Lobbying Report April 2010

by

NEA Directors Lobbying Washington, D.C.
April 29, 2010

NEA Legislative Briefing with NEA Government Relations Staff

Two primary issues addressed were ESEA (No Child Left Behind) Reauthorization

and an Education Jobs Package.

ESEA Reauthorization

NEA concerns with the Obama Administration Blueprint for Education Reform include:

  • too much focus on state competition for dollars;
  • insufficient efforts to address inequity across each state;
  • continued reliance on standardized tests, with no requirement of multiple measures of learning;
  • requirements for teacher evaluation based on student test scores;
  • prescribed and limited models of reform; and
  • no attempt to support parents’ efforts to be more involved in their children’s education.

Education Jobs Package

Passage of an education jobs package is a top priority for NEA.  Senator Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Keep Our Educators Working Act (S. 3206), which would provide $23 billion to the states.  The House already passed a similar proposal in December 2009 as part of the Jobs for Main Street Act 9HR 2847).

Illinois Education Funding and State Budget Crisis

Directors also shared concerns about the funding and budget crisis in Illinois with Members of Congress.

Senator Durbin (D-IL) Constituent Meeting

Met with Senator Durbin

Congressman Bill Foster (D-14, Geneva)

Met with Congressman Foster and staff

Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-4, Chicago)

Met with Nicole Dinis, Education Staff

Congressman Peter Roskam (R-6, Wheaton)

Met with Kevin Kuhlman, Education Staff

Congressman Jerry Costello (D-12, Belleville)

Met with Katie Stonewater, Education Staff

Congressman Tim Johnson (R-15, Sidney)

Met with Ben Brockschmidt, Education Staff

Congressman Aaron Schock (R-19, Peoria)

Met with Congressman Schock and Margie Almanza, Education Staff

Congressman Mark Kirk (R-10, Highland Park)

Met with Congressman Kirk and staff

Congressman Danny Davis (D-7, Chicago)

Met with Congressman Davis

Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-13, Hinsdale)

Met with Congresswoman Biggert and staff

Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson (D-11, Crete)

Met with Congresswoman Halverson and Justin Cajindos, Education Staff

Senate Hearing on Education Jobs Bill, Senator Harkin (D-IA) Chair

Selected Members of Congress’ and Staff Comments April 29, 2010

Rep. Judy Biggert – Probably will oppose a jobs bill.  Impact is temporary and adds to deficit. Is very concerned about education job losses.  Willing to look at alternatives.  Illinois used previous ARRA and jobs monies to plug the state’s deficits—not create jobs.   Regarding ESEA Reauthorization, we need quite a few changes.  Use growth models.  No teaching to the test.  More local control and flexibility.  Feds should not be a national school board.  Opposes using student performance for teacher pay.  Concerned about the privacy issue on using student data.  Concerned that we’ve done away with so much in education—music, art, etc.

Rep. Jerry Costello’s Legislative Assistant Katie Stonewater – Says the Congressman wants more local control and parental involvement.  He is opposed to the punitive approach in ESEA.   Staff are checking to see if Rep. Costello is a co-sponsor of the Social Security Fairness bill (to reform GPO-WEP).  He opposes vouchers.

Senator Dick Durbin – When asked if he could persuade Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan to pass a responsible budget he said the Speaker is not returning his calls.  Durbin supports an education jobs bill but shared concerns about how to pay for it. Schools must fix the drop out crisis, improve graduation rates, especially for Black and Hispanic students and better prepare students for college.  Sen. Durbin Never misses a chance to say public schools must do better.  He spoke about the DREAM Act and its importance to the young people who are illegal-undocumented and live in America because their parents brought them here and their quest for a higher education.

Rep. Bill Foster – talked with the Congressman about teacher evaluations and the role of student performance in those ratings.  Rep. Foster is interested in creating an education advisory committee.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez Legislative Assistant Nicole Dinis – Says Rep. Guiterrez wants funding of all mandates.  Noncommittal on other reforms to ESEA but may support more local control.

Rep. Debbie Halverson – Supports the Education Jobs bill.  Wants ESEA to move away from standardized tests to growth models, remove punitive aspects and increase local decision-making.  She is concerned about using student test scores to evaluate teacher effectiveness.

Rep. Tim Johnson’s Legislative Assistant Ben Brockschmidt — spent our time using our appointment as an “educational opportunity”.

Rep. Mark Kirk and staff — Will make statement about the loss of jobs in Illinois, but cannot support the measure for some of the other things he considers unworthy in the bill.  Rep. Kirk supports long-term investment in educational infrastructure.  He is opposed to short term fixes.  Education remains his highest priority for helping the economy.  He wants more local control in ESEA and opposes labeling schools as failures based on one-size fits all tests. We discussed the impact of the economy on ELL programs and bilingual education, and let him know we would appreciate a statement on the state of Illinois educator job loss, even if he cannot support an education jobs fund.  He is concerned the U.S. will become a high debt and high tax economy and that will hurt job creation.

Rep. Peter Roskam’s Legislative Assistant Kevin Kuhlman – He opposed the Education Jobs bill. We made a big effort to let his staff know that we are interested in working with the Congressman.  Congressman Roskham does not have a relationship with us and we’d like to find something we can work on together.  We spent time discussing our state issues and asked that he reach out to his Illinois colleagues to deal with our awful financial situation.

Rep. Aaron Schock and Legislative Assistant Margie Almanza – He opposes the current Education Jobs Bill as being too temporary.  On ESEA, he wants to stop testing kids who enter district late and stop penalizing the district for that.  Find better ways to assess learning of special needs students. Get a commitment on a minimum amount of student attendance and parental involvement before blaming schools and districts.  Different challenges in different schools.  Federal government should not be the primary leader in education.  Account for sub-groups, parental involvement.

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