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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  May 19, 2016 1:30pm-3:31pm EDT

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epa representative was acting very intimidating and informed me i needed to sign the release, even though i did not own the property, which is a clear violation. i felt very intimidated and compelled to sign the release, even though i did not want to do so. upon signing the release, i asked the epa official what was so urgent in trying to obtain access to my yard. the epa officials responded that they are in tarant, alabama, which is right there, a suburb of birmingham, to shut down the abc coke plant. does the epa discipline employees who act in such an overzealous manner? >> congressman, any time we have an allegation of misconduct, we investigate it. and if the investigation shows that misconduct has occurred, then we will take action to hold the employee accountable. >> so do you punish that or do you encourage it? >> again, congressman, when an
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allegation occurs of misconduct, we investigate it. and as agent sullivan -- or director sullivan specified, one of the things that occurs on many investigations is the investigation does not find any wrongdoing. when it does, we take appropriate follow-up action to hold the employee accountable. >> well, i would like to point out that this is not the only affidavit like this. there are several others. and you know, we're not going to release them, not going to enter them into the record or use their names at this time. but do you believe it is appropriate for the epa personnel to pressure and intimidate citizens into endorsing the epa's agenda? >> congressman, i'm not familiar with the specifics that you're referring to. i will be happy to -- >> the specifics here are the epa employee forced this renter to give access to property they didn't have legal access to in
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an intimidating manner, and then afterwards told them that the whole point of the investigation was to shut down a legal business. is that how the epa does business? do you encourage your employees to do that? do you allow them to intimidate? do you allow them to operate outside the law? are you aware that this goes on? >> congressman, again, i'm not familiar with the specifics of the cases you're -- >> i'm asking you in general. >> in general, we ask employees to behave in accordance with good, solid standards of professional conduct. >> well, they don't always. do you believe it's appropriate for epa employees to seek to shut down a legitimate business that employs many people? >> again, congressman, our job is to go out and to enforce the law, to make sure the people are protected and that the laws are followed. that is what we do. >> let me tell you, i've got a number of issues with the epa, how they do business, how they
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handle their investigations. senator richard shelvey, senator jeff sessions and i sent a letter to administrator mccarthy and regional administrator for region four, heatherer mcteer tony back on february 26th of this year, asking for information about the epa's investigation of this area. and got a letter back saying with respect to your concerns about the epa's enforcement approach and/or fears of liability against any prp associated with the site. unfortunately, the epa cannot engage in any level of discussions with third parties, including members of congress, as articulated in memorandum -- and i've got the memorandum here. that seems to me to undermine our oversight ability. and i intend, mr. chairman, to look into this further. i would like to enter my letter and the epa's response into the
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record, if there are no objections. >> without objection, so ordered. >> i yield the balance of my time. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i thank the gentleman from alabama. the gentle woman from illinois, ms. kelly, is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. mr. meiburg and mr. sullivan, thank you for being here. misconduct from a few bad apples gives all of the other hard-working federal employees a bad name. as elected officials, we can relate to that, too. our goal was to ensure that agencies act swiftly and fairly in cases like these. this committee has worked with agencies to improve and streamline their internal procedures while preserving employee writings. today we've heard about e new policies and information-sharing processes at epa and the ig. mr. sullivan, in your testimony, you state that since the committee's hearing on epa misconduct in april 2015, the agency's internal adjudication process has, and i quote, "dramatically improved," is that correct? >> yes, ms. kelly, that's correct. >> thank you.
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mr. meiburg, these improvements at epa have occurred through changes in administrative policy and process, not through legislative change, is that correct? >> yes, congresswoman, that's correct. >> mr. meiburg, in your opinion, do managers at your agency have sufficient tools under current law to deal with allegations of misconduct like the ones we've heard about today? >> congresswoman, i do, in fact, believe that. it is always the case, as ranking member cummings said in his opening statement, that we can always do better, and we strive to do that. but we believe we have the tools we need in the agency to execute effective conduct and discipline. >> okay. it's important to remember that due process protections in our federal civil service laws are there for a reason. in may 2015, the merit system protection board issued a report that stated, and i quote, "more than a century ago, the government operated under a spoiled system in which employees could be removed for any reason, including membership in a different political party than the president or publicly
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disclosing agency wrongdoing. the result of such a system was appointment and retention decisions based on political favoritism, constitutional due process protections arose from the law that congress enacted to fix that broken system." mr. meiburg, is removing due process from civil service laws necessary to address serious misconduct? >> congresswoman, we believe that we can address serious misconduct through the application of our processes that do, in fact, protect due process. >> mr. sullivan, do you agree that without a legislative change, it is possible that improvements can be made within agencies that streamline the disciplinary process? >> yes, ms. kelly, i agree with that. >> are the changes at epa an example of such improvement? >> yes. i can tell you from my personal experience the bi-weekly meetings have dramatically improved the process. >> thank you. it seems to me that agencies currently have the tools to deal with allegations of misconduct, but they sometimes do not use
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them as efficiently and effectively as they could. i think that is exactly when this committee, through its oversight function, can help agencies improve their procedures. thank you, and i yield back the balance of my time. >> i thank the gentle woman from illinois. i'll recognize myself for five minutes. mr. sullivan, thank you for the testimony and for the dedicated work of your office of inspector general within the epa. i would like to thank you especially for the work of the oig in cooperation with this committee to shed light on the misconduct at the epa and efforts to bring about accountability and reform within that agency. we recognize your progress while still acknowledging there are still many ongoing challenges within the agency's personl and management. we know the long-term reform and improvements to personnel management requires more than just new procedures and updates to manuals. it requires active support from leadership top to bottom to foster a culture of integrity, accountability and best
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practices. would you agree, mr. sullivan? >> yes, sir, i do. >> mr. meiburg, you're currently serving in one of the top leadership posts at the epa, right? >> yes, sir, that's right. >> it seems from our discussion today you're pretty astute about the law, right? >> i am not a lawyer. i will not make that claim. >> no, but you've been very articulate about the banter from both sides in regards to this claim or that claim. you're pretty articulate about that, right? >> thank you. that's not for me to judge. >> well, i mean, mr. hice actually engaged on you because you were the administrator that actually made the decision on that case, so you're pretty familiar with, you know, personnel management, right? >> yes. over the course of my career, i had a number of conduct and discipline cases come before me as the deciding official. >> now, could you please describe your job description? >> i am the agency's chief operating officer and i perform such duties as are assigned to me by the administrator. >> now let's go through that. you're serving as the acting epa
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deputy administrator. and you should, though, understand the law, right? >> i am, again, serving in -- >> no, but you should understand the law. i mean, you're predicating this based on understanding the law and all those underneath you should be following you. and you've also been nominated by the president to serve as the epa deputy administrator under the federal vacancies reform act and case law, do you realize you cannot serve in acting capacity for an office you've been nominated for? >> congressman, i am aware of the legal case you're referring to and have been assured by counsel that it is lawful. >> moreover, do you realize your actions have no force and effect in the law and what i'm actually talking to you about is you're the ceo. you're applying these laws. so they basically go away. i'd like to have the name of the counsel that gave you that information, because it's in total violation of federal statute and law. could you provide that to the
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committee for -- >> yes, we'll be happy to do that. >> have you ever discussed with anyone at the epa the fact that under the federal vacancies reform act, you cannot serve as the acting deputy director after you've been nominated to serve in the same office? are you concerned that your actions can and will be challenged, given that they have no force or effect under the law? >> congressman, i have been in consultation with our counsel and have been assured -- >> i would like all names of the individuals that gave you that because that's contradictory to federal law. do you believe you should step down as the acting epa deputy administrator given that the law says that your actions have no force or effect? >> again, congressman, i've been consulting with counsel that all of my actions -- >> i want all individuals that gave you that consultation's name and titles. your actions in defiance of the law by your agency and this administration baffles me. moreover, it does not surprise me. the epa under this president has a long history of blatant disregard for the law and disrespect for the oversight authority of congress.
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your boss, epa administrator gina mccarthy, committed perjury and made several false statements at multiple congressional hearings trying to defend the fact-defining waters of the united states regulations. on numerous occasions, administrator mccarthy not only broke the law by lying to congress, but in doing so, she also lied to the american people in order to force misguided and overreaching regulations that have no scientific basis down our throats. perjury before congress is perjury to the american people and an affront to the core principles of our republic and the rule of law. you actually sitting here impersonating the ceo, being operative to that office by the president is a front to that as well. that's why i've introduced articles of impeachment to remove administrator mccarthy from office. but before you get too excited, mr. meiburg, thinking you may get another astronomical promotion in mccarthy's place, i think you should step down as well. you cannot serve as the acting official when you're nominated to fill that place permanently.
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it's against the law, plain and simple. the personnel management within the epa is a mess, but that is no surprise when the agency's top officials are willful, law-breakers themselves. you create that culture, and that's why you were set up accordingly. that's why it's going to be really nice for me, because we have figured a way to make sure that those impeachment proceedings go to the floor and make somebody atone for their actions. it's actually a mess, and it's sad that we have to bring this, particularly when you should know the rules better. and that goes along with the counsel. so, i will expect those names of all those counsel and their titles immediately to this committee for review. i thank you and i'm disgusted. i now recognize the gentle woman from district of columbia, ms. norton. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you, mr. meiburg and mr. sullivan for being here. to get back to one of the themes
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of this hearing, i've been interested to hear about the discipline has been given on improved coordination between epa and the ig. and the reason that interests me is that we obviously want to reduce the time that employees spend on administrative leave when, obviously, they're not doing anything for the agency. so i'm interested in the investigative process. i recognize that it takes time, you can't cut corners, you can be sued. and i also understand that some of these investigations can be very complex. mr. sullivan, i'm interested in funding available to the agency to do the job that needs to be done in investigating. can you tell me what the
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staffing levels are for the team that investigates misconduct allegations? >> yes, ma'am. i could tell you in general, the current authorized fte for the inspector general's office as a whole is 289 employees. that's dropped in the last five years from 360. in my office, i had an authorized fte strength of 76 five years ago. i'm now down to 61. but because of the uncertainty in the budget, i haven't been able to hire back up to 61. i now have 55 full-time employees and 50 of which are special agents. the rest are professional support staff or scientists or computer forensic people. i have five agents assigned to our office of professional responsibility here in washington, d.c., and those agents work exclusively in misconduct investigations on gs-15s, scs and presidential appointees or political appointees. in the field i have another 34 agents that work not only
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misconduct investigations, they also work most of the grant and contract fraud. the fraud cases are the bread and butter of the ig. most of our criminal investigative work goes into trying to recoup the government's money, people that have stolen the money, the grant money, the contract money that epa has put out. so, to answer your question, ma'am, i have five full-time agents working nothing but misconduct in headquarters and approximately 34 other agents working a combination of fraud cases, theft cases, threat cases and misconduct cases in the field. >> when i hear staffing levels like this, it reminds me about what we're all seeing on television with tsa. i can't believe -- this is all because everybody's decided to get on a plane. i think at some point, congress has to understand that if you want people to do the job, there has to be a certain number of people to do it. now, tsa is one thing, and they've been under great criticism because they've not always been able to keep,
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according to the gao, stuff, weapons from getting through. so that's an interesting case. this, of course, is another level of complexity. and i'm going to have to ask you candidly, how can these investigators keep from cutting corners with these kinds of staffing levels you've described that apparently have changed during your time at the agency? >> ma'am, i would -- i have seen no evidence of any of my agents cutting corners, but what i have testified to previously, earlier in the hearing, is that i'm concerned that cases take way too much time to come to conclusion because, frankly, it's like the analogy of planes circling and when do the planes land? they land when the investigation's complete. >> but investigating employees' misconduct isn't the only
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responsibility of the ig. >> that's right, ma'am. we have fraud and threat cases. we have quite a few threat investigations that we have right now. so, we are constantly juggling. and obviously, we prioritize every day, almost like an emergency room, you triage. we investigate and handle the most important cases first, but you still have to take care of the other cases that are in the pipeline. >> what about the nonemployee misconduct? related investigations that the ig conducts? >> yes, most of our cases are, in fact, not misconduct. about approximately -- >> nonemployee. >> yeah, approximately 60% of our cases are a combination of the fraud cases, threat cases, assault cases or theft. when i say theft, not theft by employees, theft by outsiders. some are getting into a federal facility and stealing computers or stealing other equipment. >> well, there's a limit, and i think we're beginning to see what the limits are. i wish you luck with the appropriations process. >> thank you, ma'am.
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>> thank the gentle woman. i now recognize the gentleman from michigan, mr. walberg, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thanks to the panel. mr. meiburg, this isn't the first time this committee has looked into the epa for its questionable foia practices. that's an issue i'd like to address. epa has been notorious for having extremely long delays in responding to foia requests. in fact, one of our witnesses, recent witnesses in a previous hearing here, mark edwards, a waters expert, professor at virginia tech, testified that he awaited several years for his foia request to be completed. in fact, many of his requests were filled the day after he appeared before this committee on the flint water issue.
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this case as well as others i believe very clearly and should diminish the public's confidence in epa's ability to be open and transparent. and so, could you tell us why it takes epa so long for these foia requests to be filled? >> congressman, i'll just speak very generally to this on a couple of matters. one is that we take our foia responsibilities very seriously, and we have found in recent years there has been a substantial increase in the number of foia requests we have received. in responding to that, we tried to put together a foia expert assistance team to assist us in searching through documents and making sure that we are fully responsive. >> when was that team initiated? >> that team was initiated within the last year or so. >> are we seeing improvements on that, that you can tell us about? >> we're working very hard. i don't have any statistics for you today, but we'll be glad to get back to you with more information. >> i appreciate that, because i
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know that you have to get a lot of requests, undoubtedly. we're dealing with very emotional issues, substantive issues, waters of the u.s., flint water crisis where issues, waters of the u.s., flint water crisis where government failed at all levels and people have been hurt. there certainly is emotional issues dealing with requests that go on. but there are reasons why epa has been brought in front of us on several occasions dealing with foia, and i'd hope that would be addressed. going on to purchase cards that was introduced in i believe our chairman's opening comments. how can epa keep better track of the purchase cards and the usage of those cards by your employees? >> congressman, we've made a number of changes in response to interest from the inspector general's office and this committee and our own management
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concerned about this to put in place better systems for keeping track of activities that occur in purchase cards and flagging anything that would be suspect. so we feel like we've made considerable progress on this over the last couple of years. >> has there been an audit done relative to the employees to make sure that we're not missing things? >> on the financial audit, we've had a clean audit opinion for the last several years, but we're always continuing to follow up and make sure we have appropriate systems in place that detect any misconduct. >> well, then why is it that epa employees who spend thousands of dollars of epa taxpayer money on personal expenses can get away with not having to reimburse the agency? >> congressman, we've been -- obviously, we share your concern about that. the cases that are before us today are cases that were over -- for the most part, as director sullivan specified -- were over a couple years ago. we feel like we've made progress going forward to identify those cases and address them.
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>> well, the particular individual that expended over $22,000 in international roaming charges while vacationing -- and i think we make that clear -- while vacationing abroad, will that employee be required to reimburse the agency? >> congressman, i'm glad you brought that particular case up, because we are going back and trying to make another effort to recover the costs from that. >> what's the challenge? >> the challenge is going to be to determine which calls even an employee on vacation may have made work-related contact back to the agency, even while they were on vacation. we need to make sure we can separate those out to make a credible claim. >> mr. sullivan, can you add any information to that, relative to that specific individual? >> yes, mr. walberg. the individual actually resigned before we presented our findings to the agency. and then as a follow-up, the agency preliminarily determined that it was too difficult to decide of that $22,000 how many may have been work-related.
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recently, though, as mr. meiburg said, the agency came back to us, i believe in april, last month, and said they are taking a second look at it and trying to present a bill to that former employee. >> well, i hope a second look would be taken at it, and i applaud that effort and want to see that completed. but in the end, if there is fraudulence or criminal involvement with this employee, i would hope that we could get after them. if not, we'd appreciate you telling us how we can assist you in making law in place where we can take employees who are ruining the credibility of other good government employees attempting to do the job in the best way possible, and yet, a cloud is put on them because of people who are willing to misuse their purposes and the cards and tools that they have. so, help us out with that. i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. i now recognize the gentleman from south carolina, mr. mulvaney. >> thank you, chairman.
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mr. meiburg, i want to follow up on a couple of questions that were raised during your discussion with mr. palmer. he was talking specifically about a circumstance in alabama where, to use his language, there was an allegedly overzealous epa employee. we hear this all the time. it ranges from the terms overzealous to shakedown, depending on who you're talking to. and i guess the question that didn't get asked, because we sort of ran out of time, is this -- has anybody ever been fired for doing that? >> congressman, i can't cite a specific example of somebody -- and i'm going to interpret your question and i need to know if i'm hearing it correctly -- that have been fired for -- >> overreaching, using their position to intimidate somebody, using their position -- to intimidate somebody. enforcing the law is what we hire you folks to do, right? but occasionally, i guess it's possible that a bureaucrat, that
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a government employee might overreach. they might not like the person they're dealing with. they might not like what they're doing. they might not approve of the business that person is in. i used to be a real estate developer, and i can assure you there are a lot of folks who hug trees who don't like what i used to do for a living, so the temptation may be there for an ordinary human being to use that power that the government gives to them as an employee of the state to say, you know what, i'm going to push a little harder here, i'm going to stick it to this person. do you remember a single circumstance of anybody at the epa ever being fired for that in your 40 years there? >> congressman, i appreciate -- first of all, i appreciate your observation about the job of law enforcement's oftentimes not a popular job or designed to make everybody like you. i am not aware in my own experience of a case similar to what i'm hearing you say as someone who overused or abused their authority and was subsequently terminated solely for that reason, but i'll ask the staff to go back and look and see if there is such a thing. >> mr. sullivan, if there are
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allegations of that, like in the example that mr. palmer mentioned, that someone had been overzealous, perhaps exceeded their authority -- let's use that term. maybe that's a little bit more neutral. would that rise to the level of something the oig would look at? >> it could, but this is the first i'm hearing. mr. palmer brought this issue up. it's not to my knowledge been brought to the inspector general's office as an allegation of misconduct. >> again, i'm using his example, he knows much more about the example in alabama than i ever will. so, my question's more general -- have you ever investigated allegations of overreaching authority on behalf of, on the part of an epa employee? >> yes. yes. >> do you recall anybody ever being terminated for that action? >> off the top of my head, i
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can't recall specifically how the cases were adjudicated. but for example, we had allegations of people using their position to get a favor, something that's not readily available to an average citizen. >> okay. >> those type of instances. we've also had instances where people may have used government property to their personal gain, misused a government vehicle, let's say, misused government funds. >> okay. and there is actually -- there was a fairly high-profile -- at least it's high profile to us because it's in our briefing materials -- about the employee in i guess the san francisco area who lent out a trailer or a piece of equipment to an environmentalist group or something like that? are you gentlemen familiar with those facts and circumstances? >> i am familiar with that case. >> again, that person was not fired. >> was not fired. >> maybe my question is this, in my last minute -- give me a couple examples. what does it take to get fired from the epa? what do you have to do? do i have to kill somebody or is it a little short of that? >> it can be a little short of that, yes. >> okay. >> there are cases where we've
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done terminations. in my experience, i've done terminations. and the kinds of behaviors that are involved are pretty unpleasant and not the kind of things that you would certainly want to ever have an employee engage in. but when they engage in those kind of things on a case-by-case basis, considering the employee's due process rights and making sure that as a deciding official you follow -- you've got all the facts, you can prove the allegations, you've followed the regulations process, that you do, in fact, terminate employees. >> help me understand, mr. meiburg, and again, i recognize that we're speaking in generalities. but if you had to sort of estimate between -- when you're dealing with allegations of impropriety, and there are serious allegations and you determine them to be valid allegations, that have substance to them, what percentage of people quit or retire versus get fired under those circumstances? >> congressman, i don't have an exact percentage, but it is not uncommon that people found themselves faced with proposed termination, will make the election to retire or resign. >> and they can keep their
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benefits, right? >> we have no authority under law -- >> i'm not saying you that do. the answer is, yes, they do get to keep their benefits? >> except for cases of treason or espionage or aiding terrorist groups. >> let me close with this. as a manager, which is was you are, you manage people, right? i used to do it, you do it, you've done it for a long time at epa. would it actually make your job easier if we gave you that tool to on a case-by-case basis, or expand the existing case-by-case basis, to deny people who have been found to have acted improperly, to deny them some or ail of their benefits even if they chose retirement or resignation over termination? >> congressman, i think i would answer that simply by saying that i think we have the abilities under our existing administrative tools to appropriately address conduct and misconduct and to hold employees accountable. and i'd want to make sure we're using those tools as effectively as we can. >> but this additional tool
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would help you, wouldn't it? >> that would be speculation, congressman. i really couldn't say. >> we do it all the time, but thank you very much. >> i thank the gentleman and now recognize the gentle woman from the virgin islands for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. good morning. >> good morning. >> good morning. >> during last april's hearing at the epa manage issues, chairman chaffetz highlighted what he called "management failures" at the epa. i'm not sure if that characterization is an appropriate one, and it appears that we are still in discussion about this today. but i wanted to discuss what has occurred since last april, and it's my understanding that the epa has taken significant steps to address weaknesses in the disciplinary process. i don't think that necessarily firing a bunch of people means that you're a good manager. that may be the sign of a poor manager that constantly has to fire people, rather than bring them up to speed and make them an appropriate worker. but mr. meiburg, your testimony
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described the progress epa has made, and you state -- and i'm quoting here -- "as a result of the work of this committee and especially ranking member cummings, we have improved our working relationship with oig, which has enabled us to take more efficient administrative actions." would you care to elaborate on that, sir, on that statement? >> only to say, again, that this has been a two-way street, and we feel that we have reached out to the inspector general's office. the inspector general's office has reached out to us in pursuit of a common objective, which is we want to make sure that employees are held accountable in the conduct and the misconduct cases are dealt with appropriately, while also making sure that we do that in a way that protects -- >> so how is that different than your relationship previously? >> i really couldn't say for the agency as a whole from before the time i got here, but i think there's been reach-out on both sides, and it's really commendable.
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>> mr. sullivan, would you agree with that? and your statement -- i'm going to quote from you -- that the "agency's internal adjudication process has dramatically improved." is that correct? >> yes miss plaskett. i'll explain the process prior to us having this bi-weekly meeting. for example, if we had a misconduct investigation in denver or san francisco, the folks at headquarters had very little visibility on that, and it may languish for months or years, whereas now every misconduct investigation that's pending across the agency, mr. meiburg's staff, the attorneys at epa headquarters and the labor and employee relations folks, we meet bi-weekly. and that case here before that may have been languishing in san francisco or seattle or wherever is no longer allowed to languish. the folks at epa headquarters have visibility on it and they are pushing it along to make sure that those cases are addressed appropriately and expeditiously. >> and you would say that the cases are moving at a much faster pace to closure than they were previously?
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>> absolutely, yes, ma'am. that's correct. >> and you have evidence of that? quantitative evidence of that? >> yes, yes. i could tell you that within the past year we've successfully closed -- well, the agency has determined what disciplinary action to take, if any, and we have successfully closed our cases out at a much higher rate. we can't close the case until we hear back from the agency as to what they're going to do. >> okay. and have you been satisfied with the recommendations that the agency has made on those cases? >> well, ma'am, that's something that -- our job is to collect the facts in a fair, unbiased manner. it's not relevant my opinion whether i think discipline's appropriate or not. i defer completely to the agency in that regard. >> got you. and you said that the process that you're describing, mr. sullivan, and you quote, "i believe this process can serve as a best practices model for the federal government." is that correct? >> yes, ma'am. i've spoke to mr. cummings' staff and mr. chaffetz's staff and they're taking an effort to reach out to the entire ig
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community using the epa as a model to educatehe rest of the ig community that maybe there's a way to get these cases moved faster governmentwide. >> i think that that would alleviate this committee maybe having to have as many hearings as they have to these other agencies, and we can get on with the actual work of congress if we were to do that. but would you support efforts to encourage, then, governmentwide adoption of this? and your office would be willing to work with this committee to do that? >> we certainly do support that and we have worked with the committee. but one caveat. the epa, we're somewhat unique in that we don't have any subcomponents. there's just one epa and there's one ig. if you take dhs or the department of justice, they have multiple subcomponents, and the model that we have in epa probably wouldn't work in a department that has multiple subcomponents, just to put that out.
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>> and have you thought about what would work in agencies like that? >> no, ma'am, i really haven't given that much thought. >> we've got to get you thinking on this, mr. sullivan. >> thank you. >> okay. so, it seems to me that epa and ig have shown that better coordination and communication can help agencies take administrative action more quickly in misconduct cases, and i'm really grateful for the work that you've done since april, from our first hearing, to actually address many of these issues, move these cases along to closure. i don't believe that having managed many people working at department of justice with the deputy attorney general's office, managing 9,000 attorneys, that necessarily firing people is the measure by which one determines that you've done a good job in terms of dealing with misconduct. so i'm grateful for the work that you all have done and yield the balance of my time. >> i thank the gentle woman. a couple housekeeping measures. mr. meiburg, mr. mica would like to know for the record and have you answer back to committee how many of the employees at the epa get bonuses. >> we will supply that.
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>> we will appreciate that. i also want to make sure we have dates certain so the names and titles of the people that gave you the permission, i would expect that in two weeks. can't be very many. i would expect them in two weeks. >> we'll supply that. >> i'm a taskmaster, okay? one last thing. mr. sullivan, are you aware of the federal vacancies reform act? >> in general terms, sir, not in specificity. >> are you aware of anybody that had the same plausible conflict that's been made aware of today in this committee with mr. meiburg? >> no. i'm generally aware of the issue involving mr. meiburg, but we were told by the agency that it's not an issue based on their counsel's opinion. but we have not investigated that issue to my knowledge. >> did we also have the names from the people that you consulted at the epa that gave you the talking points that -- >> right. our counsel's office -- i know i was briefed that it was an issue, but i will get back to
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the committee on that through our counsel's office and i'll let you know. >> yeah. i guess we have a gentleman right here, mr. duncan from tennessee, who is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair -- [ inaudible ] >> okay. so, with that, i would love those names within two weeks as well, the counsel that talked to you about that and any other cases in regards to -- >> well, i didn't speak directly to anyone from the epa counsel. i was just briefed in my office by my counsel's office, i believe, or at a meeting, that this issue came up and it's not -- according to the agency's general counsel, it's not an issue. that's what i was told. >> yeah. i'd like to know from your counsel, the counsel from the epa that they actually instructed this wasn't a problem. >> yes, sir. >> you do see the conflict, because according to the federal vacancies reform act, anything that mr. meiburg may be implementing may be null and void based upon the premise that it's actually placed there. and so, you know, the culture that we're building here is predicated on the culture that exists at the top levels. and because you do lead by example, and that's what the problem is in this application. so, okay. >> yes, sir. i understand the task and we'll
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get back to you. >> well, i will acknowledge mr. duncan for -- >> well, mr. chairman, i'm sorry. i was over on the floor and didn't get to hear some of this. but i am curious. i've read some of the material here about some of these employees who have been watching all this pornography for hours at a time and then employees that have admitted stealing thousands of dollars from the epa. have all these employees -- or have any of these employees been fired? >> mr. duncan, mr. congressman, again, there's a large number -- of the cases that we looked at here, many of the employees are no longer with the agency. there were cases where people were proposed for termination and then resigned. >> and they resigned? >> yes.
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>> so you don't have any employees now at the epa who have been found to have stolen money or have spent hours watching pornography and so forth? they've either left or resigned? >> congressman, there are employees who have resigned or been terminated, and there are employees who have been disciplined in other means in resignation or termination. some of them are still with the agency. >> disciplined. in what ways do you discipline somebody like that? >> congressman, there's a wide range of disciplinary actions that are available to a deciding official based on consideration of all the factors, such as how long the employee's been in the agency, the severity of the crime or the severity of the misconduct, and they include all the way from -- they can go all the way from reprimands to suspensions for a period of time to a reduction in grade. >> and i'm assuming that you've changed some of these policies to make sure that this type of activity doesn't continue in the future? >> yes, we've changed a number of policies. and i think the staff came up and briefed the committee staff
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on policies and changes we made specifically with respect to the viewing of pornography. so, yes. >> all right. thank you very much. >> i thank the gentleman. if there is no further business, i thank the witnesses for their appearance here today. without any further business, without objection, the committee stands adjourned. >> thank you.
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you'll hard fro governor christie and the nominee live at 7:00 p.m. eastern. and sunday night on c-span, the state opening of the british
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parliament. queen elizabeth delivered a speech on the british priorities for the coming year. and we'll show you bbc's coverage on this state of the parliament. to honor seventh graders annika osterling and corey norwalk and sasha bait. the bus as made a stop to honor the eighth graders and james elliott won for his video titled lgbt rights, stop the discrimination. the two were honored in front of their classmates, family members and local officials receiving
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$250 for the local video. comcast charter coordinated it. you can view all of the documentaries at studentcam.org. now, a hearing on implementation of the every student succeeds act. that's the k through 12 education path late last year, it replaced the no child left behind act. the education committee looked at issues such as funding for high poverty schools, opportunities for disabled students. lamar alexander chaired the committee. the senate committee will please come to order. senator murray and i will each
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have an opening statement and the senators will have five minutes of questions each. i'm delighted to have this group here. this is an extraordinary group with broad perspective about children and elementary and secondary education. we welcome your comments on how we implement the new reauthorization of the elementary and secondary education act. this is our third of six hearings to discuss the implementation of the every student succeeds act which the president signed in december. it's the second opportunity for this committee to hear from states, school districts, teachers, principals and others that helped us pass this overwhelmingly bipartisan law and working together to implement it in a way that's consistent with congressional intent. i want to focus my markings on the administration's supposed
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not supplant. in my view, they are earned an "f." the reason for that is that the regulation violates the law as implemented since 1970s. in writing the new law last year congress debated and ultimately chose to leave unchanged a provision in the law referred to as comparability. that is section 1605. this provision says, school districts have to provide at least comparable services with state and local funding to title one schools and nontitle one schools, but the law plainly states that school districts shall not include teacher pay when they measure spending for purposes of comparability. that's been the law since 1970. we didn't change it last year. there is an entirely separate provision known as supplement not supplant that is intended to keep local school districts from
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using federal title one dollars as a replacement for state and local dollars in low-income schools. what the department's proposed supplement not supplant regulation attempts to do is to change comparability by writing a new regulation governing supplement not supplant. in other words, their proposal would force school districts to include teacher salaries in how they measure state and local spending and would require each title one school be at least equal to the average spent in nontitle one schools. the effect of this would be to violate the law as implemented since 1970, section 1605. so the administration may get an "a" for cleverness, but an "f" for following the law in my opinion. the negotiating rule-making committee couldn't agree on the proposal. one member, a witness here today, tony evers, said congressional intent isn't
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necessarily being followed here, unquote. last week the nonpartisan congressional research service said the same thing. crs issued a report that said, quote, the department's interpretation appears to go beyond what would be required under a plain language reading of the statute. crs found that the proposed supplement not supplant regulations quote, appear to directly conflict, unquote, with statutory language that, quote, seems to place clear limits on the department's authority and thus raises significant doubts about the department's legal basis for proposed solutions for proposed regulations, unquote. today i'm looking forward to hearing from witnesses whether what i've been hearing from principals and teachers and educational leaders across the country is true. here's what i've been hearing. that the department's proposed regulation could turn upside down the funding formulas of almost all of the state and
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local school systems across the country. most states and local districts allocate k-12 funding to schools based on staffing ratios. this often results in different amounts going to different schools, and the same district because teacher salaries vary from school to school for reasons having nothing to do with the school's participation in title one. instead, salaries vary because of teacher experience or merit pay or subject or grade level they teach. two, i've been hearing that the proposed regulation could effectively require wholesale transfers of teachers and the breaking of collective bargaining agreements. number three, i've been hearing that school districts won't receive enough funds to comply with the proposed regulation. number four, that students could be forced to change schools. number five, that the proposed regulation could increase the segregation of low income and high income students. and number six, that it could require state and local school
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districts to move back to the burdensome practice of detailing every individual cost on which they spend money to provide a basic education program to all students which is exactly what we trying to free states and districts from when we passed the law. according to the counsel of great city schools, the proposed regulation would cost $3.9 billion a year just for their 69 urban school systems to eliminate the differences in spending between schools. what the department has done for the first time is to try to put together the two major provisions of law that have always been separate. on comparability, which is the first one, members of this committee discussed and debated changing this provision. we discussed it at great length over the last six years. senator bennett of colorado has lots of experience with this. had one proposal. i had another.
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we ultimately decided not to make changes in comparability. instead, we included more transparency in the form of public reporting on the amount districts are spending on each student, including teachers salaries so parents and teachers know how much money is being spent and can make their own decisions about what to do rather than the federal government mandating it be used in comparability calculations. then on the second provision on supplement not supplant, we address this provision and made changes with an effort to simplify the law and make it -- not make it more complicated. by no stretch of the imagination did we intend to -- does any of the language in the law say that supplement not supplant may be used to modify the comparability provision. in fact, we specifically prohibited that. we prohibited expressly the secretary from requiring local school districts to identify individual costs or services as supplemental.
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we prohibited the secretary from prescribing any specific methodology that districts use to distribute state and local funds. and most importantly, we prohibited the secretary from requiring a state and local school district or school to equalize spending. the proposed regulation is nothing less than a brazen effort to deliberately ignore a law that passed the senate 85-15, passed the house 359-64 and was signed by the president. no one has to guess what the law says. as the congressional research service says, we can just read its plain language. and if the administration can't follow language on this, it raises grave questions about what we might expect from future regulations. senator murray. >> well, thank you chairman alexander for holding this hearing. i really appreciate all of our witnesses for taking the time to
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be here with us today. last year, as you know, chairman alexander and i worked together on legislation to fix no child left behind. and we both agreed, in fact, nearly everyone across the country agreed the law had been badly broken and i'm proud we were able to break-through that partisan gridlock and find common ground and pass the every student succeeds act with strong bipartisan support. at its heart, the nation's primary elementary and secondary education law is a civil rights law and it is in that spirit that i along with my colleagues work to help make sure all students will have access to a quality education regardless of where they live or how they learn or how much money their parents make. now that our law is on the books, i'm committed to making sure it helps our students and our parents and our teachers and our schools in my home state and across the country. as a reminder, here is what our education law.
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the every student succeeds act gives states more flexibility. but it also includes strong federal guard rails for states as they design their accountability systems. it preserves the department's rule, to implement and enforce the laws federal requirements and also reduces reliance on high-stakes testing and makes significant new investments to improve and expand access to preschool for our nation's youngest learners to name just a few provisions of the law. right now the department of education and states are taking this law from legislative text to action steps. while the department goes through this process, and as states develop new systems and policies, i'll continue to closely monitor several issues to make sure our law lives up to its intent, to provide all students with a high quality education. i expect the department to use its full authority under the every student succeeded act to hold schools and states
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accountable. while we were writing this law, we were deliberate in granting the department the authority to regulate on the law and hold schools and states accountable for education and that includes things such as making sure states and districts take action every year to improve student achievement in any school that has groups of students who are struggling. i'll be taking a close look at any guidance and regulations from the department for school intervention and support. those things will be critical to helping low performing schools improve. one important part of holding states responsibility for educating every child is fiscal accountability. i hear from teachers and principals in my home state of washington about how important federal funding is to support their work. we need to make sure we support local and state resources and do not simply replace them. the regulation known as supplement not supplant is an important fiscal accountability measure, it is important to get this right. many stakeholders, including teachers and administrators and
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civil rights groups have provided thoughts on how to regulate in this area. i hope as the process moves forward the department will continue to work with these groups on this issue. collaboration will be critical, not just for one particular regulation or another but throughout the process to implement the every student succeeds act. getting information from parents and right groups is essential in making sure the law works in the coming months and years. i've been frustrated to hear from many stakeholders that they don't feel like they have a seat at the table as their states work on implementation and that includes teachers who aren't receiving timeoff to be part of state planning sessions and parents who can't attend meetings during the work day. a long with the ranking member bobby scott in the house have asked the department to help states and districts eliminate the systemic barriers that stakeholders face in getting involved in the implementation process. i'll continue to encourage stake holders like all of those
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represented here today it and many more to stay active and make their voices heard throughout the implementation process. it is up to all of us to uphold the legacy and promise of the primary education law works for all students and i look forward to hearing from everyone today on how we can make sure that this law helps provide a good education for every child. thank you. >> thank you, senator murray, and thanks to you and the other members of the committee for your hard work on this legislation. i'm pleased to welcome seven witnesses to our hearing today. thank you to each of you for coming and for all you've done to help improve the education of the nation's children. senator hatch, former chairman of this committee, will introduce our first witness. who is miss lily garcia, president of the national education association. senator hatch. >> thank you, and i appreciate this opportunity and i'm pleased to be here today and grateful we could be joined by a true leader in education policy, lily garcia. i consider myself lucky to know
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lily. and even luckier to call her a friend. it is truly an honor to introduce her to the committee today. miss garcia has had a remarkable path in education. she began her career as a cafeteria worker and became an aide to a special education teacher. and as young mother, she worked her way through the university of utah where she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in education and laster earned a master's degree in instructional technology. she taught fourth and fifth and sixth grade at orchard elementary at the granite school district in utah. and while in utah, she also worked with homeless children in a single classroom, mentored student teachers and acted as a peer assistant team leader. after demonstrating her effectiveness in the classroom,
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she was named utah teacher of the year in 1989. her passion for education extended beyond the classroom. and eventually led her to a career in policy making. she served as president of the utah education association before joining the national education association where she has served as a leader since 1996. in 2014, she was elected to serve as the president of the nea. she was instrumental in helping congress pass the every student succeeds act and i'm sure she will be an equally helpful person as we work to implement this ground-breaking legislation. essa represents a momentous opportunity for students and teachers alike by removing many of the overbearing federal policies stifling classroom instruction in the past. this new law allows educators more room to innovate and tailor
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their teaching to the needs of individuals and individual students. we're grateful for the role miss garcia played in helping this reform become a reality. miss garcia, we really welcome you to today's hearing and look forward to your guidance on the questions at hand and i just want to personally testify how much i appreciate what you've done with your life. thanks so much. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator hatch. i'll introduce the other witnesses and beginning with miss garcia, we'll ask you each to summarize your views in about five minutes and that will leave time for senators to engage in conversation and ask questions. our second witness is miss randy weingarten, the president of the american federation of teachers when represents 1.6 million members nationwide and prior to that she served for 12 years as president of the united federation of teachers, aft local 2.
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our third witness is dr. tony evers. we're getting accustomed to seeing him here. welcome dr. evers. he is the wisconsin state superintendent of public instruction. he serves as president of the board of council of the chief state school officers and served on the department of education's recent negotiated rule-making panel for regulations on the every student succeeds act. our fourth witness is dr. thomas ahart. he is the superintendent of des moines public schools in iowa and also served on the department of education recent negotiated rule-making panel for regulations on the every student succeeds act. our fifth witness, dr. nora gordon, associate professor at mccourt school of public policy at georgetown university and her research focuses on economics of education and fiscal federalism. and next we'll hear from denise marshall, from the executive
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parent attorneys and advocates. parent attorney and advocates. she has over 30 years of experience working in the field of disabilities. our final witness is miss janet morgue. she's president and chief executive counsel of la raza and advocates for the latino community for education and workforce and civic engagement. thank you each for being here. miss garcia. >> thank you so much and thank you, senator hatch. i appreciate that introduction. i am president of the 3 million member national education association but more important than that, i am a sixth grade teacher. and not only that, i'm a really, really good sixth grade teacher. i give myself goose bumps. . i'm amazing. i have spent the last 13 years fighting against what i saw as a
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cloud of test and punish that was hanging over every public school in the united states of america. and i cried for joy the entire day that the president signed the new law, every student succeeds. that day would not have come without the leadership of senator alexander and senator murray and i just want to start by thanking you and thanking all of your colleagues for making that day possible. i have about 14 hours worth of really good advice to give you. they told me i have five minutes. so i will talk really, really fast. number one, and i cannot stress this enough, i am a really good teacher. you should really listen to me. and i mention that because i remember, i was in my classroom at the salt lake homeless shelter in a one-room classroom, a k-6 classroom in the shelter when congress was debating the passage of this thing called no child left behind.
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and i just was beside myself thinking, wait a minute, 100% of the kids are going to hit a cut score on a standardized test. that is not even possible. and i remember thinking, did anyone stop to ask a working classroom teacher how we made out a report card, how we measured success. did anyone stop to ask a working classroom teacher what might be the unintended consequences of high stakes testing on the most vulnerable students like the students i was teaching so for me, a huge part and the first thing i want to talk about is the fact that in this new law states and districts must engage the people who know the names of the students. it says over and over again that you have to include the educator's voice in developing that dashboard of indicators and how we're going to be pleasuring
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student success. some folks in states are going to respect that and some folks aren't. we're already hearing back where someone -- an educator has asked to sit on a committee, but they meet during the school day. and they don't provide a substitute teacher. or you put an educator on a committee and she has to drive three hours to the meeting and there is no reimbursement for her gas to get to the meeting. so we know it is possible to do it right. we are hearing good things from places like oregon. the oregon education association knocked at the door and folks on the state level said come on in and their at the table and making amazing things happen. very collaboratively. and then you go to new mexico, where our new mexico affiliate knocked on the door and the door was slammed in their faces and they said we don't need you. so we're going to have -- we're going to have this implemented in very different ways across
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the country. we have so much hope that if our voices are in the room, we will get something really good out of this much better law and we hope you'll continue to encourage the state leaders to abide by the law you passed and welcome the educators to the table. number two, you cannot possibly imagine how excited we are about better data, better information. aside from that, one size fits all standardized test, to have that dashboard of indicators that we believe is the game-changer for our students. as you know, the original 1965 esea did give school districts some important resources for title one schools and other programs to help fill that resource gap that was so obvious among schools that had so much and schools that had so little,
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depending on what zip code you were in. but it was never meant to take over the primary responsibility of state and local government for running our schools. the federal government's role in are esea is still to assist, but mats knew and what's completely appropriate for the federal government is to require that we have better data, more complete data that transparency that the community deserves, so everyone can see whether all students have that equal opportunity to learn. and where it is unequal, what the state and the local school district plan to do about it. that needs to be on the table. we're thrilled that everyone seems to be using the word "equity." that is what we feel like we got away from, looking at the equitable resources that are given our most vulnerable students. but finally, i do want to say that even though we're all using that word, governors, the
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department of education, the unions and certainly congress in putting it in the law, we're defining it sometimes in very different ways. we think you did a very good thing in spelling out in the law that school districts have flexibility in how they're going to report what services are being provided to our students. you rejected that continuation of a one-size fits all number. there is only one way to judge this. we think it is very good. and so we're very worried at the proposals of the department of education that appear to take away that flexibility. we absolutely -- and i need to say this very clearly, we support the new reporting element that requires all public schools to report their actual per pupil expenditures. local state and federal. disaggregated by personnel and
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nonpersonnel and that is a improvement and gives better transparency. but we know we're seeing popping up around the country some very creative programs in giving services to students. if all you're doing is counting those specific dollars spent by education departments, you are going to miss some services that are provided in a community school concept maybe by social services. you might not count some of the services that are provided by a boys and girls club. >> excuse me for interrupting, i want to make sure everyone has the five minutes. >> okay. >> go ahead and wind up. >> winding up right now. if you are just counting dollars that a district makes in teacher placement decisions based on the specific salary or benefits cost, so that things look -- you're going to worry about things looking equal instead of saying are we actually giving services to our students.
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all we're saying is why in the world would you want to cut off reasonable flexibility that a district might have in giving something creative and meaningful to our students. and to discourage districts from finding those creative solutions. we hope that will you make your intent crystal clear. and in closing, i would just say we are ready, willing and able to find those creative solutions. we're excited about being at the table. and we appreciate you giving us the chance to show you what we can do. >> thank you. >> miss weingarten. >> thank you. am i on now? >> thank you. it takes a state superintendent to tell me that. thank you. so my name is randi weingarten and i'm president of the aft and it is my privilege to be here to
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talk about the views on the implementation of esea but i want to start with my colleague and friend lily eskelsen garcia started with as well, which is i cannot thank this committee and particularly senator alexander and senator murray enough for listening to parents and practitioners and helping to navigate this bill to law and to break the gridlock in d.c. to enact esea. we need to thank you over and over again on that issue. what i wanted to discuss was the promise of esea but i'll focus my comments on the regulatory process particularly on what the u.s. department of education has released so far on the supplement not supplant provisions and what we anticipate will be released on accountability systems. now we at the aft view the policy details through the lens
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of whether they both work in america's classrooms and reflect the voices of educators and i particularly today am speaking with two decades of experience in the largest school district in the united states, where we actually had to deal and had to work through and make sure equity matters in terms of some of the provisions. i am particularly pleased that senator murray and representative scott as senator murray has already referred, reiterated the priority that getting the voices of practitioners and parents in this implementation is absolutely critical. unfortunately, in the first regulatory action on the supplement, not supplant rules, the education department demonstrated it was neither listening to stake holders nor following the framework of the legislation. instead by conflating as senator alexander has already said, the supplement not supplant and comparability
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policies, the department seems to be pushing or pursuing an agenda that was rejected in the legislative process. now the pursuit of both equity and excellence for the children is part of the equity dna and there are several ways to do this. one is through full funding of title one. something we will keep fighting for through this appropriations process. i would suspect that almost anyone involved in education would be fighting to level up spending rather than level down spending so that schools currently spending the least could be made whole. in addition, esea continues important equity safeguards so states can fought deny disadvantaged children the additional funding that the federal government has provided to level the playing field. that includes the maintenance of effort provisions as well as the s and s provisions an the way in which the title one formula is currently structured, all of which we fought very hard for you, as all of you know. and this is why i disagree with
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the department's supplement, not supplant proposal. the department as lily said wants to make dollar for dollar comparisons rather than what happens right now. so this is what that means in practical terms. right now principals have a number of teachers they can hire based on positions rather than an exact dollar amount they can spend. that principal, if it that changes, then a teacher's salary and benefit is what will determine whether the teacher gets hired, whether the teacher gets retained or whether the teacher gets transferred. not anything else. not what the school needs to run a program, not what the schools particular problematic focus is, not the needs of school children. so what will happen is that some schools will face cuts that will compel them to make no-win choices about which teachers they keep or they hire.
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dollar for dollar comparisons and i can talk about this for hours, because i've lived this. dollar for dollar comparisons in a district could even be thrown off by something as simple as how many teachers in each school have individual health coverage as opposed to family coverage. the difference between $5,000 per coverage versus $20,000 for coverage. these types of unintended consequences are major disruptions that have nothing to do with equity or opportunity when you force districts to count exact spending in a school, the goals get lost in translation. we cannot equalize spending that way. finally, we are concerned that the education department will take the level of prescription as proposed for supplement not supplant to the upcoming regulations on school and district accountability systems. this could strip the flexibility necessary to create accountability systems that envision new ways to define and
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measure learning as opposed to the current and far too restrictive and counter productive focus on test scores. the promise of esea lies in the opportunity for stakes, for states with broader stakeholder input to create robust systems of accountability that redefine how we measure learning. so that learning is really about learning and not simply math and english test scores. thank you very much and i'm sorry i went over by 34 seconds. >> but it was an enthusiastic 34 seconds. so thank you, ms. weingarten. dr. evers. >> thank you, chairman alexander and ranking member murray and members of the committee for allowing me to testify. it is good to be back. i'm back again. as i highlighted in previous testimony before this committee, state and local leaders are committed to making sure that all kids achieve at the highest
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level. overly printed federal mandates left states and local districts without tailoring strategies to meet the needs of the kids. as a life long educator i believe we must learn from our mistakes. we have the -- the every student secretary act which gives us a chance to move our state and local education systems forward in ways that are impactful. but in doing so, we have to admit and recognize that essa is a last mark piece of civil rights law and one that presents us with the opportunity to see our challenges with new eyes in the hopes of finding a solution that makes a difference for kids. last week, i sent invitations to convene a primary advisory group with equity and easa stakeholder groups and i reached out to
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civil rights and organization groups that have not focused on k-12 issues. they will join education related organization parents and legislators and teachers and others to advise on the state plan which will help districts increase the opportunities for all kids. as i told perspective members of the council in their invitation. we need a diversity of experience and expertise if we are going to be successful in closing one of the nation's largest achievement gaps and that is in state of wisconsin. in addition, wisconsin's broader outreach plan has three inperson facilitate tiff listening sessions and two virtual sessions. and we use web based feedback for anyone in the state who wants to provide us information and this information will be received and then used with the -- to inform the equity counsel as they convene. so i'm proud of the work we're doing in wisconsin and i believe the best solutions often come from places closest to the kids.
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to support states in doing that kind of local work and regulation and guidance as said before developed by essa should be limb limited to providing clarity on otherwise ambiguous and confusing areas, not implementing requirements that were not envisioned by congress. flexibility has been a essential element of essa and because i believe there is recognition that states have very different systems and support for k-12 education. the flexibility currently provided in the law allows states to focus the most important and difficult work ahead that is supporting each and every student in the united states. in contrast, the regulations the department proposed during the negotiated rule-making process on supplement and not supplant, they were well-intended, i will grant them that but it will have significant impacts on our students drawing focus away from student learning and service to
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unwielddy fiscal balancing acts. it is the responsibility of school leaders to put the best teachers in front of kids who need them the most. they weigh qualifications, diversity and skillsets and service to kids, they contemplate optimal grade configuration and staffing patterns, facility needs, all with an eye towards increased student achievement for all kids. i worry that the proposed supplement not supplant rules reduce these complex decisions to an overly simplified financial calculation which in the end of the day does not actually guarantee student access to high quality educators. as a member of the negotiated rule-making committee i understand the arguments on both sides of the issue but it is clear that i also believe and it is clear that the proposed regulations on supplement, supplant, exceed the department's authority under the law. state and local schools absolutely have a responsibility
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to their kids, to examine current federal funding and how it is used. they owe it to parents and families that they support that they have discussions that are open and meaningful and and me transparent. and they need to be sure that they're reaching all the people that make up their school community. but that type of authentic discussion and problem solving simply cannot be achieved through a federal mandate. i firmly believe that states should be held accountable for their students' results when it comes to both funding and educational practices states are committed to using additional flexibility found in essa to improve education outcomes for all kids. let us lead the way, and thank you so much, again, for allowing me to testify, and i look forward to your questions. >> dr. ahhart? >> thank you for your leadership
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on finally achieving the authorization of esea, long overdue. with my seven-member board of education i'm responsible for the education of the largest school district in the state of iowa. we are committed to meeting the educational needs of our students by recruiting and supporting a team of talented professionals in each of our 63 schools. our 33,000 students were born in 106 different countries, speak over 100 languages and qualify for free and reduced price meal s at a rate of 75% and are 58% minority. that commitment is reflected in a steady increase in our graduation rate and in reading, math and science proficiency rates and in considerable progress in closing achievement gaps. des moines continues to operate under the antiquated no child left behind act since iowa is one of the few states without a waiver. we have more reasons to welcome the enact of every student succeeds act and we are working
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closely with the state board of education on the statewide implementation process. almost all the state representatives of the essa committee expressed practical concerns about the impact and feasibility of a number of the regulations. the concerns relate to regulatory barriers to instructional services and interference with school autonomy and selection and placement, unworkable criteria, unnecessary requirements, additional costs and unrealistic administratively created obligations. while regulations are intended to clarify provisions of the statute and facilitate effective implementation many of the provisions appear to restrict condition redefine and even expand essa. i am hard-pressed to identify any regulatory additions offered by the education department that are necessary for effective implementation at the local level. the most troubling regulatory proposal as many others have mentioned was the department's
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draft regulation to expand the comparability requirements under the supplement not supplant provision of the act. defight no changes in the comparability provisions the department drafted regulation that would require new per pupil expenditure between title one schools and the average of nontitle one schools. this proposed regulation would effectively require salary equivalency between such schools. as senator alexander already mentioned since the nation's teacher salary system is based on years of experience and advanced education schools with older higher paid staff compared to younger less paid staff would necessarily trigger noncompliance on an unprecedented scale. moreover requirements ensure that at least the same number of full-time equivalent teachers are deployed in title one versus nontitle one schools. to comply districts would have to spend additional state and local funds to cover salary differential between higher paid and lower paid teachers or in an alternative scenario districts
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potentially could shift their higher paid teachers to title one schools and the lower paid schools to nontitle one schools. unfortunately neither of these options correlate with improving student performance because to state it simply there is no relationship between salary level and teacher effectiveness. school districts clearly do not have the state and local funds to cover the salary differential cost of compliance nor should districts disrupt instructional continuity and practice in our schools by summarily transferring teachers. moreover the teacher transfer option would violate most collective bargaining agreements. many districts would be faced with an impossibility of performance under these regulations which have no reasonable basis in the act and appear to violate at least three separate statutory prohibitions in the ssa. i hasten to add that neither of the solutions even if possible to implement reflect best education practice. what often seems to be lost on the department is that many high poverty schools are not served
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with title one -- with title one because frankly there is not enough to go around. while a 40% free and reduced price meal rate can qualify a school for title one services just in des moines public schools we have multiple schools with an over 70% free and reduced price lunch rate that we are not able to provide with title one services. additionally our ability to serve schools with concentrated poverty for which we do not have title one funds would be jeopardized under the proposed regulations. the essa was enacted with a broad base of support and goodwill at the national, state and local levels. the tendency towards overregulation could undermine that broad support. no child left behind has demonstrated that the best intentions for improving achievement of at-risk students cannot be micromanaged from the federal level. i would suggest that state and local officials be given the opportunity to get it right under essa. on the other hand, the education department could be helpful in
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issuing nonregulatory guidance that provides a nonexclusive range of examples of implementation options for various provisions of essa. there is no such thing as one size fits all. even in iowa the broad range of individual district characteristics vary widely. the only hope for successful results from essa rests in the state agency's ability to craft guidance meaningful to individual state and district contexts. finally, i am proud of the progress that my district has made over the last four years despite insufficient state funding and ever-increasing student needs. the current supplement not supplant regulations focused on positions not funding have helped to make that possible. dmps is becoming the model for urban education in the united states. the proposed essa regulations will force us to disrupt the most effective school reform efforts in the country and threaten the progress of some of our nation's most disadvantaged
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students. we can do better if regulations align with the letter and the spirit of the statute itself. thank you for the opportunity to discuss the new regulations with you. >> thank you, dr. gordon? >> thank you. chairman alexander, ranking member murray, and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. i'm associate professor at georgetown university's mccourt school of public policy and research associate at the national bureau of economic research. i conduct research on u.s. education policy, school finance and desegregation. in the course of my research on title one i have analyzed finance data and interviewed many state and district title one directors. today i'll discuss how essa changes the definition of supplement not supplant and how the department of education proposes to regulate it and discuss some of the unintended consequences that could come from this proposed regulation. the department's proposed rule as other witnesses have
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testified is meant to support equity. this is a laudable goal, but when you look at the compliance incentives it generates and consider what districts might do in order to comply with the rule, you could see how it could actually wind up hurting disadvantaged students both in title one schools and in nontitle one schools. supplement not supplant is meant to ensure districts do not reduce the amount of state and local money they give to a title one school compared to what they would give that school if it did not participate in title one. this is an important mission given the history of the law and past abuses. under no child left behind an earlier versions of essa districts could comply with supplement not supplant based on what they bought with title one dollars even if they gave title one schools less state and local money and had title one funds make up the difference. essa fixes that, requiring districts to show how they distribute state and local funds to each of their schools and that their methodology does not
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reduce a school's state and local funding because of the school's participation in title one. federal law still requires districts to spend funds in accordance with program goals and track their spending regardless of how supplement not supplant is regulated. the department of education's proposed rule would require districts to use a methodology to allocate state and local funds as others have discussed but just please one more time this one sentence that results in each title one school spending an equal or greater amount per pupil than the average amount it spends per pupil in its nontitle one schools. current data don't permit us to generate reliable evidence on how many districts would be in compliance with the proposed rule based on current resource allocations or how much they would need to spend in order to comply. aside from these unknown costs, the rule could trigger consequences that are bad for equity as districts are forced to consider compliance first and what's best for kids second.
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for example, the rule could penalize districts working to increase economic or racial integration and could incentivize districts to concentrate disadvantaged students in title one schools. the rule could penalize district efforts to increase teacher diversity in title one schools because increasing teacher diversity typically requires the recruitment of new and, therefore, typically less expensive teachers. the rule could penalize districts that allocate state and local funds through weighted per pupil formulas that generate more money for a low income, special education or english language learner students. such districts could nonetheless fail under the proposed rule if higher weighted students attend nontitle one schools. importantly the proposed rule only compares funding levels in title one schools to nontitle one schools. this narrow focus penalizes other local approaches to equity and ignores the many low-income
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schools that do not receive title one funds as we've just heard. this could punish districts that attempt to mitigate poverty effects in those poor but nontitle one schools. stakeholders are absolutely right to want to ensure that federal funds aren't used as a substitute for state and local ones in title one schools. essa's new statutory language does this by requiring districts to have allocation methodologies that do not reduce a school's access to state and local funds because of its participation in title one. an alternative regulatory approach than the one that's been proposed would be to require districts to make their methodologies like their spending data publicly available. then parents and voters would not only see how much is spent at each school, but they would also see district priorities as revealed through their funding mechanisms. thank you for the opportunity to comment on this topic. >> thank you, dr. gordon. ms. marshall?
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>> chairman alexander, ranking member murray, and members of the committee, i'm honored to be here today to represent copa a national peer-to-peer network that works to protect students with disabilities and their families. we stand strong to say our kids count and they can achieve and what they need is an eke qual opportunity to succeed. we thank you for your bipartisan leadership in passing our nation's general education law, the every student succeeds act. we worked very closely throughout the re-authorization with our disability, civil rights and business communities to ensure that essa included critical provisions that would, in fact, buoy up the students it is intended to support. this includes 7.7 million black students, 13.1 million hispanic students, 25 million students from low income families, 4.5 million english language learners and 6.4 million students with disabilities.
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essa gained copa precisely because although it has the great focus on state flexibility which is important we were also able to ensure that it had accountability, key provisions that would protect all. it's harsh to recall and it's unbelievable to realize that students with disabilities only had access to education in my lifetime, but it took them 40 years prior to the passage of no child left behind, they were not counted. they were not included in the assessments in the state, local or district accessible systems and as a result they were all but invisible. not including them in the count and not holding schools accountable for their learning limited access to the general education curriculum and created separate and often segregated instruction. parents had no idea how their children were doing in school as compared to the state standards. now the requirements of essa give us clear information that can assist parents in assuring their child can access the regular classroom, access the
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regular kir ricurriculum and ha regular shot at a regular diploma. this is a civil rights law and we have fought hard for eke qual access. our kids want in and our families deserve to have the same data about their child's achievement as every other child in the building. we know the importance of this law and its regulations to keep expectations high. coupled with the requirements of the idea and other federal laws protecting the rights of students and their families, the provisions in essa can change the trajectory of a student's life. i want to share two stories one about bruce a 19-year-old from south carolina who struggled and suffered and bullied relentlessly unable to keep up because of his dyslexia but with relentless efforts of his parents and educators and the right services for his dyslexia he's graduating high school and has a full-time job and is heading to college in the fall. and blair a young woman from pennsylvania with accommodation
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and support of her service dog graduated high school and is currently a public relations major in college. we have a long way to go before we can support the success of all students. but we know the possibilities for each to succeed are substantial and real. today i focus on some important provisions of essa for us. creating that public transparency in the data which i know we all share and requiring school leaders to do something about it when the data shows there is reason to act. accountability equals responsibility. essa no longer contains the mandates and consequences of its predecessor and i think we were all dancing for that. but the responsibility lies squarely with the schools. essa includes core principles and important guardrails that we know can both guide educational decision making and protect resources and students. critical provisions are intended to assure and strong regulations must support the requirement for action when outcomes or the lack thereof demand it.
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we have to have systems with interrim goals and progress that have a summit of ratings on both academic and the quality indicators, clear requirements for identification and intervention in each of the three categories of the law, timely evidence-based intervention focused on raising achievement. we simply cannot leave any child's language with no intervention. they need to have the intervention in services in a time frame that can have an impact in their educational lifetime. we also want title one regulations that provide for a range of statistically reliable and accepted end sizes and we want to assure state support is provided to districts to reduce bullying, harassment, discipline and the use of restraint and conclusion. all of which are used on students of disability and color and result not only in harm and trauma but make it impossible for them to learn. we need safe school climates. you passed essa to advance the educational equity and serve the interest of all students.
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that is the test and the measurement that counts. state and district efforts to implement essa must target policies and resources on the urgent need of students in what is arguably the most important journey of their formative lives the k-12 education. i want to finally add that i urge us to get past the tug-of-war of control and figure out a way to invest equitably in students and find innovative ways to assure that greater number of students including those of color, ell and with disabilities are able to succeed. i thank you for this opportunity and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, ms. marshall. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. chairman alexander, and ranking member murray, i really want to thank you all and all members of the committee for the opportunity to appear before you here today and to discuss a subject that is so critically important to the civil rights
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community, this implementation of essa. for over a decade i have served as president and ceo of the national council of la rasa and clr, we're the largest civil rights and advocacy organization of the united states representing hispanics. and we represent over 250 affiliates which are community local based organizations serving latino and immigrant populations nationwide. i was very proud to stand with many of you behind the president when this important legislation was signed into law and, again, i want to thank you for your leadership. we know it has the potential to benefit 13 million latino students and 5 million english learners across the country. for the first time they will be included in states' accountability criteria. that is a big step. my remarks focus on latino
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educational attainment. i will share ways appropriate implementation of essa can improve outcomes for communities of color. last year american schools reached a significant demographic milestone. a majority of students in our classroom were students of color. as schools across the country have become increasingly diverse, latino students make up 25% of our k-12 enrollments. the second largest group of students in schools after white students. in part as a result of comparable standardized assessments and college and career oriented curricula latino students are now graduating at higher rates than ever and they are enrolling in post secondary institutions in record numbers. however, despite improvements in key areas, inequalities and access and achievement among latino and other students of color remain persistent.
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and still too many latino students are not college ready. according to the 2015 national assessment of educational progress, regrettably, nearly half of latino fourth graders were reading at below basic levels compared to 21% of whites. a startling statistic given our changing workforce. as the department of education moves forward implementing essa it is important to recognize the legacy of the original elementary and secondary education act in promoting equity for our nation's most vulnerable children. it is imperative that federal funds are used to supplement state and local resources for those most in need. students in high poverty districts receive nearly 10% less in state and local funds per student than those in the lowest poverty districts. meaning, students in districts most in need of extra services staff or educational supports
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including english language instruction are being shortchanged. the future success of students of color and english learner students in large part depends on addressing this resource gap. in addition to furthering equity, essa mandates that the department of education issue regulations to hold schools accountable if groups of students are not meeting challenging academic standards. while states and districts have flexibility in designing their accountability plans, the federal government must play a role to ensure progress for these students does not erode. to this end, the department of education should set clear parameters for state accountability systems and timely interventions for students falling behind. finally, we know the department of education cannot fulfill its mandate alone. stakeholders from the business and civil rights communities have a role to play to ensure
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states and districts thankfully implement the law's requirements. already a national-based affiliate has organized partner organizations to jointly engage the tennessee department of education on the state's accountability and equity plans making the case for needs of latino and immigrant students. in the months ahead these stakeholders will be closely monitoring the regulatory process to emphasize essa's poe encial to promote an educational system transparent and equitable to further the achievement of all students. thank you. i look forward to working with all of you as we implement this important law. >> thank you very much. we'll now move to a round of five minute questions by the senators, i'll begin. dr. gordon, you're a scholar of education, finance, and legislation. let me ask you this. the language in the law on
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supplement and supplant has as its goal to say that a school district can't use title one money to replace state and local money. a fairly straightforward proposal. why -- the language we thought was pretty plain and clear. why is there a need for regulation of that law? isn't it possible just to read the law and know what to do without the department elaborating on it through regulation? >> thank you for your question, senator. i'll read the law because there's a lot of questions about the law -- >> i only have five minutes here. >> one sentence, the methodology used to allocate state and local funds to each school receiving assistance under this part ensures that such school receives all of the state and local funds it would otherwise receive were it not receiving assist anticipates under this part and this part is title one.
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to me that sentence is clear. i've read that sentence more times than most people. so, i understand how clarification could be useful to some people. but interesting this part of the law already applied to schoolwide programs under no child left behind and the department of education issued extensive guidance in july of 2015 clarifying how to interpret this with the types of examples. >> let me interrupt just because i have a short -- i have only five minutes for questions. if the effect of the proposed regulation because it would require title one schools to spend on average an amount that's at least as much or greater than nontitle one schools, that would seem to me, would you say that would be an attempt to equalize spending among schools in a school district? wouldn't the effect of doing that attempted to equalize
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spending? >> i'm not an attorney. i'm an economist. so, to me, yes. >> well, there's a provision in the law section 1605 that says nothing in this title shall be construed to mandate equalized spending per pupil for state, local education agency or school. i agree that the proposed regulation specifically attempts to equalize spending, which could be a laudable goal. i think wyoming may do that. it may be the only state that does that. but the federal law says you may not do that. let me move to ms. winegarden for a moment. you mentioned in your testimony that you were not only concerned about this regulation eater contradicting or not following specific provisions of the law, but what that might mean for future regulations. my understanding was that the
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whole discussion or most of the discussion about fixing no child left behind was the consensus that we had was that we keep the federally required tests and we'd even expand the amount of data that was used to let people know what the results of the test were. but then what to do about the results of the test became the responsibility of those closest to the children. the classroom teachers, the school boards, the governors, the legislatures and the parents. that's called the accountability system. what about what the department is doing about this regulation worries about what might happen with future regulations involving the so-called accountability system? [ inaudible ] >> thank you for the question. i chair janet murgia's concerns in terms of the accountability system. that is where most of the real thought needs to go into what
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are the guardrails and what is the flexibility that states should have to actually think about what constitutes real student learning these days and how do we actually help kids get there particularly our most vulnerable kids. and the fact that the department seems to be doing same old, same old in terms of overly being -- doing -- trying to rewrite history in terms of supplement not supplant as opposed to really thinking about how do we ensure that there's flexibility that really looks at what kids need through the lens of the practitioners is what is concerning all of us in terms of any number of issues like the waits, like the definition of significant, the definition of evidence, what's going to happen in terms of the 95%
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participation rate. and so it is whittling away the goodwill that all of us have to actually helping all kids succeed particularly our most vulnerable kids. >> thank you very much. senator murray? >> well, as i said at the beginning of the hearing esea is fundamentally a civil rights law to have children have access to high quality education. essa maintains that commitment by requiring states to annually classify each school where any subgroup of student is consistently underperforming and districts to take meaningful action in these schools to approve student achievement. i agree with the civil rights community that without strong regulations our nation's most vulnerable student could be ignored or left behind. ms. marshall, i wanted to ask you can you speak to why a regulation should focus on performance of individual groups of students rather than on
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comparing students to each other within the same school and can you explain why that's particularly important for students with disabilities. >> thank you, senator murray, for your commitment to equality and protection of the civil rights of students with disabilities. student with disabilities are general education students first. it's imperative they be compared to the same state standards that every other student is compared against. we want to ensure they have a fair and equitable opportunity to both access and benefit from their educations and so in order to find out how they're doing in that regard as a -- compared to peers at their grade level, we've got to look at the subgrosu subgroup or individual scores against the state standard. we want to make sure that we know how they're doing in regards to the possibility of getting a diploma. research is very clear. high expectations equal being further in life. having no diploma basically
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equals lack of outcomes, no jobs, sitting at home. and so the stakes could not be higher for our students. >> okay. for ms. garcia and ms. weingarden. just yed was the 62nd anniversary of the landmark brown versus brown decision and gao issued a report detailing the desegregation and resource equity in our schools. they found schools with high percentages of low income and minority students are less likely to have access to advanced course work and more likely to experience high rates of exclusionary discipline. essa requires any school in which one or more subgroups is performing at the level of the bottom 5% to address resource inequities and includes significant new reporting requirements related to resource equity. i wanted to ask both of you how
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critical is the issue of resource equity and in particularly in light of how far we still have to go in terms of the promise of brown versus brown. >> i think for all educators, resource equity is the game changer here. it's what we haven't been measuring. and i think it's why so many of the comments today were on let's not go back to a numbers game. where we pretend that if we hit this number it must mean that we have equitable opportunity to learn. you can be measuring things on that dashboard. the dashboard is absolutely crucial for us. because when you have that collaboration between the professional educator that knows the kids, the parents, the administrators, the elected school board members saying here's what we believe will be the game changer. how many of our students are graduating from high school having already earned college credit? you can measure that. that's an opportunity to learn.
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that's a program that could look very different if you're in a rural community or an urban community. if you have a community college. if you have ap classes, international backlaureate programs. we want to actually have the dashboard measure the real services and supports that those kids have. and we believe that that is how you're going to move the needle. >> ms. we nismtgarden on the issue of resource equity. >> it's absolutely essential. but i would actually go a step further which is not covered by this law which is resource adequacy. we need to actually level the playing field for kids and there are many, many times that vulnerable kids actually need a lot more and that is baked into some of the title one formulas, but what happens is we have to make sure that there's not counterproductive efforts here. so, adequacy and equity are essential to leveling the playing field. but that includes a much broader
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view than just actual dollars. it includes what are the programs. what do we need to do in terms of immersion and ap what do we need to do to ensure that kids that i taught at clara barton high school which was a title one school could actually compete in debates against kids in scarsdale high school which was a very well funded school. so, that requires a lot of thinking about how do you actually contour schools to the needs of your students. >> okay. and i'm out of time. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator murray. senator enzi. >> i would like to state that the augusts of the department of u.s. education they've taken over the last few months on a number of issues is a great concern to me and the people i represent. i want to thank all of you that have testified. you've provided some great information both in the printed testimony and what you said. i want to thank the chairman and ranking member for the tremendous leadership that they
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provided so that this committee could have an influence on changing the law and in a way that the president signed and that we're now trying to get done. and now is not the time to implement the law differently. it's important that we implement it as it was written and we're in charge of presiding over that. and this is a good start. it's not the time to bring up things that were not agreed to and change the outcome through executive action. when i first got here, i had a principal who wanted to see where all the reports went that he had to do and he got leave from his school district to come back and spend a semester here and he spent his time over at the department of education and when he reported back to me, he said, you know, they take a look at every one of those forms and they make sure every single blank has a logical answer and then when it's completed they file it and nobody looks at it.
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we've been in the process of eliminating some of those, but in the meantime this supplement not supplant sounds like a new opportunity to get new reports that contains a lot of information that may not be used or could be used detrimentally. so, i do know that the devastating effects that could be within the proposed changes that could have on states such as wyoming. wyoming's constitution as the chairman mentioned calls for a complete and uniform system of public instruction one that mandates the equitable allocation of resources among all school districts in the state. wyoming doesn't need the federal government telling it how to provide equalized education for all students and we've been doing since 1889 and taking it to court regularly to make sure that would happen. it's not just the dollars. it's the supplies and it's even the school buildings that have to be equal. i'm hearing from my state that the proposed action by the department of education would cause the forced transfer of public schoolteachers across our
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county and maybe even the state. i'm the father of a public schoolteacher and the grandfather of a public school student. and there's no reason that the federal government should be interfering with where my daughter chooses to teach or where my children get their instruction. so, dr. evers, can you tell me how this will impact frontier areas such as wyoming? we're the least populated state in the nation. and i understand the forced transfer of teachers sounds okay to individuals in this administration, who don't understand states like wyoming or wisconsin. but it seems to me that rural and frontier states will be hit the hardest with such an outcome. as a former teacher the -- well, as the superintendent of a rural state, can you tell me what kind of an impact this will have? >> absolutely. and just as an aside, the -- one of the major issues in rural
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wisconsin and i'm sure in rural wyoming is who's going to teach those schools. we were having an extraordinarily severe teacher shortage and it can be blamed on a whole number of issues. i have my own opinions on that. but when we take the ability for local school districts, rural or local, and confine the way they hire people in a way that isn't going to help kids necessarily and we try to -- and i get the idea that it's important to have some transparency around equitable distribution of money. this just doesn't get it. that's the main thing. but what it would do is give rural districts who have a very difficult time to begin with in hiring staff members. it would amplify that concern in that it would take away
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principals and sum superintende and those that do the hiring to really conflate a number of different issues that really doesn't matter and that's the equalness of the distribution. so, it's going to make their jobs more difficult to find high-quality teachers. that's the bottom line. and for rural wisconsin and wyoming that's a, you know, a huge issue. i mean, in rural areas teachers are the main backbone of those communities and we have to make sure that we get the best people in those positions. >> thank you. i'll be providing you with some written questions regarding the negotiated rule making panel that you were on, and i want to thank dr. gordon for the specificity of accounting consequences that you had in your testimony and in what you said and i'll be providing some more questions regarding that. i know that those have a tendency to put the audience to sleep, but they're really important to what we're doing. thank you. >> we have one accountant on the committee.
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which is senator enzi, thank you, senator enzi, senator bennet? >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you to the panelists for being here today and everything you do for our schools and for our kids. it's been said today that this federal law is a civil rights law, and i believe that. and what that means for me as we sit here is thinking about the millions of children that are marooned in public schools, rural and urban, in america today that are schools that nobody on this panel would ever send one of our own kids or grand kids. and the reason i worked so hard to try to close the comparability loophole. we didn't get there. we did get important reporting language on reporting actual salaries and other costs. i think that's important because it will equip teachers and parents with information they need to be able to make the case going forward. about how to create a system of public education that actually will work in america for kids living in poverty. and that won't be done by the
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people on this panel. it's going to be done by all of you and the people that you represent all across america. so, let me start with one question, which is that we are one of three countries in the oecd who spend more money on wealthy students than we do on poor students. is there anybody on the panel who will defend that system in terms of closing the achievement gap in the united states? in other words, do you expect that if we continue to spend more money on wealthy kids than we do on poor kids we will have any hope of closing america's achievement gap? it was said today -- there was testimony today, mr. chairman, i think we spend $620 billion all in on education in america. and if you're running a decent school district, you know, 80% of that ought to be spent on teachers or more in my view. the testimony from my fellow superintendent today was that, quote, there is no

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