The big news this week in education policy is that the U.S. House of Representatives is likely to consider the Student Success Act, H.R. 5, a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as early as this Thursday, July 18th.
NAESP opposed the Student Success Act (read NAESP’s summary of the bill here). NAESP along with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) wrote a letter to Chairman John Kline (R-MN) when the House Education and Workforce Committee approved the Student Success Act on a party-line vote outlining our concerns. Read the letter to Chairman John Kline (R-MN) here.
NAESP supports the Democratic substitute bill that was unsuccessfully offered by House Education Committee Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) as a replacement to Chairman Kline’s Republican-supported legislation. This substitute legislation was submitted to the House Rules Committee as one of the dozens of potential floor amendment to the Student Success Act. Read the joint letter from NAESP and NASSP to Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) in support of his substitute legislation here.
The powerful House Rules Committee is meeting Wednesday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time to determine which of the 74 amendments submitted by Monday’s deadline will be selected for debate on the House floor. NAESP will provide a list of amendments we support and oppose once the Rules Committee makes public the list of amendments to be voted on. It is expected that the final amendments selected for debate on the House floor will be far fewer than 74.
NAESP has several concerns with provisions in the Student Success Act, including:
Definition of a School Leader: While we appreciate the clarity in the bill to define “school leader,” NAESP and NASSP believe that the term “school leader” must be defined to include only principals and assistant principals, and not superintendents and other district leaders. This definition would better inform the complexity of the roles and responsibilities various educators have inside the school building. The Student Success Act inadvertently diminishes the role of the principal as an instructional leader in absence of clear direction that principals are unique and their role in fostering high-quality instruction and learning must be upheld.
Vouchers and Funding Portability: NAESP opposes any effort to direct scarce federal funds away from public schools. Schools must have budget certainty to operate smoothly, which funding ‘portability’ does not offer, even if funds follow a student to a public school. Allowing federal funding streams to follow a student is the first step to funding school vouchers, which NAESP opposes.
Authorization Levels: NAESP opposed the funding caps set in the Student Success Act. These funding levels do not provide Congress with any flexibility to adequately invest in education as the legislation would provide the same annual funding through 2019 as was appropriated by Congress in 2012. As written, the Student Success Act eliminates Congress’ ability to reverse or reduce the impact of sequestration on federal education programs.
Maintenance of Effort: NAESP opposed eliminating Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirements. States must maintain their share of funding which helps to bolster the operating budgets of the poorest school districts the most. Most local communities and school districts cannot fill in any funding gap that could exist if state support was reduced from its current share of funding.