Senate ESEA Call to Action

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AASA Call to Action:

Please ask your Senators to support ESEA reauthorization and vote in favor of the Every Child Achieves Act. There are a number of Senators who may be unhappy with the process because they didn’t get votes on their various amendments given the shortened timeline for debate. It is imperative that the Senate vote this bill out with a large bipartisan majority if we hope to have any traction in conferencing this bill with the House. As a reminder, this bill does not contain any of the provisions that we firmly disapprove of in the House ESEA bill: Title I portability, maintenance of effort elimination and funding caps. Even if the amendments that we oppose below are incorporated today, we will still remain supportive of the bill overall as it is imperative to keep the process moving forward.

Here are the amendments we anticipate will come up for a vote today and AASA’s positions on them. Please reach out to your Senators one last time and voice your opinion on these amendments.

Murphy 2241 (Expanded accountability): OPPOSE
AASA is opposed to any expansion of federal accountability as proposed by Sen. Murphy. Much of the frustration with NCLB lies with the overly prescriptive nature of accountability. The very deliberate effort of clearing the field of this overreach should not be reversed before state and local education professionals have an opportunity to demonstrate what they can do for their schools and students with the bill’s current accountability provisions, which preserve the critical federal guardrails of data disaggregation and graduation rate calculation. The reality is that any effort to expand federal accountability metrics presumes that state and local educators are out to ‘get’—rather than to support and serve—our nation’s students.

Kirk/Reed 2161 (Resource Equity): OPPOSE
AASA welcomes conversations about equity, as ensuring all students have access to resources critical to learning is a foundational piece to student achievement. As stated in our previous letter, we are opposed to any effort to expand data collection beyond what is currently collected, and we have concerns that this amendment will create new, significant administrative burdens for districts. While CRDC does require districts to report the number of certified social workers, nurses and school psychologists, it does not collect certification status for specialized instructional support personnel as this amendment proposes. CRDC does not collect data on the “availability of dedicated school libraries and modern instructional materials and school facilities” and it is a total mystery as to how these terms would be defined. For example, is a textbook published 3 years ago considered a modern instructional material? CRDC also does not collect information on the “availability of health and wellness programs” and again, it is unknown how a wellness program would be defined. Beyond the expanded reporting, these terms would need significant definition/clarification, triggering yet another round of rulemaking/regulations.

Brown 2100 (Community Schools): SUPPORT
AASA supports this amendment which would establish a full-service community schools grant program in ESEA. Community schools improve student achievement and strengthen family and community engagement. Community schools respond to each community’s unique context and are in high demand across the country and we have long supported the incorporation of a Community Schools Grant program in ESEA.

Heitkamp 2171 (Mental Health Integration: SUPPORT
We support an amendment to include the Mental Health Integration Program in ECAA. This program has helped enhance, improve, and develop collaborative efforts between school-based service systems and community mental health service systems to provide diagnosis and treatment services to students. It has also enhanced the availability of crisis intervention services, appropriate referrals for students potentially in need of mental health services, and ongoing mental health services.

In case you are asked, we are staying neutral on the following amendments also expected to be voted on today:
Casey: Early education/prekindergarten
Burr: Title I formula change, read AASA’s analysis below.
Warren: Requiring states to make anonymized student data available in a format that can be cross tabulated

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