July 26, 2018 — During today’s meeting of the Federal Commission on School Safety, NSBA’s Chief Legal Officer, Francisco Negron, Jr. shared our insight on how information-sharing and accountability supports school officials’ commitment to eliminate disruptive behavior and violence and ensure that our schools are safe learning environments. School boards set rigorous standards for student conduct and through these policies set disciplinary practices and procedures to maximize the opportunities for all students and provide them with safe and successful in-school experiences. While decisions in matters of student discipline, particularly as they relate to instances of individual behavior, are best left in the hands of local education experts, there is a significant role for the federal government. Greater and sustained federal resources are vital to helping support and sustain school resource officers, school counseling, emergency preparedness and response training and locally determined programs that expand access to mental health services and support comprehensive “wraparound” services. Collaboration and communication with local law enforcement agencies is an essential part of prevention, preparedness, mitigation and emergency response and recovery plans. The removal of barriers that get in the way of the collaboration of such agencies will greatly benefit local education leaders and the children they serve.
The audience at the Council of Urban Boards of Education luncheon Saturday at NSBA’s annual conference in San Antonio gave a standing ovation to speaker Christopher Emdin after he said black school board members and superintendents have earned privileges by conforming to the dominant culture, and now they have a duty to “reframe this whole ballgame” so that black students do not have to do the same.
School is too much about conformity, and that can be toxic to black youth who get the message that they must abandon behaviors and ways of expressing themselves to make themselves acceptable in a white-dominated society, said Emdin, an associate professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College. He is the author of The New York Times bestseller, “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all Too.”
In a talk entitled, “The Crisis of Urban Education,” Emdin said it’s a mistake to look at the black or Hispanic valedictorian and think, “If all the other kids where just like you, working so hard, the world would be better,” he said. That devalues the unique forms of creativity that are born not of privilege but of deprivation, he said. “The lack gives rise to the cool,” he said.
After ascertaining that most of the audience had seen the movie “Black Panther,” he said, “Your cool is your Vibranium.”
“We all know someone who was smart, and creative, and interesting” but didn’t become an achiever because he couldn’t “play the game of school,” Emdin said. “He might be the strong one … he didn’t want to go along to get along.”
At the other extreme are school board members who are members of minority groups, he said. He showed a PowerPoint slide filled with a photo of a package of Oreo cookies. That prompted gasps from the audience.
While sometimes used as a metaphor for a person of color who is so comfortable in the dominant culture that they are “white” on the inside, Oreo can also be seen a metaphor for American society, Emdin said. “White filling … supported by brown cookies.”
“Kids want to be free” to be their authentic selves,” Emdin said. “We have to create a pedagogy around freedom while teaching them to navigate” the dominant culture, he said.
“Trade in your Oreo cookies for some freedom work,” Emdin urged, adding: “We need some white co-conspirators to get this done.”
The National School Boards Association is committed to helping ensure each and every student has, not just equal, but equitable opportunities and access to a high quality education. “Equity Matters” shines a spotlight on the importance of educational equity. “Equity Matters” was released at the National School Boards Association’s 2018 Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX.
Nearly 20 percent of the country’s students are enrolled in rural schools, yet are not provided the same focus in national policy or research as students in urban and suburban school districts. “Out of the Loop,” a new report from the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA), Center for Public Education (CPE), finds that poverty, isolation and inequities are exacerbated for rural students by the lack of attention to the unique needs of this considerable student population.
While not equally distributed across the country, CPE’s analysis notes, approximately one-half of school districts, one-third of schools, and one-fifth of all students in the United States are in rural areas. Inadequate funding, lower literacy rates, and less access to advanced courses such as AP and STEM classes impact rural students’ achievement, creating significant barriers to their success.
“The unfortunate reality is that there are academic and digital disparities in rural districts and students’ access to robust opportunities therefore can vary widely,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO Thomas J. Gentzel. “Policymakers have a real opportunity to help level the playing field for rural students, however it’s going to require thoughtful solutions that are tailored to the unique conditions of specific communities.”
In its study of rural students CPE found that:
Child poverty runs higher in rural counties. Approximately 64 percent of rural counties experience high child poverty rates, compared to 47 percent of urban counties. Further, rural children are more likely to experience extreme and generational poverty.
Access to rigorous and advanced coursework is limited. Rural schools on average offer half as many advanced math courses as their urban counterparts.
Although rural students are more likely to obtain a high school diploma than urban students, they are significantly less likely to attend college or earn a degree.
CPE also points out significant hurdles faced by rural districts and schools:
Hiring and retaining qualified educators is particularly difficult, especially in STEM positions.
Inadequate funding is a constant challenge. Funding is typically tied to the size of the student population, creating severe operational challenges for districts with smaller student pools. Also, transportation costs can be extensive in counties where students need to be bused long distances.
Internet access and virtual learning are a challenge as both rural students and their schools contend with slow or no internet connectivity.
“Rural schools face many of the same challenges as their urban counterparts – high poverty and inadequate resources among them,” said Patte Barth, Director of the Center for Public Education. “Yet as our report shows, the proposed solutions for metropolitan settings, such as school choice and extended time in school, don’t necessarily serve the unique circumstances of less-populated communities. Clearly, the nation needs a specific focus on policies and practices that will improve outcomes for the one-fifth of its children who attend rural schools.”
“Every student deserves the opportunity to receive an education that prepares them for future success, whether they live in an urban, suburban, or rural community,” said Gentzel. “This means recognizing the unique challenges facing rural districts and confronting them head on with actions aligned with the research.”
A new report — “Busting the Myth of ‘one-size-fits all’ Public Education,” — from the Center for Public Education (CPE) found an abundance of choice in public schools, both in program offerings and school selection. CPE is the research tank for the National School Boards Association (NSBA). The report comes at an opportune time with the increasing focus in Washington, D.C. and state capitals on educational choice.
“Extraordinary activities and approaches occur in public schools every day because school boards and school leaders continually devise and employ innovative approaches to help students succeed,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director & CEO of the National School Boards Association. “The constant effort to enhance public education has produced an amazing array of learning opportunities spanning course selection, learning styles, and choice of school.”
Public schools are not the monolith critics of public education make them out to be. CPE found that the broadest range of educational and extracurricular options exists in public schools. The report notes that while larger public high schools offer more program choices than smaller ones, even small public schools do better compared to private high schools in programs for which data is available: Gifted or Honors classes, Advanced Placement, and distance learning. High-poverty public schools also outpace private schools overall on high-level course offerings.
Other key findings in “Busting the Myth of ‘one-size-fits all’ public education,” include:
Public high schools offer more educational and extracurricular options for students including the arts, Advanced Placement, Gifted or Honors classes, and distance learning opportunities than private schools.
Public schools are more likely to offer afterschool child care and tutoring or enrichment activities.
School counselors play a key role in students’ learning and care: Eighty percent of public schools have at least one part-time counselor compared to only 32 percent of private schools.
The vast majority of public high schools offer access to hands-on college experience with almost all (98 percent) offering career preparation.
The majority of public school students have the option to transfer to schools within their districts or neighboring districts.
“The neighborhood public school remains the school of first choice for the large majority of families, as school districts offer a growing range of options in their efforts to better serve the different interests and needs of individual students,” said Patte Barth, Director of the Center for Public Education. “This not only includes the nearly two-thirds of school-aged children who have access to public schools outside their attendance zone. As this report shows, curricular and extracurricular options abound inside the public school building, too, that are designed to engage students in learning.”
School choice advocates tend to define educational choice in a binary way – with the sole focus on choice of school building. But that approach fails to recognize the number and range of options that are offered inside public school buildings. When it comes to choices and opportunities for students, CPE’s report shows that public schools offer the broadest range of educational choices and are not “one-size-fits all.”
Read the report, “Busting the Myth of ‘one-size-fits all’ Public Education,” by Patte Barth and Chandi Wagner at http://bit.ly/2wO14Q5
The Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) has been at the forefront in helping urban school districts in their work to close the achievement gap, raise high school graduation rates, provide intervention services to academically struggling students, and create broad-based school programs to support students who live in poverty or other circumstances that create obstacles to learning.
Join us at the 50th Annual CUBE Conference, September 28-30 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference is a dynamic forum for school board members to examine and discuss strategies, current trends, research, and best practices that are positively impacting the educational outcomes of academically and economically disadvantaged students. Keynote speakers include former U.S. Department of Education Secretary (under President Barack Obama) and President and CEO of Ed Trust, John B. King, Jr.; and acclaimed Spoken Word Poet and Award-Winning Educator Clint Smith.
On May 23, 2017, President Trump released the Administration’s FY2018 budget request to Congress which calls for a number of program eliminations within the U.S. Department of Education, a few of which would impact K-12 programs. For a number of programmatic changes that are proposed, the Administration is urging school districts and states to utilize existing Title I funding to address priority areas, such as those for effective teachers and leaders (Title II), tutoring, and extended day learning opportunities (Title IV). While the budget request calls for a record increase of $1 billion to Title I grants for disadvantaged students, the increase in funding would be targeted to school choice.
Please note that there may be discrepancies in budget documents, as some were prepared before the enactment of the FY2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act earlier this month. Therefore, when comparing final budget allocations with those proposed for FY2018, not all program levels may reflect the final enacted allocation. For example, the Appendix for the budget request shows Title II (Supporting effective instruction state grants) receiving funding, but the Major Savings and Reforms document confirms the program is deleted.
An analysis of the proposed budget follows:
Title I Grants for Disadvantaged Students: Overall funding for Title I grants would be increased by $334 million, compared to the current funding level of about $16.1 billion. The composition of Title I grants, however, would be changed to accommodate new “Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success (FOCUS) grants to local educational agencies to implement weighted student funding formulas combined with open enrollment systems.”
School Choice: The new FOCUS grants would be funded at $1 billion to promote school choice and would represent a “down payment” on the President’s goal of investing $20 billion annually in public and private school choice. The proposed FOCUS grants would provide supplemental awards to school districts that agree to adopt weighted student funding combined with open enrollment systems that allow Federal, State, and local funds to follow students to the public school of their choice. According to Department budget documents, the proposal “would support LEAs in establishing or expanding student-centered systems that: (1) differentiate funding based on student characteristics, providing disadvantaged students more funding on a per-pupil basis than other students; (2) offer a range of viable school options and enable the Federal, State, and local funds to follow students to the public school of their choice; (3) make school performance and funding data easily accessible to parents; and (4) empower school leaders to use funds flexibly to address student and community needs. Under the Administration’s proposal, LEAs (including consortia of LEAs) that commit to developing and implementing these funding and open enrollment systems would be eligible for grants, which the Department would administer under the Flexibility for Equitable Per-Pupil Funding (Flexibility) authority in Title I, Part E of the ESEA.”
Additionally, the Administration is proposing a $250 million increase for the Education Innovation and Research program to establish competitive awards for applicants to provide scholarships for students from low-income families to attend the private school of their choice and to build the evidence base around private school choice. The proposal includes an increase in charter school funding; $167 million for the Charter Schools program to strengthen significant State efforts to start new charter schools or expand and replicate existing high-performing charter schools. The program also provides up to $100 million to meet the growing demand for charter school facilities. The proposed increase in charter school funding brings the total charter school funding request to $500 million.
Special Education Grants to States: The Administration requests $11.9 billion for the Grants to States program (roughly level funding compared to Fiscal Year 2017) to assist States and schools in covering the costs of providing special education and related services to children with disabilities ages 3 through 21. The request would provide an average of $1,742 for each of the 6.8 million children with disabilities who are estimated to be served in 2018. The Federal contribution toward meeting the excess cost of special education and related services would be approximately 15 percent of the national average per pupil expenditure (APPE) under this request.
Level funding proposed for special education grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) would equate to a reduction nationwide. For example, the average federal share of funding per pupil in FY2017 was $1,777 and approximately 16 percent of APPE. The FY2018 proposal would represent a reduction averaging about $35 per pupil.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which provides the major source of federal funding to help school districts fund educational services to students with disabilities, the federal share of funding that Congress initially promised in 1975 is up to 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure. However, the 40 percent promise has not been fulfilled; and, the
federal share of special education funding would decline further under this request. Increasing the federal share of funding for special education is paramount, and should be addressed before considering future funding for newly created programs that may not have proven results for program effectiveness.
Impact Aid: The Administration is requesting roughly $1.2 billion for Impact Aid payment programs, including $1.16 billion for Basic Support Payments on behalf of federally connected children; $48.2 million for Payments for Children with Disabilities; $4.8 million for Facilities Maintenance for nine school facilities that originally were built to enable school districts and the U.S. Department of Defense to educate federally connected students; and, $17.4 million for competitive school construction grants to eligible districts for emergency repairs and modernization projects.
The Impact Aid program provides a vital source of support for 1,400 school districts across the nation that have a federal presence within their boundaries. These resources help districts provide educational services to students whose parents/guardians are enlisted in our Armed Forces, as well as those who reside on tribal trust lands.
The Administration has proposed the elimination of $68 million in Impact Aid federal properties payments to school districts, per the summary on page four. Along with the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS), NSBA opposes this proposed elimination.
Career and Technical Education (CTE): The Administration is requesting a reduction of approximately $166 million in Career and Technical Education State Grants (currently funded at about $950 million). According to the Department, the requested 15 percent reduction would “provide significant resources to support CTE programs while also maintaining the fiscal discipline necessary to support the President’s goal of increasing support for national security and public safety without adding to the Federal budget deficit.”
The request includes a $20 million increase for Career and Technical Education National Programs to promote the development, enhancement, implementation, or expansion of innovative CTE programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
As Congress moves forward in reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act through bipartisan legislation reported by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on May 17, NSBA urges Congress to sustain investments in CTE that support college and career readiness for our students through the integration of stronger academic components, facilitation of greater career pathways, and stronger public-private partnerships.
National School Lunch Program: The 2018 budget request would support approximately 5.4 billion lunches and snacks served to 31 million children in the National School Lunch Program. The total FY18 request for the National School Lunch Program is $13 billion, up from $12.4 billion in FY17. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the current maximum reimbursement rate for free and reduced priced school lunches is $3.39 and $2.99 respectively.
School-based Medicaid: Proposed cuts to Medicaid are around $610 billion over 10 years. (This is separate from proposed cuts in the American Health Care Act [AHCA], which includes $839 billion in Medicaid cuts.) Combined, those Medicaid cuts would result in slashing the program by an astonishing $1.5 trillion over a decade.
Medicaid is a cost-effective and efficient provider of essential health care services for children. School-based Medicaid programs serve as a lifeline to children who can’t access critical health care and health services outside of their schools. Under this bill, the bulk of the mandated costs of providing health care coverage would be shifted to the States, even though health needs and costs of care for children will remain the same or increase. Most analyses of the budget request, as well as ACHA, project that the Medicaid funding shortfall in support of these mandated services will increase, placing states at greater risk year after year. The proposed federal disinvestment in Medicaid could force States and local communities to increase taxes and reduce or eliminate various programs and services, including other non-Medicaid services. The unintended consequences could force states to cut eligibility, services, and benefits for children, which impact school readiness and student achievement.
Programs proposed for elimination in FY2018
The Administration has proposed the elimination of 21st Century Community Learning Centers ($1.164 billion), stating that, “While limited evaluation and survey data from certain States and individual centers highlights benefits from participation, such as improved behavior and classroom grades, overall program performance data show that the 21st CCLC is not achieving its goal of helping students, particularly those who attend low-performing schools, meet challenging State academic standards. For example, on average from 2013 to 2015, less than 20 percent of program participants improved from not proficient to proficient or above on State assessments in reading and mathematics.” The budget request also suggests that, “the provision of before- and after-school academic enrichment opportunities may be better supported with other Federal, State, local or private funds, including the $15 billion Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies program.”
Along with the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS), NSBA asserts that Impact Aid Payments for Federal Property must be maintained for the benefit of all students in these districts. Cuts would cause financial harm as Impact Aid supports personnel and professional development, academic materials, transportation, technology, and other general operating expenses. Elimination of this funding stream would be a reversal on a 68-year commitment to federally impacted communities.
The budget request to Congress proposes eliminating Impact Aid Payments for Federal Property ($68 million). These payments compensate school districts for the presence of non-taxable federal properties within their boundaries. The Administration contends that this program is not applicable to the presence of federally-connected students (such as those whose parents/guardians are enlisted in the Armed Forces), and therefore does not necessarily support the education of federally-connected students.
Under the budget request, the new Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program ($400 million) that was authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act would be eliminated. The grant program was authorized to help support activities that provide students with a well-rounded education, ensure safe and supportive learning environments, and use technology to improve instruction. Under this new grant program, four previously authorized programs were consolidated: Mathematics and Science Partnerships, Advanced Placement, Elementary and Secondary School Counseling, and Physical Education. The Administration contends that any subgrants that would be awarded “would result in award amounts of less than $30,000 for the vast majority of school districts. The Administration does not believe limited Federal resources should be allocated to a program where many of its grants will likely be too small to have a meaningful impact.”
The budget request would eliminate Title II Supporting Effective Instruction (SEI) State Grants ($2.3 billion). Under ESSA, Title II programs for “Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, or Other School Leaders” support class-size reduction initiatives, professional development and in-service training for teachers, technology integration into curricula, training on data usage to improve student achievement and student data privacy, parental/community engagement, development of STEM master teacher corps, civics, and implementation of performance-based compensation systems. In its explanatory statement, the Administration states that, “While the SEI State Grants program authorizes a wide range of activities, in school year 2015-2016, 52 percent of funds were used for professional development (PD) and 25 percent were used for class-size reduction. An LEA that identifies either activity as a key strategy for responding to a comprehensive needs assessment may use Title I, Part A funds for the same purpose.” With ESSA implementation efforts underway that emphasize the role of effective teachers, principals and school leaders, the loss of Title II investments could impact state and local efforts to develop tools and incentives focused on strengthening instruction, improving student academic outcomes, and retaining effective educators, especially for schools in underserved communities.
Today marks the 63rd anniversary of the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision which established the segregation of public school students based on race as unconstitutional.
Public education is America’s most vital institution and the foundation of our democracy. NSBA believes that public education is a civil right and that each and every child deserves equal access to a high quality public education that maximizes his or her individual potential.
The Court’s historic decision validated the struggle and remarkable actions of countless Americans who challenged the destructive effects of segregation in our society. The Court recognized we’re a multicultural society and that we’re stronger when we’re united. The decision had and continues to have a profound and significant impact on the lives of our children, our country’s educational system, and our nation as a whole.
NSBA recognizes the significance of the Court’s unanimous decision more than fifty years ago and what equal protection under the law continues to mean for Americans today. Every child in America deserves and has the right to attend a great public school where they live.
In response to the U.S. Department of Education’s new guide for states to use in the development of their education plans as required under ESSA, NSBA Executive Director & CEO Thomas J. Gentzel and AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech released the following joint statement:
“The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was decisive in its goal to return flexibility and decision making to the state and local level. The success of a bill like ESSA-one premised on state and local control—depends on stakeholder buy-in, and people (including education stakeholders) buy-in to that which they have a hand in crafting. To that end, ESSA was clear to require meaningful stakeholder engagement. Our organizations—which collectively represent the voice of our nation’s school system leaders—are deeply discouraged by and concerned with the Department’s decision to virtually eliminate stakeholder engagement, an abrogation of the law’s intent.
“School superintendents and school board members have worked deliberately to infuse the voice of myriad stakeholders—including state education leaders, teachers, educators, parents and community members—in our ESSA work to date. The Department’s decision to no longer prioritize stakeholder engagement dismisses the intent of the underlying statute, disrupts the process, and discounts voices that are committed to ensuring all student receive a quality education.
“Our organizations remain committed to making sure all stakeholders are meaningfully and appropriately engaged in the work of ESSA implementation and as such, we call on the Department to revise its ESSA template to reflect the best practices for stakeholder engagement to better match the law.”
“ESSA’s structure is clearly predicated on meaningful consultation with stakeholders,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director & CEO. “Any non-regulatory guidance to states, including the consolidated state plan template, should feature stakeholder engagement as a core component of implementation.”
AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech added, “The public school superintendents we represent are committed to implementing ESSA as intended, including the key element of stakeholder engagement, and to ensuring educational equity and opportunity are the reality for all our nation’s public schools and the students they serve.”
School districts across the country struggle to recruit and retain qualified teachers. In rural areas and American Indian and Alaska Native communities, adequately staffing schools, particularly in hard-to-fill positions such as Special Education and STEM fields, and providing professional development for the teachers they do have, is an immediate concern.
More than 9 million students are enrolled in rural public elementary and secondary schools, according to the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. And more than 40 percent of all small, rural school districts in the country have serious difficulties filling vacant teaching positions. The number of unfilled teaching positions in schools serving Indian Country, some of the smallest and most isolated areas, has doubled over the last 10 years.
NSBA’s Center for Public Education’s recent report, Fixing the teacher shortage pipeline , finds that while the nation as a whole is awarding more teacher licenses, making progress on this issue lies in getting the right teachers with the right qualifications to where they are needed the most.
U.S. Senator Jon Tester, member and former Vice Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, proposes legislation that directly addresses the challenges faced by schools in rural and Indian communities. The Rural Educator Support and Training Act (REST Act S. 457), and the Native Education Support and Training Act (NEST Act S. 458), provide financial and instructional support via a scholarship-for-service program component for teachers in training who will serve in rural and Indian country districts; a loan repayment component for teachers currently serving in rural and Indian country districts; and a professional development/advanced credentialing component.
“Targeted and aggressive strategies are needed to ensure that all students receive a quality education where they live,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director and CEO, National School Boards Association. “School boards applaud Senator Tester’s introduction of the REST and NEST Acts, and the significant opportunity they present for supporting student learning and strengthening schools in rural and Native American communities.”