Congress Remains on Recess
This week both chambers of Congress remained on recess in recognition of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Lawmakers are expected to return next week to continue organizing the House and the Senate, including expected announcements regarding assignments to committees with jurisdictional responsibility for K-12 education policymaking, including the House Education and the Workforce Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
Additional clarity also is expected in the coming weeks ahead regarding the specific lawmakers who will have responsibility for overseeing K-12 education funding through the Appropriations Committee. Recently, House Republicans announced that Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) will lead the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee-the entity with direct oversight over the U.S. Department of Education's budget and related programs. In the Senate, comparable committee leadership details are still forthcoming.
As Congress works to organize, NSBA's advocacy team will continue to engage with partners on Capitol Hill to ensure school boards' perspectives and policy recommendations are prioritized in the new 118th Congress.
'DARPA for Education' Is a Good Start. Now, Congress Must Do More
In a recent opinion piece for The 74, Dan Correra, CEO of the Federation of American Scientists, writes that the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations recently passed by Congress plants the seeds for a foothold to establish a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - DARPA - for education.
The spending package directs the Institute of Education Sciences to pilot a DARPA-like program "to support a new funding opportunity for quick-turnaround, high-reward scalable solutions intended to significantly improve outcomes for students." The goal is to help address the massive COVID-19 learning disruptions experienced by schools and the longstanding achievement gaps impacting some of the nation's most vulnerable students through applied research and development. Read more here.
House GOP Introduces Bill Requiring K–12 Schools to Post Curricula Online
House Republicans have proposed legislation to require K–12 schools that receive federal funding to post their curricula online for the sake of transparency for parents. The bill would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to ensure that local education agencies "post the curriculum . . . on a publicly accessible website of the agency." The legislation is dubbed the "Curriculum Review of Teachings Transparency Act." More on the bill can be found here.
These Four Charts Explain Federal Fiscal 2023 K-12 Spending
When the final round of COVID-19 pandemic aid was passed, many had one question in mind: What would happen when the funding dried up? At the time, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona advocated for a "sustained effort" even after the American Rescue Plan's Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund expired. Following that call, the Biden administration did, in fact, make ambitious requests in its Education Department budget proposals. The latest request to increase funding for K-12 received its answer in late December, when Congress passed appropriations for fiscal year 2023. More on the funding can be found here.
Budget Compromise Ditches Child Tax Credit, Increases Education Spend
The recently approved Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 spending bill required a series of compromises. In order to secure the minimum of ten Republican votes to avoid a filibuster in the Senate, Democrats were forced to abandon some priorities, including reauthorization of the Child Tax Credit, which successfully reduced child poverty. The FY 2023 appropriation includes an increase of $59 million for English language acquisition, to a total of $890 million. Special education is being allocated $15.5 billion ($934 million more than last year), including a $20 million increase for teacher preparation and professional development. Read more here.
USED Announces $63 Million for Community Schools, Publishes Best Practices Toolkit
On Jan. 18, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it was distributing $63 million in new funding for Full-Service Community Schools (FSCS) grants. These five-year grants will support a wide array of educational stakeholders, including local education agencies, states, and others, to establish or expand Community Schools-schools that collaborate with other entities to provide more holistic supports and services for students and families. The grants are intended to foster more of these partnerships in states and local communities where awards have been made. The announcement coincides with the release of a new toolkit from the Biden Administration, which highlights strategies and best practices regarding the establishment and expansion of Community Schools.
Grant Applications Now Accepted for Special Education Parent Information Centers Program
The Special Education Parent Information Centers grant program provides funding to assist parents of children with disabilities with training and information to help them improve outcomes for their children. The absolute priority for this grant program is "Technical Assistance for Parent Centers" -– funds will be used to establish and operate five parent technical assistance centers. The available funds for this program total $2,940,000, contingent upon the availability of funds and quality of applications. Applications are due by March 28, 2023. Further information is available here.
Biden White House Extends COVID Public Health Emergency Through April
The Biden White House announced that it is extending the COVID public health emergency for another 90 days following increased cases of the latest subvariant. The increased coronavirus, flu, and RSV cases have led to a growing number of schools and other locations returning to masking. Ann Arbor Public Schools in Michigan reintroduced a two-week mask mandate from January 9-20 following increased illnesses in December. Some schools in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania also have returned to required indoor mask-wearing. Other school systems, such as Chicago Public Schools, asked students and staff to test themselves for COVID before returning to school. More on the public health emergency extensions' effect on schools can be found here.
Charter School Funding Remains Steady for Second Year Under Biden
Charter school funding has so far remained stable under the Biden administration, as requested by President Biden and approved by Congress, despite uncertainty about the then-incoming president's support for charter schools. During Biden's term, the U.S. Department of Education has requested and received $440 million from Congress for the Charter School Program grant every fiscal year. More on the funding can be found here.
Federal Government to Spend $35 Billion on Getting Kids Ready for School
The U.S. Departments of Education, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services will spend $35 billion preparing students to succeed in school as opposed to educating them. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 allocated $45 billion to the Department of Education for K-12 education, of which about $20 billion is designated for indirect educational activities, such as after-school programs, learning enrichment programs, and social and emotional learning. More on the news can be found here.
- H.R.322 - 118th Congress (2023-2024) To modify the Federal TRIO programs. Sponsor: Davidson, Warren [Rep.-R-OH-8]
- H.R.305 - 118th Congress (2023-2024) To authorize the Secretary of Education to carry out a grant program to assist local educational agencies with ensuring that each elementary and secondary school has at least one registered nurse on staff. Sponsor: Wilson, Frederica S. [Rep.-D-FL-24]
- H.R.287 - 118th Congress (2023-2024) To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to ensure that local educational agencies applying for certain Federal education funds post the curriculum for elementary and secondary schools online, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Fitzgerald, Scott [Rep.-R-WI-5]
- H.R.271 - 118th Congress (2023-2024) To provide for greater accountability with respect to Federal activities and expenditures relating to COVID-19, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Estes, Ron [Rep.-R-KS-4]
- H.R.245 - 118th Congress (2023-2024) To establish a grant program for nebulizers in elementary and secondary schools. Sponsor: Jackson Lee, Sheila [Rep.-D-TX-18]
- Courtesy of NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of January 13, 2023