July 4, 2015

Federal Advocacy Center


The National School Boards Association’s Advocacy Institute, formerly known as the Federal Relations Network (FRN) involves local school board members from every congressional district in the country who are committed to grassroots advocacy for public education. The Advocacy Institute gives members an opportunity to make a difference in the education of our nation’s public school children.

MABE's Participation 

MABE's 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 communicating NSBA and MABE positions 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 NSBA's Advocacy Institute and MABE's FRN committee to engage in advocacy at the federal level to ensure that our federal officials are well informed on the priorities and perspectives of local school systems and the fiscal and policy issues arising under the myriad federal programs impacting public education.

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

NSBA's New Action Center

NSBA has launched a new National School Boards Action Center (NSBAC) website to highlight NSBA's federal advocacy initiatives and facilitate state association and local board advocacy with their federal legislators.

Go to nsbac.org to learn more – and take action! 

FCC Policy on E-Rate Improves (July 2014)

NSBA Federal Advocacy Improves FCC Policy on E-Rate NSBA successfully advocated for changes in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed policy to modernize the E-Rate program for schools and libraries.  NSBA applauded the changes made by the FCC on July 11 including a “safety net” to protect Priority 1 funds for Internet connections in the event that funding is insufficient to approve all applications for broadband and Wi-Fi.

NSBA Pushes Back on Federal Overreach in Latest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) School Nutrition Regulations (May 2014)

NSBA issued strong recommendations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding proposed regulations for local school wellness policies and marketing of food in schools.  The proposed rule would establish extensive new requirements for developing, implementing, reporting and assessing local school wellness polices – all  without additional federal funds.  The regulation also threatens school revenue from non-federal funds by prohibiting marketing of food sold outside the federal school meal programs that don't meet school meal standards.  The proposed rule would also require all food available in school – including items provided by children, families or teachers for celebrations and other observances – to meet federal nutrition standards.

NSBA called on the USDA to: 
• Withdraw or propose a separate rule on the marketing of foods and beverages.
• Eliminate proposed regulation of foods available in school that are not sold on the school campus during the school day.
• Implement waivers for school districts that cannot comply with local school wellness plan requirements without incurring additional costs.
• Document the cumulative impact of PL 111-296 to reflect the true financial and operational impact of the bill on school districts. 

It is imperative that the Department implement PL 111-296 so that it is cost-neutral to school districts by 1) providing sufficient federal support and/or 2) modifying regulatory requirements so that that LEAs and SFAs can comply and excel within available federal reimbursement without redirecting resources from the instructional mission of the school district or increasing costs to students and families.


ESEA Reauthorization

In the SenateOn June 4, 2013, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013, a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and replace the failed tenets of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The bill wasco-sponsored by every Democratic member of the HELP Committee, including the Committee’s second highest ranking member, Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski. On Wednesday, June 12th the HELP Committee passed S. 1094 with Democaratic support and Republican opposition

Click here for a brief summary of S.1094, the Strengthening America's Schools Act.

In the House – On July 19, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Student Success Act, H.R. 5. The bill passed by a vote of 221 to 207, with no Democrats voting in support.   

Click here for a brief summary of H.R. 5, the Student Success Act

Note: NSBA supports H.R. 5, but opposes the Title I portabillity provisions adopted through an amendment offered by Rep. Cantor. Click here for the AASA critique of the Title I portability amendment.

In addition, H.R. 5 was amended to include major provisions of the NSBA initiated Local Governance Flexibility Act, discussed below. Click here for NSBA's letter supporting H.R. 5.

To learn more, read the full Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report on both House and Senate approaches to reauthorizing ESEA.

ESEA Reauthorization: NSBA's and MABE’s Position – What to Tell Congress

MABE joins the National School Boards Association (NSBA) in urging local school boards and other stakeholders to tell members of Congress that the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act established a rigorous but theoretical accountability system for the nation's public schools. Unfortunately, what has evolved in the name of accountability is a measurement framework that bases its assessment of school quality on a student's performance on a single assessment; and mandates a series of overbroad sanctions not always targeted to the students needing services, and, to date, not yet proven to have a significant impact on improving student performance and school performance.

Maryland's local school board members need to tell their members of Congress that after eleven years of enactment of the federal law, local school districts continue to struggle to comply with the language of the law at a time when the unintended consequences of this complex law are imposing far more dysfunctional and illogical implementation problems than had been anticipated by the sponsors of the legislation. Additionally, federal and state lawmakers have become increasingly aware that successful attainment of the desired national goals is very much dependent upon the capacity of the state departments of education and the capacity of local school districts.

NSBA proactively provided to the Senate HELP committee staff an NSBA report, The report focuses on one of the problems of the Senate's version of ESEA – the ESEA Title I comparability provision.

To learn more about NSBA's recommendations for the reauthorization of ESEA, including how to Take Action on H.R.5 and S.1094: 

– NSBA Issue Brief on ESEA Reauthorization 

NSBA’s Legislative Action Center


The Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act

          NSBA's and MABE's Position & What to Tell Congress

MABE joins NSBA in urging Maryland's boards of education to request that their members of Congress in the House of Representatives join their colleagues as co-sponsors of the NSBA bill, the Local School Board Governance & Flexibility Act (H.R. 1386). View the Issue Brief

This legislation would recognize the vital role and responsibilities of local school board governance and local school district decision-making in designing, developing and delivering high quality educational services for our nation’s schoolchildren.  The legislation also would ensure that the U.S. Department of Education fulfills its role as a policy implementer rather than a policy-maker, and performs that role with proper recognition of local governance. 

Bottom Line: the U.S. Department of Education should not be imposing its rules and priorities on our nation’s local school districts by trying to by-pass Congress and minimizing local control. Local school boards are in the best position to judge the needs of their educational communities.

Take Action to urge House co-sponsorship
Take Action to urge Senate sponsorship and co-sponsorship of a companion bill in the Senate. 

Additional Resources

Maryland and the Federal Government

NSBA Advocacy