June 18, 2019(1)

(STUDENT DATA PRIVACY, ED TECH, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

Join Us In Person (or Online!) for Free Student Data Privacy Bootcamp!

AASA: The School Superintendents Association and the Future of Privacy Forum are thrilled to invite you or your designee to attend an exclusive free Student Privacy Bootcamp for School Superintendents and Policymakers on Monday, July 8th, at FPF's office in Washington, DC (1400 I st NW, Suite 450, Washington, DC). This event will also be live-streamed.

The goal of the training program is to gather superintendents and policymakers to help them understand the regulatory requirements and best practices to properly handle student data in a complex and rapidly changing environment. The full event is from 8:30 - 11:30am ET. You can see the agenda and register to attend in person or via live-stream here

Questions? Contact Amelia Vance with FPF (avance@fpf.org) 

June 11, 2019

(ADVOCACY TOOLS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, GUEST BLOGS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

NEW Toolkit: Crowdfunding Policies for School Districts

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and the national nonprofit DonorsChoose.org have joined forces to create an updated toolkit for school district leaders to maximize the impact of crowdfunding in their schools. The Back to School Crowdfunding Toolkit was a first step in helping district administrators understand best practices in vetting and using teacher crowdfunding sites. The new Establishing Your Crowdfunding Policy Toolkit outlines policies and practices that district administrators can enact to support teacher innovation with appropriate safeguards.

Teacher use of crowdfunding sites to receive critical resources for their classrooms is on the rise. However, district leaders often have questions about the process and best practices to ensure safety and transparency. The new toolkit provides insights from AASA members and DonorsChoose.org on how to ensure equity and responsible use of crowdfunding in their districts. 

Our new toolkit Establishing Your Crowdfunding Policy Toolkit can be found here.

 

June 8, 2019

(IDEA, ED TECH, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

Inclusive Technology in a 21st Century Learning System

Earlier this week, in collaboration with 12 other national partners, NCLD created a set of resources that identify new ways to think about education technology and equity: Inclusive Technology in a 21st Century Learning System. The report explores the conception, design, procurement, use, and continuous improvement of ed tech initiatives. NCLD also worked with partner organizations, including AASA, to translate how local, state, and national policy makers can play a role in ensuring technology closes educational, economic, and civic opportunity gaps for individuals with disabilities. The following resources include actionable steps and key considerations. AASA was pleased to endorse and support the local action primer.

 

 

May 23, 2019

(STUDENT DATA PRIVACY, ADVOCACY TOOLS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

Special Invitation: Free Student Privacy Bootcamp, July 8 in DC!

AASA, The School Superintendents Association and the Future of Privacy Forum are thrilled to invite you or your designee to attend an exclusive free Student Privacy Bootcamp for School Superintendents and Policymakers on Monday, July 8th, at FPF's office in Washington, DC (1400 I st NW, Suite 450, Washington, DC). 

The goal of the training program is to gather superintendents and other policymakers to help them understand the regulatory requirements and best practices to properly handle student data in a complex and rapidly changing environment. This event is grant supported. The full event is from 8:30 - 11:30am ET. You can see the agenda and register for the event here

Please contact Noelle Ellerson Ng (nellerson@aasa.org) if you have any questions. I hope you can join us!

May 14, 2019

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

New PEP Talk Podcast: #Census2020 and Schools

In the latest episode of Public Education Policy (PEP) Talk, we hear from Georgetown University's Nora Gordon. We talk about what I think is the sleeper issue of 2019 for education: understanding the importance of robust and accurate Census participation for schools. I promise, it's way more engaging than it sounds. Plus, accurate census data is the backbone of what helps allocate federal, state and local dollars to communities for the next ten years....an accurate count matters! Give it a listen here.

May 1, 2019

(ESEA, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

Two New Education Reports: ESSA Implementation and Teacher Compensation

Last week, the Center on Public Education released two reports that will be of interest to school leaders. AASA was pleased to participate in the conversations supporting the ESSA report, and to connect researchers directly to school superintendents for the deeper interviews. We share the teacher compensation report for its general relevance, given the ongoing policy discussions and strikes at the local level related to teacher pay, and the role of teacher pay in recruit and retention.

The first report, State Leader Interviews: How States are Responding to ESSA’s Evidence Requirements for School Improvement, explores state efforts to assist local educators with selecting evidence-based interventions to improve low-performing schools. The report also contains some recommendations for making research more accessible to educators.

The second report, Are Public School Teachers Adequately Compensated?, provides a context for understanding the issues surrounding teacher pay, including information on how public education is funded and several recent analyses of teacher compensation in each of the 50 states.

Both reports are available on the CEP web site (www.cep-dc.org) and can be downloaded free-of-charge

March 27, 2019(1)

(E-RATE, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED TECH, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

AASA Joins Education, Privacy, Disability Rights, and Civil Rights Groups to Release Principles For School Safety, Privacy, and Equity

Today, AASA and 39 other education, privacy, disability rights, and civil rights organizations released ten principles to protect all students’ safety, privacy, and right to an equal education. The principles are meant to serve as a starting point for conversations with policymakers and school officials about how to keep students safe while respecting their dignity and encouraging their individual growth. Check out the principles here

Signatories of the Principles for School Safety, Privacy, and Equity:

 

  • AASA: The School Superintendents Association
  • American Association of People with Disabilities
  • The Advocacy Institute
  • The Arc of the United States
  • Association of Educational Service Agencies
  • Association of Latino Administrators & Superintendents
  • Association of School Business Officials International
  • Association of University Centers on Disability
  • Autism Society
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
  • The Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus
  • Center for Public Representation
  • Council of Administrators of Special Education
  • Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
  • Disability Independence Group, Inc
  • Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
  • EPIC
  • Florida Association of School Psychologists
  • Florida League of Women Voters
  • Florida Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
  • Future of Privacy Forum
  • Intercultural Developmental Research Association
  • Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America
  • Mental Health America
  • National Association of Councils on   Developmental Disabilities
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities
  • National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools
  • National Center for Youth Law
  • National Disability Rights Network
  • National Education Association
  • National PTA
  • National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium
  • National Rural Education Association
  • Public Advocacy for Kids
  • Sandy Hook Promise
  • School Social Work Association of America
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • TASH

 

September 20, 2018

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

AASA Supports National Voter Registration Day: Can You?

You can’t rock the vote until you’re ready to vote, and you’re not ready to vote until you’re registered to vote. To that end, as part of our #LeadersMatter campaign, and our ongoing work at AASA to ensure that schools are ready for kids, kids are ready for schools, and our students graduate ready to be an engaged member in civic society, we are pleased to share a suite of information related to National Voter Registration Day.

AASA is pleased to be part of a national effort to support and strengthen our nation’s democracy by encouraging eligible voters to vote as part of National Voter Registration Day, on September 25, 2018. Our nation’s public schools—as the backbone of civic society—are uniquely positioned: tasked not only with civic education, which provides ample opportunity to learn the history and power of the right to vote and how it has evolved and grown throughout our nation’s history, schools are also where a significant portion of our nation’s students engage in their first votes—spanning things from vote for home coming king to student body president—and where they are enrolled when they turn 18, the age of voting eligibility.

To that end, we are highlighting National Voter Registration Day as a resource for school superintendents to provide helpful information, support important conversations, and facilitate any efforts you may undertake related to voter registration in your schools. National Voter Registration Day is a bipartisan event, and is endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors.

What Can I Do?

  • Register to Vote Online: It’s simple, it’s free, and it’s secure.
  • Attend a National Voter Registration Day Event: Find one near you.
  • Host a Voter Registration Day Event in Your Community: Register your event.
  • Spread the Word: Take a few moments to strengthen your community – and our country – with your voice. Use #NationalVoterRegistrationDay throughout social media and share this information with your school district's communication team and community members. 

 Related Resources (Content courtesy of National Voter Registration Day organization)

 Things to Consider

  • The right to vote is non-partisan. As someone facilitating these conversations, be mindful to adhere to the idea of ‘I don’t care HOW you vote; I care THAT you register and vote.”
  • While voting is tied to an election or decision of some sort, the process of registration and any related conversations can and should be devoid of any stated position or preferred candidate.
  • In today’s highly partisan environment, and increasing tension related to voting rights and voting restrictions, any conversation about voter registration—including the simple act of making information available in schools and/or providing registration forms in school—could be perceived as political. To that end, work closely with your board, administrative team and staff to ensure that the focus remains on the civic right and responsibility of voting, that information on voting and registration is available to any and all students, and that any related conversations are devoid of conversations on who to vote for or what position to support.
  • You could focus your efforts solely on your student body, or you could use this opportunity to reach the broader community. That is a decision for you and your board. 

September 17, 2018

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

AASA Contributes to National PTA Back-to-School Toolkit

AASA is pleased to have contributed to and to share with you information about this week's Back to School Week campaign, organized by National PTA. 

National PTA has designated Sept. 17-21 Back-to-School Week to celebrate back-to-school season. Throughout the week, National PTA will share tips and resources on social media using #PTABackToSchool and at PTA.org/BackToSchool to help PTA leaders, parents, students and teachers have a successful new school year.

AASA is pleased to be a partner in this week and to have contributed resources, available in the 'From our Partners' section. As part of Back-to-School Week, National PTA has launched a comprehensive webpage with a wide variety of resources. The association has also assigned each day of the week to highlight and share tips and resources for the stakeholders who play an essential role in supporting children’s learning and success. 

 

  • Monday, September 17 – Back to School for PTA Leaders
  • Tuesday, September 18 – Back to School for Parents
  • Wednesday, September 19 – Back to School for Students
  • Thursday, September 20 – Back to School for Teachers

Additionally, during the week, National PTA will be making announcements on new initiatives, grant recipients and new grant opportunities, classroom surprises and more.

 

August 28, 2018

(RURAL EDUCATION, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

Educator Shortages and the 115th Congress

 Teaching has long maintained a place near the top of the list of most respected professions. However, given the rhetoric around failing schools and the decreased investment in education, that position is slipping. In the 2018 PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, only 61 percent of respondents have trust and confidence in public school teachers. Also, slipping steeply throughout the decade, only 46 percent of respondents say they would like their children to become teachers. This illustrates the danger of a persistently negative public perception of public school teachers. The teaching profession is seen as disrespected, difficult, dangerous, and low paying.

Given this perception, it is not surprising that districts are having difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers. A recent AASA survey found that 91 percent of superintendents have had difficulty hiring qualified teachers in the past five year. The greatest difficulty has been in hiring special education (50 percent) and STEM fields (40 percent). Another 24 percent reported difficulty in hiring for non-teaching positions and 18 for administrative positions.

In the survey, superintendents were asked what they have done to fill these positions. Most common was hiring less qualified individuals for the position (60 percent). Other remedies were the use of alternative certification programs or models (33 percent) increasing salary and benefit packages where possible (33 percent) and rehiring retired teachers (32 percent).

When asked what improvements would help them recruit and retain quality teachers, funding for salary and benefits was clearly the most popular. This need was illustrated through the teacher protests of 2018 and is commonly understood to be a need – 66 percent of PDK poll respondents agree that teacher salaries in their communities are too low. However, funding for education has fallen or remained stagnant in most states and local districts since the 2008 recession.

A common concern is the lack of localized teacher preparation programs. An individual is most likely to teach close to where they were raised or where they went to college. In rural communities, this means that many residents go away to college and do not end up returning to teach in their home community. Districts are often supportive of high quality “grow your own” teacher training and certification programs, in four-year universities, community colleges, and other settings. Two pieces of legislation have been introduced this year (though they have not moved past introduction) to support and expand grow your own programs. The first, introduced by Senator Tina Smith (D – MN), is the Supporting Future Educators Act. It creates a competitive grant program for LEAs or ESAs that could be used to create or expand teacher residency or mentorship programs, grow your own programs, teacher preparation pathways in secondary schools, or other evidence-based strategies.

Another bill has been introduced by Senator Tim Kaine (D – VA). The Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals (PREP) Act amends Title II of the Higher Education Act (not ESSA, though easily confused!) to better support rural districts and to increase the flow of teachers from historically black colleges and universities. It also encourages the creation of grow your own programs and teacher and leader residency programs.

Another barrier to hiring qualified teachers reported was the strictness of certification rules in many states. Superintendents commented that an individual who is certified to teach second grade may not be allowed to teach first grade, even if there is a great need in the community. State-level certification requirements also pose a barrier to teachers who may be interested in moving states or superintendents looking to recruit nationally. A proposal by the centrist think tank Third Way to create a national standard for teaching for states to opt into, much like the common core state standards, strives to simplify the bureaucracy of teacher certification and create one high standard for states to share.

A final improvement that would improve teacher recruitment and retention is assistance with tuition or loan repayment. This has been a big topic in the House of Representatives this year, as it was a key part of the Republican-backed PROSPER Act. There are currently three major loan forgiveness programs available for teachers; the most prominent is Public Service Loan Forgiveness(PSLF). Under PSLF, anyone working in a public service or nonprofit job (including most education professions) can enroll in an income-based repayment plan. If that individual makes 120 on-time income-based payments (10 years of repayment) and work in an eligible field, whatever is left on their loans can be forgiven. This is an important recruitment and retention tool for educators, who often have high loads of debt following a bachelor’s and master’s degree, and relatively low salary.

Under the PROSPER Act, which passed the House Education and Workforce committee on a party-line vote, PSLF and all other loan forgiveness programs would be eliminated. The House Democrats released a rebuttal bill, the Aim HigherAct. That bill not only keeps PSLF – it expands it to additional professions (mostly in the farming industry).

It is unlikely any of these pieces of legislation will move in this Congress, as everyone has turned their attention to the November mid-term elections. As we move into the next Congress and another attempt at reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, I will work to ensure the issue of educator shortages is top of mind for those writing the reauthorization. We remain hopeful we can have a bipartisan bill focused on supporting future and current teachers and ensuring they are prepared to teach in your schools.

August 17, 2018(1)

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

Guest Blog Post: Connecting Academic Outcomes and Resource Allocation: Best Practices in School Budgeting

Today's guest blog post comes from Matt Bubness, Senior Manager with the Research and Consulting Center at the Government Finance Officers Association.  AASA most recently collaborated with the GFOA in our efforts to push back on the cap/elimination of the SALT-D in the 2017 tax overhaul. We are happy to continue working together, and to share this entry.

How do school districts budget in an era of decreased public funding and still fulfill their mission to increase student achievement? GFOA (Government Finance Officers Association) has developed a series of Best Practices in School Budgeting (available for free at http://gfoa.org/k-12-budget), which clearly outline steps for developing a budget that best aligns resources with student achievement goals. The new Best Practices are supported by the Smarter School Spending website which offers a wide range of free resources for districts to guide and support implementation of the Best Practices. 

The budgeting process presented in these Best Practices is focused on optimizing student achievement within available resources. The Best Practices included information on how to improve your budget process structured around planning and preparing; setting instructional priorities; paying for these priorities; implementing the priorities; and finally ensuring sustainability of all of the effort put into developing the priorities and budget process. Within each of these areas are guidelines and examples on how to implement financial policies, SMARTER goals, root cause analysis, and cost-effectiveness measurement techniques such as A-ROI, among a number of other techniques and concepts. 

Ninety plus districts have worked with GFOA to date in implementing the Best Practices budget process through an early adopter group – the Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting. Districts range in size from a few hundred students to several hundred thousand students, from 30 states across the US and a wide range of demographics. GFOA welcomes district looking to improve their budget and planning processes to join the Alliance - to learn more go to http://gfoa.org/alliance-excellence-school-budgeting

June 18, 2018(1)

(ESEA, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

Bringing ESSA Title IVA to Life: How School Districts Are Spending Title IV Dollars

AASA, The School Superintendents Association partnered with the National Association of Federal Education Program Administrators (NAFEPA) and Whiteboard Advisors to conduct a nation-wide survey of school districts to see how and where school systems are investing critical ESSA Title IV Part A funds. 

Title IV of ESSA, the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) program, is a flexible funding block grant focused on the work of ensuring students and schools have access to the programs that support safe and healthy students, provide well-rounded education, and expand the use of technology in schools. Between NCLB and ESSA, Title IV transformed from a collection of small, stand-alone siloed programs that had been all but zeroed out (ultimately totaling less than $300 million) into a flexible funding block grant, allocated via formula to states and available to all schools, authorized at $1.6 billion. 

The program has broad support from education leaders and practitioners and is perhaps best captured in this elevator pitch submitted in response to this survey: 

No two schools are the same. Our need is not your need, but both needs are relevant to each specific demographic and climate. Increased flexibility increases the likelihood of spending with efficacy. I know you don't always trust me to do the best thing for my kids (although I am confused as to why), but proximity to the need is important to weeding out appropriate supports and solutions. I appreciate your support of my school, and I understand your desire to earmark some funds for specific needs that we share nationally, but I need some spending flexibility if I am to always match support to the need.

Relatively simple in design, ESSA Title IV allocates flexible block grant funding to each state based on the ESSA Title I funding formula, which targets federal funding based on need, where schools and states with a higher share of students in poverty receive greater funding. Funding flows from the federal to the state and the state to the local level in amounts that are proportional to the distribution of Title I funds. Any school district receiving more than $30,000 is required to conduct a needs assessment and submit an application to its state educational agency describing how the district will spend not less than 20 percent of its grant on safe/healthy school initiatives, not less than 20 percent on well-rounded education, and at least a portion on the effective use of technology, with a 15 percent cap on the section’s funding for purchasing “technology infrastructure” (as defined in the law). 

More than 620 school leaders responded to the survey in late May and early June, and you can read the preliminary results here.  

 

June 18, 2018

(RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, GUEST BLOGS) Permanent link

Guest Blog: School Safety & Door Barricades Guide

This guest blog comes from Robert Boyd, Executive Director of the Secure Schools Alliance. The alliance has created a quick reference guide, available for AASA members, with information and things to consider when it comes to classroom barricades. 

Physical security is a priority for school administrators and facility managers, to help ensure the safety of students, staff members, and visitors during an active shooter/hostile event.  While evaluating methods of securing doors to prevent access, it’s crucial to consider other hazards and the need for free egress, fire protection, and accessibility, as well as the possibility of unauthorized lockdown.

There are many available options for locking classroom doors, but not all security devices comply with the national life safety codes and the Americans With Disabilities Act.  Some may impede evacuation, affect the performance of fire door assemblies, or be difficult or impossible for someone with a disability to operate.  In school shootings that have occurred, the ability to evacuate immediately has proven critical to reducing casualties.  

Barricading doors with furniture or other items can be used as a last resort to deter access during a lockdown, but classroom barricade devices may introduce other risks and liabilities.  In addition to the life safety and accessibility concerns, these devices could be used by an unauthorized person to secure a room and prevent access by school staff and emergency responders.  Doors have been barricaded during several past school shootings, as well as other hostage-taking incidents and assaults in schools.    

The Secure Schools Alliance has published a document which outlines important considerations related to the use of classroom barricade devices; additional guidance and links to school security resources are also included.  This information will help school administrators choose classroom security methods that maintain life safety and accessibility, as well as limiting unauthorized access.

 

June 8, 2018

(STUDENT DATA PRIVACY, ADVOCACY TOOLS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

School Practitioner Student Data & Privacy Bootcamp

AASA, in coordination with our friends at Future of Privacy Forum, are pleased to offer a free, one-day bootcamp on all aspects of student data and privacy. While these discussions have been dominating at the state and local government level, they are now bubbling up at the federal level, and this bootcamp is a one-stop shop for a quick crash course and learning about what good federal student data and privacy policy may look like, what we can learn from the work and experience of state policy, and more.

The bootcamp will be held on Monday July 9 (right before the AASA legislative advocacy conference) in Washington DC. A conference agenda is below. Interested? Email Noelle Ellerson Ng (nellerson@aasa.org).

Privacy Boot Camp Agenda: Monday, July 9  

  • 9:30 Welcome Comments
  • 9:35 Hypothetical
  • 10:05 FERPA, COPPA, and PPRA
    Reg Leichty, Foresight Law+Policy (moderator)
    Michael Hawes, Director of Student Privacy Policy, U.S. Department of Education
    Bret Cohen, Hogan Lovells
  • 11:15 Federal Legislation and State Laws
    Noelle Ellerson Ng, AASA
    Amelia Vance, Director of Education Privacy, Future of Privacy Forum
  • 12:15 Lunch
  • 1:15 Understanding Parent, Advocate, and Policy Concerns
    Susan Bearden, Consultant (moderator)
    Pris Regan, GMU
    Rachel Anderson, Data Quality Campaign
  • 2:15 Hypothetical
  • 2:45 Working with Ed Tech
    Chip Slavis, Alliance for Excellent Education (moderator)
    Sara Kloek, SIIA
    Jessica Geller Blackboard
    Dan Crowley, Quizlet
    Jena Draper, CatchOn
  • 4:00 Leading in Privacy: Best Practices from States and Districts
    Keith Krueger, CoSN (moderator)
    Melissa Tebbenkamp, Raytown Quality Schools
    Teddy Hartman, Howard County Public Schools, Maryland
    Steve Smith, Chief Information Officer, Cambridge Public Schools; Founder, Student Data Privacy Consortium
  • 5:15 Closing and Next Steps  

 

June 6, 2018

(WELL-BEING, ADVOCACY TOOLS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, THE ADVOCATE) Permanent link

AASA Joins Five National Organizations in Joint Statement Before Federal School Safety Commission

AASA is pleased to be among the groups speaking before the Federal School Safety Commission in today's listening session, the first formal opportunity for school system leaders, professionals and stakeholders to engage in this process.

AASA submitted a statement with the Association of Educational Service Agencies, the Association of School Business Officials International, the Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators, the National Rural Education Association and the National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium.

This listening session was first noticed on Friday, June 1. In the passing five days, we were able to conduct a quick survey of our members asking them to rank-order their priorities among the Commission's stated areas of conversation and discussion. That information is included in our statement.

Read the full statement.

 

May 21, 2018

(RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

New USED Initiative Assists with Website Accessibility

Is your school district’s website ADA compliant? As a school leader, knowing the answer to this question is more important than you may realize, and if you are unsure whether that answer is yes, or no, then you need to have a conversation with whomever manages your schools’ website to find out.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has been serving notices to school districts across the country whose school websites are not accessible to individuals with disabilities. And since you don’t want that complaint hitting your desk, our team wanted to alert you to a new website accessibility technical assistance initiative that the OCR launched to provide schools and districts with vital information on website accessibility, including tips for making online programs accessible.

OCR will offer three initial webinars to jumpstart this initiative on the following dates:

  • Webinar I: May 29, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT
  • Webinar II: June 5, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT
  • Webinar III: June 12, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT

Feel free to share this information with your webmaster, but also plan to attend yourself if you’d like to learn more about the OCR’s expectations for your website and how to ensure your webpages aren’t discriminating any persons with disabilities, because it's not just the homepage that needs to be compliant.

May 9, 2018(1)

(ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED TECH, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, GUEST BLOGS) Permanent link

Guest Blog: Professional Development Resources to Help Students with Learning and Attention Issues

Today's guest blog comes from the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). It links to their latest toolkit [crossposted here] and addresses the important topic of school-wide professional development.  

Seven out of 10 students who receive special education supports for learning disabilities and ADHD spend 80% or more of the school day in the general education classroom.  This means that general educators must be prepared with evidence-based strategies that support all learners, including those with learning and attention issues.  Two strategies proven to benefit all learners are a multi-tier system of support (MTSS) and universal design for learning (UDL), and there are funding opportunities in Title II and Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to support the scaling of these approaches in schools.  

Conversations about supporting, implementing, and scaling these strategies must begin at a local level so they can be customized to meet local needs, and teachers can use these strategies to improve student outcomes. That’s why the National Center for Learning Disabilities and Understood.org, developed a toolkit for parents and advocates to use in their schools and districts to share the importance of using frameworks like UDL, MTSS, personalized learning, and strengths-based IEPs and to help link schools to funding streams that can support these approaches. To learn more, you can download the toolkit.

 

 

March 2, 2018

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AASA Joins Groups in Amicus on South Dakota v. Wayfair Case

AASA was pleased to sign on to an amicus brief, filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other national organizations, one of the most important cases of the organization's 35-year tenure:  South Dakota v. Wayfair.  In this case South Dakota is asking the Supreme Court to rule that states and local governments may require retailers with no in-state physical presence to collect sales tax. Ruling this way will require the Supreme Court to overturn long-standing precedent.   

SPLC provided background on the case, which we are happy to share here:

In 1967 in National Bellas Hess  v. Department of Revenue of Illinois, the Supreme Court held that per its Commerce Clause jurisprudence, states and local governments cannot require businesses to collect sales tax unless the business has a physical presence in the state.

Twenty-five years later in Quill v. North Dakota (1992), the Supreme Court reaffirmed the physical presence requirement but admitted that “contemporary Commerce Clause jurisprudence might not dictate the same result” as the Court had reached in Bellas Hess.

Customers buying from remote sellers still owe sale tax but they rarely pay it when the remote seller does not collect it. Congress has the authority to overrule Bellas Hess and Quill but has thus far not done so. 

In March 2015 Justice Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion stating that the “legal system should find an appropriate case for this Court to reexamine Quill.” Justice Kennedy criticized Quill in Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl for many of the same reasons the SLLC stated in its amicus brief in that case. Specifically, internet sales have risen astronomically since 1992 and states and local governments are unable to collect most taxes due on sales from out-of-state vendors. 

Following the Kennedy opinion a number of state legislatures passed laws requiring remote vendors to collect sales tax in clear violation of Quill. South Dakota’s law was the first ready for Supreme Court review. It requires out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax if they annually conduct $100,000 worth of business or 200 separate transactions in South Dakota. 

The SLLC amicus brief points out that states and local governments lost an estimated $26 billion in sales tax revenue in 2015 because they were unable to collect owed taxes. The brief encourages the Court to overturn Quill. If the Court decides to replace the physical presence requirement the SLLC encourages the Court to adopt an economic nexus requirement—like the one the South Dakota legislature adopted.  

The Supreme Court will hear oral argument in this case on April 17. It will issue an opinion by the end of June.  

To learn more about the case listen to this podcast.

 

February 23, 2018(1)

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

AASA Partners with Educational Organizations on Updated ESSA Timeline

The Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) just released its latest ESSA Implementation Timeline: A Guide to Key State and Local Processes. In leading this work, CCSSO has convened multiple stakeholders, including AASA, to generate the report. 

The timeline outlines key state and local actions and planning processes in these initial years of implementing new accountability, reporting, and school improvement systems, from the 2017-18 school year through 2020-21 and beyond. It also documents application and funding timelines for federal programs under ESSA, as well as opportunities and expectations for continuous improvement over time. The timeline highlights both the commonalities across states in actions and timing under the law, but also the variation in timing as SEAs and LEAs implement the law within their unique contexts (indicated through visual “windows” of time).

Access the timeline here

February 23, 2018

(WELL-BEING, ADVOCACY TOOLS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

Supporting Superintendents, Supporting Students: Resources for School and Gun Safety Discussions and Advocacy

In response to the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14, AASA has assembled this set of resources and information to support school system leaders, their staff, their community, and their students as they navigate yet another round of student deaths.

This set of information will be continually updated and revised. Should you have any feedback or additional content/information that you would like to contribute, please send them to Noelle Ellerson Ng (nellerson@aasa.org).

  • School and Gun Safety Policy: Read AASA's position paper on school safety, adopted after the 2012 tragedy in Sandy Hook, and unfortunately still relevant today. It is a comprehensive position, adopted by the AASA governing board and executive committee, and addresses our priorities on school safety, student supports and services (including mental health supports), and common sense reforms to gun laws. 
  • Guidance & Resources for Local Districts: 
    • We are happy to share this template communications document, with permission from CMS Communications, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. It is an excellent template for school system leaders and as a basis for response from media and community.
    • Lessons Learned from School Walkouts and Crises produced by the U.S. Department of Education
    • Resources from the National Association of School Psychologists such as tips for parents/teachers talking to children about gun violence, guidelines for caring for teachers and school personnel after a crisis,  best practice considerations for active shooter drills and considerations for administrators as students plan for a walk out.
    • ACLU guide for student walk outs and political speech at schools  
     
  • National Day of Action: AASA is proud to support the National Day of Action to Stop Gun Violence in Our Schools. Through this day of action, we urge teachers, families, students, administrators and every member of the community to engage in acts of advocacy and civic engagement in and around their schools. Create actions that work best in your school and community. AASA is NOT affiliated with any of the formal or organized walk outs. superintendents are balancing their obligation to educate their students and support their community and students' first amendment rights with their professional and educational responsibility to consistently and equitably enforce state and local laws and policies, which can include attendance requirements and school participation
  • Potential Activities for Day of Action: Our members have reached out to us for ideas to support their students and communities. We are pleased to share an initial listing of activities and programs that schools can consider adopting and implementing as part of the National Day of Action.  
  • Supporting Grieving Students: AASA has joined other professional organizations that represent K-12 educators in an unified effort to address the lack of support for grieving students, forming The Coalition to Support Grieving Students. A primary objective of the Coalition is to effectively address and remedy the gap between an educator's desire and an educator's ability to help grieving students.
  • Talking to Children About School & Community Shootings in the News: The School Crisis Center released this guide, offering advice on how to talk to children about tragic events they are likely to hear about at school and/or on the news.
  • Responding to School Walk Out Demonstrations: USED released a helpful document in 2008, examining the various ways in which administrators, school staff, law enforcement, and the community at large can help keep youths safe, while still supporting their desire for self-expression. 
  • Coercion, Conscience, and the First Amendment: NSBA released a legal guide for public schools on the regulation of student and employee speech. It is designed in Q&A format to aid in conversations as policy is being developed. 
  • Student Protest Advisory: Our friends at Hogan Lovells composed this brief, which outlines five considerations for administrators as schools and communities respond to and engage in civic activism. 
  • Other Resources:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 21, 2018

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

ESSA's Weighted Student Funding Pilot: Now Accepting Applications!

When ESSA was signed into law in December 2015, it included a new pilot that would allow school districts additional flexibility to better target their resources within and between schools in their district. Through the pilot, USED can allow up to 50 school districts to participate initially.

Districts participating in the pilot will be able to combine federal, state and local dollars into a single funding stream tied to individual students. Students that cost more to educate—including English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and students in poverty—would carry more ‘weight’, meaning more money. Through this pilot, ESSA provides flexibility within and between funding streams that can otherwise inhibit the ability of districts to more accurately and meaningfully target funding; this pilot is an opportunity for districts to demonstrate how WSF better meets district needs while still complying with underlying statute. With this flexibility, LEAs can combine eligible Federal funds with State and local funds to create a single, student-centered funding system. A student-centered funding system in the context of the pilot is a funding system based on weights that allocate substantially more for students from low-income families, English learners, and other educationally disadvantaged student groups. 

The Department will host identical webinars -- February 21 from 2:00 to 3:30 PM Eastern Time and February 22 from 12:30 to 2:00 PM Eastern Time -- regarding new flexibility for school districts to create equitable, student-centered funding systems under a pilot program authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  The webinars will clarify the opportunity interested LEAs have to apply for flexibility to implement a student-centered funding system as part of a pilot authorized by ESSA. Pre-registration is not required.  The webinars will be recorded and posted -- with slides -- on the pilot web page.  (Note: The official application is available; the application deadline is March 12 for districts intending to implement in school year 2018-19 and July 15 for districts intending to implement in school year 2019-20.)

 

February 20, 2018

(ESEA, IDEA, PERKINS, RURAL EDUCATION, E-RATE, SCHOOL NUTRITION, WELL-BEING, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED TECH, SCHOOL CHOICE AND VOUCHERS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

Policy Recap from NCE

It was great to see so many of you in Nashville for NCE last week - we hope you learned a lot (and had some fun)! Here is a roundup of what our team was involved with at the conference:

 

 

February 15, 2018

(RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

Sixth Superintendent Salary and Benefits Study Released

Today, AASA released the sixth edition of the Superintendent Salary and Benefits Study. Some of this year’s survey's key findings included:

  • Base salaries ranged from $50,000 to $393,000, with a median of $127,085 aand an average of $137,131.
  • Respondents are predominately male (76 percent), White (93 percent) and from intermediate-sized districts (300-2,499 students, 59 percent) regardless of their gender.
  • Female respondents were, on average, slightly older than male respondents (with a median age of 53 to 52 respectively).
  • Despite the strengthening national economy, the trend continues over the last six editions that few superintendents see their district economic condition as strong. In 2013, 43 percent of respondents described their districts as in declining economic condition. This year, one third of respondents still described the economic condition as declining.

AASA members can access a full members-only report, including a rich list of unique contract provisions on the my.aasa.org site. A public version of the survey is available here.

February 12, 2018

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

Ten Years Later: How Funding Pressures Continue to Impact Our Nation’s Schools

During the depths of the nation’s greatest recession, AASA conducted a series of 16 national surveys detailing the cumulative impact of the recession and funding cuts on our nation’s public schools and the students they serve . As the recession drew to a close, the rate and frequency of these surveys slowed. Now, in 2018, a decade removed from the depths of the recession, many state and local education agencies have yet to return to pre-recession funding levels and funding pressures continue to be a reality in their day-to-day existence. To that end, AASA conducted a national survey of superintendents in December 2017 to gauge the extent to which schools continue to experience fiscal hardship as well as their capacity and approach to returning to pre-recession funding levels.

The survey, Ten Years Later: How Funding Pressures Continue to Impact Our Nation’s Schools, is part of AASA's Economic Impact Survey Series, which helped detail the impact of the recession on the nation's schools. This latest iteration comes as states and schools mark 10 years since the start of the recession, and report varied levels of recovery. 

AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech issued the following statement about the report: "We are ten years past the depths of the nation’s greatest economic recession. However, our public schools have yet to be operating at pre-recession levels. Some are there, but many are not, and they continue to aim for merely returning to pre-recession funding levels. Ten years means that in many schools across the country, our nation’s K-9 students have spent the entirety of their K12 experience to date in a post-recession funding climate. As we prepare to respond to the President’s proposed budget for FY19, we are pleased to share our latest economic impact report to highlight the reality of providing education to our nation’s 50 million public school students and look forward to working with Congress to adopt federal funding levels that support adequate and equitable investment in our schools and the students they serve.”

As we prepare to review and respond to the President's proposed FY19 budget, his announced infrastructure plan, the ongoing negotiations around FY18 appropriations and how all three impact our nation's schools, some key findings from the survey jump out:  

  • Nearly three-quarters (72.5%) of respondents described their school district as inadequately funded, compared to 24.5% reporting adequately funded and 2.8% reporting surplus. When compared to earlier surveys, this is down from 83% in the fall of 2015 and 81% in March of 2012, but still above the 67% reported in October 2008. 
  • When asked to identify the various program and service cuts their district had considered and/or implemented in the response to budget pressures, the top five items implemented as cuts in the last five years were reducing staff level (non-instructional) hiring (65.5%); deferring maintenance (65.4%); eliminating non-essential travel (65.2%); joining bulk purchasing groups/co-ops (63.8%); and reducing consumable supplies (62%). 
  • IDEA Shortfall: When asked what percentage of their local budget is being used to cover federal mandates related to special education, just 10% of respondents indicated that it was less than 10% of total spending. 48.2% of respondents indicated they used 10-20% of total spending to cover the federal IDEA shortfall, compared to 25.6% reporting 20-30%; and 8.5% reporting they used 30-40%.  

February 8, 2018(1)

(ADVOCACY TOOLS, SCHOOL CHOICE AND VOUCHERS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

AASA Releases New I Love Public Education Toolkit

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is the national organization in the best position to lead the dialogue about the importance of public education. Last summer, we launched the I Love Public Education campaign, an ongoing effort to highlight the success of public education. To help our members as well as non-members speak out about the value of public education, we are pleased to present AASA’s I Love Public Education Toolkit.

This package of turn key materials will help you effectively communicate the appropriate messaging about the critical value public education has in our society with your key stakeholders—board members, business and community leaders, staff, parents, students and the media. In addition, the kit contains a social media guide that we encourage you to use and share with your colleagues and the community. 

At a time when education policy is distracted from the rich history of our public schools and the roles they play in preparing students to be productive adults, we need your help to lead, shape and grow a broad dialogue and support for public education. Please continue to add to the conversation on Twitter with #LovePublicEducation. 

Students who enter the doors of the school buildings in your community depend on the tireless work underway in your administration. At AASA, it is our job to help you and your staff excel on behalf of the students you serve. Thank you for the outstanding work you do. 

For additional information about the I Love Public Education campaign, please visit www.lovepubliceducation.org.

 

For additional information about the I Love Public Education campaign, please visit www.lovepubliceducation.org. 

January 24, 2018

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

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)

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

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

(RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

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
to 
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.

December 13, 2017(1)

(ESEA, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

ESSA Stakeholder Engagement: Continuing the Conversation

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has convened a broad group of education associations to talk and work through the important work of stakeholder engagement. AASA has been involved in the conversations and is pleased to share the latest CCSSO publication, Let's Continue This Conversation: How to Turn New Stakeholder Connections into Long-Term Relationships

As the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) begins, now is the time to reiterate your commitment and turn these new connections into long-term relationships by establishing sustainable ways to continue to listen to, inform and learn from your stakeholders. This guide is intended to help states assess the engagement strategies used during the ESSA development stage, identify the ones to sustain or refine, and develop a long-term plan that will continue to create opportunities for stakeholders to be heard on this and other education issues. You can access it on the CCSSO website, as well. 

November 15, 2017

(RURAL EDUCATION, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

New Report Identifies How Congress Can Better Serve Rural Students

AASA and The Rural School and Community Trust's new partnership is already paying off for school leaders, with the release of the report, Leveling the Playing Field for Rural Students, which identifies how Congress can provide leadership and support to ensure students living in rural America receive a quality education and succeed in life beyond high school. 

Highlights from the report include five education policy recommendations that can be implemented immediately and will benefit the one in six children living in rural communities: 

  • Enabling Access to New, High-Quality Educational Opportunities;
  • Addressing Health Barriers to Learning;
  • Leveraging Career and Technical Programs for Economic Growth;
  • Ending Insecurity for Rural Children;
  • Adequately Investing in Rural Schools.

AASA is extremely excited about our new partnership with the Rural School and Community Trust and is looking forward to more collaboration on behalf of rural schools and the students they serve.

Read the full report, here.

November 1, 2017

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

Save SALTD: Support Public Education

Tomorrow, the House is expected to unveil the details of the anticipated tax reform package. As mentioned previously in the blog (and in an AASA press release), it is likely the proposal will include the elimination of the state and local tax deduction (SALT-D). Last week, AASAs joined 4 other national organizations in a joint statement expressing our continued opposition to any elimination of SALT-D. 

AASA is opposed to the elimination of SALT-D, and it is our single biggest item of engagement in the overall tax reform package. We believe any comprehensive tax reform legislation must preserve this deduction. As one of the six original deductions allowed under the original tax code, SALT-D has a long history and is a critical support for investments in infrastructure, public safety, homeownership and, specific to our work, our nation’s public schools. SALT-D prevents double taxation for local residents and reduced the pressure tax payers feel/face when it comes to paying state and local taxes, which represent the lion’s share of public education funding. Elimination of this deduction would increase tax rates for certain tax payers, reduce disposable income, limit ability and support for local taxes, and damage local, state and national economies. 

What can you do? Make sure your delegation understands what SALT-D means to your community. Here is a pretty comprehensive set of resources for you to draw on:

AASA Talking Points (from the call to action)  

  • We stand firmly for the preservation of the full deduction for state and local taxes, and urge you speak out in favor of SALT and vote against any tax reform plan that eliminates, restricts or modifies this deduction.
  • SALT has been a fixture of the federal tax code and our nation’s fiscal federalism for more than 100 years to guard against double taxation of households and protect the fiscal integrity of state and local governments, and it should remain in the tax code without limitation.  
  • Any limitations, restrictions or changes to SALT would undermine these fundamental principles of our federalism and create a slippery slope that would subject SALT to continued erosion whenever Washington needs more money – at the expense of 44 million middle class households and homeowners who now claim this deduction. 
  • The elimination of SALT is one of the largest sources of revenue in the “Big Six” tax plan, estimated at $1.3 trillion dollars taken from 44 million households.  Thus, any compromise and anything less than preserving the full deduction, is sure to cause millions of taxpayers to pay higher taxes, undermine funding for state and local government and the services they support, and possibly cause home values to decline as well.  
  • Targets: Calls to any Members of Congress are helpful. Please don’t be shy; more calls are better than fewer. We can’t overdo it. We need to mobilize. The phone number for the Congressional switchboard is (202) 224-3121. If you need contact information for your Congressional delegation, let us know. Thanks so much.

AASA Memo: Education and Tax Reform  

  • Over the summer, I worked with a colleague form AFT to better understand the myriad ways that tax reform--SALT-D and other areas--could impact schools. That learning/research is summarized in this memo.

Americans Against Double Taxation: This is the coalition we are active in. They have rich resources

  • Calculator: How would the elimination of SALT-D impact the average homeowner in YOUR zip code and zip codes in your school district? THIS calculator will tell you. 
  • Congressional District Impact: What does it mean for tax payers in your Congressional district? This report has the numbers 

 

 

 

 

 

October 24, 2017

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

Speak Up! 2017 is Open: Tell Your Technology Story

The Speak Up 2017 surveys are now open! Each year the Speak Up research project for digital learning asks K-12 students, parents and educators about the role of technology for learning in and out of school. If you have not yet registered your school/district, there is still plenty of time! Surveys will close on January 19, 2018.

The Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning, a national initiative of Project Tomorrow, is both a national research project and a free service to schools and districts everywhere. Since fall 2003, Speak Up has helped education leaders include the voices of their stakeholders in annual and long-term planning. More than 5 million participants have made Speak Up the largest collection of authentic, unfiltered stakeholder input on education, technology, schools of the future, science and math instruction, professional development and career exploration. National-level reports inform policymakers at all levels.

Educators from more than 30,000 schools have used Speak Up data to create and implement their vision for the next generation of learning. You can too! Learn more about how to register as the primary contact at http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/registration.html today to participate in Speak Up.

To see what our top Speak Up top schools and districts have to say about why they participate in Speak Up, and learn how they utilized their school/district’s data, visit the Speak Up in Action page here.

Surveys take less than 20 minutes to complete and are completely anonymous. Join more than 500,000 people from more than 10,000 schools to be sure your voice is heard this year! 

As part of Speak Up, we (AASA) are offering two opportunities to win a complimentary registration to our 2018 National Education Conference. Check out Speak Up America and Speak Up Appreciation Week for more on these offers.

Surveys are open through January 19, 2018, and schools and districts can still sign up to get promotional materials and their free data: http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/MainContactInformation.html

 

October 9, 2017(1)

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Save SALT-D: Tax Reform Impacts Schools!

Call to Action: Save #SALT-D! (Tax Reform Impacts Schools)

 

TELL CONGRESS SALT MUST BE PRESERVED: 
NOT LIMITED, RESTRICTED OR MODIFIED IN ANY WAY

 

BACKGROUND: When it comes to tax reform, AASA is engaged in an effort to preserve the State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT-D). AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech responded to the proposed elimination of SALT-D in a statement last month: "AASA is deeply opposed to the proposed elimination of the State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT-D). We believe any comprehensive tax reform legislation must preserve this deduction. As one of the six original deductions allowed under the original tax code, SALT-D has a long history and is a critical support for investments in infrastructure, public safety, homeownership and, specific to our work, our nation’s public schools. SALT-D prevents double taxation for local residents. Elimination of this deduction would increase tax rates for certain tax payers, reduce disposable income, limit ability and support for local taxes, and damage local, state and national economies." AASA is a proud member of the Americans Against Double Taxation, a coalition of state and local government organizations, service providers and other stakeholders dedicated to protecting the state and local tax deduction (SALT), a federal tax deduction claimed by 44 million American taxpayers that supports vital investments in infrastructure, public safety, home ownership and education.

CALL TO ACTION: There were multiple reports last week suggesting that a variety of alternative proposals may be on the table to restrict, limit or modify SALT rather than eliminate it entirely as the “Big Six” first proposed. Our allies in the House have confirmed these reports, and told us these talks are progressing rapidly.  

This is the first of several critical crossroads we expect to face, and we need your help to make calls to Congress immediately, urging Members to fully preserve SALT, and reject proposals that undermine this deduction which has been a central tenet of our federalism for over 100 years.  

The good news is that the talk of alternatives to eliminating SALT means our voices are being heard by Members of Congress, and they now know there is strong and widespread opposition to taking away SALT.  However, we must remain vigilant and fully engaged because so-called compromise proposals can sound reasonable, but they also can be harmful to homeowners, middle class taxpayers, state and local governments and the public services they provide, much like full repeal of SALT.  

The SALT messages we need to deliver are:  

 

  1. We stand firmly for the preservation of the full deduction for state and local taxes, and urge you speak out in favor of SALT and vote against any tax reform plan that eliminates, restricts or modifies this deduction.
  2. SALT has been a fixture of the federal tax code and our nation’s fiscal federalism for more than 100 years to guard against double taxation of households and protect the fiscal integrity of state and local governments, and it should remain in the tax code without limitation.  
  3. Any limitations, restrictions or changes to SALT would undermine these fundamental principles of our federalism and create a slippery slope that would subject SALT to continued erosion whenever Washington needs more money – at the expense of 44 million middle class households and homeowners who now claim this deduction. 
  4. The elimination of SALT is one of the largest sources of revenue in the “Big Six” tax plan, estimated at $1.3 trillion dollars taken from 44 million households.  Thus, any compromise and anything less than preserving the full deduction, is sure to cause millions of taxpayers to pay higher taxes, undermine funding for state and local government and the services they support, and possibly cause home values to decline as well.  

Targets: Calls to any Members of Congress are helpful. Please don’t be shy; more calls are better than fewer. We can’t overdo it. We need to mobilize. The phone number for the Congressional switchboard is (202) 224-3121. If you need contact information for your Congressional delegation, let us know. Thanks so much.

 

September 21, 2017

(ED TECH, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

Speak Up 2017: Why Your District Should Participate

Each year, the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning asks K-12 students, parents, and educators about the role of technology for learning in and out of school. Speak Up is both a national research project and a free service to schools and districts everywhere. Since fall 2003, Speak Up has helped education leaders include the voices of their stakeholders in annual and long-term planning.

Why should your schools participate in Speak Up? 

  • Gain a better understanding of what your school’s technology needs are and make more informed funding decisions.
  • Learn about the aspirations for your teachers for using technology more effectively – and what is holding them back.
  • Find ways to improve school-to-home communications using new technology tools.
  • Ensure that your students and parents have a voice in national, state and local decisions about education.
  • It’s free.

Speak Up 2017 will be open for input from October 16, 2017, through January 19, 2018. Participate at any time during that window.

Surveys take 15-20 minutes to complete. All information is 100 percent confidential. No identifying information is collected. All local data is ONLY shared with the registered primary contact. Registered schools/districts receive all of their data – for free – in February, plus national data for comparison. Speak Up is facilitated by Project Tomorrow, a national education nonprofit organization.

Register today: tomorrow.org/speakup.

September 6, 2017

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

AASA Joins 4 Other National Organizations in Joint Statement Supporting Public Education, Urges Other Organizations to Sign on!

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary Principals, and the National Education Association issue this joint statement in support of public education, and we call on other national education associations to sign on in support. We will use this joint statement to highlight the broad, diverse support that exists for our nation’s public schools as we continue to advocate for federal policy and supports that strengthen our schools and the 50 million students they educate. AASA is including this effort as part of our broader year-long 'I Love Public Education' campaign and we are pleased to have the support of our colleague organizations in this latest effort.

Please join AASA, AFT, NAESP, NASSP, and NEA in supporting this statement. You can join today! Sign up now. 

Joint Statement in Support of Public Education

"We issue this joint statement in support of public education and our continued commitment to the highest quality public education for all students.

"Public education is the foundation of our 21st-century democracy. Our public schools are where our students come to be educated in the fullest sense of the word as citizens of this great country. We strive every day to make every public school a place where we prepare the nation’s young people to contribute to our society, economy and citizenry. 

"Ninety percent of American children attend public schools. We call on local, state and federal lawmakers to prioritize support for strengthening our nation’s public schools and empowering local education leaders to implement, manage and lead school districts in partnership with educators, parents, and other local education stakeholders and learning communities.  This support would also provide for such necessities as counseling, extra/co-curricular activities and mental health supports that are critical to help students engage in learning.

"We support and value inclusive and safe high-quality public schools where children learn to think critically, problem solve and build relationships. We support an environment where all students can succeed beginning in the earliest years, regardless of their zip code, the color of their skin, native language, gender/gender identity, immigration status, religion, or social standing. 

"We promote advancing equity and excellence in public education, and implementing continuous improvement and evidence-based practices. Every child has the right to an education that helps them reach their full potential and to attend schools that offer a high quality educational experience.

"We support stable, equitable, predictable and adequate funding for great public schools for every student in America so that students have inviting classrooms, as well as well-prepared and supported educators. These educators include teachers, paraprofessionals and principals who provide a well-rounded and complete curriculum and create joy in learning. Our school buildings should have class sizes small enough to allow one-on-one attention and have access to support services such as health care, nutrition, and after-school programs for students who need them.

"We believe that public tax dollars should only support public schools that are publicly governed and accountable to parents, educators and communities. In no way should local, state or federal funding be taken away from public schools and given to private schools that are unaccountable to the public. 

"We reiterate our love for public education and pride in our public schools. We will continue to promote the promise and purpose of public education, to elevate the great things happening every day in our public schools, and to engage communities about strategies that help students succeed.  We affirm our commitment to fight for resources and policies that would undermine these values."

Signed this, the 6th day of September, 2017: 

  • AASA, The School Superintendents Association
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • National Association of Secondary Principals
  • National Education Association

 

 

August 28, 2017

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Supporting What Matters: As schools reconvene, will Congress support public education, mirroring public opinion?

Guest blog post by AASA Executive Director Daniel Domenech

The end of summer means the start to another school year. It means time for this year’s annual PDK poll. Each year, for the last 49 years, PDK has polled the public’s attitudes toward public schools, and each year, the results are a telling insight to shifts and mainstays as it relates to public support for public schools. This year is no exception.

When it comes to our nation’s schools, the overarching message from the public remains steady: academic achievement isn’t the only mission, and as such they support investments in career preparation and personal skills. Much like the shift from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was about clarifying that a child is more than a test score, this year’s results echo the idea that a child’s education is more than just academics. 

This summer, AASA launched its ‘I Love Public Education’ campaign, a year-long effort to highlight why public schools are essential to developing the future generations that will maintain our country’s status as a world leader. The campaign is designed to facilitate deliberate conversations and strong, meaningful actions on the efforts to bolster our schools to best support the students they serve. We are working to reshape the current national dialogue on public education to highlight the critical role public schools play as the bedrock of our civic society and their work to prepare students to be successful, contributing members of their local, national and global communities. It’s a campaign central to our work supporting public school superintendents, and it is in strong parallel to a big takeaway from the annual poll, that parents’ main concern remains wanting to ensure their children are prepared for life after they complete high school. 

The public continues to support public schools. We are all too familiar with the quick-draw that negative headlines garner for public schools. But, as the PDK poll has long documented, people support and give good grades to the schools they know. And this year? The proportion of Americans who gave their community’s public schools an A grade is at its highest point in more than 40 years of PDK polling: 15 percent of Americans gave their local schools an A, up from 9 percent a decade ago. In tandem with increased support:

  • 49 percent of Americans gave their local public schools an A or B grade, matching the average since 1999;
  • 22 percent of Americans refer to a lack of funding as the biggest problem facing their local schools;
  • Americans continue to oppose rather than favor using public funds to send students to private school (52 percent to 39 percent), and opposition rises to 61 percent when the issue is discussed with more nuance/detail.

School isn’t the only thing that gets back to session in September. This support for public education will prove critical as Congress returns from their summer work session (sometimes called ‘recess’). With less than 50 work days remaining in the year, there is a lot on their plate. They must address the annual appropriations process and avoid a shut down, and there is a very good chance they will have to navigate the debt ceiling debate. How can Congress invest funding in the career preparation and personal skills of students when the current funding caps are so low—below 2010 levels? Despite the public’s documented support for public schools and non-academic programming, Congress is considering eliminating ESSA Title II and deep cuts to more than a dozen other programs. Layer that on top of an administration that has prioritized investment in privatization and voucher programs—at direct odds with public opinion—and you can see how important the ‘I Love Public Education’ campaign becomes in ensuring that the voices and priorities of the public, and the public schools, are reflected in federal policy.

 

You can access my full statement on the release of the PDK poll here. You can access the full 2017 PDK poll here

August 28, 2017

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Guest Blog: U.S. Superintendents Excited About Their District's Future

This post originally appeared at www.gallup.com/poll/217088/superintendents-excited-district-future.aspx and is posted here with permission.

Guest Blog by Tim Hodges, Gallup

Download the full report for free here: www.gallup.com/reports/217103/gallup-k-12-superintendent-report-201708.aspx

K-12 students returning to class this fall are being welcomed back by leaders who are optimistic about the future of their school district. Eighty-five percent of U.S. public school district superintendents agree or strongly agree that they are excited about their district's future. These attitudes are largely unchanged from 2015, when 86% responded positively to the same question.

While school leaders are largely positive about their local situation, this optimism is much harder to find in their opinions of the overall K-12 public education system. About one in three superintendents agree or strongly agree that they are excited about the future of U.S. public education, down sharply from 44% just two years ago. The percentage who either disagree or strongly disagree is up from 24% to 38%, with those most negative about the future of the nation's public school system increasing from 6% to 15%.

Several factors influence leaders' opinions about the future of education. The latest Gallup survey of superintendents suggests that the most pressing challenges facing school districts are changing.

In the past four years, concern has risen among school leaders about improving the academic performance of underprepared students, and this is now the top concern of those tested. Fiscal challenges remain a significant source of concern for superintendents, as was the case in 2013. Superintendents also report high levels of concern about the effects of poverty on student learning (a question asked for the first time in 2017). Complete results for all issues tested this year appear at the end of this article.

At the same time, concern about meeting rising demands for assessment from the state and federal level has moved down in the rankings. Possibly related to this, revamping curriculum is also less of a concern for school leaders than it was in 2013 -- a time when the Common Core State Standards and new federal legislation increased attention on student assessments.

Bottom Line

Public school superintendents begin the new school year optimistic about their own local district, although they are less confident in the nation's schools overall. Local district leaders still struggle to manage difficult fiscal situations and are increasingly focused on the challenges of reducing achievement gaps for underperforming students and addressing the needs of students in poverty. These and other challenges will continue to have the attention of leaders as the nation's students return to school.

About the Study

Gallup developed this research study of K-12 superintendents of public school districts in the U.S. to understand their opinions on important topics and policy issues facing education. Since 2013, Gallup has conducted the survey at least annually. The 2017 report addresses a variety of issues, including:

  • the workplace engagement of superintendents
  • human capital needs in the district, such as recruiting, selecting and retaining talented teachers and principals
  • factors in teacher performance evaluations
  • federal, state and local education policy issues
  • superintendent-board relations

The full report is available for download here.

SURVEY METHODS

This survey is an attempted census of U.S. public school district superintendents. Gallup used a purchased sample list of 12,432 K-12 school districts across the U.S. to email their superintendents to invite them to participate in a web survey. Gallup conducted 2,326 web interviews from June 15-July 9, 2017, achieving a 19% response rate. The sample of superintendents was weighted to correct for possible nonresponse bias by matching the obtained sample to targets for all U.S. school districts from the National Center for Education Statistics database on district enrollment, geographical region and location of the district in a city, suburb, town or rural area. The weighted sample thus can be projected to represent public school district superintendents nationwide.

 

June 21, 2017

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Rural Education: We’re Stronger Together

The House Rural Education Caucus, under the leadership of Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) hosted a rural education briefing on Capitol Hill, open to hill staff and the broader public.  More than one-half (53%) of the nation’s public school districts are categorized as rural in the 2013-14 NCES Rural Education in America. As public schools educate more than 50 million students each year, it is critical that federal education policies address the needs of all our students, including the unique opportunities and obstacles faced in rural communities.   

  • Nearly 8.9 million students attend rural schools—more than the enrollments of the New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago—and incredibly, the nation’s next 75 largest school districts combined. 
  • More than one in four schools are rural, more than one in six students attend schools in rural areas, and more than one in four rural students is a child of color. At least half of public schools are rural in 13 states.
  • Half the nation’s rural students live in just 10 states. The largest rural enrollments are in Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, Indiana, and Michigan.
  • Half of rural school districts in 23 states have enrollment smaller than 485 students (the national median enrollment for rural districts).  

This briefing highlighted federal education programs critical to supporting rural education, including Impact Aid, the Rural Education Achievement Program, and Secure Rural Schools/Forest Counties, as well as more general federal education policies with impacts on rural communities, including ESSA, Medicaid, Perkins Career/Tech, E-Rate, and federal appropriations.

The materials from the briefing are available below: 

June 7, 2017

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

June Advocacy Challenge, Part 2: ESSA Title II Funding

This month's second advocacy challenge--all about funding for Title II of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)--is  a little different than earlier versions (all available here). For the second June 2017 advocacy challenge, we are asking our members to participate in a coordinated national Title II Day of Action (on June 14) to advocate for the policies that could significantly impact school leaders, principals, teachers, other educators and the students they serve.
AASA is pleased to partner with 
AFSA, NAESP, NASSP, Learning Forward, ASCD, 
and New Leaders for a National Day of Action. This is in response to President Trump's proposed budget for FY18. You can read AASA's full response and analysis on the blog.

                                            3 Simple Ways to Participate in Advocacy on June 14
  1. Send a prewritten letter to Congress: Use our easy advocacy tool to send this pre-drafted letter to Congress about the importance of Title II, Part A of ESSA, which is critical to providing professional development for school leaders and educators. (You can also send a pre-loaded letter using NASSP's Legislative Action Center, which is open to non-NASSP members.)

    Dear ____,

    I am writing as a constituent, as a leader in my school, and as a leader in my community to strongly urge you to provide full funding for the Title II, Part A program in FY 2018.

    As a school leader, I was encouraged when Congress passed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015. ESSA provided new opportunities for schools to invest in principal leadership and support for our previously overlooked profession. In fact, many states have wisely already taken advantage of the optional 3 percent state set aside of Title II, Part A funds for school leadership specific activities.

    Title II already saw a drastic reduction this year when $249 million was cut from the program for FY 2017. Despite these already harmful cuts, President Trump has proposed to completely eliminate funding for Title II, Part A in his FY 2018 Budget Request. This is not only dangerously shortsighted, it would severely disrupt many states’ ESSA implementation plans, and hamper our efforts to increase student achievement.

    Tile II, Part A provides critical funding to states for the purposes of preparing, training, recruiting, and retaining high-quality teachers, principals, assistant principals, and other school leaders. Given the unique role that principals play in ensuring that our nation's teachers are supported, and that our students have a high-quality learning experience through high school in order to be college and career ready, principals must be afforded the necessary opportunities for professional learning and growth as they work to improve teaching and learning in all schools.

    I am extremely disheartened by President Trump's proposal and urge you to fully restore funding for Title II, Part A in FY 2018.

    Thank you for your consideration, and for your support of our nation's educators and students.

    Sincerely,
    [Educator’s name]

  2. Tweet #TitleIIA, #FundTitleIIA @[Senators and Reps]
    Here are some sample tweets you can use:
    • #TitleIIA allows states and districts to improve teaching and school leadership through professional learning
    • #TitleIIA is critical for achieving the goals around equity and excellence in ESSA.
    • Fund #TitleIIA to support increased student achievement by promoting strategies to positively affect teacher and principal effectiveness.
    • Fund #TitleIIA, it is critical for school leaders and principals to do their jobs effectively, cuts threaten this ability
    • Millions of school leaders depend on #TitleIIA to improve schools and instruction in the classroom, fully #FundTitleIIA
    • #ESSA allows states to use 3% of #TitleIIA funds for PD for principals, cutting decreases the chances to seize this opportunity 
    • Fund #TitleIIA and give state #ESSA plans a chance to work!
  3. Call your members in Congress!  Unsure who your Representative is? – Visit the Find Your Representative tool. Unsure what to say? - Here is a script you can use when speaking to staff member of the office.
    • I am a [insert title and organizational affiliation] and I am calling to urge Senator/Representative [insert name here] to restore cuts made to Title II, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which provides principals, school leaders and all educators with specific professional development opportunities. It also provides critical funding to states for the purposes of preparing, training, recruiting, and retaining high-quality teachers, principals, assistant principals, and other school leaders.
    • I am extremely concerned about the deep cuts made to Title II, Part A and believe this will severely disrupt many states’ ESSA implementation plans, and hamper our efforts to increase student achievement.
    • Given the unique role that principals play in ensuring that our nation's teachers are supported, and that our students have a high-quality learning experiences in order to be college and career ready, principals must be afforded the necessary opportunities for professional learning and growth as they work to improve teaching and learning in all schools. 
    • I urge Senator/Representative [insert name] to restore Title II, Part A funding.
     
 

March 3, 2017(1)

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

AASA Advocacy Materials# NCE 2017

Earlier this week, Leslie blogged the details of all the policy sessions at NCE. In this blog post, we're linking to all the relevant content: 

Other Resources

  • We released the March edition of the 2017 Superintendent Advocacy Challenge. Can you commit to touching base with each of your elected officials every month? This month, we are talking E-Rate!
  • Resources and Supports for Schools: DACA Students and Immigration

 

 

February 27, 2017

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Guest Blog Post: DACA Students and Resources for Superintendents & Schools

This guest blog post comes from Jonah Edelman, co-founder and CEO of Stand for Children.

Today 750,000 of our nation’s most promising young adults are living under the threat of deportation.  The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, currently protects these law-abiding young people, brought to the country as children. But the future of DACA is now in doubt, and, without it, DREAMers could be subject to immediate deportation. These DREAMers are students, graduates, and unknown numbers—at least hundreds and more likely thousands—are teachers. 

AASA and more than 2,000 education leaders from across the country have signed on to a letter calling on Congress to take immediate action to extend legal protections to these young adults. Students need these protections to realize their potential and educators need them to continue teaching in our classrooms.

District leaders are speaking out now because they can’t afford to lose teachers like Alexis Torres, who teaches history in the Spring Branch, Texas school district. Torres is exactly the kind of teacher schools work desperately to recruit—bilingual and culturally aware in a school where nearly half of students lack fluency in English. At 23, he’s lived in the United States since he was 5. But absent a protection from deportation, he could be removed at any time.

Fellow Texan Mayte Lara Ibarra managed to rise to become her high school’s valedictorian with a 4.5 GPA. She’s now enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, but the fear of deportation remains a constant. “My whole life I’ve lived with the conversation of, ‘OK what’s going to happen if like your dad or I get deported,’” she told a local TV station.

Young people like Ms. Ibarra and Mr. Torres have played by the rules, working hard to better themselves, support their families, and make their communities stronger. 

Superintendent Tom Boasberg’s district in Denver was one of the first to hire teachers under DACA.  “We hired them because they are excellent teachers who make our kids and our schools better,” Boasberg said.  “To deport talented teachers and students in whom we have invested so much, who have so much to give back to our community, and who are so much a part of our community would be a catastrophic loss."

The stories and success of DREAMers define what it means to live the American dream and removing them would hurt, not benefit, our schools and our nation.

That’s why a growing number education leaders are joining our call for a lasting solution, including the superintendents of some of the largest school districts; the president of a national teachers union; leaders of top public charter school networks and crucial nonprofits; and principals and teacher leaders.

AASA is leading the way as part of this extraordinary alliance of the nation’s leading educators coming together to protect these DREAMers. 

Today, we are asking you to join us by signing the petition at sign.protectdreamers.org.

By taking action together, we can create conditions in which our students and teachers thrive, rather than relegate them to living in fear.

For more information about the petition for DREAMer protections and the full list of signatories, please visit protectdreamers.org.

11 action steps superintendents and school administrators should consider to help protect undocumented students and their families  

  1. Clearly communicate that our schools are welcoming to everyone.  Work with your school board to pass a resolution affirming schools as welcoming places of learning for all students, distancing the schools from enforcement actions that separate families.  Some districts have even declared that they are ICE-free zones/sanctuary schools and have taken the public position that they will not permit entry to law enforcement absent a judicial order.
  2. Identify a point person who can serve as the immigration resource advocate in the district and keep good documentation of any encounters. Encourage the same for each campus.
  3. Determine a process for approving documents to ensure all materials distributed to teachers, support staff, students, families and the community are up-to-date and authored by reputable sources.
  4. Inform students and their families of their rights by distributing “know your rights” materials (or other approved materials) in appropriate languages to stakeholders so they are informed about what to do if a raid occurs or an individual is detained. 
  5. Maintain a list of approved resources, such as the names of social workers, pro bono attorneys and local immigration advocates and organizations, that can be shared with your students and their families.
  6. Partner with a pro bono attorney, legal aid organization or immigrant rights organization to schedule a “know your rights” workshop on campuses to inform students and families about their rights.
  7. Identify or create a local immigration raid rapid response team. These teams usually consist of attorneys, media personnel and community leaders who may be able to provide support.  If there is a local response team, assign a point person for communication on the district staff.
  8. Create a process for what to do if a parent, sibling or student has been detained. This should include providing a safe place for students to wait if their parent/guardian is unable to take them home. Double-check emergency contact info and ensure that you have multiple phone numbers on hand for relatives/guardians in case a student's emergency contact is detained, be prepared to issue a statement condemning raids and calling for the immediate release of students, and consider alternate pickup and drop-off arrangements in case an ICE checkpoint is established near your school. 
  9. Coordinate with other agencies in the community as needed, particularly child protective services if the chance of foster care is increased during this time.
  10. Provide counseling for students who have had a family member detained by ICE.
  11. Train and educate guidance counselors and key staff to help mentor or guide students who are impacted by immigration, including undocumented students applying to college.  

The following links provide additional national resources from immigration experts

  • AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: Know Your Rights Videos  
  • IMMIGRANT LEGAL RESOURCE CENTER: DACA Current Status and Options  
  • IMMIGRATION ADVOCATES NETWORK: Legal Services Directory
    • National directory of more than 950 free or low-cost nonprofit immigration legal services providers in all 50 states.
     
  • UNITED WE DREAM: Deportation Defense Card 
    • Are you prepared if Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents approach you? Download your Deportation Defense Card to Know Your Rights. - English, Spanish, Chinese and KoreanEnglish, Spanish, Chinese and Korean
    • Hotline for learning rights and reporting right violations: 1-844-363-1423
     
  • NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: Educator Resources  
  • NATIONAL IMMIGRATION LAW CENTER: Draft Resolution Language  
  • The U.S. Department of Education has a page dedicated to information and resources for immigrant, refugee, asylee students and families.
    • GUIDE: Supporting Undocumented Youth in Secondary and Postsecondary Settings (Oct 2015)
    • GUIDE: Early Learning Programs, Elementary Schools, and Educators (Jan 2017)
    • Fact Sheet for Families and School Staff: Limitations on DHS Immigration Enforcement Actions at Sensitive Locations (Nov 2015)
    • In general, DHS’s 2011 prioritization memo explained that immigration enforcement actions may not occur at or in “sensitive locations.” These locations include: schools, such as known and licensed daycares, pre-schools and other early learning programs; primary schools; secondary schools; post-secondary schools up to and including colleges and universities; as well as scholastic or education-related activities or events, and school bus stops that are marked and/or known to the officer, during periods when school children are present at the stop.
    • If you believe enforcement action has taken place that is inconsistent with this guidance, file a complaint on the DHS website at https://www.dhs.gov/, the CBP website at https://www.cbp.gov/, or ICE website at https://www.ice.gov/.
    • You may contact ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) through the Detention Reporting and Information Line at (888)351-4024 or through the ERO information email address at ERO.INFO@ice.dhs.gov, also available at https://www.ice.gov/webform/ero-contact-form. The Civil Liberties Division of the ICE Office of Diversity and Civil Rights may be contacted at (202)732-0092 or ICE.Civil.Liberties@ice.dhs.gov.
    • You may contact the CBP Information Center to file a complaint or compliment via phone at 1-877-227-5511, or submit an email through the website at https://help.cbp.gov.
     

 

 

 

 

 

January 5, 2017

(RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

The Advocate, January 2017

by Sasha Pudelski, assistant director, Policy and Advocacy, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

On January 11, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a special education case called Endrew v. Douglas County School District. The case focuses on what level of educational “benefit” a school must offer students with disabilities under IDEA.

For the first time in its 150-plus year history, AASA has chosen to author our own amicus brief for the Supreme Court given the high stakes for school districts if the Court rules in favor of the petitioner (Endrew) and not the respondent (Douglas County School District).

Why are we doing this? If the petitioners prevail, even schools that meticulously abide by IDEA’s extensive procedural requirements would have to be prepared to justify that every student’s IEP is reasonably calculated to provide a “meaningful” or “substantial” educational benefit. Not only would this standard be totally impractical and counter-productive, it would also go against Congressional intent since Congress has never even contemplated redefining the standard set by the courts under Rowley of “some educational benefit” despite several recent reauthorizations.

The background on the Endrew case is as follows: Endrew (“Drew”) is a former student in the Douglas County School District who has been diagnosed with autism. The school district provided Drew with special education and related services under a series of IEPs over several years. After a difficult fourth-grade year, Drew’s parents rejected his proposed fifth-grade IEP and enrolled him in a private school that specializes in educating children with autism.

Drew’s parents then sought reimbursement from the district for his private school tuition on the grounds that he had been denied a free appropriate public education (FAPE). An administrative law judge concluded that Drew’s parents were not entitled to reimbursement because the proposed IEP was procedurally sound and reasonably calculated to provide some educational benefit.

A federal district court upheld that determination. On appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Drew’s parents argued that his IEP had been assessed under the wrong standard. In their view, instead of asking whether the IEP was calculated to provide “some” benefit, the administrative law judge and the district court should have required that it provide a “meaningful” benefit. The Tenth Circuit disagreed. It concluded that it was bound by the Supreme Court’s decision in Board of Education of Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176 (1982), which held that an IEP need offer only “some educational benefit.”

The Obama Administration has weighed in on the case in favor of the petitioner (Endrew) as have numerous disability rights organizations and a few education organizations Can you list an example? The Administration posits that if the current standard, “some educational benefit,” were to remain in place then school districts would be free to offer students with disabilities services for only a few months of the year to demonstrate they are making some progress educationally. This is a ridiculous example and one that shows how little the government itself understands about IDEA and its requirements to provide services for students continually (unless they no longer qualify for the service or special education). It also shows how little faith this Administration has in special education professionals and school leaders’ personal desire to ensure students with disabilities achieve academically regardless of a statutory or judicial standard for educational benefit.

Aside from the fact that the Court has no basis for creating a new standard, which we detail in our brief substantially, there is no ‘workable’ standard beyond the current one, which is “some educational benefit.” The Government and the Petitioner would require courts to evaluate the level of education an IEP is designed to provide—either to assess whether it would be substantially equivalent to that afforded other children or to assess whether it would reflect significant progress for that particular child. A court cannot appropriately evaluate the level of education an IEP would provide without judging the quality of educational methods and services: How good are the teachers? How effective are their methods? What difference would smaller class sizes make? Would limited dollars be better spent elsewhere? This kind of second-guessing by courts and the level of scrutiny required in every due process case would lead to outrageous hearing lengths as well as completely subjective decisions by individuals who are not education experts by any stretch.

What does that mean practically speaking? Districts will be in a constant cycle of evaluating and re-evaluating students to ensure they are making “enough” progress, an increased focus on IDEA paperwork and compliance, and greater likelihoods of settlements with parents to avoid even more costly and lengthy litigation. The financial, practical and administrative implications for districts if the Court rules in favor of the petitioner cannot be understated. AASA will attend the hearing on January 11 and will share any relevant insights or summaries on the Leading Edge blog. The Court is expected to rule in late Spring. We will keep you informed of the decision. 

November 2, 2016

(ESEA, E-RATE, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED TECH, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

School Technology Makes Progress, Yet Challenges Remain—AASA & CoSN’s 2016 Infrastructure Survey

School systems in the United States are making progress in increasing broadband connectivity and Wi-Fi in classrooms. However, significant hurdles remain before all students are able to experience a digitally-enabled learning environment. These are the findings revealed today in CoSN’s 2016 Annual E-rate and Infrastructure Survey, a report conducted in partnership with AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and MDR.

Gathering insights from K-12 school administrators and technology directors nationwide, the report addresses key areas of concern for school districts, including affordability, network speed and capacity, reliability and competition, digital equity, security and cloud-based services. 

“The good news is districts are making real progress in supporting modern technology infrastructure. However, it remains clear that more work and investment are needed over the long run to address the digital equity challenge of today and provide robust broadband connectivity for all students in and outside of school,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. 

Progress: School systems have progressed toward meeting the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) short-term goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students. Today 68 percent of the school districts fully meet the minimum Internet bandwidth recommendations in every one of their schools (it climbs to 80 percent of districts having three-fourths of their schools at this immediate connectivity goal). The 68 percent fully achieving the goal today is up from just 19 percent in 2013. 

The survey also shows increased reliability in Wi-Fi, which is now largely ubiquitous in high schools – only 6 percent lack Wi-Fi. In 2016, 81 percent of survey respondents indicated that they were very confident or somewhat confident in their Wi-Fi, a significant improvement over previous years.

Remaining Challenges: Despite this progress, school leaders also reported that affordability remains the biggest barrier to establishing strong connectivity in schools and that digital equity is a major priority. 

School districts are also largely not meeting the FCC’s long-term goal of 1 Gbps per 1,000 students. Only 15 percent of school districts report having 100 percent of schools reaching this goal, and that is consistent across urban, rural and suburban districts. School system leaders are divided about whether the long-term goal is too ambitious or about right.

School leaders project significant Internet bandwidth growth (100 to 500-plus percent increase) over the next 18 months, especially in urban (37 percent) and suburban (31 percent) districts. School leaders also project that nearly two-thirds of all students will use two or more devices at school within the next three years—an increase from 21 percent of students today. 

“The 2016 E-Rate and Infrastructure Survey demonstrates that we are making progress in bringing broadband infrastructure to our schools and in meeting our short-term bandwidth connectivity goals. This is welcome news,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. “At the same time, however, the survey shows that challenges remain. In particular, we must continue to raise awareness and come up with strategies to overcome the ‘Homework Gap,’ which is the cruelest part of our new digital divide. Thanks to CoSN, AASA, and MDR for this year’s survey, which continues to shine a spotlight on the state of infrastructure necessary to support digital learning across the country.”

“The findings of this year’s infrastructure report highlight the important work of the ongoing effort to expand school connectivity and the opportunity to use this expanded connectivity in schools to support student learning as schools transition to implementation of the reauthorized Every Student Succeeds Act. The findings of this survey—both where progress has been made and where there is continued room for growth—are in strong parallel to the underlying improvements of ESSA and the responsibility state and local education agencies will play in leveraging expanded decision-making authority into meaningful learning opportunities for their students. Also, for addressing equitable educational opportunities, including those tied directly to connectivity, including equitable access both in and outside of school,” said Daniel A. Domenech, who serves as Executive Director for AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and a member of the Universal Service Administrative Company Board of Directors.

Further details as well as additional challenges and priorities identified by school system leaders follow:  
  • Affordability
    • Recurring Expenses a High Hurdle. This year, 57 percent of school leaders identified the cost of ongoing recurring expenses as the biggest barrier to robust connectivity—up from 46 percent last year. 
    • Monthly Costs Going Down. The cost for monthly Internet connection showed significant improvement, with nearly one-half of respondents reporting low monthly costs (less than $5 per Mbps). This is a steady improvement from 36 percent in 2015 and 27 percent in 2014.
  • Lack of Competition
    • Lack of Competition Magnified Rurally. More than half (54 percent) of rural district leaders reported that only one provider sells Internet to their school system, and 40 percent of rural respondents reported receiving one or fewer qualified proposals for broadband services in 2016. This marks no progress from last year. 
  • Digital Equity
    • Digital Equity Atop the List. Among the school leaders surveyed, 42 percent ranked addressing digital equity / lack of broadband access outside of school as a “very high priority.” 
    • Strategies Needed. Nearly two-thirds of school system leaders, however, revealed that they do not have any strategies for providing off-campus connectivity to students. This is only a slight improvement over previous years.
  • Security
    • Small Investment in Security. Nearly half of school system leaders spend less than 4 percent of their entire technology budget on security. 
    • Phishing Top Security Concern. The largest security concern for school leaders is phishing (with 19 percent citing it as a high risk), with denial of service and ransomware rated equally as threats (9 percent).  
  • Cloud-Based Services
    • Server Migration Increasing. Approximately 40 percent of school districts are considering migrating their server infrastructure to the cloud. 
    • Learning Management Systems Tops Cloud Deployment. Nearly 60 percent of school system leaders stated that learning management systems make up the largest cloud deployment, followed by student information systems. 

Conducted in August 2016, the 2016 Annual E-rate and Infrastructure Survey collected 567 responses from district administrators and technology leaders serving urban, suburban and rural school system in 48 states and the District of Columbia. 

“MDR is excited to once again partner with an organization committed to identifying and solving the challenges associated with technology and education,” said Kristina James, MDR Director of Marketing. “Current MDR research shows that 75 percent of districts rated wireless networks as their top technology priority, the sixth year in a row that wireless networks have topped their priority list, reflecting the shift to digital and districts’ interest in being able to personalize learning for all students. This year’s CoSN survey illustrates the same desire, while highlighting the barriers districts need to overcome, to continue making progress towards this shift.”

To read the full report, please visit: www.cosn.org/infrastructure2016  

October 21, 2016(1)

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

After Nearly a Decade, School Investments Still Way Down in Some States

Earlier this week, our friends at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an updated version of their report detailing trends on investment in education. In a nutshell, as the title reveals, after nearly a decade, school investments still way down in some states. You can read the full report here, and we have pulled a few highlights for your quick review:

  • At least 23 states will provide less “general” or “formula” funding — the primary form of state support for elementary and secondary schools — in the current school year than in 2008.
  • Eight states have cut general funding per student by about 10 percent or more over this period.
  • Thirty-five states provided less overall state funding per student in the 2014 school year (the most recent year available) than in the 2008 school year, before the recession took hold.
The report is a very thorough walk through of trends in state and local funding in education and includes some very helpful and visually powerful charts detailing these trends. You can also take a look at the report's webpage.

 

September 6, 2016

(RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

Legislative Corps Recess Wrap-Up

Last week, we sent the following wrap-up of recess in our Legislative Corps newsletter. If you did not receive it and are interested in receiving future editions, please email lfinnan@aasa.org.

SEPTEMBER 1, 2016

As you are opening your schools for the year, Congress's summer vacation is also winding to a close. Stay tuned for an email next week with what you should look forward to as they get back to town. 

Insure All Children Toolkit

Yesterday, USED Secretary King and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell joined with AASA and the Children’s Defense Fund to promote a new toolkit, Insure All Children. This toolkit has five sections each focused on specific steps required of school district administrators to ensure uninsured children who are eligible for health insurance enroll, from building a team to enrolling students to sustaining the program for the future.

The toolkit can be accessed at insureallchildren.org. Find a video of the event with Secretaries King and Burwell here and AASA’s press release here.

Americans' Views on Education

Two major polls were recently released, illustrating how Americans view public education. The 15th annual PDK poll showed a slight increase in the view of the nation’s schools and respondents’ views of their local schools: 48% gave their local schools an A or a B, while 24% said the same of schools across the nation. Consistent with former years, respondents agreed that lack of funding is the top problem schools are facing. Read our summary here or the full report here.

EducationNext also released their 10th annual poll, which showed a decline in support for Common Core, down to just 50% supporting the standards. The report also showed strong support for standardized testing, with 73% approving of uniform testing and 70% opposed to opting out. School choice received mixed responses: charter schools maintained strong support (65%), while support for private school vouchers has dropped 12% since 2012. Read our summary here or the full report here.

Transgender Guidance Halted by Judge

A federal judge has halted President Obama’s transgender guidance that requires schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom of their choice, while 13 states challenge the order in court. Read more here.

Ed Groups Oppose FBI Program

Education groups, including AASA, sent a letter criticizing the FBI for its program design to prevent the spread of “violent extremism” in schools. The program racially targets Muslim and Middle Eastern students, and adds to growing discrimination they already face. The letter can be accessed here.

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 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 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.

 

July 19, 2016

(ESEA, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, GUEST BLOGS) Permanent link

Moving Beyond Pilot Phase: District Conditions for Scaling Personalized Learning

Today's guest blog post comes from Matt Williams, Vice President of Policy & Advocacy at KnowledgeWorks and features their latest report, District Conditions for Scale.

KnowledgeWorks is a social enterprise focused on ensuring that every student experiences meaningful personalized learning that allows him or her to thrive in college, career and civic life. By offering a portfolio of innovative education approaches and advancing aligned policies, KnowledgeWorks seeks to activate and develop the capacity of communities and educators to build and sustain vibrant learning ecosystems that allow each student to thrive.

The District Conditions for Scale were constructed upon the hard won lessons of district level trailblazers from across the country. These district leaders piloted, assessed, recalibrated, and scaled without an instruction manual. KnowledgeWorks interviewed over 30 district leaders from across the country in an effort to refine, align, and validate the conditions against what is working in the field. The conditions and the cross cutting meta-themes provide a framework for district leaders to scale personalized learning.

Personalized learning is stuck in the school pilot phase. There are countless examples of personalized learning environments and schools from coast to coast. We have all seen that great school and the world of possibilities it offers for the students that attend the school. But how do we move from the isolated examples to whole systems designed around providing personalized learning options for all students? How do we build a school system, a learning system, with personalized learning at the core?

One important step in this work is to identify the conditions of scale that exist at a district level. KnowledgeWorks released District Conditions for Scale: A Practical Guide to Scaling Personalized Learning. The report focuses on the conditions that a K-12 school district should put in place to support the scaling of personalized learning. The conditions that we put forth and examine are based on interviews with district leaders from across the country that are leading system level change around personalized learning. 

One might ask why focus on scaling personalized learning at the district level? First, the district level is closest to the schools and thus the students as well as to the educators. Moreover, the district level has the most control over system vision, curriculum, and instruction, as well as formative assessment and student supports. Secondly, by solving for scale at the district level we gain a clearer vision for what supportive and catalytic policy can look like at both the state and federal level creating a better aligned, more supportive education system that is oriented towards putting the student at the center of the system. 

The conditions themselves aren’t rocket science or even unfamiliar ranging from curriculum to instruction, from student supports to professional development, from learning environments to leadership development. What gives the conditions their power is a predisposed drive towards personalized learning as well as cross cutting meta-themes. Several meta-themes emerged as the interviewees discussed their experiences: 

Vision: Included in all comments from district leaders, directly or indirectly, was the idea of an aligned vision. All parts of a district should be aligned to the vision, including professional development, the selection of curriculum and instructional practices, and the process of innovation. While it was assumed that the vision would include student achievement, district leaders focused on the general idea of having a vision rather than the specifics of their districts’ visions.

Culture: The shared vision of a district clearly informs the system culture that a district will establish. For many of the district leaders, a key element of culture is expectations around innovation. Many of the districts were forced to make changes with no additional, or in some cases decreased, resources and money. As a result, innovative thinking is an expectation at all levels, including in partnerships, and especially encouraged at the school level. District leaders emphasized the importance of continuous improvement and fixing problems immediately.

Transparency: Resulting from the notion that members of the education community must feel safe to make mistakes, transparency was another overarching theme of interviews with district leaders. Districts need to be transparent to the board, unions, parents, partners, and the public. 

The District Conditions were constructed upon the hard won lessons of district level trailblazers from across the country. These district leaders piloted, assessed, recalibrated, and scaled without an instruction manual. It is our hope that these conditions begin to help districts from across the country implement a more aligned, supportive education system that is oriented towards putting the student at the center of the system through an expressed focus on personalized learning. 

June 24, 2016

(E-RATE, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED TECH, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, GUEST BLOGS) Permanent link

Reversing the Bandwidth Crunch: Helping School Systems to Accelerate Connectivity with Fiber

This guest blog post comes from our friends at CoSN and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Like never before, large and small schools are taking advantage of technology tools to blend and personalize the learning experience. This encouraging growth in demand, however, is increasing their connectivity needs—and schools are feeling a bandwidth crunch.

How big of a crunch? 

According to a recent CoSN survey, 68 percent of district technology officers believe their school systems do not have the bandwidth to meet their district’s connectivity demands in the next 18 months. K-12 broadband demands, meanwhile, are growing at an annual rate of more than 50 percent

Fortunately, K-12 schools last year received a big (and modern!) boost from the federal E-Rate program. Nearly $4 billion in federal funding is now available through the program to better connect schools and libraries—funding that will directly support the expenses for receiving high-quality connectivity. 

To give school system leaders the guidance to leverage the E-Rate program’s expanded offerings and accelerate their high-quality fiber connectivity, CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University have produced a new toolkit. 

Maximizing K-12 Fiber Connectivity Through E-Rate: An Overview includes three parts for school leaders:

 

  • Part One, which provides an overview of the E-Rate program and the types of fiber eligible through the program. Through case studies, it also shares how three school systems managed their fiber connectivity challenges.
  • Part Two, which describes important considerations for schools to assess their options. It also includes an additional case study that details how a school district’s E-Rate reimbursement for a fiber “self-build” could support wider fiber build-out.
  • Part Three, which issues a call to action for school systems to begin taking measurable steps toward deciding on and making effective use of today’s fiber connectivity options.

We encourage you to learn more about this modern resource for modern connectivity at: CoSN.org/SEND.

 

CoSN is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. To learn more, visit: cosn.org.

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is dedicated to exploring, understanding, and shaping the development of the digitally-networked environment. To learn more, visit: cyber.law.harvard.edu.

 

 

 

June 6, 2016

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

The Advocate, June 2016

by Sasha Pudelski, assistant director, policy & advocacy, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Racial and ethnic disproportionality in special education is a complex issue that cannot be solved quickly or easily. It differs dramatically both across and within districts and states, and is linked to district finances, student and community demographics, and teacher and administrator training and capacity.

Recent federal investigations have determined that states are not appropriately identifying districts that have significant racial and ethnic disproportionality in special education. As a result, the U.S. Department of Education proposed regulations this spring that would dramatically increase the number of states and districts that must set-aside IDEA Part B funding to remedy significant racial and ethnic disproportionality.

Based on the Department’s projections, 23 states will require between 50-80 percent of all districts to set aside 15 percent of their federal share for early intervening services to remedy significant racial and ethnic disproportionality in at least one disability, educational environment or discipline category. Given the under-funding of IDEA and the lack of resources to address special education at the state and local levels, the financial consequences of requiring districts to redirect federal resources away from the provision of special education and related services and towards early intervening services cannot be understated.

One of the most deeply concerning aspects of the proposed regulation is that it would require the calculation of significant disproportionality to be accomplished through a cell size of 10 students. The Department argues that this cell-size for a subgroup of students is appropriate and will lead to many more districts being labeled as having significant racial and ethnic disproportionality. We certainly concur with this conclusion but believe that using a cell size of 10 will require many districts to set aside resources to address a problem they do not need to solve. In particular, small rural districts will be greatly impacted by the use of a cell size of 10. A large family moving in and out of a district could influence whether or not they have access to 15 percent of its IDEA funds for special education services.

AASA also raised concernswith how districts with specialized programs would be impacted by the new regulation as well as districts with robust open-enrollment policies, a substantial population of migrant students or students in foster care, or districts that have experienced a major health or environmental crisis. A review of comments in response to the proposed regulations found that the vast majority of comments were negative and were written by school leaders, school personnel and school groups. It is our hope that the Department considers this feedback from the education community before promulgating these regulations.

AASA acknowledges the current system of measuring significant disproportionality must be reconsidered, as 21 states failed to find any districts as having significant disproportionality. But, more of the same does not make sound public policy. It is unknown whether districts that have set-aside IDEA funds for early intervening services to address this complicated issue have found much success through this approach.

It’s clear that researchers have yet to find a silver bullet solution to reduce significant disproportionality in identification and placement, although progress has been made on discipline. The approach districts must take to address disproportionality is multifaceted and requires resources that most lack.

The Department’s sledgehammer regulatory approach may only exacerbate inequities in school resources, which is the root problem facing districts with significant racial and ethnic disproportionality. As we urge Congress to take up the reauthorization of IDEA, addressing this important problem in a meaningful and reasonable way will be a top priority for AASA.

As we look towards reauthorization, AASA has launched a new blog called A New IDEA to share thoughtful ideas about the reauthorization of IDEA by legal experts, practitioners and special education researchers.

May 17, 2016

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Guest Blog Post: Don’t Be Tricked by the Reading Paradox

Today's guest blog post comes from Lisa Hansel and Robert Pondiscio of Knowledge Matters

A paradox lies at the heart of efforts to raise reading achievement: If elementary schools make more time for explicit reading instruction by taking time away from science, social studies, and the arts, they are more likely to slow children’s growth in reading comprehension than to increase it. This slowing might not be apparent right away; it might not be apparent in the elementary grades at all. But in later grades—when students are expected to read historical speeches or science textbooks or biographies of artists—they will struggle. 

Reading comprehension is not a “skill” like riding a bike or throwing a ball. The ability to make meaning from text is best thought of as a reflection of a child’s overall education. You need to know a little bit about the subject matter—and sometimes a lot—to make sense of what you’re reading about. Thus, broad reading comprehension depends on a broad education, rich in science, social studies, and the arts—not just reading.

At its heart, the reading achievement gap is an opportunity gap. Think of knowledge and vocabulary like compound interest: If one kindergartner comes to school having heard 30 million more words than a less-fortunate peer, the “interest” on her knowledge and vocabulary allows her to grow richer still; the child with less academic knowledge and vocabulary falls further behind day after day. Low-income children are equally capable of learning as their more-fortunate peers, but have far fewer opportunities to be immersed in academic subject matter and enrichment. 

As Nell K. Duke, one of the nation’s top reading researchers, and Meghan Block wrote in The Future of Children: “Perhaps the greatest obstacle to improving primary-grade reading is a short-term orientation toward instruction and instructional reform. When the aim is to show reading improvements in a short period of time, spending large amounts of time on word-reading skill and its foundations, and relatively little on comprehension, vocabulary, and conceptual and content knowledge, makes sense…. Yet the long-term consequences of failing to attend to these areas cannot be overstated.”

District leaders must do everything in their power to ensure all children, but particularly those in low socioeconomic status families, benefit from a knowledge-rich curriculum from the earliest possible moment. They must not be tricked by the reading paradox.

Lisa Hansel is director of Knowledge Matters, a new campaign to restore wonder and excitement to the classroom by building broad knowledge in science, social studies, and the arts. Previously, she was the editor of American Educator, the magazine of education research and ideas published by the American Federation of Teachers. Robert Pondiscio is executive director of Knowledge Matters and also senior fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Previously, he was a 5th grade teacher at a South Bronx public school.

April 13, 2016

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AASA ESSA Resource on Transportation for Students in Foster Care

AASA, in collaboration with the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, has released a guide on the new ESSA provisions focused on transportation for students in foster care. In contrast to the majority of assessment, accountability and funding provisions in ESSA which are effective beginning the 2017-2018 school year, ESSA’s foster caretransportation provisions are effective December 2016. This guide willhelp you understand the responsibilities both child welfare agencies and school districts have for transporting children in foster care, specifically which aspects are optional and which aspects are requirements. In addition, we provide a series of questions to guide the development of local transportation procedures.  This is the first of many ESSA resources we will producing for AASA members.

 

February 19, 2016

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AASA 2016 Legislative Agenda Adopted

Last week, the AASA Governing Board adopted the 2016 Legislative Agenda. Last year's successful reauthorization of ESEA brought about a significant change in the structure of the legislative agenda. In previous years, we have organized our positions by topic area: ESEA, IDEA, student data and privacy, etc. This year, we reorganized our legislative agenda into sections around policy goals rather than topics. Since many of our goals are shared among different topics, we were able to streamline the legislative agenda through this reorganization. 

Our positioning remains steady throughout this agenda. Some of the main priorities continue to be equity, an appropriate federal/state/local balance, adequate funding and a focus on the total child. 

Find the new legislative agenda here, and a tri-fold summary which is perfect for sharing with your legislators here, with a printable version here

February 11, 2016

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2015 Superintendent Salary and Benefits Study Released

Today, AASA released the fourth edition of the Superintendent Salary and BenefitsStudy. Some of this year’s survey's key findings included: 

    • Base salaries ranged from $55,000 to $322,171, with a median of $131,000 and an average of $140,021.
    • Respondents are predominately male (80 percent), White (92 percent) and from intermediate-sized districts (300-2,499 students, 52 percent) regardless of their gender.
    • Female respondents were, on average, older than male respondents (55 to 53 respectively).
    • A four-year trend of improving economic conditions continues. Slightly more than half of the respondents (53 percent) reported their districts’ economic conditions as stable, which holds steady from 2014; this has increased from 50 percent in 2013 and 45 percent in 2012.

This year saw an increase in benefits, including contribution to retirement plans or annuities, medical coverage, and family medical coverage as well as a marked increase in the payment of national organization membership.

The use of legal counsel also increased this year. Legal services are used by boards 60 percent of the time, and by superintendents 25 percent of the time. Both of these are increases from previous years.

AASA members will receive a full members-only report, including a rich list of unique contract provisions via email today. A public version of the survey is available here.

Please contact Leslie Finnan, AASA senior legislative analyst, at lfinnan@aasa.org with any questions.

January 15, 2016

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USED & HHS Release Guidance Highlighting High Impact Opportunities to Support Healthy Students

In a new letter sent today to governors, chief state school officers, state health officials and state Medicaid directors, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) recognize the critical role that healthcare coverage and health services play in ensuring all students are ready and able to learn, and recommend action steps to better coordinate health and education services for all students and their families.

ED and HHS also released a new toolkit that details five high impact opportunities for states and local school districts to support stronger communities through collaboration education and health sectors, highlighting best practices and key research in both areas.  

The letter and toolkit are available at www.ed.gov/healthystudents. For additional enrollment information visit: www.healthcare.gov

Healthy Students, Promising Futures (PDF) provides state and local action steps/practices that can improve school-based health. It outlines 5 specific high-impact opportunities, listed below.

 

December 22, 2015

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Legislative Corps Newsletter from December 22

Please enjoy this week's edition of the Legislative Corps newsletter. In this newsletter, we keep you updated on activities on the Hill and the Department. If you are a member and are not receiving the newsletter, email me at lfinnan@aasa.org to get added to the list. 

The Every Student Succeeds Act is Signed into Law

On December 10, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This marks the end of the No Child Left Behind era. We have written extensively of the new law here and will continue to provide updates as more is released through regulations and as more is known in implementation. For more information, you can also check out an AASA presentation and a webinar on ESSA implementation.

Obama Signs Omnibus Spending Bill

Last week, President Obama signed a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year 2016, officially avoiding a shutdown this year. The bill includes slight increases to education – a $1.2 billion increase overall. It includes a $500 million increase to Title I and a $415 million increase to IDEA as well as increases in Head Start, charter school grants, NAEP, rural education and others. School Improvement Grant funding was cut and Investing in Innovation (i3) was flat-funded. The Committee on Education Funding put out a table of the spending levels, available here.   

While not funding-related, the bill also included a two year delay for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act Excise (“Cadillac”) Tax and an extension of the E-Rate Anti-Deficiency Act exemption through 2017.

Tax Extender Bill

Along with the Omnibus bill, Obama also signed a law extending several tax breaks. This law includes three education-related tax cuts. First is the allowance for teachers who spend their own money on supplies for the classroom to take a $250 deduction. Also made permanent is the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides up to $2,500 a year in tax credits for eligible college students. Finally, the tax package includes a two-year extension of the Qualified Zone Academy Bond program providing $400 million in QZAB bond allocations per year in 2015 and 2016 to the states and school districts for school renovation and repair.

AASA Reports

Economic Impact Survey: Education Cuts Have Yet to Heal: How the Economic Recession Continues to Impact Our Nation’s Schools

AASA Releases 5-Year Study on the American School Superintendent

Education Groups Applaud 1-Year Anniversary of FCC Vote to Modernize E-Rate  

Looking Ahead to 2016

While Congress got a lot done in the last month of 2015, they are promising an eventful 2016 as well. The Senate HELP Committee is expected to introduce a bipartisan proposal to reauthorize the Perkins CTE Act in January. AASA's Perkins reauthorization recommendations can be accessed here.   

The Senate Agriculture Committee is also expected to release a child nutrition reauthorization in January or early February.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will likely shift attention to the Lifeline Order (related to closing the homework gap, with activity expected in Feb/March) and the Education Broadband Services (EBS) program, though that likely falls low on the totem pole.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has emerged, once again, on the issue of regulations related to PCBs in light ballasts, which would impact municipal buildings, including schools. Want a refresher? Check out this blog post from March 2014.  

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has indicated an interest in reversing course on seat belts on school buses, pushing regulation through if districts don’t abide by their recommendations.  We are concerned about this for a number of reasons, which we will make known.

We look forward to keeping you updated on these and any other issues in the New Year. Happy holidays from the whole AASA advocacy team!

 

December 21, 2015(2)

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2015 Advocacy Wrap Up


This item is cross posted from our final 2015 Advocacy Update. It covers ESSA, appropriations (including tax extenders and a few other riders) as well as a look forward at what to expect in 2016. As always, don't hesitate to contact us with any questions.

ESSA: Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, bring the 8+ year effort to reauthorize No Child Left Behind to a close. We have covered the contents of the bill extensively on the blog. You can access an AASA slide show (with audio) with an overview of ESSA, as well as view an archive of Implementing ESSA: What to Expect in 2016, hosted by the Fordham Institute and featuring AASA advocacy.
 
Specific to rural and RNEAC priorities, we want to flag four things:
  • Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP): REAP was reauthorized as a standalone program with changes endorsed by NREAC and AASA, including adjusting the sliding scale, updating locale codes, and allowing recipients to choose which program  the receive funding under.
  • USED Rural Study: ESSA requires USED to conduct a study to determine how they serve rural communities.
  • Consolidated Grant Applications: Rural schools can now submit consolidated grant applications. While this has been practice in some states (including Colorado), this codifies the practice for all states and gives cover to local education agencies and educational service agencies working to exercise this flexibility.
  • Title I Formula: The Title I formula remains unchanged. NREAC was at the front of the push for a Title I formula rewrite, forcing the conversation about how to best ensure that Title I dollars are allocated in a manner that focuses on concentration of poverty. Our championed approach (the All Children Are Equal Act, by Rep Glenn Thompson, R-PA) was the basis of what was included in the House bill, but varied from the Senate proposal. The final bill maintained the current formula, did NOT update the quintiles, and requires Congress to conduct a study of the title I formula, its various weighting mechanism, how they do (not) target dollars to the neediest schools, and how they impact small/large/urban/rural schools.
The next push related to ESSA will be implementation, which will include regulations and guidance to further flesh out federal definitions and parameters. USED released a Dear Colleague Letter to State Education Agencies (SEAs) and published a Request for Information (RFI) seeking advice and recommendations concerning topics under Title I of the new law for which regulations are required/expected. It is an important opportunity for stakeholders—like AASA—to provide specific feedback on what those regulations should establish and require.

Appropriations: Congress avoided a shutdown. Congress had failed to complete its appropriations work before the federal fiscal year expired on September 30, and had adopted a short term continuing resolution that expired on December 11. They punted with one more 5-day CR before adopting a final omnibus spending bill. The final FY16 bill totals $1.1 trillion and includes slight increases to education, with discretionary education funding increasing by just over $1.1 billion. AASA continues to serve on the board, and as the past president, of the Committee for Education Funding, which released a table of spending levels.

Tax Extenders: The omnibus did not pass on its own; it was coupled with a package of tax extenders, including three we want to flag for you here:
  • The extenders package permanently extend the teacher tax credit, allowing educators to claim a $250 deduction, allows it to increase for inflation and expands the credit to cover both classroom supplies and professional development courses for educators.
  • The second related tax extender is the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides up to $2,500 a year in tax credits for eligible college students.
  • The tax package includes a two-year extension of the Qualified Zone Academy Bond program providing $400 million in QZAB bond allocations per year in 2015 and 2016 to the states and school districts for school renovation and repair.  

Also in the omnibus, but not necessarily funding or tax related: The bill delayed (for two years) the implementation of the Excise (“Cadillac”) Tax under the Affordable Care Act and extends the E-Rate exemption from the Anti-Deficiency Act through 2017. When it comes to school nutrition, the omnibus maintains the language from prior appropriations legislation that allows waivers of the whole grain requirement and postpones full implementation of the sodium requirement. Also, there had been a push to include Child Nutrition Reauthorization on the omnibus, a move that ultimately failed. CNR is expected to be considered early next year under “regular order” with a markup in the Senate Agriculture Committee on a free-standing bill.

Looking Ahead to 2016: Agencies

 

  • AASA: AASA is working very deliberately on a suite of member and state affiliate supports to position school superintendents as the go-to source for ESSA implementation at the local level. Stay tuned.
  • Agencies
    • USED: USED will be busy with regulations related to ESSA. This will include a coordinated effort with LHHS for the new early education program.
    • Federal Communications Commission: As Commissioner Wheeler enters his final year, his staff are working to determine what priorities he will tackle, and we will be keeping an eye on the Lifeline Order (related to closing the homework gap, with activity expected in Feb/March) and the Education Broadband Services (EBS) program, though that likely falls low on the totem pole.
    • Environmental Protection Agency: The EPA has emerged, once again, on the issue of regulations related to PCBs in light ballasts, which would impact municipal buildings, including schools. Want a refresher? Check out this blog post from March 2014.
    • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: The Obama administration has indicated an interest in reversing course on seat belts on school buses, pushing regulation through if districts don’t abide by their recommendations.  This position change is extremely concerning for our members on multiple levels, primarily with the obvious question about liability and the increased costs to schools to purchase new buses or retrofit their current fleets. There is also great concern that seat belts cause as many problems as they solve in regards to safety. Stay tuned.
     

Other:

 

 

 

December 9, 2015

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Study of the American Superintendent: 2015 Mid-Decade Update

Today, AASA, The School Superintendents Association, released the Study of the American Superintendent:2015 Mid-Decade Update to follow up on The American School Superintendent: 2010 Decennial Study, a comprehensive study on the demographics, background and experiences of American school superintendents. 

This year’s report includes a supplementary section on gender and the superintendency. Some of the report’s key findings include:

  • The pattern of an aging superintendency continues from the 2010 study; one-third of superintendents plan to retire within five years.
  • While increases have been made throughout the years, females only make up 27 percent of the superintendency, up only 2 percent from 2010. This stands in direct contrast to the female-dominated teaching force.
  • Superintendents most often see politics as inhibiting their performance, with school board members, staff and community as the greatest contributors.
  • Career satisfaction remains high; over 80 percent of present superintendents would choose to be a superintendent again. This number is lower for female superintendents, at 78 percent.

 

A summary of findings is available here. Members can access the full report here.

Any questions can be directed to me at lfinnan@aasa.org.

October 29, 2015

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Flurry of USED Resources

In the last few weeks, USED has flexed its paper-pushing muscles, releasing a variety of ‘Dear Colleague’ letters/resources/documents. We’ve captured a handful of them here in an effort to get them on your radar:

  • Chronic Absenteeism: The administration announced Every Student, Every Day: A National Initiative to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism. It is designed as a joint effort amongthe White House, U.S. Departments of Education (ED), Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Justice (DOJ) to combat chronic absenteeism. It will call on states and local communities across the country to join in taking immediate action to address and eliminate chronic absenteeism by at least 10 percent each year, beginning in the current school year (2015-16). The available resources include a Dear Colleague letter, a resource toolkit, and a fact sheet. Read related press release.
  • Testing: In a rather unanticipated move, the Administration release its Testing Action Plan, a push for ‘fewer and smarter assessments’. Keeping in mind that this is the same administration that had a line in the sand over maintaining annual assessment in ESEA reauthorization discussions, they are now messaging about ways to reduce over-testing. USED will review its policies to address any places where the Administration may have contributed to the problem of overemphasis on testing burdening classroom time. They encourage state and local education agencies to work in a similar manner, and message on ESEA, suggesting a cap on testing time, better information for parents, use of multiple measures and supporting state/local assessment audits.   Read AASA’s response to the proposal. You can read full detail and the fact sheet here.
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Resource Guide: USED released this set of resources to help educators, schools leaders and communities/community organizations better support undocumented youth. The effort is aimed at debunking misconceptions by clarifying the legal rights of undocumented students. The reality is that the action of K12 schools here is pretty clear: you cannot ask a child their legal status. The impact of this resource guide is more notable for higher education actors. Read the Superintendent Dear Colleague Letter. Read the DACA Press Release.
  • Graduation Rates: USED released updated graduation rate information, showing that states continue to increase high school graduation rates and narrow the gap for traditionally underserved students, including low-income students, minority students, students with disabilities and English learners. States that saw the biggest gains include Delaware, Alabama, Oregon, West Virginia and Illinois. Through the press release, you can access the provisional data files for 2012-13 and 2013-14.
  • USED Statement on Learning Disabilities: In a blog post, released guidance to state and local education agencies clarifying that students with specific learning disabilities — such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia — have unique educational needs. It further clarifies that there is nothing in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in a student’s evaluation, determination of eligibility for special education and related services, or in developing the student’s individualized education program (IEP).  We read this as ‘You are neither mandated to do this, nor forbidden from doing this. As you were, unless you want to change.’ If anything, it gives cover to those IEP teams who wanted to go further in clarifying/identifying these specific disabilities in an IEP, and clarifies when that is appropriate.
  • Pell Grants for Dual Enrollment: The department also released information about an experimental dual enrollment project today. In this pilot, the Department would allow students to use Pell grants for dual enrollment courses while in high school. The courses must apply toward a potential post-secondary (Bachelors or Associates) degree to be eligible. This is part of the administration's efforts to keep college costs down and increase access to post-secondary opportunities.

October 28, 2015

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AASA Statement On The Decline In 2015 National NAEP Scores

Today, the National Center on Education Statistics (NCES) released The Nation’s Report Card: 2015 Mathematics and ReadingThe results from the 2015 assessment are compared to those from previous years to describe change in fourth and eighth-grade students’ performance in mathematics and reading over time. Performance results are presented as NAEP scale scores and as percentages of students at the Basic, Proficient, and Advanced achievement levels. The report also includes information about the performance of different student groups, as well as performance gaps by gender and race/ethnicity. NAEP results date back to the early 1990s.

Generally speaking, the trend in NAEP performance has been one of significant growth since the early 1990s. There are small variations each year, and this year’s data is garnering a lot of headlines over a potential stalling in student growth. In mathematics, the 2015 average scores were 1 and 2 points lower in grades 4 and 8, respectively, than the average scores in 2013. These small declines remain well above initial scores, as scores at both grades remain  higher than those from the earliest mathematics assessments in 1990 by 27 points at grade 4 and 20 points at grade 8. In reading, the 2015 average score was not significantly different at grade 4 and was 2 points lower at grade 8 compared to 2013. As was the case in mathematics, scores at both grades were higher in 2015 than those from the earliest reading assessments in 1992 by 6 points at grade 4 and 5 points at grade 8. 

We must be responsible in our consumption of this data and resist the urge for drastic changes. This could be a one-year anomaly or it could be something more significant. However our students perform, we must remain focused on supporting their growth and learning, and resist the urge t point fingers and shift blame.

AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech released the following statement

“The headlines today write themselves and cover all the usual angles: Our schools are failing. Our students are failing. We need more tests. We need fewer tests. We need better tests. Common Core is working. Common Core is failing. We need more school choice.

“We have had—and continue to engage in—these conversations, all of which have their time and place. But today, in this moment, when NAEP—widely regarded as the Nation’s Report Card—indicates that our students aren’t making the growth and achievement we would expect, perhaps the conversation isn’t about what we are doing as much as what we are not doing. And in this instance, we must consider the extent to which this set of NAEP data was impacted by the significant cuts to education investment at the local, state and federal level stemming from the great recession and held in place by continued poor policy.

“When it comes to our nation’s schools and the students they serve, we know that education cuts do not heal. Though we’re past the end of the great recession, education investment has yet to reach pre-recession levels. That means that our nation’s K-7th graders have spent the entirety of their K-12 educational experience to date under a post-recession funding climate, and that our 12th-graders have spent half of their educational experience in that underfunded environment.

“In a broader context, the federal share of discretionary spending dedicated to children has dropped by 11.6 percent (adjusted for inflation) since 2010. And while AASA doesn’t advocate unfettered spending as a silver bullet, we also do not deny that investment matters. Adequate funding is a critical component of any serious conversation about boosting student learning and closing achievement gaps, and today’s NAEP data might be one of the first times we are seeing a clear, national narrative highlighting the consequences of our recent education funding policy decisions.”

September 11, 2015

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Sequester 2.0, AND: When it comes to Federal Education Funding, It's Time To Raise the Caps!

We are in September and it is looking increasingly likely that Congress will not only NOT complete its appropriations work on time, but that we will also have a shutdown. Shutdown politics and implications aside, it is important to understand how a common funding mechanism (the continuing resolution or CR) can translate into a sequester cut for our portion of the budget.

When the government does not complete its work on time, it can use a CR to keep government running by simply level funding all programs at their current level. We are in FY15 and the fiscal year that needs to be wrapped before it starts October 1 is FY16. A long-term (or year-long) CR would level fund government for the full fiscal year. A long-term CR, whether to avoid a shut-down or as a resolution to end one, is problematic. Level funding for our portion of the budget (non-defense discretionary, or NDD) would actually be above the FY16 sequester caps, meaning we would face an across-the-board cut of 1.5% While the Congressional Budget Office has yet to officially release these numbers, the Center on Budget Policies and Priorities has indicated this very real threat.  

We all know the damages of sequester. It is easy enough to avoid; Congress has to complete one of its primary functions, passing the appropriations bills. But it is about more than that: even if the across the board cut is avoided, the FY16 budget proposals represent the third year of level funding. The continued funding pressure of the budget caps means that NDD and education funding have to continually do more with less.Which is why it is time for Congress to raise the caps.

Like our previous post supporting the NDD coalition and resources supporting #RaiseTheCap indicated, we now have education-specific resources you can use in communicating with your members of Congress. Thank you to our friends at the Committee for Education Funding (www.cef.org) for putting these together:

Access as a word document.

General Overview of the Appropriations Caps and Sequestration

 

  • While total non-defense appropriations will increase slightly in 2016 even if sequestration is fully implemented, that increase will fall far short of what would be needed just to keep up with inflation or address high-priority needs, let alone make up for any of ground lost over the past several years. 
  • The Budget Control Act of 2011, which established the appropriations caps and sequestration, specifies that sequestration cuts in 2014 and all subsequent years are to be implemented by reducing the caps that would otherwise apply (rather than by across-the-board cuts as in 2013).  For 2016, the pre-sequestration caps were scheduled to increase by 1.9 percent, but sequestration will eliminate almost all of that increase. 
  • Without sequestration relief, the cap on non-defense appropriations for 2016 will be just 0.2 percent ($1.1 billion) above the 2015 level.  That’s $8.6 billion less than what would be needed just to keep up with even the modest level of expected inflation.  The defense situation is similar:  an increase of just 0.3 percent or $1.8 billion. 
  • With the spending caps essentially flat, 2016 will be the sixth year of austerity in non-defense appropriations.  In four of the previous five years, the total has either decreased in actual dollar terms or increased only slightly. 
  • By 2016 the cumulative effect will be substantial.  When adjusted just for general inflation, the 2016 cap on non-defense appropriations will be 17 percent (or $103 billion) below the 2010 level.  The cumulative reduction in defense appropriations is only a little smaller: 15 percent or $94 billion.  These are, of course, only averages.  Within both categories some things have been cut considerably less and other things considerably more.   
  • The effects of the caps and sequestration are even more dramatic when measured relative to the size of the economy.  Outlays for non-defense appropriated programs are projected to be 3.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016—equal to the lowest percentage recorded at any point since 1962, which is as far back as data go on this basis.  With the caps and sequestration fully in place, the percentage is expected to then set a new record low in 2017 and to continue dropping in subsequent years. 
  • One result of these limits is that increases even for high-priority needs become difficult to accomplish, as almost any increases require offsetting cuts or savings.  After five previous years of cutting, feasible and acceptable cuts are getting harder and harder to find.  And even for things that haven’t been cut in dollar terms, the cumulative erosion of purchasing power is growing. 

Appropriations Caps and Sequestration as it Affects Education Programs:

  • Sequestration cuts resulted in a loss of $22.54 million from Individuals with Disabilities Act’s Part C program, which serves infants and toddlers with disabilities. Because of mounting fiscal pressure over the last two decades, States have narrowed the eligibility requirements for this voluntary program and any funding reduction means fewer children served.   
  • Last fall, Congress passed the reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which provides needy families across the country with child care services.  Currently, sequestration levels mean that CCDBG provides services to about 1 in 10 eligible children. However, with the additional requirements brought about by this bill, even fewer eligible children will be able to receive these services unless the sequestration caps are lifted.   
  • Due to 5.27 percent cut in funding thanks to sequestration, Head Start, the federal pre-K education service for low-income families, was forced to eliminate services for 57,000 children last fall.  HHS data says that Head Start will have administered 1.3 million fewer days of service nationwide because of sequestration cuts.    
  • Sequestration could de-fund preschool programs in 18 states, causing 60,000 children to lose access to preschool entirely 
  • The federal share of discretionary spending dedicated to children has dropped by 7.2 percent since 2010, accounting for inflation the discretionary spending on children d has decreased by 11.6 percent (First Focus: Children’s Budget 2015) 
  • Federal education programs have been cut by more than $80 billion since 2010 with the elimination of more than 50 education programs
  • Unless the cap on non-defense appropriations is raised, it will be virtually impossible for Congress to approve important increases in the President's budget such as  
    • $1.5 billion to expand Head Start for low-income children; 
    • $1 billion increase for Title I education funds to improve services for students in high-poverty schools; 
    • $1.8 billion over the 2015 level for the Housing Choice Voucher program to expand access for affordable housing; and  
    • New investments in research and development throughout the government (including additional funding of $1 billion for the National Institutes of Health and $379 million for the National Science Foundation).  
     
  • Discretionary funding for education programs—excluding Pell grants—has been cut by over $3.714 billion since FY 2010 and non-Pell grant funding for the Department of Education is below FY 2008 
  • The suggested level of nondefense appropriations for FY 2016 is similar to the amount appropriated in FY 2006, when adjusted for inflation, despite that there has been a consistent rise in enrollments of children attending K-12 public schools and institutions of higher education coupled with the increase of more low-income children attending school since FY 2006 (link
  • Federal funding for Title 1 of ESEA—the major federal assistance program for high-poverty schools—is down 12% since 2010, after adjusting for inflation, and funding for education for students with disabilities is down 11%.  
  • Sequestration resulted in approximately $579 million in federal funding cuts to IDEA special education services for children ages 3 to 21.   
  • Congress has never lived up to its commitment to cover 40% of the average per pupil expenditure for special education. After sequestration, Congress is only meeting 14% of the cost to educate students with disabilities, the lowest level since 2001.   
  • Both the House and Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bills cut funding for Pell grants, which will likely jeopardize the maximum award starting in Fiscal Year 2017. The Senate bill also cuts Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and Federal Work Study. 
  • Since Fiscal Year 2011, funding for student financial aid programs have been cut by $75 billion.  

 Sample Tweets to Use After September 10th:

 

  • We need to invest in education, public safety, medical research, & infrastructure [insert member twitter handle]. #RaiseTheCaps 
  • Our economy depends on increasing fed funding for education. We need to #RaiseTheCaps in order to create opportunities for every child 
  • #EduCutsDontHeal. Investment in education matters and the time to act is now. #RaiseTheCaps 
  • [insert member twitter handle], over 2,500 groups want you to #RaiseTheCaps for discretionary investments! 
  • National #security means investing in kids, education, public health, & infrastructure. [insert member twitter handle] make sure to #RaiseTheCaps! 
  • A secure #America needs more than #military might! [insert member twitter handle] make sure there to #RaiseTheCaps for #education! 
  • Our government spends less on NDD programs & is the lowest share of the economy since the Eisenhower Admin #RaiseTheCaps 
  • (MOC), don’t put your own interests ahead of America’s children. Raise the spending caps so we can better fund our #Education programs 
  • US population has grown over the last decade, esp. in school enrollment, but our spending on education has NOT. #RaiseTheCaps 
  • Tell your Congressman to vote to #RaisetheCaps today. Our children’s #education shouldn’t be a political chess game. 
  • Continued sequestration could de-fund preschool programs in 18 states, causing 60K children to lose access to preschool entirely
  • Fed #education programs have been cut by $80+ billion since 2010, eliminating 50+ education programs #RaiseTheCaps
  • 50+ education programs have been eliminated since 2010. It’s time to #RaiseTheCaps
  • Since FY 2011, funding for student financial aid programs have been cut by $75 billion. Time to #RaiseTheCaps 

 

Twitter  Hashtags and Handles:

 

  • #RaiseTheCaps 
  • #Education 
  • #EduCutsDontHeal 
  • @edfunding