Our Advocacy Agenda

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The Education Trust promotes and supports policies that raise student achievement, close achievement gaps, and ensure all students can succeed. Click the links below to learn more about our advocacy work. Stay up to date on our work by checking this space frequently.

CONGRESS IN REVIEW - 2012

As last year and the 112th Congress drew to a close, we thought it appropriate to reflect on the education related work that Congress, the White House, and the Department of Education undertook during the last two years. These two years have been busy ones for education — we had Race to the Top competitions, waivers of No Child Left Behind, two Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bills in Congress, and serious funding challenges to some core higher education programs.

Trying to reduce all those different and disparate actions into one assessment of whether it had been a good or bad Congress for equity seemed impossible to us. So we decided not to do it. Instead, we’ve assessed the impact of each action based on whether it had the potential to improve educational equity. This infographic represents our resulting assessment. Put simply: The 112th Congress was an educational equity rollercoaster.  

 

COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Co-signed by TICAS, Ed Trust's May 15 letter to Rep. Joe Courtney supports the Student Loan Relief Act of 2013.
  • Ed Trust released a statement urging Congress to work together to maintain the interest rate on subsidized student loans for undergraduates at 3.4%, rather than allowing it to double to 6.8%.
  • Ed Trust Vice President Jose Cruz testified before the U.S. Senate HELP Committee on the importance of keeping college affordable for low- and moderate-income students.  

For more information:

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Learn about No Child Left Behind and the waiver process, including the poor history of state goal setting. Check out Ed Trust’s statement on first round waivers, analysis of the accountability comments of the first round winners, and listen to Ed Trust’s joint webinar with the National Center for Learning Disabilities analyzing the content of those first 11 approved applications.
  • The Education Trust joined a broad coalition of 40 other civil rights, disability, business, and education organizations in a letter to House Ed & Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.), opposing the Student Success Act. Among other things, the coalition opposes the bill's lack of accountability standards for achievement and learning gains by subgroups of disadvantaged students.
  • In addition to the joint letter mentioned above, 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.
  • The Education Trust also authored a letter to the House expressing opposition to the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) and outlining the major flaws in the legislation.
  • The Education Trust joined more than 30 other education reform groups signing a letter to the Secretary of Education calling for subgroup accountability, while the Tri-Caucus sent a letter to the House and Senate education committees calling for the same.

For more information:

SUPPORTING EDUCATORS AND PROMOTING QUALITY INSTRUCTION

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

  • 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.
  • Check out Ed Trust’s Teacher Appreciation week graphics on Facebook.  
  • 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.
  • 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.

For more information:

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

  • 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.
  • 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.

For more information:

HIGH STANDARDS AND HIGH-QUALITY 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

  • 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.
  • Read our state-specific summaries of the standards provisions in the accepted waivers from: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
  • Listen to a rewind of Ed Trust’s joint webinar with the National Center for Learning Disabilities analyzing the content of the first 11 approved waiver applications, and the implications of those waivers for millions of students across the country.

For more information:

  • Check out our fact sheet to find out how Congress can provide support and incentives for states as they transition from current standards and assessments to new, higher college- and career-ready standards.
  • Read our publication “Shut Out of the Military: Today’s High School Education Doesn’t Mean You’re Ready for Today’s Army," to learn about how important high standards are for ensuring that our young people are prepared for the careers they want. For example, more than one in five young people with a high school diploma who are interested in enlisting do not meet the U.S. Army’s minimum eligibility standards.
  • Click here for further reading.

PUBLIC INFORMATION AND REPORTING

If parents are to engage effectively with their children’s schools, they need to be well-informed. Sustained community engagement in schools, a key component of student success, depends on the flow of quality information to parents and other stakeholders.

Recent Actions

  • Read more about the type of information states and districts should be required to collect and report in this fact sheet.
  • In “Parents Want to Know,” The Education Trust outlines how the data collection required by current federal law fails to meet the needs of parents. The brochure suggests six key areas in which parents need more and better information: student achievement, climate, funding, high schools, school districts, and teachers.

For more information:

  • Click here for further reading.

Other Recent Efforts:

  • 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.  July 22, 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.
  • 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 28, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ed Trust sent a letter to Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) supporting the substitute amendement offered during the Student Success Act committee markup.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ed Trust and 145 other national organizations crafted a letter to President Obama outlining priorities for dealing with the fiscal cliff. Those priorities are, among others, no more cuts to non-defense discretionary programs, including the education programs, and no extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of people.
  • Ed Trust, along with 31 other organizations, sent a letter to Secretary Duncan asking him to stand tough on gainful employment even in the face of the court ruling vacating much of last year’s final rule. The letter also asked the Secretary to use his existing authority to enhance consumer protections for students at for-profit colleges.
  • Read the Ed Trust statement warning that passing the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act into law would harm millions of American students who are trying to learn their way to a brighter future and earn their way into the middle class.
  • Ed Trust joined a diverse coalition of 79 groups to file an amicus brief in the Affordable Care Act case at the Supreme Court, to argue that a ruling by the court that Medicaid expansion amounted to federal coercion would jeopardize other important funding streams, like Title I funding. 

The last year and the 112th Congress have long drawn to a close, but we still thought it appropriate to reflect on the education related work that Congress, the White House, and the Department of Education undertook during the last two years. These two years have been busy ones for education — we had Race to the Top competitions, waivers of No Child Left Behind, two Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bills in Congress, and serious funding challenges to some core higher education programs.

Trying to reduce all those different and disparate actions into one assessment of whether it had been a good or bad Congress for equity seemed impossible to us. So we decided not to do it. Instead, we’ve assessed the impact of each action based on whether it had the potential to improve educational equity. This infographic represents our resulting assessment. Put simply: The 112th Congress was an educational equity rollercoaster.