November 29, 2018

(ESEA) Permanent link

Opportunities in ESSA for College in High School Programs

College in high school programs, such as dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high school, are effective and increasingly popular models for improving student access, affordability, and completion of college, particularly for students who are low income or underrepresented in higher education.

Students who attend schools with high-quality college in high school programs are more likely to graduate high school, immediately enroll in college, and persist to completion than their peers. At the same time, these models provide students with significant flexibility in how to tailor their academic programs to their specific needs. They also meet a top priority of many families: reducing the time and cost for students to earn degrees and enter the workforce.

ESSA empowers states and local decision makers to implement the strategies they choose for improving teaching and learning, provided that they are grounded in evidence of success. ESSA encourages states and school districts to consider college in high school programs as key strategies for successfully preparing students for college, and provides increased access to federal funding for the development and implementation of these programs.

Working with our partners at the College in High School Alliance (CHSA), a coalition of national and state organizations advocating on behalf of high-quality dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high schools, we have put together a fact sheet for school district leaders to understand:

How ESSA treats college in high school programs;

What funding opportunities are available under the law for you to consider using; and

How states are prioritizing these programs in their accountability systems.

CHSA is a coalition of national and state organizations collaborating to positively impact policies and build broad support for programs that enable high school students – particularly those who are low income or underrepresented in higher education – to enroll in authentic, affordable college pathways toward postsecondary degrees and credentials offered with appropriate support.

CHSA has additional resources available should you wish to learn more, including a State Policy Guide  implementing these programs under ESSA and a deep dive ESSA State-by-State Analysis of how states talked about these programs in their state plans.

More information about CHSA, including how to get in touch any questions about using ESSA to support college in high school programs in your state, can be found here.

November 8, 2018

(RURAL EDUCATION) Permanent link

Supreme Court Decision on Age Discrimination

In the first Supreme Court decision of the season, the Court decided unanimously (8-0) on a case that could impact the smallest of school districts. In Mount Lemmon Fire District v. Guido the justices determined that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) must apply to all public employers, regardless of size. It was previously held that only employers with over 20 employees could be held to the ADEA.

What is the ADEA and how does it impact school personnel? The ADEA holds that employers cannot discriminate based on age. Normally, it is used to discourage using old age as a reason for firing or not hiring an employee. How does this impact school districts? Since 1974, most districts have been covered by ADEA without much impact. Superintendents of districts with fewer than 20 employees – be cognizant now that you do not explicitly use age as a reason to fire or not hire an individual. Superintendents with 20 or more employees – this is not a change, but still be cognizant that you do not explicitly use age as a reason to fire or not hire an individual.

Education Week posted an overview of the issue here.

November 5, 2018(1)


Education at the Polls: Vote for Secure Rural Schools!

This call to action comes from the National Forest Counties & Schools Coalition. AASA is happy to serve on the board, and deeply appreciative of the work of the coalition in its efforts to preserve and fund the Secure Rural Schools Program.



Ask candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to SPEAK UP, and ACT to preserve Forest Communities.  VOTE for SECURE RURAL SCHOOLS (SRS) and COUNTIES.


  • Tell your candidates for Congress what SRS funds mean for students, roads and essential public safety services in his/her communities.
  • Congress must act on forest management, fire control and long term SRS funding as forest communities and schools fight for economic survival. 
  • SRS is critical to support essential safety, fire, police, road and bridge, and education services in your community. 


Congress must act on long term forest management, fire prevention, and SRS.        

OVERVIEW: Congress funded the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program for the short term FY 2017-2018 in the Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 1625) which extended SRS funding for FY 2017- 2018.  SRS funding for two years provides very short term financial support for the disintegrating SRS safety net serving 9 million students and county citizens in 4,400 school districts in 775 forest counties in 41 states. 

The Secure Rural Schools safety net program for forest communities is based on historic precedent and agreements begun in 1908 removing federal lands from local tax bases limiting local community management, economic activity and development.  As a long term alternative to SRS, the federal government and Congress have been promising but not delivering a long term system based on sustainable active forest management. 

National forests and communities burned this year. Forest communities are suffering human and economic devastation as the SRS safety net continues to unravel. Forest counties, communities, schools and students continue to the pay the price as extremely dangerous fires devastate local communities while also suffering loss of irreplaceable essential fire, police, road and bridge, community and educational services.  

ACTION NEEDED:  The Administration and Congress must act on viable forest management and economic development programs. The historic SRS commitment to rural counties, communities, schools, students and citizens must continue with FY 2019 and long term SRS funding. 





November 5, 2018

 Permanent link

IRS Hears Concerns About Voucher Tax Credit Programs

Today, AASA staff along with David Sovine, superintendent of Frederick County (Va.) Public Schools, and Richard Fry, superintendent of the Big Spring (Pa.) School District, testified today at a public hearing in Washington, D.C., about a regulation that the Internal Revenue Service is proposing that would close a tax shelter allowing individuals to profit by donating to private school voucher programs.

The proposed IRS regulation would put an end to the practice in Virginia, Pennsylvania and 10 other states where voucher supporters are receiving federal deductions and turning profits from donations to private school programs.

AASA is grateful for the many superintendents who weighed in with the IRS during the written comment period in October opposing any carve-outs for voucher programs under the proposed regulation. In addition, we are very appreciative that Dr. Sovine and Dr. Fry were able to testify personally at the public hearing today. AASA's testimony can be found here.  

November 2, 2018

 Permanent link

November Advocate: Changes to Public Charge Rule Will Increase Burden on Public Schools

In October, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a proposed regulation that could have a profoundly negative impact on the immigrant children you educate. 

The “public charge” regulation amends a policy that has been on the books for decades and is intended to ensure that immigrants who have entered the U.S. legally are not granted green cards or lawful permanent resident cards if they are “likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.” The Trump Administration is changing the definition of a “public charge” to anyone who receives any assistance with health care, nutrition or housing.

One in four children in the U.S. -- nearly 18 million children -- has at least one immigrant parent here legally. The vast majority of these children – about 88 percent or 16 million – are U.S. citizens. Under the proposed regulation, if a child’s parent is on a visa or is seeking lawful permanent resident status, he/she would be considered a “public charge” if they access Medicaid, food stamps or Section 8 housing vouchers at any period of time after the regulation is finalized. In addition, for the 12 percent of immigration children who are here on visas, they could lose a pathway to citizenship if they access Medicaid or potentially the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the future.

Ultimately, the new public charge policy articulated in the proposed rule would terrify immigrant families and deter these families with children from seeking the help they need to lead healthy and productive lives.

Why does this matter to school leaders?

Because of the complexity of the new regulation, it is predicted that families (not just a family member who would be considered a public charge) will refuse to participate in Medicaid/CHIP, SNAP (food stamps) and public housing programs like Section 8. Specifically, this means that families with children who qualify for healthcare, nutrition and housing benefits will forego accessing these benefits for fear it could jeopardize a family member’s path to citizenship.

Moreover, if a family is worried that a child with a visa could lose their pathway to citizenship if they access Medicaid/CHIP then they will also refuse to allow the district to bill for these health or related services. AASA believes that this moves federal policy in the wrong direction — instead of crafting policies that incentivize greater access for children’s healthcare and nutritional and housing benefits — this regulation will reduce the number of children who access these benefits.

For district leaders, there are financial consequences if families are afraid to access healthcare via Medicaid/CHIP. A child who is no longer seeing a physician outside of school could become more reliant on school-based healthcare providers to meet their basic healthcare needs. More children could come to school without necessary vaccinations and fewer parents will consent to billing Medicaid for health services related to a student’s IEP. Because the district still has an obligation to ensure children are healthy enough to learn, it will be forced to re-allocate local dollars to cover these costs since the district will not be granted permission by families to access Medicaid reimbursement for some of these expenses.

There are also financial consequences for districts if parents stop accessing food benefits via the SNAP program. Children who do not have access to proper nutrition outside the school will not come to school ready to learn. A child who has not eaten all weekend will come to school in a state of crisis and the district will be responsible for doing more to ensure that child’s nutritional needs are met during the school day. For example, districts may opt to send home food over the weekend, provide free breakfasts and dinners, and will pay for these new programs with local dollars.

Finally, the proposed regulation would deter eligible immigrant families from seeking much-needed housing and homelessness benefits. If families opt out of housing opportunities in the community and become homeless, families will experience increased housing instability, likely driving up homeless rates, increasing housing mobility, or both. Districts are already required to provide specific educational services for children under the McKinney-Vento Act to ensure that homeless children are able to continue to attend school. Given the under-funding of the McKinney-Vento Act, local dollars will have to be utilized to ensure districts meet the needs of a new and growing population of homeless students.  

What can you do to help?

AASA has developed a template for school leaders to use to push back against this regulation. Unfortunately, the comment process for this regulation is more complicated than usual given the way the Department of Homeland Security views comments. District leaders will be required to personalize their comments using the AASA template in order to submit their comments. All the information you need to comment is available here. In addition, you can reach out to Sasha Pudelski ( and she can provide direct technical assistance to you on submitting comments as well as submit them for you

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