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tv   Council of Chief State School Officers - Federal Education Policy Update  CSPAN  March 6, 2018 5:48pm-6:19pm EST

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i was proud to it be a kentuckyian. and i was proud to be an educator. so i want to encourage us and i want to push us. let's now take the next step. i don't care what your political persuasion is. what i care about is we have children that need us. and as state chiefs, we have an incredible role to play in partnering with our districts and educators. so from the bottom of my heart, i want to thank you all for what you do every day. but i want you to know i'm not going to let this go. and i don't believe that this organization is going to let this go. and we are going to do what we have to do to take care of these kids. so thank you for what you do. i don't know if i went over time
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or not, ka wricarissa, and i do really care. [ applause ] pam, wherever you are, our heart continues to go out to florida. and i no he that we've had it in a lot of different places. tom in california, i know you dealt with some stuff. and everything going on in connecticut and wherever dana is, and i know pedro is not with us, but i just want to thank you for what you do. >> welcome back from lunch. glad to see so many familiar
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faces and such a well attended cco legislative conference. so welcome to our federal update portion of today's meeting. i'm peter zamora, director of federal relations here and glad to be with you. so a few topics that we'll cover today, we'll cover the federal funding picture, the budget and appropriations. it is a little bit more complicated this year because we are actually going to be talking about two fiscal years at once. instead of the one that we normally do every year. also going to talk some about pending federal education legislation. bills that might have prospect for passage in this congress, before moving on to a discussion around implementation and oversight. there's been discussion about that already. also talking a little bit about the department of education's capacity here at the federal level to conduct oversight before talking about a few different critical topics that don't really fit neatly into any of these categories.
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before jumping into the substance, i wanted to describe a little bit sort of for context setting the political context here in washington, d.c. so i have this slide here, sort of an image, a symbol of kind of what we're dealing with here which is a stormy political environment in d.c. with sort of dark clouds and it may be sort of more appropriately described as windswept, sort of given the windmageddon we dealt with here last week. but generally a stormy environment. and there is much discord and sort of a trust deficit that we are experiencing here broadly in the political arena. and i think that is very evident between parties certainly, between republicans and democrats, and also between congress and the white house. but those are fairly familiar areas where we have often seen discord. but in this time, you know,
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we're seeing even sort of more heightened discord and tension. tension between the white house and federal agencies and federal law enforcement. tension between white house and the press and the press and the white house. tension between white house and the courts. if you believe the press, tension within the white house. and this is all sort of very elevated, tons of focus, tons of anger and discord that plays out on a daily basis. and it is not really particularly coming in waves. it is nonstop 100 miles an hour sort of tension and discord. and education policy, federal education policy traditionally has been somewhat immune from political discord and partisanship. it has been an island of bipartisan policy making focused upon the needs of the country and the needs of students. and that is starting to feel like it is beginning to change.
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in 2015 when we had 85 senators support the bipartisan every student succeeds act, president obama signed it in december 2015, called it a christmas miracle. chairman alexander and ranking member murray singing each other's praises, that was just a little over two years ago, yet it starts to feel like a very long time ago given where we are now. so we're dealing with a fairly chaotic environment at the federal level. but this provides an opportunity for states to step up and to lead or continue to lead in support of common sense policies that support our children. as we are here in d.c. meeting with policy makers, tomorrow we have our legislative day to frame the debate at the federal level around policies that support us and meeting the needs of all children. so chaos and discord at the federal level potentially provide additional opportunities for us to lead in education, as i know that you are.
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i'll start by discussing the funding picture, the basic obligation of the federal government is to fund the federal government, keep the lights on, pay the military, keep the parks open and fund education programs. it's been only somewhat moderately successful at doing that in the past year. it is more complicated as i note that we are dealing with two fiscal years here at once. but the budget appropriations process as you know starts with the president making his recommendations to congress, and what we saw was some pretty aggressive cuts that were proposed both for fiscal year '18 and fiscal year '19. so fiscal year '83 which is the year that runs from last october through this coming september 30th, fiscal year in which we are now, the administration proposed a $9.2 billion reduction. that is about a 13% overall reduction in discretionary funds at the department of education, whereas in fy '19, slightly
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smaller proposed cut, but $3.6 billion which would be about 5% of the overall discretionary education budget. and first the generally good news or relatively good news, the president would preserve many of the key commitments at the federal level around education. title i, part a, many states doing fabulous work using funds including title i part a funds. the president's budget would keep that at level funding at $15.5 billion. the state assessment funding stream which is very important to a number of states, all states in this room, to provide high quality assessments, the budget would keep that program at current funding levels. title iii which is currently funded a little over $700 million, probably underfunded at that level, but the administration would keep it and would fund it at the same level as fiscal year '17. and then i.d.e.a. part b as we move forward on our equity
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commitments to serve all students, it's critical we maintain that funding for students. that's the fairly good news. however, there is some deep proposed cuts that would potentially substantially impact states' ability to successfully implement essa in ways that help students. title ii, part a, many of you are aware the administration proposed to eliminate that in this current fiscal year. it is authorized by congress just in 2015. so a freshly minted pretty much at $2.3 billion. the administration would zero that out. also title iv part a, which is sort of a large and flexible funding stream that would go for a variety of purposes including several that are particularly relevant given the conversation we've had around school safety, school counselors, well rounded education services, those are all funded potentially under title iv part a. the administration has proposed
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to eliminate that funding stream. title iv part b which is the 21st century community learning centers funding stream which primarily funds after-school and some summer programs and extended learning time, that's authorized at $1.1 billion, would be zeroed out under the president's budget. only in py '19, the most recent budget for the year that would begin in october 1st, 2019, the administration would zero out the slds program which is the statewide longitudinal data systems program which serves as the backbone of many states' education data systems and is potentially very concerning if that program funding goes away. at the same time, we have seen the administration's budgets propose new investments in school choice programs. both sort of increasing the funding available in a few existing programs and then also proposing a couple of new programs that are not currently authorized. those would be funded at $1.4
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billion in fy '18 and then in 2019 a little bit higher, 1.6. so that is sort of how the administration has begun this conversation around federal funding. so how is congress actually acted? this has been a very chaotic fiscal year in terms of the budgetary process, the appropriations progress in congress. congress is supposed to come together in a bipartisan basis and actually pass funding bills before september 30th, before october 1st of every year. and that would be a year long funding bill that would fund you through the whole year. so one labor hhs appropriations bill that should govern for the year. but we are currently on the fifth short term funding bill of this funding cycle. so starting back in october, we essentially are kicking the can,
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lurching from funding bill to funding bill. we did have a brief shutdown just for the course of a sort of long weekend here in january, but largely what congress has done has been they funded education programs at the prior year levels, they have not or have not yet created school choice professionals that are in the president's budget. however, we're only funded now for another couple weeks. another few weeks. the funding expires on march 23rd. and so if congress is unable to come together again on a bipartisan funding solution and their appetite for these short term funding solutions or funding bills is diminishing, then we would potentially have another shutdown. however it seems very likely -- or a shutdown has become much less likely because of recent bipartisan action that will make more funding available for fy '18, the fiscal year in which we
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are flnow as well as the one that's going to start in october of this year. so we've been living under these artificial low sequester caps for several years. and they sort of lifted the sequester caps. and they put in place new funding both for the defense side of the house as well as for nondefense discretionary programs which includes of course, our education programs. so $165 billion for defense and $131 billion for nondefense. broken down at $63 billion for fy '18 and $68 billion for '19. and what i've included here is a chart from the committee on education funding that kind of helps visualize a little bit kind of where we've been and where we're likely to go. so the blue line there is actual spending caps, actual federal spending back to 2011, but then the red line you see the sort of mountain that jumps up there in 2017, that's domestic spending,
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nondefense spending under the new budget cap amounts. the yellow line that sort of goes down there is the president's budget proposal. so what you see, we sort of began this discussion by talking about some of the deep cuts in the president's budget for education. but there is a substantial spread here between the money that is actually available as reflected in the red line and then the yellow line and the president's budget. so the question here really becomes, you know, these are funds that will be appropriated by congress. they have to be broken down by every function, by every agency. this has to fund cgs, commerce, justice, transportation programs, housing programs, labor programs and education programs. what congress now has to do is divide this overall pool of money into these agencies and
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then into programs within those agencies. that becomes an opportunity for us as states to tell congress how they can best invest in our states and invest in our students. so if there are particular programs or particular needs in your state that could require an infusion of additional federal resources, those resources are potentially available here both in the fiscal year in which we're living right now, as well as the forthcoming one that will start in october. so generally encouraging states as we engage with our congressional delegations tomorrow and ongoing tell your story and tell the story about how education funds can improve opportunities in your state. if you don't need any additional education funds, by all means do not make that communication. but however this is potentially an opportunity to better align the federal funding mechanisms with our state needs and our state purposes in serving
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students. so that is sort of the funding piece. now i'll speak briefly about some potentially pending bills. first off, the higher education act. this is sort of the primary vehicle at the federal level, funds all student loans and a bunch of different programs that affect primarily higher education. as state chiefs, we are mostly interested in the teacher preparation provisions within those. it governs the data collection requirements for teacher preparation programs, also the loan and grant programs to assist teachers. and to provide compensation to undercompensated teachers. and the house committee has advanced a bill, it is called the prosper act, it happened last year. it is at this point a republican bill, it is a partisan bill, moved through committee with only republican support and it's a really lean bill. the intent is to reflect the intent of the committee to go
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smaller and have a smaller federal footprint in higher education. and it also does sort of limit a lot of important sort of student loan, student grant programs such that it's unlikely to get the kind of bipartisan support that it would need to really be the vehicle in the senate. and the senate has its own process under way. they have accepted recommendations from different stakeholders including ccsso. however, as we get further along in an election year and these are very complicated and sort of knotty kind of tricky issues in higher education, it starts to seem less likely that congress would get a final bill done in this year. but still, this would be a process that would inform their ongoing discussions in future years. so as you engage your congressional delegations tomorrow and moving forward, tell them what you need in higher education, tell them what kinds of programs there can support your teacher corps as we move forward. and also the perkins career and
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technical education act, this is a program that's long-standing. it is funded at a little over a billion dollars annually. a reauthorization bill has now passed the house floor and that is a bipartisan bill. it was passed by voice vote. a similar bill was also approved in the house in the prior congress. so there is some political energy there. and generally cte i think is emerging as a higher priority in congress and in addition to the work that many states are doing to advance career readiness. and it is also -- that potentially has more prospects to see successful final passage there. and then the last piece of legislation that may or may not have education elements to it is another major presidential initiative is around infrastructure. and much of that discussion has been around roads and bridges and the like, but there has also been some discussion including infrastructure needs of schools as a component of a federal
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infrastructure bill. and particularly as we are looking at school safety, i think there is some question as to whether there are some infrastructure needs as we make sure that all of our students are safe. so that bill is a long way away from final passage. or not even really so much a bill as a series of principles and conversations that are under way. but definitely as educators and if you have an interest in this space, we would urge you to express that interest to your delegation tomorrow and kind of moving forward. so i'm going to give a quick snapshot around essa implementation. you will see your own states on this multicolored map here. kind of a snapshot as to where we are today. there are 35 state plans that have been approved. there are 17 states that are still outstanding that are in some process, some stage of the review process and the approval process.
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all of the 17 states that are outstanding have requested and received more time to engage with the department towards -- with an eye toward approval. and so really, every state is moving around essa. so either states that have been approved are now moving forward to implement and preparing to identify schools and new accountability systems and design interventions and all of the sort of energy and enthusiasm that states have around essa implementation. and then the 17 states continuing to move forward i think are in slightly different places, but each are making progress towards approval and towards implementation. we're really looking for the kind of stability that we need at the federal level so that we can do our jobs at the state and local levels to implement the law in the way that it is intended. and at the same time, the department of education is also considering some waiver requests for a few states that need a bit more time or are sort of working to get into full compliance with
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the statute so those are sort of ongoing discussions there. this has been sort of a unique process around state plan review. just because of the sort of heightened political tension and increased public focus that we've seen around essa state plans. and so the department reviews and approves state plans all the time. and most of that happens and it is kind of a bureaucracy and plans are submitted and resubmitted and approved. like nobody pays a ton of attention. because this is a newly minted law, partly because we have a new administration, because of all this heightened political interest, has caused a lot of focus and attention around the plan approval process. i can report from somebody who has been through some of these cycles before and has worked with states around various different plan submissions and approvals that it's a very
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familiar process. there is nothing that -- the department is engaging in sort of a by the books review for compliance. they are reviewing and interpreting the statute and then requiring compliance with their interpretation of the statute. now, i know that can be frustrating. i think it has been frustrating for a lot of folks in that folks that would like to see more flexibility than the statute really contemplates, i think that is a real challenge. but then also for folks that want to have seen a different agenda, that has not happened. so i think the secretary and her team deserve a lot of credit for playing it by the books and implementing the statute as congress has intended. however, there is also a very high bar for new regulations and guidance. i think they not going to be churning out guidance and regs every other week as we have seen previously. and that again provides an opportunity for states to embrace the statute, embrace the
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law and implement it in ways that makes sense for your states because you are not likely to have a bunch of shifting policies coming forth. there is also however a tremendous amount of political tension. in addition to the public focus. and there was a hearing in higher education last year where chairman alexander and ranking member murray sort of agreed that the secretary was violating the law in approving essa plans. so a moment of bipartisan agreement. however, it turned out that they agreed because of very different reasons. but chairman alexander felt that the initial reviews of many of the state plans exceeded the department's authority under essa. they were questioning things that were more subjective. they weren't fully compliance oriented. on the other hand, murray and scott have expressed some concerns around the use of subgroups within different accountability systems. and so they each sort of have strongly held interpretations of
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the statute. and of course the department of education has its own interpretation of the statute. and unless superseded by statute or overturned by a court, it is the department's interpretation that will govern. it sort of looks worse than i think that it is. ccsso is involved with all these different parties. they are all good people working in good faith trying to find common ground. we are hopeful that we can build that kind of shared understanding and sort of bridge some of the gaps and again, focusing on the common sense sort of practical application of the statutory provisions and the way that we as states can continue to inform this debate and alleviate concerns folks might have is by implementing the statute well and for all students, and to show successful outcomes for students. and ultimately that charge is upon us. quickly i wanted to flag for you
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a sleeper issue that may not have gotten the amount of focus in the public debate as it should. there is a new requirement in essa that state and local report cards have to include per pupil expenditure reporting. and that is broken down by the school level and has to include actual teacher salaries. and so ccsso and our members have committed to equitable funding and transparency in fourour funding processes. so this is a great opportunity for us both to sort of elevate equity in funding but then to look at funding efficiencies. you know, are we maximizing the impact of every sort of dollar that we have in our limited resources. so there is a breakout session that will address this, but again, it hasn't gotten the public focus yet, but i think it will encourage a lot of public discussions that should be potentially very helpful. just a quick snapshot about ed capacity these days and we'll be hearing from secretary devos
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here later this afternoon. they are staffing up. there has been some progress in terms of populating the department. they now have three senate confirmed nominees. frank brogan, the nominee for elementary and secondary education assistant secretary, sort of breaking news, he will receive a vote in the committee tomorrow, and so we're hopeful that the department is able to generate more capacity and sort of staff up as they look to continue to implement essa. however, there is also a reorganization plan that has been widely reported. so there is not as many political appointees in the pipeline as you would ordinarily see. part of that is because an intentionality of reducing the size of the footprint at the federal level. so a leaked memo described a proposal to reduce the number of political appointees from 150 to 100 and also consolidate certain
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offices. i think the one -- there's some question as to whether they need statute in order to make some of these changes. in k-12, we'd be interested in the charter school office and innovation and improvement and the office of english language acquisition. a few sort of critical topics that don't fit neatly into elsewhere in my presentation, but that are just very important for us to be aware of. first, the primary legislative accomplishment of the congress last year and of the administration was to make some changes to the tax code. and i think the piece that matters most in k-12 education is the new cap on the deductibility of state and local taxes. the final legislation capped it at $10,000 per year. there is some concern that that could place pressure upon higher tax, higher revenue states, higher cost states in terms of
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their ability to raise revenue for public education. so this is sort of a medium term issue. this takes effect on the 2018 tax year. so the effects on school funding wouldn't be potentially until down the road. but definitely a major issue that we should be aware of around funding and equitable funding. another incredibly critical issue for hundreds of thousands of students and the communities in which they live, daca, deferred action for childhood arrivals. you may know this was a president obama program that granted relief to minors who were brought into this country without authorization. last year the president announced an intent to rescind the program. actually on march the 5th, today. so today would have been the last day for daca. however, the courts actually have now blocked that, and so the program is currently operating. the supreme court last week
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refused to take up an expedited appeal which would have expedited the outcome of this litigation. but as of right now, the program is operating but on a very sort of tentative basis. and if you are a young person who is looking to sort of plan your life and you know that your status could be rescinded at a moment's notice, that will provide a level of instability. and so ccsso, we've committed to providing safe and supportive environments for all students. so this is another area where states can continue to lead. although ultimately this is one of the few areas that were talked about today that really is federal only. it's really only the feds that can make the changes around immigration policy that would be needed to address this issue permanently. but at least that is where we are now. and even though there is broad sort of public support for a solution, we are not really very close to one right now.
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and then last but really in a lot of ways could be first is the discussion around school safety. i was very glad to hear commissioner pruitt this morning and the leadership that he and our fellow chiefs have taken on this issue i think will be particularly critical. and really by necessity, if not by design, this is going to be one of our top issue areas. so as we heard already this morning, the state's ccssos convened a state working group and we will focus on best practices and things that s.e.a.s can do to ensure that all students can go to school in a safe environment because as commissioner pruitt said, none of the rest of it matters if our students aren't safe in our schools. so by way of conclusion, it is chaotic federal level. but states and ccsso are continuing to lead. we cannot afford to wait for relief from the federal
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government or direction from the federal government because, you know, we don't think that that will be coming soon. we welcome the partnership at the federal level, but we need to continue to lead. and we need to continue to tell our stories about how we're leading. i think often here in d.c. people don't have as clear a sense as they might as to the great work that you all are doing in your individual states. and so if we at ccsso can help you to communicate that to your congressional delegations or to the public at large, please count on us to do that. and beyond that, the federal piece continues to be really critical and so encouraging you even if there is not a bill that will pass immediately that is important, that you develop the ongoing relationships that facilitate the partnership at the federal and state level so that we can educate all children. thank you very much. [ applause ]

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