Legislative Priorities for the 115th Congress (2nd Session)

NSBA Advocacy efforts spring from the conviction that excellence in public education must be the nation's top priority. NSBA is committed to ensuring that the local school school is heard in the national education debate where critical decisions are made or influenced. In addition to the specific legislative issues outlined below, NSBA believes Congress must continue its oversight of the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to ensure state and local flexibility in K-12 education. As states and districts work to implement the law, Congress must recognize the critical role of local school boards to lead the local district planning process and set policy and programs to best meet student learning needs.

Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act: Expanding Opportunities for College and Career Readiness

PRIORITY: NSBA urges Congress to finalize the bipartisan reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (CTE).

The Perkins CTE Act supports innovative academic and credentialing programs designed to advance students’ 21st century skills to meet the needs in the workforce. Among other improvements, the law should help school districts offer practical training through apprenticeships, expand dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities, hire and retain skilled CTE educators, and equip classrooms to deliver high- quality CTE programs.

Local school boards are breaking new ground in CTE education by making critical connections between the business community and institutions of higher education. Their leadership will ensure the nation’s public schools fulfill a vital role in the implementation of new programs and services to prepare students for success in the workforce.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Reauthorization

PRIORITY: NSBA urges Congress to include provisions in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that will refocus the efforts of schools and families away from compliance-driven processes to greater collaboration in support of student learning outcomes.

NSBA believes IDEA can be modernized according to the following principals: foster collaboration and trusting relationships between families and schools; reduce complex compliance-driven processes and redirect efforts within IDEA procedures to improving teaching and learning; and provide full funding of the federal share of IDEA investments. NSBA supports legislation that would establish a ten-year path  to reach the full federal share of IDEA funding, as well as high-cost pools for states to reimburse school districts for catastrophic cases that exceed many individualized education plans. NSBA also strongly supports IDEA’s investments in the Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities which serves children from birth through age two.


Federal Education Investments:  Appropriations for Fiscal Years 2018-2019

PRIORITY:  NSBA urges Congress to finalize FY 2018 appropriations and work to maximize investments in the following priority areas: IDEA Part B, Assistance for Education of All Children with Disabilities; ESSA Title I—Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged; and ESSA Title II— Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, and Other School Leaders; and ESSA Title IV Part A, Subpart 1—Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants.

In addition, NSBA urges consideration of FY 2019 appropriations while the final FY 2018 provisions are being considered and avoiding any further across-the-board budget cuts to education.

Education Choice: Supporting America's Public Schools

PRIORITY: NSBA opposes any legislation that diverts public funds from K-12 education directly through voucher programs, or indirectly through tax credits or related schemes to fund private, religious or home school education. Further, NSBA encourages Congress to include accountability measures in any use of public funds for educational purposes, including for the expansion of public charter schools.

NSBA encourages federal lawmakers to provide greater support for the innovative programs and educational choices offered by our nation’s public school districts who educate more than 50 million students each day.

Federal policies and programs must be strengthened to support local magnet schools, public military academies and other schools that provide educational opportunities through specialized curricula and unique learning experiences in science, technology, engineering, the arts, mathematics and other areas related to a well-rounded education.

Higher Education Act Reauthorization

PRIORITY: NSBA urges Congress to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) to strengthen teacher and principal preparation programs and retain the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, an important tool used to recruit effective educators into the field. NSBA believes the HEA must continue to invest in a strong educator preparation system, including supporting strong partnerships between educator preparation programs and school districts by offering incentives for high performing students to enter the teaching profession, including becoming preschool educators.

Federal law in postsecondary education must also be a robust source of support for local innovation, research, and implementation of strategies designed to improve teacher and principal effectiveness and include: Evidence-based preparation and professional development; Evidence-based evaluation systems that include, in part, student performance; Alternative certification programs that meet workforce needs; State and school district flexibility regarding credentials for small and/or rural schools, special education programs, English learners and specialized programs such as science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics; and Locally-determined compensation and teacher and principal assignment policies.

Immigration Reform

PRIORITY: NSBA urges Congress to act swiftly to amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 and restore the pathway to U.S. citizenship for qualified undocumented students previously protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

NSBA is deeply concerned by the Administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Today, our schools are educating the most diverse student population in history, providing equitable access and ensuring that all students are educated at levels no previous generation attempted to achieve. Public schools continue to make progress in helping students prepare for college, careers and life. However, progress is threatened if students fear coming to school.


  • May 10, 2018 Letter to House of Representatives, Subject:  Discharge Petition H.Res.744 - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. NSBA urges swift consideration of multiple bills with provisions to address the status of DACA. 

Ensuring Student Data Privacy while Promoting Effective Data Use

PRIORITY: NSBA strongly supports policies designed to help teachers, school leaders, and administrators better use data to support instruction and decision making.

Federal policies and programs, such as the State Longitudinal Data Systems program, should continue to support locally lead efforts to more effectively use data and focus on equipping teachers and other education professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to support students and strengthen school performance. This focus must be complemented by an unwavering commitment to protecting each student’s personally identifiable information.

NSBA believes it is important to provide professional development for educators and other school-based professionals to better understand how to ensure students’ privacy and protect education records. We believe this increased investment in educators’ privacy skills should proceed before Congress considers any additional laws and regulations. As Congress may consider changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) this year, NSBA supports changes that codify helpful improvements made by guidance in 2008 and regulation in 2011; but, opposes proposals to levy burdensome and counterproductive fines against non-compliant school districts that could greatly curtail needed studies and other research. Changes to FERPA should also include the aforementioned new investment in helping educators and school district leaders comply with the vast array of existing federal and state privacy requirements, including expanded support for the U.S. Department of Education’s Privacy and Technical Assistance Center.

Net Neutrality and Access to Equitable Digital Learning Opportunities

PRIORITY: NSBA opposes the Federal Communications Commission’s 2017 decision to eliminate the agency’s net neutrality regulations.

Elimination of the regulations raises several concerns for school districts, including potential pass-through costs associated with data-heavy digital learning initiatives; a less innovative education technology environment based on potential discriminatory pricing for new market entrants; and heightened pricing and other vulnerabilities for rural and high cost districts that may only have access to a single broadband carrier. Congress should establish bipartisan protections to ensure that broadband providers treat all districts fairly. These protections must include efforts to provide a level playing fi ld for content providers which will help districts establish effective digital learning environments for their students.

NSBA also strongly supports the improvements made to the E-Rate program in 2014, including the focus on helping districts establish robust Wi-Fi connectivity for all learning spaces on school property.

Improving the Nation's Infrastructure

PRIORITY: As Congress and the Administration explore opportunities to modernize our nation’s infrastructure, NSBA encourages investing in education to update educational facilities that support a range of learning opportunities for students and their families. NSBA also supports the inclusion of advance refund bonding to reduce local debt through lower interest rates as part of any proposal.

From classrooms with modern broadband connections to state-of-the-art science laboratories and energy efficient green building design, such legislation would help upgrade the number of outdated school buildings across our country. Recent estimates place total school facility needs, including technology, at  well over $500 billion, which is beyond the capacity of many communities and States to address. Legislation to prioritize grants for schools in underserved communities, create a new school infrastructure tax-exempt bond program, promote green building design, and support digital infrastructure is critical to advancing student success for college and career readiness in numerous communities.

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