FED ED recently met with legislators and attended a legislative conference in Washington, D.C. We discussed the important priorities of the complex and diverse needs of our member suburban districts in Illinois. Our discussions included reiterating the spirit and implementation of ESSA, Perkins Reauthorization and Appropriations for Title I and IDEA with a few highlighted areas below.
Our recent legislative workshop with Illinois federal legislators and Dr. Tony Smith, included a candid discussion on the challenges Illinois is having with the Dept. of Education and other regulatory challenges that impede the intent and implementation of ESSA, designed to provide greater flexibility and local decision-making that support innovative and rigorous educational opportunities for our students.
A significant emphasis in the crafting of ESSA was the inclusion of the supplement, not supplant aspect of the new law. There has been considerable concern and attention on the recent proposal from the Dept. of Education’s regarding this, that many believe are another example of the department overextending their authority. This continues to be a significant area of discussion in our meeting in DC and it is critical that we continue to advocate for what the intent and language of ESSA reflects with an emphasis on the local impact. Public comment on the proposed options can be provided through the first week of November.
Perkins CTE Act
The House overwhelming passed their version of the Act, Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, a few weeks ago that includes a new definition of students classified as ‘concentrators’ in CTE and next week the Senate will roll out their version. This is another important reauthorization to watch as it affects over 11 million students across the United States, with a focus on the employment and vocational training.
Congress will not complete the complete appropriations process of the budget in time for the first year of ESSA implementation (2017-2018). Although that has happened in the past, there is very little risk of a federal government shutdown in an election year. In fact a short term continuing resolution has passed. The timing of this has significant implications related to the any immediate votes before the November election. In addition many legislators indicated to us, depending how the elections turn out, certain pieces of legislation may be directly influenced by the election outcomes.
FED ED will continue to monitor legislation in the context of the elections. We will continually work with our legislators to influence positive outcomes for the districts we represent.
Tim Thomas and Judy Hackett, FED ED Co-Directors