. The short term deal includes zero money for the border wall. The path forward remains anything but certain, as the president has already indicated that he remains open to declaring an emergency to secure funding for the wall. It is feasible Congress could pass stand alone bills for all impacted portions of the government (except homeland security, the slice of the pie that would include funding for a wall). That said, this path forward, funding all parts of government except homeland security would significantly reduce the consequence of another shutdown, as well as dilute any perceived pressure the president could leverage in negotiations related to wall funding, should another shutdown occur.

As a reminder, of the 12 appropriations bill (which collectively fund the entirety of the federal government), these are the ones that remain incomplete: agriculture, commerce, financial services, homeland security, interior, state/foreign ops, and transportation. These are the ‘slices of the funding pie’ funded through February 15, and subject to the consequences of another shutdown if Congress fails to fund them for the remainder of the FY19 fiscal year. 

Stay tuned. As a reminder, US Education Department and Health & Human Services, the two agencies that provide the bulk of federal funding provided to schools, are already fully funded, not part of the current shutdown and face no threat of any additional shutdowns in 2019. If there is another shutdown and it includes the agriculture appropriations bill, it will impact the SNAP program as well as the school meals programs (breakfast, lunch and after school meals). We’ll be monitoring this.

January 23, 2019

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AASA Joins 7 National Organizations in Letter to Urge Senate to Fund School Meals Programs

Today, AASA joined seven national organizations in a joint letter addressed to President Trump, Senator McConnell and Senator Schumer, urging them to adopt the House-passed FY19 agriculture appropriations bill.  Writing "The USDA appropriations provides the funds critical to supporting our schools’ breakfast and lunch programs, helping to feed more than 30 million children from low income families each day.", the groups express unanimous support for ensuring that our nation's students don't pay the price for the current shutdown. You can read the full letter here.

January 18, 2019

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Call-to-action: Weigh in on proposed Title IX Regulations

The DeVos Administration has proposed some significant changes to how school districts respond to and investigate allegations of student sexual misconduct under Title IX. These changes include:

  •  Allowing districts to ignore sexual harassment/abuse reported by a student unless the student reports it to a teacher, Title IX coordinator or administrator  
  • Not requiring district to investigate or implement corrective action if a child reports harassment or abuse by a teacher to another teacher, instead of an employee with authority to institute corrective measures, such as a Title IX coordinator or school principal. 
  • Requiring districts to dismiss a formal Title IX complaint by a student if the alleged conduct occurred off-campus or online
  • Opening districts up to requests by parents and students that they employ “live hearings” where students would be cross-examined by the other’s “advisor of choice” on alleged misconduct
  • Requiring a separate and higher standard to be used for claims of student harassment and misconduct when compared to employee harassment and misconduct

Taken as a whole the proposed Title IX regulations would greatly alter the policies and practices from the 2001 Title IX guidance that district personnel have implemented for almost two decades. Further, these regulations have the potential to increase the likelihood of litigation in districts because they so severely restrict when and how districts can investigate and under what circumstances students can report. As a result, we are deeply worried that students may be less likely to view the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) as the main avenue for addressing and resolving their Title IX complaints against schools and instead pursue formal litigation against districts. Also, the new regulations will require significant new training of districts and cause confusion to school personnel regarding their responsibilities to report sexual harassment, including sexual assault.

Please take a moment to read AASA’s comments for more information on the Title IX regulations and then submit your own comments. We have created a short template you can copy below. The deadline to comment is January 30th. Directions on how to comment are also below. If you need any assistance filing comments please reach out to Sasha directly. 

AASA Template:

Dear Secretary DeVos:

As the xxxxx in xxxx district, I ask that you not move forward with the proposed regulations titled “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance.” These regulations would radically alter the process districts have been using since 2001 to investigate claims of sexual harassment and discrimination and lead to new costs for districts in retraining employees on the obligations of district personnel to report and investigate Title IX allegations by students and staff.

However, our greatest concern with the proposed regulations is that they will undermine our efforts to ensure each and every child we educate has a safe and healthy learning environment. Specifically, we read these regulations as making it more difficult for students to report sexual harassment and assault as well as tying the hands of districts that choose to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct that take place off-campus. It will also open districts to using questionable practices like informal mediation and live hearings that could add new and unanticipated burdens on district personnel as well as limit a student’s decision to move forward with an investigation.

While we welcome flexibility from the federal level and regulatory relief generally, these proposed regulations will make it more difficult for districts to respect and respond to the rights of students and employees who experience harassment and discrimination. Please withdraw these proposed regulations.

 Sincerely, 

 Xxx  

How to File Comments on Title IX Regulation 

  • Go to https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=ED-2018-OCR-0064-0001 
  • In the ‘Comment” box, type something similar to this: “As the superintendent of xxx, I  submit the following comments on the proposed regulation titled “ Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance.
  • Below the comment box:  
    • Upload your file
    • Enter your first and last name.
    • Click ‘continue’
  • Review the information on this page, including a check to ensure your document is attached.
  • Click the ‘I have read and understand’ item.
  • Click ‘Submit Comment’

 

January 17, 2019

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AASA Launches ‘Superintendent Spotlight’

As part of our year-long Leaders Matter campaign, AASA today launched Superintendent Spotlight, an effort to recognize exemplary public school district leadership. Each week in 2019, AASA will highlight two superintendents from a different state, and at the end of the year, we will have a nation-wide listing of 100 of the top school system leaders in the nation. AASA partnered with the executive director of the our school superintendent affiliate in each state and asked them to nominate two outstanding superintendents, educators who embody leadership and a commitment to impacting their school communities and student learning.  Each week, we’ll feature a different state and it’s two nominees, and this week, we are happy to start with our nominees from Arkansas! We’ll share the weekly announcements online, on social media, and in various AASA newsletters.

January 9, 2019

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USED Announces REAP Webinars: What You Need to Know for 2019

Please join the U.S. Department of Education’s Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) for the REAP: What LEAs Need to Know in FY 2019 Webinar on one of the following dates:

 

  • Tuesday, January 15, 2018, from 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. (EST)
  • Wednesday, January 16, 2018, from 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. (EST)
  • Thursday, January 17, 2018, from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (EST)

After attending this webinar, local education agencies (LEAs) will:

 

  • Understand how eligibility for SRSA and RLIS grants is determined
  • Understand allowable activities for which SRSA and RLIS grants may be used
  • Understand the FY 2019 grant-making timeline
  • Know how to apply for the REAP grant(s) for which they are eligible
  • Know what to look for when reviewing the REAP eligibility spreadsheet 
  • Know where to find REAP-related resources and guidance

 

 

Please click the appropriate link below to register for the webinar you plan to attend. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to join the webinar. Please note that each webinar contains the same information.

 

 

If you have questions regarding the webinars, please send them to: REAP@ed.gov.

January 4, 2018

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Trump Administration Rescinds 2014 Discipline Guidance

On December 21st, the U.S. Department of Education in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice officially revoked the 2014 School Discipline Guidance. A nonbinding document, the guidance suggested that schools could be in violation of civil rights laws if they disciplined students of color at higher rates than other students. Earlier in the week, the Federal School Safety Commission Report indicated the Administration would be rescinding this guidance.

 An AASA survey of 950 school district leaders conducted in April found that just 16 percent had modified their discipline policies and practices because of the guidance. Less than 1 percent of all respondents found that the guidance had a negative impact on school personnel's ability to administer discipline, while 7 percent said it had a positive impact. In our survey’s conclusion we wrote “The 2014 discipline guidance itself has not been transformative in changing discipline policies and practices for districts.” Given the limited impact the guidance has had on district discipline policies and practices AASA did not feel it was appropriate to weigh in on whether the guidance should stay in place ore be rescinded. Regardless of the guidance, districts have the same obligation to abide by civil rights laws, address discriminatory discipline practices, and are free to adopt policies on their own that mirror the approach recommended by the 2014 guidance.  

January 3, 2019

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AASA Signs Letter to USED and FTC Related to Guidance on COPPA and FERPA

Just before the holiday, AASA joined with 14 other national groups--representing education, business and consumer advocates--to send a letter asking the U.S. Department of Education and the FTC for additional guidance on the intersection of COPPA and FERPA. The final letter was sent to both agencies and can be read here.

In December 2017, the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission hosted the workshop, “Student Privacy and Ed Tech.” The workshop brought together a wide range of stakeholders interested in protecting student privacy, with speakers representing districts, companies, and advocates. Almost all participants agreed that more clarity is necessary on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requirements. However, more than a year later, ED and the FTC have not yet provided that guidance.