Children's Action Network (CAN)

2018 Tennessee State Elections

The 2018 U.S. House of Representatives elections in Tennessee will take place on November 6, 2018. Voters will elect nine candidates to serve in the U.S. House, one from each of the state's nine congressional districts.

Partisan breakdown

Heading into the November 6 election, the Republican Party holds seven of the nine congressional seats from Tennessee.

Members of the U.S. House from Tennessee -- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of July 2018 After the 2018 Election
     Democratic Party 2 Pending
     Republican Party 7 Pending
Total 9 9


Heading into the 2018 election, the incumbents for the nine congressional districts are:

Name Party District
Phil Roe Ends.png Republican 1
John Duncan, Jr. Ends.png Republican 2
Charles Fleischmann Ends.png Republican 3
Scott DesJarlais Ends.png Republican 4
Jim Cooper Electiondot.png Democratic 5
Diane Black Ends.png Republican 6
Marsha Blackburn Ends.png Republican 7
David Kustoff Ends.png Republican 8
Steve Cohen Electiondot.png Democratic 9

2016 Pivot Counties

See also: Pivot Counties and Congressional districts intersecting with Pivot Counties

Tennessee features one congressional district that intersects with one or more Pivot Counties. These 206 Pivot Counties voted for Donald Trump (R) in 2016 after voting for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012.

The 206 Pivot Counties are located in 34 states. Iowa, with 31, had the most such counties. The partisan makeup of the 108 congressional districts intersecting with Pivot Counties is more Republican than the partisan breakdown of the U.S. House. Of the 108 congressional districts that have at least one Pivot County, 63 percent are held by a Republican incumbent, while 55.4 percent of U.S. House seats were won by a Republican in the 2016 elections.[1]

Democratic Party primaries in Tennessee, 2018,_2018

Republican Party primaries in Tennessee, 2018,_2018

Washington Update July 20, 2018

Washington Update

July 20, 2018

 Dear TN CEC Colleagues: 


As the House approaches its August recess and the Senate moves toward missing its August recess (Leader McConnell is holding Senators in session), Congress continues to move forward.

  1. Appropriations Bills Slogging Along

This week the House Committee on Appropriations passed the last of the 12 appropriations bills.  The full House passed an appropriations minibus (a package of two bills – Interior and Financial Services) bringing their total to six.  We can safely say the House is half way done, having completed bills that represent two thirds of discretionary spending of the federal government. The two largest bills – Defense and Labor/HHS/Education continue to be on deck seeking approval.

 On the Senate side there is talk of combining the Labor/HHS/Education appropriations bill with the Defense spending bill and bringing them to the floor as a minibus package.  This is of concern for education funding, as the Defense bill would drown out concerns that would be raised in relation to the Labor/HHS/Education spending bill.  There would be much momentum to endorse this bill as bi-partisan support for investing in defense remains high. 

 As we move toward the September 30th, 2018 deadline for the fiscal year, pressure will increase to complete action, though most budget watchers continue to believe we will have a short term continuing resolution for Labor/HHS/Education and others to keep the government alive until after the November elections.  The drama will grow as the pressure to confirm President Trump’s nominee for Supreme Court before November will undoubtedly become intertwined with deal making on appropriations. 

  1. Political Appointments at the Department of Education Filling Up

The Senate is moving to confirm the lingering nominees for political appointments at the Department of Education.  To date 11 of the 12 nominees have been confirmed.  Politico has provided a great rundown of the status of the appointees. 

 Highlights are below:


Ø  Deputy Secretary:  Mick Zais, former superintendent of schools in South Carolina;

Ø  General Counsel:  Carlos G. Muniz, former deputy to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi;

Ø  Asst. Sec. for Legislation and Congressional Affairs: Peter Oppenheim, former aide to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on the HELP Committee;

Ø  Asst. Sec. for Civil Rights:  Kenneth Marcus, former president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law;

Ø  Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education:  Frank Brogan, former chancellor of two state higher education systems and Florida’s former lieutenant Governor;

Ø  Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services: Johnny Collett, former Special Education Director for the State of Kentucky;

Ø  Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education:  Scott Stump, former assistant provost at Colorado Community College System;

Ø  Director of the Institute of Education Sciences:  Mark Schneider, former vice president of the American Institutes for Research;

Ø  Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development:  Jim Blew, former director of Student Success California.

 Still waiting in the wings for Senate confirmation is Mark Schultz to be Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration.  A nominee for the assistant secretary for postsecondary education is anticipated soon.  Note that only some political appointees must be confirmed by the Senate.  Others can simply be appointed by the President. 


  1. IES Funds $10 Million Research Center on School Choice

The Institute of Education Sciences has awarded Tulane University a $10 million five year grant to create a school choice research center.   IES indicates that the evidence on school choice programs in improving student outcomes “is mixed.”  Dubbed the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH), the Center will examine types of school choice, including school vouchers and charter schools,  in terms of how they impact disadvantaged students.  Three dozen studies in five policy areas are anticipated – transportation, communication strategies, enrollment systems, oversight and teacher supply.   School choice programs in Louisiana, Michigan, Florida, Oregon, Denver, New Orleans, New York City and Washington, DC will be examined.    In addition, the Center will begin a National Longitudinal School Choice Database with a “15 year near-census of all traditional public, magnet, charter, private and virtual schools in the U.S. including measures of each school’s quality…and relevant state and local policies.”   One issue to be examined by the Center is the participation and impact of school choice on students with disabilities.




  1. Senate Passage of Career and Technical Education Bill Imminent as New Executive Order Issued on Workforce Development

This week the Administration issued a new executive order creating a National Council for the American Worker, which will focus on developing strategies to train workers for high demand industries.  This comes after the Council of Economic Advisors released a report called Addressing America’s Reskilling Challenge  which focuses on assisting workers in developing new skills to meet the needs of today’s economy.  Recommendations include allowing Pell Grants to be used for short term retraining programs in certain fields. 

 The Senate is following suit on the workforce development theme by scheduling a hearing in the HELP Committee next Thursday at 10 AM on apprenticeships.  Senate passage of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act also appears imminent by the end of the month.   White House Advisor Ivanka Trump has been spotted on Capitol Hill numerous times promoting the legislation. 

 It is interesting to note that the push on workforce development by the Administration has been preceded by an earlier recommendation to merge the Departments of Education and Labor.  I think we are seeing a theme here. 








  1. House Democrats to Introduce Higher Education Act Reauthorization Bill Next Tuesday

The House Republican version of a bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the PROSPER Act – H.R. 4508 -- has stood in the wings awaiting floor consideration for several months.  The Democrats will act next Tuesday to offer their version of a Higher Education Act reauthorization bill, which will stand in marked contrast to the Republican vision.  Educators anticipate the retention of key programs which are critical to addressing pressing national teacher shortages and lowered enrollment of teacher candidates in higher education preparation programs, including TEACH grants, loan forgiveness and grants to teacher prep programs, such as the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants.  The PROSPER Act eliminates these programs.  Stay tuned for more next week!


  1. New Resources for Educators

 Ø  Bellwether Education Partners issued Trading Coursework for Classroom Realizing the Potential of Teacher Residencies offering the following recommendations:  Accreditation and approval processes must make space for new preparation program models and innovations within current models;  quality standards must be based in research and  residencies must hold themselves accountable for quality.


Ø  The Government Accountability Office issued Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act: States and Local Areas Report Progress in Meeting Youth Program Requirements providing recent survey results. 


Ø  Teachers College at Columbia University published new survey results on America’s Views of Higher Education as a Public and Private Good finding that over three-quarters of respondents view public spending on higher education as a good or excellent investment.  


 Ø  The Urban Institute is out with a new report Kids’ Share 2018: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2017 and Future Projections which reveals that the federal government will spend more on debt interest payments than on children by 2020.



Reported to TN CEC Members Submitted by: 

Luann Ley Davis, Ph.D. 
Asst. Professor of Special Education

M-STEP PI / Director

TN CEC CAN Coordinator

UM SCEC Faculty Advisor


On behalf of:

Jane E. West Ph.D.

Education Policy Consultant

Cell:  202.812.9096

Twitter:  @janewestdc


Washington Update

June 29, 2018


Dear TN CEC Members:


First, the HELP Committee’s unanimous adoption of the Career and Technical  Education reauthorization bill and then the Appropriations Committee’s bipartisan adoption of  the last of its 12 spending bills – the one including education funding.


  1.     Senate Education Funding Bill Increases Education Spending from Last Year; Rejects Trump Budget Proposal

Like the House Subcommittee on Appropriations for Labor/HHS/Education, the Senate subcommittee and full committee rejected President Trump’s education budget proposal and increased overall spending for the Department of Education.  Neither the House nor Senate bills include the President’s proposed new choice/voucher programs.   Both bills increase overall education spending – the House subcommittee bill by $43 million and the Senate Committee bill by $541 million.  President Trump called for a cut to the Department of Education of almost $8 billion. 


The chart below features funding levels for some key education programs in both bills:



Current level 2018

President’s request

House Subcommittee

Senate Committee

Title I ESSA

15.76 B

15.46 B

15.76 B

15.8 B


12.28 B

12 B

12.33 B

12.4 B


2.056 B


2.056 B

2.056 B


613 M

522 M

613 M

615 M

Special Ed Research (Under IES)

56 M

54 M

56 M

56 M

Office of Civil Rights

117 M

107 M

117 M

125 M

Personnel Prep IDEA

84 M

84 M

89 M

84 M

State Personnel Dev. IDEA

39 M

39 M

41 M

39 M

Teacher Quality Partnership Grants

43 M


43 M

43 M

 Committee reports for both bills include significant directives to the Department of Education.  Among them:

 -          From the House Committee report: The Committee “is concerned about reports of expulsions and suspensions occurring in preschool settings and K-12 classrooms.”  The office of civil rights should include in next year’s budget justification “information on expulsions and suspensions in preschool and elementary and secondary school settings, disaggregated to the extent possible by race/ethnicity, sex, disability status and English Learner status” as well as “specific recommendations on evidence-based interventions” to reduce the rates of expulsion and suspensions. 

 -          From the Senate Committee report:  “The Committee is aware that earlier this year the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) requested public input regarding options for the use of IDEA part B program funds for technical assistance to states to which respondents overwhelmingly favored continuing to fund national technical assistance centers from funds reserved under section 616(i). The Committee believes the approach favored by States should be given significant weight as OSERS reviews these investments and any change must be supported by evidence that would be justify overruling State preferences for maintaining the current approach to funding national technical assistance centers that are improving the capacity of states to meet their IDEA data collection requirements.”


-          From the Senate Committee report:  Language directing the Department of Education to improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

In addition, both the House and Senate bills include language preventing Sec. DeVos from dismantling the Department of Education’s central budget office as she had proceeded to do.


The next step in the process is for the House Committee on Appropriations to move its bill, the last of the 12 bills to go through Committee.  That markup was postponed last week in the midst of concern over it becoming a lightning rod for the immigration policy of separating children from their families.  That markup has not yet been rescheduled. Both chambers are pursuing the goal of finalizing all 12 appropriations bills before the September 30 deadline.  The Labor/HHS/Education bill is always the most controversial, and one of the largest, so stay tuned for further developments this summer.  If indeed this bill passes both bodies and goes through conference to the President’s desk,  it will be a truly remarkable victory for bipartisanship and regular order. 


Senate Committee bill:

House Committee report:


  1.     Senate HELP Committee Approves Career and Technical Education Bill

With first daughter Ivanka Trump sitting in the front row of the HELP Committee markup, the long delayed reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act sailed through Committee.  The bill was backed by the White House, the National Governor’s Association and several education organizations, with AASA, the School Superintendents Association, opposing it as too prescriptive and calling it  “a relic of the No Child Left Behind era.”  Both Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA) praised the bill.  The House passed its companion bill last year – HR 2353- with bipartisan support; the Senate HELP Committee had been stymied for months trying to come to a compromise on their version of the bill. 

 The Senate HELP Committee bill features the following new provisions:

 -          States would build their plans around core indicators (e.g. high school graduation rates) and be required to make “meaningful progress toward improving the performance of all career and technical education students”;

-          States would track performance of students by subgroups: race, gender, economic background, students with disabilities, English learners;

-          States would have to meet their goals within two years or possibly face the loss of federal funding.



  1.      New Resources for Educators

 Congress returns the week of July 9.  Try to find an opportunity to meet with your Senators and Representatives while they are back home next week.  It’s an election year and they are seeking your vote.  

Happy July 4!

 Reported to TN CEC Members Submitted by: 

Luann Ley Davis, Ph.D. 
Asst. Professor of Special Education

M-STEP PI / Director

TN CEC CAN Coordinator

UM SCEC Faculty Advisor


On behalf of:

Jane E. West Ph.D.

Education Policy Consultant

Cell:  202.812.9096

Twitter:  @janewestdc


Washington Update
June 8, 2018


Dear Colleagues:


 There are a lot of issues being discussed in Washington:

 1.      Appropriations Bills and Recession Package Moving

The House and Senate continue to move appropriations bills.  And the recession package proposed by the Administration (though slightly modified) could come up any day now for a vote in the House.  The House also plans to move the first appropriations package on the floor.  Three bills will be packaged as a “minibus” and brought to the floor – with 39 amendments expected to be offered.  The House has acted on 9 of the 12 appropriations bills so far, with the Labor/HHS/Education bill is one that still awaits.  The Senate Appropriations Committee has moved five of their 12 bills to date with the Labor/HHS/Education bill scheduled for the week of June 25.


  1.     Sec. DeVos Testifies before Senate  Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Subcommittee

On Tuesday Sec. DeVos defended President Trump’s FY 2019 budget proposal before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor/HHS/Education.  The proposal includes a new $1 billion competitive grant program to expand school choice.  Sec. DeVos reiterated her belief that school choice best allows students to have their needs met.   Members of the Subcommittee called out a number of programs intended to be eliminated by DeVos as unlikely candidates for that outcome – including the afterschool program, funds for professional development for teachers (ESSA Title II) and Special Olympics.


Chairman Blunt (R-MO) noted that he expected the Administration’s proposal to encounter the same fate it encountered last year – namely that virtually all of the recommendations for eliminations and new programs were rejected.  He further noted that he intends to produce a bi-partisan bill by the end of the month.  Ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA) criticized Sec. DeVos for continuing to prioritize her agenda to privatize education in the U.S. She noted that Sec. DeVos has made it easier for predatory for-profit colleges and loan companies to take advantage of students. 


The hearing set the stage for the School Safety Commission’s public hearing the following day.  Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked Sec. DeVos whether or not the commission would look at firearms as they relate to school safety.  The Secretary noted that that was not part of the Commission’s charge 

The Department of education later followed up noting that the Commission will consider age restrictions on the sale of guns. 

 You can watch the hearing here:


  1.      Commission on School Safety Holds Public Forum

Much to the surprise of all education watchers, Sec. DeVos announced the day before the Commission’s public hearing (which was Wednesday) that she would be leaving on a 10 day “learning” tour to Europe (Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK) and would not be present at the hearing.  As it turns out, none of the four commissioners were present.  Rather, staff from the agencies attended to listen to the packed roster of educators, parents and students provide their perspectives.   Newly confirmed Deputy Secretary Mick Zais attended in place of Sec. DeVos and chaired the session.  Sec. DeVos is focusing on apprenticeship programs and vocational schools on her European tour. 

Speakers from multiple national education, civil rights, disability and parent organizations provided statements in addition to students and teachers who had been at schools during a shooting.  Many decried the proposal to arm teachers and several called for the continuation of the school discipline guidance, which Sec. DeVos is considering eliminating.  Some members of Congress, such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have stated that the school discipline guidance leads to school violence.  There is no evidence to support this claim. 

Sec. DeVos’s schedule in Europe:


For the National PTA’s position:


  1.     House Schedules Hearing on Charter Schools for June 13 10 AM ET

 Next Wednesday, June 13, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing "The Power of Charter Schools: Promoting Opportunity for America’s Students”  Witnesses have not yet been announced.  The hearing begins at 10 AM ET and you can watch live here:


  1.     What’s Happening with the PROSPER Act

 The PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508) is a bill which reauthorizes the Higher Education Act. The bill was passed out of the Committee on Education and the Workforce last December with all Republicans supporting it and all Democrats opposing it, saying that this bill would exacerbate the current  teacher shortage  and contribute to the already lowered enrollment in teacher preparation programs around the country.


This week another letter was submitted to Congress from 86 organizations, including the American Association of University Women and the NAACP, opposing the PROSPER Act noting that it would “undo decades of work to protect students from costly, low-quality programs and high-pressure deceptive sales tactics.”  Another letter was sent from multiple leaders from religious institutions and organizations supporting what they described as “important protections for religious freedom” in the bill. 

 The lead sponsor of the bill, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) continues to look for support to bring the bill to the floor. It appears that she has not yet secured the support she needs; however, her efforts will continue so we remain on alert. 

 This is a good time to let your Representatives know of your concerns with the bill.  You can do that by going to AACTE’s advocacy center; just click below.  This will be one minute very well spent!!


Click here to register your concerns about the PROSPER Act:


  1.     Senate Leader Cancels most of August Recess to move tasks forward

 This week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that he is cancelling all but the first week of August recess. He indicated that this change is because of “historic obstruction” by Senate Democrats.   His plan is to move appropriations bills and continue to confirm the President’s nominees to move forward.  


  1.     New Resources for Educators
  •        The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) released The Pre-K-8 School Leader in 2018: A 10-Year Study revealing that social-emotional learning, mental health, and student poverty are among the top student-related concerns of Pre-K through grade 8 principals.




  •        National Education Policy Center is out with  What Might Happen If School Vouchers and Privatization of Schools Were to Become Universal in the U.S.: Learning from a National Test Case—Chile which concludes that: Evidence indicates that Chile’s voucher policy not only failed to meet its objectives, it also elicited several harmful outcomes for middle-class families, disadvantaged students, and the teaching profession.




  •        The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) supported an Education Talk Radio PreK-12 session  on AACTE’s CEEDAR-sponsored Special Education Task Force on Clinical Preparation.  Inclusion and Equity. Mainstreaming Special Ed in the Classroom  features an interview with co-chairs of the Task Force, Dr. Renee Roselle from UCONN and Dr. Deborah Reed from UNF as well as AACTE’s Amanda Lester and yours truly.  Tune in:



Reported to TN CEC Members Submitted by: 

Luann Ley Davis, Ph.D. 
Asst. Professor of Special Education

M-STEP PI / Director

TN CEC CAN Coordinator

UM SCEC Faculty Advisor


On behalf of:

Jane E. West Ph.D.

Education Policy Consultant

Cell:  202.812.9096

Twitter:  @janewestdc

Washington Update

May 18, 2018


Washington Update May 18, 2018


Dear Colleagues:

  1. Money, Money, Money

The $15 billion recession package that the Trump Administration sent to the House remains to be moved to the floor.  The Congressional Budget Office put a hold on the plan last Friday.  The office released its analysis which indicated that the cost savings would only be $1.3 billion over a decade. The reason is that most of the funding included in the package is no longer necessary, or would not be spent under current law anyway.  Therefore, it hasn’t actually been tallied as part of the government’s $4 trillion budget.   

On the FY 2019 spending front, the House is clipping along.  This week they continued markups on three bills and more are scheduled for next week.  The Labor/HHS/Education spending bill is last due to its large size.

 This week the Senate Appropriations Committee released a markup schedule for all 12 appropriations bills.  Two or three bills will be marked up in subcommittee, and then Committee, every week beginning May 21.  The last bill scheduled for markup is the Labor/HHS/Education bill the week of June 25. 

  1. Tune in for Sec. DeVos Testifying Next Week

Next week the House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hear from Betsy DeVos for the first time since she assumed her post.  The topic of the hearing is “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education” and the Secretary is the only witness.  Tune in May 22 (Tuesday) at 10 AM EST. 

 To watch the hearing live:


  1. House Democrats Hold Forum on Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

May 17 marked the 64th Anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.  Leaders in the house used the opportunity to host a forum on current enforcement of the Civil Rights Act in schools and to announce the introduction of a resolution supporting disparate impact analysis as an enforcement tool of Title VI under the Civil Rights Act.  The forum follows the release of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report verifying that students of color experience harsher discipline for lesser offenses than their white peers.  Another GAO study recently found a notable rate of re-segregation in schools.

Members hosting the event included Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D0MD), Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA).  Speakers included representatives of the GAO. Dan Losen with the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, Todd Coxx with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Khulia Pringle of Solutions Not Suspensions Minnesota. 




  1. Comments on Special Education Disproportionality Rule Closed May 14, 2018

Approximately 390 comments were received on the DeVos proposal to delay the implementation of a regulation to address racial disparities in special education.   Multiple disability and education organizations submitted letters opposing the delay of the regulations.  The Consortium for Disabilities, comprised of over 100 disability, special education and civil rights organizations, submitted a letter with strong opposition to the delay.  Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rep. Jarid Polis (D-CO), Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Sen. Kaine (D-VA) were among the Democrats submitting letters in opposition.

 Two organizations representing school superintendents – AASA and the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) – submitted letters supporting the delay.  CGCS said that the rule represents federal overreach and that it is an “inadequate and ambiguous response.”  AASA noted that a delay could result in cost savings for districts as fewer would be identified with violations and thus would not have to utilize their federal funds to correct them. 

 This week Politico surveyed special education officials in states to determine their perspectives.  Fifteen indicated they would move forward with implementing the regulations whether they were delayed or not. Those were:  Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin.  Maine and South Carolina said they would take the delay if it becomes available.  Other states either have not yet determined their position or did not respond to the inquiry.

See 390 posted comments here:

See Democrat comments:


  1. New Resources for Educators
  • The Council of Chief State School Officers, in conjunction with multiple national education organizations, has developed an online guide Supporting Inclusive Schools for the Success of Each Child: A Guide for States on Principal Leadership, which provides resources and support to ensure that principals have the skills needed to run inclusive schools and support students with disabilities as well as faculty who teach them.  See:
  • The National Center for Education Statistics is out with Public School Spending on Classroom Supplies, a report which reveals that nearly all U.S. teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies without reimbursement – averaging $479 per school year! See:
  • The U.S. Department of Education will offer webinars to help schools ensure that their websites are accessible.  This comes after the civil rights staff threw out hundreds of complaints about schools with inaccessible websites.  See:



Reported to TN CEC Members Submitted by: 

Luann Ley Davis, Ph.D. 
Asst. Professor of Special Education

M-STEP PI / Director

TN CEC CAN Coordinator

UM SCEC Faculty Advisor


On behalf of:

Jane E. West Ph.D.

Education Policy Consultant

Cell:  202.812.9096

Twitter:  @janewestdc

2018 Spending Bill Passed: Congress and President Trump Provide for Increases for Special Education

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Washington Update

March 23, 2018

 News from Washington is below:

      Dear Colleagues:

 Congress Finally Approves Massive Funding Bill!!

President Trump signed a massive $1.3 trillion funding bill. The bill keeps the government going through September 30. The Department of Education received a $3.9 billion increase bringing it to $70.9 billion, the highest level ever. 

Late last week the House and Senate passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill, averting a Friday night government shutdown and funding the federal government until September 30, 2018. This omnibus spending bill, named the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, provided nearly $70.9 billion for the U.S. Department of Education (ED), an increase of $3.9 billion over the fiscal year 2017 funding level. The President’s budget was rejected by Congress as it proposed a $9.2 billion cut to the ED, a $250 million private school choice initiative and a $1 billion initiative for open enrollment in districts. The spending bill was signed into law by the President after he threatened to veto the bill, as it did not include protection for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and sufficient funds for a border wall.

 Many education program allocations were increased in the Congressional budget including Title I, educator development, after-school programs, charter schools, Office of Civil Rights, Pell Grants, Child Care Development Block Grant, Head Start, research and special education.

Many special education programs were increased over FY 2017 levels while others were level funded in the FY 2018 budget including:

 IDEA Part B Grants – $12.278B (+$275M)

IDEA Preschool Grants – $381M (+$13M)

IDEA Part C Grants – $470M (+$11M)

IDEA Part D – $237M (level funded)

IES – NCSER Center – $56M (+$2M)

Javits Gifted and Talented Grants – $12M (level funded)

CEC advocates, thank you for your efforts. Your voices were heard on Capitol Hill. Congress and CEC now turn to the FY 2019 budget. Stay tuned – your advocacy will be needed in the upcoming budget and appropriations deliberations.

Some key education program funding levels in the bill:

 Early Education

    • Head Start: $610 m increase to $9.8b
    • Child Care and Development Block Grant: $2.37 b increase to $5.2b

K12 Programs:

  • ESSA Title I: $300 m increase to $15.8 b
    • ESSA Title II: $2.056 b/no increase
    • ESSA Title IV: $700 m increase to $1.1 b
    • Impact Aid: $86 m increase, to $1.4 b
    • 21st Century Community Learning Centers: $20 m increase, to $1.2 b
    • Career and Technical Education State Grants: $75 m increase to $1.193 b
    • Homeless Youth/Children: $8 m increase to $85 m
    • Rural Education: $5 m increase to $181 m
    • Promise Neighborhoods: $5 m increase to $78 m
    • Indian Education: $15 m increase to $180 m
    • Comprehensive Literacy Development grants: $190 m/no increase
    • English language Acquisition:  $737 m/no increase
    • Charter schools: $58 million increase to $400 m

IDEA Programs:

    • IDEA State Grants (Part B): $275 m increase to $12.3 b
    • Preschool Grants: $13m increase to $38 m
    • Grants for Infants and Toddlers: $11m increase to $47m
    • State Personnel Development: $39m/no increase
    • Technical Assistance and Dissemination:  $44m/no increase
    • Special Olympics: $3m increase to $15m
    • Personnel Prep: $84m/no increase
    • Parent Information Center: $27m/no increase
    • Educational technology, media, materials: $28m/no increase

 Institute of Education Sciences

    • $8 m increase to $613 m (includes a $2m increase for special ed research to $56m)

 Higher Education

    • Pell Grants: increase of maximum by $175m to $6095
    • Public Service Loan Forgiveness: $350 m for borrowers who would otherwise qualify for PSLF but are in extended or graduated repayment plans and $2.3 m for outreach to borrowers who intend to apply for PSLF to clarify terms, conditions and  certification process of the program.
    • Work Study – increased $140 million, to $1.1 billion.
    • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants:  $107 m increase to $840 million
    • Student aid administration:  $102 m increase to $1.7 billion.
    • TRIO programs: $60 m increase to $1.0 billion
    • Teacher Quality Partnership Grants: $43 million/no increase
    • Transition Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities:  $12 million/no increase


    • Office of Civil Rights: $9m increase to $117m
    • Opioid Crisis: $3 b increase for programs to respond to crisis, including $2.7b increase for prevention, treatment, surveillance, research, and more.
    • Center for Disease Controls: $806 m increase for CDC, as well as language that allows CDC to conduct gun violence prevention research
    • The Congressional Research Service is required to make its reports public (listen up grad students!)
    • The explanatory document accompanying the bill directs the Government Accountability Office to recommend how schools can improve their data collection and avoid use of restraint and seclusion. It notes: "There is concern that seclusion and restraint issues continue to be chronically underreported."

 To read the 2000+ page bill:

The explanatory statement for education and related programs:


  1. Congress and White House Respond to School Shooting Tragedies

With another sad school shooting in Maryland, the ongoing activism of the high school students from Parkland, and recent March for Our Lives, the pressure has continued for national policies to address school safety and gun violence. Responses are vary depending on political party.  A few provisions to address gun violence were tucked into the spending bill which just passed, and they are described below.

 Some key aspects of the policy dialogue:

 White House proposals:

  • Create a commission to explore steps to prevent school violence
  • Support the transition of military veterans and retired policy officers who want to become teachers
  • Assist states so they can provide training to school personnel interested in being armed
  • Enact STOP School Violence Act (included in the spending bill just signed into law)
  • Support bill to strengthen background checks (included in the spending bill)


School Discipline Guidance:

  • The House Committee on the Judiciary this week held a hearing titled “Preventable Violence in America: An Examination of Law Enforcement, Information Sharing and Misguided Public Policy”
  • One of the “misguided policies” discussed was the Obama Administration’s guidance intended to address discipline practices, such as suspension and expulsion, which are disproportionately used with students of color
  • Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said that because of a “lenient approach” by the school district the alleged shooter in the Parkland case made it difficult for police to intervene. (Note there is no evidence to support this and much to refute it.)
  • Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) said these misguided policies result in “ people who are disruptive at school end up not being arrested or charged with a misdemeanor even though that’s what they have committed”
  • Witness Max Eden from the Manhattan Institute said that because of the guidance “in too many schools, principals are now essentially told, ‘If you see something, don’t say or do anything.’  Because if you do, you’ll be the one to get in trouble.”
  • Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said district policies were not to be blamed and that it’s Congress’s failure to ban assault weapons and otherwise restrict gun access that is the problem
  • Witness Deputy Director Bowdich of the FBI, in responding to Rep. Jackson Lee, said that the FBI had no indication that the discipline guidance hindered the FBI’s response to the shooting
  • Jerry Nadler (D-NY) stated that using a mass school shooting as an excuse to stop discipline reforms “is offensive.”
  • In the House Labor/HHS/Education appropriations hearing with Sec. DeVos, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) noted that he has heard from constituent educators who say that the discipline guidance is a deterrent to disciplining all children, thus resulting in an increase in disruption
  • The school safety commission which Sec. DeVos will chair will consider repeal of the discipline guidance.
  • Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to Sec. DeVos urging her not to rescind the discipline guidance.


Provisions included in omnibus spending bill signed:


  • A version of the STOP School Violence Act (HR 4909) which authorizes $75 m Dept. of Justice funds to support schools in providing evidence based programs to prevent violence and to purchase security hardware; however funds may not be used to arm or train teachers to use firearms
  • The Fix NICS Act which provides funds for federal agencies and states to add criminal and mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System
  • Affirmation that the Centers for Disease Control can conduct research on gun violence (that has been prohibited for some time)
  • Gun violence provisions in the spending bill:
  • For House Judiciary Committee hearing:
  • For Rep. Bobby Scott’s letter on discipline guidance:
  • Forum on School Safety:
  • For more on School Safety Forum:
  • Secretary DeVos Testifies Before House Appropriations Subcommittee
  • Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, testified before the House Subcommittee on Labor/HHS/Education about the President’s FY 2019 Budget proposal.  The hearing was rife with challenges from both Democrats and Republicans, including the following:
    • Subcommittee Chair Tom Cole (R-OK) challenged the Secretary’s budget for 2019 wondering why the Trump Administration continues to request cuts for education that Congress already rejected last year (the President’s budget calls for $3.8 billion in cuts)
    • Full Committee Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) questioned why Sec. DeVos had not met with him, as he has meet with other Cabinet Secretaries; he noted that it’s important for members who pay the bills to meet with Cabinet Secretaries
    • Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) asked the Secretary if she believed there was a crisis of gun violence in the country; the Secretary replied “I believe we have a crisis of violence in our country,” thus omitting the word “gun”
    • DeLauro asked if the Secretary would support a government-wide ban on using federal funds to arm and train teachers and teacher candidates.  The Secretary said states and school districts need to discuss whether arming school personnel is right for them and a ban is up to Congress to determine.
    • Barbara Lee (D-CA) asked why the administration is considering a two year delay on the IDEA disproportionality regulation.  The Secretary said the delay is to ensure the regulation really meets the needs of students with disabilities.  The federal register notice indicates that the federal government may not have the statutory authority to require states to use a standardized approach in determining disproportionality as the regulation does.  Lee concluded “You just don’t care much about the civil rights of black and brown children.  This is horrible.”
    • Katherine Clark (D-MA) asked Sec. DeVos who would be on the President’s commission on school safety.  She answered that four cabinet members would comprise the commission (Education, HHS, Homeland Security and Dept. of Justice).  Rep. Clark asked why no others, such as experts.  Sec. DeVos said they wanted to move quickly without too much bureaucracy. 
    • Mark Pocan (D-WI) asked Sec. DeVos if she was a member of the NRA.  She responded no. 
    • Lee and Rep. Clark queried DeVos on a range of issues related to federal civil rights protections, including the cuts to the Office of Civil Rights, the consideration of eliminating guidance addressing racial disparities in discipline practices, and whether federal civil rights laws would apply to programs that might allow federal funds to be used for vouchers. (She finally answered yes to that last query after repeated prodding by Rep. Clark). 
  • For hearing:


Texas Finalizes Draft Special Education Plan

  • Texas has been under federal investigation due to its arbitrary cap requiring that only 8.5% of students could receive special education services.  The national average is 13%.  The cap used by Texas illegally denied services to tens of thousands of students entitled to IDEA services.  This week Texas officials released their draft plan to revise their policies.  The plan indicates that the state will allocate $65 million to school districts to assist them in locating and identifying students who were improperly denied services.   State education officials are accepting public comments on the plan until April 6 before the plan is submitted to the US Department of Education.  
  • The Texas draft plan:

 New Resources for Educators

 The Education Commission of the States released a series of reports related to teachers and state policy developments:






Reported to TN CEC Members Submitted by: 

Luann Ley Davis, Ph.D. 
Asst. Professor of Special Education

M-STEP PI / Director

TN CEC CAN Coordinator

UM SCEC Faculty Advisor


On behalf of:

Jane E. West Ph.D.

Education Policy Consultant

Cell:  202.812.9096

Twitter:  @janewestdc


Washington Updates!!


Washington Update

March 9, 2018

TN Children and Youth Action Network (CAN) Coordinator Report

 Dear TN CEC Colleagues:

 It has been busy in Washington for the last two weeks. 

  1. Appropriations – March 23 Deadline Looms

March 23 is the deadline for the Congress to complete action on all 12 FY 2018 appropriations bills  (note that the fiscal year 2018 is half over).  News slowly continues to come out about how the money will be distributed between the 12 appropriations bills. 

The Labor/HHS/Education bill seems to be the most difficult one to finalize, because:

  • it includes more money than any of the other bills;
  • it has to include much of the new spending required by the budget agreement, such as  $3   billion to address the opioid crisis and $2 billion to address college cost and access to higher ed;
  • it is a magnet for controversial policy riders such as abortion-related provisions; and
  • last, but not least, CHIMPS. 

 “What in the heck are CHIMPS?” you might ask! CHIMPS is a strategy used by funders to increase discretionary spending. CHIMPS stands for Changes in Mandatory Programs and means that new funds can be generated for other spending when mandatory programs are rescinded, delayed or otherwise limited.  It has been reported that CHIMP savings be limited to $14 billion for all the bills-- $5.1 billion less than in 2017.   The Labor/HHS/Education bill is being asked to absorb most of the reduction which, when added to the new required spending noted above, would reduce the amount for other programs. 

To become an expert on CHIMPS:

The House has indicated that it may bring up the bill – called an Omnibus – which would include all 12 appropriations bills (Labor/HHS/Education too)—early next week.   Another possibility is that they include 11 bills in the Omnibus and leave the Labor/HHS/Education bill for later. Another possibility is that the Labor/HHS/Education funding bill becomes yet another continuing resolution – meaning most accounts are the same as they were in FY 2017 or flat funding.  

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) announced that he will leave Congress on April 1 after 40 years in office, citing health challenges.  He is the 10th longest serving Senator in the history of the Senate.  It is likely that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) would serve as interim chair.  A few weeks ago House Appropriations Committee chair Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) also announced his upcoming retirement.   

Congress is scheduled to go out on a week-long spring recess beginning Monday, March 25 – the Monday after the Friday, March 23 deadline for the spending bill.  Members of Congress will be eager to get back to their districts (remember, election year!), so this motivation may expedite the passing of the bill.

 The FY 2019 appropriations process is underway.  On March 20, Sec.  DeVos is tentatively scheduled to testify about the President’s budget proposal to the House Subcommittee on Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations.

  1. Legislators Respond to the Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida

While no bills are on the docket for consideration related to gun control or strengthening background checks, at least two are gaining traction in relation to potential school resources.  In addition, several Members of Congress are requesting additional funds for programs which could provide school-based safety and mental health services and the Senate has scheduled a hearing on the Parkland shooting. 

Two key bills which educators are keeping an eye on are:

  • THE STOP School Violence Act of 2018 (HR 4909) (S. 2495)
    • A bi-partisan bill introduced by Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY); the bill now has 71 cosponsors – Republican and Democrat
    • The bill may come up on the floor for a vote in the House next week
    • The Senate has introduced  a companion bill led by Sen. Hatch (R-UT) and Klobuchar (D-MN), with multiple bipartisan co-sponsors including Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) who has been outspoken since the Sandy Hook massacre
    • The bill authorizes funds in the Department of Justice to provide grants to states to support schools in providing evidence-based programs that prevent violence before it happens
    • Advocates have raised some concerns about the bills related to the potential use of funds by private as well as public schools and how due process will be ensured for students.
    • For the Senate STOP Act see:
    • For House STOP Act:


  • The School Safety and Mental Health Services Improvement Act (Senate – no bill number yet)
    • Led by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate HELP Committee, and co-sponsored by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.),Todd Young (R-Ind.), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL),  and several other Republicans;
    • Amends Title II and IV of ESSA to broaden the use of funds for school safety and violence prevention
    • directs the Sec. of Education to create a School Safety and Violence Prevention National Technical Assistance Center
    • reauthorizes and updates the Children and Violence program of the Public Health Service Act
    • authorizes the Secretary of HHS to conduct new studies on children at risk of developing mental illness
    • creates a Presidential l Interagency Task Force to improve school safety and prevent school violence
    • One concern raised by educators about this bill is that it authorizes infrastructure expenditures with ESSA funds (such as metal detectors) when ESSA funds are already spread too thin
    • For Sen. Alexander’s bill see:
  • The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), has scheduled a hearing for next Wednesday titled  "See Something, Say Something: Oversight of the Parkland Shooting and Legislative Proposals to Improve School Safety."
  • For Senate Hearing:
  • In the House, Chair of the Ed and Workforce Committee Virginia Foxx (R-NC) along with Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) have asked appropriators to increase funding for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants authorized under ESSA to the authorized level of $1.6 billion.  The program is currently funded at $400 million.  In the Senate, 30 Senators have submitted a letter to appropriators urging “the highest possible level” of funding for the program in the FY 2018 funding bill.  This program can be used to provide support services for students and teachers.
  1. Higher Ed Reauthorization: House Bill Criticized by Department of Education Inspector General
  • The PROSPER Act, the House Republican reauthorization bill, awaits time on the House floor for consideration. This week the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Education wrote a letter concluding that the bill would eliminate provisions of the law that are meant to hold colleges accountable for the taxpayer dollars they receive.
  • The letter notes: 
    • “Innovations to modes of delivery of education through distance education, direct assessment, and competency-based education that may improve access to and more-timely completion of postsecondary education each present a new challenge to comply with statutory requirements while ensuring a cost-effective quality education to justify the Federal investment. Oversight of the programs by the Department continues to be a significant management challenge reported by my office, and reliance on accrediting agencies and states for oversight in their roles defined by the HEA has not always been effective to protect students and taxpayers.”
    • Letter from OIG:
  1. Voucher Bill for Military Families Introduced
  • Impact Aid is a $1.3 billion program which provides funds to support public schools where a tax base is limited due to a military base, Native American Reservation or national park.  Bills have been introduced in the House (HR 5199 by Rep. Jim Banks R-IN) and in the Senate (S 2517 by Sen. Tim Scott R-SC and Sen. Ben Sasses R-Neb) which would allow funds to be used for military families in Education Savings Accounts, which would pay for private school tuition.  Groups such as the National Military Family Association oppose the bills. Sec. DeVos has indicated support for the bills, which were based on a Heritage Foundation proposal.
  1. Department of Education Releases Final Priorities for Discretionary Grant Programs
  • On March 2, Sec. DeVos issued her final priorities for discretionary programs.  The determination of such priorities is standard procedure for Secretaries of Education intended to promote the policy goals of the Administration with school choice high on Sec. DeVos’s list. 
  • Last Fall the Secretary proposed 11 priorities and sought comment from the field.  The final list includes the proposed 11 altered slightly.
  • Those priorities are:
    • -Empowering Families and Individuals to Choose a High-Quality Education that Meets Their Unique Needs
    • -Promoting Innovation and Efficiency, Streamlining Education with an Increased Focus on Improving Student Outcomes, and Providing Increased Value to Students and Taxpayers
    • -Fostering Flexible and Affordable Paths to Obtaining Knowledge and Skills
    • -Fostering Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills that Prepare Students to be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens
    • -Meeting the Unique Needs of Students and Children with Disabilities and/or those with Unique Gifts and Talents
    • -Promoting STEM Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science
    • -Promoting Literacy
    • -Promoting Effective Instruction in Classrooms and School-Promoting Economic Opportunity
    • -Protecting Freedom of Speech and Encouraging Respectful Interactions in a Safe Educational Environment
    • -Ensuring that Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families Have Access to High-Quality Educational Options
  • For the announcement of priorities:\



  1. Secretary DeVos Proposes Postponing IDEA Disproportionality Regulation
  • The IDEA regulation, known as “significant disproportionality,” intended to address the overrepresentation of minority students in special education and discriminatory practices in relation to placement and school discipline. The regulation, in response to a GAO report, created standard metrics for states to use in determining disproportionality.  Historically states have used different methodologies and few have been flagged for disproportionality. 
  • DeVos proposed delaying the implementation of the rule for two years (from 2018 to 2020) for K-12 students and for four years (from 2018 TO 2022) for students ages 3-5 served by IDEA Part C.  The federal register notice indicates that several concerns have been raised about the regulation. 
  • It notes:
    • A number of commenters suggested, for example, that the Department lacks the statutory authority under IDEA to require States to use a standard methodology, pointing out as well that the Department's previous position, adopted in the 2006 regulations implementing the 2004 amendments to IDEA, was that States are in the best position to evaluate factors affecting determinations of significant disproportionality”.
  • One detailed comment expressed concern that the standard methodology improperly looks at group outcomes through statistical measures, rather than focusing on what is at the foundation of IDEA, namely the needs of each individual child and on the appropriateness of individual identifications, placements, or discipline. Further, a number of commenters suggested that the standard methodology would provide incentives to LEAs to establish numerical quotas on the number of children who can be identified as children with disabilities, assigned to certain classroom placements, or disciplined in certain ways.
  • The Department of Education is asking for comments on the proposal.  They are due May 14 and may be submitted following the directions noted in the federal register below:
  1. New Resources for Educators
  • The Education Trust has issuedFunding Gaps 2018 An Analysis of School Funding Equity Across the US and within Each State.  School districts serving the most minority students receive about $1800, or 13%, less per student in state and local funding than those serving the fewest students of color.
  • Bellwether Education Partnershas issued Women in the Education Workforce: The Impact of State Teacher Pension Systems on Women’s Retirement a nonprofit, is out with new analysesthat find female educators earn lower salaries than their male counterparts throughout their working careers, which in turn leads to lower retirement benefits


The next Washington Update will be March 23rd, 2018. It is hoped that the report will include a completed FY 2018 funding bill with lots of increases for education.  

Reported to TN CEC Members Submitted by: 

Luann Ley Davis, Ph.D. 
Asst. Professor of Special Education

M-STEP PI / Director

TN CEC CAN Coordinator

UM SCEC Faculty Advisor


On behalf of:

Jane E. West Ph.D.

Education Policy Consultant

Cell:  202.812.9096

Twitter:  @janewestdc


Washington Update
February 15, 2018

 News from Washington is below:

      The New Budget Deal – Good News for Education!

Last week, Congress finally came together to pass a massive bi-partisan budget deal that paves the way for possible increases, and fewer cuts, for education.   

 What you need to know:

        The deal includes a temporary funding patch until March 23, giving Congress time to put together the final spending bill for FY 2018.

  •        The budget agreement waives the sequester requirements for two years (note they are left in place for 2020 and 2021) and lifts the budget spending caps for both defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending. 
  •        The new budget spending-cap for defense has risen to $700 billion for FY 2018, about a 10% increase over current levels.
  •        The new budget caps for NDD spending (which includes education) are $579 billion ($63 billion above sequester level) for FY 2018 and $597 billion for FY 2019 (also $63 billion above sequester level) 
  •        The following spending will be required in the new funding bills moving forward:

          o   $3 billion to address the opioid crisis

          o   $2 billion for veterans

          o   $10 billion for infrastructure

          o   $2 billion to address college cost and access for higher education

          o   $2.9 billion on child care

  •        Emergency funding for hurricane-affected areas is included including $2.7 billion to the Department of Education to address hurricane education recovery expenses


  •        Also included in the bill is a provision to raise the debt ceiling, the government’s borrowing limit, that runs through March, 2019 – past the November 2018 election.

The next step for legislators is to divvy up the new pot of funds between the 12 appropriations bills – these are known as “302(b)” allocations.  The subcommittee which funds education, the Labor/HHS/Education appropriations subcommittee, will be fighting for its fair share and education advocates are actively weighing in.   Even after the subcommittee receives its allocation, funds will need to be distributed for programs beyond education – including the National institutes of Health, always a bipartisan priority for increases.  In addition, some of the funds noted above as required will come out of this bill, such as money to address college cost and the opioid crisis.  There will be a lot of advocacy underway in the next few weeks with education advocates making their case for their favorite programs.







  1.       President Trump’s FY 2019 Budget Proposal

On Tuesday, the Trump Administration issued their FY 2019 budget proposal.  As the proposal did last year, it recommends new spending for choice programs and eliminates or shrinks multiple existing programs – this year a total of 39.  Overall, the proposal recommends $63.2 billion in discretionary funds, a 5% or $3.6 billion decrease below the FY 2017 level.


Key aspects of the proposal include the following:


  •        Expanded choice

          o   A new $1 billion Opportunity Grants programs whereby states could apply for funding for scholarships to private schools for low income students who attend schools identified as needing improvement under ESSA; school           districts participating in the ESSA-authorized weighted student funding pilot could use funds to expand open enrollment systems

          o   Provides $500 million (an increase of $160 million) for charter schools


  •        For ESSA programs

          o   Eliminates 13 programs totaling $3.9 billion

          o   Eliminates $2 billion for Title II, which provides professional development for educators

          o   Eliminates $1.1 billion for after school programs

          o   Eliminates $50 million for Comprehensive Centers

          o   Title I: flat funding

          o   Eliminates funding for SEED programs (teacher and school leader enhancement projects) of $65 million


  •        For special education

          o   All programs funded under IDEA are recommended for  slight increases, for example Personnel Preparation under IDEA is recommended to go from $83.1 million to $83.7 million

          o   Special Olympics funding is eliminated

  • Funding for the National Center for Special Education Research at IES is flat funded at $54 million


           Career Pathways and Higher Education

          o   Pell grants are expanded to include in eligibility “high quality short-term programs that provide students with a credential, certification or license in demand field.”  Currently Pell grants are only available for students who           attend institutions of higher education

          o   Flat funding of $1.1 billion is recommended for Career and Technical education prioritizing expanded apprenticeships and STEM programs

          o   Elimination of  GEAR Up programs which prepare students for success in colleges  at $339 million

          o   Elimination of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants which support undergraduates with financial need at $733 million

          o   Simplification and consolidation of student loan programs

  • Flat funding of $11.8 million for programs to support students with intellectual disabilities in higher education.


          Other programs recommended for elimination in the President’s budget include:

          o   Teacher Quality Partnership Grants………………….$43 million

          o   Statewide data systems at IES………………………..$32.3million

          o   Regional Educational Laboratories at IES………….$54.4 million

          o   Javits Gifted and Talented Education………………..$12 million

          o   Special Olympics ……………………….…………..$12.6million

          o   Supported Employment Grants..……………………$27.5 million

          o   Comprehensive Literacy Development/Striving Readers………………..$190 million

          o   School leader recruitment and support program……………….…………$14.5million


 In a bit of an ironic twist, Sec. DeVos has announced that she will donate her salary

($200,000) to charities.  She will divide the money equally between 4 organizations, one of them being Special Olympics, which was recommended for a $12.6 million elimination in her budget proposal.


This budget proposal, like President Trump’s previous one last year, is likely dead-on-arrival in the Congress.  You will recall that few, if any, of the proposals put forth by the President were adopted.  In particular, the new school choice program (similar to the one proposed this year) did not make it through the congressional appropriations process; however, charter schools did receive an increase.


For a full description of the budget proposal see:


  1.        Higher Education Act Reauthorization Update

The House Republican bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (aka the PROSPER Act, HR 4508) is waiting for floor time in the House.  You will recall that this was a partisan bill opposed by all Democrats on the House Education and the Workforce Committee.  Recently the CBO issued a score for the bill noting that it would reduce federal aid to students by nearly $15 billion over 10 years, but simultaneously increase spending by $2.2 billion over the same period.  (Details in link below) A number of organizations, including the Association of Land Grant Universities (APLU) have weighed in noting that the bill would be “an alarming setback for students.”  More organizations are expected to weigh in with concerns.   Give the CBO score,  the growing opposition to the bill and the limited time available on the House floor to consider legislation, its future is uncertain.


In the Senate a bipartisan request for input on reauthorization was issued this week by Sen. Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Murray (D-WA).  They are urging all stakeholders to submit their suggestions by next Friday, Feb. 23 to    If you  have suggestions, this is your chance!


This is the first solid act of bipartisanship to date in the Senate on the reauthorization.  While the talk of a bipartisan approach was encouraging, it is even more encouraging to see this joint invitation.   


More on CBO estimate:

More on CBO estimate:

APLU letter:


  1.       House Adopts Bill to Limit the Rights of People with Disabilities

The House of Representatives voted 225-192 today to endorse a provision that would undermine the rights afforded to people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), HR 620. This bill would require a person with a disability who believes they have experienced discrimination in a public accommodation to have to wait as long as 6 months before proceeding with resolution.  No other civil rights law requires formal legal advance notification and such a waiting period before proceeding.  Advance notice is always an option, but not one required by law at the expense of proceeding with enforcement. 


Opposition to the bill was robust.  House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), one of the authors of the ADA 27 years ago pleaded with Majority leader Paul Ryan (R-WI) urging him not to bring the bill up on the floor.   Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) , Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and others spoke passionately against the bill.  Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) blasted the proposal calling it an assault on disability rights and a non-starter in the Senate.  Hundreds of disability and civil rights organizations weighed in against the bill and conducted an aggressive advocacy effort. 


No companion bill has yet been introduced in the Senate.


On a personal note, I have to say as an individual, among many thousands of others, who worked to create the ADA, this is a sad setback.  I intend to advocate as vigorously as I can to stop this bill from moving forward.  I invite you to join me.  I’ll be on twitter @janewestdc


See comments of Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) during floor debate:








  1.     New Resource for Educators


Chiefs for Change has released a paper, The Network Effect Harnessing the Power of Teacher Leadership Networks to Sustain Progress in Tennessee.




Reported to TN CEC Members Submitted by: 

Luann Ley Davis, Ph.D. 
Asst. Professor of Special Education

M-STEP PI / Director

TN CEC CAN Coordinator

UM SCEC Faculty Advisor


On behalf of:

Jane E. West Ph.D.

Education Policy Consultant

Cell:  202.812.9096

Twitter:  @janewestdc


New Senators Appointed to Senate HELP Committee

New Senators Appointed to Senate HELP Committee

Senate HELPNewly elected Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) and newly appointed (by Mark Dayton, governor of Minnesota) Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) were recently appointed to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. In a press release from Senator Patty Murray, ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee, she stated “Senator Tina Smith and Senator Doug Jones both have strong records of standing up for working families, and I’m pleased to welcome them both to the HELP Committee.”

The Senate HELP Committee shall be referred all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials and other matters relating to a wide variety of topics. These may include: measures relating to education, labor, health and public welfare, equal employment opportunity, individuals with disabilities and student loans (just to name a few).

 Senator Jones and Senator Smith will replace former Senator Al Franken (D-MN), who recently resigned from the Senate, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Rhode Island’s junior Senator who was recently given a coveted seat on the Senate Finance Committee. In a press release from Senator Whitehouse, it was explained that “In light of his new assignment, Whitehouse will leave the Senate HELP Committee and the Special Committee on Aging.” The current HELP Committee, including the new Senators, consists of 12 Republican Senators and 11 Democratic Senators. 

OSERS Assistant Secretary Confirmed by Senate

OSERS Assistant Secretary Confirmed by Senate

On Thursday December 21, 2017, 
Johnny Collett was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), U.S. Department of Education. Collett was nominated to serve in this position by President Trump on November 16, 2017. As previously reported in the Policy Insider, the Council for Exceptional Children was pleased to support the nomination of Collett. CEC congratulates Collett on his appointment and looks forward to working together to ensure all children and youth with disabilities have access to the necessary supports and services to attain their developmental and educational outcomes. 

FREE Resources

ETS Logo ETS: Advancing Educational Measurement
The Education Research Update (ERU), recently featured a newly released book, Advancing Human Assessment: The Methodological, Psychological and Policy Contributions of ETS. The publication highlights comprehensive reviews of ETS’s (Education Testing Service) research in technical, substantive and policy areas and explores the organization's focus on, and achievements in, advancing educational measurement. The book is available in print and free of charge as an eBook in PDF and EPUB format.

Download for FREE here: 

A FREE Webinar for CEC Members Free Members-Only Webinar What’s Happening in Washington

A FREE Webinar for CEC Members

Free Members-Only Webinar
What’s Happening in Washington: Anticipated Policy Shifts and What They Mean for You

Wednesday, August 2, 2017
6-7 p.m. ET

2017 has been a time of change and uncertainty for all federal policies, but especially for education. We know you're paying attention—this year, you and your fellow special educators sent thousands of letters to your members of Congress, helping ensuring that your voices are heard. Now, we're bringing you the updates that you need on what's still happening in Washington.

In this wide-ranging session, CEC’s Policy and Advocacy Director will analyze education policies currently under discussion in Washington, D.C., review the recent changes to education policy supported by the Administration and Congress and examine their impact on children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. Issues to be discussed include federal appropriations, private school vouchers, Medicaid and health care reform, recent supreme court decisions and others. Strategies and techniques for you to become involved in CEC’s advocacy campaigns will be shared.


Deborah Ziegler, Ed.D.    

Deborah A. Ziegler, Ed.D. is the Director for Policy and Advocacy at the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), where she works to further the overall goals of CEC through improving policies affecting exceptional children and youth and the professionals who work with them, at all levels of government. Dr. Ziegler works with the White House, the United States Congress, and the Federal Agencies including the U.S. Department of Education to advocate for policies that guarantee a free appropriate public education for children and youth with disabilities and gifts and talents.





What's New in Washington??


 Betsy DeVos

Click on link or picture for full story





Representatives DeSaulnier, Scott, Hoyer, Langevin, and Huffman Introduce Legislation to Expand Higher Education Access for Students with Disabilities

July 12, 2017 

Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) was joined by Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03), Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-05), and Representatives James Langevin (RI-02) and Jared Huffman (CA-02) in introducing the Improving Access to Higher Education Act (H.R. 3199). This bill, which is part of the ‘Aim Higher’ initiative, would fully address the needs of students with disabilities, and would help improve college access and completion.

 “This first of its kind legislation takes a comprehensive approach to providing students and institutions with improved training, greater resources, and expanded services—bringing us one step closer to ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to earn a degree, find a job, and achieve the American Dream. I am honored to join Ranking Member Scott and my colleagues in spearheading this important effort for our students,” said Congressman DeSaulnier.

 “Since the passing of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – federal law has been clear that individuals with disabilities must have equitable access to education,” said Ranking Member Scott. “Thanks to the IDEA and the ADA, we have more students with disabilities graduating from high school than ever before. This bill will ensure the HEA is living up to the promise of the ADA and allowing all students to have equal access to higher education so they can fully participate in society.”

“I thank Reps. DeSaulnier, Scott, Langevin, and Huffman for introducing the Improving Access to Higher Education Act to make higher education more accessible for students with differing abilities,” said Whip Hoyer. “As the lead House sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I am strongly committed to ensuring that all of our people can live up to their full potential. This bill will help more of our students do so by addressing affordability, accessibility, and completion of higher education degrees that will prepare them for well-paying jobs and opportunities.”

 “Every student has the right to a quality education,” said Congressman Jared Huffman. “For students with disabilities in college, a quality education means providing an environment that fosters academic growth and gives them the individualized tools that they need to succeed. Unfortunately, college administrators and faculty face many challenges in providing these essential accommodations and instructional supports. The Improving Access to Higher Education Act will help level the playing field for students with disabilities, allowing every student to access the education and skills needed to live a meaningful and independent life.”

  “Students with disabilities already face tremendous challenges inside and outside of the classroom, but gaining access to a quality postsecondary education shouldn’t be one of them,” Rep. Langevin said. “This bill will provide students with disabilities greater educational opportunities in preparation for a bright future in the workforce. The doors to higher education should be open for all students, and I’m proud to join my colleagues in leading a bill that will foster more inclusive curricula and learning environments.”

In 2005, just 46 percent of students with disabilities who graduated from high school enrolled in postsecondary education, with only 40 percent of those students going on to finish a degree or receive a work certificate within eight years. For students with disabilities who enroll in a four year institution, odds of completing a degree fall to just 34 percent. The Improving Access to Higher Education Act aims to address this gap in completion rates.

 Specifically, the Improving Access to Higher Education Act would:

  • Instruct institutions to provide comprehensive services to students with disabilities, such as personalized study plans, integrated housing among their peers, and partnerships with local education agencies
  • Improve professional development and technical assistance to faculty and staff
  • Develop best practices for institutions to integrate instructional materials and technology in the classroom
  • Require institutions collect data assessing the success of the services provided to students with disabilities
  • Incentivize institutions to create an Office of Accessibility to best address the needs of students receiving disability services
  • Create two new $10 million grants to establish a National Teacher Assistance Center and National Coordinating Center for Inclusion of Students with Intellectual Disabilities

 Organizations supporting the Improving Access to Higher Education Act includes: Teacher Education Division of CEC, Association of University Centers on Disability, American Foundation for the Blind, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, National Council for Learning Disabilities, National Down Syndrome Congress, The Arc, and National Association of State Directors of Special Education.

 The ‘Aim Higher’ initiative, is a series of bills which would provide students with the ability to access, afford, and complete a postsecondary degree, leading to a good-paying job.



On June 6th, 2017 Education Secretary DeVos proposed a budget for the upcoming term. If you would like to watch, click the following link:

Following is a transcription of Ed Secretary DeVos statement to the budget committee:

Children's Action Network (CAN)

CEC works to improve public policy affecting children and youth with disabilities and gifts and talents, their parents and the professionals who work with them, at all levels of government.

In advocating on behalf of children with exceptionalities, CEC examines policy issues, develops appropriate responses to those issues and influences local, state, provincial and federal legislation. CEC also monitors and makes recommendations for program regulations and funding. In addition, CEC maintains a network among its units for influencing policy.

CEC is the recognized leader in advocacy for special education policy. CEC has a long history of success in impacting policy and legislation in the special education, gifted and talented and general education areas. CEC played a large part in developing the predecessor of today's IDEA, then known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (PL 94-142). This law established the right to a free, appropriate public education for children with disabilities.

CEC’s Children and Youth Action Network (CAN) is an organized group of volunteers who are dedicated to helping advance policy affecting students with disabilities and gifts and talents. CAN seeks to (1) effect the necessary governmental changes at the local, state, and federal levels that will make possible the implementation of CEC policies relating to the education of exceptional children; and (2) further vitalize CEC units by providing meaningful vehicles for membership and CEC public visibility. 

Tennessee CEC CAN Coordinator Luann Ley Davis, Ph.D.

Luann Ley Davis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Special Education
TN CEC CAN Coordinator
UM SCEC Faculty Advisor
University of Memphis
College of Education, Instruction and Curriculum Leadership
3798 Walker Ave., 413C Ball Hall
Memphis, TN 38152


Luann is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at the University of Memphis. She is the TN CEC CAN Coordinator, and University of Memphis Student CEC Faculty Advisor.

Luann has served on several local, state, and a national committee to advocate for individuals with disabilities.  She has served as the Colorado CEC CAN Coordinator for over four years, as well as the NC CEC CAN Coordinator for two years prior to moving to Tennessee.

Luann received her Ph.D. in Special Education and Child Development from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she was a RGA on the National Center and State Collaborative General Supervision Enhancement Grant (NCSC GSEG), and The SOLUTIONS Project. Her research area includes peer-mediated instruction using technology for students with moderate/severe disabilities. Luann received her Master’s Degree in Special Education-Severe Needs Cognitive from the University of Northern Colorado, and her Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology from Colorado State University. 

Her most recent awards include being named the 2010 -2011 Colorado Council for Exceptional Children, Colorado Teacher of the Year; was featured in a book entitled “Success Secrets for Super Teachers” by Ernie Pierce, and was awarded the 9News Teacher Who Cares award where she was featured on a news channel for the month of January 2009 and given lifetime college course credit and monetary awards.

 Luann is a native of Colorado and has taught students with Severe/Profound disabilities for more than 14 years.  Her students over the years have ranged from PreK to Transitionary age (18-21).  Luann provided instruction in all academic subject areas with primary focus in Literacy, Functional Math, Career Readiness, and Life Skills.  She has also taught remedial Language Arts, in addition to teaching special education, to students designated At-Risk.

Luann enjoys buying and selling antiques and unique collectibles, fishing, watching classic movies, and occasionally getting to spend time with her daughter in Oklahoma. She also loves advocating for those with disabilities, promoting adopting shelter animals, coaching soccer, hiking, camping, and fine dining.


CEC Issue Briefs