Register Today for NSBA's Advocacy Institute
The NSBA Advocacy Institute on Jan. 29-31 in Washington, D.C., will provide attendees with the latest developments in key education policy. Topics include district funding, parental rights and engagement, choice legislation, and teacher shortages. Don't miss the opportunity to champion the interests of public K-12 students, advocate for education priorities and federal policies, and network with colleagues from across the country. Register now!
Congress returned from the Thanksgiving holiday this week and spent time focusing on preventing a railroad strike and preparing for the next Congress. House Democrats selected their new leadership team, picking Representative Hakeem Jeffries as their leader and the first Black person to lead one of the two major parties in either chamber of Congress. The formation of key committees will continue throughout the month of December and into the new year.
Bernie Sanders in line to chair influential Senate committee on health, education and labor
Per Senate custom, Sanders' seniority puts him next in line to chair what's often called the HELP committee. His office confirmed on Thursday that he wants the job. "As chairman of the committee, he will focus on universal health care, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, increasing access to higher education, and protecting workers' rights on the job," Mike Casca, a spokesperson for Sanders, said in a statement. More on the news can be found here.
Bill banning teachers unions from receiving federal funds introduced in Congress
Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, who represents communities in northern Texas, unveiled a new bill this week to completely ban teachers' unions from receiving federal funding. Jackson's "No Federal Funding for Teachers' Unions Act" seeks to ban the provision of federal funds to any labor organizations across the country whose members consist of "educational professionals." More on the bill can be found here.
Congressman Bobby Scott reflects on his time as House Education and Labor Committee chair
As he prepares to step down from the chairmanship, Scott says his time at the head of Education and Labor has seen some historic developments. "We were able to create policies with the support for state and local government that avoided layoffs with the PPP loans and the infrastructure law create an economy that in the last two years created the most jobs in the history of the United States," he explains. "I think that's in stark contrast to the job performance of the previous administration, which was the worst job performance in 90 years." More on Congressman Bobby Scott's statement can be found here.
House GOP threatens to uncover whether FBI targeted parents at school board meetings
A handful of Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee threatened to use their upcoming majority power to compel the Biden administration to hand over documents and speak to them about the potential misuse of federal resources to target parents at school board meetings. The group of six House Republicans, including Ranking Member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, argue in a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona that their repeated requests for information and documents related to the issue have been denied. More on the situation can be found here.
National School Lunch Program: USDA Could Enhance Assistance to States and Schools in Providing Seafood to Students
GAO was asked to review USDA's purchases of seafood for the NSLP. This report discusses (1) USDA's purchases of seafood for the NSLP, (2) factors affecting selected states' and SFAs' efforts to provide seafood to students, and (3) USDA's efforts to help address these factors. GAO is making three recommendations, including that USDA develop a plan to enhance its assistance in providing seafood to students, and for USDA and NOAA to collaborate and share NOAA's vendor information. More on the GAO's report can be found here.
Biden-Harris Administration Announces Availability of $100 Million in Grants to Support Recycling Infrastructure and Education and Outreach
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of $100 million in grants for recycling infrastructure and recycling education and outreach projects across the country. The new grant programs support improvements to local waste management systems and recycling education and outreach, meeting Congress' goal to create a stronger, more resilient, and cost-effective U.S. municipal solid waste recycling system. More on this proclamation can be found here.
Biden- Harris Administration Launches $80 Million Program for Energy Upgrades in Public Schools
The Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), today announced that applications are open for the Renew America's Schools grant program. This initial funding round, up to $80 million of the $500 million program, is available to public schools to perform energy improvements in the highest-need K-12 districts across the country. More on the program can be found here.
Ed Dept outlines school violence prevention options under $1B Stronger Connections grant program
The funding comes as schools look to violence prevention strategies once again in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting in May and as student mental health concerns have increased during the pandemic. The 36-page draft document discusses allowable activities for supporting student mental wellness, helping preschoolers, meeting the individual needs of students with disabilities, and responding to incidents of hate, as well as for purchasing and using security equipment like surveillance cameras and metal detectors. More on the USED's draft can be found here.
EPA Calls for Applications for the 2023 President's Environmental Student and Teacher Awards
Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan announced that EPA's Office of Environmental Education is now accepting applications for the 2023 President's Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA) and Presidential Innovation Awards for Environmental Educators (PIAEE). Applications for both awards programs are due no later than January 11, 2023. Established by the 1990 National Environmental Education Act, PEYA recognizes outstanding environmental stewardship projects from students in grades K-12, by promoting environmental awareness and encouraging community involvement. More on applications can be found here.
School Groups Raise Concerns About Prospect of Big Changes to E-Rate Bidding Process
Ed-tech groups are doubling down on efforts to persuade the Federal Communications Commission to abandon a plan to revamp the competitive bidding process for E-rate procurements. A public comment period wrapped up earlier this year, and the FCC has taken no action on the proposal so far. A coalition of groups that represent K-12 schools - including the State E-Rate Coordinators' Alliance, the National School Boards Association, CoSN, and Funds For Learning - have told the FCC that its proposed bidding portal would violate local procurement laws in many states, and could also lead to fewer vendors participating in the program. More on their concerns can be found here.