Congressional Democrats Still Seeking Path Forward on BBBA
Late last year, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that he remained opposed to Congressional Democrats’ proposed domestic spending package known as the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) dimming the legislation’s prospects for passage. If enacted, the package would provide significant new investments in education, including over $400 billion over 10 years for new universal pre-K and childcare programs, $300 million of additional funding for the Emergency Connectivity Fund, and hundreds of millions of dollars for teacher recruitment and retention, school leadership, and more. Congressional Democrats hope to still pass this legislation via the Congressional budget reconciliation process which allows certain legislation to pass by simple majorities in both chambers of Congress, thus circumventing a likely Republican filibuster in the Senate.
In order to achieve this, however, Congressional Democrats need Sen. Manchin’s support. Democratic leaders have continued to discuss how to move forward on BBBA, with some beginning to call for the legislation to be broken apart and passed piecemeal. President Biden echoed this sentiment at a press conference on Wednesday, January 19, saying in part, “. . . I’m confident we can get pieces — big chunks of the Build Back Better law signed into law.” As Democrats attempt to move forward on the legislation, NSBA’s advocacy team will continue to work to ensure the funding needs of the K-12 community are adequately represented in a final package.
OESE Sends Dear Colleague on Afghan Children
Late last week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) issued a Dear Colleague letter to Chief State School Officers regarding the safe resettlement of Afghans as part of the federal government’s wider “Operation Allies Welcome” initiative. The letter provides details about federal funds and other resources available to states and school districts to support Afghan children who have recently arrived in the United States or are expected to arrive soon. Additionally, the Department launched a new website—Keeping the Promise— to track resettlement efforts and address questions that may arise in the future.
USED Announces All ARP ESSER Plans Approved
The American Rescue Plan (ARP), passed exclusively by Congressional Democrats earlier this year, authorized $122 billion in additional pandemic aid funding to be disbursed to K-12 schools this past spring via a newly created Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund (ESSER). The U.S. Department of Education (USED) distributed two-thirds of this funding to states via a formula detailed in the legislation during the earlier part of 2021. However, the Department held back the remaining third of these funds until states and territories submitted plans detailing how they would make use of these resources to support students as they recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, January 18, the Department announced that all state ARP ESSER plans had been approved, along with the remainder of this funding. All state ARP plans, including highlights of each plan, can be now 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 – Technical Assistance Center on Positive Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Outcomes for Young Children With, and At Risk for, Developmental Delays or Disabilities. This discretionary grant program works to improve academic achievement of children with disabilities. The Technical Assistance Center priority will work to improve capacity to “implement, scale-up, and sustain effective practices and policies to equitably support the social, emotional, and behavioral development of young children with, an at risk for, developmental delays or disabilities." The Administration has requested $49,345,000 for this program for fiscal year 2022. Funding will depend on final congressional action. Awards will not exceed $1,100,000 for a single budget period of 12 months. Applications are due by March 21, 2022, and further information is available here.
- H.R.6413 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To prohibit local educational agencies from obligating certain Federal funds when schools are not providing full time in-person instruction. Sponsor: Rep. Cammack, Kat [R-FL-3]
- S.Res.493 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) A resolution recognizing the necessity of school choice as a tool to empower all parents with the freedom to choose the best educational environment for their children and to combat destructive ideologies like Critical Race Theory promoted by many public schools. Sponsor: Sen. Lankford, James [R-OK]
- S.3498 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) FORWARD Act of 2022 Sponsor: Sen. Kelly, Mark [D-AZ]
- S.3497 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Medical Student Education Authorization Act of 2022 Sponsor: Sen. Inhofe, James M. [R-OK]
- Courtesy of NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of January 21, 2022