Monday, February 2, 2015

Preparing for Capitol Hill Meetings

Zola, Gettsman, Rigsby all doing federal legislation and advocacy
Zola: "a little bit of a different time and place"
"Washington is party running the Congress...they want to move ESEA to the floor either in February or early March"

"on the cusp of something happening, especially in the Senate"
strategy on getting it to the floor
House hasn't done anything yet
"our understanding that Rep. Kline will propose something similar to what was proposed and passed by last House"
two bills, one on charter schools: compressed and offered together this time
House 5 going to be in base bill (which is the local control language)
Senate timeline is exceedingly fast
no hearings, to legislative markups
"if a bill goes to the President, will he sign it?"
"would be stunned if President did not sign a bill that would revitalize our public education laws"
 "a lot of discussions around local very clear on what you mean on local and community leadership"
"not just giving all the power to the states"
"strongest messages and core values"
maintenance of effort:
"choice" discussion "means so many different things to so many different people"
polarizing conversation around charter schools and vouchers
agreement between Democrats and Republicans on this one
"we do oppose vouchers, vouchers are bad"
testing: "never seen so much agreement on testing"
"window is open for testing...what should testing be?"
"reduce the number of tests, reduce the types of test..while we don't necessarily have a clear path, a conversation around it is open"
"have a substantive conversation on the testing issue and find out where they are"
has to be part of a comprehensive rewrite"
"I view that as all positive"
"keep your message short and sweet, but you've got to ask them for something"

Rigby: proposal from Alexander to level fund Title I through 2021
"just because something is authorized, doesn't mean it is funded"
sets a policy or a benchmark
have been working on full funding of IDEA
"same applies to ESEA"
expect same in House
was some language around tying to consumer price index; that's a concern
"school enrollment expected to increase over the next several years"
block grants tend to be reduces year after year: not sustained funding
funding for competitive grant programs has either been decreased or eliminated
sequestion staved of for 2015: urge Congress to stop it further
in funding: concerns on Title I and IDEA funding
Duncan had proposed an increase, but it would be a competitive grant program
targeted towards creating a level of parity of resources for those working with affluent districts and less so
propose handling each bill separately, getting out of the practice of consolidating things into one big bill

"very dynamic landscape on early childhood"
Alexander: RTTT not renewed, otherwise status quo
Murray (ranking member): statement in Congressional record on PreK
poll on child nutrition: 83.7% report increase in wasted food, 81.8% increased costs, 76.5% decreased participation, 75% would support increase in funding, 60% would support increase in flexibility
FY15: $25M for kitchen equipment, professional standards and district compliance, and flexibility whole grains and sodium reduction
not conducting unnecessary compliance reviews
current child nutrition bill expires at end of September

Zola: "prohibition against federal mandates, prohibition or control"

Q: on child nutrition: have had districts that have quit the program; how to tell their story?
Gettman: so far response has been "it's 1% or less"
concerned that they are minimizing concerns of those
"it's part of your story...part of the story is who is at the table, literally and figuratively"

Q: concern about subgroups: different AYP standards, does draft fix problem?
Rigsby: eliminates AYP, state would determine, but no progressive sanctions
Q: still test requirements?
Rigsby: states decide, but one test versus many tests; two options in Alexander's bill which state decides

Q: concern is child nutrition. Problems with waste and flexiblity
anything we can do to make it a waiver type thing for the whole program?
Gettman: initially supported waiver; White House threatened to veto
USDA is feeling the heat to be sure schools aren't struggling
pilot program for technical assistance: lacking funding
inadequate to address all the districts that need help

Q: question about norm referenced test: would alternative language allow?
Rigsby: let us research and clarify
states have invested so much time and resources, going to be respective to states and districts
Zola: can ask Kline what his draft will do?

Q: discussion on testing is the forefront. have to address core problem of educating children at the poverty level
spent all this time on Smarter-Balanced "They're all going to show the same thing"
"feels like we're building the roof for the house before we put the foundation up"

Q: gifted students; don't have resources to serve them
Byrne: "interested in each child"

Q: what should we response to "we need to know you're using money responsibly"?
Zola: "it's our money; thanks for giving it back to us"

Q; were concerned it (IDEA) could be an open-ended funding: counter?
I don't understand this question
Byrne: "don't let them weasel" IDEA was supposed to cover 40% and it's 17%
Rigsby: 40% of the national average per pupil expenditure is supposed to be covered by IDEA
you promised this and you've never carried it out.

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