The Senate Has Voted to Rollback Civil Rights Protections for America’s Children

When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law last year, there was bipartisan support for strong systems that would hold schools responsible for the success of each child. However, yesterday the Senate stripped these provisions from the law on a narrow vote of 50-49. As ESSA is a civil rights law, it’s critical that the nation’s signature education policy include protections for our nation’s underserved communities. The protections the Senate voted down would have helped ensure that states are developing accountability systems that serve all of America’s children.

“Today’s repeal undermines important civil rights protections under ESSA that NCLR and other civil rights groups have worked so hard to secure for Latino students, English learners, and other underserved children,” said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía.

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Eliminating ESSA Accountability Regulations Will Not Help American Students

Including strong accountability regulations in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was critical to NCLR’s support for the law. We worked closely with stakeholders and the Obama administration to help draft and provide meaningful feedback on those rules, which are designed to better track and improve children’s educational performance. However, the recent House vote to strip ESSA of those accountability protections is cause for concern. If the repeal succeeds, it could have dramatic consequences for children around the country.

The accountability regulations guiding states on how to craft their ESSA state plans were finalized this past November. Under ESSA, states were given considerable leeway to create their own accountability plans. However, ensuring equity requires a strong federal responsibility to step in when schools consistently fail to meet the needs of low-income and minority children. The Trump administration has been vocal about their opposition to these accountability protections, and this sentiment was acted on by the House vote to overturn them. Even though a letter from Secretary DeVos encouraged states to continue their planned timelines, she also emphasized that the U.S. Department of Education would be assessing the law in hopes of requiring only what they view as absolutely necessary under ESSA.

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ESSA Implications for Latinos and English Learners

By Dr. Christopher R. McBride, Mariposa Academy of Language and Learning
(This is cross-posted from the National Institute for Latino School Leaders Blog.)

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Latino students represent one of four students in classrooms across the United States and are projected to represent about one in three students by 2030. There are nearly five million English learner (EL) students and 80 percent of them are Spanish speakers. Furthermore, in 2013 only about 61 percent of EL students graduated high school compared to an average of about 75 percent of Hispanic students and over 86 percent of White students. Clearly our Latino and EL populations are growing and we, as a nation, are not meeting their educational needs. If we do not do a better job educating these students to prepare them to succeed in college and life afterward, we will all suffer.

Aware of the facts around Latino and EL students, the question weighing on the minds of many educational leaders is, “How will the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) impact our ability to close the achievement gap for Latinos and English learners?” The answer to this question is that it depends on the specific implementation in your state. ESSA has provided for increased funding for ELs by increasing Title III authorization levels. ESSA also leaves greater discretion to states to develop suitable accountability systems for when they are failing groups of students and has moved accountability for ELs from Title III to Title I. Therefore, it is critical to the success of Latinos and ELs students that states adopt provisions to better track and improve the educational performance of ELs.

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Weekly Washington Outlook — November 30, 2015

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What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Monday, the House will vote on legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • 611– Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act (Sponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 3490– Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act (Sponsored by Rep. John Ratcliffe / Judiciary Committee)
  • R. 3279– Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins / Judiciary Committee)
  • R. 1755– To amend title 36, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the congressional charter of the Disabled American Veterans, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller / Judiciary Committee)
  • R. 2288– To remove the use restrictions on certain land transferred to Rockingham County, Virginia, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 1541– PRISM Act (Sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 2212– To take certain Federal lands located in Lassen County, California, into trust for the benefit of the Susanville Indian Rancheria, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Doug LaMalfa / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 2270– Billy Frank Jr. Tell Your Story Act (Sponsored by Rep. Denny Heck / Natural Resources Committee)
  • 1170– Breast Cancer Research Stamp Reauthorization Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Dianne Feinstein / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

The balance of the week, the House will consider the following:

  • R. 8– North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • J. Res. 23– Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of a rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to “Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified, and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units” (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnell / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • J. Res 24– Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of a rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units” (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito / Energy and Commerce Committee)

In addition, the House is expected to vote on the conference report to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and another conference report to reauthorize surface transportation programs.

Senate:

The Senate will vote on Monday evening on an executive nomination. Later in the week, the Senate may debate a revised version of House-passed budget reconciliation legislation.

White House:

While the White House did not release an official schedule this week, the president will be in Paris attending a climate summit.

Also this Week:

Education – The House will vote on a bipartisan conference report to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (last rewritten as No Child Left Behind) this week. The Senate is expected to follow next week. While the language, released Monday, clearly reflects a compromise, the provisions for English Learners are substantial. For the first time, ELs will be included in a state’s accountability system. The report also establishes standard entry and exit procedures for ELs, includes strong parent notification language, and creates new reporting requirements on ELs with disabilities and long-term ELs. That said, the accountability language delegates much to states and districts to ensure groups of students are meeting challenging goals.

Tax – The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee this week will continue their negotiations over making certain business tax credits and expansions to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit permanent. These credits were enhanced in 2009 as part of the stimulus, but these enhancements expire in 2017. An agreement could be reached in the coming days. However, it has been reported that any possible deal would include a number of “program integrity” provisions targeted at immigrants. Of the options mentioned in news accounts, one would require those applying for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to appear in-person; another would prohibit future DAPA recipients from retroactively amending their tax returns for up to three years to claim the EITC.

Appropriations – There are just two weeks left to pass a spending bill to fund the government beyond December 11. This week, Appropriators are expected to receive their 302(b) allocations, the topline amount for each agency. While the Administration has remained firmly opposed to all controversial policy riders, some lawmakers may still seek language to undermine Dodd-Frank, curtail refugee resettlement, and others.

Puerto Rico – On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Puerto Rico’s financial situation. Puerto Rico’s Governor and the Resident Commissioner are both scheduled to testify. While the Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over bankruptcy reform, Chairman Grassley has been reluctant to move forward without other fiscal and regulatory reforms on the Commonwealth. Also this week, Puerto Rican members of Congress including Reps. Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Serrano (D-N.Y.) are assisting in coordination of a Puerto Rico Day of Action on December 2. Members and advocates will ask Congress to act to help address Puerto Rico’s financial and humanitarian situation.

Health – The Senate may take-up a revised version of House-passed budget reconciliation legislation to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, originally including the employer and individual mandates. However, the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that these provisions could not be altered in the reconciliation process, as they do not relate to revenue or spending. Under budget reconciliation, the Senate only needs a majority rather than sixty votes to move forward. In addition to the ACA provisions, the legislation would also block Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding.

Immigration – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, “Oversight of the Administration’s Criminal Alien Removal Policies.” Elsewhere, it is possible the Senate may move in the coming days to take up legislation related to refugees. Additional House hearings on this subject are also likely.

How Will Our Education System Serve English Learners?

Sen. Patty Murray

Sen. Patty Murray

Efforts are underway in Congress to rewrite No Child Left Behind, hear about what this means for English Learners and Latino students this Thursday!

Join Senator Patty Murray (D–Wash.), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and NCLR Senior Vice President Delia Pompa for a call on reforming the nation’s education system.

This call is closed to the press.

Details:

Date: Thursday, June 4 2015
Time: 2:30 p.m. EST
RSVP: acollins@nclr.org

Call-in number: (866) 952-1907
Conference ID: Reform
Program Title: Education Reform