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

Join school board members from across the country on Capitol Hill to influence the new legislative agenda and shape the decisions made inside the Beltway that directly impact our students.

Sunday, February 2, 2020 to Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Marriott Marquis Washington, DC

Conference Agenda

Federal News & Highlights

Coronavirus 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

March 27, 2020

NSBA Weekly Update

Congressional Update

Congress Finalizes Third Pandemic Emergency Bill

Earlier this week, the Senate unanimously approved (96-0) the passage of a far-reaching emergency bill (H.R.748, the CARES Act) to address the still unfolding corona virus pandemic. The House approved the measure this afternoon and it has been signed into law by the President. The $2 trillion CARES Act includes a $30 billion direct investment in education, including $3 billion to be allocated to governors and used at their discretion to address the emergency, $13.5 billion for K12 education, and $14.25 billion for postsecondary institutions. The bill also makes sizable investments in childcare, nutrition, homeless youth, and more, while also providing new waiver authority to the Secretary of Education, including for assessment and accountability waivers for states; and other ESSA waivers for states, tribes, and school districts. School districts will be able to use their share of the $13.5 billion K12 allocation – which will be allocated based on the proportion of  Title I funding for the most recent fiscal year – for any purposes authorized by ESSA, IDEA, Perkins CTE, and other specified uses. Districts especially hard hit by the emergency should also contact their governor about securing potential additional funding out of their governor’s share of the $3 billion in flexible funding provide to state leaders. NSBA has been advocating hard for these and other emergency provisions and plans to immediately begin lobbying Members of Congress about needs that must be addressed in the next emergency spending bill, including seeking dedicated funding connecting students to online learning through a dedicated investment in the E-rate program.

Congress Adjourning for Three Weeks

The Senate is adjourned until April 20, and NSBA expects the House to announce a similar schedule, after completing work on the third pandemic emergency bill today. Several Members of Congress are already in self quarantine based on Covid-19 exposure and Senate and House leaders are reluctant to convene their members, absent a specific need. In order to keep members healthy, the Senate and House will be adjourned for the next few weeks – members and staff are already working remotely – subject to a request by leaders to reconvene. This schedule will almost certainly disrupt the fiscal year 2021 appropriations cycle and the planned work of the House and Senate but will be necessary to protect members and staff from the virus. NSBA expects significant work to be completed virtually, however, so our advocacy team will remain engaged with congressional staff to discuss school board members’ collective fiscal year 2021 appropriations priorities and other policy recommendations.

Administration Update

U.S. Department of Education Provides Pandemic Guidance 

Secretary DeVos may participate in today's White House pandemic press briefing to discuss school districts’ efforts to provide online learning opportunities for displaced students. Online learning has been the subject of several recent U.S. Department of Education guidance materials to help districts navigate the pandemic emergency, including supplemental information published last weekend by the Office for Civil Rights and Office for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services regarding special education and online learning. In a related development, the Department of Education’s Student Privacy Policy Office will host a webinar on Monday to review Frequently Asked Questions on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and implications for distance learning due to school closures. Click here to register. Only the first 500 attendees will be able to participate. The Department of Education released a fact sheet to provide more information on “How Distance Learning Can be Used to Meet Students’ Needs During COVID-19 National Emergency.”  This is a supplemental fact sheet to address serving children with disabilities in preschool through secondary schools. All of the department’s pandemic resources are available here.

Department of Education Grants ESSA Waivers Related to Pandemic

According to the Department of Education, 45 states have applied for the accountability and assessment waiver the department authorized due to pandemic emergency.  All of these states have been granted initial approval. This waiver allows states to “bypass standardized testing for the 2019-2020 school year.” A waiver may be granted to any state that is unable to assess its students due to the ongoing national emergency – this allows states to cancel statewide assessments for the 2019-2020 school year, and because the statewide accountability systems rely on student performance as measured by assessments, states may also receive waivers from the requirement that the testing data be used in the statewide accountability system.

Department of Education Invites Data Grant Applications

The Department of Education invited applications for the Statistical and Research Methodology in Education and Using Longitudinal Data to Support State Education Policymaking Grant Program. The program seeks to “support the development of a wide range of methodological and statistical tools to better enable applied education scientists to conduct rigorous education research.” The program will be used to expand the research use of State Longitudinal Data Systems to provide further evidence for State education policymaking. Congress has not yet enacted an appropriation for fiscal 2021, however they are seeking applications now so that applicants have adequate time to prepare. Applications are due July 30, 2020, and further information is available here.

Agriculture Department Issues New Nutrition Program Waivers

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced additional nutrition program flexibilities to help communities navigate the pandemic emergency.  Secretary Perdue said, “USDA is committed to maximizing our services and flexibilities to ensure children and others who need food can get it during this coronavirus epidemic,” said Perdue. The USDA’s new waivers provide states the option to allow parents or guardians to take meals home to their children. USDA’s press release also notes that states can waive meal pattern requirements to let local operators prepare foods with the supplies they have available. It also delays administrative deadlines associated with the Community Eligibility Provision to relax burdens on schools closed by the pandemic.


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 events and meetings held in the MABE offices are canceled through May 1st.