Congress and the Biden administration continue to negotiate details of a year end spending package as government funding is set to expire. Lawmakers are expected to approve another extension to prevent a government shutdown while work continues. If they do not come to an agreement, the new Congress, which convenes on January 3, 2023, will need to tackle the spending legislation. Also waiting until the new year is decisions on contested committee chairmanships in the House of Representatives. This includes the House Education and Labor Committee. Representatives Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Tim Walberg (R-MI) are vying to lead the panel.
Murray, Durbin Introduce Legislation to Ensure Victims of Discrimination Can Seek Damages in Court Following Harmful SCOTUS Ruling
Last week, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation to clarify that victims of discrimination can seek damages for emotional harm under federal law after the Supreme Court curtailed their ability to do so in its April ruling in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller. More on the bill can be found here.
Republicans agree on youth mental health crisis, but are split on solutions
In Congress, some Republican lawmakers are working on a bipartisan youth mental health bill and a few voted for a major school safety and mental health act. But the vast majority voted against the act and another recent mental health bill. More on the situation can be found here.
Talks over protecting Dreamers pick up in Congress, but agreement still elusive
In a last-minute push, U.S. senators are working on a bipartisan agreement to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people who were brought to the United States as children. U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, and Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, are still in talks on a draft proposal that would create a pathway to citizenship for up to 2 million undocumented people, often referred to as Dreamers, who are either enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or would qualify for it. There is no legislative text and no deal has been finalized, Tillis told reporters. More on the proposal can be found here.
What Congressional Funding Means for K-12 Schools
The U.S. Education Department this week released expanded guidance on how school districts can spending billions in Covid-relief dollars in the next two years, but stopped short of providing any further extensions on the deadlines for spending later rounds of Congressional funding. The 88-page document provides new and updated details on the rules for spending on construction projects, student mental health, chronic absenteeism, and other priorities that districts have identified as they spend down the unprecedented infusion of federal aid, most of it through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund. The department provides expanded suggestions for how to use the money to stabilize the educator workforce, including increasing compensation, building teacher pipelines, recruiting substitutes and expanding support for educators' well being. More on the announcement can be found here.
What would expanded child tax credits mean for K-12?
The debate over expanded child tax credits has resurfaced, with advocates citing mounting research showing a pandemic-era expansion's positive impact on child poverty to push for a permanent solution. The push comes as Democrats and Republicans negotiate a year-end deal that could revive such a measure. More on the expanded child tax credits can be found here.
Secretary Cardona Wraps-Up Meetings with Global Education Leaders in France
Last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona traveled to France for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Ministerial summit on "Re-building an Inclusive and Equitable Society through Education.". "The OECD summit is a great opportunity for intentional collaboration with ministers of education from across the world. As we learned during the pandemic, the economic success of our countries depends on the educational opportunities provided to students in K-12 and beyond," said U.S. Secretary of Education. "We are focusing now on how to leverage the disruption from the pandemic to raise the bar in education. This is our opportunity to be bold and reimagine education in a way we never could before." More on the summit can be found here.
School kids should eat more fish, federal agency says
The Government Accountability Office is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase fish in school lunches. USDA agreed with the recommendation, saying by email that the Biden administration is "committed to ensuring nutrition security for all kids" and the department encourages school officials "to offer seafood to students as a healthy protein option recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans." More on the story can be found here.
USDA and Social Security Administration Collaborate to Improve Nutrition Security through SNAP
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced a strengthened partnership to help connect Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. USDA and SSA's new joint agreement, or memorandum of understanding, will improve efficiency, helping to advance food and nutrition security and reduce the hurdles families face to obtain the government assistance they need. More on the partnership can be found here.
Champion the Interests of Public K-12 Students
Register now to join hundreds of your peers at the NSBA Advocacy Institute, Jan. 29-31, in Washington, D.C. Attendees will hear from a lineup of federal, national, and state figures who will discuss actions impacting your schools. In addition to legislative and legal advocacy updates, the program will feature panel discussions, general sessions, and breakout sessions on teacher shortages; lobbying and relationships; learning recovery; COVID relief; student mental health; IDEA; homework gap/broadband; parent engagement; Parental Rights Bills (state & national); vouchers (state & national); child nutrition; and rural education.
- Courtesy of NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of December 16, 2022