November 25, 2015

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

ESEA Reauthorization

The House and the Senate have passed their respective versions of reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The House passed H. R. 5, the “Student Success Act,” on July 8, 2015 by a vote of 218 to 213. Then, on July 16, 2015, the Senate passed S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, by a vote of 81 to 17. 

Both bills include provisions for local governance that MABE and NSBA support.

NSBA and National Education Groups Urge Congress to Finish the Job on ESEA Reauthorization this Fall

On September 29, 2015 the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and nine other national education groups sent a joint letter urging lawmakers to complete work to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), known as “No Child Left Behind,” and get a conferenced bill to the President's desk by the end of this year. NSBA continues to work closely with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to advocate for a final education bill that underscores the importance of local governance and community ownership, so that our nation’s 90,000 school board members will be better positioned to offer all students a world-class public education. 

The letter states:

"We know that Congress has a busy agenda this Fall, but Congress must not lose focus on the needs of our nation’s students. ESEA reauthorization cannot wait. Yet another school year has started under the policies of No Child Left Behind. America’s students, parents and educators need a new law that moves past No Child Left Behind. Any new law should maintain the historic purpose of ESEA by preserving the focus on low-income students and equity, and ultimately focus on delivering the high-quality education that all our children deserve. Great progress has already been made as both chambers have passed their own ESEA proposals this past July. Now is the time to finish the job and produce a final product that takes the best of both bills and reauthorizes the outdated NCLB. Students cannot wait any longer for a revised law. We urge you finish work on ESEA and deliver a bipartisan bill to the President’s desk this fall."

Tom Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director:

“Our nation’s 90,000 school board members stand together with educators, principals, superintendents, chief state school officers, parents and school business officials to call upon lawmakers to end years of uncertainty and send a final education bill that restores local governance and community ownership to the president’s desk by the end of this year."

Link to Letter and Press Release

Link to NSBA resources on ESEA Reauthorization 


In this July 6, 2015 letter to the Senate HELP Committee, NSBA outlined its priorities that will allow school boards throughout the country to have the flexibility they need to successfully address the unique needs of their students and communities. NSBA supported the language in H.R.5 to restore local school board governance in education, but expressed concerns in other areas in this July 2, 2015 letter to the House Education and Workforce Committee.

Protect Title I Funding

MABE wrote to Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin on July 2, 2015 to voice concerns about the U.S. Senate’s potential action to change the Title I funding formula in a manner which cut funding for Maryland, and to urge support for the ongoing effort to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). (Link to MABE letter)

The Washington Post reported on July 10 on the pending amendment to title I funding formula, and Senator Barbara Mikulski's strong opposition.

"A forthcoming amendment from Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) would change the formula used to allocate Title I funds, a move that would create big winners and losers among the states.

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia would gain Title I dollars, which are meant to educate poor children. But that leaves 14 states that would see cuts, including big losers New York (whose districts would lose $310 million), Illinois ($188 million) and Pennsylvania ($120 million).

“Every county in my state will lose money,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), whose state stands to lose about $40 million per year, a 20 percent cut. Mikulski, speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, said she plans to vote in favor of rewriting the No Child Left Behind law — unless it includes the Burr amendment."

Link to Washington Post Article (July 10, 2015)

Federal Education Funding:  Sequestration and Possible Continuing Resolution

Congress returned to Capitol Hill this week with work ahead to finalize a funding bill for Fiscal Year 2016.  The overall concern is averting another round of across-the-board budget cuts from sequestration that could begin at the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.  This would mean additional cuts to Title I grants for disadvantaged students, special education and other programs that are already underfunded.

NSBA and more than 2,500 organizations forwarded a national coalition letter to Congress this week urging action to address the sequester “with a balanced approach to deficit reduction that takes into account the deep cuts [programs have] already incurred.”  House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders have referenced initial discussions about a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) at the beginning of the fiscal year that would allow Congress time to hopefully negotiate a solution to address the sequester.  A CR would continue existing funding levels for programs.

The House Appropriations Committee’s underlying bill for education programs (H.R. 3020) would raise the federal investment in special education grants under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by $500 million over FY2015 and would sustain funding for Title I grants for disadvantaged students. The Senate Appropriations Committee’s bill (S. 1695) would also increase the IDEA investment by $125 million and would provide an additional $150 million to Title I grants.  In other areas, School Improvement Grants (currently funded at roughly $505 million) would be eliminated under the House bill.

”NSBA will continue to advocate for a final bill that keeps critical federal education programs, such as Title I and IDEA grants, as top priorities during further budget negotiations,” stated NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel.  As negotiations in Congress begin to finalize an appropriations bill for FY2016, NSBA will remain engaged, advocating for sustained investments in education.

Federal Child Nutrition Reauthorization Update

Senate Agriculture Committee Marks Up Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) September 2015

With the current bill set to expire on September 30th, a markup of a modernized child nutrition reauthorization (CNR) is scheduled for Thursday, September 17 in the Senate Agriculture Committee. The CNR authorizes six food programs, including the school lunch and breakfast programs, which serve 30 million children. If Congress does not meet the September deadline, authorization of school meals will continue in its current form, however legislation is needed to make any changes or improvements. Both the Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Education & the Workforce Committee have conducted hearings on the CNR, including one featuring Indiana school board member and NSBA Director John Payne.  

In addition, NSBA has been on Capitol Hill for months lobbying for resources and flexibility for local school districts in order to provide nutritious and appetizing meals for children without unintended financial and operational consequences for school districts. The time of the September 17 hearing has not been announced, so check the Committee website for updates and to watch a live webcast of the markup.

Support for Keep our PACT Act

On September 25, 2015 the National School Boards Association (NSBA) joined with leading national education organizations in supporting the Keep Our Promise to America’s Children and Teachers (PACT) Act. The bill, introduced by Congressman Chris Van Hollen from Maryland, seeks to fully fund on a mandatory basis, Title I and Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) state grants which support equal access to quality education and programs for students with special needs. MABE supports this legislation and has consistently supported similar bills to secure the