Senate Passes Short-Term Funding Extension
Lawmakers have struggled to enact full-year funding for the current federal fiscal year 2022 (FY22) which formally began October 1, 2021. Since that time, Congress has passed a series of short-term funding measures—known as a continuing resolution (CR)—to extend current FY21 funding levels through the current federal fiscal year. To date, these actions have averted a federal government shutdown and lapse in appropriations for laws like the Every Student Succeeds Act and related educational grant programs. The most recent of these CRs was set to expire February 18, 2022. Last week, lawmakers in the House passed another CR to extend current funding levels for federal operations and programs through March 11.
Last night, this measure was finally taken up by the Senate after a long and protracted standoff between Democrats and Republicans related to votes on additional modifications to this legislation. Ultimately Senators passed the short-term stopgap legislation by a margin of 65-27. With the new deadline of March 11 set, lawmakers are reportedly nearing final agreement on full-year appropriations for the remainder of the current fiscal year (FY22). As this work continues, NSBA’s advocacy team will continue to champion robust investments for school districts’ funding priorities, including ESSA and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
USED Releases Updated ESSA Accountability FAQ
On Tuesday, February 15, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) published an updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document related to accountability system requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The document is intended to support State Education Agencies, Local Education Agencies, schools, and other stakeholders as they implement assessment and accountability systems for the current 2021-22 school year. A draft version of this FAQ was published by the Department for public comment last December. Among other thematic elements, the document emphasizes opportunities to make “broader, meaningful, and lasting changes . . .” to states’ accountability systems in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, aligned with the current requirements of ESSA.
FCC Publishes Open Data Tool
This week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a new tool that allows the public to examine, search, and view program data from the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). Authorized by the American Rescue Plan, the ECF program provides financial support for eligible schools and libraries 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. The tool is intended to facilitate a better understanding among the public regarding how these resources have been distributed and used to date. Further information about the tool, including a video walkthrough, is available here.
USED published notices on three discretionary grant programs for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education:
- Competitive Grants for State Assessments Program – The Competitive Grants for State Assessments program provides grades to increase the quality of assessments and assessment systems to measure students’ academic achievement. The first priority focuses on encouraging the use of multiple measures of academic achievement. The secondary priority for this discretionary grant program focuses on the “development of comprehensive academic assessments that emphasize the mastery of standards and aligned competencies in a competency-based education model.” The Administration has requested $8,900,000 for new awards for the fiscal year 2022, which will depend on final congressional action. Applications are due by April 18, 2022, and further information is available here.
- Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program – The Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program focuses on the identification of gifted and talented students, through the use of “evidence-based research, demonstration projects, innovative strategies” and other activities, seeking to meet these students’ special educational needs. This program has a specific focus on those students who are traditionally underrepresented in gifted and talented programs. The Administration has requested $13,500,000 for this program for fiscal year 2022, which is dependent on final congressional action. Applications are due by April 4, 2022, and further information is available here.
- Equity Assistance Centers – Discretionary grant funds under this program focus on agreements to provide technical assistance to those who are preparing for, adopting, and implementing plans for the desegregation of public schools, as well as a focus on developing coping methods for special educational problems caused by desegregation. The Administration has requested $6,575,000 for this program for fiscal year 2022, depending on final congressional action. Applications are due by May 16, 2022, and further information is available here.
- H.R.6743 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to increase the reimbursement rate of schools meals. Sponsor: Rep. McGovern, James P. [D-MA-2]
- H.R.6723 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To establish a career pathway grant program. Sponsor: Rep. Adams, Alma S. [D-NC-12]
- H.R.6718 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to remove certain limitations with respect to commodity assistance for school breakfast programs, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. McGovern, James P. [D-MA-2]
- H.R.6709 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to include certain mental health professionals as specialized instructional support personnel. Sponsor: Rep. Harder, Josh [D-CA-10]
- S.3639 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Jumpstart on College Act Sponsor: Sen. Markey, Edward J. [D-MA]
Week is Public Schools Week!
Next week is Public Schools Week. NSBA will have a Call to Action going out urging support for public schools. Find resources and events for Public Schools Week here.
- Courtesy of NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of February 18, 2022