Federal Advocacy Center


MABE’s Federal Advocacy Programs & 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 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.

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

NSBA Federal Legislative Priorities

The National School Boards Association (NSBA), working with and through our state associations to represent more than 90,000 local school board members, advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board governance. As a matter of priority, NSBA’s comprehensive advocacy and policy priorities reinforce a recent statement adopted by the association.

We affirm in our actions that each student can, will, and shall learn. Educational equity is the intentional allocation of resources, instruction, and opportunities according to need. We recognize that based on factors including but not limited to disability, race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status, students are deprived of equitable educational opportunities. This requires that discriminatory practices, prejudices, and beliefs be identified and eradicated. — NSBA Board of Directors, Adoption of the Definition of Equity, December 2017

To this end, NSBA believes the following legislative issues must be addressed in order for local districts to maximize educational opportunities that are available for every student to reach their greatest learning potential. In addition to the specific legislative issues outlined below, NSBA believes Congress must continue its oversight of the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to ensure state and local flexibility in K-12 education. As states and districts work to implement the law, Congress must recognize the critical role of local school boards to lead the local district planning process and set policies and programs to best meet student learning needs.

Legislative Priorities for the 116th Congress

For over seven decades NSBA has advocated for equity and excellence in education. NSBA will continue to work with the 116th Congress on our legislative priorities to ensure that public schools and the 50 million students that attend them get the support they deserve. Please read more to learn about NSBA’s legislative priorities for the 116th Congress.

2020 Advocacy Institute

School board members from Maryland and across the country met in Washington, DC on Feb. 2 and 3 to hear from members of congress and the administration and prepare for the "Day on the Hill". On Feb. 4 Maryland sshool board members spoke directly with our congressional delegation members and staff to lobby on the priority federal issues directly impacting our school systems and students.

Conference Agenda

Federal News & Highlights


National COVID-19 Resources for School Systems

The U.S. Dept. of Education is maintaining a website devoted to COVID-19 guidance.

NSBA has compiled links to national resources.


Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update

MABE Advocacy Updates

CARES Act Equitable Funding for Nonpublic Schools

On May 14, 2020, MABE wrote to Maryland's Unites States Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen to request their assistance in securing revised guidance from the U.S. Dept. of Education on local shool system allocations of CARES Act funds to nonpublic schools.

MABE is requesting assistance in resolving the concerns raised by the nonregulatory guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education outlining the Department’s interpretation of the requirements regarding equitable services for students in nonpublic schools under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Public Law 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (Mar. 27, 2020).  The guidance was released on April 30, 2020 under the direction of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, entitled “Providing Equitable Services to Students and Teachers in Non-Public Schools under the Cares Act Programs (April 30, 2020).”

MABE firmly believes that the Department’s guidance does not accurately or appropriately reflect the governing statute, would require an inequitable allocation of funding to nonpublic schools, and thereby reduce the amount of funding available to for school systems to provide equitable services to public school students.

MABE also wrote to State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon requesting departmental action to clarify that CARES Act funding applications would align with the law rather then with the nonregulatory guidance.

National organization letters:


Education Funding Stability and Flexibility

On April 24, 2020, MABE wrote to Senators Cardin and Van Hollen to thank them for the opportunity to participate on a statewide call to share insights and perspectives on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Maryland's public schools. The letter included specific requests for additional federal funding to provide overall school funding stability for Maryland's 24 school systems, special education flexibility, and funding targeted to achieve educational connectivity and equity,

Weekly Federal Updates on Congressional and Agency Actions

June 26, 2020 (See below for previous weekly updates)

Congressional Update

House Appropriations Committee Announces Mark-Up Schedule
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Lowey (D-NY) announced this week that the committee will mark-up the fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills during the week of July 6. The committee will permit both in-person and remote participation by committee members. This schedule will enable the full House to vote on the bills, including the U.S. Department of Education's budget, during the last two weeks in July. The committee may also be leading work in July on the next COVID-19 emergency spending bill, which could include additional emergency funding for K-12 education. NSBA's advocacy team is working to ensure that Congress understands the additional costs that school districts face in reopening this fall, so that education is properly represented in both the regular annual appropriations bills and any additional emergency funding provided by federal leaders.

HELP Committee Chairman Expresses Support for Additional School Funding
Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) expressed support this week for allocating additional federal funds to help schools and higher education institutions reopen. He previously had been hesitant to allocate additional COVID-19 funding before an analysis of how the first round of funding filled in the gaps. Chairman Alexander received a letter this week from the Council of Chief State School Officers providing a projection of the cost to open school systems this year and what amount of funding will be needed over the next two years. The letter was a response to the Chairman's request for this data at last week's HELP Committee hearing about state and local planning for the next school year.

House Education and Labor Committee Holds COVID-19 Racial Inequities Hearing
The House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing earlier this week titled "Inequities Exposed: How COVID-19 Widened Racial Inequities in Education, Health, and the Workforce." Chairman Scott (D-VA) opened the hearing saying that Congress must take steps to address racial disparities in education focusing on K-12 school funding, noting that students of color have been more affected by chronic underfunding and school closures due to COVID-19. He highlighted that the HEROES Act would take steps to solve some of these issues, including assistance to both K-12 schools and higher education institutions as well as funding for the OSHA emergency protection standard to keep those most at risk safe from COVID-19 in the workplace. Ranking Member Foxx (R-NC) focused on the devastating job losses caused by the pandemic. She highlighted that the U.S. economy was strong prior to COVID-19 and that reopening the economy responsibly is a priority.

Witnesses included:
• Camara P. Jones, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, Senior Fellow and Adjunct Associate Professor, Morehouse School of Medicine, Past President, American Public Health Association, Atlanta, GA
• Valerie Rawlston Wilson, Ph.D., Director, Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy, Economic Policy Institute, Silver Spring, MD
• Avik Roy, Co-Founder and President, The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, Austin, TX
• John B. King, Jr., President and CEO, The Education Trust, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Roy highlighted how school closures disproportionately affected low income and students of color because wealthy families are better equipped to support their children's learning. He said it is possible to safely reopen school and that other countries can provide models for the U.S. when considering how to best reopen. Mr. King urged Congress to act boldly to support K-12 education (allocating at least $500 billion for state and local government, including strong Maintenance of Effort provisions and a Maintenance of Equity provision to ensure the most vulnerable students receive the most support). He prioritized the need for broadband, extended learning time, and resources to address both nutritional and social-emotional needs. He encouraged the Administration to refrain from approving key civil rights waivers and to promote diverse schools. He asked Congress to consider equitable reforms including extending the federal student loan rates through next year (the relief enacted through the CARES Act), doubling the Pell Grant, and simplifying the FAFSA process. He also urged an expansion of Pell grant access to incarcerated and undocumented students. He encouraged support from Congress in education prep programs that focus on and support diversity, noting that Education Trust is ready to assist.

An archived video of the virtual hearing and the witnesses' full written testimony is available here.

Senate HELP Committee Plans COVID-19 Hearing
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee plans to hold a hearing on Tuesday, June 30 titled "COVID-19: Update on Progress Toward Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School."

Witnesses for the hearing include:
o Dr. Anthony Fauci, MD, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
o Robert Redfield, MD, Director, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
o ADM Brett Giroir, MD, Assistant Secretary for Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC
o Stephen Hahn, MD, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, United States Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, MD

The hearing will be live-streamed here.

Administration Update

Department of Education Announces Controversial Equitable Services Regulations
The Department of Education released an interim final rule regarding use of CARES Act K-12 emergency relief funds to provide services to private school students under the law's equitable services provision. The rule will take immediate effect when published in the Federal Register next week and the Department invited the public to file comment and said the "CARES Act is a special pandemic related appropriation and is meant to benefit all American students and families." The rule provides districts with two options for implementing the CARES Act's equitable services requirement. If a district chooses to use CARES Act emergency funding only for Title I eligible students, then it may elect to only set aside funding for equitable services for Title I eligible students that attend private schools. If a district wishes to use CARES Act funding for all students, then the district must set aside funding to provide equitable services to all students that attend private schools in their region. NSBA strongly opposes the Secretary's interpretation of this CARES Act provision and has urged Congress to stop the Department from implementing this requirement.

Department of Education Approves Additional State Perkins Plans
The Department of Education approved six Perkins State Plans including: Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, New York, South Carolina, and Utah. Additional information can be found on the Department's Perkins Website.

Department of Education Announces Discretionary Grants
The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education invited applications for the "Out-of-School Time Career Pathway Program". The program makes grants to SEAs, working in partnership with eligible entities, to provide students with more options for participating in career pathways that lead to a recognized postsecondary credential – these programs occur outside of regular schools hours or as part of an expanded learning program. The estimated available funds total $1,500,000 each year for five years. Applications are due by September 21, 2020, and further information is available here.

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services invited applications for the "Educational Technology, Media, and Materials for Individuals with Disabilities Program – Stepping-Up Technology Implementation." The program seeks to "(1) improve results for children with disabilities by promoting the development, demonstration, and use of technology; (2) support educational activities designed to be of educational value in the classroom for children with disabilities; (3) provide support for captioning and video description that is appropriate for use in the classroom; and (4) provide accessible educational materials to children with disabilities in a timely manner." This discretionary grant competition will focus on 2 absolute priorities: (1) Providing Technology-Based Professional Development to Trainers of Special Education Teachers to Support Children with Disabilities, and (2) Improving Social Skill Development for Students with Disabilities Through the Use of Socially Assistive Robotics (SAR). The estimated available funds for this program total $2,500,000 contingent upon the availability of funds and quality of applications. Applications are due by August 14, 2020, and further information is available here.

Recent Legislation
H.R. 7319 To improve quality and accountability for educator preparation programs. Sponsor: Rep. Shalala, Donna E. [D-FL-27]
H.R. 7306 To improve the safety of school buses, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Crist, Charlie [D-FL-13] 


June 19, 2020

Congressional Update

Supreme Court Upholds DACA, Next Steps are Unclear

The Supreme Court ruled (5-4) that the procedure used by the Trump Administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was “arbitrary and capricious.” Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the four liberal members of the Court to rule that the process by which the Trump Administration moved to terminate the program was illegal. The decision allows the protections enacted by the previous administration to stay intact for the near term, protecting many K-12 students, college students, as well as faculty and staff for the immediate future. However, while the Court ruled that the process used by the Trump Administration to end the program was wrong, they did not rule on the legality of the program. As a result, the Trump Administration may pursue other options to terminate the program, though those options are likely to be much more time consuming. NSBA will continue to advocate for a long-term legislative solution for qualified undocumented students.

Congressional Appropriations Process Inches Forward

The House Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the budget for the Department of Education, plans to mark up the budget on July 7 beginning at 5pm.  In the Senate, last week’s ambition about an accelerated timeline for considering their own bills has already hit a snag; a dispute between Senate Democrats and Republicans over whether Senate Democrats will have the ability to offer amendments to address some of their priorities around police reform and COVID-19. NSBA’s advocacy team is working to ensure the fiscal year 2021 budget includes significant funding for education priorities.

House Education Committee Holds Hearing to Examine the Pandemic’s Impact

This week, the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing about the "Budget Cuts and Lost Learning: Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Public Education."  Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) highlighted the work of the House in passing the HEROES Act last month that would provide nearly $1 trillion to address budget shortfalls and avert cuts in education with $60 billion in direct K-12 funding.  He said that “this is a pivotal moment in our fight for equity in education”, and “we cannot put the safety of our students, teachers, and staff at risk.  We must provide the resources they need.”  Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said that since some schools have not yet spent the relief funding provided through the CARES Act, it would be premature to provide additional funding before Congress has had an opportunity to evaluate the use of funds already disbursed.  She went on to remind the committee that more spending does not guarantee better outcomes.

Witness Testimony Highlights:

  • Michael Leachman, Ph.D., Vice President for State Fiscal Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Washington, D.C. noted that the funding provided to schools through the CARES Act was far too little. He added that the HEROES Act is a step in the right direction, but alone will not be enough support for schools. He offered support for significant increases in direct aid in the final package negotiated by Congress.
  • Rebecca Pringle, Vice President, National Education Association (NEA), Washington, D.C. highlighted the deepened disparities that COVID-19 has caused in schools, noting that the expected budget cuts will have a devastating impact on students. She added that students will need more socio-emotional supports as they return to school in addition to the supports that will be needed to combat the learning loss of this spring’s school closures.
  • Mark Johnson, Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Raleigh, NC discussed North Carolina’s approach to virtual learning, the need for students to have personalized learning upon return this call, and the need for flexibility for schools to innovate.
  • Eric Gordon, Chief Executive Officer, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Cleveland, OH discussed the lack of reliable internet access to many households in his districts and the difficulty in reaching those students this spring when schools were closed. He described the efforts of his district to invest in hotspots and devices quickly to the inequities lower income and vulnerable students experience can be minimized.  He also raised concern about the devastating proposed budget cuts, noting that more federal funding is needed for schools to return students to the classroom safely.  He urged Congress to keep the nation’s school districts intact by providing additional funding. He advised Congress to also include additional resources in the years ahead to ensure adequate funding including for ESSA Title I, IDEA, ESSA Title III, and the McKinney-Vento Act.

An archived video of the virtual hearing and the witnesses’ full written testimony is available here.

Looking ahead, the House Education Committee has scheduled an additional hearing next week focused on widening racial inequities due to COVID-19 emergency, titled “Inequities Exposed: How COVID-19 Widened Racial Inequities in Education, Health, and the Workforce“.  Witnesses have not been announced. The livestream will occur on Monday, June 22 at noon ET and the livestream can be found here.

Administration Update

Pandemic Response Accountability Committee Releases Analysis of Challenges

The Administration’s Pandemic Response Accountability Committee published a report titled "Top Challenges Facing Federal Agencies: COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Response Efforts." The analysis was reported by the Offices of Inspector Generals (OIGs) from 37 agencies across the government.  The purpose of the report is to provide “insight into the top management challenges facing federal agencies that received pandemic-related funding.”  Common themes reflected across agencies included financial management of CARES Act and other funds, grant management, information technology security and management, and protecting health and safety while maintaining effective operations.  Additional challenges named by OIGs included the “large amount of funds appropriated under the CARES Act and related legislation, the need to distribute aid rapidly under emergency conditions, and the need to maintain agency operations as factors that impact these challenges.”

Department of Education Approves Additional State Perkins Plans

The Department of Education approved an additional 10 states for Perkins State Plans including: Arizona, D.C., Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin. Additional information can be found on the Department’s Perkins Website.

Department of Education Publishes Discretionary Grant Opportunity to Improve IDEA 

Parts B and C Data

The Department of Education published a discretionary grant program notice for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services: “Technical Assistance on State Data Collection – National Technical Assistance Center to Improve State Capacity to College, Report, Analyze, and Use Accurate IDEA Part B and Part C Fiscal Data” – The Technical Assistance on State Data Collection seeks to improve the capacity of states to meet IDEA data collection and reporting requirements, authorized under IDEA. This priority will establish a Fiscal Data Center, which will provide states with technical assistance to help meet fiscal data collection and reporting obligations under IDEA. The estimated available funds for this program total $3,975,000 in years 1 and 2, $4,425,000 in years 3 and 4, and $4,200,000 in year 5. Applications are due by July 31, 2020, and further information is available here.

Recent Legislation

  • Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) introduced a bill (H.R.7201) titled the “Child Care is Infrastructure Act.”  The child care package would invest $10 billion over five years in child care infrastructure and $35 million for early childhood education and workforce development. It would also include two national needs assessment of early child care and learning facilities to be conducted by HHS to understand the impact of the pandemic and ongoing needs of child care facilities.  It would also ask a study to be completed regarding tax credits for employer-provided child care through the GAO.


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in Maryland

State Resources – Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) 

State Board Approves Accountability Report Cards 

On Dec. 4, 2018, the Maryland State Board of Education released the approved format, contents, and online accessibility to the new Maryland Report Card accountability reporting system under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

State Board Approved ESSA Accountability Plan

U.S. Dept. of Education Resources – Maryland’s State Plan Review and Approval 

MABE Presentation: From NCLB to ESSA… An Introduction to the Every Child 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 and 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, please see the Every  Student Succeeds Act section in our Priority Issues for the 2018 legislative session.

All Board Service Academies and committee meetings are virtual during this time.

If you have any questions, please email jweisman@mabe.org.