School board members encourage Congress to find collaborative solutions to education challenges
Jim Rice, President and Grayle James Assistant Secretary of the Fort Bend Independent School District Board of Trustees joined more than 750 school board and state school boards association leaders in Washington to advocate for strong public schools for all students.
Rice and James were in Washington, D.C., to take part in the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) new Advocacy Institute, held February 2-4, 2014. The focus of the NSBA Advocacy Institute centers on building year-round advocates for public education and local school governance in public, legal, and legislative arenas. School board members engage in NSBA’s Federal Relations Network, a national grassroots legislative effort that urges members of the U.S. Congress to make public education a top priority.
“We need strong public schools to ensure that our students are well prepared for college and careers in today’s rapidly changing global economy, “ said Rice. “As school board members, the National School Board’s Association’s Advocacy Institute helped us learn about emerging federal and national issues and the importance of adding our local expertise to the conversations in Washington to ensure that new policies are beneficial to all of our students.”
Resources and funding are significant concerns for local districts. School districts have recently seen cuts in their federal and state budgets because of the across the board cuts last year through the process known as sequestration. In a day-long visit to Capitol Hill, school board leaders asked Congress to accelerate investments in public education that support local efforts to continue to raise student achievement and appropriate full funding for Title 1 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates.
School board members are also keeping a close eye on federal intrusion and overreach that has impacted local school district policy and programs in ways that have gone beyond the specific intent of law. NSBA has worked with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives to introduce “The Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act,” H.R. 1386, which recognizes the benefits of local school district governance and ensures that maximum flexibility and decision-making are not eroded through the U.S. Department of Education actions.
“Local school boards understand the needs of their communities and schools and work to serve the best interests of our school districts,” said James. “We need Congress and the U.S. Department of Education to work with us to ensure that all students are receiving the best education we can provide.”
School board members also will be urging their senators to pass the reauthorization to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The House version, H.R. 5, contains elements of the Local Governance and Flexibility Act, and was passed last summer.
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