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

May 22, 2020

Congressional Update  

Senate Adjourned Until June, House on Limited Memorial Day Schedule

Following House passage of the Democratic Leadership’s latest COVID-19 response bill (the “HEROES Act”) congressional work to respond to the emergency has slowed. Senate Republican Leaders said the body would not consider the HEROES Act. They also said they would not develop other emergency response legislation until the CARES Act has had more time to work. With the Senate on recess – and the House planning a light schedule - during Memorial Day week, NSBA does not expect significant work to begin again until June. At that time, the Senate and House appropriations committees are expected to focus on the regular fiscal year 2021 appropriations process, including continuing work on the U.S. Department of Education’s budget. Additional COVID-19 emergency response discussions between the Senate, House, and White House are likely to grow more serious later in the month. NSBA plans to continue urging

Congress to provide significant additional emergency funding for school districts, while also seeking key increases in regular fiscal year 2021 funding for the Department of Education.

Administration Update

Department of Education Publishes English Learner Fact Sheet

The Department of Education published a fact sheet that “outlines States’ responsibilities to English learners and their parents during the COVID-19 emergency.” The fact sheet covers questions associated with annual EL assessment, entrance requirements, providing services to EL students, use of ESSA Title III funds, exit procedures, and more.

USDA Extends Nutrition Program Waivers

The Department of Agriculture extended three nationwide waivers for schools and local programs to make it easier to feed eligible children through August 31, 2020.  The initial waivers were set to expire on June 30. The Food and Nutrition Service waivers provide the following flexibility:

  • Non-Congregate Feeding:FNS is allowing meals to be served to children outside of the normally required group setting to support social distancing;
  • Parent Pickup: FNS is allowing parents and/or guardians to pick up meals and bring them home to their children; and
  • Meal Times:FNS is waiving requirements that meals be served at certain standard times to allow for grab-n-go options. This also allows for multiple days-worth of meals to be provided at once. The USDA also said it is working quickly to approve states for Pandemic-EBT, which “provides food-purchasing benefits, equal to the value of school meals, to households with children who would otherwise be receiving free or reduced-price meals at school.”

Centers for Disease Control Publishes Re-Opening Guidelines

This week, the CDC published guidelines for reopening the economy, including schools, titled “CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening America Up Again”.  CDC said, “[a]ll decisions about following these recommendations should be made in collaboration with local health officials and other State and local authorities who can help assess the current level of mitigation needed based on levels of COVID-19 community transmission and the capacities of the local public health and healthcare systems, among other relevant factors.”

Notable New K-12 Bills

  • H.R.6902 To authorize the Secretary of Education to award grants to eligible entities to carry out educational programs that include the history of peoples of African descent in the settling and founding of America, the economic and political environments that led to the development, institutionalization, and abolition of slavery and its impact on all Americans, the exploration and expansion of America, impact on and contributions to the development and enhancement of American life, United States history, literature, the economy, politics, body of laws, and culture, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Fudge, Marcia L. [D-OH-11]

NSBA Updates                .

Non-binding Equitable Guidance to Non-Public Schools: NSBA continues to be very concerned over the non-binding equitable guidance that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently released concerning distribution of CARES Act funding to non-public schools including private schools under the CARES Act. NSBA is extremely concerned over this recent guidance that appears to be radically shifting resources away from public schools and to private schools. Under the provisions of The CARES Act, local educational agencies (LEAs) that receive education stabilization funds are to provide equitable services to non-public schools in the same manner as provided under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Under that Act, LEAs base how much Title I funding is distributed for services to private schools on number of low income students served, not total enrollment numbers. ED’s announced guidance is contrary to that law. This issue is creating havoc and uncertainty for states as they seek to provide funds under the CARES Act. NSBA believes the guidance directing LEAs to base funding distribution to non-public schools based on total enrollment instead of poverty levels is contrary to the Law set out in the CARES Act and will cause the students most in need to receive less resources. Expect to hear more about this issue in the coming days as the level of concern rises.


May 15, 2020

Senator Markey and 44 Co-sponsors Introduce Emergency E-rate Legislation

This week, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), joined by 42 Democratic and 2 Independent senators,  introduced legislation (S.3690) that proposes to provide $4 billion in emergency funding, through the E-Rate program, to help connect elementary and secondary students and library patrons who lack broadband access for learning. The bill is a companion to a House measure introduced in April by Representative Grace Meng (D-NY). The sponsors’ goal is to secure inclusion of the E-rate funding in the next COVID-19 emergency response bill considered by Congress. NSBA strongly supports the Markey/Meng proposal and is working with other national groups to build support for it.

Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing About Safely Returning to School

This week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing titled, “COVID-19: Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School.” Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said “all roads back to work and back to school go through testing.” NIH infectious disease expert Fauci said, “we don’t know everything about this virus and we really better be pretty careful, particularly when it comes to children.” An archived video of the hearing may be accessed here for further information.  Witnesses at the hearing included: Anthony Fauci, MD (Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD); Robert Redfield, MD (Director, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA); ADM Brett Giroir, MD  (Assistant Secretary for Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.); and Stephen Hahn, MD (Commissioner of Food and Drugs, United States Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, MD).

House Democrats Introduce New Pandemic Response Bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called a House vote for Friday on a $3 trillion emergency bill to help states, communities, and individuals. As of this writing, the legislation is still being debated. Among other investments, the bill, (the HEROES Act, H.R.6800), provides the following funding:

  • $1 trillion to state, local, territorial, and tribal governments.
  • $90 billion for a State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for grants to States to support statewide and local funding for elementary and secondary schools and public postsecondary institutions. Approximately $58 billion of the total would be provided to K-12 education.
  • $1.5 billion in funding for the E-rate Program for schools and libraries to provide internet service in a technologically neutral way to students and teachers, prioritizing those without internet access at home.
  • $3 billion for school meal providers and USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program.
  • Doubles the above-the-line deduction for certain unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses for elementary and secondary school teachers from $250 to $500. This amount is adjusted for inflation.

NSBA plans to continue urging Congress to provide $200 billion in the bill to help school districts and a minimum of $4 in funding to the E-Rate program to close the homework gap. Senate Majority Leader McConnell has called for a slower process, arguing that the CARES Act should be allowed to work before Congress takes additional action. As a result, NSBA does not expect Senate leaders to introduce new emergency legislation anytime soon, but we intend to continue talking with senators about the importance of providing additional funding for public education, including dedicated funding for student and teacher broadband connectivity. Efforts are also underway to encourage the House to increase investments in any final legislation that may be debated through a conference committee process.

Administration Update

Department of Education Publishes FAQs to Support CARES Act Implementation

The Department of Education released an FAQ document related to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund).  The document responds to questions submitted to the Department by states and school districts. The FAQs are part of a series of periodic publications by the department to help states and school districts use federal funding to help their schools and students during the emergency. A compilation of the materials is available on the Department of Education’s COVID-19 webpage.

Department of Education Launches Weighted Funding Grant Competition

The Department of Education announced a new $3 million grant competition for school districts to support student-centered funding programs. The competition, authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act, will allow school districts to combine eligible federal funds with state and local funds in order to allocate resources based on students’ individual needs. For more information about these grant competitions, pre-application technical assistance webinar opportunities, or if you would like to be a peer reviewer, please email WeightedFundingPilot@ed.gov.

Notable K-12 Bills

  • R.943 Never Again Education Act Sponsor: Rep. Maloney, Carolyn B. [D-NY-12]
  • R.6825 To increase the amount of loan forgiveness available to teachers. Sponsor: Rep. Luria, Elaine G. [D-VA-2]
  • R.6811 To amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to increase the age of eligibility for children to receive benefits under the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. DeLauro, Rosa L. [D-CT-3]
  • R.6801 To provide reimbursements for the emergency operational costs of school food authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Adams, Alma S. [D-NC-12]
  • Res.959 Recognizing the roles and contributions of the teachers of the United States in building and enhancing the civic, cultural, and economic well-being of the United States. Sponsor: Rep. Graves, Sam [R-MO-6]
  • Res.571 A resolution congratulating the students, parents, teachers, and leaders of charter schools across the United States for making ongoing contributions to education and supporting the ideals and goals of the 21st annual National Charter Schools Week, to be held May 10 through May 16, 2020. Sponsor: Sen. Bennet, Michael F. [D-CO]
  • 3659 A bill to provide State and local workforce and career and technical education systems the support to respond to the COVID-19 national emergency. Sponsor: Sen. Murray, Patty [D-WA]


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.