Dear Education Advocates:
March is a busy month for the National Council of La Raza (NCLR)! Our team is preparing for the NCLR National Latino Advocacy Days, the twenty-fifth annual Capital Awards, and various advocacy and policy trainings around the country. We’re looking forward to engaging with advocates and allies in new and exciting ways!
We’re honored to recognize the ranking member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Rep. George Miller (D–CA), and Paul W. Bridges, Mayor (R), City of Uvalda, GA, at the NCLR Capital Awards today, March 6. The awards honor elected officials who have shown a consistent commitment to promoting legislation and public policies that benefit Hispanic Americans in their districts and throughout the country.
On March 7–8, National Latino Advocacy Days will bring together hundreds of NCLR Affiliate leaders and other community leaders from across the country in Washington, DC. Participants will learn about federal policy issues affecting the Latino community, and build relationships with their members of Congress through legislative visits on Capitol Hill. In conjunction with Advocacy Days, the education team will also lead an intensive media training and legislative visits for the first-ever cohort of NCLR’s National Institute for Latino School Leaders (NILSL).
To wrap up our busy month, NCLR will continue its partnership with the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) by providing a training in Atlanta, GA on federal education policy and state waiver applications, as well as an opportunity to discuss implementation scenarios.
In the meantime, there’s plenty going on in Washington, DC, including movement on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), President Obama’s budget proposals, and changes in Early Childhood Education funding.
We hope to see you at one of our exciting March events!
The NCLR Education Policy and Programs Team
Early Childhood Education
What the President’s Budget Means for Early Childhood Education
On February 13th, President Obama released his proposal for the Fiscal Year 2013 budget. The budget shows a strong commitment to early learning. Although it is unclear how Congress will actually allocate funding for programs, the president has requested an ongoing commitment to the Race to the Top program at $850 million. It is unclear how much of this amount would be targeted for the Early Learning Challenge, but the Department of Education has stated that it will be a “significant portion of the funds.” Additionally, the budget proposal includes an additional $85 million for Head Start and an additional $325 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. At a time when our nation is struggling economically, NCLR strongly believes these are steps in the right direction. More resources should be targeted to early learning, particularly as the proportion of young Latino children continues to grow.
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Chairman Kline Holds Hearing on Subpar Education Bills
In February, the House Education and Workforce Committee held a hearing on Chairman John Kline’s education bills. NCLR’s own Delia Pompa was called to testify on behalf of the civil rights community on how Chairman Kline’s bills miss the mark. NCLR continues to stand in opposition to the House attempts at ESEA reauthorization because the proposals don’t hold schools or districts accountable for students’ success and could reverse the progress we’ve made since Brown v. Board of Education, which helped make education more accessible and equitable for all children.
Eleven States Approved for No Child Left Behind Waivers
On February 9, President Obama announced that ten of the 11 states that applied for waivers had been approved. Less than a week later, the final state, New Mexico, was also granted approval.
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Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia submitted requests in the second round of applications, which were due February 28. NCLR, along with many other civil rights and education groups, is concerned about applications that do not maintain graduation rate or subgroup accountability and that do not show evidence of engaging diverse communities as they prepared their applications. No timeline has been set for the second round, but NCLR will continue to monitor the content and quality of state applications. The U.S. Department of Education has also announced a third deadline for submitting waivers, September 6.
NCLR Weighs in on Common Core State Standards
Last week, NCLR’s Delia Pompa submitted a comment to the National Journal on the importance of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Latino students. Latino students, who are disproportionately affected by low standards, have much to gain from proper implementation of college- and career-ready standards, such as CCSS. Read more about NCLR’s position on CCSS here.
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House Moves Forward with Partisan Education Bills
On February 28, the House Education and Workforce Committee held a full committee markup of H.R. 3989, “Student Success Act” and H.R. 3990, “Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.” NCLR, along with 30 other organizations, gave their support to the amendment offered by Ranking Member George Miller. This amendment, which failed on a party-line vote, would have replaced Chairman John Kline’s language and upheld the essential federal role in education. The committee’s decision to move ahead with Chairman Kline’s legislation signals a lack of concern for the needs of children in classrooms across America.
President’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Released
As President Obama indicated in his State of the Union Address, the administration intends to make education a priority in the coming year. While there are proposals to consolidate or eliminate some education programs, the budget request submitted to Congress on February 13 includes $69.8 billion in discretionary funding for the U.S. Department of Education. The proposal includes funding for a few key initiatives, such as Race to the Top and Investing and Innovation, and maintains funding at Fiscal Year 2012 levels for programs that are not recommended for consolidation or elimination.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is scheduled to testify on the administration’s budget requests on March 22, and NCLR will continue to track funding for key education programs as the budget process moves to the Appropriations Committees.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Not Just an Aretha Franklin Song
The Obama administration’s 2013 budget includes $5 billion for a new competitive program to incentivize states to reform their teacher training, tenure, and professional development systems. The program, called RESPECT, stands for “Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching,” and is subject to the budget negotiating progress with Congress and the competition process. However, the Department of Education is considering a broad range of reforms to include, such as reforming teaching colleges and making them more selective, compensating teachers for working in challenging learning environments, and reforming tenure to raise the bar, protect good teachers, and promote accountability.
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NCLR in Action!
Join the Effort to Repeal Alabama’s HB 56!
Alabama’s new anti-immigrant law, HB 56, has created a humanitarian crisis and left crops rotting in the fields by attempting to drive immigrants and Latino families out of the state. A new study by the University of Alabama shows that the state stands to lose up to $11 billion because of HB 56—the law has created an unwelcome business climate and cut consumer demand. This week, March 4–9, NCLR and committed civil rights activists are marching from Selma to Montgomery to honor those who did the same as part of the Civil Rights movement 47 years ago, and to stand with Black civil rights leaders against Alabama’s draconian HB 56. Even if you can’t attend in person, you can still lend your voice to the repeal efforts!
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