House Leadership Unveil COMPETES Act
Late Tuesday, January 25, Democratic leaders in the House introduced the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521)—legislation that is broadly aimed at increasing the global competitiveness of the American economy by making targeted investments in the nation’s technology, research, and manufacturing capacity among other elements. Of note to the K-12 community, the proposal would create several new competitive grant programs aimed at expanded student access to STEM and computer science courses. The legislation also includes the House’s proposal to reauthorize the National Apprenticeship Act (NAA) which, if enacted, would provide significant new resources for pre- and youth-apprenticeship programs typically aimed at high school students.
A narrower version of this legislation was introduced and passed by the Senate last summer, but the proposal did not advance any further since that time. Should the House pass this bill in its current form, both chambers will need to reconcile significant differences between these proposals. The House Rules Committee is expected to meet next week to craft a rule for the full House to consider, amend, and vote on the legislation in the coming weeks. A fact sheet for the House bill can be found here and section-by-section summary can be accessed here.
FCC Announces Eighth Wave of ECF Funding
On Tuesday, January 25, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced over $240 million in new funding commitments as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund’s (ECF) eighth round of awards. The funding will support over 600,000 students and provide 683,000 connected devices and 182,000 broadband connections to eligible schools, libraries, states, and consortia. Securing initial funding for the ECF as part of the American Rescue Plan was one of NSBA’s top priorities and the organization is working with other national groups to obtain additional resources to continue the program as part of our initiative to close the “homework gap.” To date, the ECF program has helped over 12 million students nationwide. More information can be found here.
NSBA Calls for ESSER Funding Deadline Extension
Late last week NSBA joined several other groups in the K-12 education community in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) encouraging the Department to extend the timeline for K-12 schools and districts to spend pandemic aid funding provided as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Specifically, the letter asks for an extension of current spending deadlines for school construction and capital expenditure projects which often require much longer amounts of time to complete.
Secretary Cardona Lays Out New Vision for Education
Yesterday, January 27, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivered a speech at the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters, laying out his vision for education as the nation continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. In his remarks, Cardona laid out four key priority areas and related actions including: supporting students throughout the pandemic, addressing persistent opportunity and achievement gaps, making postsecondary education more accessible and affordable, and ensuring educational pathways lead to successful careers. More information on the speech can be found here.
USED published notice on a discretionary grant program for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services: Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities – National Technical Assistance Center for Inclusive Practices and Policies - This discretionary grant program works to improve academic achievement of children with disabilities. The National Technical Assistance Center for Inclusive Practices and Policies priority focuses on the education of students in the least restrictive environment, including those students with significant cognitive disabilities. This Center seeks to implement and sustain “evidence-based inclusive practices and policies based on individualized determinations, for students with significant cognitive disabilities…” The Administration has requested $49,345,000 for this program for fiscal year 2022. Funding will depend on final congressional action. The Department intends to use $2,000,000 for this competition. Applications are due by March 28, 2022, and further information is available here.
CSALS Elects New President
CSALS held a meeting in person after AI. We had several folks join us online. We had a great discussion recapping Hill visits and discussing the issues confronting states. We elected a new President – Chris Kotterman from Arizona. Many thanks to Leah Fliter for her counsel and leadership over the past year. Caroline Bobick from New York has agreed to serve on the CSALS Steering Committee.
- Courtesy of NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of January 28, 2022