LDA Legislative News

LDA Legislative News is our monthly newlsetter for legislative updates and news from Washington.

LDA Legislative News – October 2015

Questions Remain about Budget Deal The government is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR), a stopgap measure to keep the agencies running until Congress decides spending levels for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. This measure is set to expire on December 11. Congressional leaders have expressed support for crafting a budget deal possibly for two years that would loosen the very tight budget caps, giving the appropriations committees additional money to fund critical programs. Sources have reported some budget talks among Senate and House leaders and the Office of Management and Budget and the White House. Democrats have made clear… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – September 2015

Government Shutdown Possibility Grows As this article is being written, there are thirteen days remaining until a possible government shutdown on the last day of Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015), September 30, 2015.  There is no plan right now to avoid this happening.  Much of what is going on hinges on some very conservative House members who insist any funding bill must include language to defund Planned Parenthood and prohibit certain abortion procedures.  In addition there are some members of Congress who believe the current budget caps are adequate, if not too generous.   The earliest the House could bring up… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – August 2015

Advocates Mark 25th Anniversary of ADA On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into the law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The effort to end institutional discrimination against individuals with disabilities was a true bipartisan effort, with Republican Senator Lowell Weicker as the Senate sponsor and Democratic Representative Tony Coehlo sponsoring the House version.  Now on the 25th anniversary, the ADA continues to provide protections for individuals with disabilities in hiring, public accommodations, healthcare, education and other arenas and has served as a model for other countries as they move to enact similar laws.     While… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – June 2015

Deal Needed to Save Education Funding Congress has begun its deliberations on spending – “appropriations,” in congressional parlance – for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 which begins on October 1, 2015.  The first step in the long process involves consideration of funding bills by the 12 appropriations subcommittees, one of which is Labor-Health and Human Services-Education. That bill contains most all the programs LDA follows.  The House Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee led off in mid-June with passage on a party-line vote of a draconian bill that would significantly reduce spending for most education programs.   Overall funding for discretionary programs in the Department… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – May 2015

Grad Rate for Students with Disabilities Still Lags According to the 2015 Building a Grad Nation report, students with disabilities graduated high school in 2012-13 at a rate 20 percentage points below the national average.  While this is an increase of 2.9 points since 2010-11, this is still a startling gap when most students with disabilities, including students with specific learning disabilities, are in the regular classroom being taught the general education curriculum.   Produced annually for the last six years by the Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center (Johns Hopkins University),… Read More »

LDA Legisative News – April 2015

Bipartisan ESEA Bill Developed in Senate Committee On April 16 by a unanimous vote, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind).  The product of many months of negotiation between Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), the Every Child Achieves Act maintains the core of the ESEA while giving States greater flexibility in implementation.   While both Alexander and Murray acknowledge the bill does not comport completely with what either would have wanted, they… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – March 2015

ESEA Process Slower but Still on Track The process of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind) has been a long time coming.  Each federal education law must be reexamined through the reauthorization process generally every five years to determine if the law is working, if changes need to be made, or if it is no longer relevant or necessary. The process of reauthorizing the ESEA began in 2007, but without success.  Finally, the process appears to have gained momentum, although the end is not yet in sight.    Senator Lamar Alexander… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – January 2015

Education Debate Takes Center Stage The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, known currently as No Child Left Behind, NCLB) is eight years overdue.  Each chamber of Congress has introduced multiple bills over the last seven years in an attempt to find common ground, but without success.  The leadership in the new Congress has indicated both in words and action that they intend to pass a bill this year.    To get the process started, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the new chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a draft bill in… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – December 2014

LDA Impacts FY 2015 Funding Just at the final hour, the 113th Congress concluded funding for current Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015).  Among the few wins in that large bill was the partial reinstatement of the “ability to benefit.” Individuals without a high school diploma will be eligible for federal student financial aid, but only if they are enrolled in a career pathway program at a higher education institution such as a community college.  Since the provision was completely eliminated several years ago, LDA has been working with members of Congress and other interested organizations to regain eligibility for financial… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – November 2014

LDA and NCLD Comment on Federal Research Agenda  In partnership with the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), LDA submitted comments to the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education on the future work of the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER).  NCSER solicited input from researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders as they determine what issues need specific attention and how best to communicate the results of research to practitioners.  With the strong emphasis on evidence-based practices, LDA and NCLD felt it was of critical importance that IES and NCSER hear from families and practitioners with… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – October 2014

  Coalition Issues Roadmap for Teacher and Administrator Quality The Coalition on Teacher Quality (CTQ), a national coalition of more than 100 local, state, and national organizations, including LDA, has just issued two seminal documents to address the professional preparation of teachers and principals and the strategies for building a continuum of excellence.  CTQ has combined the commitment and expertise of individuals from civil rights, disability, parent, student, community, and education groups to reach consensus on a new comprehensive framework for teaching quality that focuses on ensuring a fully prepared and effective educator in every classroom.   Profession-Ready Teachers and… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – September 2014

Congressional Committee Holds Hearing on Dyslexia In late September the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, chaired by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), held a hearing on the “science of dyslexia.”  Smith stated in his opening remarks that one in five students has dyslexia or an attention issue, teachers lack training to address these students’ needs, and too few schools have specialized programs. He stated his goal as turning the “disability into possibility,” noting the significant contributions individuals with dyslexia have made to society.  Ranking committee member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), agreed the issue is complex and called for greater… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – July 2014

  Get Involved in Your State’s SSIP Development LDA has been reporting over the last several months on the new Results Driven Accountability (RDA) system, which has not officially been released by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). We are now urging LDA members, as individuals or through your State affiliates, to get involved in the development of a key component of this new special education accountability process.   RDA is the new process by which OSEP is now monitoring and evaluating States’ implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Over a number… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – June 2014

Bipartisan Workforce Bill Moving to a Vote This summer Congress is set to pass the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) through a bipartisan, bicameral bill known as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). With Congress at loggerheads over most legislation, the fact they have moved toward passage of this important legislation is in itself significant.  The House passed a version of WIA in March 2013 with bipartisan support, and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed its version, also overwhelmingly bipartisan, in July.  After intensive negotiations, in May 2014 House and Senate leaders introduced the… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – May 2014

Appropriators Hope for Return to Regular Order In the congressional appropriations (spending/funding) process, “regular order” means passing bills through subcommittee and full committee and then passage on the floor of the House or Senate.  This orderly process of determining spending for the next federal fiscal year (FY) has been out of whack for quite a few years.  Now Senate Appropriations Chairman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) have stated they are determined to return to regular order for Fiscal Year 2015, which begins on October 1, 2014.  LDA follows most closely the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – April 2014

Department Collects Comments on RDA The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education has undertaken to revamp its State and federal monitoring processes to focus on improving results for students with disabilities. While the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) called for this change, monitoring has continued to emphasize compliance with substantive and procedural requirements rather than educational outcomes. OSEP is now preparing to institute a new monitoring system – Results Driven Accountability RDA – and is examining stakeholder input on how best to use results data to ensure accountability. Monitoring… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – March 2014

   President’s Budget Highlights ‘Results Driven Accountability’ In early March the Administration released the president’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015; School Year 2015-16), with an interesting twist for IDEA funding. Rather than provide an increase for IDEA-Part B State Grants, the Administration has requested $100 million in new funding for Results Driven Accountability Incentive grants to support the work of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in moving special education from a compliance-based to a results-driven system. The requested funds would be awarded to States through a competitive grant to implement State Systemic Implementation Plans focused… Read More »

LDA Legislative News – January 2014

  “Omnibus” Bill Funds Remainder of Fiscal Year In a Congress that passed a record low 55 bills in 2013, a bipartisan budget deal was finally brokered to fund the government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2014 (FY 2014, ending September 30, 2014) and beyond into FY 2015. After advocates and constituents from across the country contacted their senators and representatives regarding the effects of the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration, Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) negotiated a package that passed both chambers with comfortable margins. The budget deal provides enough… Read More »

News-in-Brief – November 2013

New Legislation Emphasizes Importance of Early Learning LDA signed on as an initial supporter for the recent introduction of the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and eleven Senate co-sponsors. Similar legislation also was introduced in the House by Representatives George Miller (D-CA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY). These bills would expand access to high-quality preschool for four-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families and high-quality infant and toddler care. States could use funds to serve four-year-olds whose families have incomes at or below 200 percent of poverty. Once a state or locality makes pre-kindergarten available… Read More »

News-in-Brief – October 2013

Americans Lack Critical Workplace Skills According to a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), American adults rank far behind counterparts in most other developed countries in mathematical and technical skills needed for success in today’s workplace. The Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), which evaluates the skills of adults in 24 countries, also highlights a large gap between Americans and other nations surveyed in literacy skills. PIAAC provides a look at key skills and how they are utilized at work and at home. A major element is an assessment of how critical information-processing… Read More »

News-in-Brief – September 2013

Government Shutdown Looms Again LDA has reported for several months on Congress’s inability to enact appropriations (spending) bills to fund the government for Fiscal Year 2014 (FY 2014), which begins on October 1, 2013. Once Congress returned from its August recess, only nine legislative days were scheduled for action to avert a government shutdown in the wake of Congress’s inaction. As this article was in process, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was considering canceling the House’s planned recess the week of September 23 in order to finalize action to keep the government operating. For the past several years Congress… Read More »

News-in-Brief – July 2013

PARCC Approves Accommodations Manual The Governing Board of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of two consortia developing assessments based on the Common Core State Standards, has given final approval to the first edition of its accessibility and accommodations manual. LDA provided comments on earlier drafts, and some favorable changes have been made. However, LDA and other disability organizations remain concerned about specific accommodations, including read-aloud features. The manual indicates the read-aloud accommodation is “intended for a very small number of students and will result in a valid score only for those students for… Read More »

News-in-Brief – June 2013

Senate Moves Forward on ESEA On June 13 with a straight party line vote of 12-10, the Democratic majority of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed the Strengthening America’s Schools Act (“SASA,” S. 1094), a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind). Education laws generally are reauthorized every five years. ESEA was scheduled for this intensive reexamination process in 2007. Efforts to reauthorize the law since that date have been stymied by philosophical party differences, in part related to what role the federal government should play… Read More »

News-in-Brief – May 2013

ESEA to Move on Partisan Track Once again it appears the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind) may be delayed, despite efforts at least in the Senate to reach agreement.  Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) began meeting in January to find common ground on a proposal that would move the long-overdue ESEA reauthorization forward.  Unfortunately, they have reached an impasse, and Senator Harkin plans to introduce a Democratic bill in June. The ESEA was on schedule to be reauthorized in 2007.  House… Read More »

News-in-Brief – April 2013

President’s Budget Highlights LDA Priorities President Obama recently released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, which begins on October 1, 2013. The budget focuses on investing in the middle class, adding new jobs, and strengthening the economy while continuing to rein in the large federal deficit. The president’s plan prioritizes key LDA issues including early childhood education, career and technical education, and job training. The budget proposal, which includes $1.8 trillion of additional deficit reduction over 10 years, is focused on making America more competitive through enhancing workers’ skills. The president cites as essential to this goal a… Read More »