Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Who’s Watching Washington:
How YOU Can Become an Education Change Agent!

I was recently attended a preconference session hosted by SC-CASE (Council of Administrators of Special Education, a division of Council for Exceptional Children). It was an awesome preconference and I learned a lot!

Here is what the flyer says about this session:

“Baffled by the news of what’s happening in Washington? Myrna Mandlawitz, M..Ed, J.D., CASE Legislative Consultant, is here to explain it all...well, at least some of it! She will entertain you about the latest from Congress and the Administration—what’s current in special and general education, Medicaid and health care, education funding, and some “hot” legal issues. Myrna will also provide the how-to of becoming an agent of change for education and get you started on planning your own education advocacy campaign. Come prepared to expand your knowledge and actively participate in this exciting workshop.”

Here are some notes from Dr. Mandlawitz’s slides and my notes:

1.     Special Education – interdisciplinary, student support system committed to innovation in education.
2.     The community should celebrate human diversity as enriching the whole society.
3.     All students have a right to a quality education, enabling them to develop to their maximum potential.
4.     Public policy – whole range of government actions to improve citizen’s lives.
5.     Issues become part of public policy agenda
a.     As part of a larger trend,
b.     after major event,
c.     through interest groups
d.     Through political speeches such as the State of the Union
6.     Once issue is on the agenda, people seek government action
7.     Major policy changes occur slowly – It is a marathon and not a sprint.
8.     Creating legislation is like making sausage. You throw in everything and then hope that you make something edible
9.     Education is a state government function.
10.  State role in Education
a.     primarily responsible for maintenance/operation of public schools
b.     selection/regulation of curriculum, teaching methods, instructional materials often delegated to local districts.
11.  Federal Role in education
a.     Equal access to education
b.     Safeguards on students’ and educators’ constitutional rights
c.     Funding
                                               i.     2% of federal budget goes to education
                                             ii.     Federal money – approximately 8% of State K-12 budget
                                           iii.     Bulk of money comes from state tax dollars
12.  Nothing happens if the law is not funded
13.  Most laws are reauthorized every 5 years
14.  Making Laws
a.     Issue raised
b.     Bill introduced
c.     Hearings
d.     Bill Markup
e.     Floor consideration
f.      Consideration in other chamber
g.     Conference committee to reconcile versions of the bill.
h.     Chambers vote on final bill
i.      Bill sent to President/Governor for signature or veto
j.      Possible veto override vote
15.  Once the Law is passed
a.     All “details” not in law
b.     Administration agencies provide the details – regulations, guidance, technical assistance
c.     It is easier to change regulations than to amend laws.
16.  Fiscal Issue:
a.     Labor, Health & Human Services, Education Bills
                                               i.     Education:
1.     House - $4.2 billion below FY2 2017
a.     IDEA - $200 million increase
2.     Senate Committee: $1.2 billion below
a.     IDEA - $2 million increase
17.  Budget Control Act 2011 – tight caps on Federal budget to 2021. So Federal budget gets tighter each year and more burden on states and local budgets. Each year they have waived these budget caps. – Wont’ repeal the law because it looks good on the books.
18.  PROSPER Act (HR 4508) - eliminates teacher prep programs; replaces with Apprenticeship Grant Program, eliminates Public Service Loan Forgiveness in 2019.
19.  IDEA Full Funding Act (HR 2902) – “message” bill, would gradually increase money to 50% in 2027
20.  RISE Act (S. 1295; HR 2782) Amends HEA to require IHE policies accept K-12 disability documentation, require additional date collection
21.  National Dyslexia Awareness Month (S. Res 284) – resolution, not a bill.
24.  ADA Education and Reform Act (HR 620) – limits civil actions, re: architectural barrier issues – prohibit civil actions under certain circumstances
25.  Strengthening Career & Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (HR 2353) – has not been reauthorized
26.  Juvenile Justice Reform Act (HR 1809) – passed House in June
27.  Common Core was not a federal initiative.
28.  Executive Order 13711 – Two for One rule – for every new legislation, get rid of 2.
29.  Court Cases
b.     Fry vs. Napoleon Community Schools
c.     Gloucester County School Bd. Vs. G. G. – use of boy’s bathroom by transgender mail
d.     Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia (MO) vs. Comer – grant of public funds to religious institutions; resurface playground with scrap tire material
30.  Advocacy
a.     Get powerful people to make changes that may not be in their short-term interest
b.     Working in the public eye
c.     Sticking your neck out.
d.     Get on committees so you can make sure what you are doing is sanctioned
e.     Never talk about an issue without offering a solution
f.      Be creative and work out a way that won’t cost so much money in the end.
g.     Bring together different facets of the community to solve the problem.
h.     Help decision makers get to “yes”
i.      Creative problem solving

Original photo by Pat Hensley

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