Children's Action Network (CAN)

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Changes in Mandatory Programs and means that new funds can be generated for other spending when mandatory programs are rescinded, delayed or otherwise limited.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.


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