Legislative Action Team Advisory

Thursday, February 22, 2007

House to move NCLB in 2007

February 22, 2007 – Today the Democratic staff of the Education and Labor Committee of the House of Representatives met with representatives of the education and civil rights communities to talk about their plans for the upcoming reauthorization of NCLB. The tentative hearing schedule has three hearings in March – looking at topics such as AYP, special education and NCLB, and ELL and NCLB. While the dates and topics are subject to change the first one may be on March 21st at the full committee level. The staff said that the chairman is interested in several core elements of NCLB being retained – closing the achievement gap and universal proficiency among them. The chairman has been visiting schools around the nation and is well aware that there are statutory and implementation issues that need to be addressed in reauthorization. He is hoping to get a bill through the House by the end of this calendar year.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sample letter to your Senator re Striving Readers (S.958)

IRA, along with the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Alliance for Excellent Education has worked for the past year to expand the Striving Readers program. This bill will authorize adolescent literacy grants to be awarded to states on a formula basis according to poverty levels and 8th grade NAEP reading scores. Local districts will be able to use these funds to develop schoolwide literacy plans and provide professional development in core academic subjects.

Striving Readers Act (S.958) was introduced March 22nd by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). IRA helped draft this legislation and IRA’s Legislative Action Team made Hill visits on February 16th seeking support for this bill. To follow-up the efforts of IRA’s LAT, we need you to send letters to your Senators asking them to sign on as co-sponsors to the Striving Readers Act today. Please see sample letter below.

Adapt this to make it your own.
Be sure to personalize the areas in bold.

The Honorable Senator ???

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator ?????:
On behalf of the (fill in number of IRA members in your state) members of the (your state’s name) Reading Association we ask you to sign on as a co-sponsor for the the Striving Readers Act of 2007 (S. 958). Senators Jeff Sessions and Patty Murray crafted a bill that will help improve student achievement in adolescent literacy for middle level and high school students by establishing adolescent literacy initiatives aimed at increasing high school graduation and college readiness. The legislation will expand and authorize the current Striving Readers Program. Senators Sessions and Murray have already sent you a "Dear Colleague" letter requesting your support. We urge you to sign on to the Striving Readers Act of 2007 (S. 958).

The (fill in your state’s name) Reading Association represents a community of 90,000 reading professionals that include reading specialists, university professors, literacy coaches, classroom teachers, reading researchers, and librarians. As educators we experience first hand the results of students with inadequate reading instruction at the secondary level.

(Fill in number or percentage) of 8th graders in our state read below basic standards according to state assessment tests. This means they can’t (Fill in a short example of insufficient skills).

(Then give a short example from your state or district re how funds could be used if you were awarded a grant. This should be very short. The entire letter should be one page.)

We know that given the right instruction and opportunity every child can learn to read and achieve at his or her highest level. We hope that you agree that this investment in the future of millions of young Americans is critical to the economic future of our country. Please support the Striving Readers Act of 2007 by signing on as a co-sponsor.

Your name
The (fill in your state’s name) Reading Association
Address and contact information

Monday, February 05, 2007

President's FY08 budget request

President Bush released his budget request for FY08. Below is a summary of the request.

The request would provide $24.5 billion to support the Administration's reauthorization proposal for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This proposal would provide additional resources at the high school level, encourage more rigorous instruction and coursework in our middle and high schools, make available more meaningful choice options to students in low-performing schools, and significantly increase the resources available to States and LEAs to support school improvement efforts, particularly through a stronger emphasis on fundamental staffing and governance changes in schools undergoing restructuring. These and other reauthorization changes are discussed in more detail in the section on Elementary and Secondary Education. Key parts of the request that support the reauthorization include:
• $13.9 billion for Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies, an increase of $1.2 billion, or 9.4 percent, primarily to drive more Title I funding to high schools so that they have the resources to implement the reforms and interventions that are working to improve achievement at the elementary level.
• $500 million in first-time funding for Title I School Improvement Grants to support strong and effective State leadership in helping to turn around low-performing schools and school districts. Funds would be evenly split between building State capacity to lead LEA and school improvement efforts and additional resources for LEAs working to turn around low-performing schools.
• $411.6 million for State Assessment Grants to maintain support for strong State assessment systems and support the development and implementation of 2 years of high school assessments that would be required by the Administration's reauthorization proposal for Title I.
• $300 million to expand private school choice and tutoring options for America's students and families, including $250 million for Promise Scholarships, a new formula program to give low-income students in restructuring schools the opportunity to transfer to private schools or public schools in other districts, or to obtain intensive tutoring; and $50 million for Opportunity Scholarships, which would award competitive grants to a broad range of entities, including municipalities, non-profit organizations, and other entities, to carry out innovative programs that give students in low-performing schools the opportunity to transfer to another public or private school or obtain intensive supplemental services.
• A $365 million increase to support the American Competitiveness Initiative by strengthening the capacity of our schools to improve instruction in mathematics and science:
o $125 million for the Math Now for Elementary School Students initiative, modeled after Reading First, to implement proven practices in math instruction, including those that will be recommended by the National Math Panel, that focus on preparing K-6 students for more rigorous math courses in middle and high school.
o $125 million for a new Math Now for Middle School Students initiative, based on the principles of the Striving Readers program, to support research-based math interventions in middle schools.
o A $90 million increase for Advanced Placement to provide a new emphasis on training teachers and expanding opportunities for students, particularly in high-poverty schools, to take high-level Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses in math, science, and critical foreign languages.
o $25 million for the Adjunct Teacher Corps to create opportunities for qualified professionals from outside the K-12 educational system to teach secondary-school courses in the core academic subjects, with an emphasis on mathematics and the sciences.
• A $68.4 million increase for the Striving Readers program, funded for the first time in fiscal year 2005, to significantly expand the development and implementation of research-based interventions to improve the skills of teenage students who are reading below grade level.
• $1.0 billion for Reading First State Grants and $117.7 million for Early Reading First to maintain support for comprehensive reading instruction, grounded in scientifically based reading research, that enables all young children to read well by the end of third grade. The request for Early Reading First, which consolidates this program with the Early Childhood Educator Professional Development program, would also help strengthen partnerships between preschool providers and institutions of higher education that provide professional development to early childhood educators.
• $2.8 billion for Improving Teacher Quality State Grants to help States ensure that all teachers of core academic subjects are highly qualified and to strengthen teachers' subject-matter knowledge and teaching skills.
• $199 million for the Teacher Incentive Fund to expand support for State and local efforts to develop and implement performance-based financial incentives for teachers and principals. This program helps close the equity gap in access to the best teachers and principals by rewarding those who raise student achievement, close achievement gaps, and work in hard-to-staff schools.
Link to Department of Education budget request:



NCLB “Insiders” Forecast Delay in Reauthorization, Minor Tweaks to Legislation
In January, the Thomas B. Fordham foundation released the results of a survey of “Washington insiders” on No Child Left Behind reauthorization. According to the survey, those often considered to be “in the know” on NCLB don’t believe its reauthorization will occur until at least 2009. 11 out of 12 respondents chose “2009 or later” for the timing of NCLB reauthorization, but one did predict it would occur this year. Additionally, most respondents believed that the law would only undergo relatively minor changes based mostly on ongoing NCLB related initiatives at the Department. For more information:http://www.edexcellence.net/doc/CrystalAppleNCLBBrief.pdf

Commission on Civil Rights to Examine SESThe U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced it will convene three expert panels on the implementation of the supplemental education services (SES) provisions of NCLB. The panel discussions will take place on February 26 and the Commission is seeking public comment until that date. Each panel will feature experts, school officials, and parents. A number of experts and stakeholders in NCLB will speak at the event, including Eugene Hicock, former deputy secretary of education, superintendents from Detroit, Camden, NJ, and Newark, NJ, and parents from New Jersey, Texas, and Michigan. For more information: http://www.usccr.gov

Business Roundtable, US Chamber Form Coalition for NCLB Reauthorization
The Business Roundtable and U.S. Chamber of Commerce have formed a coalition in order to facilitate the reauthorization of NCLB this year. The Business Coalition for Student Achievement is co-chaired by Craig R. Barrett, Chairman of Intel; Arthur F. Ryan, Chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc.; and Edward B. Rust Jr., Chairman and CEO of State Farm and promises to use its resources and connections to push for a timely reauthorization of NCLB. For more information: http://www.biz4achievement.org

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bush Ready to Sign Off on Spending Bill


The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 31, 2007; 2:42 AM

WASHINGTON -- The White House has signaled its embrace of a $463.5 billion omnibus spending bill, removing doubts that the measure will soon be on President Bush's desk.