August 30, 2016

(PERKINS, SCHOOL CHOICE AND VOUCHERS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

48th Annual PDK Poll Shares Public’s Attitude Toward Public Schools, Reinforces the Need for Students to Exit Schools College, Career and Life Ready

Is the purpose of public school education to prepare students for work? To prepare them for citizenship? Or to prepare them academically? When given the opportunity to choose, it became clear that the American public does not agree on a single purpose for public education, according to the 2016 PDK Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

Less than half (45 percent) of adult Americans say preparing students academically is the main goal of a public school education, and just one-third feel that way strongly. Other Americans split between saying the main purpose of public schools is to prepare students for work (25 percent) and for citizenship (26 percent).

These differing priorities also relate to how Americans rate their local public schools. Respondents who say public schools should mainly prepare students for work give their schools lower ratings. Fifty-three percent of those who say the main objective is preparing children academically give their schools top marks.

These findings are paramount for school administrators, as it validates the need to prepare students to be college, career and life ready before they leave your schools. The public, and parents especially, “want to see a clearer connection between the public school system and world of work,” said Joshua P. Starr, the chief executive officer of PDK International.

AASA continues to back Perkins CTE Reauthorization, and would like to see that Congress increase the federal investment in career and technical education programs to give districts more funding. We are also in support of greater efforts to engage business and industry sectors in CTE programs. Employers must be critical partners in evaluating the areas in which district CTE programs must improve and to assist districts in ensuring they are using the relevant standards, curriculum, industry-recognized credentials and current technology and equipment necessary to align with skills required by local employment opportunities.

Not only are parents interested in seeing schools implement more career-technical and skills-based classes, but they also want to hear about it and to even be involved. A key finding in this poll is that parents are more supportive of their local schools when they feel that educators are listening to their concerns and communicating with them.

In addition to addressing the public’s idea of the purpose of education, the survey covers key topics, including charter schools, testing opt-outs, funding, standards and more. While you’ll want to read the entire report, here’s a breakdown of what we found to be particularly important for superintendents:

  • Purpose of Education: The survey finds a heavy tilt in preferences away from more high-level academics and toward more classes focused on work skills. 68 percent to 21 percent of Americans say having their local public schools focus more on career-technical or skills-based classes is better than focusing on more honors or advanced academic classes.
  • Communication: Parents like their local schools, especially when they believe educators listen to their concerns. Schools that communicate more effectively with parents and give them opportunities to visit and offer input, are generally given A and B grades from parents.
  • Testing opt outs: Majority of Americans (59 percent to 37 percent) think that public school parents should not be allowed to excuse their children from taking standardized tests.
  • Taxes: More Americans support (53 percent) than oppose (45 percent) raising property taxes to improve public schools, but there is broad skepticism (47 percent) that higher spending would result in school improvements. If taxes are raised, there’s little consensus on how the money should best be spent. A plurality (34 percent) says it should go to teachers, but divides on whether that means more teachers or higher teacher pay.
  • Standards for Learning: 46 percent of Americans say the education standards in the public schools in their community are about right, while nearly as many (43 percent) say expectations for students are too low. Few (7 percent) think standards are too high. Fifty percent of urban residents call education standards in their local schools too low compared with 39 percent of suburban and 36 percent of rural residents. Core beliefs about the purpose of public education also come into views of the local schools’ educational standards. Americans who think the main goal of public education should be to prepare students for work are most skeptical of current standards; half think they’re too low, and just two in 10 think they prepare students well for adult success.
  • Charter Schools: Negative perceptions of local and national public schools are related to greater support for charter school autonomy. Majorities of those giving their local public schools a C or lower favor allowing charter schools to set their own standards, while majorities of those giving them an A or B prefer that charter schools meet the same standards.
  • Failing Schools: One of the most uneven results in the survey shows that if a school has been failing for several years, 84 percent would elect to keep the school open and 14 percent would prefer to close it. But, if a failing school is kept open, 62 percent say its administration and faculty should be replaced rather than retaining them and increasing spending on resources and support staff.

Quick points:

  • For the 15th consecutive year, Americans say lack of funding is the No. 1 problem confronting local schools.
  • The share of Americans giving positive grades to the nation’s public schools is up 7 percentage points since 2014.
  • The public divides 43 percent to 43 percent on whether schools should use more traditional teaching and less technology or more technology and less traditional teaching.
  • Better school evaluations affect both willingness to support higher property taxes and confidence that these taxes actually would lead to substantive improvements.
  • Support for increased taxes reaches 70 percent among Americans who think that, if taxes are raised to try to improve local public schools, the schools will get better. Those who are less confident in a good outcome are only half as likely to support tax increases.
  • Among those giving their local public schools an A grade, two-thirds are confident that increased funding would help. Critically, that plummets to 17 percent among those who give their schools a failing grade.
  • Political partisanship and ideology also are key factors. Liberals and Democrats are significantly more likely than conservatives and Republicans to believe tax money for schools will be well-spent and thus to support tax increases. In the widest gap, 70 percent of liberal Democrats support increased taxes, and 66 percent are confident they’d help, compared with 41 percent and 35 percent, respectively of conservative Republicans.

You can download the  report here and read AASA's statement on the poll here.

August 23, 2016(1)

(SCHOOL NUTRITION, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

Mini Grant Opportunity: Expand School Breakfast Program

This grant opportunity comes from the AASA Children's Programs Department. All applications are due by September 2. Please direct questions to Rebecca Shaw (rshaw@aasa.org). 

Introduction: AASA, The School Superintendents Association is the nation’s oldest and largest organization of school district leaders, with nearly 9,000 members and affiliate organizations in 49 states.  AASA has funding from the Walmart Foundation to provide mini-grants to school districts to increase school breakfast participation using alternative breakfast strategies. The main goal of the initiative is to increase the number of low-income students who eat breakfast in these districts. We also anticipate that the leadership, interest, commitment and involvement of school superintendents regarding alternative school breakfast strategies will be enhanced.

Grant Overview: AASA will provide mini-grants to school districts to increase school breakfast participation through alternative serving methods. This means that a school will serve Breakfast in the Classroom in elementary schools and/or Second Chance or Grab’N’Go (e.g., kiosks, vending machines, second chance) in middle and high schools. Awards shall not exceed $15,000 and shall to be used to support school breakfast infrastructure (bags, kiosks, storage, etc.). Each district will receive technical assistance from AASA staff and other superintendents and food service directors who have successfully implemented alternative breakfast strategies if requested. The amount of the award will be based on the quality and scope of the application, including superintendent and principal commitment and buy-in to the strategies selected, district need, project reach, and creativity and innovation to increase average daily participation and improve food and nutritional quality.

Eligibility Criteria: Please note the following eligibility requirements. 

  • The school district superintendent must be a member of AASA at time of application submission. (See http://my.aasa.org/AASA/MyAASA/Join-AASA.aspx if the superintendent is not a member.)
  • Proposed schools in which the district will work must have a 50% or greater eligibility overall for free and reduced-priced meals or participate in the CEP program.
  • Average breakfast participation of the schools participating in this program must be at or below 40%.
  • District must have written support/backing from the superintendent, district food service director and principals of participating schools.
  • Alternative breakfast model selection should include the “best practice” of Breakfast in the Classroom for elementary schools and “Grab’n’Go” (including Second Chance) for middle and high schools.

 Award Information:  

  • The amount of the award will be based on:
    • Full support of district superintendent to implement alternative school breakfast.
    • Project scope and reach, creativity, potential increases in average daily participation rates, and food and nutritional quality.
    • Using a “best practice” alternative school breakfast model.
    • District need.
  • Examples of funding including:
    • Equipment to facilitate alternative breakfast model (i.e. insulated bags, carts, kiosks, garbage bags, trash cans, wireless POS machines, etc.).
    • Kitchen equipment to help increase food quality (i.e. freezers, refrigerators, storage, etc.).
    • Nutrition education materials.
    • Advertising materials to promote program.
    • Giveaways for student participation and school-level staff buy-in.
  • Funding cannot be used for:
    • Salaries
    • Food
    • Overhead (indirect)
    • Memberships
    • Consultants 

Grant Application Timeline:  

  • Application Deadline: September 2, 2016
  • Grantee awards notification: September 9, 2016
  • Breakfast program implementation: Fall semester, 2016
  • Final reporting to AASA: January, 2017 (December ADP)

You can access the full grant application here.

If you have questions before submitting the application, please email Rebecca Shaw. Project Coordinator (rshaw@aasa.org ).  

August 23, 2016

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Results and Trends in the 2016 Education Next Poll

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Education Next has released its annual survey of American public opinion, conducted in May and June of 2016. The survey includes a nationally representative sample of Americans and of teachers and presents 2016 opinions on education policy together with trends in opinion. 

This year’s results include two interactive graphics. The first is on Results from the 2016 EdNext Poll and the second on Trends in the EdNext Poll Over Time.

Access the report, Ten-Year Trends in Public Opinion from the EdNext Poll, by Paul E. Peterson, Michael B. Henderson, Martin R. West and Samuel Barrows, here. You may also download the report here.

Among the key findings:

  • Common Core State Standards. Support for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) continued to decline in 2016. Of all those taking a position, 50% favor the use of Common Core in their state, down from 58% in 2015. However, when the name Common Core is not mentioned, two-thirds of respondents favor the use of the same standards across states. Republicans are 22 percentage points less likely to respond favorably when the name is mentioned, as compared to a 10 percentage point difference among Democrats. Teacher support for CCSS, at 44%, did not change between 2015 and 2016.
    • Trend. In 2013, 83% of survey respondents supported CCSS; four years later it is 50%.   Republicans have made the largest shift away from Common Core over the past four years from 82% favorable in 2013 to 39% in 2016. The four-year drop among Democrats, while less, is also substantial—from 86% to 60%.
  • Tests and opting out. There is strong support for using the same standardized test in all states, with 73% of the public in favor of uniform testing; 70% are opposed to letting parents opt their children out of state tests, consistent with 2015 results. Among teachers, opposition to opt out is lower and has declined from 64% in 2015 to 57% in 2016.
    • Trend. Nearly four out of five respondents favor the federal requirement that all students be tested in math and reading in each grade from third through eighth and at least once in high school, about the same as in the past.
  • Teacher tenure. Only 31% of the public support teacher tenure but 67% of teachers do.
    • Trend. Support for tenure has declined by 10 percentage points since 2013 to an all-time low.
  • Charter schools. Public support for charter schools, at 65%, remains high. Substantially more Republicans favor charter schools (74%) than do Democrats (58%), a 16 percentage-point gap between the parties.
    • Trend. Public support for charters has remained stable since 2013, as has the gap between Republicans and Democrats.
  • Targeted school vouchers.  Forty-three percent of the public favor vouchers that would give low-income families a wider choice. Surprisingly, the percentage of Democrats who are supportive is 12 percentage points higher than the Republican percentage.
    • Trend. Public support for school vouchers targeted toward low-income families has dropped by 12 percentage points since 2012 – a major shift in public opinion. Between 2012 and 2016, Republican backing fell by 14 percentage points; among Democrats, the drop is 9 percentage points. Teacher support has slid from 39 percent in 2012 to 30 percent in 2016.
  • Universal school vouchers. Policies that would give vouchers to all families also lost ground, reaching a new low of 50% of the public.
    •  TrendPublic backing for universal vouchers has dropped by six percentage points since 2014.  Fifty-one percent of Republicans supported universal vouchers in 2014, compared to just 45% in 2016. However, Democratic support for universal vouchers increased from 49% in 2013 to 56% in 2016. 
  • Grading schools. Fifty-five percent of the public give their local school an “A” or “B” letter grade, but only 25% give the nation’s schools the same high grade.
    •  Trend. The public grades their local schools more favorably now than at any point in the past ten years, despite mediocre performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress during the same period. The percentage giving their local schools an “A” or “B” grade has risen 12 percentage points since 2007, when 43% of the public awarded one of the two high grades.
  • Teacher salaries. The percentage of the public favoring higher salaries for teachers, at 65%, reached its highest point since 2008. Seventy-six percent of Democrats favor an increase, as compared to 52% of Republicans. However, respondents, on average, under-estimate the current salary level of the average teacher in their state—$57,000—by approximately 30%. When provided with this information, backing for increases is just 41%. 
    • Trend. The partisan divide on teacher salaries among those not informed of current levels increased from 14 percentage points in 2008 to 24 percentage points in 2016.

August 17, 2016

(E-RATE, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

AASA and CoSN Partner for 4th Annual Infrastructure Survey

AASA is pleased to announce, in coordination with our friends at the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), the fourth annual Infrastructure Survey, designed to gather data from school districts across the country on E-rate, Broadband, and Internal Network Infrastructure. Your voice is important in the continued process of reforming the E-rate and other programs to improve schools’ network infrastructure for digital learning. We need to hear from you, the experts—what are your future bandwidth needs? How is the E-rate working for you?

Our goal is to provide crucial information to the FCC, the Department of Education, Congress, and others on the current state of ed tech and E-rate reform. This year, we are providing valuable information on home access to broadband as the FCC is reforming its Lifeline Program. Your input is more important than ever.

Take the Infrastructure Survey today. In about 15 minutes, you can directly impact what we tell the FCC! If a colleague is better suited to respond, please pass this message along (one response per district, please). Should you have any questions or difficulties, please contact K12Infrastructure@gmail.com.

August 11, 2016

(RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

Feedback for Regional Needs for USED's Comprehensive Centers (Survey)

USED is requesting feedback on the issues in your state to help guide the Department's Comprehensive Centers

The work of the centers is informed by feedback from Regional Advisory Committees (RACs). Please take a few minutes to complete this survey, to ensure the voice of public school superintendents is reflected in the needs of the region:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PML2GPN

Background

  • The homepage for the RACs (https://rac.grads360.org/#program
  • The Comprehensive Centers (Centers) program is authorized by Title II of the Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002 (ETAA), Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) of 2002. 
  • The purpose of the technical assistance is to support SEA capacity to support local educational agencies (LEAs or districts) and schools, especially low-performing districts and schools; improve educational outcomes for all students; close achievement gaps; and improve the quality of instruction.   
  • The ETAA requires the establishment of ten RACs.  The Department solicited nominations for individuals to serve on the 2016 RACs; anyone could nominate a qualified individual to serve on a RAC.  
  • The purpose of these committees is to collect information on the educational needs of each of the ten regions:
    • Northwest (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington) Member Roster
    • Southwest (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas) Member Roster
    • Northeast (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) Member Roster
    • Southeast (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina) Member Roster
    • Central (Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming) Member Roster
    • West (Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah) Member Roster
    • Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) Member Roster
    • Mid Atlantic (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia) Member Roster
    • Appalachia (Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) Member Roster
     
 

August 11 2016

 Permanent link

How Can Rural District Leaders Address Teacher Shortages?

AASA has long valued the research briefs produced by the Education Commission of the States and recently requested that they investigate two issue important to rural school leaders: how to improve teacher recruitment and retention practices in rural districts generally and how to specifically address shortages in rural districts of special education personnel. A shortage of special education teachers and specialized instructional support personnel exists across the country, but is particularly acute in rural communities. However, a number of states are taking steps to address this specific shortage the the Education Commission recently reviewed the most promising practices across the country at the request of AASA. You can read the brief here

Of note to school leaders is that most of the substantive work around rural teacher recruitment appears to be happening at the district level, the school level, or in partnerships with teacher preparation programs. In particular, "grow your own" programs are particularly promising in rural districts as a way to address teacher shortages. 

August 9, 2016

(ADVOCACY TOOLS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

The Advocate: August 2016

By Noelle Ellerson, Associate Executive Director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

Reach Out During Recess: Why August Advocacy Matters

Current trends in education policy may not ensure that every student has recess, but if there is one thing that is certain to happen every year for Congress, it is their recess; their August recess, to be exact.

Each year, Congress adjourns for a month (ish) to be in their home districts, a time to step away from the grind of Washington DC and to focus on the issues closer to home and to dialogue with their constituents. In election years—and White House election years in particular—those recesses can last a little longer, and can turn into prime opportunities for school system leaders to campaign and for constituents to highlight the issues that matter to them.

This month’s The Advocate is dedicated to supporting member advocacy while Congress is home for recess. When you make contact with your Congress member or Senator, you could invite them to come visit your school. Use the opportunity to weigh in on any of the variety of federal advocacy policies that are under consideration: school nutrition, ESSA implementation, Perkins Career/Tech education, federal funding/appropriations, regulations and more.

Resources to Support Your Advocacy:

  • Need contact information for the education staffers in your delegation? Contact our team.
  • Talking Points
  • Perkins/CTE
  • School Nutrition
  • ESSA
  • Regulations
  • Appropriations
  • Secure Rural Schools (Forest Counties)
  • Back to School Tool Kit as prepared in coordination with Learning First Alliance (Use your visit to highlight the success of your school and the nation’s public schools in general)
  • AASA ESSA Resources Library: A living resource designed to support school superintendents in their work to implement ESSA. Congress feels a sense of ownership over ESSA, and ensuring they hear your feedback on how implementation is playing out is one way to hold the department accountable for regulations it issues that are not consistent with the spirit and intent of ESSA.
  • The Leading Edge: This is AASA’s policy blog. It is where we post the latest information. In the last week, we have posted about the latest ADHD guidance, our formal ESSA accountability regulations comments, the final school nutrition competitive foods rule, the forest counties call to action, and a multi-organization letter on ESSA foster care provisions.
  • Follow the advocacy team on twitter. We share what we are reading, what we are working on, and what we are learning about federal education policy. (@AASAhq, @Noellerson, @SPudelski, @LeslieFinnan)

And, while The Advocate comes from your advocacy team at the federal level, we know that your state legislature and administration are even more deeply involved in education policy conversations. Check with your state affiliate for information and supports related to state-level advocacy.

 

August 8, 2016

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From HL: New OCR ADHD Guidance Merits Your Attention

Our friends at the law firm of Hogan Lovells wanted us to share their most recent client advisory with  AASA members. The advisory touches on the 35-page guidance issued in July by the U.S. Department of Education on school districts' legal obligations to students with ADHD under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The Hogan Lovells advisory outlines the key points in the guidance for school leaders to understand. Read it here

August 3, 2016(2)

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

AASA Submits Comments on USED ESSA Accountability Regulations

Earlier this summer, USED released their proposed regulation for the accountability and state plans provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These regulations, once final, will guide the implementation of the ESSA accountability provision. 

AASA reviewed the proposed regulation and  shared our summary and analysis. We issued a call to action (thank you to everyone who submitted comments).

AASA was pleased to submit formal comments ahead of the August 1 deadline. While you can read our full comments, here is a list of the topics we commented on:

 

  • N-size
  • 95 percent participation
  • summative indicator
  • timeline for implementation of comprehensive supports
  • foster child transport
  • previously identified child with a disability
  • definition of long-term English learners
  • consistently underperforming
  • evidence-based
  • school approval in comprehensive supports/improvement plans
  • four-year graduation rate
  • overview section of LEA report cards
  • mailing LEA report cards
  • root cause analysis; and
  • support for educators

 

August 3, 2016(1)

(ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

Secure Rural Schools (Forest Counties): August Call to Action

During the month of August your Members of Congress will be in their districts and it is critical that you meet with them to discuss Secure Rural Schools (SRS, or Forest Counties).  Let them know what your budget looks like with out this funding and that they need to do something in September for SRS.  It is critical that Leadership hears from Members that SRS and Forest Management are issues that must be addressed when Congress comes back into session in September.  Create your own story about what happens if we get nothing.

Here is a one pager for your use/reference.

In addition to your Senators and Representative, please contact any House/Senate leadership from your state. A full list of House and Senate leadership is below:

Please contact the advocacy team if you need email addresses for the education staffers in any of these offices.

House of Representatives: Leadership

 

  • Speaker: Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-WI)
  • Majority Leader: Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
  • Majority Whip: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)
  • Republican Conference Chairman: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
  • Republican Policy Committee Chairman: Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN)
  • Democratic Leader: Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
  • Democratic Whip: Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
  • Assistant Democratic Leader: Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC)
  • Democratic Caucus Chairman: Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) 
 US Senate Leadership

 

 

  • Republican Majority Leader: Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  • Majority Whip:  John Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Republican Conference Chair: John Thune (R-SD)
  • Republican Policy Committee Chair: John Barrasso (R-WY)
  • Republican Conference Vice Chair: Roy Blunt (R-MO)
  • Democratic Minority Leader: Harry Reid (D-NV)
  • Democratic Whip: Richard Durbin (D-IL)
  • Democratic Conference Committee Chair: Charles Schumer (D-NY)
  • Democratic Conference Committee Vice Chair & Policy Committee Chair: Patty Murray (D-WA)

 

August 3, 2016

(SCHOOL NUTRITION) Permanent link

Competitive Foods Final Rule

In July, the USDA, under which school nutrition programs lie, released the final rule regarding competitive foods, or any food sold on school grounds outside the reimbursable meal. This final rule makes very few changes from the interim rule released in 2013, meaning your schools’ competitive foods programs will remain largely unchanged. You’ll recall that we have been talking about school nutrition recently, as reauthorization bills have been moving in both the House and the Senate. Regulations like these underscore the need for a solid reauthorization, as that would be the only way to get any reprieve from the onerous rules of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Our talking points for this reauthorization are available here. If you talk to your members of Congress as they are home for campaigning recess, please be sure to tell your Senators not to support pushing the Senate bill through, as it would lead to increased administrative burden and would not provide any relief from the standards. 

AASA’s statement on the final competitive foods rule is:

AASA supports the overall goals to end childhood hunger and address the epidemic of childhood obesity in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and is currently working to support a reauthorization bill that would strengthen school nutrition programs. School superintendents understand the importance of fostering a healthy and positive learning environment, but these regulations come as unfunded mandates with significant cost impacts, forcing LEAs to make difficult choices in an era of extended underfunding of public schools.

AASA strongly supports the role of good nutrition for all students and recognizes its important role in helping advance student achievement. Every day, school districts across the nation provide millions of school-based meals, both breakfast and lunch. We recognize that the intention of this rule was to regulate competitive foods within schools. Unfortunately, we find it imposes an unprecedented expansion of regulation in an area that had previously been under state and local control. Further, this regulation comes without any federal resources to support the required compliance. AASA is opposed to the unfunded mandate this proposed rule represents to our nation’s schools.

In particular, we are most concerned about the complicated rules around when an item can or cannot be served a la carte. Given the extensive regulations of meals served as part of the school lunch and breakfast programs, AASA believes that further regulations on the sale of these items a la carte is unnecessarily burdensome. If an entrée is healthy enough to be served as a part of the reimbursable meal, it should be healthy enough to be served a la carte on any day of the week.

As written, the current law and regulations cause good nutrition policy to fail because the provisions make the program fiscally impossible in these tough economic times. The law and its regulations should not put LEAs in the position of having to choose between covering the federal funding shortfall and funding an instructional position. Little attention has been focused on the drain of local school district funds to pay for or offset the continuing un-funded costs of the federal free and reduced-priced school meals, and AASA is concerned that this rule compounds this problem.

School superintendents simply request that the role of the federal government as it relates to competitive foods in schools be proportional to the amount of resources it provides to support the regulations. As the federal government currently does not provide funds—and this regulation provides no resources—for competitive foods, there is not a role for federal policy to dictate competitive food policy in school districts.  Either provide the resources required to cover the costs associated with the new competitive food regulations or refrain from imposing new federal requirements. 

 

 

August 2, 2016

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AASA and 14 National Education and Homeless Groups Send Letter to ED re ESSA Foster Care Provisions

Last week, AASA along with 14 other national education and homeless organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education expressing grave concerns with the proposed ESSA regulation on transporting students in foster care. The letter states that ED's regulation contradicts ESSA’s statutory language by requiring LEAs to provide transportation when the agencies cannot agree on payment, and would have the effect of shifting the entire cost of transportation to LEAs unilaterally. The proposed rule also undermines and defeats ESSA’s requirement that LEAs and child welfare agencies develop transportation procedures collaboratively. It removes any incentive for child welfare agencies to collaborate or contribute to costs by creating a default position that permits, and even encourages, child welfare agencies to avoid costs simply by failing to come to an agreement. The proposed rule would harm children in foster care, by removing incentives for child welfare agencies to place students near their schools of origin, so students can maintain connections to their community. Such a policy ultimately relieves child welfare agencies of their statutory requirements related to ensuring educational stability for children in foster care, and discourages the allowable use of Title IV-E funds to support school of origin transportation.

If school districts are required to pay the costs of transporting children in foster care to their schools of origin, the resulting expense will limit the ability of school districts to provide transportation and related services to other students, including homeless students. Although both school districts and child welfare agencies have limited budgets, it would be inappropriate for school districts to be required to cover the cost of decisions made by another agency. This is especially true in light of the fact that school districts are currently struggling to meet the transportation needs of homeless children and youth. Public schools have witnessed a 100% increase in the number of homeless children and youth since the 2006-2007 school year. McKinney-Vento funds are extremely limited, reaching less than one in four districts and, even in those districts, not meeting needs. As a result, the swelling cost of transportation for homeless children and youth is paid almost entirely from local school district budgets. 

We were pleased to work with the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth in drafting and disseminating this letter and are grateful that our colleagues from ASBO, AESA, CASE, NREAC and NSBA could join us on this important letter.