Countdown to the 40th Annual Federal Relations Network Conference
President Obama Proposes Comprehensive Plan for School Safety
NSBA-Supported Bill Becomes Law
Countdown to the 40th Annual Federal Relations Network Conference in Washington, D.C.
We are pleased to offer two informative new General Sessions at FRN: Sunday, Jan.27 – Making the Case for Public Education: Are Public Schools Being Unfairly Attacked? Featuring: Richard Rothstein from the Economic Policy Institute and Michael Petrilli from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute moderated by Kathleen Kennedy Manzo from Education Week. Monday, Jan. 28 – Are School Boards Relevant? Featuring: Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director; Cindy Brown, Center for American Progress; and Thomas Alsbury, Pacific University Seattle, Washington; moderated by Fawn Johnson of the National Journal. If you haven’t seen it yet, we invite you to watch the FRN Video , review the powerpoint from the FRN Conference Webinar and access the FRN conference backgrounder, which includes your FRN homework.
President Obama Announces Comprehensive Plan for School Safety
President Obama and Vice President Biden announced a range of proposals and actions to address school safety, which include an executive order and recommendations for a new Comprehensive School Safety program. NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel attended the White House announcement on January 16.
The executive order and proposed comprehensive plan were the result of several meetings that the Administration held with NSBA and more than 200 groups regarding school safety and gun control policy. NSBA spoke of greater access to mental health services and the expansion of gun-free school zones, as well as more funding for school resource officers (SROs), which is a component of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. NSBA also spoke of resources for greater coordination between law enforcement agencies and school districts, including resources that may be available through homeland security grants to state and local governments for school safety (disaster preparedness and emergency response). A number of the recommendations were included in the Administration’s actions.
The executive order seeks to address both school safety and gun violence reduction. Regarding schools, the executive order includes directives to:
• Provide school officials with proper training for active shooter situations;
• Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers;
• Develop model emergency response plans for schools; and,
• Launch a national dialogue on mental health led by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
The proposal for a new Comprehensive School Safety program would provide $150 million to school districts and law enforcement agencies to help hire an estimated 1,000 school resource officers, school psychologists, social workers, and counselors. The plan also proposes $30 million of one-time grants to states to help their school districts develop and implement emergency management plans. Other components of the national school safety plan include the following:
• A $50 million initiative to help 8,000 more schools train their teachers and other school staff to implement strategies for improving school climate. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 18,000 schools have already put in place evidence-based strategies to improve school climate. These strategies involve certain steps for the whole school (like consistent rules and rewards for good behavior), with more intensive steps for groups of students exhibiting at-risk behavior, and individual services for students who continue to exhibit troubling behavior.
• $15 million in “Mental Health First Aid” training for teachers and other staff who interact with youth, through “Project AWARE,” which would help detect and respond to mental illness in children and young adults, including how to encourage adolescents and families experiencing these problems to seek treatment. Project AWARE would also provide $40 million to help school districts work with law enforcement, mental health agencies, and other local organizations to assure that students with mental health issues or other behavioral issues are referred to the services they need.
• A $25 million proposal for offering mental health services to students affected by trauma or anxiety, as well as for conflict resolution programs, and other school-based violence prevention strategies.
• $50 million to train social workers, counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals. This would provide stipends and tuition reimbursement to train more than 5,000 mental health professionals serving young people in our schools and communities.
In Congress, a number of lawmakers have indicated plans for legislation to address school safety including Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Senator Boxer announced that she will introduce the School Safety Enhancements Act, which would strengthen and expand the Justice Department’s existing COPS Secure Our Schools grants program to provide schools with more resources to install tip lines, surveillance equipment, secured entrances and other important safety measures. Additionally, Senator Boxer announced plans for a second bill to allow the federal government to reimburse governors who want to use National Guard troops to help ensure school safety.
NSBA will keep you apprised of these and other developments regarding school safety.
NSBA-Supported Bill Becomes Law
President Obama signed The Uninterrupted Scholars Act (S 3472) on January 14, 2013 and it became Public Law 112-278. NSBA praised the new law in a statement. NSBA recognizes that this data collection and sharing may be necessary to achieve important goals such as interagency collaboration in youth services, closing the achievement gap, and improving instruction and student outcomes. “The Uninterrupted Scholars Act is a step forward in assuring successful educational outcomes for some of our most vulnerable children,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s Associate Executive Director for Public Policy and Federal Advocacy.
The bi-partisan legislation was sponsored by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and amends the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). NSBA worked closely with the sponsor’s office to assure that the bill is consistent with FERPA and preserves local authority. NSBA was a leader among education groups on this issue, as the only education governance organization to support the legislation.
We look forward to seeing you at FRN in Washington, D.C. soon.
Kathleen Branch & the Advocacy Team
Sincerely, Kathleen & NSBA’s Advocacy Team
Kathleen Branch, MEd, CAE
Director, National Advocacy Services
Office of Federal Advocacy & Public Policy
National School Boards Association