Build Back Better Framework Agreement Announced
On Thursday, October 28, President Biden announced his administration, along with key Democratic Congressional leadership, had come to an agreement on a $1.75 trillion framework to enact a slew of domestic priorities, including those impacting the K-12 community. Following this announcement, the House Rules Committee held a hearing to begin formal consideration of this proposed legislation dubbed the Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376). While the legislation must still move forward via the Congressional budget reconciliation process—a maneuver that allows certain spending legislation to be passed by simple majorities in both legislative chambers—the announcement and related introduction of legislative text marks a significant step.
If enacted, the proposal would include over $800 million for teacher and school leader development, training, and recruitment efforts. This figure would include $113 million for “Grow Your Own” teacher and school leader development programs, $112 for teacher residency initiatives, $112 million for school principal support, and $161 million for personnel development efforts under Part D of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) among other proposed funding for similar purposes. In addition, the bill would provide roughly $400 billion for child care services and universal pre-K. Significantly, the legislation proposes $300 million in additional funding for the Emergency Connectivity Fund to close the Homework Gap—a key NSBA priority.
The legislation is still far from being enacted and is subject to change as lawmakers in Congress continue to debate and negotiate the contents of the package. As this process unfolds, NSBA’s advocacy team will continue to work to ensure the K-12 community’s needs are well represented in any final legislative package.
White House Announces Actions to Increase COVID-19 Screening Testing in Schools
This afternoon, the White House announced additional actions to help states, schools, and school districts establish screening testing programs in more schools. Actions include: ED and CDC partnering with The Rockefeller Foundation to accelerate school-based screening testing for students and staff, connecting schools to national testing experts to set up and sustain screening testing programs, publishing a start-up guide for schools on how to launch screening testing programs, making additional personnel available to help state health departments coordinate school-based screening testing through the CDC Foundation, guidance for school districts on providing incentives to parents and guardians to participate in screening testing programs, and a CDC directory for schools to identify a provider and get started with testing.
FDA Authorizes Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use in Children 5-11
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in children 5 to 11. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for children 5 through 11 years of age is administered as a two-dose series, 3 weeks apart, but is a lower dose (10 micrograms) than that used for individuals 12 years of age and older (30 micrograms).
FCC Announces $1.3 Billion in ECF Funding Requests While Biden Administration Nominates FCC Leadership
On Monday, October 25, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it had received nearly $1.3 billion in requests for funding as part of its second application window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program. The $7.1 billion ECF program was authorized as part of the American Rescue Plan and allows eligible schools and libraries to apply for financial support to purchase connected devices like laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to serve unmet needs of students, school staff, and library patrons at home during the ongoing pandemic.
This round of funding will provide nearly 2.4 million connected devices to eligible recipients and over 564,000 broadband connections. Securing initial funding for the ECF was one of NSBA’s top legislative priorities and the organization is now working with other national groups to obtain resources to continue the program as part of its initiative to close the “homework gap.” More details about which schools and libraries will receive funding can be found here.
The day after this announcement, President Biden announced that he renominated Jessica Rosenworcel to serve on the FCC. He also designated her to serve as the agency’s chair. The Biden Administration also announced that Gigi Sohn would fill the FCC’s open seat, likely serving as the administration’s point person on issues pertaining to net neutrality. Given that Commissioner Rosenworcel must leave her current post at the end of 2021 if she is not confirmed, Senate Democratic leaders are widely expected to move forward with her confirmation process relatively soon. Sohn’s nomination is likely to move on a similar timeline.
Senate HELP Committee Advances ED Nominees
On Tuesday, October 26, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) considered the nominations of several Biden Administration nominees, including two officials to serve in key roles within the U.S. Department of Education (USED)—Sandra Bruce to serve as the Department’s next Inspector General and Amy Loyd to serve as the next Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Adult, and Technical Education (OCTAE). The committee approved seven out of the eight nominees during the hearing by voice vote, advancing them for consideration by the full Senate sometime in the near future.
OSERS Guidance on IDEA Part C
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services has released two new documents regarding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C programs for services to infants and toddlers. These Q&A documents address child find, referral and eligibility (https://sites.ed.gov/idea/files/QA-on-Child-Find-10-29-2021.pdf) and early intervention services (https://sites.ed.gov/idea/files/QA-on-Early-Intervention-10-29-2021.pdf). We are forwarding this guidance for your information as school districts may not typically provide Part C services but do coordinate transition services for children approaching their third birthday from Part C to Part B programs, that address services for children ages 3-21.
- H.R.5711 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To modify the Federal TRIO programs. Sponsor: Rep. Davidson, Warren [R-OH-8]
- H.R.5691 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) TEACH for Tomorrow Act of 2021 Sponsor: Rep. Gallagher, Mike [R-WI-8]
- H.R.5667 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Teachers and Parents at the Table Act Sponsor: Rep. Rice, Kathleen M. [D-NY-4]
- Courtesy of NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of October 29, 2021