Education Week - November 16, 2016 - 15
GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Proposed ESSA Spending Rules Encounter Stiff Resistance
Some in Congess critical;
state chiefs float own plan
By Andrew Ujifusa
The U.S. Department of Education's proposed rules for how states and districts spend
federal money for disadvantaged students
under the Every Student Succeeds Act is
under seige both by members of Congress
and by state schools superintendents, who are
pitching their own spending approach under
the new law.
The core of the debate continues to be draft
regulations covering the technical-but important-issue known as "supplement not supplant," which seeks to assure that state and
local education agencies don't use federal Title
I aid to displace their own spending responsibilities for underprivileged students.
In the most recent flare-up, more than two
dozen Republican members put U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. on notice
that the department should rescind its proposed spending rules for ESSA because, in
their view, the proposals violate the spirit of
"Many states have examined and are continuing to examine whether their own state
and local funds are being allocated equitably
to Title I and non-Title I schools," states the
Nov. 4 letter from 25 members of the House
and Senate. "However, [supplement-not-supplant] has never required, nor is it intended to
require, equity or fairness in the allocation of
state and local education dollars."
Their concerns mirror those outlined in an
earlier letter to President Barack Obama from
a bipartisan group of 10 senators, who criticized both the proposed spending rules and
the department's draft regulations on accountability, saying neither complies with the "plain
language" of the law. And they ask for Obama's
help in reining in the department.
"Most Americans are grateful for the law,
that Congress, working with you, enacted,"
they wrote in the Sept. 30 letter. "We urge you
to make certain that the Department of Education regulations stay within the statutory text."
Notably, while the signatories include Sen.
Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the
Senate education committee and an ESSA architect, they don't include Sen. Patty Murray of
Washington, the top Democrat on the committee and another ESSA architect.
And it's clear that Murray disagrees with the
premise of the letter. "These proposed regulations are within the spirit of ESSA and the
congressional intent that we agreed to around
that balanced approach," she said in a statement. "I am encouraged to see the department
continuing to gather feedback from stakeholders,
including teachers, principals, superintendents, and civil rights groups, as it works to
implement the law."
For its part, the Education Department has
said that its proposed regulations are well within
ESSA's parameters and would help strengthen
so-called "guardrails" in the law to protect historically overlooked groups of students.
In the more recent letter, submitted as a
comment as part of the formal rulemaking
process, a broader group that includes both
Alexander and Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the
chairman of the House education committee,
says the spending proposal runs counter to
the intent of Congress and "includes additional requirements on [districts] that are
unlawful, unnecessary, and could result in
harmful consequences to [districts], schools,
teachers, and students."
The supplement-not-supplant part of the
law requires districts to show that they are
spending federal dollars in addition to, and
not in place of, state and local spending on
schools. The Education Department's draft
regulations for that requirement would give
districts several options for showing they're in
compliance, including one that requires closeto-equalized spending between Title I schools
that enroll large shares of students from lowincome households and non-Title I schools.
Department officials as well as civil rights
groups say the proposal would ensure more resources for disadvantaged students and take
decisive action against districts that have been
improperly depriving those students of badly
But opponents argue that it would disrupt
how districts draw up their budgets and distribute people and resources. And they also say
that, in contrast to the department's heavy-
Most Americans are
grateful for the law that
Congress, working with
you, enacted. We urge you
to make certain that the
Department of Education
within the statutory
LETTER FROM BIPARTISAN GROUP OF 10 U.S.
SENATORS TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
handed approach, ESSA itself actually creates
more flexbility for districts on the issue by no
longer requiring them to itemize expenses in
order to show that federal money is truly supplementing their budgets.
The Council of Chief State School Officers,
meanwhile, has proposed its own plan that
differs in a few key respects from the Education Department's proposed rules.
Under its plan, also submitted as a formal
public comment to the department, districts
would not have to choose from among four
options for distributing state and local school
aid, as the department's proposed regulations would require. In fact, there's no menu
of possible methodologies in the state chiefs'
proposal. The CCSSO also says that state and
local money should be distributed to schools
without taking their Title I status into account.
The CCSSO plan would also require districts
to publish how they distributed state and local
money, show they're actually distributing it
that way, and consider their funding methods'
impact on schools undergoing comprehensive
The state chiefs' group says it is committed to "equitable education opportunities for
every child, no matter their race, ethnicity,
income level, or where they attend school."
But the CCSSO also says of the Education
Department's proposal: "Setting up a compliance system where every educational
decision that touches spending must be vetted through a central-district office is more
than just a paperwork burden; it takes decisionmaking away from the people closest
On a conference call with reporters, Wisconsin schools Superintendent Tony Evers
highlighted how the CCSSO's proposal would
put a spotlight on resource inequities at lowperforming schools in particular.
"Equity is enhanced by transparency,"
Evers said, adding that clear progress was
made on the issue during contentious negotiations over the supplemental-money rule.
By contrast, the proposed department rules
could upend certain changes to district operations like those made in Clark County schools
in Nevada, said Steve Canavero, that state's
Department officials have maintained that
some districts are improperly and unfairly
shortchanging Title I schools, and that its supplemental-money proposal would result in up
to $2 billion in additional state and local aid
for those students.
Approximately 600 comments have been
submitted to the department regarding its August ESSA spending proposal. The comment
period closed Nov. 7.
Oklahoma Schools Chief Facing Campaign-Finance Charges
By Daarel Burnette II
Oklahoma state education chief
Joy Hofmeister faces two state felony
charges of illegal campaign-fundraising activities during her successful
2014 campaign to oust embattled
then-Superintendent Janet Barresi.
A 32-page affidavit issued Nov.
3 alleges that Hofmeister for more
than a year conspired with several others to funnel money from a
donor corporation and two education groups into an independent expenditure fund that would finance
a negative campaign ad against
Hofmeister, who denies the allegations, was charged with "knowingly accepting contributions in excess of the
maximum amounts" and two counts of
"conspiracy to commit a felony."
She faces 10 years in prison on
the two conspiracy counts and a
year on each of the two campaignfinance violations.
Also facing charges are Lela
Odom, a former director of the Oklahoma Education Association; Steven
Crawford, a former executive director of the Cooperative Council of
Oklahoma School Administration;
and political consultants Fount Holland and Stephanie Milligan. Milligan was a volunteer coordinator in
Oklahoma for Republican presidential victor Donald Trump.
Hofmeister and Crawford have
pleaded not guilty. Hofmeister's next
hearing will be Dec. 13.
The independent expenditure
group, Oklahomans for Public School
Excellence, according to the affidavit,
accepted donations that were illegally excessive and illegal corporate
donations. Oklahoma Watch, a local
news organization, profiled the group
during the 2014 election season.
Hofmeister, a Republican, beat out
Barresi in the primary and went on
to win the general election.
During a short press conference
the day the charges were outlined,
Hofmeister said, "I will vigorously
defend my integrity and reputation
against any suggestion of wrongdoing. And I will fight the allegations
that have been made against me."
Oklahoma Education Association
spokesman Doug Folks said in a
statement that Hofmeister and the
others charged in the case will eventually be exonerated.
"In its 127-year history, the Oklahoma Education Association has advocated ethically and honorably for
Oklahoma public schools, students,
and education professionals," Folks
said. "We are disappointed to see
that charges have been filed against
former OEA Executive Director Lela
Odom, but we firmly believe that
when this matter is resolved, she will
be cleared of any wrongdoing. In the
meantime, OEA will continue our
work to advance public education for
the benefit of all Oklahoma students."
Despite calls from the state's Democratic Party leaders, Hofmeister
said she will not resign.
Hofmeister, though a Republican,
came into office with the support of
many teachers who opposed Barresi
for carrying out an agenda pushed
by Republicans who dominate the
In recent years, for example, lawmakers instituted an A-F accountability system that labeled several
of the state's schools as "failing" and
began to include standardized-test
scores in teacher's evaluations. Amid
a funding crisis because of a dip in
oil prices, teacher pay has stalled,
and mass layoffs have led many districts to go to four-day school weeks.
Teachers also blame the legislature for a teacher shortage that's
forced the state department to issue
thousands of emergency teacher licenses.
The teachers' union saw the ousting of Barresi as evidence that their
collective voice has power. In response, more than 25 teachers filed
to run for the legislature this year.
Only five won.
Hofmeister has benefited from
waves of support from the state's
teachers, thousands of whom congregate in a closed Facebook group.
She often posted pictures of herself campaigning with the teachers who ran for the legislature and
sidesteps the local news media by
rolling out many of her initiatives
in the group.
EDUCATION WEEK | November 16, 2016 | www.edweek.org | 15
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 16, 2016
Education Week - November 16, 2016
Few Women Run School Districts. Why?
Trump’s Lesson Plan Awaited
A Day After Election, Classes Are Awash in Emotions
News in Brief
States Found to Offer 95 Kinds of Diplomas
Black Teachers Feel Pigeonholed On the Job, Report Says
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Eager to Innovate: African-American Teenagers and Technology
Positive Climates May Shrink Achievement Gaps
Q&A: ‘You Just Do the Work’
Proposed ESSA Spending Rules Encounter Stiff Resistance
Oklahoma Schools Chief Facing Campaign-Finance Charges
Sharp Questions Posed In Service-Dog Case
SNAPSHOT: Title IX and Transgender Students: Some Key Developments Over 44 Years
Governors and Schools Chiefs Results
Ed. Policy on Simmer as GOP Holds Congress
GOP Solidifies Hold on State-Level Leadership
State Ballot Measures
In Mass., Voters Shun More Charter Schools
Bilingual Education Set to Return to California Schools
Education Department May Again Find Itself in GOP Cross Hairs
Teachers’ Unions Spend Big, Mostly Fall Short in Elections
SUSAN MOORE JOHNSON: To Decentralize or Not? Is That Even the Question?
JIM HAAS: Oh, the Humanity!
GREGG WEINLEIN: The School Friendship Challenge
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
GARY BEACH: Does the U.S. Department of Education Need to Be Restructured?
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - A Day After Election, Classes Are Awash in Emotions
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - 2
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - 3
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - News in Brief
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - Report Roundup
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - States Found to Offer 95 Kinds of Diplomas
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - Black Teachers Feel Pigeonholed On the Job, Report Says
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Eager to Innovate: African-American Teenagers and Technology
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - Positive Climates May Shrink Achievement Gaps
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - 10
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - 11
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - Q&A: ‘You Just Do the Work’
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - 13
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - 14
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - Oklahoma Schools Chief Facing Campaign-Finance Charges
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - Sharp Questions Posed In Service-Dog Case
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - SNAPSHOT: Title IX and Transgender Students: Some Key Developments Over 44 Years
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - GOP Solidifies Hold on State-Level Leadership
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - State Ballot Measures
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - Bilingual Education Set to Return to California Schools
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - 21
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - Teachers’ Unions Spend Big, Mostly Fall Short in Elections
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - Senate/House Results
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - SUSAN MOORE JOHNSON: To Decentralize or Not? Is That Even the Question?
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - JIM HAAS: Oh, the Humanity!
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - GREGG WEINLEIN: The School Friendship Challenge
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - Letters
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - 29
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - 30
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - 31
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - GARY BEACH: Does the U.S. Department of Education Need to Be Restructured?
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - CW1
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - CW2
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - CW3
Education Week - November 16, 2016 - CW4