Congress Actually Worked Together
Friday, January 17, 2020
by: Adonai Mack

Section: From Contributors


by Adonai Mack



Just before Congress’ holiday break and sandwiched between impeachment votes and trade agreements, Congress actually worked together to pass a $1.4 trillion spending plan. The spending plan was signed by President Trump just before Christmas Day.
Just before Congress’ holiday break and sandwiched between impeachment votes and trade agreements, Congress actually worked together to pass a $1.4 trillion spending plan. The spending plan was signed by President Trump just before Christmas Day.

Congress spent months attempting to finalize the fiscal 2020 bills in the middle of a contentious political climate.  The House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into President Trump and the ongoing funding disagreement for a wall along the Mexican-US border created conditions that many believed would stall the budget negotiations. However, the deal came together quickly as the December deadline approached. While the key appropriators agreed in late November on how to divvy the funding, the timeline to accomplish passing the entire federal appropriations bill package was challenging. The spending plan boosts federal budgets by a total of $49 billion.

The education budget received significant increases in funding highlighted by the following: 
  • Title I: $16.31 billion, $450 million increase over FY 2019
  • IDEA grants to states: $12.76 billion, a $400 million increase over FY 2019
  • Title II: $2.13 billion, $76 million increase over FY 2019 
  • Title IV, Part A: $1.21 billion, $40 million increase over FY 2019
The legislation also includes: a $25 million allocation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to research gun violence prevention; and an allocation of $230 million to address tobacco and e-cigarette use. This is a welcome sight for school leaders battling the nationwide vaping epidemic in schools.

Finally, when it comes to advocacy, are you in it to win it? School lunch rules, funding for special education, Local Control Funding Formula, Every Student Succeeds Act, school discipline, school dashboard — all of these are education policy issues that impact every work day for school leaders. They shape decisions to be made, strategies to implement, and laws to be followed. I believe that legislation decisions are made with, or without, your input. As school leaders your voice is incredibly powerful. However, that power is only effective if used in strategic and consistent ways.

Those shaping education policy do not hail from the classroom or lead school site or districts. They may have expertise in politics or education research or have worked in a legislative realm long enough to see how laws impact public education. But these policymakers do not have the knowledge or experience found in those working directly with students. Therefore, they rely on the expertise of school leaders and others in the field to make sound policy decisions. That’s where your role as a school leader comes in. NASS needs you and our students need you to leverage your important voice, expertise and experience to shape the laws and policies that impact student learning. These relationships matter. They need your expertise. No, they require your expertise. And the best way to engage them is to be an advocate. Be that person that calls your representative tomorrow and start leveraging your voice. Be an advocate today.
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