Legislative Activity

Senate to Vote on Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization

Last week, the Senate voted 96-1 to move to consideration of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization legislation (S. 1086). The Senate previously passed S. 1086 in March; the House then amended the bill and passed it in September. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Richard Burr (R-NC) have led the effort to reauthorize this legislation since 2012 and received input from a variety of stakeholders during the process given that the law has not been reauthorized since 1996.

Final Senate passage on the House version of the bill is the last legislative hurdle that the CCDBG legislation will have to take before becoming law. Efforts to pass the bill by unanimous consent stalled last week as Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) held up the bill until the Senate voted on his proposal to require background checks for teachers and other school employees in elementary and secondary schools. Leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee have agreed to allow Senator Toomey to have a hearing on his proposal but they did not agree to a floor vote without first giving the HELP Committee the chance to consider the legislation.  A final vote on the CCDBG bill is expected early this week and could occur as early as Monday evening.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Wednesday, November 19: The House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity will hold a hearing titled “The Role of the State Approving Agencies in Ensuring Quality Education Programs for Veterans.”

Regulatory Activity

Department of Education Issues No Child Left Behind Waiver Guidance

Last Thursday, Assistant Secretary of Education Deborah Delisle sent a letter to all chief state school officers noting that they can request a three-year renewal of their NCLB waiver to last through the 2017-18 school year. Additionally, the letter states that certain state educational agencies will be invited to request a four-year renewal if their waiver was approved beginning in the 2012–2013 school year and they are meeting their commitments to the timelines and principles proposed in their original waiver application. These states are also eligible to participate in an expedited review process if they submit their renewal requests by January 30, 2015.  All states must request a waiver renewal by March 31, 2015. The letter also included the ESEA Flexibility Guidance for Renewal Process, which provides information about the substantive requirements for receiving a renewal of a NCLB waiver, as well as information about the renewal process.

One area of contention surrounding the NCLB waiver guidance is that it does not remove the yearly testing requirements included in NCLB, even though it does allow states to waive the requirements for tying teacher and principal evaluations to test scores as they transition to new Common Core-aligned tests. Both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association spoke out about their concerns about the lack of attention that the Department paid to over-testing under NCLB in the waiver renewal guidance.

Also, the Department announced on Friday that it would grant the state of New Mexico a one-year extension of its NCLB waiver. Thirty-one states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have received waiver extensions since July 3, 2014. The only remaining state that is waiting to hear about its waiver extension is Louisiana.

White House to Host ConnectED Event

The White House announced on Friday that it would host an event titled “ConnectED to the Future” on Wednesday, November 19. The event is part of its ConnectED initiative that seeks to connect 99 percent of students to high speed internet and empower teachers to use technology in the classroom. Superintendents and other educators who are leaders in their schools and districts in the transition to digital learning will be in attendance. During the event, President Obama will host a digital pledge signing ceremony of the Future Ready Pledge with hundreds of superintendents to be joined virtually and in person at the White House.