On Tuesday, September, 16, 2014 I began an advocacy trip to Washington D.C. This trip was with three other superintendents, two special education directors and the MASA executive director. We were able to meet with all of our state legislators and the United States Department of Education. Our group discussed a variety of educational topics with these folks in an effort to improve current legislation.
The following topics were emphasized:
1. Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Many of you know this as the former No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Our message was to simply reauthorize it in the near future so that states and local districts can move forward with accountability practices. Right now the state of Minnesota is under a waiver granted by the United States Department of Education.
2. Reauthorization of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Again, our message was to reauthorize in the near future. We are looking for alignment between ESEA and IDEA. There is also a piece of IDEA we'd like to see adjust which is known as Maintenance of Effort (MOE). We are simply looking for flexibility.
3. Carl Perkins Grant - We receive some federal dollars for Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses in our high school. The federal government continues to add hoops to jump through in order to secure those funds. We have asked that they streamline accountability measures so that our focus can be on the classroom as opposed to administrative paperwork.
4. Title I & II - Right now through Title allocations we are required to set aside equitable funds for non-public schools. For our district that is between $17,000 and $19,000 annually. The loss of those dollars presents a challenge for us to meet the needs of all our learners. We would like some reform in this area so that we can continue to serve all children of our district while still providing us with the necessary resources to accommodate the learners in our building.
5. Title III - As our state grows more diverse, we need support to meet the needs of our english language learners. State demographers predict that the Mankato area will experience a 150% increase in diverse populations over the next 20 years. We need to be adequately prepared for this change in demographics. Therefore, the promise of Title III funding for EL populations is extremely necessary.
Obviously the federal government is focused on other topics but we wanted to be sure they were aware of the challenges we encounter in public education. This was an excellent trip to advocate for our school community. If you would like to visit more about this, please do not hesitate to contact me.