Legislative Update: Looking Ahead to 2017


Congress left town last week after the Senate averted a government shutdown and approved a continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the government at FY17 funding levels through April 28.

The Trump Administration will propose funding for the remainder of FY2017, which ends on Sept 30 2017, while also working to develop a FY2018 budget.

In addition to budget issues, it is anticipated that next January when the new Congress is sworn into office, House and Senate Republicans will work to overturn specific regulations issued by the Obama Administration.

According to this document by the Senate Republican Policy Committee (RPC), “Republicans have the opportunity to enact the most significant regulatory reform since President Reagan.” The House and Senate will have until early May to use the Congressional Review Act on regulations issued in the last half year of the Obama administration. Two education-related regulations likely to be overturned deal with teacher preparation and the ESSA state and education accountability. Language below is from the Senate RPC:

Teacher Preparation: On October 12, the Education Department released its final rule for teacher preparation programs. The rule requires federal standards for evaluating these programs, based significantly on student test scores. This conflicts with the flexibility Congress provided in the recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It also runs afoul of prohibitions in the law on federally mandated teacher evaluations.

State and Local Education Accountability: On November 29, the Department of Education issued its final regulations modifying the accountability measures for K-12 schools. Under last year’s Every Student Succeeds Act, states must have an accountability system, which they choose for themselves. The intent was to provide maximum flexibility to states. The department’s final rules are too prescriptive, conflict with congressional intent, and violate explicit prohibitions on the secretary’s authority to regulate.

Read more about the Teacher Preparation regulation here and the ESSA Rule on Accountability here.

Webinars on ESSA Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants Planned for Early 2017

Teachers and teacher leaders are encouraged to register for the series of webinars hosted by the U.S. Department of Education on the Title IVA, Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAE), authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Title IV Part A Student Support and Academic Enrichments Grants—the third largest authorized program in ESSA—combines (and eliminates) several targeted programs under No Child Left Behind, including the Math and Science Partnership Grants.

Title IV, Part A authorizes activities in three broad areas:

1) Providing students with programs that ensure a well-rounded education (programs in STEM, college and career counseling, arts, civics, and access to IB/AP);

2) Supporting safe and healthy students (e.g. comprehensive school mental health, drug and violence prevention, health and physical education); and

3) Supporting the effective use of technology (professional development, blended learning, and devices).

Districts can use Title IV Part A grants to provide students with a well-rounded education and improve instruction and student engagement in STEM by:

  • Expanding high-quality STEM courses;
  • Increasing access to STEM for underserved and at risk student populations;
  • Supporting the participation of students in STEM nonprofit competitions (such as robotics, science research, invention, mathematics, computer science, and technology competitions);
  • Providing hands-on learning opportunities in STEM;
  • Integrating other academic subjects, including the arts, into STEM subject programs;
  • Creating or enhancing STEM specialty schools;
  • Integrating classroom based and afterschool and informal STEM instruction; and
  • Expanding environmental education.

Guidance on Title IV grants was released last month.

Since Title IVA grants will be a key source of funding for STEM activities, science and STEM educators, teacher leaders, administrators, and state and district leaders are urged to register and learn more.

More information on the three webinars is below.

Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 2 pm Eastern
Overview of the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Program
Registration: https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/node/8656/0/register

Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 2 pm Eastern
Role of State Educational Agencies; Local Application Requirements; and Implementing Effective SSAE Program Activities
Registration: https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/node/8739/0/register

Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 2 pm Eastern:
Allowable Activities to Support Well-Rounded Educational Opportunities; Safe and Healthy Students; and the Effective Use of Technology
Registration: https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/node/8740/0/register

Stay tuned, and watch for more updates in future issues of NSTA Express.

Jodi Peterson is Assistant Executive Director of Legislative & Public Affairs for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. Reach her via e-mail at jpeterson@nsta.org or via Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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