U.S. Legislative Update

By Ron Skinner posted 02-10-2014 06:17



Have you ever wanted a list of EVERY Department of Education significant policy guidance that is still in effect?  Well, if so, you’ll be happy to know that ED just released just such a list of significant guidance documents issued by the U.S. Department of Education, with some of them going back to 1975! 


The big education news from the Whitehouse this week was the President’s speech on his ConnectED initiative.  Three notable announcements came from that speech (and you can check it out for yourself here):


  1. $2 billion dollars for broadband connections to schools, though it seems that this is not new money, but a “reprioritization and reallocation” of the existing FCC budget.  See more here

  2. “Over $750 million in private-sector commitments to deliver cutting-edge technologies to classrooms, including devices, free software, teacher professional development, and home wireless connectivity.” Get some specifics here

  3. “An additional commitment to rural schools with over $10 million in distance learning grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.” See; USDA Announces Investments to Expand Distance Learning and Telemedicine Opportunities in Rural Areas.


The President also noted that he will be requesting money in FY2015 for teacher professional development on using technology and high speed connectivity, and some guidance should be coming soon from ED on the way states and districts can use federal funds for professional development, access to content, and devices.




A bipartisan letter is circulating in the House of Representatives, currently with 51 co-signers, that will make a request of the President to increase spending for IDEA in FY2015 with a goal of reaching “full” funding in 10 years.  I wouldn't expect much to come of this, but it is nice to know that it is even being considered by some legislators.


For background on this, there are currently over 6.5 million children eligible for special education services under IDEA.  The federal government committed to contributing 40% of the average perpuil expenditure, but IDEA Part B funding has never reached about 18.5%.  So hitting the 40% mark would be considered full funding from the feds.



Education Law Center just released The 3rd Edition of Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card, which “analyzes the condition of state school finance systems with a focus on the fair distribution of resources to the neediest students... The report evaluates states on the basis of four separate, but interrelated, fairness measures: funding level, funding distribution, state effort, and coverage.