18 National Organizations Call on Congress to Invest in Schools During Lame Duck

 Permanent link

18 National Organizations Call on Congress to Invest in Schools During Lame Duck

Today, 18 national organizations released a joint statement calling on Congress to invest in schools during the lame duck period. Read the statement here.

Supporting Groups

 

  • AASA, The School Superintendents Association
  • American Federation of School Administrators
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • Association of Educational Service Agencies
  • Association of School Business Officials International
  • Council of Administrators of Special Education
  • Council of Chief State School Officers
  • Council of Great City Schools
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • National Association of School Psychologists
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • National Association of State Boards of Education
  • National Assoc. of State Directors of Special Education
  • National Education Association
  • National PTA
  • National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium
  • National Rural Education Association
  • National School Boards Association

 

Biden Administration: What Can They Accomplish via EO?

 Permanent link

Biden Administration: What Can They Accomplish via EO?

As the odds of Democrats winning a majority of the Senate look highly unlikely, much of the conversation in D.C. has shifted to what the Biden Administration can accomplish via Executive Orders or through their administrative powers. Over the summer, the Biden campaign published the results of a Democrat unity taskforce they led with Senator Bernie Sanders which contains policy proposals, both legislative and executive, that would unite the party. While the majority of them do require Congressional approval, there are some policies that the American Prospect has identified that the Biden Administration could execute via Executive Order that directly impact public school students and policies. Here is a brief list of actions Biden could take unilaterally to change or influence district policies and practices:

Fully implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, which gives states the option to choose school climate as an indicator of school quality; all states must describe how they will plan to support districts in reducing the use of policies and practices that push students out of school.

Encourage states to adopt and develop a multiple measures approach to assessment, like the New York Performance Standards Consortium and the International Baccalaureate so students can showcase what they know in a variety of ways.

Provide support to districts to best meet the needs of their students during the crisis and beyond. This includes crafting recovery plans with an equity lens and determining how to responsibly use remote learning as an emergency tool when necessary and returning to face to face classrooms when conditions allow. Digitize all necessary educational materials and ensure access to hardware, software, and particularly broadband for all students and educators.

Ban for-profit private charter businesses from receiving federal funding.

Appoint a federal task force to study charter schools' impact on public education and make recommendations

Initiate a series of reforms regarding parent and community participation in charter governance, accountability and transparency

Support the six recommendations from the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development report, "From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope," as well as the action agenda.

Require the Secretaries of Education and HHS to develop federal standards for ensuring that all federally funded childcare settings include children with disabilities and do not discriminate on the basis of disability.

Address the shortage in special education teachers within our system with an eye towards teacher recruitment, training opportunities, and workload for special education teachers

Aggressively enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to address both programmatic and architectural barriers

Work with higher education institutions to support a career path for early childhood educators to attain early childhood certificates (CDAs), associate and bachelor's degrees, and ongoing job-embedded training and professional development and create a career path for lead teachers in preschool classrooms to have a bachelor’s degree in child development and/or early childhood education and assistant teachers to have an associate’s degree in child development.

Improve federal data collection on racial segregation in schools as part of a broader project of reinvigorating Ed's Office of Civil Rights.

Maintain the U.S. Department of Education’s current level of Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) by preserving the existing questions and disaggregation of data by student subgroups, requiring all schools and districts to collect and report the data annually and continuing to make the CRDC accessible to the public.

The Biden Administration: Civil Rights Guidance and Enforcement

 Permanent link

The Biden Administration: Civil Rights Guidance and Enforcement

As a lobbyist for AASA for most of the Obama Administration, I can state that one of the most frustrating aspects of working with the Obama/Duncan Administration was their penchant for issuing prescriptive guidance on a variety of issues impacting schools and students. If you peruse the Leading Edge blog from that era, you will see a re-statement of the following advice on federal guidance repeatedly mentioned in our posts: guidance is not law.

The Trump Administration also used guidance to try and dictate rather than clarify their policy views on various K-12 issues. Initially, they also expended effort to quickly undo much of the K-12 guidance that the Obama Administration issued that was particularly controversial or viewed negatively by Republicans.

It should be no surprise then that President-Elect Biden has already announced his intention to re-instate various Obama-era guidance documents. He will take the opportunity, as his predecessors have, to use guidance to try and pressure districts to move quickly in adopting practices and policies that they are not required to abide by under Congressional statute, but that they should for the sake of civil rights enforcement.

Specifically, Biden has already stated that he plans to:

Reinstate Title IX protections for transgender students that were eliminated by Trump administration

  • Reinstate the use of disparate impact theory in determining racial discrimination in school discipline,
  • Reinstate guidance on responding to sexual assault and harassment at schools
  • Reinstate guidance on voluntary school integration efforts

AASA does not have a position on the reinstitution of these guidance documents; we know some members welcome their return, while others find them to be totally unnecessary or unhelpful in light of their local policies or state laws, which may be far more comprehensive and prescriptive on these issues then the federal guidance documents. For example, in 2018 we did a deep dive into the impact of the 2014 Obama-era discipline guidance and found that the 2014 guidance had a very limited impact on changing district discipline policies and practices. Of the close to one-thousand members we surveyed only 16% said they modified their discipline policies because of the 2014 guidance.

What we also learned from that specific report and subsequent conversations with our members is that civil rights enforcement practices by the U.S. Department of Education was a much larger, more powerful lever in changing district policy and practice. The Biden Administration has also vowed to dramatically beef up OCR enforcement and we anticipate that there will be a return to the aggressive enforcement standards and processes that were in place during the Obama Administration. The enforcement practices will likely play a much larger role in pressuring districts to adopt guidance they would otherwise ignore than the guidance documents themselves.