Education News Updates: August 2016


Every Dollar Counts: In Defense of the Education Department’s ‘Supplement Not Supplant’ Proposal

A new paper from two Columbia Law School scholars defends the Education Department’s proposed regulatory language implementing ESSA, Title I’s supplement, not supplant provisions.

Evidence compellingly demonstrates — as Congress famously recognized in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) — that, in order to succeed in school, low-income children require more educational resources than other students. Yet, a half century later, many school districts continue to spend dramatically less on their high-poverty schools than on those more privileged. Districts do this by permitting their most experienced and highly salaried teachers to opt into schools with more privileged students, then failing to count teacher salaries in school funding comparisons, disguising the fact that Title I schools with less experienced, lower salaried teachers spend less on instruction than schools with more advantaged populations.

To remedy this, the Department recently proposed a regulation requiring districts to account for all aspects of local funding in demonstrating compliance with the longstanding requirement that they use Title I funds to supplement and not to supplant local funds. Not surprisingly, the regulation has met stiff resistance from actors with partisan interests in maintaining the status quo. More troubling, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (“CRS”) has added a seemingly show-stopping legal objection: that the proposed regulation so clearly contravenes the ESEA that it might not deserve Chevron deference.

This paper argues that the CRS Report is clearly wrong. The Education Department has crafted a reasonable regulation that adopts a long-established and well-respected strategy for identifying actions taken pursuant to an unlawful motive. Although partisans may object to making districts choose between using dollars currently spent on more privileged children to more adequately fund low-income schools, or forsaking federal dollars, that is the choice to which the law in existence for decades puts districts.

School Meals Child Nutrition Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service published several final rules regarding the Health and Hungry Free Kids Act.

The Food and Nutrition Service administers several programs that provide healthy food to children including the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and the Special Milk Program.  Administered by State agencies, each of these programs helps fight hunger and obesity by reimbursing organizations such as schools, child care centers, and after-school programs for providing healthy meals to children.

Know Your Rights: Students with ADHD

The Education Department released guidance this week regarding serving students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The guidance is supplemented with a document titled “Know Your Rights” that aims to clarify a schools’ obligations to students.

If you are the parent or guardian of a student in public elementary or secondary school, including a charter school, and that student has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the information below summarizes your rights and your school district’s legal obligations under a Federal civil rights law that prohibits disability discrimination called Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504).

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The U.S. Department of Education released new guidance regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)’s provisions addressing homeless children and youth. ESSA reauthorized the McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance Act. The amended law provides new protections for homeless youth, and aims to help states and districts better serve homeless populations. The new provisions take effect on October 1, 2016.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015, and represents good news for our nation’s schools. This bipartisan measure reauthorizes the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the nation’s national education law and longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students.

The new law builds on key areas of progress in recent years, made possible by the efforts of educators, communities, parents, and students across the country.

For example, today, high school graduation rates are at all-time highs. Dropout rates are at historic lows. And more students are going to college than ever before. These achievements provide a firm foundation for further work to expand educational opportunity and improve student outcomes under ESSA.

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