The Washington Update
Links to Points of Interest...
Legislative emails posted to this page...
A new web site that keeps an eye on the ARRA money being spent on IDEA www.IDEAmoneywatch.com
IDEA Recovery Act funds must be obligated by September 30, 2011. The U.S. Department of Education has encouraged districts to spend the bulk of the funds during the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years, with any remaining funds spent during the 2010-2011 school year.
House Poised to Vote on Bill to Fund Government Through Fiscal 2011 - CQ
The House plans to vote Wednesday on a measure that would keep the federal government’s fiscal 2011 discretionary funding at the same $1.09 trillion level that was provided for fiscal 2010. House appropriators on Tuesday unveiled a measure that would fund the federal government through next September. The Appropriations Committee said the measure would provide $45.9 billion less than President Obama had requested for fiscal 2011. The measure also includes several policy provisions, including the text of a food safety bill (S 510) passed by the Senate last week. With battles over the budget having derailed the fiscal 2011 appropriations process, Congress has already enacted two continuing resolutions for fiscal 2011, which began in October. The second (PL 111-290) expires Dec. 18.
House appropriators used a stalled fiscal 2010 military construction spending bill (HR 3082) that previously passed the Senate as the vehicle for the long-term continuing resolution (CR), a move that could save time in moving the measure through parliamentary steps in both chambers.
The measure is the final piece of major legislation assembled by Appropriations Chairman David R. Obey, who did not seek re-election. The Wisconsin Democrat sought to aid domestic programs in the continuing resolution while also providing a boost for the Pentagon and sticking with the previous year’s funding for most discretionary programs.
A liberal who spent decades in Congress fighting for education and health programs, Obey expressed frustration at having to hold the line on domestic spending while President Obama and Republican leaders have agreed to extend all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts (PL 107-16, PL 108-27) for two years.
“At a time when we are apparently extending huge tax cuts for millionaires . . . this committee has done its dead-level best within the constraints under which we are operating to make some modest adjustments to salvage some investments which over the long haul just might create more jobs than a tax break for millionaires, and adjustments that just might ease the financial desperation facing so many families today who cannot afford to send their kids to college, to find decent child care or to provide adequate medical attention for their needs,” Obey said.
Senate Up Next
Obey’s long-term continuing resolution could run into problems in the Senate. Iowa Republican Tom Latham, the current ranking member on the House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, noted that Senate Republicans have been pushing for a “clean” CR. The inclusion of the food safety language with Obey’s measure could make it unattractive to House Republicans and to their colleagues in the Senate. “It won’t fly over there,” Latham said. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Republicans would oppose the year-long CR and push for immediate spending cuts, a demand that some Senate Republicans, such as Bob Corker of Tennessee, have echoed. “Republicans have said again and again that we’re for bringing non-defense discretionary spending down to ‘08 levels. This is a 2010 level. It’s spending money we don’t have and we’ve got to stop doing that,” Cantor said in a brief interview off the House floor.
Resistance to Obey’s measure could make it that much harder for Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, to pass a fiscal 2011 omnibus package including the text of all 12 annual spending bills. Inouye is expected to try to use the House’s long-term CR as a vehicle for the omnibus package. Many House Democrats want an omnibus package, but with Senate Republicans wary of Obey’s measure, attaching an even larger omnibus package could spur stiff resistance.
“The omnibus is much better. It’s a much more adequate response to the country’s needs, “ said David E. Price, D-N.C., the chairman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. “The key question will be what the Senate is able to do. There are still people over there working very hard on it.”
Price stressed that Democratic and Republican appropriators from both chambers have worked on the omnibus. An omnibus could win some support from Republican Senate appropriators, particularly Thad Cochran of Mississippi, but fiscal conservatives are pushing back. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a fiscal hawk, has said that he would try to block an omnibus. He prefers that stopgap funding continue into early next year, which would allow Republicans more control over spending.
House Bill Includes Pell Money
Obey’s measure would provide $5.7 billion in additional funds for Pell grants to meet a shortfall, the committee said. More people are seeking these grants, which go largely to students whose families have annual income of less than $40,000.
The spending bill also would provide $550 million for the Race to the Top education program, which was not funded in regular fiscal 2010 appropriations. The White House had sought $800 million for this program.
The CR would provide $513 billion for defense, $4.9 billion more than fiscal 2010 funding, for regular Pentagon operations. The measure also includes $159 billion for war operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, as the president requested. The measure carries no earmarks and would freeze federal pay, except for military personnel, for two years.
Funding Cuts, Policy Provisions
To make room for added domestic and military spending above fiscal 2010 levels, the CR would provide $6 billion less for the Census Bureau now that the decennial population count has been completed and rescind $1.7 billion of previously appropriated Census funding. It also would provide $5.1 billion less to fund military base closings, and $1.5 billion less for high-speed rail.
It would rescind $630 million from old highway projects and another $500 million from the Asset Forfeiture Fund, as proposed by the Justice Department. The measure carries a slew of policy provisions, including authorization for a military pay increase next year funded at 1.4 percent and a prohibition on the transfer or release within the United States of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or any other Guantánamo Bay detainee who is not a U.S. citizen or member of the U.S. armed forces.
The CR also carries the Senate-passed version food safety overhaul, which must procedurally now originate in the House because it contains revenue-related provisions. Under the Constitution, all revenue bills must originate in the House.
The House and Senate have released their calendars for 2011
The House plans to be in session until December 8, 2011. It includes 17 weeks of recesses.
The House and Senate calendars have very different plans for their time off beyond a shared recess week in February, two weeks off at the same time surrounding Easter in April and the same five-week August break.
§ Week of Jan. 17 (MLK Day) for the Senate only
§ Week of Jan. 31 for the House only
§ Week of Feb. 21 (Presidents Day) for both chambers
§ Week of March 21 for both chambers
§ Weeks of April 18 and April 25 for both chambers (Passover begins the evening of Monday, April 18; Easter Sunday is April 24)
§ Week of May 16 for the House
§ Week of May 30 (Memorial Day) for the Senate
§ Week of June 6 for the House
§ Week of June 27 for the House
§ Week of July 4 (Independence Day) for the Senate
§ Week of July 18 for the House
§ Week of Aug. 8 through Labor Day, Sept. 5, for both chambers
§ Week of Sept. 26 for the House
§ Week of Oct. 17 for the House
§ Week of Oct. 24 for the Senate, which has nothing noted on its calendar after that
§ Week of Nov. 7 for the House
§ Week of Nov. 21 (Thanksgiving) for the House
Representative Kline, selected as Education and Labor Chairman, issued this statement:
“Job creation and American competitiveness are vital national priorities. As Chairman, I will ensure they are at the forefront of the Education and Labor Committee agenda. I am humbled by the decision of my colleagues to allow me to lead this panel, and I am eager to move forward with an agenda that fulfills our pledge to create a smaller, more accountable federal government. My goal for the federal programs and agencies that oversee our schools and workplaces is to provide certainty and simplicity. We must ensure federal red tape does not become the enemy of innovation, and that federal mandates do not become roadblocks on the path to reform.”
To help cut federal spending, he said, he hopes to eliminate or consolidate up to 60 Education Department programs that "just are not working." While cutting some programs, he said, he wants to increase funding for others, including special education, which is a "huge unfunded mandate ... that we ought to address."
Pell Grants Would Get Boost, But Not Most Other Education Programs - CQ
Low-income college students would be spared cuts in tuition grants as a result of increased Pell grant funding in the latest draft of a continuing resolution circulating Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
But the draft measure to keep the government running through fiscal 2011 freezes spending levels for most federal grant programs for public schools, leaving state and local governments with no additional resources as they face declining state and local tax receipts.
The Obama administration’s signature education grant program, Race to the Top, also takes a significant hit in the draft document. While the competitive grant program is widely credited as a catalyst for change in the public education system, critics call it coercive and say it is unfair to rural states and districts without the funds to mount successful applications.
The administration had asked appropriators for $800 million for Race to the Top in fiscal 2011. But the current draft provides only $300 million for the program, originally funded at $4.3 billion as part of the economic stimulus package (PL 111-5).
“Can you really run a national competition on that money?” asked Joel Packer, executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, an advocacy group. “As a $4 billion program, 12 states got money, including the District of Columbia. But at $300 million, it’s like buying a lottery ticket. Your odds of winning have just dramatically gone down.”
Deborah Rigsby, director of federal legislation for the National School Board Association, called it significant that the program could survive in some form.
The draft spending measure would provide $5.7 billion to fund a shortfall in the federal Pell grant tuition-aid program estimated for the 2011-12 academic year — the result of more students with greater need becoming eligible for grants in a struggling economy. The increase would maintain the current $5,550 maximum award.
President Obama wanted to include that funding in the last continuing resolution (PL 111-290), but it was one of many add-ons that were not included as a result of Republican pressure to keep the measure relatively “clean.”
House and Senate appropriators have differed on whether to make up the Pell grant program shortfall. While the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee included the funding in its draft fiscal 2011 spending bill, Senate appropriators did not. The Senate also rejected the House’s attempt to add $4.95 billion in discretionary funding for the grants to the stripped-down fiscal 2010 supplemental spending bill (PL 111-212) that Congress enacted in July.
“The biggest thing the continuing resolution does is include the full amount to pay off the Pell grant shortfall,” Packer said. “Taking care of that shortfall is critical.”
Flat Funding Disappoints
The draft continuing resolution, however, freezes funding for education programs like Title I, which supports schools and school districts with high percentages of students from low-income families, and IDEA, which helps pay for services for children with disabilities.
“This freeze basically equates to a cut when you take into consideration school districts that will find it increasingly difficult to fill in a funding shortfall at the federal level,” said Deborah Rigsby, director of federal legislation for the National School Boards Association.
“When you look at the complete fiscal picture for school districts and how funding for schools is dependent upon state revenues, federal funding as well as local funding, in all areas we have some serious fiscal constraints, especially with record budget shortfalls,” she said.
Noelle M. Ellerson, assistant director of policy analysis and advocacy for the American Association of School Administrators, also expressed frustration. “The biggest omission would be increased funding for IDEA,” she said, noting the amount authorized for the program accounts for only 40 percent of the costs of educating special-needs students.
The continuing resolution would also provide $7.5 billion in funding for the Head Start program.
Infant Hearing Loss Detection Bill Passes in Senate
The Senate passed by unanimous consent a bill (S 3199) that would expand a program for newborns and infants with hearing loss to include diagnosis services in addition to screening, evaluation and intervention services.
Harold Rogers Will Head House Appropriations Panel Next Year
Harkin Predicts Omnibus Push, Says Bill Could Carry Other Legislation - CQ
A top Senate Democratic appropriator predicted lawmakers will try to strike a deal on a catchall omnibus spending measure before the end of the year, adding that the package could be a vehicle for other legislative priorities.
Democrats are pushing for an omnibus, reasoning that it could be their last chance to make many spending decisions with Republicans taking control of the House next year. But Senate Republicans are resisting, particularly since the package could include earmark spending requests, which have become politically toxic to many GOP members.
On Dec. 4, Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations panel, said lawmakers were working to finalize an omnibus package that would include the year’s 12 annual spending bills. Harkin said he had largely worked out a deal on his bill with House counterpart, David R. Obey, D-Wis., who leads both the Appropriations Committee and its Labor-HHS-Education panel. “We’re pretty much agreed,” he said. “Obey and I worked it pretty much all out.”
Harkin said the omnibus could end up including an extension of several expiring business tax breaks and a patch to prevent the alternative minimum tax from hitting more Americans, as well as provisions to prevent scheduled cuts in Medicare payments to physicians.
“That omnibus is going to wait and it is going to have everything in it: AMT, tax extenders, doc fix,” Harkin said Dec. 4. “You wait and see. It will be the Christmas tree of all time.”
In the coming days, the House is expected to pass a long-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through next year. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is then expected to offer an omnibus package as a substitute amendment to that stopgap legislation.
Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who chairs the Senate Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, also indicated that much of the work on the omnibus is done. When asked if it might be unveiled the week of Dec. 6, she said, “Cross your fingers, it may well be.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Dec. 4 reiterated his opposition to an omnibus. He also said he will scrutinize the House’s long-term CR. “One of the things we’re going to want to do is actually look at it,” McConnell said. “Is it riddled with anomalies? Is it riddled with executive branch earmarks? Is it clean? Either way it’s going to be a really large bill that needs to be scrutinized thoroughly — what comes over from the House and what may be offered as an alternative.”
Senate Democrats will need to attract Republican votes to pass an omnibus. That could be difficult, since many GOP lawmakers would like to delay such legislation and put a greater imprint on government spending next year.
On Dec. 4, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said GOP appropriators have been involved in omnibus negotiations. But he raised concerns about whether the Democrats would allow amendments to a year-end spending package.
“Republican Appropriations Committee members have, over the last several months, had some input into the subcommittee marks,” Kyl said. “That’s not the same thing as writing an omnibus appropriations bill, and Republicans having a say in it. If Republicans don’t have the opportunity to offer amendments, for example, that’s clearly not a bipartisan process.”
Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the ranking Republican on the Senate Interior- Environment Appropriations panel and the Senate Republican conference chairman, said Dec. 3 that Democrats should try to keep an omnibus relatively free of policy changes if they hope to win GOP supporters.
“If it has extra policy language, it’s dead as a doornail because it wouldn’t get any Republican votes,” Alexander said.
So far, Congress has not yet cleared any of its 12 regular spending bills, and the federal government has been operating largely under stopgap funding authority since fiscal 2011 began Oct. 1. President Obama on Dec. 4 signed into law a second continuing resolution (H J Res 101), keeping the government funded at fiscal 2010 levels through Dec. 18.
House and Senate appropriators have been working on both a fiscal 2011 omnibus measure, and a yearlong fiscal 2011 CR that would keep the government operating largely at fiscal 2010 levels. Lawmakers could opt to clear the long-term stopgap measure if efforts to pass the omnibus were to come up short.
Late on Dec. 1, the White House sent Congress its list of special requests for extra funding for certain programs that it would want included in a yearlong CR.
NGA/NASBO released their annual Fiscal Survey of the States.
From the summary: “After two of the most challenging years for state budgets, fiscal 2011 will present a slight improvement over fiscal 2010. However, even an improvement over one of the worst time periods in state fiscal conditions since the Great Depression states still forecast considerable fiscal stress. Additionally, in fiscal 2012 a significant amount of state funding made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will no longer be available. The significant wind down of this support will result in a continuation of extremely tight fiscal conditions for states and could lead to further state spending cuts.”
On education cuts: “Out of the 39 states that made midyear cuts, 35 states reduced K-12 education, and 32 states cut higher education… Cuts in fiscal 2011 have thus far mirrored those of fiscal 2010 as 13 states have reduced K-12 education, while 10 states have cut higher education spending.”
H. RES. 1576
Title: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that a National Day of Recognition for Parents of Special Needs Children should be established.
Latest Major Action: 11/30/2010 House floor actions. Status: At the conclusion of debate, the chair put the question on the motion to suspend the rules. Mr. Roe (TN) objected to the vote on the grounds that a quorum was not present. Further proceedings on the motion were postponed. The point of no quorum was withdrawn.
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform just released its draft report: The Moment of Truth: Report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The Commission will meet on Friday to vote on the report, with expectations that it will fail to achieve the 14 votes needed to officially adopt a report. The draft report proposes deep cuts in discretionary spending: “Hold spending in 2012 equal to or lower than spending in 2011, and return spending to pre-crisis 2008 levels in real terms in 2013. Limit future spending growth to half the projected inflation rate through 2020.” This would cut a total of almost $2 trillion below Obama’s proposed FY 11 budget over nine years (FY 12-20). It also calls for elimination of the in-school interest subsidy.
Not quite working together yet…
Just say no: Every Senate Republican just signed a letter saying they will oppose moving any more legislation until all of the tax cuts are passed.
CR v. omnibus
The latest rumors are that Sen. Inouye is still pushing for an omnibus bill and the strategy would be for the House to pass a year-long CR, then for the Senate to attempt to substitute for that the omnibus.
Senator Coburn earmark ban rejected: yesterday the Senate by a vote of 39-56 voted down Sen. Coburn’s amendment to eliminate earmarks. Several education groups had opposed the amendment because it would have eliminated funding for Congressionally-directed spending for national programs such as the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and Reading is Fundamental.
State Longitudinal Data Systems for Tracking Outcomes for Students with Disabilities through Postsecondary Activities
This brief policy analysis was designed to describe whether and how states are:
· implementing longitudinal data systems for tracking the progress of individual K-12 students with disabilities across their academic careers up to and including postsecondary activities; and
· integrating systems for tracking the progress of students with disabilities into a longitudinal data system for tracking the progress of all students across their academic careers including their postsecondary activities.
President Obama’s administration has made the development of longitudinal data systems that are able to track individual students from prekindergarten through their postsecondary activities a key component of education reform. Findings from the survey study describe the number and status of states that are at varying levels of development and implementation of these data systems and the barriers and benefits to this development. Concluding remarks are provided.
The New Normal: Doing More with Less -- Secretary Arne Duncan's Remarks at the American Enterprise Institute
I am here to talk today about what has been called the New Normal. For the next several years, preschool, K-12, and postsecondary educators are likely to face the challenge of doing more with less.
My message is that this challenge can, and should be, embraced as an opportunity to make dramatic improvements. I believe enormous opportunities for improving the productivity of our education system lie ahead if we are smart, innovative, and courageous in rethinking the status quo.
It's time to stop treating the problem of educational productivity as a grinding, eat-your-broccoli exercise. It's time to start treating it as an opportunity for innovation and accelerating progress.
The outlines of the New Normal are easy to sketch. The federal government historically provides only about eight percent of all K-12 revenues. By contrast, states provide close to half of all public school revenues. With few exceptions, state budgets have yet to recover from the Great Recession.
Thirteen states project they will drain their rainy day reserve funds this year. Forty states reduced their general fund expenditures in fiscal 2010. And most states do not expect revenues to return to their pre-recession peak until 2012 or 2013--at the earliest.
K-12 funding in the United States also depends heavily on local funding, which accounts for about 44 percent of K-12 revenues nationwide, with most of it coming from local property taxes. Lower property valuations, caused by the housing crash, are likely to persist for the next two to three years--and possibly longer.
During the worst recession since the Great Depression, the federal government provided a large one-shot injection of education funding to state and local governments in the Recovery Act. Last year's stimulus funding saved the jobs of more than 325,000 educators--and this year's education jobs bill is saving tens of thousands more. The last thing our country needed was hundreds of thousands of teachers on the unemployment line, rather than in the classroom.
The abrupt loss of those jobs would have been absolutely devastating for children and the nation's economic recovery. But the stimulus funding will run out--and states and districts are facing a funding cliff as those dollars disappear.
This New Normal is a reality. And it is a reality that everyone seeking to improve education must grapple with. Yet, there are productive and unproductive ways to meet this challenge of doing more with less.
The wrong way to increase productivity in an era of tight budgets is to cut back in a manner that damages school quality and hurts children.
I'm talking about steps like reducing the number of days in the school year, slashing instructional time spent on task, eliminating the arts and foreign languages, abandoning promising reforms, and laying off talented, young teachers.
Unfortunately, that pattern of cutbacks has prevailed too often in the past. As Rick Hess says in his book Stretching the School Dollar, "when it does come time to trim, districts often make cuts that are more harmful than helpful . . . they gut music instruction rather than close down under-enrolled schools." The National Association of School Boards reports that less than 10 percent of districts closed or consolidated schools last year.
A different strategy for increasing productivity is to improve efficiency by taking steps like deferring maintenance and construction projects, cutting bus routes, lowering the costs of textbooks and health care, improving energy use and efficiency in school buildings, and reducing central office personnel.
Many districts, including Chicago, have pursued such cost efficiencies for years. The strategy is to pare back less-than-essential costs, while minimizing the impact of cuts on schoolchildren. In 2006, when I was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, we faced a projected deficit of over $300 million. The district adopted a series of cost-cutting measures to minimize the impact of our cuts in the classroom, including reducing the central office budget by 12 percent--which kept 350 teachers in the classroom.
These types of district-level cost efficiencies are absolutely essential. But they can best be described as necessary but nowhere near sufficient.
By far, the best strategy for boosting productivity is to leverage transformational change in the educational system to improve outcomes for children. To do so, requires a fundamental rethinking of the structure and delivery of education in the United States.
My hope is that New Normal will encourage educators, principals, unions, district leaders, state chiefs, parents, lawmakers, and governors to explore productive alternatives to old ways of doing things. Challenging the status quo will take courage. It will take commitment. And it will take collaboration.
Broadly speaking, there are two large buckets of opportunity for doing more with less. The first is reducing waste throughout the education system.
Almost every executive I have spoken with about improving productivity begins the conversation by talking about eliminating waste. We can and should do more to cut costs and increase the bottom line in our schools. And the truth is that our education system has to get out of the catch-up business. We have to do a much better job of reducing dropout rates and boosting college and career readiness.
We spend several billion dollars a year on remedial education, re-teaching college students skills they should have learned in high school. Millions of children each year are not ready to start kindergarten, or they drop out of high school, costing untold billions of dollars in public investment.
The second bucket of opportunities is doing more of what works--and less of what doesn't. That is a simple sounding idea. Yet, as experience shows, that simple mantra is often not followed.
So, what do I mean when I talk about transformational productivity reforms that can also boost student outcomes? Our K-12 system largely still adheres to the century-old, industrial-age factory model of education. A century ago, maybe it made sense to adopt seat-time requirements for graduation and pay teachers based on their educational credentials and seniority. Educators were right to fear the large class sizes that prevailed in many schools.
But the factory model of education is the wrong model for the 21st century. Today, our schools must prepare all students for college and careers--and do far more to personalize instruction and employ the smart use of technology. Teachers cannot be interchangeable widgets. Yet the legacy of the factory model of schooling is that tens of billions of dollars are tied up in unproductive use of time and technology, in underused school buildings, in antiquated compensation systems, and in inefficient school finance systems.
Rethinking policies around seat-time requirements, class size, compensating teachers based on their educational credentials, the use of technology in the classroom, inequitable school financing, the over placement of students in special education—almost all of these potentially transformative productivity gains are primarily state and local issues that have to be grappled with.
These are tough issues. Rethinking the status quo, by definition, can be unsettling. But I know that these discussions will be taking place in the coming year in schools, in districts, in union headquarters, in statehouses, and the governor's mansion. The alternative is to simply end up doing less with less. That is fundamentally unacceptable.
I have said that a quiet revolution is underway in America today in education. And this is very much a revolution that has been driven by leaders at the state and local level.
I am heartened by this change--and the shared sense of urgency driving education reform nationwide. I believe that dramatically improving educational productivity may be the next challenge for that quiet revolution.
Now, rethinking the factory model of education shouldn't be an invitation to indiscriminate change and cost-cutting. Federal, state, and local officials have to be smart about boosting educational productivity. Educators have to look at the evidence of what works to accelerate student learning--and stop doing what doesn't work. They cannot pursue the traditional model of reform, which Professor Michael Kirst has called "reform by addition."
Technology is a good example. Technology can play a huge role in increasing educational productivity, but not just as an add-on or for a high-tech reproduction of current practice. Again, we need to change the underlying processes to leverage the capabilities of technology. The military calls it a force multiplier. Better use of online learning, virtual schools, and other smart uses of technology is not so much about replacing educational roles as it is about giving each person the tools they need to be more successful--reducing wasted time, energy, and money.
Let me throw out a few other examples to provide a sense of the potential opportunities here. Forty to 50 percent of all district expenses go to teacher compensation.
Doing more with less will likely require reshaping teacher compensation to do more to develop, support, and reward excellence and effectiveness, and less to pay people based on paper credentials.
Districts currently pay about $8 billion each year to teachers because they have masters' degrees, even though there is little evidence teachers with masters degrees improve student achievement more than other teachers--with the possible exception of teachers who earn masters in math and science.
Or consider the debate around reducing class size. Up through third grade, research shows a small class size of 13 to 17 students can boost achievement. Parents, like myself, understandably like smaller classes. We would like to have small classes for everyone--and it is good news that the size of classes in the U.S. has steadily shrunk for decades. But in secondary schools, districts may be able to save money without hurting students, while allowing modest but smartly targeted increases in class size.
In our blueprint for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we support shifting away from class-sized based reduction that is not evidence-based. It might be that districts would vary class sizes by the subject matter or the skill of the teacher, or that part-time staff could be leveraged to lower class size during critical reading blocks.
I anticipate that a number of districts may be asked next year to weigh targeted class size increases against the loss of music, arts, and after-school programming. Those tough choices are local decisions. But it important that districts maintain a diverse and rich curriculum--and that they preserve the opportunities that make school exciting, fun, and engage young people in coming to school every day.
Many high-performing education systems, especially in Asia, have substantially larger classes than the United States. According to OECD data, secondary school classes in South Korea average about 36 students. In Japan, it's 33 students per class. In the U.S., it's 25 students per class. In fact, teachers in Asia sometimes request larger class sizes because they think a broad distribution of students and skill levels can accelerate learning.
We have to learn from high-performing school systems in other nations, including how to elevate the teaching profession and better support our neediest schools.
The United States currently spends more per student than almost any nation in the world on education. Yet we are only one of three OECD nations—along with Turkey and Israel--that do not devote at least as much resources or more resources to schools with the greatest socioeconomic challenges. We must question our priorities and strategies if we are serious about closing achievement gaps.
I want to be clear. I am not recommending a specific course of action today to any state or district. I am urging state and districts start to think more boldly about ways to improve educational productivity.
Now, while doing more with less is primarily a state and local challenge, the federal government has a role here, too. We have a responsibility to cut red tape that diverts dollars from improving student outcomes and to focus our resources on those areas with the greatest potential impact.
The Recovery Act programs helped states and districts to undertake more reform than has taken place in the last decade.
Race to the Top has incentivized states and districts to put in place teacher evaluation systems that will ensure human capital dollars are better spent. States and districts need complete information about where their best teachers are, about retaining, rewarding, and learning from their best teachers, and to ensure that high-need schools get the great teachers and principals they need.
The i3 fund ensures our federal dollars are being used to identify and scale-up innovative and effective practices that improve outcomes for students. The simple principle that drove our i3 grants of a little money for things with a little evidence, and a lot of money for things with a lot of evidence, will hopefully help reshape education spending for years to come. For the first time in a competitive grant program at the Department, unit cost was among the selection criteria in the i3 competition.
It is important to remember that boosting productivity can cost money. In some cases, government may have to spend more now to get better returns on our current investments in the future. We should not be penny wise to be pound foolish. Race to the Top and i3 are good examples of programs that are important to continue in FY 2011 and beyond.
It's also important to underscore that having a common and higher definition of success is essential to measuring the effectiveness of educational spending. That is why the amazing strides made in the last 18 months toward true college and career-ready standards and more accurate graduation rates are game-changers.
Now it is true that layering new programs on top of existing ones has been the norm in education. We've worked hard to get away from that layering mentality at the Department. We are trying to walk the walk and lead by example.
Our ESEA reauthorization proposal consolidates 38 programs into 11 new funding streams--so we can focus on achieving fewer, larger goals, better--and it reduces red tape for people at the state and local level. Congress accepted the administration's proposal to eliminate four programs in fiscal 2010. And in fiscal 2011 we proposed eliminating six more programs.
There are many examples, too many to name here, of districts and schools that are actively pursuing transformational productivity improvements, from Florida's Virtual School and improved response-to-intervention strategies in special education to the Hewlett Foundation's Open Learning Initiative, especially their work with Carnegie Mellon.
At the Department, we have developed a productivity priority that can be applied to a number of our discretionary programs. But federal, state, and local educators—all of us--still have a lot to learn about measuring, evaluating, and improving productivity. We are eager to learn as fast as we can.
In our quest to improve productivity, we will improve as we go. We will make some mistakes—no question. But that is no excuse for inaction. The stakes are too high--and I am convinced that we have a special window for reform that will shape the education system for the next 20 to 30 years.
Working together, with candor, courage, and commitment, I believe the New Normal can be a wake-up call to America--and a time to rethink how we invest in education for our nation's children.
Rep. John Kline: More jobs, less government tops education agenda for 2011 (New Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee
At first glance, it may be difficult to understand the pairing of education and workplace issues in a single congressional committee. What does a third grade classroom have in common with a construction site? How do school lunches relate to small businesses? As unlikely a duo as these issues may seem, they are actually quite closely related.
Both education and our workforce are vital to America’s continued economic success on an increasingly competitive world stage. Both areas require flexibility and adaptability; they rely on constant innovation to keep pace with rapid changes.
And in both cases, excessive federal intervention does far more harm than good. When the new Congress is gaveled into session in January, our guiding principle must be for the federal government to do no harm in our schools or on our job sites.
Education reform is a pressing American concern. Too many parents are denied meaningful choices about where and how their children will be educated. Too many schools are failing to prepare our children for success in the 21st century. And far too many teachers, principals, and state leaders feel constrained in their ability to improve the status quo because of layers of bureaucracy and onerous federal mandates.
Across the country, many have begun to wonder why we have a federal Department of Education at all. What makes us think bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. can manage our classrooms and prepare our children for success any more effectively than qualified teachers and engaged local school boards? This frustration is the natural consequence of a system that has grown in size, influence, and cost but yielded few meaningful rewards in the eyes of parents and educators.
As we evaluate the challenges and opportunities for improving our schools, consider the parallels for our workforce. Just as schools must excel to ensure economic success in the future, workplaces must thrive if we are to recapture economic success today.
Yet too often, entrepreneurs and business operators are stymied in their efforts to create jobs because of uncertainty about the regulations, tax hikes, and red tape handed down from Washington.
The federal government cannot legislate and regulate its way to job creation or economic recovery, but Congress can help foster a climate of workplace certainty. By removing the threat of anti-job policies, we can help get job creators off the sidelines and putting Americans to work.
Although most of the hard work will be done far outside of Washington, one early step we in Congress can take to improve our schools and workplaces is to thoroughly examine the costs, benefits, and consequences of current federal programs and interventions.
With myriad federal education programs already on the books, it is only reasonable to ask what specific and necessary function every individual program or initiative is serving. Is each and every program delivering results? How much time must school administrators spend filling out grant applications and writing reports for the federal government? Would education improve if the policies coming out of Washington were simpler and more narrowly focused?
Likewise, we can thoroughly analyze the mandates and limitations the federal government has imposed on our workplaces. We can examine the complex system of worker and retiree benefits and protections that are federally governed and ask whether current rules are helping or hindering individuals and our economy.
Employer-provided health care and retirement benefits are inexorably linked to the overall success of our workforce, which is why these issues will be central to any discussion about job creation and economic recovery.
Are the rules providing necessary protections to workers or merely creating animosity between government and free enterprise? Are the regulations that govern our workforce sensible or arbitrary? How can we more fully understand and protect the interests of workers and employers alike?
As Republicans prepare to lead, we do so with humble recognition of the trust and responsibility the American people have bestowed on us. We are eager to govern in a way that always considers the interests of our children and families, our workers and retirees, and the taxpayers to whom we are accountable.
That these interests are ultimately met through restrained federal involvement in order to foster the creativity and ingenuity of the American people helps explain why policies affecting our schools and workplaces are not so dissimilar after all.
Brain Drain Means Education Overhaul Is Likely to Be Refocused, Delayed - CQ
An exodus of lawmakers who have played key roles in shaping education policy and funding will likely delay efforts in the 112th Congress to overhaul federal education law and is also expected to make key committees more partisan.
Five chairmen and ranking members of committees and subcommittees with jurisdiction over education and school funding are retiring or were not re-elected Nov. 2 — an “astounding” turnover, in the view of Victor F. ‘Vic’ Klatt, former GOP staff director for the House Education and Labor Committee and now vice president at Van Scoyoc Associates, a lobbying group representing colleges and universities.
Retiring at the end of this year are David R. Obey, D-Wis., the House’s top appropriator who championed education funding; Todd Tiahrt of Kansas, the ranking GOP appropriator on the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee; and Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., an architect of No Child Left Behind, the current iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Rep. Michael N. Castle, R-Del., another drafter of No Child Left Behind, lost his Senate primary, as did Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., a former ranking member of the Labor-HHS-Education panel. Adding to the loss of expertise are the deaths in the past 15 months of Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.
The departures potentially open more than a dozen seats on the House Education and Labor Committee, many of which will not be filled until the new year. At the very least, policy experts and staffers predict the selection of new members and staff will slow down progress made in the current Congress to overhaul the education law.
“New people mean delays,” Klatt said.“You need to figure out where your office is, hire staff and there is a huge transition time. It means no matter what, they cannot come out of the box with a huge bill on education. It’s not possible from a logistical standpoint.”
Amy Jones, education adviser to John Kline, R-Minn., in line to become chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, acknowledged “a lot of changes.”
“We’re going to have a lot of new members on the committee and we very much believe in a process whereby you’re getting a buy-in from all members,” she said.
The turnover also ushers in a far more conservative House caucus on the GOP side and a more liberal one for Democrats. Democrats’ power in the Senate has been diminished, and all of these factors are likely to spur a more partisan tone.
“If you look at what the freshmen ran on, it wasn’t bipartisan cooperation around a robust federal role in education,” said Joel Packer, executive director of the Committee on Education Funding, an organization that advocates federal funding for education.“It was let’s abolish the Department of Education; let’s have smaller government.”
Packer added:“There’s no way you can say [to new members], ‘Mr. Kline and Mr. Miller negotiated a bill. We’re 90 percent done. Here it is.’ So I certainly expect there’ll be hearings and these members will want their views known and to have input.”
Kline has indicated that he wants to reduce the federal role in education, both by rolling back aspects of the George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind, and by challenging the administration’s signature grant program, called Race to the Top, which he has criticized as a backdoor way to force states to adopt changes. This will be his first chairmanship.
Longtime Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., one of the so called “big four”— the group of lawmakers that included John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, Kennedy and Gregg, who crafted No Child Left Behind in tandem with the Bush administration — will now move to the ranking slot.
Possible contenders to follow Obey in the highly coveted chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee include Jerry Lewis of California, Harold Rogers of Kentucky, Jack Kingston of Georgia, Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey and Tom Latham of Iowa — none of whom has experience with education issues.
Some see the seeds of potential compromise in the fact that both Democrats and Republicans are eager to change key elements of No Child Left Behind, which has been criticized on both sides of the aisle for driving down standards and being too restrictive. The day after the election, Education Secretary Arne Duncan highlighted education as an issue on which Republicans and Democrats can find common ground.
But even though the administration’s blueprint for changes to the law contains ideas many Republicans support — expanding charter schools and tying teacher effectiveness to student test scores, for instance — new members are unlikely to support expanding funding or legislation seen as infringing on state or local prerogatives.
“I think the new members are going to be much more conservative and harken back toward the historical Republican position on education, which is smaller is better and less is more,” Packer said.
It was a wild night and some races have not yet been called! As of now, in the House Republicans will have 239 seats, Democrats 185 with 11 races still undecided. In the Senate, Democrats will have 52 seats, (2 Independents that vote with the Democrats are included in the Democrats total) Republicans 46 with two races (Alaska and Washington State) undecided. There will be at least 93 new House members and 16 new Senators. Lots of new faces to educate about our programs and the services we provide! I will be presenting at the Illinois State Board of Education conference for non-public programs on November 16th. I will be talking about the impact of the election on education in the 2011-12 Congress. I will share my presentation with you once it has been completed!
No one knows yet what Speaker Pelosi will do, but it is rumored that if she retires from Congress, George Miller, current Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, may soon follow. Lots of rumors flying in this election frenzy!
Elections Strengthen GOP’s Hand on Tax-Cut Extensions - CQ
By winning a House majority and whittling away much of the Democratic advantage in the Senate, Republicans have gained leverage in their drive to extend all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that are set to expire Dec. 31 — and President Obama says he’s ready to sit down and talk.
Lawmakers are expected to begin dealing with the tax question, which has huge budgetary, political and economic implications, during the post-election session of the current Congress that begins Nov. 15. The White House wants to extend tax cuts only for families making less than $250,000 per year, while Republicans insist that all the current tax rates be extended. The GOP position is shared by some moderate and conservative Democrats in both chambers.
President Obama said in a Wednesday press conference that Congress must extend the middle-income tax cuts, as well as a long-delayed package of business-focuses tax policy “extenders” — which has stalled in the Senate repeatedly — in the lame duck session, naming them among his highest priorities. Obama indicated that he is open to compromise, and hopes that both sides avoid “brinksmanship” on the issue. While he did not express support for extending the upper-income rates, he also did not express any opposition to it, as he has in the past.
“My goal is to make sure we don’t have a huge spike in taxes for middle class families,” Obama said, stressing the potential economic impact of letting the cuts lapse. “So my goal is to sit down with Speaker-elect Boehner and Mitch McConnell and Harry [Reid] and Nancy [Pelosi] some time in the next few weeks and see where we can move forward in a way that first of all does no harm.”
Obama added that “how that negotiation works itself out, it’s too early to say.” He also reiterated his support for an accelerated depreciation tax break for businesses and called on lawmakers to extend unemployment insurance funding during the lame duck.
Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who will become the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee next year, said in an interview on MSNBC that he does not see room for compromise on extending all the tax cuts. Congress should “put it over about two years maybe, past the next election and see where we go from there,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Reid, D-Nev., said that he spoke with the Democratic Caucus Wednesday morning and that “the one thing we are focusing on like a laser is we are going to cut taxes for the middle class,” calling it their “main goal.”
“I would hope that the Republicans are not going to block that,” he said, noting, however that Democrats are “willing to keep our ears open.”
While newly elected lawmakers will not take their seats until January — with the exception of three senators who will replace interim members as soon as their elections are certified — Tuesday night’s results will nevertheless affect the tax debate in the lame-duck session. And whether lawmakers strike a deal before tax rates are scheduled to increase Jan. 1 depends on how both parties respond.
Senate Democrats have been split on how to deal with the tax cuts, leaving leaders short of the 60 votes needed to surmount a GOP filibuster. House Democrats have been waiting for the Senate to act, but also face internal divisions.
Tuesday’s results may encourage Democrats to deal with the tax cuts while they still control both chambers. If Congress fails to reach a deal during the lame-duck session and the tax cuts expire, Republicans will be in a stronger position to force Obama to accept a deal on their terms in 2011. With a gain of about 60 seats in the House, Republican leaders should be able to easily push an across-the-board extension of all the tax cuts through that chamber next year.
House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, who is expected to take the Speaker’s gavel in January, said Wednesday that “we continue to believe that extending all of the current tax rates for all Americans is the right policy for our economy at this time.”
In the Senate, an influx of conservatives in the Senate will make it even more difficult for Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to advocate the White House position in the 112th Congress.
“Americans don’t think it’s a good idea to raise taxes in the middle of a recession, and any Democrat who couldn’t understand that earlier this year while small businesses struggled all around them got a wake-up call last night,” said a senior Senate GOP aide. “Maybe they understand now.”
Their enhanced clout in the next Congress may make Republicans less likely to compromise in the post-election session. As a result, they may be willing to allow the tax cuts to lapse in order to push for an across-the-board renewal next year.
Republican leaders have backed the idea of a two-year extension of all the tax cuts, a proposal also backed by some Democrats — including Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota — who are concerned about raising taxes during an anemic economic recovery.
Some senior Democrats have floated the idea of “decoupling” the extension of tax cuts for families making less than $250,000 per year from the upper-income rate extensions, noted a Senate aide. Under that scenario, Democrats might advance legislation making the middle-income rates permanent, and extending the upper rates for a year or two. That would set up a vote on extending the tax cuts for wealthy Americans before the 2012 presidential election.
But that strategy has raised concerns among some Democrats because the government would lose tens of billions of dollars in revenue by extending the upper-income tax breaks even temporarily. And Republicans are wary of straying from the broad-based tax cut approach that allowed them to get the original 2001 and 2003 tax cut bills through the Senate.
Many of the moderate and conservative House Democrats who support a full extension of the tax cuts on a temporary basis, including Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin of South Dakota and Bobby Bright of Alabama, also were defeated and will be replaced by more conservative Republicans in January.
Estate Tax Fate Also Uncertain
The estate tax, which expired earlier this year, is set to re-emerge —with a higher rate and a lower exemption than the last time it was collected — on Jan. 1 under current law, another outcome many lawmakers and interest groups want to avoid.
“Whether they won re-election or they’re headed out the door, we’ve got to get all members of Congress focused on fixing the death tax,” Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said in a statement.
Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., another key player on the estate tax issue, was defeated as well.
Obama Urges Caution for GOP’s Strategies on Spending Cuts - CQ
After the GOP’s historic capture of the House, newly victorious Republican leaders say they’re anxious to get to work on restraining the federal budget. “First of all, we start by getting there and saying we’re going to reduce discretionary spending back to ’08 levels,” said Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., in an interview with MSNBC. “We know in ’08, the sun rose and set. Nothing stopped here in this country.” Cantor is in line to become majority leader in the 112th Congress.
Obama began his response Wednesday in a White House news conference. “I think the American people are absolutely concerned about spending and debt and deficits,” Obama said. But he went on to predict that there would be a “tough debate” with Republicans about government priorities.
“As we bring [the deficit] down, I want to make sure that we’re not cutting into education that is going to help define whether or not we can compete around the world,” he said. Obama also appeared to rule out cutting back on research and development and made a pitch for his proposal to spend billions of dollars on an infrastructure program he said would create jobs.
“And so in these budget discussions, the key is to be able to distinguish between stuff that isn’t adding to our growth, isn’t an investment in our future, and those things that are absolutely necessary for us to be able to increase job growth in the future as well,” he said.
It was a key signal that any GOP efforts to cut spending or reshape government will face opposition from a continuing Senate Democratic majority — as well as from the president.
“I think that it’s a mandate for Washington to reduce the size of government and continue our fight for smaller, less costly and more accountable government,” Minority Leader John A. Boehner said on Wednesday morning. The Ohioan is expected to become Speaker of the House in January.
House Republican leaders have vowed to go forward with spending cuts they promised in their “Pledge to America” campaign platform, including rolling back domestic discretionary spending to pre-stimulus, fiscal 2008 levels. In the pledge, Republicans also promised to cancel unspent, unobligated stimulus funds, cap discretionary spending, hold weekly votes on spending cuts, end the financial industry bailout and overhaul the budget process. In addition, they’re discussing extending a self-imposed ban on earmarks.
Obama said he’s willing to deal on the earmark issue. The president noted during the news conference that Cantor favors a continuation of the House GOP moratorium on earmarks. The Senate does not have a similar ban. “That’s something I think we can . . . work on together,” Obama said.
Cantor welcomed the outreach, saying “if the president would like to partner in this effort, I gladly take him up on that offer.” Speaking on CBS’s “The Early Show” on Wednesday, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said he expects the House and Senate to act soon to ban earmarks. “We can’t have 500 congressmen and senators who think it’s their job to bring home the bacon — and that’s what’s going to change,” DeMint said. While House GOP leaders say they would like to begin cutting spending immediately, it’s unclear what they think they can accomplish in the lame-duck session.
“We’d like to cut it right now,” said Conor Sweeney, spokesman for Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., who is expected to become chairman of the House Budget Committee. “How that plays out in the lame duck while we’re still in the minority I wouldn’t be able to speak to. Speaker Pelosi is still the speaker and will be under a lame duck, so we are going to continue to call for keeping tax rates where they are at and cutting spending.”
If possible, the House GOP would like to roll back fiscal 2011 domestic discretionary spending to fiscal 2008 levels, a spokesman for GOP leadership said. That would be a cut from the top-line figures of $1.108 trillion and $1.114 trillion now being debated in the Senate. So far, Congress has not enacted any of the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal 2011, which began Oct. 1. The government is operating on a stopgap spending measure (PL 111-242) that expires Dec. 3. If a 2011 rollback proves impossible, the GOP spokesman said, Republicans would focus their efforts on fiscal 2012 spending.
Though House Republicans have targeted domestic discretionary spending, Cantor promised to look at waste in the Defense Department as well. “No one is going to defend every penny, every dollar spent at the Pentagon,” he said on CNN Wednesday. “We’ve got to ensure that the dollars being spent are maximizing U.S. security or giving our troops what they need to execute the mission that we’re asking them to further. So all of these have to be on the table and we got to take an approach that says we are going to have to do more with less.”
Cantor also took aim at federal employee pay, which he said in some cases is nearly double what comparable workers earn in the private sector. “We’ve got to bring those down to a level which reflects the marketplace today,” he said. Although little is likely to happen until January at the earliest, Republican gains might strengthen GOP efforts to delay work on fiscal year 2011 appropriations until new Republican members are seated.
DeMint has argued that final spending decisions for fiscal 2011 should be delayed until February to allow new senators more say about the budget. A second continuing resolution likely will be needed, although Democratic staff on the Appropriations committees in both chambers have been working to create an omnibus fiscal 2011 spending bill with the intention of getting it cleared by December. That would require GOP cooperation in the Senate, which might be more difficult after Republican gains. Despite continuing Democratic control of the Senate, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky expressed hope that enough Democrats will side with Republicans to cut spending. “Over in the Senate, where a majority is not enough in any event and it takes 60 votes to do most things, it’s clear that we’re going to have to have some kind of bipartisan agreement,” McConnell said during a news conference with Boehner. McConnell said he anticipates “enough Democrats [will] come in our direction on spending and debt where we can actually make progress for the American people.”
In a speech on election night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who survived a tough re-election bid, remained focused on job creation and government aid and did not mention spending cuts. “You see, tomorrow morning there will still be too few jobs for too many people. There will still be too many foreclosure signs in too many front yards. There will still be too many kids in crowded classrooms and too many students wondering how can they afford college,” he said.
While some GOP candidates had talked of a potential government shutdown as a tool to restrain the budget, Republican leaders appear more intent on passing bills that would cut spending. Boehner said last month that it was not his intention to shut down the federal government.
Yet getting various factions within the GOP in line may be difficult. Incoming Republican senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, both of whom have strong ties to tea party groups, have been particularly critical of federal spending and adding to the federal debt.
Boehner also made clear that the GOP is open to using the appropriations process to prevent funding of the health care law. “We have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill and replace it with commonsense reforms that’ll bring down the cost of health insurance,” he said.
Education Legislation Debate Will Focus on the Role of the Federal Government - CQ
As Congress prepares to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provides federal funds for public schools in return for a measure of regulation, the Republican sweep in the House and pick up of seats in the Senate will almost surely increase pressure to reduce the federal role in education policy.
But it may not be the deal breaker for education legislation that it is likely to be for, say, immigration or energy policy. “If Republicans take control of the House, it will make it more likely that ESEA reauthorization gets done next year,” said Michael J. Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative-leaning education think tank. Petrilli sees areas of compromise between the two parties.
That’s because Republicans are eager to do away with key elements of No Child Left Behind, the most recent reauthorization of ESEA enacted under the George W. Bush administration. It has been widely criticized for lowering standards and being too restrictive and it also is an issue on which the GOP can make a quick impact, unlike many other of their campaign promises.
While GOP lawmakers have expressed support for key parts of the Obama administration’s blueprint for reauthorizing the education law — for instance, its proposals to encourage charter schools, tie teacher evaluations and pay to student test scores, and provide well-functioning districts with greater flexibility — they disagree on others which they see as limiting the authority of state and local officials.
Both John Kline, R-Minn., the presumptive chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, have argued against Obama’s four proposed turnaround models for failing schools, saying the choices are too prescriptive for rural districts. They’ve also criticized the administration’s signature grant program, called Race to the Top, as a backdoor way for the administration to force states to adopt changes which it favors.
“The election will substantially upset the apple cart they’ve been pulling down the street,” Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, an education expert at the Brookings Institution, said of Democrats. “I think a lot of the work that has been done will be undone because of new members and staff. It will at least need to be redone.”
Whether lawmakers can fashion a compromise based on their areas of agreement remains to be seen. Some education experts believe it’s possible. “I think there is potential for bipartisanship in education that you don’t see in other issues, where there isn’t the same collaborative spirit across the aisle,” said Chad Aldeman of Education Sector, a nonpartisan think tank.
“Already on the Hill, at least among staff, there are conversations about what might be common ground between Democrats and conservatives,” Whitehurst said. “I think it will likely focus on issues of choice. I think that’s where they might agree the most.”
Whitehurst gave as an example the administration’s backing of charter schools, which Republicans have long supported as providing more choice for parents. Whitehurst said common ground also might exist for the federal government to provide opportunities for states and regions to work together to overhaul curriculum and ways to assess student achievement.“You’ll see a big movement across party lines to decrease the role of the federal government in setting policy,” said Whitehurst.
Aldeman agreed, saying state and regional movements have already begun to develop curriculum standards, with 38 states signed onto common core standards, a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
“I think the blueprint paved the way, especially the argument that the vast majority of schools shouldn’t be under threat from federal accountability standards,” said Petrilli. “I think that’s something Republicans could get around, particularly the ultra-conservative tea partiers.”
That being said, crafting legislation is not expected to be easy, given fundamental disagreements over the role of the federal government. Whitehurst also warned that cooperation might not materialize after the election of more conservative members and GOP determination to oppose anything Obama supports. “I think there will be a tendency on the Republican side . . . to say, ‘Why should we give the president a win on education?’ ”
Other experts disagree. “Everyone wants to wash their hands of [No Child Left Behind],” said Petrilli. “There is very little love for the idea that Uncle Sam should be in the position to hold every school in the country accountable to results.”
As for tea party calls to de-fund the Education Department, policy experts agree it will never happen, although there could be a scaling back on the agency’s influence on policy-making. “I could see a diminished federal Department of Education, with less either explicit or implicit role in policy-making, and being more of a check writer and enforcer of the rules surrounding those checks and also civil rights,” Whitehurst said.
Lame-Duck Congress to Face Education Issues K-12 Spending, Race to the Top Extension Still On Table - Ed Week
When the dust settles from the midterm elections, federal lawmakers—the re-elected and losers alike—will head back to Washington for a lame-duck session with a long to-do list that could have broad implications for education policy over the next year.
Congress left town without finishing the U.S. Department of Education's spending bill for fiscal 2011, which officially began Oct. 1. Right now, all programs in the department are being financed at fiscal 2010 levels through a stopgap measure that expires Dec. 3.
Lawmakers have several options for resolving the looming budget question, including the fate of Obama administration priorities, in a session that could begin as early as mid-November.
Advocates say their game plan may hinge on the outcome of this week's midterm elections, which were expected to bolster Republican numbers in Congress, and could result in the GOP taking control of one or both houses of Congress, said Reginald M. Felton, the director of federal relations for the Alexandria, Va.-based National School Boards Association.
Over the summer, the Senate Appropriations Committee and a House appropriations subcommittee approved separate versions of an education spending measure for fiscal 2011. It's unclear whether Congress will pass the fiscal 2011 education spending bill as a standalone measure, or whether lawmakers will decide to combine it with a number of other appropriations bills in an omnibus spending measure. And it is not certain that the spending bills will even be completed in the lame-duck session, said Joel Packer, the executive director of the Committee for Education, a lobbying coalition in Washington.(NAPSEC is a member of this group!)
FISCAL 2011 EDUCATION SPENDING BILL
• House version provides $800 million for Race to the Top, Senate version provides $675 million.
• House version includes $400 million for the Investing in Innovation Grants, Senate version provides $250 million.
• Senate version includes $300 million for a new early-childhood program.
• Senate version includes $100 million for a high school improvement program, double last year’s amount.
• Tax deduction helps teachers pay for classroom supplies.
• Build America Bonds are sometimes used for school facilities.
• American Opportunity Tax Credit helps students pay for college.
CHILD NUTRITION ACT REAUTHORIZATION
• Senate has passed.
• House committee also passed.
Republicans emboldened by the election results could put pressure on Democrats to hold off on passing bills until January when the GOP could flex new legislative muscle. Congress could also pass a yearlong, stopgap measure, known as a continuing resolution, which would finance most programs at 2010 levels.
Each chamber's current version of the spending bill would extend for another year the Obama administration's signature education initiative—the $4.35 billion Race to the Top program—which rewards states for making progress on teacher quality, common academic standards, assessments, and other areas. The Race to the Top program was initially created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which passed last winter and covered just two years. But while both versions would extend the program, neither would give the administration the $1.35 billion it asked for in its budget request. Released last February, it also sought to open the program up to school districts.
The Senate included $675 million for the program and would allow school districts to be included in the grant competition. The House panel would fund it at $800 million. It is unclear whether the House would also allow districts to participate, since many of the details of that chamber's bill haven't been released publicly.
The Senate bill also includes a new $300 million for an Early Learning Challenge Fund to encourage states to improve their early-childhood education programs. Democratic leaders tried to get a much bigger version of that program into a bill to overhaul the student-loan program, but it was stripped out. It is uncertain whether the House bill includes a similar spending item.
It's also unclear how Congress will cope with a $5.7 billion shortfall in the Pell Grant program, which helps low-income students attend college. The program faces a funding gap in part because more students have been returning to school to boost their skills during the economic downturn. The shortfall could be dealt with through the education bills, if they are passed in the lame-duck session.
Lawmakers may also take up reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. The proposed $4.5 billion Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, sponsored by Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., was passed by the Senate in August. The House bill passed out of committee but has not been taken up for a vote by the full chamber. ("Conservative Candidates Take Aim at Federal K-12 Role," July 14, 2010.)
Some advocates don't want the Senate measure to pass unchanged because the 10-year bill would offset its proposed spending increases in part by cutting $2.2 billion from food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or snap. Both the food-stamp and school meals programs are run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The School Nutrition Association, in Oxon Hill, Md., is hoping the House will take up the Senate's version of the bill. "Our biggest concern is the longer the [wait], the tighter the financial constraints for Congress and for the program," said Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokeswoman for the association. Congress may also consider a variety of tax-related legislation, including extending the so-called teacher tax deduction, which helps educators purchase supplies for their classrooms, and the Build America Bonds, which was created under the ARRA and which some districts have used to help pay for school facilities. Lawmakers could also take up the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps students cover the cost of college.
But there's one piece of highly anticipated legislation that Congress almost certainly won't be taking up in the lame-duck session: the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In March, President Barack Obama called on Congress to reauthorize the law this year, releasing a blueprint for its overhaul, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his staff spent hours reaching out to lawmakers on Capitol Hill to try to get support for the renewal. Lawmakers in both chambers held hearings on issues including teacher quality, academic standards, and efforts to turn around low-performing schools. But neither the House nor the Senate education committees introduced a bill, and further action isn't expected until 2011 at the earliest.
Bill Calls for Vouchers for Disabled Military Children – Ed Week
A proposed $5 million voucher program for military families who have children with special education needs is part of the defense-spending bill that Congress will take up in its post-election lame-duck session.
The pilot program would start in the 2011-12 school year and provide up to $7,500 per year for school costs. The U.S. Department of Defense would be required to evaluate the success of the program in a report to be completed no later than 2015.
The pilot program is only one of several provisions tucked into the $726 billion defense bill that are intended to improve schooling for military children who require special education services. The proposed amendment, which was sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., would also direct the secretaries of defense and education to collaborate on issues such as expedited due process resolution for military families and creation of individualized education programs that are applicable across state lines.
Some of these issues, like “portable” IEPs, are already a part of the current Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Likewise, a commission of state officials two years ago created the
Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which has a section specific to special education and has been enacted by 34 states so far. About 100,000 active-duty and reserve service members have dependents with special needs, including spouses, children, and dependent parents. But military families say the current regulations don’t work well for parents and children who are constantly on the move. Families are told that certain services that they were used to in one district can’t be implemented in another, according to supporters of the amendment. And due process hearings often aren’t resolved before the family is transferred to another duty station.
That was the experience of Sheri Dyas Mellott, whose husband is a commander in the U.S. Navy. She has a 14-year-old and a 6-year-old who have autism spectrum disorders, and an 11-year-old with an eye disorder. The children have attended nine different school districts in five different states, she said.
During one battle, which took place while the family was stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore, in central California, the Mellotts paid $80,000 to bring in specialists to observe their oldest child and to advocate on his behalf during due process hearings. “We had no help from the military,” Ms. Mellott said. “We were completely on our own.”
Eventually, her husband left the Navy and the family settled in State College, Pa., so that their children could receive adequate special education services, she said. “If we had a fight [as an officer’s family], can you imagine what the young enlisted guys have to go through?” she said. Karen Driscoll, who has a 12-year-old son with autism, experienced a similar dispute when the family moved to San Diego, Calif., in 2008. When her son was enrolled in Fairfax County, Va. schools, he was receiving 21 hours of aide support a week. In California, the district told her that it would provide 10 hours a week.
Paul Driscoll builds a bridge out of blocks during a home-therapy session in San Diego. When the military family moved to the area, they had to engage the service of U.S. Marine Corps lawyers to persuade their new school district to provide the same level of special education services that Paul had been getting in his previous district.
Unlike Ms. Dyas, Ms. Driscoll had the support of a caseworker and a special education attorney who is contracted through the U.S. Marine Corps to provide support to families. Ms. Driscoll, the wife of a Marine Corps colonel, and other parents have lobbied Congress and military officials to provide more support to families. In her case, once the attorneys got involved, her son got the full-time aide and other services comparable to what he had received at his other school. Ms. Driscoll said she favors vouchers because they offer families an option. The voucher amount of $7,500 “is inadequate, but it makes a difference.”
All military service members who have family members with special needs are required to enroll in the Exceptional Family Member Program, which is intended to make sure members of the military who have dependents with special needs are not sent to postings where their needs cannot be met.
However, the family support function that is part of the program is voluntary, and services available to families can vary depending on the service branch. The idea of a voucher for military families has been met with stiff resistance from some education groups. Mary Kusler, the manager of federal advocacy for the Washington-based National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union said the federal government has underfunded special education for years and parents who accept such vouchers would be walking away from guaranteed rights under the IDEA.
Richard Schulte, the superintendent of the 5,500-student Oak Harbor district in Washington state, also opposes the voucher, though he said he recognizes that families may be receiving different levels of services as they move. In his district, about 3,600 students are military dependents from families based nearby at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
A voucher worth $7,500 is not going to pay for a program to support the needs of a child with intensive educational needs, he said. For example, a student with autism may cost the district $10,000 to $50,000 to educate, he said. “There aren’t other providers for them to go to,” he said.
I am pleased to announce the launch of the official Web site for the Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities.
The Commission, established by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, has brought together government leaders, representatives from the publishing industry, individuals with print disabilities, representatives from two- and four-year institutions of higher education and leaders in accessible technology. The Commission will study the current state of accessible materials for students with disabilities in postsecondary education and make recommendation to the U.S. Congress for improving access to and the distribution of instructional materials in accessible formats. This is the first commission in history charged with examining accessible instructional materials for postsecondary students with disabilities.
This Web site showcases the work of the Commission, and provides information on Commission meeting schedules and documents, members, authorizing legislation, resources and contact information. The Commission welcomes any questions or public commentary and can be contacted at AIMCommission@ed.gov. Sincerely,
Alexa Posny, Ph.D.
OCR Unveils Comprehensive Harassment, Bullying Guidance
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently released comprehensive guidance laying out schools' responsibilities for responding to known acts of harassment or bullying.
*Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin; and *Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.
School districts -- and, in turn, colleges and universities -- can violate these statutes or their implementing regulations when peer harassment rises to the level of a hostile environment and is not properly addressed by school officials. (The guidance does not explicitly discuss the higher education context of the issue, although it makes clear that the same legal principles apply in colleges and universities.)
Appropriate steps to address bullying or harassment, according to OCR, may include separating all involved parties, providing counseling for the student who was bullied and the harasser, or taking disciplinary steps against the harasser. Importantly, the letter reminds schools that they also may be required to offer additional services to assist the student who was harassed, particularly if the initial response was not swift.
Access a copy of the "Dear Colleague" letter instantly at:
As part of the Oct. 26 "Dear Colleague" letter, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights offered the following hypothetical example of sexual harassment in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972:
Lots of inclusion articles popping up…
Erasing the special-ed stigma: Students given chance in mainstream classes - The Commercial Dispatch
A decade ago, most special education students got little preparation for the real world. They were tucked in a classroom, away from their peers, and little was expected of them. Often, that was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Today, across the country, more schools are including special education students in regular classes.
Locally, the transition got a boost in the mid-'90s, when the Center for Special Children closed. Housed on the Mississippi University for Women campus, it served children throughout the area.
Back then, everyone wondered, "'What's going to happen to out special education children?'" Anthony Brown recalled. "What happened is, they're in the regular classroom, and they're doing great."
Districts first worked to add special education programs to their own campuses. Then they worked on full inclusion programs. Brown, assistant superintendent for federal programs at Columbus schools, began teaching special education in 1978, when students were in a self-contained classroom.
Students would stagger in, waiting for their fellow students to get to class before walking into the class.
"There is a tremendous stigma attached to being in a special education program," said Brown. "There are students who would rather get a tardy than be seen walking into a special education classroom." Inclusion takes away that problem, allowing them the chance to "fit in," which is important, especially in adolescent years, said Christi Laird, who is in her 29th year as a special education teacher.
More importantly, inclusion challenges teachers to differentiate instruction, teaching to their most challenged students, as well as their most high-achieving students. And special education students are able to pick up on social cues they can use for the rest of their lives.
In Julie Ford's eighth-grade English class at Lee Middle School, she and Laird transition seamlessly from Ford leading the class to Laird leading the class. Each of them also take turns helping individual students -- impaired and not -- with understanding the lessons.
"Who's got one?" Ford asked, after telling her students to write the second line of a haiku. "I do!" one student declared. His hand shot up, and he proudly read the poem aloud, including his seven-syllable addition to it. Years ago, the he likely would not have been asked to write Japanese poetry nor be required to know what a haiku was.
Today, no one would know he's a special education student. "It helps the children succeed," said Laird. "It helps them get on track, to get ready for the next grade." It also helps them get ready for the real world. They learn behavioral skills, social skills, time management and study skills, Laird said, skills valuable well beyond the classroom. “What happens to a (special education) kid when they leave school?" Brown asked rhetorically. "There's not a special education in the real world."
For those who think inclusion is a detriment to traditional students, Ford says it helps them. "Sometimes, they can have the same questions or be just as confused as the (special education) kids," Ford said. Laird "empowers them" by asking the questions for them and making sure they all understand. Jennifer Bell, a fifth-grade teacher at Cook Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School, agrees inclusion is good for all students. "I love it," Bell said of inclusion. "I get to see so much growth and accommodate to different learning styles."
Whether students are visual, auditory or hands-on learners, she and Abby Moon cater to their learning style. In Bell's fifth-grade class, Thursday, students were in several different centers: There were students on computers working on math activities, students at a table getting one-on-one help with math problems, students huddled together working with multiplication flash cards and students seated at their desk taking turns working on the Promethean interactive board on advanced math like long-division word problems. Special education students were peppered throughout the groups. "Centers are very important with IEP (individualized education plan) students and high achievers," said Bell. "There's nobody left behind. We're able to adapt instruction with those students sitting right in front of us."
At the Promethean board, for example, Bell went over three different ways to solve the same problem. And children were offered a small dry-erase board on which to work problems. "Every teacher should be doing differentiated instruction. No child learns the same," Moon said. "Being in an inclusion classroom, you have students at the top and at the bottom (of achievement level), so I've grown as a teacher by being able to teach to all levels." "Differentiation is good for everybody, including your high-achieving students. They also need to be pushed to their highest potential," echoed Andra Brown, director of special education for Lowndes County schools. Columbus and Lowndes County schools strive to include special education students in the regular classroom, as much as possible, though there are students with severe impairments who have to be in a self-contained classroom throughout all or most of the school day. "The majority of the (special education) students are in the regular education classroom for most of the day," Andra Brown said.
What inclusion amounts to is two highly qualified teachers in one classroom co-teaching and offering more one-on-one attention to both special education and traditional students, Anthony Brown said. It's proven to improve achievement for all students, Laird said, and it offers special education students a formerly rare chance to achieve on the same playing field as traditional students. "Once they get a taste of that success, there's nothing like it," she said. "This inclusion has given them a real chance at that."
Apple Puts Spotlight On Disability Offerings In App Store
Apple is highlighting a growing number of apps catering to individuals with special needs with a featured special education section in its App Store.
The section titled “Special Education” launched late last week and includes 72 applications for the iPhone and 13 applications for the iPad in 10 categories ranging from communication to emotional development and life skills, according to Trudy Muller, an Apple spokeswoman. The special education category is currently showcased as one of four editorial features in the App Store.
Apps, which can be used on Apple’s iPhone, iPad or iPod devices, have become increasingly popular in the special needs community in recent years, serving as everything from assistive technology devices to organizational tools and teaching aids.
Congress May Consider Bullying Prevention for Education Measure - CQ
In the wake of several high-profile bullying cases that led young people to commit suicide, several lawmakers said on Tuesday they will look at ways to address the issue when Congress takes up the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) next year.
As a result of the rash of suicides — eight in the past few weeks — the Education Department sent guidance on Tuesday to 20,000 public schools and colleges, emphasizing that school officials are required to intervene to protect young people. While no new regulations were announced, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he may call on Congress to enact legislation to curb what he termed “a silent epidemic” of bullying.
“Having Congress address this openly and honestly would be extraordinarily beneficial,” he said. In a separate statement, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said he would address the issue as part of the panel’s review of the education law, which provides funding to public schools.
“Bullying creates an atmosphere of fear in our schools, and we all need to do our part to eliminate it,” he said. Also on Tuesday, members of the House Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Equality Caucus demanded a greater focus on gay and transgendered youth. Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Barney Frank, D-Mass., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Jared Polis, D-Colo., asked the Department of Health and Human Services to target suicide prevention efforts in those groups, which they described as high-risk.
“Every day LGBT students face harassment and bullying while they attend school,” Polis said. “It is important that we use the expertise and resources we have at the federal government to address this disturbing and growing problem.” The Education Department’s guidance, which was released in the form of a “Dear Colleague” letter from its Office for Civil Rights, underscored officials’ responsibility to intervene. The letter also served as a reminder that if schools do not enforce civil rights and harassment policies, they could potentially be stripped of education funding.
“In recent years we have come to realize that bullying in schools is something much more destructive than a simple rite of passage,” said Melody Barnes, White House Domestic Policy Council Director. “It has devastating consequences on its victims. Among thousands of student who kill themselves each year, we know that many of them have been harassed by bullies.”
According to the department, studies show that between 15 and 25 percent of U.S. students are bullied with some frequency, while 15 to 20 percent report they bully others. Rates of bullying are higher among younger students; almost 43 percent of sixth-graders report having been bullied, compared with about 24 percent of 12th-graders, according to 2007 data from the Justice Department.
Duncan emphasized that bullying is “always best addressed at the local level,” but maintained the federal government has a role to play. “Let’s be clear, if the federal government needs to step in, the problem has been ignored for far too long,” he said. In August, a federal task force on bullying held the first-ever National Bullying Summit to map out a national plan to end bullying.
♦ED Posts State Maintenance of Financial Support Waivers under IDEA Part B: http://bit.ly/cb5DO7
♦New America Foundation Releases Updates to State National Education Funding Rankings Pages: “The Federal Education Budget Project (FEBP) released updates to its National Rankings pages. The updated pages provide in-depth analysis of the most up-to-date data on per-pupil spending, student demographics, and student achievement in the 50 states and the District of Columbia and how these factors interact.”
♦NGA report: on 10/18, the National Governor’s Association released: State Government Redesign Efforts 2009 and 2010. The Report states:
“States have experienced record budget shortfalls over the past several years due to sharp declines in state revenues. In response, governors have taken record measures to downsize and redesign state governments during the 2009 and 2010 state fiscal years. Such efforts likely will continue over the near future. Economists predict that state revenues (in real terms) may not reach 2008 levels until late fiscal 2012 or early fiscal 2013. At the same time, the costs of government services will continue to rise, as will ongoing liabilities related to health care, pensions, and other benefits. States also will have to deal with many long-term investments that have been deferred. Thus, state budgets may not recover until the end of the decade.”
It provides details on state budget actions in several areas including education:
K–12 Education. Governors have tried not to reduce funding for K–12 education and tried instead to achieve greater efficiency with existing resources. Recent efforts include policies to encourage district consolidation, allowing class size to increase, and cutting noncore programs.
Higher Education. States are making cuts to higher education funding, while urging their university systems to become more efficient and raise the percentage of students that graduate. Many states are beginning to employ performance funding that ties a portion of the state’s subsidy to the number of degrees awarded instead of just to enrollment. States also are requiring colleges to produce more measures that report degree completion and value to the student.
US Department of Education – web site improvements
The Department has posted a list of all of its programs searchable by type of organization or individual eligible to apply.
(CNN) -- Facing the certainty of fewer Democrats in Congress, President Barack Obama will focus on strengthening the economy and trying to ensure its future stability, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday. Speaking on the NBC program "Meet the Press," Gibbs said Obama also will continue pushing for education reform and making sure that health care and Wall Street reforms are properly implemented.
Gibbs said he believes Democrats will retain majorities in both the House and Senate, though polling and pundits say the House is in jeopardy and some losses are certain. Asked about a so-called "Obama 2.0" agenda for the remaining two years of his term, Gibbs said it will emphasize strengthening the economy and moving it forward, with the biggest concern being the unsustainable fiscal situation in the medium- and long-term. Obama needs Democrats and Republicans to work together to deal with the federal debt, Gibbs said. A bipartisan debt commission is scheduled to report a set of proposals in December.
The president also wants to continue his push for education reform, and to ensure there is proper follow-through on the health care and financial sector reform laws passed this year, Gibbs said.
"It's going to take a lot of energy and coordination to implement those," he said. Gibbs made no mention of major issues such as immigration reform and energy reform, which Obama pushed strongly in his first two years.
However, Gibbs declared that the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring openly gay and lesbian soldiers "will end under this president." The government last week sought to halt an injunction imposed by a federal judge that would immediately stop the military from further enforcing the policy. Gibbs said the best way to end the policy would be for Congress to change the law, noting the House has passed a repeal measure and the Senate is expected to take it up after the November 2 congressional elections.
"It's a law and the most durable solution is to change that law," Gibbs said, adding that the proposals before Congress establish "an orderly and disciplined transition from what we have now to an era after" the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Under the congressional measures, the policy would be repealed once the military completes a review of the issue this year and the president, defense secretary and Joint Chiefs chairman approve the plan.
Senate Republicans blocked the chamber from taking up a defense authorization bill that included the repeal provision as well as another provision allowing children of illegal immigrants who successfully complete college or military service to start a path toward citizenship. "I think there's enough votes to do it in the Senate, but we have get past a Republican filibuster," Gibbs said.
A few weeks ago Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the launch of the TEACH campaign. This exciting new initiative is ED’s national effort to increase awareness of teaching as a valuable profession. The Department will engage in activities designed to increase the number, quality and diversity of candidates seeking to become teachers, with particular emphasis on finding special education, science and math teachers, as well as men of color. As the Secretary has said, “All of our students deserve the most talented, capable and diverse teachers.”
Toward this end, I’d like to share with you the following press release announcing $19.9 million dollars awarded in grants for training of special educators to improve services for children with disabilities. Sincerely, Alexa Posny, Ph.D.
U.S. Department of Education
$19.9 MILLION AWARDED IN GRANTS FOR TRAINING OF SPECIAL EDUCATORS TO IMPROVE SERVICES FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES
The U.S. Department of Education announced today more than $19.9 million in grants to help prepare special education personnel to improve services and results for children with disabilities.
"President Obama and I believe that every child deserves a world-class education regardless of his or her skin color, nationality, ethnicity, or ability," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These grants will support the preparation of special education teachers and leaders in their work to give students with disabilities the world-class education they deserve.”
Of the $19.9 million in grants announced today, $13.5 million will be targeted at improving the quality and increasing the number of people who are fully credentialed to serve children with disabilities. The funds will help current and future special education professionals complete degrees, state certification, professional licenses or state endorsement in early intervention, special education or a related services field.
It will also support the preparation of special education paraprofessionals, assistants in related services professions (such as physical therapist assistants, occupational therapist assistants), or educational interpreters.
Meanwhile, more than $6 million will be devoted to “Preparation of Leadership Personnel” grants.
In 2009, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) administered 150 leadership grants to support doctoral, post-doctoral and special education administration degree programs in 78 universities in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The grants announced today will expand that number.
OSEP is the primary source of federal funding for doctoral training in special education and early intervention.
Following are the grant recipients for the two programs.
OFFICE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES
Office of Special Education Programs
Personnel Development To Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities/Combined Priority (CFDA 84.325K)
• AL -- Auburn University, $299,070.
• AZ -- University of Arizona, $294,367.
• CA -- Cal State University, Northridge, $185,468.
• CA -- San Diego State University, $300,000.
• CA -- San Diego State University, $299,997.
• CA -- San Diego State University, $297,726.
• CA -- San Diego State University Research Foundation, $300,000.
• CA -- San Jose State University, $300,000.
• CA -- University Corporation at Monterey Bay, $231,724.
• CA -- University of San Diego, $299,079.
• CO -- University of Colorado, $289,871.
• CO -- University of Northern Colorado, $300,000.
• DC -- Catholic University of America, $288,000.
• DC -- George Washington University, $299,874.
• FL -- Florida State University, $299,587.
• FL -- Florida State University, $220,196.
• FL -- University of Central Florida, $300,000.
• GA -- Valdosta State University, $299,192.
• GU -- University of Guam, $300,000.
• HI -- Kapiolani Community College, $300,000.
• IA -- University of Northern Iowa, $260,413.
• IL -- Chicago State University, $299,987.
• IL -- Illinois State University, $217,114.
• KS -- University of Kansas, $299,260.
• MD -- University of Maryland, $299,999.
• ME -- University of Maine System, $300,000.
• MI -- Western Michigan University, $298,225.
• MI -- Western Michigan University, $290,475.
• MS -- University of Southern Mississippi, $206,377.
• NC -- University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, $176,648.
• NE -- University of Nebraska, Lincoln, $299,996.
• NM -- New Mexico State University, $174,650.
• NY -- Fordham University, $299,966.
• NY -- Nazareth College of Rochester, $299,859.
• OH -- Kent State University, $297,290.
• OK -- Northeastern State University, $300,000.
• OR -- University of Oregon, $273,290.
• PA -- Salus University, $300,000.
• PA -- University of Pittsburgh, $299,992.
• TN -- University of Memphis, $289,121.
• TN -- Vanderbilt University, $299,597.
• TX -- University of North Texas, $299,997.
• TX -- University of Texas Health Science Center, $91,721.
• TX -- University of Texas of the Permian Basin, $234,849.
• UT -- University of Utah, $297,000.
• UT -- Utah State University, $241,729.
• WA -- University of Washington, $300,000.
• WI -- University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, $287,091.
• WI -- University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse, Board of Regents, $299,446.
TOTAL (Combined Priority-CFDA 84.325K) -- $13,538,243.
OFFICE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES
Office of Special Education Programs
Personnel Development To Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities/Preparation of Leadership Personnel (CFDA 84.325D)
• DC -- George Washington University, $296,562.
• FL -- Florida International University, $290,214.
• FL -- University of Central Florida, $290,939.
• FL -- University of Florida, $300,000.
• HI -- University of Hawaii, $300,000.
• IA -- University of Iowa, $292,535.
• IL -- University of Illinois, $300,000.
• MD -- Johns Hopkins University, $297,330.
• NC -- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, $285,666.
• NC -- University of North Carolina at Greensboro, $299,953.
• NY -- Alfred University, $285,422.
• NY -- Bank Street College of Education, $276,609.
• NY -- SUNY/University of Buffalo, $300,000.
• OH -- Ohio State University, $298,117.
• OR -- Oregon State University, $290,779.
• OR -- University of Oregon, $258,292.
• PA -- Lehigh University, $299,992.
• TN -- Vanderbilt University, $290,208.
• TN -- Vanderbilt University, $299,194.
• TN -- Vanderbilt University, $299,386.
• TX -- Texas A&M University, $294,757.
• WA -- University of Washington, $300,000.
TOTAL (Preparation of Leadership Personnel- CFDA 84.325D) -- $6,445,955
National School Boards Association - Issues Report On School Funding Cuts
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
About 1 in 5 teens in the United States suffer from a mental disorder severe enough to their impact daily activities, either currently or at some point in their lives, according to a startling new study. The research also concludes that a higher percentage have or have had some sort of mental disorder, though less serious in nature.
"The prevalence of severe emotional and behavior disorders is even higher than the most frequent major physical conditions in adolescence, including asthma or diabetes, which have received widespread public health attention," the researchers write in the October issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
The study is the first to report the prevalence of a broad range of mental disorders in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents, the researchers said. Kathleen Ries Merikangas of the National Institute of Mental Health and colleagues examined the lifetime prevalence and severity of many mental health disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the reference book professionals use when making diagnoses. The study involved surveys from 10,123 adolescents, ages 13 to 18, in the continental U.S. Mental disorders were assessed during interviews.
Anxiety disorders, such as panic disorders and social phobia, were the most common conditions (31.9 percent of teens had such a disorder), followed by behavior disorders, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD (19.1 percent), mood disorders, such as major depressive disorder, (14.3 percent) and substance use disorders (11.4 percent).
Approximately 40 percent of participants with one class of disorder also meet criteria for another class of disorder at some point in their lives, the researchers said. The overall prevalence of disorders with severe impairment and/or distress, marked by interference with daily life, was 22.2 percent, just higher than one in five teens. More research is needed to determine the risk factors for mental disorders in adolescence, and to see whether these disorders will continue on to adulthood, the researchers say. The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.
Deficit Was $1.294 Trillion, OMB Says - CQ
The fiscal 2010 budget deficit has come in at $1.294 trillion, a $122 billion decline from the record $1.416 trillion 2009 deficit, the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget reported Friday.
The figure, which represents a final calculation of actual receipts and outlays through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, is slightly higher than the $1.291 final deficit projected by the Congressional Budget Office last week.
Officials said the deficit was smaller than had been expected earlier this year because of lower-than-projected costs for the 2008 financial industry bailout, also known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and the 2008 federal bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Still, the number is sure to figure in mid-term election campaigns and in the deliberations of a bipartisan fiscal commission appointed by President Obama to recommend ways to reduce the deficit.
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner touted the administration’s efforts to hold down the cost of the federal bailouts, which, he said, saved more than $240 billion. Jeffrey Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, credited the administration for taking actions that, he argued, have led to economy recovery and job creation.
Judd Gregg, R-N.H., ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, countered that the deficit figures point to the unsustainability of current policies. “Just a few years ago, the deficit was under $500 billion,” he said in a statement. “Now, since the Democrat majority has taken control of the nation’s checkbook, deficits have risen to staggering levels and will average $1 trillion annually for the next decade under the president’s policies. The road back to fiscal stability requires significant spending restraint, and difficult choices that are being put off in favor of politics as usual.”
IDEA 35th Anniversary – send in your input!
In 1975, the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142) guaranteed access to a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment to every child with a disability. Subsequent amendments, as reflected in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), have led to an increased emphasis on access to the general education curriculum, the provision of services for young children from birth to five, transition planning and accountability for the achievement of students with disabilities.
During these 35 years, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) has supported efforts that are making a difference for millions of children with disabilities, as well as their non-disabled friends and classmates. Many of the educational practices employed by our nation's best teachers are the direct result of federal investments in rigorous educational research, training and technical assistance. Today, due largely to the provision of IDEA-supported programs and services, nearly 6.6 million infants, toddlers, children and youths with disabilities are achieving at levels unimaginable in previous decades.
This November, in honor of the 35th anniversary of IDEA, the U.S. Department of Education and OSERS will host a celebration in Washington, D.C. If you have a personal experience with IDEA, or have witnessed its impact, we hope to hear from you! As part of our celebration, we are welcoming stories, poetry, photography, art work and video clips from individuals with disabilities, students, teachers, principals, researchers, parents, teacher trainers and others across the country for possible inclusion during the celebration. Submissions will be accepted through November 8, 2010, on OSERS’ 35th anniversary of IDEA Web site.
CR implementation: OMB issued a directive to all agencies on how to implement the CR
“Programs with Zero Funding Excluded from Automatic Apportionment. If either the House or Senate has reported or passed a bill that provides no funding for an account at the time the CR is enacted, this automatic apportionment does not apply to that account. The agency may submit a written apportionment request to OMB to request funds for the account during the period of the CR, if needed. This restrictive funding action is to ensure that the agency does not impinge on the final funding prerogatives of Congress.”
Since the House didn't report the Labor-HHS-Ed bill, the issue for education programs is whether any program was zeroed out in the Senate-reported bill. If so, it gets no funding for the period of the CR 10/1-12/3/10).
The Senate–reported bill zeros out the following programs that were funded in FY 10:
For education programs the OMB directive is largely irrelevant, since education programs (other than Impact Aid) are forward funded, so funds normally don’t become available until July 2011.
Omnibus or another CR?
When Congress returns for its lame duck session, it has to either extend the CR (which expires on 12/3, enact an omnibus bill combining all 12 unfinished appropriations bills into one large package, enact some bills individually and package the rest, or some combination of these. However, conservative Senate Republicans are already making clear they will oppose an omnibus bill and simply want a CR extended into next year so that the next Congress makes the final funding decisions. From CQ:
“…conservative Republicans are mounting a campaign to block an omnibus spending bill. Led by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., conservatives want Congress to pass a stopgap measure keeping the government running at levels no higher than fiscal 2010 spending until early 2011, after the new Senate is seated. “The only acceptable outcome of the lame-duck session is a continuing resolution to keep government operating at current levels of spending and taxation,” DeMint said in an op-ed published Tuesday on NationalReview.com. “No last-minute earmarks, no add-ons, no tax increases, and no big deficit spending.”
One of the issues that has to be resolved is the aggregate level of spending for discretionary programs. President Obama proposed an aggregate level of $1.128 trillion. The House passed a resolution “deeming” the aggregate level to be $1.121 trillion (with the House Appropriations Committee taking all of this $7 billion reduction from Defense programs). The Senate Appropriations Committee further reduced the aggregate cap to $1.114 trillion, with virtually all of that reduction coming from the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee (which prevented the Senate bill from including $5.7 billion to pay off a shortfall in the Pell grant program). Senate Republicans want to further reduce spending by another $6 billion to $1.108 trillion.
New Higher Education Regulations Issued
Publication Version of Final Regulations for TRIO, GEAR UP, and HEP & CAMP Programs (PDF) This page provides Federal Register Notice with final regulations for the TRIO, GEAR UP, and HEP & CAMP programs. (PDF)
New National Conference of State Legislatures Report
“Lawmakers expect to have closed multi-year budget gaps exceeding $530 billion by the time the effects of the recession dissipate. And despite recent revenue improvements, more gaps loom as states confront the phase out of federal stimulus funds, expiring tax increases and growing spending pressures”.
Half or more of those in Arizona, California, Florida and Illinois, along with a plurality of 48 percent in New York, picked K-12 public education as their top priority to protect from spending cuts from a list of four choices. Moreover, despite differences in politics and ideology, more than three in five taxpayers across all five states—ranging from 63 percent of New Yorkers to 71 percent of Arizonans— indicate a willingness to dig into their own pockets for extra tax money to preserve K-12 funding, if necessary. In fact, even among those who say they trust state government to do what is right only some or none of the time, at least six in 10 in all five states say they are willing to pay more taxes if necessary to keep the same level of funding for K-12 education.
All five states draw a sharp distinction between protecting K-12 schooling and higher education. Residents are far less willing—by roughly 20 to 30 percentage points—to pay higher taxes for colleges and universities than they are for primary and secondary schools. In fact, more than half in Arizona, Illinois and New York oppose more taxes to keep funding stable for higher education; those in California and Florida are more divided.
Summary of Continuing Resolution
Below are highlights of the continuing resolution (CR) that was passed last night. The CR will allow continued government operations through December 3, 2010:
Ongoing programs: Under the CR, funding will continue at FY 2010 enacted levels for most programs. In total, the CR will provide funding at a rate $9 billion below the FY 2010 level.
Extended Authorizations and Other Actions: The CR extends authorizations or allows for continuous normal operations through December 3, 2010 for certain programs that would otherwise expire or be severely disrupted, including:
· Allows the Federal Air Marshals to maintain the existing FY 2010 4th quarter coverage level for international and domestic flights.
· Allows the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to maintain the level of Customs and Border Protection personnel in place in the final quarter of FY 2010.
· Extends the authority for the Department of Defense to execute the Commanders Emergency Response Program which is an essential tool for military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan.
· Extends the application period for retroactive stop loss benefits throughout the duration of the continuing resolution.
· Extends for one year the existing authority for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to retain its authority to regulate chemical facilities that present high levels of risk.
· Extends for one year existing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authority to provide technical and financial assistance to States and localities for pre-disaster hazard mitigation activities.
· Provides for the continuation of a program included under the Child Nutrition Act which will allow for school feeding activities where year round activities occur.
· Provides an additional $25 million to the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (formerly the Minerals Management Service) for increased oil rig inspections in the Gulf of Mexico. The increase in funding is fully offset with a $25 million rescission of unobligated balances.
· Allows the National Cord Blood Inventory contracts to continue at their current level through the duration of the CR.
· Extends the TANF block grant and Child Care Entitlement to States program at their current level through the duration of the CR.
· Reduces the amount available for BRAC 2005 from over $7 billion in FY 2010 to a rate equal to $2.35 billion, the FY 2011 request.
· Adjusts the current rate for operations for the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program in order to include in the rate for operations the $965 million that was advanced for Israel, Egypt and Jordan in the FY 2009 Supplemental.
· Continues the rate of operations for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund (PCCF) at $700 million. This section also continues the terms and conditions included in the FY 2009 and FY 2010 Supplementals.
· Reduces the amount available for Census programs from over $7 billion in FY 2010 to a rate equal to $964 million annually, the same as the amount recommended for FY 2011.
· Permits the District of Columbia to spend funds under its local budget beginning on and after the October 1, 2010 start of fiscal year.
· Allows the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which is responsible for coordinating the federal policy relating to homelessness, to continue operating.
· Extends the current HECM loan limits for high cost areas through FY 2011.
· Extends the current FHA loan limits for high cost areas through FY 2011.
· Extends the current GSE loan limits for high cost areas through FY 2011.
· Provides $193,400 for the survivors of Robert C. Byrd, the late Senator from West Virginia.
Congress Clears Stopgap Spending Bill - CQ
The House cleared a stopgap funding measure early Thursday to ensure the federal government will keep running while Congress recesses for the midterm elections. Sending the fiscal 2011 continuing resolution (HR 3081) to President Obama was the last major item on the agenda for the House and the Senate before members could head home to the campaign trail. The House cleared the measure, 228-194, hours after the Senate sent it over by a vote of 69-30. It will keep government operations funded at roughly their current levels until Dec. 3.
The continuing resolution, often called a “CR,” will effectively allow Congress to delay tough, but inevitable, decisions about cutting spending until after the midterm elections. Democrats and Republicans agree on little but the need to curb unsustainable growth in federal spending, with the fiscal 2011 spending bills is seen as a good place to start making small but symbolic cuts.
The two parties, however, are operating on different political calendars: Democrats are intent on getting fiscal 2011 appropriations settled in the lame-duck session, while they still have control of both chambers. Betting on wins in November, Republicans want to delay these decisions into the next Congress, when they might control one or both chambers.
Jim DeMint, R-S.C., failed Wednesday night to amend the resolution in the Senate to extend its effective date to Feb. 4, with the chamber rejecting his proposal, 39-60.
“You have to wait for the election. It’s really hypothetical to try to predict what is going to happen in December,” said Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee and a senior appropriator. “If we pick up a lot of seats, there won’t be a lot of desire to do much around here, except get to the next Congress.”
Process On Hold
The budget and appropriations process stalled this year amid rising concern about the deficit, with not a single spending bill enacted yet for fiscal 2011, which starts Friday. The chambers do not share even an internal blueprint — the annual budget resolution — that usually serves at least to get the House and Senate to agree on a cap for total discretionary spending. Obama proposed a freeze on much domestic spending when he offered to cap fiscal 2011 discretionary spending at $1.128 trillion, which the House knocked down to $1.121 trillion.
In the Senate, there remains a split about whether to set the cap at $1.114 trillion or $1.108 trillion, with Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., having said that the lower figure is likely to prevail. The Senate on Wednesday night narrowly rejected, 48-51, an amendment from John Thune, R-S.D., that would have used the CR to cut discretionary spending by 5 percent.
The winter will bring a confluence of events that will heighten public awareness of federal spending and will force Congress to act on cuts, said Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania, an appropriator who is making a long-shot bid to jump ahead of more senior House Appropriations colleagues to become the committee’s top Democrat in the next Congress. He noted that Obama’s fiscal commission is due to issue its recommendations just before the expiration of the stopgap funding measure, and at a time when Congress must make some decisions regarding the George W. Bush-era 2001 and 2003 tax cuts (PL 107-16, PL 108-27), which will expire Dec. 31 unless Congress acts.
“You’re going to have the report that’s due on Dec. 1 and you’re going to have a CR that runs out on Dec. 3 and you have the expiration of the Bush taxes,” Fattah said. “We’re going to finish the appropriations work this year, and we are going to have to make some tough decisions.”
Harold Rogers of Kentucky, who is aiming to be the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee next year, agreed.
“It will be tough, regardless of the circumstances” in Congress after the election, Rogers said. “We’ve got to bring down spending. We’re going to have to cut some programs that people like.”
Appropriators already made some tough calls in preparing the continuing resolution to win needed GOP support in the Senate. They sought to focus the measure narrowly on keeping the federal government running, and raised the bar for add-on provisions, known as anomalies, that have appeared frequently in continuing resolutions in previous years.
Intense negotiations were needed to include $624 million to help the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) implement certain critical nuclear programs, including those connected to an agreement with Russia, known as New START (Treaty Doc 111-5) — additional funding supported by many Republicans and Democrats. Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona were among the Republicans who pushed to get the NNSA money in the CR, said another supporter, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
The resolution also authorizes mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration to continue buying and guaranteeing mortgages up to $729,750 in expensive housing markets through Sept. 30, 2011. The limit was set to drop to $625,000 in those markets after Dec. 31.
An additional $25 million would go to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, formerly the Minerals Management Service, for increased oil rig inspections in the Gulf of Mexico. This increase would be offset by a $25 million rescission of unobligated balances.
Less fortunate were education programs, with White House requests denied for both the Pell grant program, which helps low-income college students pay for school, and for competitive Race to the Top education grants.
Education programs will lose a dedicated advocate when House Appropriations Chairman David R. Obey, D-Wis., retires at the end of this Congress. In an interview in his office Wednesday, Obey said that skimping on education funds in the fiscal 2011 bills in an effort to make spending cuts would be counterproductive, hampering job growth that both parties say is a priority.
“The question is, do people understand what the hell is going on in the economy? People prattle on about jobs. We’ve got lots of job openings in this country, but you have people who were not trained adequately to take those spots,” Obey said, ending on a refrain he’d used frequently in debates about the need for targeted spending. “Herbert Hoover is winning the debate in this place on economics. Crazy.”
The House, by voice vote, cleared legislation (S 3304) to improve deaf and blind individuals' access to the Internet and new communications technologies. The measure now heads to the president's desk.
SUMMARY of S. 3304
Equal Access to 21st Century Communications Act - Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to require that all customer premises equipment used with advanced communications services designed to provide two-way voice communication via a built-in speaker intended to be held to the ear in a manner functionally equivalent to a telephone must provide internal means for effective use with hearing aids that are designed to be compatible with telephones which meet established technical standards for hearing aid compatibility. Defines "advanced communications" as Internet-based protocol, or any successor protocol, based devices and services that transmit voice, video conferencing, and text communications, and any application or service accessed over the Internet that provides for voice, video conferencing, or text communications.
Requires each interconnected VoIP service provider to participate in, and contribute to, the Telecommunications Relay Services Fund.
Requires a manufacturer of equipment used for advanced communications to ensure that the equipment and software it designs, develops, and fabricates is accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities, where such requirement is achievable.
Requires the FCC to authorize Lifeline and Linkup assistance programs and other federal universal service support mechanisms to be used for those telecommunications services, Internet access services, and advanced communications needed by qualified individuals with disabilities to engage in communication with other individuals in a manner that is functionally equivalent to the ability of individuals without disabilities.
Sets forth provisions concerning: (1) enforcement and reporting; (2) deaf-blind individuals; and (3) emergency access.
Establishes the Emergency Access and Real-time Text Advisory Committee.
Requires every provider of Internet access service and every manufacturer of Internet access equipment to, where achievable, make user interfaces for such service and equipment accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Sets forth provisions concerning closed captioning decoder and video description capability, user interfaces, and video programming guides and menus.
Vision for the future of individuals with developmental disabilities
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) will be holding a series of meetings over the next few months in Philadelphia, Orlando, Dallas, Detroit and Denver. During these Envisioning the Future summits (http://www.envision2010.net/index.php), ADD wants to hear from self-advocates, family members, allies and professionals about their vision for the future of individuals with developmental disabilities.
Issue areas include transition to post-secondary education and employment, independent living, community supports, aging and care giving challenges. Registration (http://www.envision2010.net/registration_about.php) for the summits is now open. If you are unable to attend you can also submit comments online at http://www.envision2010.net/online.php.
Boehner Outlines Plan for ‘Cutgo’ Rule if GOP Takes Control - CQ
In a preview of the new fiscal focus if Republicans capture control of the House in November, Minority Leader John A. Boehner on Thursday outlined the case for a new “cutgo” requirement to curb the growth of government.
Boehner’s proposal, sketched in remarks to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, would go beyond the current pay-as-you-go law (PL 111-139), enacted earlier this year by the Democratic-controlled Congress, that requires new mandatory spending or tax cuts to be offset by spending cuts or tax increases.
Boehner called for a new mandate pairing spending cuts with any spending increases in authorization bills or other legislation. He argued that the current pay-as-you go requirements were too narrow.
“Under this ‘cutgo’ rule,” he said, “if it is your intention to create a new government program, you must also terminate or reduce spending on an existing government program of equal or greater size — in the very same bill.” He gave credit for the idea to Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, his party’s nominee for the Senate in the Nov. 2 election.
Boehner said Blunt’s vision was that the “cutgo” requirement would “turn the activists for big government on each other, instead of letting them gang up on the taxpayer.” Republican aides said the proposed requirement could be promulgated through changes in House rules, or possible in a revision to the 1974 budget law (PL 93-344). “We ought to start at square one and give serious consideration to revisiting, and perhaps rewriting, the 1974 Budget Act,” Boehner said.
Republicans in both the House and the Senate have discussed possible structural changes in the budget process to encourage deep cuts in federal spending. For example, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota has called for a new joint standing committee that would be charged with making cuts in programs.
Boehner did not offer specific changes in the budget-writing process or in the structure of committees. But he said he believed structural changes may be needed. Boehner also framed that case for broad changes in the committee process, through potential changes in House and committee rules, to encourage more transparency. He said all committees should be required to post the text of bills at least three days before a committee vote, to post amendments within 24 hours of their adoption by a committee and to post all committee votes within hours. He said the proposed new requirements would ensure that members are more “inclined to do their jobs, attend committee proceedings, and weigh in on a bill before it goes to the floor.”
He reiterated the GOP’s demand that Congress eliminate the practice of passing omnibus spending bills and instead move separate appropriations measures. This year, lawmakers did not clear any of the 12 regular fiscal 2011 appropriations bills before the Oct. 1 start of fiscal 2011. Instead, Congress sent President Obama a continuing resolution (HR 3081) to keep all government agencies operating through Dec. 3.
“Let’s do away with the concept of ‘comprehensive’ spending bills. Let’s break them up, to encourage scrutiny, and make spending cuts easier,” he said. “Rather than pairing agencies and departments together, let them come to the House floor individually, to be judged on their own merit. Members shouldn’t have to vote for big spending increases at the Labor Department in order to fund Health and Human Services. Members shouldn’t have to vote for big increases at the Commerce Department just because they support NASA. Each department and agency should justify itself each year to the full House and Senate, and be judged on its own. “Asked by an audience member after the speech why House Republicans did not include a ban on earmarks in their recently unveiled “Pledge to America” platform, Boehner noted that most House Republicans already are observing a moratorium on the member-directed spending. “It will be up to the next Congress,” he said. “But I am here to tell you we are not going to see earmarks, to the extent we have in the past, under a Republican majority if I am Speaker of the House.”
Debt Suggestions Might Not Fly in Lame Duck - CQ
A co-chairman of President Obama’s bipartisan fiscal commission is warning that the environment after the Nov. 2 elections could be difficult for figuring out how to reduce the federal budget deficit and the national debt.
Obama set up the commission of presidential and congressional appointees earlier this year and gave it the task of formulating the kind of bipartisan fiscal plan that has been well out of the reach of lawmakers and presidents. Fourteen of the panel’s 18 members will have to agree in order to send any recommendation to Congress, where the Senate is committed to holding an up-or-down vote.
But at the commission’s meeting Wednesday — the final session before the elections — co-chairman Erskine Bowles said prospects for bipartisan agreements will “change dramatically however the election comes out.” He was not suggesting the task would be easier.
Bowles, who served as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, said it would be “relatively easy” for him and the other co-chairman, former Sen. Alan K. Simpson, R-Wyo. (1979-97), to endorse politically unpopular recommendations — such as benefit cuts or tax increases. But 12 of the panel’s members are members of Congress. While one of them is about to retire, the others will have to answer to voters if they want to continue their careers.
“We’ve got to count on those of you running for public office, too, and that means you’re going to have to set some of those parochial interests aside,” Bowles told his colleagues. “It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be painful.”
A Republican takeover of the House or Senate would likely embolden Republican members when the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility reconvenes in December, lawmakers and analysts concluded. The Republicans could conclude that they have increased leverage in shaping the panel’s recommendations.
“If Republicans win a big victory, there might be a tendency for Republicans to hold out for a package more conducive to their point of view,” said Robert Bixby, executive director of the nonpartisan Concord Coalition.
On the other hand, major gains in November could make Republicans on the commission less willing to cut bipartisan deals, some observers said. GOP leaders might discourage agreement, reasoning that any proposals to emerge from the commission would be considered during the post-election session of the 111th Congress with Democrats holding their current substantial House and Senate majorities.
Commission member Andy Stern worried that the White House and Democratic and Republican congressional leaders will try to sway members’ votes on recommendations.
“I think the elections will cause everybody to take a second look, and I’m hopeful people outside the process in all parties and the White House don’t start to meddle,” said the former head of the Service Employees International Union. “They would be well served to let us finish the process and then make decisions based on our product, as opposed to trying to get too involved and influencing people before the outcome.”
Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., who is not on the commission and is retiring at the end of this year’s session, said he can see how it might be more difficult for the commission to reach agreement if Republicans win control in November. Party leaders who would rather deal with the deficit in the next Congress might pressure lawmakers on the commission to vote against any proposal, Bayh said.
Rep. Joe L. Barton, R-Texas, said that if the GOP captures the House, any commission recommendation that includes raising taxes would face certain rejection. “I won’t vote to raise taxes, and I don’t think many Republicans will,” he said.
Three Measures Top Senate’s Lame-Duck Agenda - CQ
An omnibus spending package, a middle-income tax extension and a strategic arms control treaty with Russia are the top agenda items for the lame-duck session, a top Senate Democrat said Tuesday. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said the trio of legislative priorities will likely consume much of the session slated to begin Nov. 15, pushing out other measures that lawmakers would like to consider before the end of this Congress. “Those are major undertakings,” Durbin said. In the Senate, the week of Nov. 15 probably will be consumed by organizational matters — including possible leadership contests for both parties. Senators then will take a weeklong break for Thanksgiving.
Major legislative action will most likely be handled starting Nov. 29. “I hope we get done long before Santa arrives,” Durbin said. On Tuesday, Congress was preparing to pass a stopgap spending measure to keep the government running at fiscal 2010 spending levels after the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.
Congress has not passed any of the 12 individual appropriations bills for fiscal 2011. Durbin said those measures will be folded into a single omnibus package. Major fights among Republicans and Democrats about overall spending levels and the contents of the package could consume days if not weeks of the Senate’s time.
But Democratic leaders have pledged not to adjourn for the year without passing an extension of expiring tax cuts for individuals earning $200,000 or less and couples earning $250,000 or less. In order to prevent tax rates for those taxpayers from reverting to higher levels, Democrats may have to temporarily extend expiring tax cuts for some or all wealthier individuals. Senate Republicans have uniformly opposed allowing any taxes to increase amid the current economic malaise. Hashing out a compromise could also take days or weeks.
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he also would like to see the Senate ratify the “New START” treaty with Russia (Treaty Doc 111-5), which would require approval of two-thirds of the Senate.
Durbin said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also would like to devote floor time to passage of food safety legislation (S 3767), a sentiment shared by other Democrats who have said that measure is a top priority.
But Republicans are pressing for a very limited agenda, and individual senators could use procedural maneuvers to block action on bills — a likelihood if the elections shift control of one or both chambers.
“I want to see the minimal amount taken up,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. “We ought to do what we need to do for the country and then get out of here.”
Obama: Money alone can't solve school predicament – Washington Post
President Barack Obama started the school week with a call for a longer school year, and said the worst-performing teachers have "got to go" if they don't improve quickly.
Bemoaning America's decreasing global educational competitiveness, Obama sought in a nationally broadcast interview to reinvigorate his education agenda. At the same time, the president acknowledged that many poor schools don't have the money they need and he defended federal aid for them. But Obama also said that money alone won't fix the problems in public schools, saying higher standards must be set and achieved by students and teachers alike.
Asked in an interview if he supported a year-round school year, Obama said: "The idea of a longer school year, I think, makes sense." He did not specify how long that school year should be but said U.S. students attend classes, on average, about a month less than children in most other advanced countries.
On other topics in a live half-hour television interview, Obama said that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has not told him whether he will resign to run for mayor of Chicago, as is widely expected. Obama said he knows Emanuel must decide quickly to mount a serious campaign.
The president also sought anew to show that he understands the frustration of millions of people coping with a slow economy — and high joblessness — some 20 months into his term. He said that even if people know he is working hard to fix their problems, what they expect from him is "something concrete" to help them get a job and pay their bills.
Obama appeared on NBC's "Today" show in a live interview that focused on education. Education is primarily the domain of state and local governments. But the federal government has leverage and uses it, for example, through the strings it attaches to poverty aid that thousands of schools depend upon to support their programming.
The president admitted that his own daughters, Malia and Sasha, couldn't get the same quality education at a Washington, D.C. public school that they currently get at their private school. The Obama girls attend Sidwell Friends School, an elite private school in the Washington area.
"The DC public schools systems are struggling," Obama said, though he added that the school district has, "made some important strides over the last several years to move in the direction of reform." Public schools in Washington have long faced criticism for their low test scores and high dropout rates.
Separately Monday, Obama announced a goal of recruiting 10,000 teachers who work in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math — over the next two years. In a statement, Obama said such education is vital to allowing students to compete against their peers in today's economy.
In the interview, the president said he wants to work with teachers unions, and he embraced the role they play in defending their members. But he said that unions cannot and should not defend a status quo in which one-third of children are dropping out. He challenged them not to be resistant to change.
And the president endorsed the firing of teachers who, once given the chance and the training to improve, are still not serving students well.
Houses OK’s Doyle/Smith Autism Bill
‘TRAIN’ boosts training, education for autism service providers. A bill to improve services for children and adults with autism and their families, and advance training and education for autism service providers including classroom teachers and healthcare professionals, overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives this afternoon.
“Implementation of the TRAIN Act will significantly expand the ranks of qualified service providers, who are equipped with the knowledge and tools of state-of-the-science, evidence–based educational, medical, and social interventions,” said Smith on the House floor prior to passage. “The TRAIN Act, offers an opportunity for us to do something for the 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. who are living with autism every day. We know that with the right services and supports, autistic children and adults can lead fuller, happier and healthier lives. The TRAIN Act will help ensure that those living with autism and their families are not abandoned to fend for themselves among uncoordinated and even discordant information on treatments and services.”
TRAIN, which passed by a vote of 393-24, would establish grants to provide training, continuing education, technical assistance and information to improve autism services.
“I’m pleased to say that there’s strong bipartisan support for improving the services available to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families, starting with my friend and co-chair of the House Autism Committee, Chris Smith,” Congressman Doyle added.
The bill amends the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDDs) or comparable entities with the goal of providing individuals (including parents and health, vocational, and educational professionals) training and education. HR 5756 also authorizes up to four new UCEDDs at minority institutions or in states that have underserved populations. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that implementing the bill would cost up to $55 million between 2011-2015, depending upon annual appropriations.
House Clears Bill Aimed at Reducing Discrimination Against Mentally Disabled- CQ
The House on Wednesday cleared a bill that would remove the phrase “mental retardation” from many current laws, a move intended to reduce stigmatization associated with the phrase. The bill (S 2781) passed the House by voice vote and now heads to the president’s desk. The Senate passed it on Aug. 5, and enactment this year would coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (PL 101-336).
Advocacy groups say it marks a step towards eradicating the term “retard,” which groups such as the Special Olympics say is outdated and demeaning to individuals along a broad spectrum of developmental disabilities. “ ‘Mental retardation’ has a distinctly pejorative meaning used intentionally and unintentionally” in everyday speech, said Michael E. McMahon, D-N.Y., who sponsored a companion measure (HR 4544) in the House. Those with disabilities, he added, are “often ridiculed, ignored, or even abused by their peers.”
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., first introduced the bill, known as “Rosa’s Law,” in late 2009 after making a promise to a constituent — the mother of Rosa, an eight-year-old girl with Down syndrome — that she would champion the legislation.
It would remove, from a wide array of current laws, the term “mental retardation” and replace it with variations of the phrase “intellectual disability.” Those laws include the Public Health Service Act passed in 1944 (PL 78-410), the Higher Education Act of 1965 (PL 89-329) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (PL 110-233).
The bill also stipulates that “mental retardation” and “intellectual disability,” while having different subtexts, would still have the same technical meanings. And it would clarify that the new definition would not trigger any changes to the types of existing coverage or rights for disabled individuals.
U.S. Department of Education Awards Promise Neighborhoods Planning Grants
21 Communities Win Funding to Build Effective Schools with Strong Support Systems
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that 21 nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education will receive Promise Neighborhoods planning grants. With the one-year grants, the recipients will create plans to provide cradle-to-career services that improve the educational achievement and healthy development of children.
“I applaud each of the Promise Neighborhood applicants for their leadership,” President Barack Obama said. “They are galvanizing their communities to help offer our children a pathway out of poverty. The winners announced today will deliver a broad array of services to help all young people thrive academically, earn their high school diploma, go on to college, and reach for their dreams.”
“Communities across the country recognize that education is the one true path out of poverty,” Secretary Duncan said. “These Promise Neighborhoods applicants are committed to putting schools at the center of their work to provide comprehensive services for young children and students.”
The planning grants of up to $500,000 will support the work in a diverse set of communities in major metropolitan areas, small and medium-size cities, rural areas, and one Indian reservation. The President has requested $210 million in his fiscal 2011 budget, including $200 million to support implementation of Promise Neighborhood projects and $10 million for planning grants for new communities.
The 21 Promise Neighborhood grantees are:
To address the challenges faced by students living in communities of concentrated poverty, Promise Neighborhoods grantees and their partner organizations will plan to provide services from early learning to college and career, including programs to improve the health, safety, and stability of neighborhoods, and boost family engagement in student learning.
Secretary Duncan was joined at the announcement by Melody Barnes, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
“As shown in Promise Neighborhoods and HUD's Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, transforming distressed neighborhoods into communities of opportunity means connecting housing and development resources to education and access to economic opportunity,” said Secretary Donovan.
“Strong communities start with healthy children who have safe places to live and play and high quality educational opportunities that put them on the road to success,” added Secretary Sebelius. “Creating these strong communities requires everyone, including the federal government, to work together.”
More than 300 communities from 48 states and the District of Columbia submitted applications for Promise Neighborhoods planning grants.
“I congratulate all the Promise Neighborhoods applicants and the hundreds of other communities that are creating great schools and strong support systems for our children,” Secretary Duncan said. “We encourage all communities with bold and innovative proposals to continue their important work, and we are hopeful there will be future opportunities for the Department to provide implementation grants and new planning grants.”
Winning Promise Neighborhoods applications reflect deep partnerships among community-based organizations, service providers, schools and districts, colleges and universities, cities, local leaders and others.
“Well-coordinated investments and actions at the local level can generate significant change and positively impact opportunities for children,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a written statement. “To build communities of opportunity, residents must feel safe to live, learn and go about their business. We look forward to continuing working with our partners in support of this innovative initiative.”
Because of the great potential for Promise Neighborhoods to revitalize communities in need, it is closely linked to the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which seeks to align federal housing, education, justice, and health programs with the overarching goal of transforming neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity.
Senate Puts a Potential CR Vehicle in Motion - CQ
The Senate has taken the lead in the effort to move a measure needed to fund much of the federal government temporarily after Oct. 1.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed for cloture on the motion to proceed to an appropriations measure (HR 3081) that could be used as a vehicle for the fiscal 2011 continuing resolution (CR).
Floor action on the legislation is likely to begin on Sept. 28. The Senate will first hold a cloture vote on the motion to proceed to a bill on the offshoring of jobs (S 3816), which is unlikely to succeed. Afterward, the chamber will vote on the cloture motion related to the spending measure.
There had been negotiations in recent days about whether the House or the Senate would act first on a fiscal 2011 continuing resolution, which must be finished before Congress leaves for its October recess. Some House members had asked that the Senate go first, in order to see what kind of a measure the chamber could pass. The Senate has often been unable to get the 60 votes effectively needed to pass measures sent from the House in the 111th Congress.
Reid has had to seek a balance between Republican demands to keep the CR narrowly focused on funding the government after Oct. 1 and requests from the White House and lawmakers to include special add-on provisions and quick injections of money for favored programs.
Democrats said Thursday that the CR likely would be kept “clean” of these kinds of add-on provisions.
As happens in most years, Congress will not finish its appropriations bills before the start of a new fiscal year. Many requests have been made for additional money for programs in fiscal 2011, but these decisions seem likely to be put on hold until Congress completes the year’s spending bills after the November elections.
The bill that Reid called up Friday is the fiscal 2010 State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill, which the House passed, but the Senate did not consider. Those provisions later were added to an omnibus fiscal 2010 spending bill.
US Department of ED – TEACH Campaign
A great teacher will change the course of a student's life. A great teacher will light a lifelong curiosity within a student – for math, for science, for history and the arts. A great teacher will engender a sense of self-discipline and self-worth in a student. Think of the greatest teachers you know or remember, the ones who wanted you to approach problems like a scientist, observe like a journalist, see like an artist, and write like a poet. A great teacher will change the world.
In the next few years, though, up to a quarter of the teaching workforce will leave the profession; most are retiring baby boomers. The Obama Administration wants to seize this moment and invite the next generation of teachers to become teachers. The Department of Education is proud to announce the launch of the TEACH Campaign and TEACH.gov – a revolutionary new website dedicated to providing information, testimonials, and resources for students and prospective teachers – including a new interactive “path to teaching” tool designed to help individuals chart their course to becoming a teacher.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will announced the TEACH Campaign today during a special live broadcast on MSNBC called “Education Nation Summit.”
Please Join us as we begin the TEACH campaign:
Visit our website: TEACH.gov
Most important, please share this message with your members or member organizations and encourage them to join in this movement. In the next ten years, we will need as many as 1,800,000 new teachers. Only with the support of many will we succeed.
What No Child Left Behind did and didn't do – Washington Post
No Child Left Behind, the most influential and infuriating federal education law in 40 years, is not quite dead, but getting close. The Obama administration and Congress say they will discard it soon for something different. Nobody's paying much attention to it any more. The term AYP has fallen out of favor among us education writers.
So I was pleased to see that two of those super bright economists who seem to be doing all the education research these days, Thomas S. Dee of the University of Virginia and Brian Jacob of the University of Michigan, have provided a quick summary of what NCLB did, before we forget it ever existed. They have reviewed all the relevant papers and come up with some surprising conclusions:
No Child Left Behind helped fourth and eighth grade math achievement the most, particularly minorities. It didn't do much for fourth or eighth grade reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
The law appeared to increase instructional time for reading and math, but the authors caution that “the majority of evidence on this point comes from teacher and/or administrator survey data that is subject to some potential biases.”
And in what has to be the most surprising and most likely to be disbelieved of their conclusions, Dee and Jacob said “we also found evidence that NCLB led to increases in teacher-reported measures of student engagement." That means teacher reports of student tardiness, absenteeism, class cutting, dropping out and poor preparation declined once the law was in place, although Dee told me in an email the data on this is also weak.
The paper's title is “The Impact of No Child Left Behind on Students, Teachers and Schools” Most of it is comprehensible even by those of us so traumatized by Economics 1 our sophomore year that we never took another course in that subject. Here is what they said about the fourth-grade math improvement:
“The estimates suggest that NCLB increased the proportion of 4th graders reaching the basic level on NAEP by 10 percentage points. While we find that NCLB had larger impacts among lower-achieving students, we do not find any evidence that the introduction of NCLB harmed students at higher points on the achievement distribution. In contrast to some prior work within individual school districts and states, we find that NCLB seemed to increase achievement at higher points on the achievement distribution more than one might have expected. For example, in 4th grade math, the impacts at the 75th percentile were only 3 scale points lower than at the 10th percentile.”
Yes, I know. They didn't remind us that correlation, which is what they are reporting, does not necessarily mean causation. They both live in academic environments where everyone knows that, and would be insulted to be reminded, like my wife telling me, as she did several times during our recent drive to California, that I had left the turn signal on.
Dee and Jacob end their paper with an interesting, and controversial, warning. They analyze an Obama administration blueprint, released last March, for its replacement of NCLB in the next reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The authors note that the new administration wants to keep testing students every year, just like NCLB, but allow for flexibility in how states calculate the results. States could, for instance, switch to value-added test results, which say how much each child improved from one annual test to the next.
The Obama blueprint also “calls for the use of non-test accountability indicators, especially measures of college and career readiness [and] proposes to give states increased flexibility in how they might intervene in low-performing schools, only mandating specific consequences for the very lowest-performing schools and those schools with persistently large achievement gaps,” the authors say.
It is that potential lack of consequences, a toothless successor to the NCLB that no longer requires many schools to do much about low achievement, that concerns them. “The literature on pre-NCLB accountability policies suggests that simply reporting accountability measures that were unconnected to explicit consequences did not drive improvements in student achievement,” they say.
When Congress finally gets around to debating what should replace NCLB, I bet we will hear that sentence repeated many times.
Continuing Resolution May Be on Congress’ Horizon for Fiscal 2011 Funding - CQ
Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week certain that they will once again have to pass stopgap funding to keep much of the government running in the new fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. But it’s unclear just how — and when — they will handle this routine item of autumn business.
It’s possible that Congress will simply approve a stand-alone continuing resolution, or CR, for the beginning of fiscal 2011, a senior Democratic House aide said Sept. 10. In the past, these measures often have been attached to one of the regular spending bills; for fiscal 2010, for example, the Legislative Branch appropriations measure (PL 111-88) carried with it a continuing resolution that extended funding for federal agencies until the end of October.
But with election year politics bogging down the appropriations process and also possibly shaving work days off the fall calendar, Congress might not complete work on any of its 12 regular spending bills before the new fiscal year starts — and thus would not have one ready to carry the continuing resolution. To give members more time to campaign, leaders of both chambers are considering adjourning a week earlier than the previously announced Oct. 8 target date.
Before leaving for the summer recess, the House had passed only two of its 12 regular spending bills, the Military Construction-VA (HR 5822) and Transportation-HUD (HR 5850) measures. By this time last year, it had passed all of its fiscal 2010 bills. The Senate has yet to take up any fiscal 2011 spending bills; before last year’s summer recess, it had passed four of its fiscal 2010 bills.
Democratic aides said that leaders might consider their approach to the continuing resolution this week. They need to decide how long to extend what will be the first shot of stopgap funding, and what other pressing items they want to address. In recent years, for example, one CR contained extra aid for the Commerce Department as it prepared for the 2010 census.
Deciding on Length
Federal officials will be watching to see how long the continuing resolution will last, since longer stretches of stopgap funding are less disruptive to their budget planning than are shorter bursts, said George D. Krumbhaar, who teaches at Carnegie Mellon University and worked on the staffs of the Joint Economic and House Budget committees. “The CR does cramp their style,” he said.
A five-month continuing resolution, like one that covered the first part of fiscal 2009, gives agency budget officials more flexibility in planning than does a series of short-term measures, such as the four CRs put in place in 2007 to cover the period from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. A 2009 Government Accountability Office report found that shorter continuing resolutions have government employees doing repetitive work — such as handling several similar contracts, rather than putting one longer one in place — and can reduce agencies’ bargaining power, citing the example of the Bureau of Prisons under short continuing resolutions making smaller, more frequent purchases of food that ended up coming at higher costs.
Still, agency staff members are used to operating under continuing resolutions, which have become the norm, rather than the exception, for the federal government. There have only been two years in the past two decades — 1994 and 1996 — when Congress completed its appropriations work on time, getting the laws funding much of the government in place before the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year.
1. Congress to leave early? As you saw in the above article, the House and Senate may cut short the pre-election session and leave a week earlier than the currently scheduled adjournment date of October 8. That would mean the Congress would only be in session for three weeks this period and leave on October 1. Politico says that the House is considering the earlier adjournment but not the Senate. Essentially the only bills on the must do list are the small business bill and the CR. The Senate might also do a food safety bill and the House the child nutrition bill. Extension of the tax cuts might also be considered on the Senate floor, but it is unlikely any package will get the needed 60 votes.
2. House Republican Leader John Boehner recently proposed a two-point plan for “immediate, bipartisan action to get people working again.” It calls for reducing discretionary spending to FY 2008 levels and extending all the tax cuts (including those for upper-income people) for two years. According to an analysis by the Center ion Budget and policy priorities, “The plan would require immediate cuts of $102 billion — or 22 percent — in funding for discretionary programs other than defense, homeland security, and veterans, as compared to their [FY'10] funding levels.... This would represent the deepest cut in funding for these programs from one year to the next in recent U.S. history.”
6. President Obama Press Conference - Education Comments
7. And probably the most important thing we can do after growing the economy generally is how can we improve school systems in low-income communities. And I am very proud of the efforts that we’ve made on education reform -- which have received praise from Democrats and Republicans. This is one area where actually we’ve seen some good bipartisan cooperation.
And the idea is very simple. If we can make sure that we have the very best teachers in the classroom, if we can reward excellence instead of mediocrity and the status quo, if we can make sure that we’re tracking progress in real, serious ways and we’re willing to make investments in what goes on in the classroom and not the school bureaucracy, and reward innovation, then schools can improve. There are models out there of schools in the toughest inner-city neighborhood that are now graduating kids, 90 percent of whom are going to college. And the key is how do we duplicate those?
And so what our Race to the Top program has done is it’s said to every state around the country, instead of just getting money based on a formula, we want you to compete. Show us how you are reforming your school systems to promote excellence, based on proven ideas out there. And if you do that, we’re going to reward you with some extra money. And just the competition alone has actually spurred 46 states so far to initiate legislation designed to reform the school system.
So we’re very proud of that, and that I think is going to be one of the most important things we can do. It’s not just, by the way, K-12. It’s also -- it’s also higher education. And as a consequence of a battle that we had -- and it was a contentious battle -- in Congress, we’ve been able to take tens of billions of dollars that were going to banks and financial intermediaries in the student loan program and said we’re going to give that money directly to students so that they get more help going to college. And obviously poor kids are the ones who are going to benefit most from those programs.
Education Jobs Fund
Twenty-two states plus American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands have now applied for the edjobs fund:
11 of those states plus American Samoa have been approved:
State Assessment Grant Winners Announced
Sec. Duncan today announced that two consortia of states will receive a total of $330 million through Race to the Top funds to develop a new generation of tests: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-secretary-education-duncan-announces-winners-competition-improve-student-asse. 44 states plus DC are participating in one or both consortia.
Updated FY 10 State Funding Tables Posted by US ED
Fewer Americans Back Obama’s Education Programs – Education Week
Support for President Barack Obama’s education agenda is slipping among Americans, according to a poll released today of the public’s attitude toward public schooling.
The survey, conducted by Phi Delta Kappa International and the Gallup Organization, reports that just 34 percent of those polled would give the president an A or B when grading his performance on education during his first 17 months in office, compared with 45 percent in last year’s poll, which covered the president’s first six months in office. ("Obama School Ideas Getting Good Grades," Sept. 2, 2009.) The president’s grades fell not just among Republicans surveyed, but also among Democrats and Independents, who increasingly gave Mr. Obama grades of C or lower.
Poll respondents, for example, took a decidedly different tack than the president and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan when it comes to turning around low-performing schools. When asked what was the best solution, 54 percent said the school should remain open with the existing teachers and principal and receive outside support.
The administration’s models for school turnarounds have been criticized because they often require the replacement of the principal and other school staff members, and questions have been raised about whether the approach is based in research.
“Anybody experienced in running an organization as complicated as a school can see pretty quickly that the experience of the faculty and staff and administrators and principals all working together is a huge asset in improving a school,” said John Simmons, the president of the Chicago-based Strategic Learning Initiatives, which has turned around schools in that city while largely retaining their staffs. ("Focus on Instruction Turns Around Chicago Schools," Jan. 6, 2010.) “Yes, some schools should be closed. Some principals need to be removed, but only after they have had a good opportunity to apply state-of-the-art research strategies.”
Bryan C. Hassel, a co-director of the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based Public Impact, an education research and consulting company, said he wasn’t surprised by the results, but for a different reason. “Our political leadership hasn’t convinced the American people yet that disadvantaged students could and should be learning much more,” he said in an e-mail. “Nor have they conveyed the magnitude of change that will be required in schools to reach the possible. Without that inspiration, the public is naturally, but unfortunately, cautious.”
Invisible Investments - Taking the Public Pulse on Reforms
Americans agreed with the President on some strategies for improving schools but differed on others in the latest PDK/Gallup poll on education. Here is a closer look at some of the questions in the Gallup poll and the results.
The president’s lower numbers on education mirror the overall decline in his approval rating, said Shane Lopez, a senior scientist in residence at Gallup and the co-director of the poll. Mr. Obama’s present overall approval rating is 44 percent, compared with 52 percent at this time last year, Mr. Lopez said.
“Despite all of the time and attention that has been devoted to school improvement over the past year and half, we haven’t won over the hearts and minds of the American people,” said Patrick R. Riccards, the chief executive officer of Exemplar Strategic Communications, a Virginia-based communications firm and the author of the education reform blog Eduflack. “They aren’t feeling the impact of the stimulus. They aren’t seeing the role of the federal government in school reform.”
In fact, just two in 10 of those surveyed said they were aware that any of the economic-stimulus funding passed by Congress last year helped pay for education expenses in their communities—despite the fact some $100 billion over two years was allocated for education in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Part of the problem, said Daniel A. Domenech, the executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, is that education spending is rather invisible to members of the public. They don’t know whether the dollars in their school came from the federal government, state income taxes, or local property taxes.
That makes the public less aware of education stimulus funds than they are of, say, transportation projects financed by the stimulus, said William Bushaw, the executive director of PDK International and the poll’s other co-director.
“Any road project or building project you see, there’s a sign, ‘This road is being paid for’ by [the economic-stimulus],” he said. “There were no signs like that for the funding going to education.” The poll, released annually by PDK, a professional society based in Bloomington, Ind., and the Princeton, N.J.-based Gallup, was conducted from June 4 to June 28, using a national sample of 1,008 adults aged 18 and older. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Not all the survey news was bad for the Obama administration. Poll respondents showed strong support for work on teacher effectiveness, another priority of Mr. Duncan and Mr. Obama. Respondents selected improving teacher quality as the most important national education strategy, besting efforts to create better standards, devise better assessments, or improve failing schools. More than a third of those polled also said improving the quality of teaching is the top task a school must accomplish before earning an A.
Support for changing the way teachers are paid has increased among the public. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed said teachers should be paid on the basis of their work, rather than on a standard salary schedule, and 54 percent said a teacher’s salary should be “somewhat closely” tied to the achievement of his or her students.
The public’s focus on teacher evaluation, however, told a different story. When asked what the primary purpose of evaluating teachers should be, 60 percent said to help teachers improve, compared with 26 percent who said it should be used to document ineffectiveness that could lead to dismissal, and 13 percent said evaluations should be used to establish teachers’ salaries based on their skills.
“There is far more interest in supporting teachers than firing them or paying them on the basis of test scores,” said Barnett Berry, the president and chief executive officer of the Hillsborough, N.C.-based Center for Teaching Quality. “It doesn’t mean the American people don’t want a results-oriented profession. They do. I think they are more tuned in with the needs of the field than some of the policymakers who are making the rules and regulations.”
Americans’ emphasis on teacher effectiveness also highlights the need to improve school leadership in the field, said LeAnn M. Buntrock, the executive director of the University of Virginia’s Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education.
“Part of the issue in education has to deal with this leadership issue. One of the main reasons we lose our best teachers has to do with job conditions, and at the top of that list is school leadership—who the principal is,” she said. “If you are good at what you do and passionate about what you do, you want to work for someone who is going to provide you with the right kind of development opportunities, who can motivate and empower you to do the things you are best at.”
Support for charter schools also continued to grow among the public, with 65 percent of respondents saying they would back new public charter schools in their community and 60 percent saying they would support “a large increase” in the number of such schools operating in the United States.
“Once people understand what a charter school is, they like the concept of innovation and allowing teachers to have freedom in the classroom,” said Peter C. Groff, the president and chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Parents and communities embrace having options to figure out what is in the best educational interest of their children.”
MA Offers Schools Some Help to Combat Bullying - Boston Globe
The state Education Department released a model antibullying plan yesterday to help local schools develop their own policies to protect students from being picked on. The 14-page plan is meant as a template for local schools, which under the state’s new law against bullying must create bullying prevention plans by year’s end. The legislation was passed in May after two Massachusetts youths who faced harassment from other students committed suicide, creating pressure for lawmakers to act. In the case of Phoebe Prince, a South Hadley teenager who hanged herself in January, several students face criminal harassment charges in connection with her death, and school administrators were criticized by some who said they failed to intervene aggressively enough.
In a memo sent to school administrators yesterday, Mitchell Chester, education commissioner, recommended that districts use the state’s plan as a model, but added that “there is no single approach to developing and implementing an effective bullying prevention and intervention strategies.’’
The plan outlines the requirements of the law and advises schools on how to comply with the new regulations. It also suggests precise wording for local policies; for example, that students with disabilities and those who are gay “may be more vulnerable to becoming targets of bullying, harassment, or teasing.’’
The suggested framework also states: “We will not tolerate any unlawful or disruptive behavior, including any form of bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation.’’
“With the start of the new school year approaching, schools will now have guidance in developing their own prevention plans,’’ state Senator Robert O’Leary, cochairman of the Joint Committee on Education, said in a statement. “This is a great first step in curbing the increase in bullying we are seeing in our schools, and this will lead to increased safety and security for our students.’’
School leaders across the state have been working on new guidelines over the summer to comply with the state law. Watertown officials recently updated the system’s code of conduct to include cyberbullying, and West Bridgewater schools are creating a tip line that will accept text messages.
The legislation requires school employees to report all instances of bullying — both in person and online — and requires principals to investigate them. Parents can report bullying, and reports can be anonymous, although no disciplinary action will be taken against a student based solely on an anonymous report.
“The school or district expects students, parents or guardians, and others who witness or become aware of an instance of bullying or retaliation involving a student to report it to the principal or designee,’’ the state’s plan says.
The legislation defines bullying as repeated acts that cause physical or emotional harm, place students in fear, or create an “unwelcome or hostile’’ school environment for a student. Once administrators determine bullying has occurred, they must promptly notify the students involved and their parents. If administrators believe the harassment may warrant criminal charges, they must contact police.
“We have seen the tragic consequences that bullying, if left unaddressed, can have on many of our children,’’ Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement. “We will continue to address the root causes of bullying by bringing schools and communities together to change school climate and proactively prevent bullying in the first place.’’
School employees must receive training each year to identify and respond to bullying, and teachers must discuss bullying in the classroom. Educators must also help students with disabilities respond to teasing and harassment. Schools must offer education programs to parents. All schools are required to come up with a bullying prevention plan.
U.S. Schools Chief To Push Disclosure of Education Data - Education Secretary Arne Duncan Will Call On Districts Across The Nation To Make Information On Teachers Public - Los Angeles Times
U.S. Education Secretary
Arne Duncan will call for all states and school districts to
make public whether their instructors are doing enough to raise
students' test scores and to share other school-level
information with parents, according to a text of a speech he is
scheduled to make Wednesday.
FROM US Department of Education, OSERS
OSERS leadership has revised our goals to strengthen our commitment to improving outcomes for people with disabilities of all ages. These goals reflect both the Department’s and OSERS’ mission and ongoing efforts to ensure equal opportunity and access to, and excellence in, education, employment and community living for people with disabilities. They highlight the supports OSERS programs and services provide to people with disabilities from birth through employment and after, and they represent a continued commitment to innovation, best practice and outcomes.
On July 14, I offered an overview of OSERS’ goals in an inaugural Webinar. Due to technical problems, I was unable to complete the presentation. I apologize for the technical difficulties experienced, and invite you to access an archived version of the presentation at:
Senate Passes Bill to Change Statutory References to Retardation
Senate passed, by voice vote, a bill (S 2781) that would
eliminate references to "mental retardation" in several current
laws, replacing it with the phrase "intellectual disabilities."
Rosa's Law - Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Public Health Service Act, the Health Professions Education Partnership Act of 1968, the National Sickle Cell Anemia Act, Cooley's Anemia, Tay-Sachs, and Genetic Diseases Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000, and other federal enactments and regulations to change references to mental retardation to references to an intellectual disability.
Referred to House committee. Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Education and Labor, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
Senate Lame Duck schedule: Sen. Reid yesterday announced that the Senate would be in session as follows; the House debated this schedule today and was not in favor of returning after the election. They feel the Democrats are waiting to handle the tough issues after the elections are over.
· In session: September 13 to October 8
· Out of session: October 11 to November 12
· In session: November 15 – 19
· Out of session: Week of November 22 (Thanksgiving week)
· In session: November 29 – TBD
*Please note that the Senate Schedule is subject to change.*
The Power of the Parent Voice U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan - Speech to a conference in VA - August 3, 2010
I have highlighted a few areas of interest…
Good morning. When President Obama spoke to the Urban League last week, the one line that got by far the most applause was: “Parents are going to get more involved in their children’s education.” It is well-documented--and plain common sense--that parental involvement in a child's education boosts student learning.
The President and I believe we have a lot of work to do in education. We need to raise our standards. We need to move beyond the bubble tests. And we need to better support our teachers. But one thing is absolutely essential – and that’s parent involvement. Parents of students with disabilities are some of the most determined advocates. Parents are key partners in policymaking and practice, pushing for greater access and better outcomes for their own and others’ children. I want to applaud you for your dedication to children with disabilities—and their parents.
I also want to say I wish it wasn’t necessary for parents to be such fierce advocates. I understand that parents are compelled to advocate because they see that their sons and daughters aren’t getting the free, appropriate public education that federal law guarantees them. President Obama and I believe that every child deserves a world-class education. When we say every child, it is not just rhetoric--we mean every child, regardless of his or her skin color, nationality, ethnicity, or ability. Over the past 37 years, with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, we've made great strides in delivering on the promise of a free, appropriate public education for children with disabilities.
Tim Shriver of the Special Olympics shared with me one story that I think is the perfect example of the power that promise has to transform lives. It came in an essay by a girl named Kaitlyn Smith from Conifer High School in Colorado. She wrote about her best friend, Kathleen. Kaitlyn and Kathleen met while they were paired off as partners in P.E. class. They quickly became best friends and they do all of the things best friends do. They eat lunch together every day. When neither of them had a date for the Homecoming dance, they went together as friends. Kaitlyn wrote that Kathleen taught her what truly matters. It's not dressing well, doing your hair right, or making sure everyone likes you. In fact, when high school bullies made fun of Kathleen, her response was to look them in the eye, smile, and ignore them. Kaitlyn wrote about their friendship: "Right from the moment I met her, I knew my best friend was a blessing. I needed someone in my life that was going to change my perspective and give me a different outlook." Kathleen happens to have Down syndrome. But the story about Kaitlyn's and Kathleen's friendship shows how the inclusion of students with disabilities benefits more than just the student with the disability. Inclusion benefits the whole community.
Sometimes, parents, students, and teachers fail to recognize the great leadership that students with disabilities can provide our school communities. But I'm sure you can tell me hundreds of stories of how inclusion enriched the lives of everyone in a school. These are stories we need to tell, over and over again. For all of the success we’ve had, however, too many children with disabilities are not getting a world-class education. My message today is that I want to change that. And I’m committed to helping you as parents or as parent trainers advocate for children so that they get the world-class education they deserve.
Through a combination of policy, enforcement, technical assistance, and, yes, investing in the power of parents – we are going to make good on the promise of a free, appropriate public education and ensure that all children are getting a world-class education. In our proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we're working hard to ensure that we have the right policies and incentives to help states and districts accelerate achievement for all students, including those with disabilities. We want to make sure that students with disabilities are included in all aspects of ESEA, and to continue to measure achievement gaps and work to close them. We want to align ESEA with IDEA so that we create one seamless system that addresses the needs of each child.
Under our ESEA Blueprint, students with disabilities will continue to be full participants in accountability systems. One thing NCLB did right was hold schools accountable for all students and highlighted the achievement gaps between subgroups of students. We absolutely want to continue that. But NCLB doesn't measure student growth. If students start the year two grade levels behind, and, through excellent teaching and strong supports, progress so much that they end the year just below grade level, their school is still labeled a failure instead of a success.
Our accountability system will be based mostly on student growth and gain. Schools where students show large gains in learning over the course of the school year will be rewarded. We will reward and recognize the best schools, and the vast majority of schools in the middle will have more flexibility to implement locally designed plans to reach the benchmarks they set for themselves. But schools with chronically low performance and persistent achievement gaps will be required to take far-reaching steps to help students.
We'll maintain that focus on achievement gaps from NCLB. Our proposal would continue to hold schools accountable for teaching students with disabilities but will also reward them for increasing student learning. While we're confident that our accountability system will be fair and flexible, we recognize it won't be flawless.
To build a first-rate accountability system, states have to significantly improve existing assessments used to measure our students' growth and move beyond fill-in-the bubble tests.
As all of you know, today we have a complicated set of rules around assessing students with disabilities. The majority of students with disabilities take the regular state tests based on the state's standards for all students, with appropriate accommodations to ensure that their results are valid. Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities can take alternate tests based on alternate standards and other students with disabilities may take an alternate test based on modified standards.
Under the Race to the Top program, we’ve reserved $350 million to support states as they develop the next generation of tests to measure student growth and achievement. Our ESEA Blueprint will continue those investments. In addition, the Department has created a separate competition to develop alternate assessments. It is being managed by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. We expect these tests will give us important news tools in measuring the growth of students with disabilities. This reauthorized ESEA will provide the building block for the reauthorization of the IDEA that will follow.
Alexa Posny, who is doing an extraordinary job on our team, will be leading our work in IDEA reauthorization, and she will be a strong advocate for students with disabilities in ESEA reauthorization as well. When she spoke, I listened very, very closely. Our goal will be to align these two pieces of legislation to allow the flexibility each state needs to ensure that their reform efforts result in one highly effective system to address the needs of each child. We look forward to working with you to get the accountability system and other policies right for students with disabilities.
As we do this work, we have created new transparency initiatives and a host of ways for parents included in the education of their children and to be heard at the state and local level. Our blueprint to reauthorize ESEA enhances information and transparency in school report cards about academic performance and school climate. It supports programs that actually ask families how they feel about their child's school and educational experience--giving parents a real voice and opportunity to engage. Our proposal also allows family engagement to be included as one measure of success in teacher and principal evaluations. Finally, we're putting even more resources into this important set of activities because we need to do more--and we need to do it better.
We’re proposing to double funding for parent engagement-- from one to two percent of Title I dollars--or a total of $270 million. At the same time, in order to drive innovation – we will allow states to use another one percent of Title I dollars – about $145 million -- for grant programs that support, incentivize, and help expand district-level, evidence-based parental involvement practices. We want districts to think big about family engagement--to propose new strategies and hone in on best practices that raise student achievement. We have to put our resources behind what is truly important. We must walk the walk.
For this work, we see the models from the special education community – especially the Parent Centers run by the Office of Special Education Programs. Through your work, remarkable stories of success emerge. Individual stories about families creating Individualized Family Service Plans for their infants who have a disability and, later, creating transition plans to help their young adult with disabilities to prepare for college and a career. On every step of that path, parents turn to you with questions, knowing that you will provide not just answers, but critically needed support. We’ve seen how parent centers have elevated parents’ concerns informing decisions at the school, district, state and even federal level. At the school level, the training you offer to educators has improved their practice. At the state level, parents are involved in the development of state performance plans. At the federal level, parents’ voices are helping inform how we design IDEA’s accountability system. They are helping Alexa and her team to understand the key concerns of parents with disabilities – and how an accountability system can address those concerns.
In addition to supporting you through policies, we’re going to support you through civil rights enforcement. Over the past decade, the Office for Civil Rights has not been as vigilant as it should have been in protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities – or in combating sex, racial, and national origin discrimination. Under the leadership of Russlynn Ali, OCR is conducting its compliance reviews and investigations with a strict adherence to statutory and case law.
Since March, OCR has initiated nine compliance reviews regarding students with disabilities. These reviews are designed to ensure that students with disabilities receive appropriate programs aids and services. They will investigate whether districts are providing the transportation that students with disabilities are guaranteed. They will ensure that students with disabilities are offered all of the procedural rights available under federal law. They also will examine whether schools are discriminating against particular groups of students, such as African Americans and Hispanics, by inappropriately referring them for special education.
But OCR’s activities will extend beyond formal investigations. They will include working with school districts to help them understand their legal obligations under federal civil rights laws – and to help improve the services and education they’re providing. These are the ways we are striving to support you as parents in providing your children with the world-class education they deserve. We honor and respect parents’ voices.
Parents are actively involved with their children every day: at home, in schools, wherever children are. They understand better than anyone how important it is that schools prepare students for success in life – not just with academic knowledge, but with the skills needed to succeed in jobs and to be an active participant in society. Parents’ voices are being heard every day in schools, in district offices, and in state capitols across America.
We want to do everything we can to amplify their voices – to make sure they’re heard and have an impact. The commitment and courage of parents with disabilities is an example for all of us. We’ve made great strides for students with disabilities since Congress passed Section 504 and the IDEA. But no one in this room – me included – believes we’ve come far enough. With your commitment, your expertise, and your passion, I’m confident that we’ll get to the day where all children with disabilities are enjoying the world-class education they deserve.
I attended a Congressional Breakfast with Congressman Adler (NJ). He stated that he did not think much would be accomplished by Congress before the elections, but the lame duck session (when they return after elections) would see a flurry of activity. He stated that this would be a result of those members retiring and those who lost re-election, now not having to worry about political fallout.
Secretary Duncan Speech
I also attended a luncheon where Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, spoke. He announced the 19 finalists for the 2nd round of Race To The Top funds – they are:
AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, GA, HI, IL, KY, LA, MD, MA, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI and SC. There is $3.4 Billion in funding for the 2nd round and he stated that this would fund 10-15 state projects, depending on the size of the projects.
He talked a lot about changing the way we currently see education and that the Administration’s ideas on improvements and standards would make a difference, but it would take everyone to get on board to make the changes that are needed. He stated that the Administration has $4 Billion to address the issues of the bottom 5% of low performing schools (1 in 20 schools). He said these 2,000 programs are responsible for 75% of the dropout rate for minority populations in the US. He said the he has traveled to 37 states in his year and a half at the Department to talk with educational professionals on what works and what does not. It is these meetings that he gains the knowledge used to form policies on improving K-12 education.
He did not touch on special education and basically by the way he talked, he has his hands full with all the challenges of improving general education! The Administration did add $1 Billion to ESEA on the condition it was reauthorized this year. I am not certain that money will still be available next year. He stated that this money is to fund a well rounded education that includes core subjects, the arts, music, sports/physical education – all the things that make students want to come to school. He stated that his vision of education is a school that is open all day and into the evening and offers educational opportunities for all ages and becomes the center of the neighborhood and the family.
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its own discretionary cap, since there is no budget or a Senate deeming resolution (which is required in the absence of a budget). The total approved is $14 billion below the Administration’s request ($6 billion of the reduction will come from Defense). The House overall is $7 billion below the Administration’s request.
Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee
The Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its bill today. They reported the bill by voice vote. Senator Cochran, the only Republican at the markup, voted no. The full committee will meet Thursday at 2:30 pm to consider the bill. Senator Harkin said the bill probably won't see light of day on senate floor until December or January.
Here are the numbers we know of so far:
Education Appropriations – Subcommittee Markup
The House Health, Education and Labor Appropriations Subcommittee approved the FY 11 bill after a 2-hour markup. No education amendments were adopted. Only one amendment was adopted overall, concerning timeframes for releasing research findings. The bill discretionary total is $176.412 Billion.
To read Chairman Obey’s statement, see the basic funding table and see the listing of earmarks in the bill you can go to the Appropriations Committee web site at www.appropriations.house.gov.
IDEA – $400 million (administration $250)
LEAP – eliminated
Office of Management and Budget Update Released
The federal government may end its current fiscal year slightly less in the red than it earlier estimated, but its next two annual deficits likely will be worse than the White House forecast in February, according to an Office of Management and Budget update released the end of last week.
The federal deficit will reach $1.47 trillion for fiscal 2010, which ends in September, or $84 billion less than OMB had estimated in February. The fiscal 2011 deficit likely will be $1.42 trillion, up from an earlier estimate of $1.27 trillion, and the fiscal 2012 deficit is seen at $911 billion, up from $828 billion.
Half of Adopted State Budgets Face Gaps if Congress Fails to Pass Enhanced Medicaid Match
Just days after the new fiscal year starts for most states, 23 states already face budget gaps unless Congress passes an extension of the enhanced Medicaid match started under the federal stimulus legislation.
As governors and legislatures struggled to put together balanced budget this winter and spring, Congress seemed poised to provide additional assistance to flagging state revenue coffers. Under the 2009 Recovery Act, the additional Medicaid match dollars are scheduled to end on December 31, 2010. The House passed the extension for an additional six months but approval stalled in the Senate. On June 17th, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) failed to get the necessary votes to move forward although he vowed to continue to work for passage.
As state budgets came to governors for signature, some insisted that they be balanced without counting on the additional federal Medicaid assistance. Massachusetts’ Governor Patrick vetoed hundreds of millions of dollars of spending in order to balance that state’s budget. South Carolina’s Governor Mark Sanford also vetoed spending and his veto was sustained by the legislature.
Other governors continue to work with their congressional delegations to pass the Medicaid assistance. Governor Rendell of Pennsylvania has been an outspoken advocate, warning that budget cuts would extend to 20,000 public workers, including teachers and police.
Announcement From US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Starting in mid-August, Ms. Sue Swenson will begin her duties as OSERS Deputy Assistant Secretary and Ms. Melody Musgrove will become the Director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).
Sue, who resides in Bethesda, MD, runs her own company which specializes in management, payment technologies and social entrepreneurship to support people with disabilities and their families. Formerly the Executive Director of the Arc of the United States and the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, as well as the Commissioner of the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD), Sue brings a wealth of experience in disability related issues including family support, inclusion, and transition to name a few.
Melody, who will be moving to the DC area from Mississippi, is currently the Director of Business Development with LRP Publications. Formerly, she was the State Director of Special Education in Mississippi, a due process hearing officer, an Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Federal Programs for the Lawrence County School District, an Assistant Principal, and a special education teacher at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Melody has been noted for her work to reduce the achievement gap for traditionally under-performing students, conducted statewide self-assessments, and designed and implemented a focused system of monitoring local districts.
LEA Ratings for States - IDEA Money Watch
States report vast differences on "obligated" funds - IDEA Money Watch
The U.S.ED's latest report on Recovery Act funds "obligated" by States goes from 7% to 85% -- some jurisdictions (IO, OK) report as much as 85% of available IDEA Recovery Act funds already obligated, while others (DC, WY) report minimal funds obligated to date.
Despite the generous amount of additional education funds made available to local school districts through the Recovery Act, reports of cuts to jobs abound. Here are a few we've posted around our
State Blogs recently:
According to Dr. Alexa Posny, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, as of May 2010, IDEA Recovery Act funds had saved or created:
While that is good news, it should be remembered that the IDEA Recovery Act funds were not intended to save or create jobs - in fact, that was the role of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, another part of the Recovery Act's education funding. IDEA Recovery Act funds were intended to be used for innovative activities that would improve results for students with disabilities.
York City School District bringing alt-ed students back to own programs - Daily Record
The York City School District last year pulled back most of its regular education students from outside alternative schools, and will begin working to move special education students from those schools this fall.
District officials have said they want those students back in district programs to gain more control over the students' education, and the process began last fall.
As that plan is taking hold, the alternative schools that had served the city students are starting to feel the effect through decreased enrollment.
Alternative placements are for students that are not succeeding in traditional classrooms for various reasons. The goal is to address those issues and have students to transition back to regular education programs.
During the last school year, the district brought back nearly all of its regular education students who were in alternative placements at Manito Youth Leadership Center, Mission Home Education and Counseling, and Challenge Academy, according to Valerie Perry, assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services.
The students moved to the district's own alternative programs, such as Lindbergh Academy or a "twilight" evening program for older students. Middle-school students were moved first at the beginning of last school year. High school students were moved around mid-year, Perry said. "There was a whole process, obviously," Perry said. "We wanted to make sure we did what was best for kids."
Parents and staff were involved in the transition process, she said, to make sure students were moving into placements that would fit their needs. Some of the high school students that had been slated to move back into district alternative programs were not moved, she said, because of compelling reasons for them to stay.
For example, some seniors were on track to graduate in just a few months, and the district didn't want to disrupt that, she said.
Lindbergh had additional staff to ensure students who moved there had what they needed, she said.
"I believe those parts of the plan were successful," Perry said. "Students were returned, things went smoothly and students got re-acclimated."
The final phase of the plan, slated for the fall, is to move special education students from the three alternative schools back into the district. But those students will not be moved back all at once, Perry said.
Since those students have special needs, there are legal requirements the district must meet that don't apply to the regular education students. Those students will be moved on a case-by-case basis, and parents will be notified and involved, she said. "It's just important to make sure parents understand the changes are not going to be made ... without them being involved," Perry said.
Alternative schools fallout
The alternative schools are starting to feel the ramifications of the district pulling back its students.
Manito plans to close a York center that served primarily city students, since the city school board rejected a new contract because the school wanted to raise its rates.
Robert Whitmore, president of the organization, said the higher rate was necessary to continue operating the programs. Additionally, he said, no one could guarantee how many city students would be at Manito in the fall.
The other Manito centers serve multiple school districts, he said, so it's easier to plan. But since one of the York centers served only city students, "it just makes it from a business perspective hard to manage," he said.
Since the district won't be working with Manito, about 30 special education students that were still attending there will have to be moved, likely to Mission Home or Challenge Academy, Perry said. Not including those students, Mission Home was down to less than 20 students and Challenge Home had about 28, she said. No one at Challenge Academy could be reached Friday.
During a school board meeting Wednesday, Kyle Hawkins, director of operations at Mission Home, asked the board to clarify what would be happening in the fall. Last year, the school had its lowest enrollment from the city, he said. The school kept up services for students but had to lay off a lot of staff. The school started with about 42 students last year and ended with 26. About 16 were enrolled for the fall. "We wanted to know what you expect from Mission Home for next year," he said.
Perry told him the district planned to continue services with Mission Home, and that the school would likely see some more students for the fall since those at Manito have to be moved. Hawkins said Friday that sounded like it could work, and if Mission Home can be the district's second option when it can't place a student in its own alternative program, the school should have enough students to continue. He said he still wasn't quite clear what the district's needs would be in the future.
"We're just going to try to meet their needs as much as we can," Hawkins said. "We've had some unbelievable success stories with these students."
The goal for students in alternative programs is for them to eventually rejoin regular education programs.
The York City School District developed a three-part plan to move students from outside alternative placements into its own alternative programs. The schedule:
Fall 2009: Middle school regular education students in outside alternative education programs were brought back to district alternative programs.
Jan-Feb. 2010: Most high school regular education students that were in outside alternative education programs returned to district alternative programs.
Fall 2010: Special education students at the three alternative schools will begin moving back on a case-by-case basis.
Virtual K-12 Public School Programs and Students with Disabilities: Issues and Recommendations: A Policy Proceedings Document
This policy forum proceedings document contains a short introduction section that describes the current status of virtual public school programs in general and special education programs in particular. Next, this document provides a state-of-the-nation report that describes the exponential growth these programs and the evolving policy issues for students with disabilities, including access, funding and quality. The next section document is a description of what has been found to work in the area of virtual special education from the federal, state, rural, parent and related service provider perspectives. Findings from the policy forum are discussed as key issues and recommendations. The major points emphasized during the forum concern personnel quality and preparation; accessibility for students with disabilities; accountability, preparing and implementing quality IEPs; roles and responsibilities; and financial issues.
This in-depth policy analysis provides a background of the early childhood mental health (ECMH) focus of many organizations and legal elements of why it is essential that children with disabilities be included in a comprehensive mental health system. Findings from interviews with four state early childhood staff (i.e., the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B section 619 and Part C staff) were conducted around select components of mental health: Connecticut – consultation; Michigan – preparation and professional development; Ohio – partnerships; and Illinois – finance. Findings include that a variety of staff at a mental health agency and staff for Part B, Section 619 and Part C share responsibilities related to ECMH. Data is also collected through a statewide ECMH partnership and some individual programs; however none of the states has developed a uniform or coordinated data system for ECMH. All states indicated a need for changes in Medicaid policy to accept coding from the Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders.
This document is available for downloading at www.projectforum.org. Additionally, Project Forum’s site has more than 100 documents available for download.
To Prevent and Reduce the Use of Physical Restraint and Seclusion in Schools
After reading the bill, there is nothing in it, that we can’t live with. The best part, is maybe now we will get some funds for training! Please send me your comments – issues you would like addressed. Thank you!
The purpose of the act is to prevent and reduce the use of restraints and seclusion in schools. There is nothing in the bill that states “No restraints and/or seclusion.” It wants to ensure that R & S is used only when a student’s behavior poses an imminent danger of physical injury to the student, school personnel or others.
The act would establish policies and procedures to keep students/staff safe, provide staff with training and support, collect and analyze data on R & S, and identify and implement evidence-based models to prevent/reduce R & S in schools.
They do require “State-approved training programs” for use in training evidence based techniques and skills, including first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation that can certify school personnel. This would be required to be renewed on a periodic basis – time frame is not stated.
It requires the Secretary to develop standards that at a minimum would address:
School personnel shall be prohibited from imposing on any student the following:
(A) Mechanical restraints.
(B) Chemical restraints.
(C) Physical restraint or physical escort that restricts breathing.
(D) Aversive behavioral interventions that compromise health and safety.
School personnel shall be prohibited from imposing physical restraint or seclusion on a student unless—
(A) the student’s behavior poses an imminent danger of physical injury to the student, school personnel, or others;
(B) less restrictive interventions would be ineffective in stopping such imminent danger of physical injury;
(C) such physical restraint or seclusion is imposed by school personnel who—
(i) continuously monitor the student face-to-face; or
(ii) if school personnel safety is significantly compromised by such face-to-face monitoring, are in continuous direct visual contact with the student;
(D) such physical restraint or seclusion is imposed by—
(i) school personnel trained and certified by a State-approved training program; or
(ii) other school personnel in the case of a rare and clearly unavoidable emergency circumstance when school personnel trained and certified as described in clause are not immediately available due to the unforeseeable nature of the emergency circumstance.
(we will need to ensure that the trainings you currently use are accepted so there won’t be additional expense to redo what you have already done…)
The bill would not allow the use of R & S to be written into a student’s IEP, instead there must be a school wide policy developed (school safety or crisis plans) to address the use of R & S, so it is not directed toward one individual student. Parents must be notified of any R & S incidents immediately – within the same day of incident. It can be an electronic notification. In addition, within 24 hours, they require a written notification also.
They state that nothing in this act authorizes the Secretary to prohibit the use of:
(1)time out or
(2) devices implemented by a trained school personnel, or utilized by a student, for the specific and approved therapeutic or safety purposes for which such devices were designed and, if applicable, prescribed, including—
(A) restraints for medical immobilization;
(B) adaptive devices or mechanical supports used to achieve proper body position, balance, or alignment to allow greater freedom of mobility than would be possible without the use of such devices or mechanical supports; or
(C) vehicle safety restraints when used as intended during the transport of a student in a moving vehicle.
The bill requires States, not later than 2 years after the bill is signed into law, to submit a state plan to the Secretary to ensure that policies and procedures are implemented that meet the minimum standards stated in the law. The plan would need to show that parents and schools are made aware of the State’s plan.
States are to prepare and make available to the Secretary and the public a report showing total number of R & S incidents for the academic year and any that resulted in injury or death, and when the incidents occurred if untrained staff were involved. They will look at demographics, age and disability. The bill includes an enforcement provision that would allow the Secretary to withhold funds, if after one year under a corrective action plan, the State does not comply with the law.
The bill provides – such sums as may be necessary – grants to States for:
(1) establishing, implementing, and enforcing the policies and procedures to meet the minimum standards established by regulations promulgated by the Secretary;
(2) improving State and local capacity to collect and analyze data related to physical restraint and seclusion; and
(3) improving school climate and culture by implementing school-wide positive behavior support approaches.
These grants would be for 3 years and States must apply for this funding. States are allowed to award subgrants to LEAs on a competitive basis. Additional uses of the funding includes – researching, developing, implementing and evaluating strategies, professional development, training and certification, and carrying out the reporting requirements. States can also use the funds to develop their own training programs, provide technical assistance to implement evidence-based systematic approaches, disseminate these strategies and support other local positive behavior support implementation.
The State will access itself to ensure it is meeting the standards of the law and the Secretary will do a national assessment to determine the effectives of the law, not later than 3 years after enactment, with a final report presented not later than 5 years. The bill also enforces the R & S requirement on Head Start programs.
The version passed by the House included a provision (a NAPSEC request) to give private programs equitable funds for restraint and Seclusion Training.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
OFFICE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES
OCT 2 7 2009
Sherry L. Kolbe
Executive Director and CEO
National Association of Private Special Education Centers 1522 K Street, NW, Suite 1032
Washington, DC 20005-1202
Dear Ms. Kolbe:
This is in response to your July 16, 2009 letter to Ruth Ryder, in the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education. In letter, you ask, specifically, "can private specialized programs compensate therapist employees and contractors for attending training sessions held on program campuses that occur beyond regular work hours with 611 /619 funds? The point of the training, of course, is that a better trained therapist will provide a better educational experience for children."
As you confirmed during a telephone conversation on September 17, 2009 with Deborah Morrow, the "private specialized programs" you mention in your letter are privately-run facilities that provide special education and related services to children with disabilities who are placed in the facilities by public agencies, pursuant to 34 CFR §§300.145-300.147. These private specialized programs receive funds under sections 611 and 61.9 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), from public agencies as compensation (tuition) for the attendance of the children with disabilities who are placed at these facilities by public agencies. The "contractors" to which you refer in your question are individuals, or individuals employed by businesses, with whom the private specialized programs contract to provide special education and/or related services to children with disabilities who are placed by public agencies in these private specialized programs.
The private school or facility may elect to use some of the section 611 and 619 funds it receives as compensation for providing special education and related services to children with disabilities who are placed in the private school or facility by-a public agency to compensate therapist employees and contractors for attending training sessions beyond regular work hours to ensure that personnel providing special education and related services are properly trained and prepared to serve these children. The expenditure of funds under sections 611 and 619 of the IDEA for professional development activities is an allowable activity in order to ensure the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under both IDEA and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-87. See 20 U.S.C. 1413(a)(3) and 2 CFR Part 225, Appendix 8.42. Based on section 607(e') of the IDEA, we are informing you that our response is provided as informal guidance and is not legally binding, but represents an interpretation by the U.S. Department of Education of the IDEA in the, context of the specific facts presented. If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact Dr. Deborah Morrow at 202-2457456 or by email at Deborah.Morrow@ed.gov.
Patricia J. Guard
Office of Special Education Programs
WASHINGTON -The Supreme Court has ruled that parents of special education students who opt for private school instead of trying the public system cannot be barred from seeking public reimbursement for their tuition costs.
The court ruled 6-3 Monday in favor of a teenage boy from Oregon whose parents sought to force their local public school district to pay the $5,200 a month it cost to send their son to a private school.
Federal law calls for school districts to reimburse students or their families for education costs when public schools do not have services that address or fulfill the students' needs. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the nation's special education students are entitled to a "free and appropriate public education. "Schools have argued that the law says parents of special education students must give public special education programs a chance before seeking reimbursement for private school tuition.
But advocacy groups and parents of some special education students contend that forcing them to try public schools first could force children, especially poor ones, to spend time in an undesirable situation before getting the help they need.
Justice John Paul Stevens said in his majority opinion that the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires a school district to pay for private special ed services if the public school doesn't have appropriate services.
"We conclude that IDEA authorizes reimbursement for the cost of special education services when a school district fails to provide a FAPE and the private-school placement is appropriate, regardless of whether the child previously received special education or related services through the public school," Stevens said.
In the case before the Supreme Court, the family of a teenage Oregon boy diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — who was identified only as T.A. — sued the school district, saying the school did not properly address the student's learning problems. The family is seeking reimbursement for the student's tuition, which cost $5,200 a month. The family paid a total of $65,000 in private tuition.
In its appeal, the Forest Grove School District said students should be forced to at least give public special education programs a try before seeking reimbursement for private tuition. If not, parents would bypass public schools and go directly to private school — and then
I ask for reimbursement from school systems already burdened by ever-increasing costs. The court's decision does not require reimbursement, but Stevens said school officials "must consider all relevant factors, including the notice provided by parents and the school district's opportunities for evaluating the child, in determining whether reimbursement for some or all of the cost of the child's private school education is warranted."
Justice David Souter, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
"Given the burden of private school placement, it makes good sense to require parents to try to devise a satisfactory alternative within the public schools," Souter said in the dissent.
This is the court's second attempt at resolving this issue. The high court split 44 on a similar case from New York City two years ago. Justice Anthony Kennedy recused himself in the New York case but was among those who ruled on the Oregon case.
Nationwide, the number of special education students placed in private schools at public expense has not changed significantly over the last two decades, Justice Department lawyers said, citing statistics from the U.S. Department of Education. Just under 67,000 pupils were in private placements in 2007—just 1.1 percent of the country's nearly 6 million special education students.
The case is Forest Grove School District v. T.A., 08-305.
NGA CENTER ISSUE BRIEF PROVIDES FORMULA FOR ENHANCED POSTSECONDARY SCHOOL PERFORMANCE
WASHINGTON—To help states assess the performance of their universities, community colleges and other two- and four-year postsecondary institutions, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) today released an issue brief, Measuring Student Achievement at Postsecondary Institutions, which offers a formula for measuring system wide student achievement, a critical factor in assessing postsecondary school performance.
Measuring Student Achievement at Postsecondary Institutions outlines four steps governors and other state leaders can take to design effective postsecondary education data systems:
1. Select appropriate student milestones to measure remediation, retention and attainment;
2. Determine which students to count;
3. Select appropriate benchmarks; and
4. Group achievement rates by student population and institution.
According to the brief, student milestones that should be tracked include successful completion of remedial and core courses; advancement from remedial to credit-bearing courses; transfer from a two-year institution to a four-year institution; and credential attainment.
“As states look for ways to grow their economies, improving the performance of the more than 4,350 degree-granting postsecondary institutions across the country is an important component,” said NGA Center Director John Thomasian. “This issue brief assists states in developing effective assessment systems for postsecondary institutions, which generate the nation’s college-educated workforce – a group that is a critical contributor to state competitiveness.”
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or to inform me of
any legislative issues that you would like assistance with at email@example.com.
IDEA provides services for 6.947 million children and youth with disabilities in the United States. After reviewing the 5,500 comments received on the draft regulations, the US Department of Education has published the final IDEA regulations. The regulations take affect on October 13, 2006. For a copy of the IDEA Regulations go to www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister
Summary of Major Changes
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Regulations
Subpart A - General
The definition of child with a disability in §300.8 has been revised as follows:
(1) Section 300.8(b) (Children aged three through nine experiencing developmental delays) has been changed to clarify that the use of the term ‘‘developmental delay’’ is subject to the conditions described in §300.111(b).
(2) The definition of other health impairment in §300.8(c)(9)(i) has been changed to add ‘‘Tourette Syndrome’’ to the list of chronic or acute health problems.
The definition of excess costs in §300.16 has been revised to clarify that the computation of excess costs may not include capital outlay and debt service. In addition, a new ‘Appendix A to Part 300 - Excess Cost Calculation’’ has been added to provide a description (and an example) of how to calculate excess costs under the Act and these regulations.
The definition of highly qualified special education teacher in §300.18 has been revised, as follows:
(1) Section 300.18(b), regarding requirements for highly qualified special education teachers in general, has been modified to clarify that, when used with respect to any special education teacher teaching in a charter school, highly qualified means that the teacher meets the certification or licensing requirements, if any, set forth in the State’s public charter school law.
(2) A new §300.18(e), regarding separate ‘‘high objective uniform State standards of evaluation’’ (HOUSSE), has been added to provide that a State may develop a separate HOUSSE for special education teachers, provided that any adaptations of the State’s HOUSSE would not establish a lower standard for the content knowledge requirements for special education teachers and meets all the requirements for a HOUSSE for regular education teachers. This provision also clarifies that a State may develop a separate HOUSSE for special education teachers, which may include single HOUSSE evaluations that cover multiple subjects.
(3) Section 300.18(g) (proposed §300.18(f)) (‘‘Applicability of definition to ESEA requirements; and clarification of new special education teacher’’) has been revised as follows: (1) The heading has been revised, and (2) the language changed to clarify when a special education teacher is considered ‘‘new’’ for some purposes.
4) Section 300.18(h) (proposed §300.18(g)) has been modified to clarify that the highly qualified special education teacher requirements also do not apply to private school teachers hired or contracted by LEAs to provide equitable services to parentally-placed private school children with disabilities under §300.138.
The definition of Indian and Indian tribe in §300.21 has been changed to clarify that nothing in the definition is intended to indicate that the Secretary of the Interior is required to provide services or funding to a State Indian tribe that is not listed in the Federal Register list of Indian entities recognized as eligible to receive services from the United States, published pursuant to Section 104 of the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994, 25 U.S.C. 479a–1.
The definition of parent in §300.30 has been revised to substitute ‘‘biological’’ for ‘‘natural’’ each time it appears in the definition, and to add language clarifying that to be considered a parent under this definition a ‘‘guardian’’ must be a person generally authorized to act as the child’s parent, or authorized to make educational decisions for the child.
The definition of related services in §300.34 has been revised as follows:
(1) Section 300.34(a) (General) has been modified to (A) add the statutory term ‘‘early identification and assessment of disabilities in children,’’ which was inadvertently omitted from the NPRM, (B) combine ‘‘school health services’’ and ‘‘school nurse services,’’ and (C) remove the clause relating to a free appropriate public education under ‘‘school nurse services’’ because it duplicates the clause in §300.34(c)(13).
(2) Section 300.34(b) has been changed to (A) expand the title to read ‘‘Exception; services that apply to children with surgically implanted devices, including cochlear implants,’’ and (B) clarify, in new paragraph (b)(1), that related services do not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, the optimization of that device’s functioning (e.g., mapping), maintenance of that device, or the replacement of that device.
(3) A new §300.34(b)(2) has been added to make clear that nothing in paragraph (b)(1) of §300.34 (A) limits the right of a child with a surgically implanted device (e.g., a cochlear implant) to receive related services, as listed in §300.34(a), that are determined by the IEP Team to be necessary for the child to receive FAPE; (B) limits the responsibility of a public agency to appropriately monitor and maintain medical devices that are needed to maintain the health and safety of the child, including breathing, nutrition, or operation of other bodily functions, while the child is transported to and from school or is at school; or (C) prevents the routine checking of an external component of a surgically implanted device to make sure it is functioning properly, as required in §300.113(b).
(4) The definition of interpreting services in §300.34(c)(4) has been changed to clarify that the term includes (A) transcription services, such as communication access real-time translation (CART), C-Print, and Type Well for children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and (B) special interpreting services for children who are deaf-blind.
(5) The definition of orientation and mobility services in §300.34(c)(7) has been changed to remove the term ‘‘travel training instruction.’’ The term is under the definition of special education, and is defined in §300.39(b)(4).
(6) The definition of school nurse services in 300.34(c)(13) has been expanded and re-named school health services and school nurse services. The expanded definition clarifies that ‘‘school nurse services’’ are provided by a qualified school nurse, and ‘‘school health services’’ may be provided by a qualified school nurse or other qualified person.
A definition of scientifically based research has been added in new §300.35 that incorporates by reference the definition of that term from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, 20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq. (ESEA). With the addition of the new definition in §300.35, the definitions in subpart A, beginning with the definition of secondary school, have been renumbered.
The definition of special education in §300.39 (proposed §300.38) has been revised to remove the definition of vocational and technical education that was included in proposed §300.38(b)(6).
The definition of supplementary aids and services in §300.42 (proposed §300.41) has been modified to specify that aids, services, and other supports are also provided to enable children with disabilities to participate in extracurricular and nonacademic settings.
Subpart B - State Eligibility
Section 300.101(c) has been revised to clarify that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) must be available to any individual child with a disability who needs special education and related services, even though the child has not failed or been retained in a course, and is advancing from grade to grade.
Section 300.102(a)(3), regarding exceptions to FAPE, has been changed to clarify that a regular high school diploma does not include an alternative degree that is not fully aligned with the State’s academic standards, such as a certificate or a general educational development credential (GED).
Section 300.105, regarding assistive technology and proper functioning of hearing aids, has been re-titled ‘‘Assistive technology,’’ and proposed paragraph (b), regarding the proper functioning of hearing aids, has been moved to new §300.113(a).
Section 300.107(a), regarding nonacademic services, has been revised to specify the steps each public agency must take, including the provision of supplementary aids and services determined appropriate and necessary by the child’s IEP Team, to provide nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities in the manner necessary to afford children with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation in those services and activities.
Proposed §300.108(a), regarding physical education services, has been revised to specify that physical education must be made available to all children with disabilities receiving FAPE, unless the public agency enrolls children without disabilities and does not provide physical education to children without disabilities in the same grades.
A new §300.113, regarding routine checking of hearing aids and external components of surgically implanted medical devices, has been added, as follows:
(1) Paragraph (a) of §300.113 requires each public agency to ensure that hearing aids worn in school by children with hearing impairments, including deafness, are functioning properly.
(2) A new §300.113(b)(1) requires each public agency to ensure that the external components of surgically implanted medical devices are functioning properly. However, new §300.113(b)(2) has been added to make it clear that, for a child with a surgically implanted medical device who is receiving special education and related services, a public agency is not responsible for the post-surgical maintenance, programming, or replacement of the medical device that has been surgically implanted (or of an external component of the surgically implanted medical device).
Least Restrictive Environment
Section 300.116(b)(3) and (c) regarding placements, has been revised to remove the qualification ‘‘unless the parent agrees otherwise’’ from the requirements that (1) the child’s placement be as close as possible to the child’s home, and (2) the child is educated in the school he or she would attend if not disabled.
Section 300.117 (Nonacademic settings) has been changed to clarify that each public agency just ensure that each child with a disability has the supplementary aids and services determined by the child’s individualized education program (IEP) Team to be appropriate and necessary for the child to participate with nondisabled children in the extracurricular services and activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of that child.
Children with Disabilities Enrolled by Their Parents in Private Schools
Section 300.130 (definition of parentally-placed private school children with disabilities) has been revised to clarify that the term means children with disabilities enrolled by their parents in private, including religious, schools or facilities, that meet the definition of elementary school in §300.13 or secondary school in §300.36.
A new §300.131(f), regarding child find for out-of-State parentally-placed private school children with disabilities, has been added to clarify that each LEA in which private (including religious) elementary schools and secondary schools are located must include parentally-placed private school children who reside in a State other than the State in which the private schools that they attend are located.
Section 300.133, regarding expenditures for parentally-placed private school children with disabilities, has been revised, as follows:
(1) A new §300.133(a)(2)(ii), has been added to clarify that children aged three through five are considered to be parentally-placed private school children with disabilities enrolled by their parents in private, including religious, elementary schools, if they are enrolled in a private school that meets the definition of elementary school in §300.13.
(2) A new §300.133(a)(3) has been added to specify that, if an LEA has not expended for equitable services for parentally-placed private school children with disabilities all of the applicable funds described in §300.133(a)(1) and (a)(2) by the end of the fiscal year for which Congress appropriated the funds, the LEA must obligate the remaining funds for special education and related services (including direct services) to parentally placed private school children with disabilities during a carry-over period of one additional year.
Section 300.136, regarding compliance related to parentally-placed private school children with disabilities, has been revised to remove the requirement that private school officials must submit complaints to the SEA using the procedures in §§300.151 through 300.153.
Section 300.138(a), regarding the requirement that services to parentally placed private school children with disabilities must be provided by personnel meeting the same standards as personnel providing services in the public schools, has been modified to clarify that private elementary school and secondary school teachers who are providing equitable services to parentally-placed private school children with disabilities do not have to meet the highly qualified special education teacher requirements in §300.18.
Section 300.140, regarding due process complaints and State complaints, has been revised to make the following changes:
(1) Section 300.140(b)(1) (proposed § 300.140(a)(2)), regarding child find complaints, has been changed to clarify that the procedures in §§300.504 through 300.519 apply to complaints that an LEA has failed to meet the child find requirements in §300.131, including the requirements in §§300.301 through 300.311.
(2) A new paragraph (b)(2) has been added to provide that any due process complaint regarding the child find requirements (as described in §300.140(b)(1)) must be filed with the LEA in which the private school is located and a copy of the complaint must be forwarded to the SEA.
(3) A new §300.140(c), regarding State complaints by private school officials, has been added to clarify that (A) any complaint that an SEA or LEA has failed to meet the requirements in §§300.132 through 300.135 and 300.137 through 300.144 must be filed in accordance with the procedures described in §§300.151 through 300.153, and (B) a complaint filed by a private school official under §300.136(a) must be filed with the SEA in accordance with the procedures in §300.136(b).
Children with Disabilities Enrolled by Their Parents in Private Schools - When FAPE Is at Issue
A new §300.148(b), regarding disagreements about FAPE, has been added (from current §300.403(b)) to clarify that disagreements between a parent and a public agency regarding the availability of a program appropriate for a child with a disability, and the question of financial reimbursement, are subject to the due process procedures in §§300.504 through 300.520.
State Complaint Procedures
Section 300.152(a)(3)(ii) (proposed paragraph (a)(3)(B)) has been revised to clarify that each SEA’s complaint procedures must provide the public agency with an opportunity to respond to a complaint filed under § 300.153, including, at a minimum, an opportunity for a parent who has filed a complaint and the public agency to voluntarily engage in mediation consistent with §300.506.
Section 300.152(b)(1)(ii), regarding time extensions for filing a State complaint, has been revised to clarify that it would be permissible to extend the 60-day timeline if the parent (or individual or organization if mediation or other alternative means of dispute resolution is available to the individual or organization under State procedures) and the public agency agree to engage in mediation or to engage in other alternative means of dispute resolution, if available in the State.
Section 300.152(c), regarding complaints filed under §300.152 and due process hearings under §300.507 and §§300.530 through 300.532, has been revised to clarify that if a written complaint is received that is also the subject of a due process hearing under §§300.507 or 300.530 through 300.532, or contains multiple issues of which one or more are part of a due process hearing, the State must set aside any part of the complaint that is being addressed in the due process hearing until the conclusion of the hearing.
However, any issue in the complaint that is not part of the due process hearing must be resolved using the time limit and procedures described elsewhere in the State complaint procedures. A new paragraph (c)(3) also has been added to require SEAs to resolve complaints alleging a public agency’s failure to implement a due process hearing. This is the same requirement in current §300.661(c)(3).
Section 300.153(c), regarding the one year time limit from the date the alleged violation occurred and the date the complaint is received in accordance with §300.151, has been revised by removing the exception clause related to complaints covered under §300.507(a)(2).
Methods of Ensuring Services
Section 300.154(d), regarding children with disabilities who are covered by public benefits or insurance, has been revised to clarify that the public agency must (1) obtain parental consent each time that access to the parent’s public benefits or insurance is sought, and (2) notify parents that refusal to allow access to their public benefits or insurance does not relieve the public agency of its responsibility to ensure that all required services are provided at no cost to the parents.
Additional Eligibility Requirements
Section 300.156(e), regarding personnel qualifications, has been revised (1) to add ‘‘or a class of students,’’ to clarify that a judicial action on behalf of a class of students may not be filed for failure of a particular SEA or LEA employee to be the word ‘‘employee’’ for ‘‘staff person,’’ to be more precise in the rule of construction in new §300.18(f) (proposed § 300.18(e)).
Section 300.160 (participation in assessments) has been removed, and the section has been designated as ‘‘Reserved.’’ Participation in assessments is the subject of a new notice of proposed rulemaking issued on December 15, 2005 (70 FR 74624) to amend the regulations governing programs under Title I of the ESEA and Part B of the IDEA regarding additional flexibility for States to measure the achievement of children with disabilities based on modified achievement standards.
Other Provisions Required for State Eligibility
Section 300.172, regarding access to instructional materials, has been revised: (1) To make clear that States must adopt the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS), published as Appendix C to these final regulations; (2) to establish a definition of ‘‘timely manner,’’ for purposes of §300.172(b)(2) and (b)(3) if the State is not coordinating with the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), or § 300.172(b)(3) and (c)(2) if the State is coordinating with the NIMAC; (3) to add a new §300.172(b)(4) to require SEAs to ensure that all public agencies take all reasonable steps to provide instructional materials in accessible formats to children with disabilities who need those instructional materials at the same time as other children receive instructional materials; and (4) to add a new §300.172(e)(2) to clarify, that all definitions in §300.172(e)(1) apply to each State and LEA, whether or not the State or LEA chooses to coordinate with the NIMAC.
A new §300.177 has been added to include a provision regarding ‘‘States’ sovereign immunity.’’ That provision, which has been added to incorporate the language in section 604 of the Act, makes clear that a State that accepts funds under Part B of the Act waives its immunity under the 11th amendment of the Constitution of the United States from suit in Federal court for a violation of Part B of the Act.
Subpart D—Evaluations, Eligibility Determinations,
Individualized Education Programs, and Educational Placements
Section 300.300, regarding parental consent, has been revised, as follows:
(1) Paragraph (a) of §300.300, regarding consent for initial evaluation, has been changed to provide that the public agency proposing to conduct an initial evaluation to determine if a child qualifies as a child with a disability must, after providing notice consistent with §§300.503 and 300.504, obtain informed consent, consistent with §300.9, from the parent of the child before conducting the evaluation. A new paragraph (a)(1)(iii) has been added to require a public agency to make reasonable efforts to obtain the informed consent from the parent for an initial evaluation.
(2) Section 300.300(a)(3), regarding a parent’s failure to provide consent for initial evaluation, has been changed to clarify, in a new paragraph (a)(3)(ii), that the public agency does not violate its obligation under §300.111 and §§300.301 through 300.311 if it declines to pursue the evaluation.
(3) Section 300.300(b), regarding parental consent for services, has been modified by a new paragraph (b)(2) that requires a public agency to make reasonable efforts to obtain informed consent from the parent for the initial provision of special education and related services.
(4) Section 300.300(c)(1), regarding parental consent for reevaluations, has been modified to clarify that if a parent refuses to consent to a reevaluation, the public agency may, but is not required to, pursue the reevaluation by using the consent override procedures in §300.300(a)(3), and the public agency does not violate its obligation under §300.111 and §§300.301 through 300.311 if it declines to pursue the evaluation or reevaluation.
(5) A new §300.300(d)(4) has been added to provide that if a parent of a child who is home schooled or placed in a private school by the parent at the parent’s expense, does not provide consent for an initial evaluation or a reevaluation, or the parent fails to respond to a request to provide consent, the public agency (A) may not use the consent override procedures (described elsewhere in §300.300), and (B) is not required to consider the child eligible for services under the requirements relating to parentally-placed private school children with disabilities (§§300.132 through 300.144).
(6) A new §300.300(d)(5) has been added to clarify that in order for a public agency to meet the reasonable efforts requirement to obtain informed parental consent for an initial evaluation, initial services, or a reevaluation, a public agency must document its attempts to obtain parental consent using the procedures in §300.322(d).
Additional Procedures for Evaluating Children with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)
Section 300.307 (Specific learning disabilities) has been revised, as follows:
(1) Proposed paragraph (a)(1) of §300.307, which allowed a State to prohibit the use of a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement for determining if a child has an SLD, has been removed, and proposed paragraph (a)(2) of §300.307 has been redesignated as paragraph (a)(1).
(2) Section 300.307(a)(2) (proposed paragraph (a)(3)) has been changed to clarify that the criteria adopted by the State must permit the use of a process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention.
Section 300.308 (Group members) has been changed to require the eligibility group for children suspected of having SLD to include the child’s parents and a team of qualified professionals, which must include the child’s regular teacher (or if the child does not have a regular teacher, a regular classroom teacher qualified to child of less than school age, an individual qualified by the SEA to teach a child of his or her age; and at least one person qualified to conduct individual diagnostic examinations of children, such as a school psychologist, speech language pathologist, or remedial reading teacher. These are the same requirements in current §300.540.
Section 300.309 (Determining the existence of a specific learning disability) has been revised, as follows:
(1) Paragraph (a) of §300.309 has been changed (A) to clarify that the group described in 300.306 may determine that a child has a specific learning disability if the child does not achieve adequately for the child’s age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards in one or more of eight areas (e.g., oral expression, basic reading skill, etc.), when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the child’s age or State-approved grade-level standards; and (B) to add ‘‘limited English proficiency’’ to the other five conditions that could account for the child’s learning problems, and that the group considers in determining whether the child has an SLD.
(2) Section 300.309(b) has been changed to clarify (A) that, in order to ensure that underachievement in a child suspected of having an SLD is not due to lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math, the group must consider, as part of the evaluation described in §§300.304 through 300.306, data that demonstrate that prior to, or as a part of, the referral process, the child was provided appropriate instruction in regular education settings, delivered by qualified personnel, and (B) to replace (in paragraph (b)(1)) the term ‘‘high quality research-based instruction’’ with ‘‘appropriate instruction.’’
(3) Section 300.309(c) has been changed to provide that the public agency must promptly request / Vol. 71, No. 156 / Monday, August 14, 2006 / Rules and Regulations consent to evaluate a child suspected of having an SLD who has not made adequate progress after an appropriate period of time when provided appropriate instruction, and whenever a child is referred for an evaluation.
Section 300.310, regarding Observation, has been revised, as follows:
(1) Paragraph (a) of proposed §300.310 has been revised (A) to remove the phrase ‘‘trained in observation, and (B) to specify that the public agency must ensure that the child is observed in the child’s learning environment.
(2) A new §300.310(b) has been added to require the eligibility group to decide to (A) use information obtained from an observation in routine classroom instruction and monitoring of the child’s performance that was done before the child was referred for an evaluation, or (B) have at least one member of the group described in § 300.306(a)(1) conduct an observation of the child’s academic performance in the regular classroom after the child has been referred for an evaluation and parental consent is obtained. Paragraph (b) of proposed § 300.310 has been redesignated as new §300.310(c).
Section 300.311 (Written report) has been renamed ‘‘Specific documentation for the eligibility determination,’’ and has been revised, as follows:
(1) Section 300.311(a)(5), regarding whether the child does not achieve commensurate with the child’s age, has been modified and expanded to add whether the child does not achieve adequately for the child’s age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards consistent with §300.309(a)(1), and (A) the child does not make sufficient progress to meet age or to meet State approved grade-level standards consistent with §300.309(a)(2)(i), or (B) the child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade level standards or intellectual development consistent with §300.309(a)(2)(ii).
(2) Proposed §300.311(a)(6), regarding whether there are strengths or weaknesses or both in performance or achievement or both relative to intellectual development, has been removed.
(3) A new §300.311(a)(6) has been added to clarify that the documentation must include a statement of the determination of the group concerning the effects of visual, hearing, or motor disability, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, cultural factors, environmental or economic disadvantage, or limited English proficiency on the child’s achievement level.
(4) A new §300.311(a)(7) has been added to provide that if the child has participated in a process that assesses the child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention, the documentation must include the instructional strategies used and the student-centered data collected, and documentation that the child’s parents were notified about (A) the State’s policies regarding the amount and nature of student performance data that would be collected and the general education services that would be provided, (B) strategies for increasing the child’s rate of learning, and (C) the parents’ right to request an evaluation.
Individualized Education Programs
Section 300.320 (Definition of IEP) has been revised in paragraph (a)(5) to replace ‘‘regular education environment’’ with ‘‘regular class,’’ in order to be consistent with the language in the Act.
Section 300.321(e), regarding attendance at IEP Team meetings, has been revised to clarify that the excusal of IEP Team members from attending an IEP Team meeting under certain circumstances, refers to the IEP Team members in §300.320(a)(2) through (a)(5).
Section 300.322, regarding parent participation, has been revised to: (1)Include, in §300.322(d), examples of the records a public agency must keep of its attempts to involve the parents in IEP meetings; (2) add a new §300.322(e), which requires the public agency to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the parent understands the proceedings of the IEP meeting, including arranging for an interpreter for parents with deafness or whose native language is other than English; and (3) redesignate paragraph (e) as paragraph (f) accordingly.
Section 300.323(d) has been revised to require public agencies to ensure that each regular teacher, special education teacher, related services provider, and any other service provider who is responsible for the implementation of a child’s IEP, is informed of his or her specific responsibilities related to implementing the child’s IEP and the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided for the child in accordance with the child’s IEP. These are the same requirements in current §300.342(b)(3)(i) and (b)(3)(ii).
Section 300.323(e), regarding IEPs for children who transfer public agencies, has been revised to: (1) Divide the provision into three separate paragraphs (§300.323(e), (f), and (g)) for purposes of clarity and improved readability (e.g., transfers within the same State, transfers from another State, and transmittal of records); (2) adopt ‘‘school year’’ in lieu of ‘‘academic year’’ as the term commonly used by parents and public agencies; and (3) adopt other modifiers (e.g., ‘‘new’’ and ‘‘previous’’) to distinguish between States and public agencies that are involved in transfers by children with disabilities.
Section 300.324(a)(4), regarding changes to an IEP after the annual IEP meeting for a school year, has been restructured into two paragraphs, and a new paragraph (a)(4)(ii) has been added to require the public agency to ensure that, if changes are made to a child’s IEP without an IEP meeting, that the child’s IEP Team is informed of the changes.
Section 300.324(b), regarding the review and revision of IEPs, has been changed to include a new paragraph(b)(2), to clarify that, in conducting a review of a child’s IEP, the IEP Team must consider the same special factors it considered when developing the child’s IEP.
Subpart E—Procedural Safeguards
Section 300.502, regarding independent educational evaluations, has been revised, as follows:
(1) A new §300.502(b)(5) has been added to make clear that a parent is entitled to only one independent educational evaluation at public expense each time the public agency conducts an evaluation with which the parent disagrees.
(2) Section 300.502(c) has been changed to clarify that if a parent obtains an independent evaluation at public expense or shares with the public agency an evaluation obtained at private expense, the public agency must consider the evaluation, if it meets agency criteria, in any decision made with respect to the provision of FAPE to the child.
Section 300.504 (Procedural Safeguards Notice) has been revised, as follows:
1) Paragraph (a)(2) of §300.504 has been changed to add that a copy of the procedural safeguards notice must be given upon receipt of the first due process complaint under §300.507 in a school year, as well as upon receipt of the first State complaint under §300.151 through 300.153.
(2) A new §300.504(a)(3) has been added to provide that the notice must be given to the parents of a child with a disability in accordance with the discipline procedures in §300.530(h).
Section 300.506(b), regarding the requirements for mediation, has been revised by (1) removing the provision about the ‘‘confidentiality pledge,’’ in proposed paragraph (b)(9), because it is no longer required under the Act, and (2) changing paragraph (b)(8), regarding the prohibition against using discussions that occur in the mediation process, to clarify that ‘‘civil proceedings’’ includes any Federal court or State court of a State receiving assistance under this part.
Section 300.509, regarding model forms to assist parents and public agencies in filing due process complaints and parents and other parties in filing State complaints, has been revised to add, with respect to due process complaints, ‘‘public agencies,’’ and with respect to State complaints, ‘‘other parties,’’ as well as parents, and to clarify that (1) while each SEA must develop model forms, the SEA or LEA may not require the use of the forms, and (2) parents, public agencies, and other parties may either use the appropriate model form, or another form or other document, so long as the form or document meets, as appropriate, the requirements for filing a due process complaint or a State complaint.
Section 300.510 (Resolution process) has been revised, as follows:
(1) Section 300.510(b)(1), regarding the resolution period, has been changed to state that a due process hearing ‘‘may occur’’ (in lieu of ‘‘must occur’’) by the end of the resolution period, if the parties have not resolved the dispute that formed the basis for the due process complaint.
(2) A new § 300.510(b)(3) has been added to provide that, except where the parties have jointly agreed to waive the resolution process or to use mediation (notwithstanding §300.510(b)(1) and (2)), the failure of a parent filing a due process complaint to participate in the resolution meeting will delay the timelines for the resolution process and due process hearing until the meeting is held.
(3) A new §300.510(b)(4) has been added to provide that if an LEA is unable to obtain the participation of the parent in the resolution meeting after reasonable efforts have been made, and documented using the procedures in §300.322(d), the LEA may, at the conclusion of the 30-day resolution period, request that a hearing officer dismiss the parent’s due process complaint.
(4) A new paragraph (b)(5) of §300.510 has been added to provide that, if the LEA fails to hold the resolution meeting within 15 days of receiving notice of a parent’s due process complaint or fails to participate in the resolution meeting, the parent may seek the intervention of a hearing officer to begin the due process hearing timelines.
(5) A new §300.510(c) (Adjustments to the 30-day resolution period) has been added that specifies exceptions to the 30-day resolution period (e.g., (A) both parties agree in writing to waive the resolution meeting; (B) after either the mediation or resolution meeting starts but before the end of the 30-day period, the parties agree in writing that no agreement is possible; or (C) if both parties agree in writing to continue the mediation at the end of the 30-day resolution period, but later, the parent or public agency withdraws from the mediation process). Subsequent paragraphs have been renumbered accordingly.
(6) Paragraph (d)(2) of §300.510 (proposed paragraph(c)(2)), regarding the enforceability of a written settlement agreement in any State court of competent jurisdiction or in a district court of the United States, has been expanded to add the SEA, if the State has other mechanisms or procedures that permit parties to seek enforcement of resolution agreements, pursuant to a new §300.537.
Section 300.513(a) (Decision of hearing officer) has been revised by (1) changing the paragraph title to read ‘‘Decision of hearing officer on the provision of FAPE,’’ and (2) clarifying that a hearing officer’s determination of whether a child received FAPE must be based on substantive grounds.
Section 300.515(a), regarding timelines and convenience of hearings and reviews, has been revised to include a specific reference to the adjusted time periods described in §300.510(c).
Section 300.516(b), regarding the 90-day time limitation from the date of the decision of the hearing to file a civil action, has been revised to provide that the 90-day period begins from the date of the decision of the hearing officer or the decision of the State review official.
Section 300.518 (Child’s status during proceedings) has been revised by adding a new paragraph (c), which provides that if a complaint involves an application for initial services under this part from a child who is transitioning from Part C of the Act to Part B and is no longer eligible for Part C services because the child has turned 3, the public agency is not required to provide the Part C services that the child had been receiving. If the child is found eligible for special education and related services under Part B and the parent consents to the initial provision of special education and related services under §300.300(b), then the public agency must provide those special education and related services that are not in dispute between the parent and the public agency.
Section 300.520(b), regarding a special rule about the transfer of parental rights at the age of majority, has been revised to more clearly state that a State must establish procedures for appointing the parent of a child with a disability, or if the parent is not available, another appropriate individual, to represent the educational interests of the child throughout the child’s eligibility under Part B of the Act if, under State law, a child who has reached the age of majority, but has not been determined to be incompetent, can be determined not to have the ability to provide informed consent with respect to the child’s educational program.
Section 300.530(d)(1)(i), regarding services, has been revised to be consistent with section 615(k)(1)(D)(i) of the Act, by adding a reference to the FAPE requirements in §300.101(a).
Section 300.530(d)(4), regarding the removal of a child with a disability from the child’s current placement for 10 school days in the same school year, has been revised to remove the reference to school personnel, in consultation with at least one of the child’s teachers, determining the location in which services will be provided.
Section 300.530(d)(5), regarding removals that constitute a change of placement under §300.536, has been revised to remove the reference to the IEP Team determining the location in which services will be provided.
A new §300.530(e)(3), has been added to provide that, if the LEA, the parent, and members of the child’s IEP Team determine that the child’s behavior was the direct result of the LEA’s failure to implement the child’s IEP, the LEA must take immediate steps to remedy those deficiencies.
Section 300.530(h), regarding notification, has been changed to specify that, on the date on which a decision is made to make a removal that constitutes a change in the placement of a child with a disability because of a violation of a code of student conduct, the LEA must notify the parents of that decision, and provide the parents the procedural safeguards notice described in §300.504.
Section 300.532 (Appeal) has been revised, as follows:
(1) Paragraph (a) of §300.532, regarding the conditions in which the parent of a child with a disability or an LEA may request a hearing, has modified to clarify that the hearing is requested by filing a complaint pursuant to §§300.507 and 300.508(a) and (b)
(2) Section 300.532(b)(3) has been changed to more definitively provide that if the LEA believes that returning the child to his or her original placement is substantially likely to result in injury to the child or others.
(3) Section 300.532(c)(3), regarding an expedited due process hearing, has been adjusted to provide that unless the parents and an LEA agree in writing to waive a resolution meeting, or agree to use the mediation process described in §300.506, the resolution meeting must occur within seven days of receiving notice of the due process complaint, and the hearing may proceed within 15 days of receipt of the due process complaint unless the matter has been resolved to satisfaction of both parties.
(4) Proposed §300.532(c)(4), regarding the two-day timeframe for disclosing information to the opposing party prior to an expedited due process hearing, has been removed.
Section 500.536(a)(2)(ii) (proposed §300.536(b)(2)) has been revised to remove the requirement that a child’s behavior must have been a manifestation of the child’s disability before determining that a series of removals constitutes a change in placement under §300.536. Paragraph (a)(2)(ii) has also been amended to reference the child’s behavior in ‘‘previous’’ incidents that resulted in the series of removals.
A new §300.536(b) has been added to clarify that the public agency (subject to review through the due process and judicial proceedings) makes the determination, on a case-by-case basis, whether a pattern of removals constitutes a change in placement and that the determination is subject to review through due process and judicial determinations.
A new §300.537 (State enforcement mechanisms) has been added to clarify that notwithstanding §300.506(b)(7) and §300.510(c)(2), which provide for judicial enforcement of a written agreement reached as a result of a mediation or resolution meeting, nothing in this part would prevent the SEA from using other mechanisms to seek enforcement of that agreement, provided that use of those mechanisms is not mandatory and does not delay or deny a party the right to seek enforcement of the written agreement in a State court of competent jurisdiction or in a district court of the United States.
Subpart F—Monitoring, Enforcement, Confidentiality and Program Information
Monitoring, Technical Assistance, and Enforcement
Section 300.600 (State monitoring and enforcement) has been revised, as follows:
(1) Section 300.600(a) has been amended to require the State to enforce Part B of the Act in accordance with §300.604(a)(1) and (a)(3), (b)(2)(i) and (b)(2)(v), and (c)(2).
(2) A new paragraph (d) has been added, which provides that the State must monitor the LEAs located in the State, using quantifiable indicators in each of the following priority areas, and such qualitative indicators as are needed to adequately measure performance in those areas, including:
(A) Provision of FAPE in the least restrictive environment; (B) State exercise of general supervision, including child find, effective monitoring, the use of resolution meetings, and a system of transition services as defined in §300.43 and in 20 U.S.C. 1437(a)(9); and (C) disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in special education and related services, to the extent the representation is the result of inappropriate identification.
A new §300.601(b)(2), regarding State use of targets and reporting, has been added to specify that, if permitted by the Secretary, if a State collects data on an indicator through State monitoring or sampling, the State must collect data on the indicator at least once during the period of the State performance plan.
A new §300.608(b), regarding State enforcement, has been added to specify that States are not restricted from utilizing any other authority available to them to monitor and enforce the requirements of Part B of the Act.
Confidentiality of Information
Section 300.622 (Consent) has been restructured and revised to more accurately reflect the department’s policy regarding when parental consent is required for disclosures of personally identifiable information, as follows:
(1) Paragraph (a) of §300.622 has been changed to provide that parental consent must be obtained before personally identifiable information is disclosed to parties other than officials of participating agencies, unless the information is contained in education records, and the disclosure is authorized without parental consent under the regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, 34 CFR part 99).
(2) A new §300.622(b)(1) has been added to clarify that parental consent is not required before personally identifiable information is released to officials of participating agencies for purposes of meeting a requirement of Part B of the Act or these regulations.
(3) A new §300.622(b)(2) has been added to provide that parental consent must be obtained before personally identifiable information is released to officials of participating agencies that provide or pay for transition services.
(4) A new paragraph (b)(3) has been added to require that, with respect to parentally-placed private school children with disabilities, parental consent must be obtained before any personally identifiable information is released between officials in the LEA where the private school is located and the LEA of the parent’s residence.
(5) Proposed §300.622(c), regarding the requirement to provide policies and procedures for use in the event that a parent refuses to consent, has been removed because it is covered elsewhere in these regulations.
Subpart G - Authorization, Allotment, Use of Funds,
and Authorization of Appropriations
Allotments, Grants, and Use of Funds
Section 300.701(a)(1)(ii)(A), regarding the applicable requirements of Part B of the Act that apply to freely associated States, has been revised by removing the five listed requirements because those requirements did not include all requirements that apply to freely associated States. This change clarifies that freely associated States must meet the applicable requirements that apply to States under Part B of the Act.
Section 300.704(c)(3)(i), regarding the requirement to develop, annually review, and revise (if necessary) a State plan for the high cost fund, has been revised to add a new paragraph (F) that requires that if the State elects to reserve funds for supporting innovative and effective ways of cost sharing, it must describe in its State plan how these funds will be used.
Section 300.706 (Allocation for State in which by-pass is implemented for parentally-placed private school children with disabilities) has been removed because it is no longer applicable. The section has been redesignated as ‘‘Reserved.’’
Secretary of the Interior
Section 300.707 (Use of amounts by Secretary of the Interior) has been changed, as follows:
(1) The definition of Tribal governing body of a school has been replaced with the definition of tribal governing body from 25 U.S.C. 2021(19).
(2) Section 300.707(c), regarding an additional requirement under ‘‘Use of amounts by Secretary of the Interior,’’ has been revised to clarify that, with respect to all other children aged 3 to 21, inclusive, on reservations, the SEA of the State in which the reservation is located must ensure that all the requirements of Part B of the Act are met.
Section 300.713 (Plan for coordination of services) has been revised to require (1) in §300.713(a), the Secretary of the Interior to develop and implement a plan for the coordination of services for all Indian children with disabilities residing on reservations served by elementary schools and secondary schools for Indian children operated or funded by the Secretary of the Interior, and (2) in §300.713(b), the plan to provide for the coordination of services benefiting these children from whatever source covered by the plan, including SEAs, and State, local, and tribal juvenile and adult correctional facilities.
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