The priorities are based on input received from local school boards across the nation and the formal actions taken by the NSBA Delegate Assembly. Such actions are aimed at improving the quality of educational services while ensuring maximum authority and flexibility to local school districts that provide such services.
The following are key priorities being proposed to U.S. House and Senate members this week by delegates to the NSBA Delegate Assembly:
1. Ensure states and local school districts have greater flexibility to make educationally sound decisions, and be free of mandates that unnecessarily hinder school districts from achieving their goals.
2. Replace the current accountability system that does not accurately or fairly report student, school, or school district performance.
3. Ensure high-quality, valid, and reliable assessments for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities.
4. Support the use of multiple measures of academic achievement that will more accurately determine students’ knowledge and performance that reflect the kind of well-rounded education necessary to be successful in the 21st Century economy, as opposed to judging success on their performance on a single assessment.
5. Permit the use of growth models and other measures of student achievement that more accurately reflect student and school performance.
6. Facilitate strategic interventions that are designed at the local or state level and are targeted to students and schools most in need, rather than impose ineffective and costly sanctions.
7. Provide support to states and school districts and ensure their flexibility to establish programs to enhance teacher/principal quality focusing on preparation, recruitment, retention, and evaluation.
8. Support efforts by school districts, through a separate funding stream, to develop, expand, coordinate, and enhance the quality and availability of voluntary preschool programs for all 3-and 4-year old children.
Federal funding of K-12 education is being deliberated in a climate of reduced resources. These include federal deficit reduction and budget containment. During the FY 2012 appropriations process, House Appropriations Committee leaders aimed for a $1 billion increase in Title I grants for disadvantaged children and $1 billion to IDEA special education grants, and eliminating some newer competitive education grants. The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended level funding for Title I and IDEA and continuing competitive grant programs.
The difference between the two bills was reconciled in December 2011, providing limited increases for major K-12 education programs and the continuance of the competitive grant programs at reduced funding levels.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 will supersede projected funding for K-12 education and early childhood programs since the law calls for additional decreases of at least $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. The law now calls for across-the-board cuts to programs that could affect Department of Education funding by more than $4 billion.
This could impede the ability of school districts and states to sustain resources for programs that close achievement gaps, raise graduation rates, and retain highly effective teachers, for example while states continue to face record budget shortfalls.
As District 3 School Board member for the Gwinnett County Public Schools, it is an honor to serve as our school system’s delegate to the 2012 Federal Relations Network of the National School Boards Association.
I look forward to our meetings with U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, and U.S. Representative Rob Woodall to discuss the near and far future of federal funding of K-12 education as it affects the State of Georgia and Gwinnett County where we education one of every 10 students in the State of Georgia.