Our Advocacy Agenda

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The Education Trust promotes and supports policies that raise student achievement, close opportunity and achievement gaps, and ensure all students can succeed. Below is a list of recent actions The Education Trust has taken on issues related to our mission.

 

COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY AND FINANCIAL AID

Staggering increases in college prices, and public policies that exacerbate existing inequalities, continue to threaten the ability of low- and middle-income students, as well as students of color, to afford higher education.

Recent Actions

  • August 29, 2014. The Education Trust submitted comments on Chairman Tom Harkin’s discussion draft to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). Although the draft bill addresses many important issues in higher education such as providing useful information to students and their families and improving teacher preparation programs, it does not give the necessary attention needed on holding colleges accountable for curbing college costs, access to college, and student success. We recommend stronger accountability measures on these fronts. Read our comments here.  
  • July 22, 2014. The Education Trust sent a letter to Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) and Ranking Member George Miller (D-Calif.) concerning H.R.4983, the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, and H.R. 4984, the Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. These bills address important issues of improved information and financial aid counseling for students. However, if more of our young people are to access, afford, and complete a postsecondary education, we must do more to address the staggering and rapidly growing cost of college, especially for low- and moderate-income students. 
  • June 21, 2013. Ed Trust joined with student consumer, consumer, education and youth groups in penning a letter to Sens. Reid (D-Nev.) and McConnell (R-Ky.) urging the adoption of the Student Loan Affordability Act, S. 953, to keep student loan interest rates low until 2015 while Congress seeks to reauthorize the Higher Education Act and reach a comprehensive solution that is good for students.
  • June 6, 2014. In support of the CHANCE (Creating Higher Education Affordability Necessary to Compete Economicaly) Act, Ed Trust joined other civil rights organizations in writing a letter backing the act's goal of removing some of the financial barriers faced by hardworking low- and moderate-income students in successfully affording and completing postsecondary education.
  • May 28, 2014. Fifty-three organizations who advocate for students, veterans, labor, consumers, and civil rights have signed a letter urging the Department of Education to strengthen the proposed gainful employment regulation to fully protect students and taxpayers from predatory career education colleges. Yesterday, 39 members of Congress sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education expressing their support for a robust gainful employment rule. It is more important than ever that the Department strengthen its final rule to stop career education programs that consistently leave students with high debt and worthless workforce skills or credentials.
  • May 27, 2014. The Education Trust submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Education on its proposed program integrity rule to establish minimum standards of quality and affordability for students in higher education.
  • February 4, 2014. The Education Trust, along with a coalition of more than 50 other organizations, sent a letter to the White House urging the administration to issue promptly a stronger, more effective gainful employment regulation. The letter lays out five elements, at minimum, that should be included in the regulation.
  • October 4, 2013. The Education Trust, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, National Education Association, American Association of University Professors, Colorado Student Power Alliance, Jobs With Justice, Student Labor Action Project, University of Oregon Student Labor Action Project, and The Institute for College Access and Success, released a one-pager on the dangers of Pay It Forward, the so-called “Zero Education Debt,” program. With students paying back a percentage of their wages over a set number of years, the program has a number of serious flaws that need to be addressed before moving forward.
  • July 19, 2013. Ed Trust joined over 30 organizations working on behalf of students, veterans, consumers, faculty and staff, civil rights, and college and affordability to oppose the “Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act” (HR 2637).  This bill would reward institutions that deceive prospective students and provide low-quality, overpriced educational services, when we should instead be rewarding schools that successfully train students for productive careers.
  • July 17, 2013. Ed Trust joined over 25 other organizations calling on Congress to invest in America's college students by offering comprehensive student loan reforms that would lower student loan debt for today's borrowers and future borrowers.
  • June 28, 2013. Ed Trust was one of 50 organizations that sent a letter to senators supporting the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act (s. 1238), which would extend the current interest rate of 3.4 percent for subsidized Stafford loans for one year. This bill would give Congress the time it needs to develop a long-term solution to ballooning interest rates that would be in the best interest of students.
  • June 17, 2013. Ed Trust was one of about 30 organizations that wrote to Director Cordray of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) urging him to promptly use the CFPB’s authority to enforce consumer financial laws, including the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), to require that private education lenders obtain school certification prior to disbursing private education loans. Having schools certify private student loans can help ensure that students first exhaust their less expensive federal options before resorting to private loans.
  • May 15, 2013. Co-signed by TICAS, Ed Trust's May 15 letter to Rep. Joe Courtney supports the Student Loan Relief Act of 2013.

 

ACCOUNTABILITY IN K-12 EDUCATION

Our schools aren’t doing the job we need them to do. American students trail behind those in many other developed nations, our employers report that young people don’t have the skills and knowledge needed for the workforce, and college remediation rates remain high. In addition, glaring gaps in academic achievement and graduation rates separate low-income students and students of color from other students.

Our nation needs accountability systems that set ambitious achievement goals, provide clear information to parents and community members, and require decisive action when expectations are not met. These systems will help ensure that federal investments in education actually improve achievement and close gaps between groups, applying pressure where needed to accelerate the pace of improvement.  

Recent Actions

  • October 24, 2014. The Education Trust, along with 12 other civil rights and advocacy organizations, sent a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urging the U.S. Department of Education to ensure states’ accountability systems make the performance of all groups of students matter. Accountability systems also should trigger meaningful supports and interventions for underperforming groups of students, the groups say.
  • January 27, 2014. The Education Trust offered public comments to the New York State Education Department on its proposal to seek a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to allow out-of-grade-level testing for some students with disabilities.
  • August 20, 2013. The Education Trust penned a letter to the Department of Education in support of the mandatory Civil Rights Data Collection with suggestions for how to improve the quality and usability of the data.
  • July 18, 2013. The Education Trust authored a letter to the House expressing opposition to the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) and outlining the major flaws in the legislation.
  • June 18, 2013. An Ed Trust letter to Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) of the Committee on Education and the Workforce offers comments and recommendations as the Student Success Act is considered in committee.
  • June 18, 2013. Ed Trust sent a letter to Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) supporting the substitute amendement offered during the Student Success Act committee markup.
  • June 10, 2013. Ed Trust sent a letter to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to thank him for pursuing reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act and improving the Strengthening America's Schools Act (SASA).
  • June 10, 2013. Ed Trust's letter to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) acknowledges his efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary School Act through the introduction of the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act (ECRCCA).
  • June 10, 2013. The Education Trust sent individual letters to Chairman Kline, Ranking Member Miller, Chairman Harkin, and Ranking Member Alexander with analysis of their ESEA proposals outlining the impact they would have on low-income students and students of color.

 

STRONG TEACHERS AND LEADERS

Teachers are by far the most important in-school factor in determining whether our students succeed and our nation’s schools improve. An ever stronger and more sophisticated body of scholarship confirms what parents have long suspected: Highly effective teachers help children soar while ineffective teachers actually hobble students’ chances for success. That's why ensuring that our teacher force is as strong as possible and that we don’t keep assigning our weakest teachers to the children who most need our strongest are absolutely critical to boosting overall achievement and closing the longstanding gaps that separate low-income students and students of color from their peers.

Recent Actions

  • September 4, 2013. The Education Trust along with 22 other organizations sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calling on the Department to release a proposed rule outlining reforms of our current teacher preparation system. The letter also acknowledged support for the Administration’s teacher education reform strategy outlined in “Our Future, Our Teachers.” Moving forward with efforts to reform how we prepare teachers will help ensure that all students are being taught by effective teachers.
  • June 17, 2013. Ed Trust and ten other organizations representing teachers, administrators, chief state school officers, and business and community groups sent a letter to the House and Senate appropriations committees supporting the recommended $400 million for the Teacher Incentive Fund 2014, a program designed to implement performance based compensation for teachers and principals.
  • June 3, 2013. In light of the most recent attempt at ESEA reauthorization, Ed Trust joined a coalition of other education and civil rights organizations to sign a letter to Congress supporting measures to ensure teacher quality, teacher effectiveness, and the equitable distribution of highly effective teachers to schools with high proportions of low-income students and students of color.
  • May 7, 2013. Check out Ed Trust’s Teacher Appreciation week graphics on Facebook.  
  • Februray 28, 2013. Ed Trust joined a coalition to support the STELLAR Act, which would provide funding for robust, fair, and high-quality evaluation systems in high-poverty schools. Read Ed Trust’s letters of support for the bills introduced by Reps. Susan Davis and Jared Polis, and Sen. Mary Landrieu.

 

FISCAL EQUITY AND COMPARABILITY

High-poverty schools need access to the same resources as low-poverty schools, whether that means  money or, more importantly, effective instruction. Legislative loopholes and other policy choices have resulted in hidden funding gaps and inequitable access to effective teaching. We are promoting ways to eliminate these inequities.

Recent Actions

  • July 15, 2013. The Ed Trust also joined several other organizations in supporting the inclusion of the Fiscal Fairness Act in any ESEA reauthorization bill that reaches the House floor.
  • March 2013. The Ed Trust joined several other organizations in supporting the Fiscal Fairness Act, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and in the House by Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.). The Act would close the comparability loophole in Title I of ESEA.

 

COLLEGE AND CAREER-READY STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENTS

The common core state standards and assessments have the potential to replace the existing haphazard patchwork of state standards and assessments and to help states raise the bar for students across the country. Although the common core effort is state-led and non-federal, Congress can help support states through the transition to these stronger standards and linked assessments.

Recent Actions

  • October 7, 2013. The Education Trust sent a letter to Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah Delisle asking that the ESEA waiver renewal process be aimed at advancing strong academic outcomes and opportunies for our nation’s low-income students and students of color. We identified areas, such as subgroup accountability and equitable access to effective teaching, and offered specific recommendations where the department could further promote equity in the renewal process.

 

OTHER EFFORTS

Recent Actions

  • May 6, 2014. The Education Trust penned a letter in support of H.R. 4366, the Strengthening Education through Research Act, to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act.
  • December 4, 2013. The Ed Trust signed onto a letter from NDD United calling on Congress to use the Budget Conference as an opportunity to replace sequestration with a bipartisan, balanced approach. In the end, we had 470 national organizations representing the breadth of non-defense discretionary programs join in signing the letter.
  • November 12, 2013. The Education Trust, along with a host of other organizations, signed onto a letter opposing any cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP benefits provide essential resources to our nation’s children, seniors, those looking for work or impacted by natural disasters, and veterans and active duty military personnel.
  • April 9, 2013. In response to increasing gun violence in schools and communities across the country, Ed Trust sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to support S. 649, the "Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013," which seeks to curb gun violence.
  • March 13, 2013. Together with over 1,000 other organizations, the Ed Trust signed a letter urging members of the Senate and House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittees to "recognize the value of health, education, job training, and social services in improving the lives of American families and to restore the Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee 302(b) allocation to the FY 2010 level of $163.6 billion.