NASS Legislative Platform
NASS’s MissionThe mission of the National Association of School Superintendents is to enable superintendents to facilitate positive learning outcomes for all students and advocate effectively for public education
NASS’s PositionSpecial Education
Gradually, community and public agencies have become aware that children with disabilities can be educated with their non-disabled peers, guaranteeing equal opportunities for all children. Congress has responded by providing additional federal investments in the IDEA formula grant programs over the past several years. These investments help support services to the 6.8 million children with disabilities nationwide and to states in their ongoing work to design and implement program improvement efforts under the Department’s Results Driven Accountability framework.
However, states have consistently received less than 15 percent from federal funding for IDEA programs while Local Education Agencies (LEAs) are required to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education and IDEA ensures that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected. There is a growing special education student population and an increased focus throughout the country on expanding infant and preschool programs for children with disabilities. LEAs cannot be burdened with shouldering the rising costs for supporting children with disabilities with increased resources from the federal government.
NASS challenges Congress through the FY 2020 budget to gradually increase federal funding to meet the federal government’s commitment to fund the 40 percent promise and address the needs of high-cost students and increase intervention services in order to address the growing special education student population.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
DACA has protected more than 800,000 young immigrants nationally, with over 223,000 recipients in California. Most recently, 1 in 7 eligible young immigrants did not apply to renew their DACA status: around 22,000 recipients for fear of facing deportation. Further, it is estimated that 8 percent of American teachers were born abroad. If the supply of teachers were to be reduced by 8 percent, the impact on K-12 districts significantly impact our students’ ability to learn. A decrease in the number of teachers would compound the problems of our teacher shortage.
The recession of DACA endangered families and communities consequentially impact our students, decreasing student attendance and engagement. Parent, family, and community involvement in education correlates with higher academic performance and school improvement. When schools, parents, families, and communities work together to support learning, students tend to earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school longer, and enroll in higher-level programs. We must continue to create a safe and protective school environment where children focus on their achievement rather than parents and students living with increased anxieties and fears of deportation.
NASS calls on Congress to enact legislation that provides a direct road to U.S. citizenship for people who are either undocumented, have DACA or temporary protected status.
Establishing safe and healthy schools is desired by all, but developing and implementing the policies and strategies needed to create a sanctum for learning has become increasing challenging. In addition, students with undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues rank among the most pressing concerns in schools across California, directly impacting student attendance, behavior, and readiness to learn. When students’ needs are not addressed, they are more likely to experience difficulties in school, including higher rates of suspensions, expulsions, dropouts, and truancy, as well as lower grades and test scores. Exposure to violence and other repeated childhood trauma can contribute to mental health symptoms and behavioral issues in the classroom.
However, implementing Social and Emotional Learning is vital component to creating a positive school climate and helping ease the mental health challenges many students face. Extensive research demonstrates that education includes social emotional learning promotes success in students. Social emotional learning occurs when schools aid students in developing the interpersonal skills needed to succeed in school and other aspects of life. This skill-building happens in the course of everyday instruction, when students engage on a level that allows them to establish and harvest positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and understand/manage emotions.
Building partnerships between the education and mental health systems allows for the delivery of resources to children with mental health disorders. School-linked partnerships provide treatment on campus, connect students to community-based providers, and train teachers on identifying trauma. These partnerships increase access for students and families, provide prevention and early intervention services among schools, community, and families.
NASS calls on Congress to increase the integration of social emotional learning for all students and increase resources to train both administrators and teachers on supporting students’ social emotional and mental health needs through reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and increased resources for Title II and Title IV of ESSA.
The Equality Act
Despite significant legislative advancements, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Americans lack basic legal protections across the country. The current patchwork of laws around the county leave millions of people subject to uncertainty and potential discrimination that impacts their safety, their families, and their day-to-day lives. Further, Civil rights laws protect people on the basis of race, color, national origin, and in most cases, sex, disability, and religion, but fails to provide consistent non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It is past time to extend basic protections for all people and families without fear of harassment or discrimination.
The Equality Act amends existing civil rights law—including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Jury Selection and Services Act, and several laws regarding employment with the federal government—to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. The Equality Act would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service. Additionally, the Equality Act would update the public spaces and services covered in current law to include retail stores, services such as banks and legal services, and transportation services. These important updates would strengthen existing protections for everyone.
NASS calls for the passage of the Equality Act to support LGBTQ students and employees.