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.

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 policy 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 – February 2-4, 2020 – Registration Opens September 25, 2019

2019 Advocacy Institute – The 2019 Advocacy Institute was held from January 27-29, 2019 at the Washington Hilton Hotel.  Check out the Agenda and contact MABE for information on how to participate in FRN and future Advocacy Institutes.

Priority Issue – Reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and IDEA Position Statement for Members of Congress

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

Federal News & Highlights

NSBA’s Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Updates
(Updated September 13, 2019)  

NSBA Update

NSBA recently submitted comments, in the form of a letter signed by all State associations, objecting to proposed E-Rate policy changes by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

MABE agrees with NSBA that this unified effort sends a direct message to the FCC, Congress, and the public that broadband is a crucial issue for schools and excellent student learning.

We, the undersigned, represent school board members across the nation who work diligently to
give each student an excellent education that will prepare them for future success. There are
more than 14,000 school districts and 90,000 school board members who spend each day striving
to meet that goal. On behalf of those school board members and the many millions of students
who attend public schools, we urge the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) to
reject the proposal in the recently published Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to place a
cap on the Universal Service Fund (USF) and a sub-cap on the Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)
and Rural Health Care Programs. Instead, we respectfully request that the Commission join
with the nation’s school board members to focus on expanding access to high-speed broadband
so students have enhanced access in and out of school. 


Congressional Update

Congress Nears New Fiscal Year Without Budget in Place

The beginning of the next fiscal year is only two weeks away, but Congress has not completed work on the annual spending bills that fund government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education. Compounding this problem, the Senate Appropriations Committee abruptly cancelled work that was planned for this week on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related Agencies spending bill, after a dispute arose over controversial policy “riders” or “poison pills” as they are often referred to in the media. To provide additional time for legislators to negotiate, congressional leaders are working to pass a “continuing resolution” to complete the fiscal year 2020 spending process. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) suggested that this temporary extension of fiscal year 2019 funding levels will last until November 21, but no official statement about the stopgap spending bill has been publicly released by House or Senate leaders. NSBA is continuing to work independently and with our national partners to champion funding for the major education formula programs, including ESSA, Title I and II, IDEA Part B, and other key funding streams for school districts.

Senate Appropriation Committee Releases Proposed Fiscal Year 2020 Spending Levels

The Senate Appropriations Committee adopted fiscal year 2020 proposed spending levels for all 12 annual spending bills this week:

    • Agriculture-FDA: $23.1 billion
    • Financial Services: $24.2 billion
    • Commerce-Justice-Science: $78.9 billion
    • Defense: $693 billion
    • Labor-HHS-Education: $187.7 billion (a 1.04% increase compared to FY’19)
    • Homeland Security: $53.4 billion
    • Energy-Water: $48.9 billion
    • Interior-Environment: $35.8 billion
    • State-Foreign Operations: $55 billion
    • Transportation-HUD: $74.3 billion
    • Military Construction-VA: $105.5 billion
    • Legislative Branch: $5.1 billion

The amount allocated for the Labor-HHS-Education bill is approximately 5% below the total provided in the similar House-passed bill. This significant gap will set the stage for difficult House-Senate negotiations later in the appropriations process. NSBA will be fighting hard for the House approved level.

House Education and Labor Committee Democrats Publish Equity Report

Democrats of the House Education and Labor Committee, led by Chairman Bobby Scott, published a report this week titled “Investing in Economic Mobility: The Important Role of HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in Closing Racial and Wealth Gaps in Higher Education” focusing on funding levels.  The report notes that funding levels have consistently fallen short of what is needed to fulfill the promise of the Higher Education Act (HEA) to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).   The report notes that Congress “must provide the resources and support necessary to ensure historically underserved students access and complete college.”

Appropriations Subcommittees Plan Children’s Mental Health and STEM Hearings

The House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on September 18 titled “Mental Health Needs of Children in HHS Custody.” Witnesses will include Jonathan Hayes (Director, Office of Refugee Resettlement, Department of Health and Human Services), Ann Maxwell (Assistant Inspector General, Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services), and Jonathan White (Commander, Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Department of Health and Human Services). Watch the livestream here.

The House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on September 19 titled “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Engagement”. Witnesses will include Michael Kincaid (Associate Administrator for STEM Engagement, National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and Dr. Karen Marrongelle (Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation for Education and Human Resources).  Watch the livestream here.

Administration Update

Department of Education Announces Title IX Agreement with Chicago Public Schools

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education announced a resolution agreement with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) that will “require significant structural and procedural changes within the District in order to protect students from sexual assault and abuse.” The Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) initiated a district wide investigation following sexual assault and sexual harassment complaints that were filed in May 2015 and November 2016.  A Department of Education press release said that “OCR found that CPS failed to respond promptly and equitably to complaints, did not provide services and remedies to the complainants, did not notify the complainants of investigation outcomes, and did not take effective action to provide a safe environment for all students.” The resolution agreement outlines the plans CPS will take to ensure Title IX compliance.


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.