December 10, 2016

Federal Advocacy Center


MABE's Federal Advocacy Program and Services

MABE's Federal Relations Network (FRN) Committee meets throughout the year to discuss pending issues and coordinate meetings on Capitol Hill. The committee is comprised of board members appointed to represent the association in advocating the positions of MABE and the National School Boards Association (NSBA) to Maryland's federal delegation, including our two U.S. Senators and eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, MABE representatives attend the annual NSBA's Advocacy Institute (formerly FRN Conference) in Washington D.C., and participate in the "Day on the Hill" congressional office visits.

MABE encourages all boards of education to participate in MABE's FRN committee and NSBA's Advocacy Institute to engage in advocacy at the federal level. Only through these continuous efforts can we ensure that our federal officials are well informed on the priorities and perspectives of local boards of education and the fiscal and policy issues arising under the myriad federal programs impacting public education.

MABE's Federal Advocacy Center features current MABE and NSBA lobbying activities and resources on priority issues.  

For additional information, contact John Woolums, MABE's Director of Governmental Relations at (410) 841-5414 or 

Federal Highlights

House Approves Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Reauthorization

On September 13, 2016, the House passed the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act” (H.R. 5587) by a vote of 405 to 5.  NSBA’s letter of support is posted here.  A detailed bill summary provided by the Association for Career and Technical Education is available here.

Introduced by Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA), the legislation would align CTE with provisions for college and career readiness in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); encourage greater public-private partnerships among school districts, employers and institutions of higher education; increase opportunities for apprenticeships and credentialing; retain current formula grant funding; and, strengthen support for career guidance and academic counseling, as well as professional development for educators.

“Career and technical education plays a powerful and positive role in helping individuals obtain the skills they need to be competitive in today's workforce. As co-chair of the House Career and Technical Education Caucus, I was proud to join with Rep. Clark in introducing this bill,” Rep. Thompson said. “With passage of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, the House has taken a significant step toward helping more Americans pursue fulfilling and successful futures. I am happy we were able to work in a bipartisan manner on this important issue and look forward to our continued efforts to ensure career and technical education provides many more students with a path to success.”

Next Steps

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) is finalizing a companion bill to H.R. 5587 that is expected to be announced soon. NSBA continues our work with Committee staff for Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) to support a companion bill that addresses the policy goals for CTE adopted by the NSBA Delegate Assembly, which state the following:  “It is critical that the federal government provide necessary support to ensure that all students have access to a high quality career and technical education with a strong academic component. Our nation needs to prepare and maintain a productive and skilled labor force, and our students need the necessary skills for employability.”


For more insight, please refer to NSBA’s Career & Technical Education Issue Brief and NSBA’s Center for Public Education research series titled “The Path Least Taken: Preparing Non-College Goers for Success,” in which findings show that advanced courses with an occupational focus make a difference in student outcomes. The synopsis of this research series is that, obtaining “high credentials” – meaning a mix of academic knowledge and job specific, or technical skills, developed in high school plus a professional certificate or license – is key to career readiness for our students.

The Every Student Succeeds Act

Comments on Federal Regulations

Assessments Regulations

On September 9, 2016, NSBA expressed support for local governance and asked the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) to amend the proposed regulations to remove provisions and requirements that exceed the scope of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and minimize the emphasis on federal compliance by providing an opportunity for state leaders and local school board members to focus on the academic success of students. The Department also should delete provisions in proposed rules that are unnecessary, outside the scope of ESSA, and establish regulatory requirements that effectively limit the authority of state leaders and local school board members.

NSBA conveyed these points in comments it submitted to the Department on a key proposed rule: Title of Collection: Title I—Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged—Academic Assessments.

“Flexibility in the hands of local decision-makers, best equipped to determine how to support and help students succeed, will further public education,” stated Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director and CEO, National School Boards Association. “Conversely, requirements that strip local decision-makers of the authority to govern will be detrimental and significantly impede local school districts’ abilities to utilize, to the fullest extent, the opportunity and flexibility authorized by ESSA.”

The Department should promulgate federal regulations that assist states and school districts in implementing provisions of ESSA and to reaffirm ESSA’s clear directive to restore local governance and community ownership of public education. The Department’s regulations should promote a balanced “federal-state-local partnership” that encourages states to work with local school districts, promotes flexibility, and ends the current “top-down” approach to education that has proven so ineffective.

Gentzel stated, “Full restoration of local governance can only occur if prescriptive, rigid components of federal oversight are eliminated. It is our hope that the Department will amend the proposed regulations to support and strengthen local governance of public education.” 

School boards, elected or appointed by their communities, represent the community’s beliefs and values. They also shoulder the responsibility to ensure that every child receives a high quality education, and for preparing children to live productive and satisfying lives. Given the unique understanding of their communities and vital role school boards have, federal regulations should empower state and local leaders to make decisions, which Congress clearly intended when it passed ESSA.

On the issue of assessments, federal regulations should support the authority granted, through ESSA, to local school board members, as locally elected officials, to participate in the process of determining the type of assessments that are administered at the local level. Additionally, states must meaningfully engage with locally elected officials, such as local school board members, to determine how statewide assessment systems can foster student success and growth. 

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S.

"Supplement, not Supplant" Regulations

On August 31, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education posted the proposed supplement, not supplant rule that was sent to members of Congress and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

In light of the fact the negotiated rulemaking committee was not able to reach a consensus on the proposed rule, the Department was then permittted to propose and publish a rule without being bound by the discussions that occurred during the negotiated rulemaking process. The rule has not been formally published in the Federal Register. Once the rule is formally published, it will be open for public comment for 60 days. We will continue to keep you updated regarding the formal date of publication, and provide more information on the proposed rule.

MABE Presentation – "From NCLB to ESSA … An Introduction to the Every Student Succeeds Act

The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015, represents a comprehensive revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which since 2002 has been known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). MABE and the National School Boards Association (NSBA) agree that ESSA provides a historic opportunity for school boards across the country to help shape how this law will impact their schools, teachers and students. Unlike NCLB, ESSA reduces the specificity of federal requirements while increasing the ability of States and school systems to define how school boards individual schools are held accountable for student achievement. With the passage of this law, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and States are now embarking on the work to implement its provisions.

For more information, go to MABE's Priority Issues page on The Every Student Succeeds Act and MABE's Committee on ESSA.