AASA Commends Leaders as ESEA Reauthorization Negotiations Begin

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Today, AASA released the following press release as Senators Alexander and Murray and Representatives Kline and Scott meet to begin negotiations on a final ESEA reauthorization bill. 

Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued the following statement today commending U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and U.S. Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) for their continued leadership and commitment to our nation’s schools and students as they meet today for the first time to begin the deliberate and critical discussions necessary to move the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization one step closer to completion. AASA represents more than 13,000 school system leaders across the country and has listed ESEA reauthorization as a top legislative priority since the day the most recent iteration (No Child Left Behind) was passed into law.  

“As the only national organization to have opposed NCLB from its onset, we are keenly aware and appreciative of this group’s concerted efforts for comprehensive reauthorization. This group of leaders is the one responsible for moving ESEA reauthorization to its furthest point in 15 years. They know, as well as anyone, the importance of balancing personal and party policy priorities with the needs and priorities of the broader group and that compromise is central to the ultimate goal of complete reauthorization. 

“As a former superintendent having worked in schools under NCLB, and today, as the leader of the national organization representing our nation’s public school superintendents, the schools they lead and the students they serve, I am confident that our nation’s students will be in a better position under this legislative work product than their peers who went before them under NCLB. Schools open their doors to students regardless of the quality of federal policy and I am looking forward to an ESEA reauthorization that bolsters and strengthens educators’ unwavering commitment to teaching, learning and achievement.

“Earlier this month, AASA joined nine other national education organizations to urge Congress to work quickly to complete the ESEA conference process. As the letter states, there is still more work to be done. We strongly urge you to build on the momentum generated this month around ESEA reauthorization by proceeding to conference as soon as possible. Today’s meeting is a big step in the right direction. We at AASA stand ready to support this process.”

For specific questions about ESEA reauthorization, please contact Noelle Ellerson, AASA associate executive director, policy and advocacy, at nellerson@aasa.org.

AASA Sends Letter of Support for the School Lunch Price Protection Act

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Today, AASA sent a letter of support regarding the School Lunch Price Protection Act (S 1805). This act, introduced by Senators Inhofe and King, would prevent financially solvent school nutrition programs from being forced to raise meal prices, under the Paid Lunch Equity rule of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. AASA applauds the Senators for their commitment to increasing district control.

Sign On Letter: Help Stop Sequestration!

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You will recall that AASA has been very active in its efforts to urge Congress to avoid, repeal and replace sequester. We have advocated against it since before it was law and remain involved in ongoing efforts to spur Congress to repeal/replace the very failed policy they themselves wrote into law.

As such, we have once again signed on to the NDD (Non Defense Discretionary) Coalition letter, which is open to national, state and local associations and agencies (but NOT individual people). AASA has signed on to this letter, in conjunction with our friends at AESA, NREA, and NREAC. 

We encourage you (within your school district and state associations) to consider signing on to this letter, urging replacement/repeal of sequester and the damaging/very limiting budget caps put in place by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA). The current budget framework under which the House and Senate are writing their appropriations bills abides by the sequestered BCA caps. The inadequacy of these levels has been proven time and time again through appropriations bills that fail to make the necessary nondefense discretionary (NDD) investments that protect all Americans and promote a strong economy.  If these cuts are to be avoided, Congress must work with the President to replace sequestration with a balanced approach to deficit reduction. Such sequestration relief should maintain the parity principle set in the “Ryan-Murray” Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) and reverse sequestration for both defense and nondefense.

  • If these cuts are to be avoided, Congress must work with the President to replace sequestration with a balanced approach to deficit reduction. Such sequestration relief should maintain the parity principle set in the “Ryan-Murray” Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) and reverse sequestration for both defense and nondefense. . Details below:
  • Link to letter: http://www.publichealthfunding.org/uploads/NDDSignOnFall2015_Final.pdf 
  • Link to sign-on form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1CKU-w_ZTXpCUH64grdIEO1utOuEYVfyXwX9_ZB6gNHQ/viewform?usp=send_form 

Below are the text of the letter and instructions to sign on. The letter is also available online at the link above. Due to the large number of signatures, they WILL NOT be accepting any edits. Organizations must sign on to the letter “as is.”

INSTRUCTIONS TO SIGN-ON (PLEASE READ CAREFULLY)

  • This sign-on letter is for national, state, and local signatures ONLY. Individual citizens CANNOT participate and WILL NOT be listed.
  • When adding your organization’s name, please write it EXACTLY HOW YOU WOULD LIKE IT TO BE LISTED ON THE LETTER. Please double check your spelling before you submit your form. Note that if your organization’s name begins with the word “The,” it will be listed with the other organizations that begin with the letter “t.”
  • Please confirm that you are in fact authorized to sign on for your organization by checking the appropriate box on the form. Only organizations with authorized individuals completing the form will be listed on the letter.
  • We have added a section of the sign on form that asks you to identify the nondefense sector with which your organization most closely identifies. While your organization may identify with more than one, please choose the one that is MOST applicable. This question is meant for administrative use and will not appear on the letter sent to Congress.
  • Due to the large number of signatures, we WILL NOT accept edits. Organizations must sign on to the letter “as is.”
  • To sign on, complete the form in the link at the top of this email. The DEADLINE TO SIGN ON IS AUGUST 21! We aim to get this letter to the Hill in September. 

AASA Submits Letter Supporting Education Items in Tax Extenders

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Earlier this week, the Senate Committee on Finance considered a package of tax extenders. AASA follows two items in the broader package, including the educator deduction and the Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs). In our letter, we supported the proposals to provide two-year extensions to both both programs. 

I am pleased to report that the Senate Finance Committee approved a $95 billion tax extenders package extending 52 expired tax provisions for 2 years, including both the educator deduction and QZABs. 

The educator deduction is a $250 above-the-line deduction for teachers and other school professionals for expenses paid or incurred for books, supplies, and materials. QZABs provide tax credits to assist the financing of school renovation, repair and modernization projects.  


AASA Joins 9 National Organizations Urging Congress to Complete ESEA

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Earlier today, AASA joined forces with nine other national education organizations to urge Congress to work quickly to complete the ESEA conference process, bringing ESEA reauthorization to a close and providing the nation's schools and the students they serve an updated, current ESEA.

You'll recall that these same ten groups--American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, The School Superintendents Association, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Council of Chief State School Officers, Association of School Business Officials International, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National School Boards Association, National Parent Teacher Association and National Association of State Boards of Education--joined forces last month in a press conference urging Congress (both the House and Senate) to #PutKidsFirst and move their respective bills for a final vote. Both chambers did so within the last two weeks, and today's letter is a similar type of pressure and message for the next step: conference. In 'conference', the House and Senate conferees have to work together to reconcile differences between the two bills.

The unified message is simple and clear: "...Educators and parents cannot wait for a reauthorized ESEA. This bill is long overdue, and we do not have a moment to waste. We are now closer than we have been in the last 8 years to producing a new law as both Houses of Congress have passed ESEA reauthorization proposals. However, as you are well aware, there is still more work to be done before we reach our goal. To this end, we strongly urge you to build on the momentum generated this month around ESEA reauthorization by proceeding to conference as soon as possible."

You can read the full letter here.

AASA members attend White House event on school discipline

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School superintendents from around the country were in attendance at a White House event today titled "Convening to Rethink School Discipline." The White House is hosting Rethink School Discipline, a national convening and conversation on improving school discipline policies and practices. At the meeting, participants will discuss new tools and resources to be released by the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, an interagency initiative launched by the Administration in 2011, along with data and research that underscores the need for further action. School leaders across the country will share best practices used to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline by fostering safe, supportive, and productive learning environments that keep kids in school and out of the juvenile justice system. The White House has a series of documents that may be of interest to superintendents interested in this topic: 

Impact of Advocacy: 112 Offices Visited!

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On Wednesday, July 8, AASA and ASBO members took to Capitol Hill to advocate for public education. According to the responses on our google doc (if you haven’t filled it in yet and you were at the conference, please do so here!), we visited 112 offices! In the graphs below, the orange bars show meetings with the Senators or Representatives themselves (29 and 45, respectively), and the purple bars show meetings with staff members.

2015 advocacy offices

 

This kind of direct contact has real consequences. While we cannot take full credit, the members whose offices we visited voted for ESEA reauthorization (HR5 in the House and S1177 in the Senate) at high rates – 68 percent of the offices we visited voted for the bills, much higher than the 56 percent support overall.

Your visits didn’t only focus on ESEA; you had the chance to highlight other important issues and communicate with your Members of Congress the need for federal action on a myriad of issues. These were the topics discussed most often: 

 2015 advocacy topics

Please stay in touch with your Members and their staff - persistence is key - and let us know how we can help you maintain these relationships and encourage action!