March 28, 2017

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 jwoolums@mabe.org. 


Federal Highlights

House Cancels Vote on Affordable Care Act Repeal

On Wednesday afternoon, Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives cancelled the vote on the American Health Care Act scheduled for Thursday evening.  President Trump met with members of the Freedom Caucus at the White House, but they could not agree on provisions included in the bill or how Republicans should repeal and replace sections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also called Obamacare.

The bill includes changes to the ACA, but most significantly, the bill modifies how the federal government will fund the Medicaid program, including how the federal government funds their share of state Medicaid Costs.  The bill would enact a per capita cap on federal Medicaid payments to states, thus jeopardizing the Medicaid funding schools receive to provide healthcare services to students, including students with disabilities.  Under the bill, the per capita cap is set at a lower level than healthcare costs are expected to grow under Medicaid in future years.  Schools receive approximately $4 billion in Medicaid funding each year.

Late Tuesday evening, Republicans made several changes to the Medicaid proposal to persuade Republican members of the Freedom Caucus to vote for the legislation. Namely, Republicans modified the bill to create more flexibility to states in administering their Medicaid program. Specifically, the amendment would allow states to opt out of the per capita allotment baseline and instead receive federal funds through a block grant. The bill was also amended to give states the ability to implement optional work requirements for their Medicaid programs and to provide a more generous reimbursement for elderly and disabled Medicaid enrollees. Although the amendments addressed the concerns of some members, in the end, the amendments did not persuade enough members of the Freedom Caucus.

NSBA previously joined a letter with over forty-five groups in opposition to the measure. On Wednesday, NSBA hosted a conference call aimed at providing technical assistance to state association staff on the proposed legislation. This week, NSBA launched a Call to Action to mobilize local school board members and public education advocates to submit a letter to their member of Congress urging opposition to the bill. Most recently, NSBA joined with several organizations to submit a letter to leaders in the House and Senate, urging them to oppose the bill.

NSBA will continue to keep you updated as the House amends the bill and reschedules the cancelled vote. The Congressional Budget Office released an updated impact of the bill. Although the bill will result in reducing the federal deficit by $150 billion over several years, the bill will leave approximately 24 million individuals without insurance over the next ten years.

Additionally, NSBA’s recent Issue Brief on the bill provides additional information on how public schools rely on Medicaid funds to provide services to students, including an analysis of the bill.

  

NSBA Joins Coalition Letter Urging Chief State School Officers to Fully Engage Local Stakeholders

On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, NSBA joined ten national education organizations in a letter to urge the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to encourage consultation with local stakeholders, including local school board members, during the development of consolidated state plans. CCSSO was at the center of the process to determine components that should be included in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plans. Therefore, NSBA and the coalition members advocate that every chief state school officer should demonstrate clearly and explicitly in each state plan how stakeholders were involved in its development, and how they will continue this engagement during implementation, review and future revisions.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education submitted to OMB a draft Template for states to use when submitting their consolidated ESSA state plans. Unlike ESSA, which strongly emphasizes meaningful consultation and stakeholder engagement by federal, state and local education agencies, the new Template eliminates almost all references to it. In a webinar for states, the Department further indicated that if state plans include sections not related to Template requirements, the peer review process will not consider them.

NSBA championed meaningful consultation in ESSA by securing a provision requiring the Secretary of Education to engage stakeholders throughout the regulatory and nonregulatory process (Sec. 8541). NSBA called the new Template an "abrogation of the law's intent" in a joint  statement with AASA and will issue comments & recommendations during the 60 day comment period that ends on May 12, 2017.  Submit comments by May 12, 2017 at Regulations.gov for Docket ID:ED-2017-ICCD-0021, “Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Consolidated State Plan.”

 

White House Releases Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Blueprint 

This week, the Administration released a framework for its FY2018 budget request to Congress that would impose significant cuts to federal education investments, along with a precedent for a dual education system to support and expand school choice. Overall, the budget request notes a decrease of more than $9 billion in federal education investments. 

  • School Choice: To promote school choice, the President is requesting $250 million for a new program along with a $1 billion increase in Title I funding that would be "dedicated to encouraging districts to adopt a system of student-based budgeting and open enrollment."  Several education advocates have described this proposal as one for Title I portability, which was debated during Congress' development of ESSA in 2015.
  • Special Education: The investment proposed for special education grants to states, authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), is to "maintain" funding at roughly $13 billion ($12.72 billion), which equates to approximately 16 percent of what is historically considered the additional cost of educating students with disabilities. Under this budget request, the average federal share of funding per student would be about $1,777.  Our school districts educate more than 6 million students with disabilities.
  • Title II Programs: The proposal would also eliminate roughly $2.4 billion in investments for Title II of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on "Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, or Other School Leaders.”  Title II investments cover professional development, in-service training, technology integration into curricula, training on data usage to improve student achievement and student data privacy, implementation of performance-based compensation systems, parental/community engagement, development of STEM master teacher corps, civics, and more.
  • Academic Enrichment: The FY18 budget proposal would cut funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers ($1 billion) that helps districts provide tutorial services, youth development activities, counseling programs, drug and violence prevention, and other extended school day learning opportunities for academic enrichment. 

NSBA Executive Director & CEO Thomas J. Gentzel stated, "Nine of every 10 students attend public schools so we must invest in public education if we want to enhance their lives and bolster U.S. competitiveness. Either we support public schools or we undermine them, the children that attend them and the nation. That is the choice before us.”  – To read NSBA’s Full Statement, click HERE. Further, voucher tax credits could be included in a more detailed budget request to Congress that the Administration is expected to publish in May.

NSBA will continue to advocate for federal support for investments in Title I programs, IDEA, and other priorities that are vital to the success of the broad range of programs that many of our public school districts provide–from magnet schools and charter schools authorized by our local school boards, to public military academies, dual enrollment programs, specialized curricula for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), lab schools, international studies and more.   NSBA urges Congress to maximize investments in our students and public school districts that will yield exponential returns for both local and national economies– such as college- and career-readiness, stronger analytical skills, and workforce investment—all essential to American competitiveness.

 

ESSA Accountability Regs Being Repealed 

On March 9, 2017, the U.S. Senate approved H.J.Res. 57 by a vote of 50-49 . The Resolution, initiated under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), repeals the Accountability and State Plan regulations finalized by the Obama Administration last November. The Accountability regulations were set to take effect on January 30th, but the Department of Education postponed the effective date to March 21st. As a result, the regulations have not yet taken effect. The regulatory package included over twenty regulations that addressed all matters relating to accountability and set requirements for State Plans, which States have been working to develop and finalize over the last year.

The President is expected to approve the resolution. The Department of Education has announced the Administration will maintain previously announced State plan application deadlines that were included in the regulations. Furthermore, the Department of Education is expected to release a new Consolidated Plan template within the next few weeks.

 

Introducing the 115th Congress

In the House, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is the new chairwoman of the Education and the Workforce Committee.  As part of the Committee’s initial actions, Chairwoman Foxx has expressed strong concerns regarding the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed rule on Supplement, not Supplant (SNS) as part of its implementation efforts for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  This matter will likely be a priority for the Committee, as well as for the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.  HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-NC) has discussed plans to utilize the Congressional Review Act to intercept the proposed SNS rule.  Additional information about SNS and NSBA concerns is available here as part of the advance materials for the upcoming NSBA Advocacy Institute.  For K-12 education, the education committees are also slated to continue work on legislation to reauthorize the Perkins Career and Technical Education program.  Child nutrition reauthorization will also be a focus of the Education and the Workforce Committee and Senate Agriculture Committee.

 


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.