ACTION ALERT!!! Senators Introduce Bills to Provide Emergency IDEA Funding

On Monday, June 29, 2020 , Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Chris VanHollen (D-MD) introduced the Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID–19 Act. The bill would provide one-time emergency funding to support Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill acknowledges the disproportionate impact that in-person school and program closures has had on many children with disabilities and the unprecedented budget challenges brought on by the pandemic. It provides emergency IDEA funding to address these issues by specifically providing $11 billion for grants to states, $400 million for preschool grants, $500 for programs for infants and toddlers and $300 million for personnel development.

These funding levels largely reflect the funding request CEC put forward in March, which over 5,000 grassroots advocates supported through the CEC Legislative Action Center.

Today, Tuesday, June 30, 2020, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, introduced the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act along with 15 of her Senate colleagues. That bill would provide $345 billion in additional funding to the Education Stabilization Fund, authorized through the CARES Act. It also provides $11.9 billion in dedicated emergency IDEA funding but fails to include funding for personnel development.

Both bills are partisan Democrat bills in a Republican-controlled Senate, so they are unlikely to pass. However, they are markers for Democrat priorities on the next COVID-19 package.

Action Alert

As the Senate begins to put pen to paper on a possible next COIVD-19 package, now is the time to amplify the message that emergency funding for IDEA is needed. Tell Senators Murray and Cantwell how important IDEA funding will be for infants, toddlers, children and youth to support ongoing services and education during the pandemic, whether in person or at a distance. Please go to CEC’s Legislative Action Center to take action today!

 

 

OSEP COVID-19 Questions and Answers

OSEP COVID-19 Questions & Answers: 
Implementation of IDEA Part B and Part C Procedural Safeguards

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services’ Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) released Questions and Answers (Q&A) documents in response to inquiries concerning implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B and Part C procedural safeguards in the current COVID-19 environment:

OSERS/OSEP will continue to work with state and local leaders to identify any additional areas where it can provide information to support stakeholders in their important work.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit:

House and Senate Education Committees Conduct Hearings on Reopening K-12 Schools

In the past week, both the House Education and Labor Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee conducted hearings to discuss the challenges facing states as they look toward reopening schools in the fall. The hearings were conducted as Senators are faced with deciding how to move forward with a possible future COVID-19 response package and what to include in that package. The House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act last month and continues to pressure the Senate to act.

In the Senate, the hearing, COVID-19: Going Back to School Safely, focused on the realities that schools, districts, and states are facing, including adherence to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, additional expenses of reopening and maintaining social distance, and looming state and local budget cuts.

“This is a perfect storm as we face increased needs and decreased resources,” said witness Matthew Blomstedt, Nebraska Commissioner of Education. Panelists discussed additional issues, including:

  • The dangers of in-person instruction for high-risk students and educators
  • The major challenges with providing remote learning, including access to the internet, devices, and assistive technology
  • The need for schools to address student learning loss and educational services gaps, especially for students with disabilities, homeless students, and others
  • The potential need for legal liability shields for teachers and schools
  • The school lunch program
  • Confronting systemic racism

The House hearing, Budget Cuts and Learning Loss: Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Public Education, included a primary focus on the financial impact of state and local budget cuts on students and teachers. Chaired by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), the Democrats focused on the need for Congress to pass the HEROES Act, which includes about $90 billion for K-12 schools, as well as the disproportionate impact Secretary DeVos’ actions have on schools regarding the use of Title I funds for private and religious schools (known as the Equitable Distribution clause).

Ranking Member Foxx (R-NC) and colleagues challenged the need for additional federal stimulus funding at this time. Like the Senate, Members from both sides of the political aisle shared concerns about student and teacher safety but differed on the federal government’s role in state planning, the provision of funds, and the implementation of plans to reopen schools.

To view the Senate hearing, go here.

To view the House hearing, go here.

From CEC Policy Insider – 6/16/2020

Secretary DeVos Reiterates Learning Must Continue for All Students, Declines to Seek Congressional Waivers to FAPE, LRE Requirements of IDEA

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today reaffirmed her long-held position that individualized education must take place for all students, including students with disabilities. As a result, the Secretary is not recommending Congress pass any additional waiver authority concerning the Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), reiterating that learning must continue for all students during the COVID-19 national emergency.

Read more here.

Take Action Now!!

Join CEC and take action now on the follow issues affecting students needing special education services.

Reauthorize the Higher Education Act

Address the educator shortage crisis

__________________________________________________

The U.S. Senate is currently negotiating a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). HEA governs federal policy on higher education. Major provisions of HEA include grant and loan programs such as Pell and TEACH Grants; grants to institutions for educator preparation programs; access and affordability of higher education, such as the TRIO and GEAR UP programs, and more. These programs influence the educator pipeline and directly impact schools and classrooms. HEA was last reauthorized in 2008 and is the top education priority for Congress this year.

FY 2021: Support Students with Exceptionalities; Oppose Cuts to Public Education.

Boost funding for special and gifted/talented education to make sure all students can thrive.

________________________________________________

On Monday, the Trump Administration released its proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 spending. Overall, the budget proposal cuts the Department of Education (ED) by $6.4 billion, or 8.4 percent. The budget also includes $5 billion for proposed Education Freedom Scholarships, or tax credits for vouchers that could be used toward private school tuition.

Special education funding was largely untouched in the ED budget. Aside from a $100 million increase (equal to less than one percent) to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), all programs authorized under the IDEA were level funded. With diminishing spending power from year to year, level funding equates to a cut roughly equal in size to the inflation rate.

In the last three years, attempts by the Administration to make significant cuts to ED and to divert public funds to a private school voucher program have been unsuccessful. Rather, Congress, which has the ‘power of the purse,’ has sustained and/or incrementally grown critical programs at the Department. Much of the credit for Congress’s actions goes to grassroots advocacy. Voices like yours have made an important difference as appropriators make decisions about annual spending. Please join CEC in supporting public education through this letter-writing campaign.

 

For more information on how to take action and to sign up for CEC’s legislative alerts, visit CEC’s Legislative Action Center (LAC) website.

 

Department of Education Releases Annual IDEA Report to Congress

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education issued the 41st Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

 

Since its enactment, IDEA has required an annual report to inform Congress and the public about implementation of the law in four main domains:
  1. providing a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities and early intervention for infants and toddlers,
  2. ensuring that the rights of students with disabilities and their parents are upheld,
  3. assisting states and localities to provide IDEA services to all students with disabilities, and
  4. assessing the effectiveness of efforts to provide IDEA services.
Key findings [from 2017 state-reported data] include:
  • 93.2 percent of special education teachers providing special education and related services for students aged 3 through 5 were highly qualified.
  • 91.9 percent of special education teachers providing special education and related services for students aged 6 through 21 under IDEA Part B were highly qualified.
  • 94.9 percent of students ages 6 through 21 served under IDEA Part B were educated in the regular classroom for at least some portion of the school day.
To view the full report, go here.

Public Comment Opportunity

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) plans to submit an amendment to Washington’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated Plan on February 3, 2020. Prior to submitting, they are seeking public comment on the proposed amendment.

The public comment period opens January 7 and will close at 5 pm on January 15. You may review the proposed amendment and submit your comments through their public comment survey.

The survey is available in:

English
Spanish
Somali
Marshallese
Arabic
Korean
Vietnamese
Ukrainian
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Tagalog
Russian

The proposed changes are related to the measure of progress in achieving English language proficiency for English learners (“English learner progress” or “EL progress”). The proposed changes are not associated with student eligibility for bilingual services; the changes are only related to overall program accountability.

It may be helpful to open a copy of the ESSA Consolidated Plan to refer to while you provide feedback, specifically pages 33–35.

If you have questions, please contact Dr. Deb Came, Assistant Superintendent of Assessment and Student Information, at deb.came@k12.wa.us.

CEC Legislative Call to Action

As lawmakers begin to put pen to paper, it is important to keep education funding top of mind through advocacy from education funding stakeholders. To that end, CEC has developed a Call to Action through the Legislative Action Center for members to engage in a final push on FY 2020 spending. The template letter calls for spending increases to the following programs:

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Grants to States Program (Part B)
  • IDEA Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Program (Part C)
  • IDEA Preschool Program (Part B Section 619)
  • IDEA National Activities (Part D)
  • National Center for Special Education Research, within the Institute for Education Sciences
  • Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act

It is critical that CEC and other education funding stakeholders keep the drum beat going. To join in this call to action, please follow this link.

For more information on how you can advocate for students needing special education and other services, visit CEC’s Legislative Action Center and sign up for their Action Alert emails.  Together, we can make a difference!

OSPI Legislative Reports on Social Emotional Learning in Washington’s K–12 Schools are Now Available

Executive Summary

Social emotional learning (SEL) is broadly understood to be a process through which people build awareness and skills in managing emotions, setting goals, establishing relationships, and making responsible decisions. Research highlighted in this report demonstrates that the effective integration of SEL in school systems creates a foundation for students’ increased school and life success. The Social Emotional Learning Indicators (SELI) Workgroup was established in 2017 to build upon the work of the previous Social Emotional Learning Benchmarks (SELB) Workgroup. Committed to focusing on the whole child, the SELI Workgroup applied guiding principles to ensure that statewide SEL work promotes equity and is culturally responsive, trauma-informed, and universally designed for access by all learners. Recommended actions for the SEL Advisory Committee (to be formed by OSPI as required in Senate Bill 5082 [2019]), each of which is dependent on meaningful engagement of diverse stakeholders, include the following:

    • Intentionally enhance, communicate, and disseminate SEL implementation resources.
    • Support capacity building for the implementation and integration of SEL in school systems and communities.
    • Evaluate, co-design, and continually improve SEL resources and implementation efforts to ensure they are effective, aligned with community priorities, and culturally responsive.

The contents of the report along with appendices can be found here.