The results are in: NAESP members share their advocacy priorities
NAESP Member 2019 Advocacy Priorities Survey Results
Thank you to all NAESP members who weighed in on our 2019 advocacy priorities. The results provide a fascinating look into the top-of-mind issues for elementary and middle-level principals in the field. Most importantly, they will shape NAESP’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill. Over the past few weeks, NAESP has already met with dozens of congressional offices, as well as with the House and Senate education committees, to share the results. These conversations have sparked ideas for potential legislation.
Priority Issues for NAESP Members
35-Day Partial Government Shutdown Ends
On Jan. 25, President Donald Trump signed legislation to re-open the federal agencies affected by the government shutdown, ending the 35-day standstill. Lawmakers now have three weeks to negotiate funding proposals for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border sought by the president. The Department of Education was not materially affected by the shutdown, as it’s already funded through September of this year. NAESP has begun advocacy efforts on the FY20 appropriations bill, including urging Congress to lift the budget caps that would restrict discretionary spending on education programs.
New Congress, New Faces
The 116th Congress convened on Jan. 3, with Democrats now in control of the House. Democrats hold 234 seats, having gained 40 seats in the 2018 election; Republicans hold 199 seats. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was voted to be Speaker of the House. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) will chair the House Education and the Labor Committee, which oversees federal education policies. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) will be ranking member.
Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education
Oversees federal education programs from early education through high school, including Head Start; federal programs that support the recruitment, preparation, and support of teachers and principals; and the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Chair Gregorio Kilili Sablan (MP-at-Large)
Ranking Member Rick Allen (GA-12)
Subcommittee on Higher Education
Oversees federal higher education programs, which includes student loan and grants, and federal policies that govern principal preparation programs.
Chair Susan Davis (CA-53)
Ranking Member Lloyd Smucker (PA-11)
In the Senate, Republicans will remain in the majority and hold 53 seats. Democrats hold 45 seats, with two Independents who caucus with the party. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP Committee) will maintain its current leadership of Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) as chair and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) as ranking member. New committee members include Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV). Access the full roster of the committee.
School Safety Commission
The U.S. Department of Education School Safety Commission, which began meeting in spring 2018 in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, released its final report in December. NAESP joined other education groups last year in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Education asking that the commission meaningfully engage principals, school-level personnel, parents, superintendents, and state education chiefs in the commission’s work.
Following the release of the report, NAESP joined other national education groups in calling on the federal government to focus its next steps on resources and training more mental health specialists to ensure safety of students and school staff.
Rescission of Obama School Discipline Guidance
In December 2018, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinded Obama-era guidance aimed at reducing racial discrimination in school discipline, specifically suspensions and expulsions. Secretary DeVos concluded that those polices made schools reluctant to address disruptive students or violent incidents. The 2014 guidance focused on “how to identify, avoid, and remedy” discriminatory discipline and recommended alternatives to suspension and expulsion.
State of the Union Rescheduled
President Trump’s State of the Union speech has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 5. Speaker Pelosi had previously declined to move forward with the event until the shutdown had ended.
FY20 Administration Budget
The Trump administration has not yet announced a new date to release its FY20 budget, which had been expected Feb. 4, but will be delayed due to the government shutdown. It is expected to be released no sooner than mid-March and will likely call for deep cuts to education programs.
School Infrastructure Bill
Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) will introduce “Rebuild America’s Schools Act.” The legislation would support investing $100 billion over 10 years in school infrastructure, including digital access. With a few exceptions, the federal government currently does not fund school construction and modernization.