2017 Superintendent Advocacy Challenge
With a new year, a new Congress, and a new administration, now is as good a time as every to issue an advocacy challenge. Each month of this year, our team will identify a topic or two—whether driven by the AASA legislative agenda or by current goings on with Congress or the administration—and provide advocacy support. That is, we’ll give a bit of quick background on the topic, explain the relevant policy proposals and implications, and then share a few talking points that you can use to weigh in with your Congressional delegation (your Representative and both your Senators). You can take that information to craft your monthly outreach—contacting one office per week—to your Congressional delegation, to relay the policy priorities in the context of what it means for your schools and the students you serve.
We stand by ready to answer any questions you may have. Do you not know the name or email address of the education staffer in your Senator’s office? We can provide that for you. Are you interested in seeing who from your state serves on certain House or Senate committees? Did your Congress member reach out with a different question, and you’d like information about that? We can get that to you.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced
a bill that would dramatically change Medicaid’s structure impact the ability
of students with disabilities and students in poverty to receive many critical
health services in schools that enable them to learn. These services include
speech-language pathology, occupational and physical therapy, mental and
behavioral health services, vision and hearing screenings, diabetes and asthma
management and wheelchairs and hearing aids.
Schools are able to provide these services, professionals
and equipment because they can receive reimbursement from Medicaid to cover the
majority of these costs. However, the Republican Medicaid plan “The American
Health Care Act” would dramatically change the financing structure of Medicaid
and would jeopardize the critical health care that students receive in schools.
AASA and 41 national education, healthcare, disability and
child welfare organizations sent a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee
urging members of Congress to oppose.
Under this plan, every child would receive a capped amount
of funding for their healthcare needs regardless of how sick they are, how
disabled they are or the services they need to be healthy and learn. School
districts may be totally cut out of the Medicaid reimbursement process as
States will be in the drivers’ seat except they have 600 billion dollars less
from the federal government to spend on Medicaid eligible kids. Reliable
healthcare experts believe this will lead to rationed health care options for
children, and cutting schools out of Medicaid reimbursement is an obvious
choice for States to make when dollars are scarce and schools are competing
with hospitals, primary care physicians and front-line providers for limited
Take action now to stop America’s most vulnerable children
from losing vital healthcare services in schools.
Call your Senators and Representative and urge them to
reject legislation that places arbitrary caps on how much Medicaid funding a
- As a constituent and a superintendent, I oppose the passage
of the American Health Care Act. Rather than close the gap and eliminate the
rate of uninsured children in America, the current proposal will ration the
health care America’s most vulnerable children receive and undermine the ability
of districts to meet the educational needs of students with disabilities and
students in poverty.
- Children represent 46% of all Medicaid beneficiaries yet
represent only 19% of the costs. Currently, 4-5 billion dollars flow to school
districts every year, so they can make sure students with disabilities who need
the help of therapists can learn and that students who can’t get to a doctor
regularly can receive the basic medical care they need to learn and thrive. The
current proposal will jeopardize student's ability to receive comprehensive
care at schools and create barriers to access.
- The American Health Care Act would undermine critical
healthcare services my district provides to children. It would also lead to
layoffs of school personnel, the potential for new taxes to compensate for the
Medicaid shortfall, and shifting general education dollars to special education
programs to compensate for these cuts.
WRITE Your Elected
Calling is much more effective, but if you choose to write
your elected officials, use this template.
The Honorable [Name]
U.S. Senator/U.S Representative
Dear Senator/ Representative:
As a constituent and a superintendent, I strongly oppose The
American Health Care Act, which would radically change Medicaid as we know it
through block grants, per capita caps, or repealing the Medicaid expansion that
has served as a lifeline to millions.
Specifically, a per capita cap system will undermine states’
ability to provide America’s neediest children access to vital healthcare that
ensures they have adequate educational opportunities and can contribute to
society. Medicaid is a cost-effective and efficient funder of essential health
care services for children. In fact, while children comprise almost half of
Medicaid beneficiaries, less than one in five dollars spent by Medicaid is
consumed by children. Accordingly, a per capita cap, even one that is based on
different groups of beneficiaries, will disproportionally harm children’s
access to care, including services received at school.
A school’s primary responsibility is to provide students
with a high-quality education. However, children cannot learn to their fullest
potential with unmet health needs. As such, school district personnel regularly
provide critical health services to ensure that all children are ready to learn
and able to thrive alongside their peers. Schools deliver services effectively
and efficiently since school is where children spend their days. Increasing
access to health care services through Medicaid improves health care and
educational outcomes for students. Providing health and wellness services for
students in poverty and services that benefit students with disabilities
ultimately enables more children to become employable and attend
The current proposal would be devastating to schools and
children, particularly those children with disabilities. The American Health
Care Act would undermine critical healthcare services my district provides to
children. It would also lead to layoffs of school personnel, the potential for
new taxes to compensate for the Medicaid shortfall, and shifting general
education dollars to special education programs to compensate for these
I urge you to reject the American Health Care Act, and any
subsequent effort to significantly change the funding structure of Medicaid.
We kicked off the 2017 Superintendent Advocacy Challenge in February with a simple call to action, encouraging you to make contact with each office. This month, we focus on E-Rate!
As we go through the year, if you would like talking points and background on a topic other than what we feature, JUST ASK! We are more than happy to provide that information, to ensure you are able to relay the information more relevant for you. We are also happy to share the name and email address of the education staffer for your members of Congress; just ask!
Background: E-Rate provides $3.9 billion in discounts annually to ensure that all public libraries and K-12 public and private schools gain access to broadband connectivity and robust internal Wi-Fi. As of December 31, 2015, schools and libraries have received over $31 billion in E-Rate funds. The promise of the E-Rate program is straightforward: to assure that all Americans, regardless of income or geography, can participate in and benefit from new information technologies, including distance learning, online assessment, web-based homework, enriched curriculum, increased communication between parents, students and their educators, and increased access to government services and information. The E-Rate program provides discounts to public and private schools, public libraries and consortia of those entities on Internet access and internal networking. (E-Rate’s previous support for voice services terminates after Program Year 2018.) E-Rate discounts are provided through the Federal Communications Commission by assessing telecommunication carriers for a total of up to $3.9 billion dollars annually. This methodology follows a long-established Universal Service Fund model, used to ensure affordable access to telephone services for residents in all areas of the nation since 1934. (Source: EdLiNC)
Policy Context: While Congress is not poised to make any changes to E-Rate, we want to ensure that they know what E-Rate, how schools and libraries use it, why the program matters, that it is working and is important, and what would happen to schools if the program were reduced or cut. The goal of this month’s call to action is an awareness campaign, to put this issue on Congress’ radar as a program to know and a program to support!
- Though Congress has no role in determining the changes to E-Rate, they do engage in conversations with the FCC Commissioners. As such, make sure your Senators and Representatives know the critical role that E-Rate dollars play in school connectivity and how important those dollars will be as schools prepare for the online assessments.
- Did you know? E-Rate is the third largest stream of federal resources in the country, after Title I and IDEA. Check out E-Rate funding in your state!
- E-Rate played a critical role is the rapid and significant expansion of connectivity in schools, and the 2014 modernization was a much needed update to ensure more schools and libraries are connected to broadband.
- Talk about how your district uses its E-Rate funding, how it supports your district’s learning and teaching, and what it would mean if E-Rate were cut.
February - Intro/Call to Action
We are using the February advocacy challenge to make an introduction and extend an invite. Congress is adjourned for recess at regular intervals, meaning they will be in their home district frequently. Recess is an opportune time to invite your elected official (and/or their education staffer) to see your schools in action. Highlight your programs that are excelling (After school? English Learner support? Early education? Credit Recovery?). Give examples where you could do more with better federal support (High class room sizes? Teacher shortages? Limited opportunity for CTE?). Facilitate a community conversation with stakeholders about ESSA (or education technology, or school nutrition, or rural education….).
- Introduce yourself, and your district. Enrollment, free/reduced lunch rate, community type, etc….
- Introduce your state association, and their role in helping facilitate/convene conference calls and round table conversations with member superintendents.
- Introduce AASA as the national organization for school superintendents (and feel free to copy one of us on your outreach!)
- Extend the invitation for the visit, and ask who you should coordinate with to set it up.
- Extend the opportunity for them to reach out to you as they have questions and consider various policies in Congress; let them know that you’d be happy to tell them what it would look like in your district and for specific things to consider.
- Indicate that you will be reaching out over the course of the year on federal advocacy priorities, and that you look forward to working with them.
It is an introductory round this first month, and will be more substantive and policy-specific next month.
Thank you, in advance, for your continued advocacy efforts and support for AASA advocacy. And, as always let us know if you need anything.