IEL launched it's first short policy video, highlighting potential progress in reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act through the lens of the community schools movement. The video shows IEL's Coalition for Community Schools Public Policy Manager Mary Kingston Roche in a three-minute recap of recent ESEA legislative efforts.
Watch the video.
Good afternoon, this is Mary Kingston Roche, Public Policy Manager for the Coalition for Community Schools, here to give you a brief update on federal policy and what it means for you. Right now we are in the 114th Congress, which has prioritized ESEA reauthorization. This is also known as No Child Left Behind, which has been the current law since 2002. There have been many attempts to reauthorize this since then, but none have been successful. This is the year that many people think it could happen, and so we need your voice.
On the Senate side, Chairman Lamar Alexander from Tennessee leads the Senate Education committee. He has come out with his discussion bill and is having his committee members look it over. It was done without much input from his ranking member, Senator Murray from Washington. So, as of last week they have decided to work together in a more bipartisan manner. This is good news for us, as Senator Murray has a lot of the same beliefs we do for community schools, and Senator Alexander we feel has the common sense approach to know that we need the right balance of flexibility and accountability in our schools. We are hopeful that this will be a bipartisan bill that we can support. Senator Alexander in the last couple of weeks has held two hearings and one roundtable session to hear from witnesses on the ground. The roundtable included a community school coordinator from Baltimore, Henriette Taylor, who did a wonderful job talking about the importance of community schools. They’re looking to hold a committee markup on the bill in the next couple of weeks, and possibly get it to the Senate floor in the next couple of months.
On the House side, things are much simpler because they are much more partisan. With so many Republicans in the House, they have the ability to vote on bills that are completely partisan, and still get them passed. This is the case with No Child Left Behind reauthorization. Chairman John Kline has introduced a bill very similar to last year that significantly strips the federal role. Ranking member Bobby Scott opposes this so much that he came out with his own Democratic substitute that includes authorization of the Full Service Community Schools program. Just today they held a markup on the bill and it looks like it will pass with all Republican votes and no Democrat votes. We strongly opposed Chairman Kline’s bill last year and are likely to do so again. We’re looking to see a more common sense, bipartisan bill from the House. Chairman Kline has already gotten approval from Speaker Boehner to bring the bill to the House floor by the end of the month, but even if it passes, President Obama is likely to issue a veto threat on it because it is just not in line with the administration’s views.
So what does this mean for you? Even though things are still pretty partisan on both sides we think that there is a good chance for ESEA to reauthorize and we need your help. We need you to go to our website at www.communityschools.org, review our letter of policy recommendations for ESEA, and send those to your members of Congress along with stories of success from your communities. This will show them that in their very backyards are success stories of community schools that they should replicate at the federal level.
Thank you in advance for doing this, and we look forward to staying in touch and keeping you updated on federal policy.