FGN News: February 2016

Here in Washington, education advocates are closely following the regulatory process for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and NASSP is in the trenches for principals. We have been meeting with U.S. Department of Education officials, writing comments, and preparing for webinars and sessions to educate principals about the changes unfolding from this federal law. The law sends a great deal of power back to states and districts, so it will be important for principals to get involved early and often as the transition and implementation move forward. NASSP is currently in the process of developing a toolkit for principals that will outline the various ways to make your voice heard, so keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks.

While the FY 2016 budget process was not finalized until just before the New Year, we are already looking towards FY 2017. Yesterday President Obama released his FY 2017 budget proposal, prompting budget responses from organizations all over the country. Watch for more on this topic by following NASSP’s blog, School of Thought.

We are looking forward to meeting some members of the Federal Grassroots Network at NASSP’s annual Ignite ’16 conference, February 25–27, in Orlando, FL. We hope you will join us there, as advocacy staff will be presenting an informative session titled “Goodbye NCLB, Hello ESSA: What the New Federal Law Means for Your School.” NASSP Director of Advocacy Amanda Karhuse will also be moderating The State of American Education Panel featuring Jimmy Casas, former Iowa Principal of the Year; Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust; Molly Spearman, superintendent of education for the South Carolina State Department of Education; and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

This Month’s Top Advocacy Issues

ESSA Regulations

The Every Student Succeeds Act regulatory process is underway. Before the start of the New Year, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) officially put out a request for information (RFI) looking for comments from stakeholders on Title I. NASSP submitted comments in collaboration with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). In total, 369 groups and individuals filed comments. NASSP, along with NAESP and the American Federation of School Administrators, has been meeting with ED officials over the last month concerning principals’ priorities in the regulatory process—professional development for school leaders in particular.

On January 28, ED published a letter that focused on the transition to ESSA, specifically funding and ED’s role in reviewing state plans. On February 4, ED put a notice in the Federal Register to initiate negotiated rulemaking by appointing a committee to examine rules on assessments and the “supplement, not supplant” language of ESSA. NASSP will be recommending members for that committee.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization

Under the leadership of Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the Senate Agriculture Committee marked up and passed through their proposed child nutrition reauthorization bill, the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016, which will replace the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The bill makes important changes to child nutrition programs by updating them for the digital age. Programs covered by the bill include the National School Lunch Program, after-school and summer meals, and the supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children known as WIC.

Of concern in the bill is the requirement to verify a greater percentage of free and reduced-price lunch applications, although it is unclear what that percentage will be for any individual district. The bill also reverses some of the previously approved nutrition standards, giving school districts more time to transition to meals with lower sodium and more whole grains, for instance.

Perkins Career and Technical Education Reauthorization

In October, Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) announced that they were beginning work on a bipartisan reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, which was last reauthorized in 2006 and is two years overdue. Since taking leadership, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has also expressed that he would like to move a Perkins CTE bill. Sens. Casey and Enzi have agreed to certain principles in writing the first draft, including maintaining formula-based funding, making it easier for states to serve all students (including those with disabilities), expanding career counseling for CTE students, encouraging districts and states to match courses with local demand for skill, and improving research and evaluation support to CTE.

On October 27, NASSP sent a letter to Sens. Casey and Enzi outlining our priorities for Perkins CTE reauthorization. In addition, NASSP signed on to the Perkins Career and Technical Education coalition letter in support of Perkins as an effective tool for improving student outcomes.

Twitter Talk

@dnchodak 2016 @NASSP Principal of the Year @AlanTenreiro discusses #CommonCore & building a culture of high expectations shar.es/1hWq4Z
@jfcastro2 Every child deserves access to a great teacher AND a great principal! #SOTU
@akarhuse Principal prep programs must teach effective hiring practices to help principals find the right teachers for their schools. #PrincipalsAtEd

For more advocacy tweets, join us on social media by following NASSP and the advocacy staff on Twitter:


In addition to our comprehensive comments submitted with NAESP, NASSP submitted comments as a member of the Coalition for Teaching Quality (CTQ) concerning the definitions of inexperienced or out-of-field teachers and the methods for measuring teacher effectiveness. CTQ also would like to see clarification of state plans to ensure that low-income families and students of color are not disproportionally taught by inexperienced or out-of-field teachers.

Take Action

Send a message today to your representative or senators in support of loan forgiveness for principals through our Principal’s Legislative Action Center. Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) introduced the Recruiting and Retaining Effective School Leaders Act (H.R. 3925) to alleviate some of the burden placed on principals and assistant principals by creating a loan forgiveness program similar to the existing one for teachers.

In this Month’s Principal Leadership


The February issue of Principal Leadership magazine features an article by NASSP Director of Advocacy Amanda Karhuse in honor of NASSP’s 100th anniversary. The article, “Looking Back on 100 Years of Advocacy for Principals,” highlights NASSP’s history as the leading voice for secondary school principals.

Advocacy Updates on School of Thought

Visit NASSP’s School of Thought blog for weekly advocacy blog posts and the latest education legislation news. In a recent blog post, 2016 NASSP Principal of the Year Alan Tenreiro shares his experience meeting with Acting Education Secretary John King and other leaders at the U.S. Department of Education.

All FGN members are invited to write a guest blog post for School of Thought—just email Advocacy Coordinator Sophie Papavizas with your idea. You can also subscribe to the blog to receive an email whenever a new post is published.