This is clearly a year of transition – a year of transition as we head into the final phase of the presidential campaigning and pending election with the promise of continued colorful debates and controversy unprecedented in previous election periods. It is also a time of transition as the first set of ESSA regulations begin to influence and bridge federal oversight through provision of “guardrails” vs. prescription and support to state/local implementation plan development that has begun across the country. This is coupled with the pending FY17 appropriations, the first year for ESSA funding and with level funding providing some unique application potential in terms of implementation.
FED ED is also in transition as we recognized the founding partners of Dr. Harry Rossi and Dave Peterson in May, 2016 at the FED ED luncheon who officially retired from FED ED this summer. Our smooth transition in the midst of excitement at the federal level was built from a great working partnership with Harry and Dave over the years as we accompanied them numerous times to Washington, DC and advocating at local, state and federal levels in a variety of roles in our respective positions. Their insights, well established connections through organizations and relationship have been the cornerstone of FED ED advocacy effectiveness.
FED ED has conveyed appreciation to the Illinois federal legislators for their votes of support of ESSA. Our collective efforts continue to be critical at this point of regulatory guidance and technical supports, both at the federal and state levels. Over 20, 000 comments were provided by the August deadline, many indicating appreciation mixed with concern on how the regulations will guide implementation.
Last week the Secretary of Education King received a urgent letter from Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray reiterating consideration of a more flexible timeline related to the new accountability systems under ESSA and data collection on selected indicators to being in 2018-2019. FED ED continues to advocate for regulations and state/ local flexibility that reflect not only the spirit of the law but the literal and practical application that reflects sound practice, thoughtful efforts and coordination from federal, state and local systems. Efforts thus far have emphasized accountability, the critical supplement not supplant application, particularly as we navigate appropriations levels and flexibility in funding sources. Currently the discussion on one summative rating within a state plan is meeting opposition as it moves away from the flexibility of multiple measures and innovative approaches that FED ED districts have been advocating for as more authentic dashboard approach.
The development of the IL state plan and the listening sessions have begun in earnest and timelines have been posted regarding the drafting and series of public review and comments throughout the 2016-2017. The federal and state regulations, interpretation, assistance and implementation will be important collaborative efforts. It is important to be actively involved and updated on the phases of development at both federal and state levels as it will set the course for reflecting district progress in future years.
FY 17 BUDGET
The FY17 budget appears to be a continuation of level funding but while Congress once again has failed to agree on an FY 16 Budget, FED ED encourages members to make sure that the Continuing Resolution (CR) includes increased funding for IDEA, Title I and Formula Grants.
Perkins CTE Reathorization
Earlier this year, the passage of ESSA appeared to provide momentum to promote an acceleration of Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (CTE) reauthorization with a bipartisan HR5587 bill introduced last month that emphasizes streamlined accountability and community engagement in CTE programs reflected in an easier application process. Much of the discussion has focused on the three areas of work-paced learning, no-traditional participation and graduation. FED ED continues to emphasize the same flexibility and innovation on the career and college planning and supports that were evident in ESSA.
Tim Thomas and Judy Hackett, FED ED Co-Directors