Wednesday, March 29, 2017

2017 Annual Town Meeting, 7:15 PM

About to get underway. Live blogging, updating as we go.

Town Moderator calls Town Meeting to order; into immediate recess for Diversity Award Presentation.

7:15 PM LPS Diversity Award Presentation

Superintendent Mary Czajkowski announces Tammy Darling, a social studies teacher at LHS as this year's award recipient. Among other things and good work, Tammy revived the "Race and Gender" course this year.
We will remain in recess for a few minutes.
Tonight's Town Meeting (TM) Agenda was prepared by the Town Moderator, in consultation with staff, boards and committees, article sponsors.
This post is not an official record of the Annual Town Meeting proceedings; it is offered as information to interested persons by a member of Town Meeting.
And we're back in session.
Testing our electronic voting devices.

Article 2 - Capital Expenditures Committee Report: Receive the report of the CEC.
Unanimous - the report is received and placed on file.
Jill Hai, CEC Chair, speaks to the report's highlights.

Article 20 - Harbell Street AcceptanceTo see if the Town will vote to establish as a Town way and accept the layout of as a Town way Harbell Street from Paul Revere Road a distance of 645 feel, more or less, to the end of Harbell Street, as laid out by the Selectmen and to take by eminent domain, purchase or otherwise acquire any fee, easement, or other interest in land necessary therefor; and raise and appropriate money for the construction of said street and for land acquisition; determine whether the money shall be provided in the tax levy, by transfer from available funds, by borrowing, or by any combination of these methods; or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen)
  • Funds requested: $147,000
  • Description: This article has been requested by residents of Harbell Street to have the street brought up to Town standards and accepted by the Town. The total cost of bringing the street up to Town standards will be borne by the residents through the assessment of betterments.
Requires 2/3 vote
Selectmen are unanimous
Appropriation Committee is unanimously in support
CEC approves with a vote 4-1
No - 2
Abstain - 3

Article 17 - Hastings School Replacement DesignTo see if the Town will vote to appropriate, borrow or transfer from available funds, any amount of money, to be expended under the direction of the Permanent Building Committee [PBC], for the costs for the Design Development phase of the detailed design relating to the Marie Hastings Elementary School located at 7 Crosby Road, in Lexington, which school facility shall have an anticipated useful life as an educational facility for the instruction of school children of at least 50 years and for which the Town may be eligible for a school construction grant from the Massachusetts School Building Authotrity (MSBA). The MSBA's grant program is a non-entitlement, discretionary program based on need, as determined by the MSBA, and any costs the Town incurs in connection with the Design Development phase in excess of any grant approved by and received from the MSBA shall be the sole responsibility of the Town; or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen at the request of the School Committee).
  • Funds Requested: $720,000
  • Description: This funding will allow the design work for the Hastings School project to continue through the design development phase. While the appropriation is for $720,000, a partial reimbursement from the MSBA will bring the Town's costs closer to $540,000. It is anticipated that financing for the completion of design work and construction will be requested at a Fall 2017 Special Town Meeting (STM).
Director of Public Facilities, Pat Goddard makes a presentation.
School Committee Member, Jessie Steigerwald presents the report of the School Committee. The report is accepted and placed on file.
Selectmen: Unanimously in support
Appropriation Committee (AC): 9-0 in support
CEC: 5-0 in support
Question: Many sustainability features, can we revisit solar?
Goddard: It will be solar ready, infrastructure, the Town will get a better contract if we wait for the solar panels after the building is complete.
Question: What is the process?
Godard: Anticipate we will occupy in February 2020; will put out an RFP in spring of 2020
Q: What is to become of the "old" school after complete
Goddard: the site is constrained, We will demolish the building.
Q: I applaud building a new school. Have heard over $100M in debt and haven't addressed a "7th elementary school".
Goddard: The appropriation two years ago, we looked at multiple options for building school capacity and why we need a replacement for Hastings.
Q: What options, as to materials, do we have?
Goddard: The Permanent Building Committee is responsible for this and there is ongoing process as to what those choices are and will ultimately be chosen.
Q: Are there risks with this investment?
Goddard: MSBA has agreed to share in the cost of the study. If they don't approve the project scope, or the Town doesn't approve the scope
Lamb: Also risk of the Override Exclusion not passing.
Requires 2/3 vote
Yes - 155
No - 0
Abstain - 1

Article 15 - School Capital Projects and EquipmentTo see if the Town will vote to appropriate a sum of money to purchase additional equipment, furniture and systems for the schools, and to maintain and upgrade the schools'technology systems; determine whether the money shall be provided by the tax levy, by transfer from available funds, by borrowing, or by any combination of these methods; or act in any other maner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the School Committee)
Ian Daley presents need for new capital is primarily for MCAS 2.0
Selectmen: Unanimous
AC: Unanimous
CEC: Unanimous
Q: Ipads for middle school students - what's the life expectancy?
Daley: 5-6 years
Q: a bit of a concern, obsolete in a few years. Have we looked into renting?
Daley: We do evaluate that. Focus on Chromebooks, 3 yr life expectancy.
Q: How to chromebooks stand up?
Daley: we are confident they fulfill the needs of schools. We willcontinue to evaluate
Comment: We should continue to look into leasing equipment
Q: "Unfunded Mandate" WRT MCAS testing...what kind to money is the State requiring from us to put the test online.
Daley: $142,000 at the elementary level
Q: Unfunded mandates for testing - for all communities?
Daley: We are not unique
Q: Per unit cost for interactive whiteboards?
Daley: I don't have an exact unit cost in fron of me, they are throughout the district; use of tech being integrated in curriculum
Q about Ipads vs. chromebooks, something about the touch vs keyboards
Daley: We're constantly evaluating what works best for students
Q: Does the school dept currently have a furniture plan across all schools?
Daley: We're in the midst of that process for a 5-yr plan.
Requires 2/3 vote
Yes - 153
No - 0
Abstain - 2

Article 16 - Public Facilities Capital ProjectsTo see if the Town will vote to appropriate a sum of money for capital improvements, renovations, including new construction to public facilities for:
  • School Building Envelopes and Systems Program;
  • - Lexington High School Air Conditioning – Teacher Planning Offices and Library;
  • Municipal Building Envelopes and Systems;
  • Public Facilities Mechanical/Electrical System Replacements;
  • - LHS Security Evaluation and Upgrade;
  • - LHS Guidance Space Mining;
  • - LHS Nurse Office and Treatment Space; and
Votes to be taken separately:
  • Public Facilities Bid Documents
  • Parking Lot for Community Center
and determine whether the money shall be provided by the tax levy, by transfer from available funds, including enterprise funds, by borrowing, or by any combination of these methods; to determine if the Town will authorize the Selectmen to apply for, accept, expend and borrow in anticipation of State aid for such capital improvements; or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen)
Selectmen Kelly presents the Article.
Pat Goddard presents the four LHS items.
Report of Selectmen is received and placed on file.
School Committee (SC): Unanimously Support for the relevant parts
CEC: Unanimous for the relevant parts
AC: Unanimous for the relevant parts
Q about a vision for a new high school (understand all of these band-aids)
Superintendent Czajkowski: We have a new principal coming and will work together on a vision for a new High School, but we need space for students to be treated by Guidance, Nurse, now.
Requires 2/3
Yes - 158
No - 0
Abstain - 1

Votes taken separately:

  • Public Facilities Bid Documents
Selectmen: Unanimously Supports
CEC: Unanimously Supports
AC: Supports 6-1-1
Community Center Program Advisory Committee: Unanimously Supports
Requires 2/3 Majority
Q: If the Gym were done alone, how much of the $6M would that make up?
Pat Goddard (PG): Not a lot of cost; when we get into the next phase we can detail that
Q: What's the distance between the two buildings?
PG: About 250 feet. Also looking to make a vehicle connection.
Q: The expectation is that there will be a walkway. Currently proposing substantial parking. Will there be direct access to the Pelham property?
PG: That's part of the plan; we will evaluate further in the next phase.
Q: There are access issues for pedestrians crossing Marrett Road - - does the scope include an eval of the entire site? Pelham, Marrett, both for vehicles and pedestrians?
PG: We will be doing a traffic study.
YES mic: Support for families to do activities together.
Q: right now we have gyms in all of the schools, not being used after school hours. Why aren't they used?
PG: They are universally booked every evening weeknights November-June. Estabrook gym is utilized by the Recreational Dept.
YES mic: Standing here in support for additional funding is needed for our clear understanding of costs.
Now someone is standing at the NO mic.
NO mic: If Pelham enrollment continues to rise, we will need more space. Plus, a new Fire Station, and a new Hastings School - overrides and increasing taxes make this a hard case to support at this time.
YES mic: We're talking about somethng that we need, not nice to have. Gym and kitchen are on the must have list.
Q: Vintage of this building and the wisdom of investing in this building (references PCBs); what is the pinch point in abatement costs to make it acceptable?
PG: The estimate incudes abatement for abestos and PCBs; EPA has updated their regulations to include caulk and masonry, which is less invasive now.
YES mic: Voting YES, was on the ad hoc committee that recommended to the Selectmen. Remind that this is an $117,000 appropriation to study and get more information.
Q: Kitchen being converted to professional kitchen? Could it be rented out as a function hall space, private & individuals?
PG: Yes, we're looking to updgrade to a professional
YES mic: I don't find this an easy vote, there are good arguments on both sides. I rise now because I hope we approve the funding and hope we will think through the next steps for funding and that approving this funding now does not commit anyone with questions to approve ultimate funding of the project.
MOTION to CALL the Question
Passes by voice vote
Simple majority vote
Yes - 126
No - 18
Abstain - 14
Continuing with Votes taken separately
  • Parking Lot for Community Center
Town Manager, Carl Valente presents expansion of 20 spaces at Community Center. Trying to accomplish 4 things with this deal: 1). to take ownership of the parking spaces; 2). very close to having an agreement with the Scottish Rite for a sidewalk; 3). agreed to putting up a sign identifying our Community Center at their entrance; 4). two-way access to the Community Center
Selectmen: Unanimous
AC: Unanimous
CEC: Unanimous
Q: How do you come by the $425K for a new parking lot, already paved?
CV: It was expensive parking to construct, due to drainage (~$300K)
Q: Why wasn't this parking lot purchased with the original deal?
CV: It wasn't a parking lot as part of the original deal - it was pine trees. Additional parking has emerged as an issue since the CC opened 20 months ago.
Q: What is the "agreement"?
CV: We have an agreement that we can each use the other's parking when needed for events.
Q: This is an appropriation for the parking lot only, not other 3 parts, correct?
CV: Correct
YES mic: I'm supporting since we've made a major investment in this campus and also wouldn't like the parking lot to be sold to another entity that isn't the Town.
Q: Do you know on average what percentage of users are not Lexington residents
CV refers to staff person of CC (apologies, I do not know her name): About 6,000 memberships, fewer than 20% are not Lexington residents.
Q: Could we limit parking to Lexington residents?
CV staff person: We could.
YES mic: We should think not in terms of "residents"; we should think in terms of "community".
Q: According to Zoning Bylaw, what is the demand for this lot?
CV: Can't answer
Q: Perhaps the Planning board?
CV: Pat Goddard reminded me that we needed 90 spaces as part of the building purchase.
Requires 2/3 Majority vote
Yes - 136
No - 9
Abstain - 6

Article 21 - Post Employment Insurance Liability FundTo see if the Town will vote to appropriate a sum of money to the Town of Lexington Post Retirement Insurance Liability Fund, as established by Chapter 317 of the Acts of 2002; determine whether the money shall be provided by the tax levy, by transfer from available funds, including enterprise funds, or by any combintion of these methods; or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen)
  • Funds Requested: $1,842,895
  • Description: This article will allow the Town to continue to fund its unfunded liability for post-employment benefits for Town of Lexington retirees. Beginning with the FY2007 audit, the Town was required to disclose this liability. In preparation for funding this liability, Town Meeting voted to request special legislation to establish a trust fund for this purpose. This special legislation was approved in 2002.
Selectmen: 4 in support-1 recusal
AC: support
Simple Majority vote
Yes - 126
No - 8
Abstain - 5

Article 27 - Prior Years’ Unpaid BillsTo see if the Town will vote to appropriate a sum of money from the Debt Service Stabilization Fund to offset the FY2018 debt service of the bond dated February 1, 2003 issued for additions and renovations to the Lexington High School, Clarke Middle School, and Diamond Middle School, as refunded with bonds dated December 8, 2011; or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen)
  • Funds Requested
  • Description: This is an annual article to request funds to pay bills after the close of the fiscal year in which the goods were received or the services performed and for which no money was encumbered.
MOTION to Indefinitely Postpone carries unanimously

Article 24 - Specified Stabilization FundsTo see if the Town will vote to create, amend, rename, and/or appropriate sums of money to and from Stabilization Funds in accordance with Section 5B of Chapter 40 of the Massachusetts General Laws for the purposed of: (a) Section 135 Zoning By-Law, (b) Traffic Mitigation, (c) Transportation Demand Management/Public Transportation, (d) School Bus Transportation; (e) Special Education, (f) Center Improvement District; (g) Debt Service, (h) Transportation Management Overlay District, (i) Capital; (j) Payment in Lieu of Parking; and (k) Avalon Bay School Enrollent Mitigation Fund and determine whether the money shall be provided by the Tax levy, by transfer from available funds, or by any combination of these methods; or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen)
  • Funds Requested: $7,690,398
  • Description: This article proposed to establish and/or fund Stabilization Funds for specific purposes and to appropriate funds therefrom. Money in those funds may be invested and the interest may then become a part of the particular fund. These funds may later be appropriated for the specific designated purpose, by a two-thirds vote of an Annual or Special Town Meeting , for any lawful purpose.
Requires 2/3 Majority Vote
Selectmen: Supports
AC: Supports
CEC: Supports
Yes - 142
No - 1
Abstain - 1

Article 30 - Retirement COLA Base for RetireesTo see if the Town will vote to raise the base amount upon which cost of living adjustments are calculated for retirees from $13,000 to $14,000 as authorized by Section 103(j) of Chapter 32 of the Massachusetts General Laws, or act in any other manner in relation thereto. (Inserted by the Board of Selectmen at the Request of the Retirement Board)

  • Description: This article requests Town Meeting to approve the acceptance by the Retirement Board of a $1,000 increase in the maximum base amount upon which a retiree's cost-of-living adjustment is calculated.
Once passed, this increase cannot be retracted.
Selectmen: Unanimously with one recusal
AC: Majority 6-2-1 abstention
Question about the structure of the COLA; follow up on the "actuarial table".
Bob Cunha, Retirement Board: worked with the Assistant Town Manager (who is on the Retirement Board).
Question as to why 3% and not CPI
Bob Cunha, Retirement Board: a number of factors taken into consideration, includig impact on Town, sustainability, etc.
Impacts ~350 retirees.
YES mic: We're voting on giving 350 of our retirees an additional $30 /year. I see no reason why we should not vote to approve.
NO mic: Convinced by the minority opinion; this is not frugal. Wait until full amoritazation is reached.
YES mic: A question of finances; our former employees are hoping for a small increase.
Q: Are pension benefits not part of collective bargaining?
CV: The are set by State law.
Requires Simple Majority Vote
Yes - 100
No - 30
Abstain - 8
We are adjourned until Monday, April 3, 2017, 7:30 PM
10:30 PM that's a wrap
- - -

Monday, March 27, 2017

LegCon Update to Board Colleagues

Always a challenge - and an opportunity! - to re-cap and synthesize a national conference, especially a legislative conference as dense as NASBE's, for BESE colleagues. Here goes. 

Take-aways from NASBE's 2017 Legislative Conference: Leading in a Time of Change

This was my second NASBE LegCon (and fifth NASBE conference overall) since my appointment to BESE. The focus: federal education issues affecting states, with ESSA taking center stage. Each session offered insight into emerging issues under ESSA and strategies to connect policy with practice while advancing equity and excellence in education in times of change. As always, it's most gratifying to connect and learn from other State Board Members: the change that's happening in education is creating unprecedented opportunity for State leadership to shape education policy.
  • Following an orientation session for new board members, Sunday's Quarterly Board of Director's Meeting (the Board is charged with setting all policy for the association) kicked off over lunch at noon. We were briefed by staff and members of the leadership team:
    • NASBE is now fully staffed and has welcomed a Communications Associate and a Project Manager for Hewlett and Wallace work.
    • Finances are in great shape, with thanks to NASBE's Treasurer and Finance Director.
    • A number of working groups were activated:
      • Bylaws
      • Dues
      • The Future of Study Groups
      • Staff Policies + Procedures Review
    • Work continues apace for the Annual Conference in Atlanta GA (November 1-4, 2017)
  • Monday's Opening General Session featured remarks from US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT).
    • The Secretary said she wants to "break the bad habit of the Department of Education being in your way" and that "the president's budget reflects this". (ICYMI: the president has proposed a roughly $9.2 billion cut to US ED, thus commencing the budget convo). Says, "nothing short of excellence should be a common theme" and "we should not rest until each child has an opportunity to learn and thrive". She spoke for about 8 minutes and took no questions. My take-away: The Secretary has a huge responsibility, but the budget, if passed as proposed, will decimate the US Department of Education and she fully supports the president's budget.
    • Senator Chris Murphy said he's a "proud product of the public school system" and that he's "proud of this country's innovative idea to provide public education". He's "hopeful about ESSA" and that the "Department of Education was going to help schools and districts". He said, "the proposed budget is catastrophic" and "a preview of what is going to come, if we aren't successful". He warned that "setting the bar too low will feed the idea that you don't need the Department of Ed...they want to say that the public education system cannot deliver and give support to privatized education". He encouraged SBEs to "build high standards". The Senator spoke for about 15 minutes and took questions. Take-away: US ED will be a "light touch" and States must be bold, strengthen collaboration skills with local districts and stakeholders.
  • General Session + Moderated Panel Discussion: Forging Partnerships to Shape and Advance Education Policy Agendas: Players, Perspectives, and Possibilities. Panelists: former WV Governor Bob Wise, President of Alliance for Excellent Education; Cheryl Oldham, US Chamber of Commerce; Marla Ucelli-Kashyap, AFT; Merrit Jones, Student voice; Kris Amundson, NASBE President/CEO (moderator). Take-away: Broad, inclusive engagement of diverse stakeholders is not a "nice to have" but essential to building and sustaining education policies that improve opportunities and outcomes for all students -> ->Is MA up to the task?
  • General Session: Components of a Changing Education Policy Agenda. Panelists: David Griffith, ASCD; Melissa Tooley, New America; Robin Lake, Center on Reinventing Public Education; Robert Hull, NASBE; Abigail Potts, NASBE (moderator). Take-away: With new authority to determine the components of a high-quality education, SBEs should identify major educational opportunities as they plan their policy agenda for the future.
  • Policy Landscapes and the Environment for 2017: How will Upcoming Federal Policy Affect State Actions? Panelists: Reg Leichty, Foresight Law + Policy; Patrick Lyden, Current Government Relations. Take-away: Connect with federal legislators early and check-in with them regularly.
  • Concurrent Session: Exploring Options for Parents: Innovation & Alternatives in Schooling. Panelists: Todd Ziebarth, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; Robin Lake, Center on Reinventing Public Education; Todd Mann, Magnet Schools of America; Paige Kowalski, Data Quality Campaign (panelist + moderator). Take-away: Expanding options in schooling are advancing.
  • Concurrent Session: Relentless Pursuit of Equity in Education Policy. Panelists: Peter Cookson, AIR; Guy Johnson, Partners for Each and Every Child; Dr.Estela Lopez, CT/SBE; Kimberly Charis, NASBE; Abigail Potts, NASBE (moderator). Take-away: SBEs must encourage equity discussions that informs policymaking supporting racial equity and the needs of historically underserved students.
  • General Session: Questions Boards Should Ask About Their ESSA State Plans. Panelists: John King, Former US Secretary of Education, The Education Trust; Kris Amundson, NASBE President/CEO; Michael Magee, Chiefs for Change; Sandra Boyd, Achieve (moderator). Take-away: SBEs must be the citizen voice at the table.
  • Northeast Area Breakfast Meeting. SBE Members from CT, DC, DE, MA, ME were present, providing comments, suggestions, and feedback for NASBE.
  • General Session with Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN). He's the Chair of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and Vice Chair of the House Budget Committee. As a House Representative, he's also a co-author of ESSA. He shared this thoughts on ESSA saying, "accountability is a good thing" and "it's up to states to decide what that looks like". NASBE President/CEO Amundson pushed back on new template, saying "it has unwound some of the intent of ESSA on stakeholder engagement further than the law allows". Rokita said he "will support NASBE on this issue" and that "focus will shift next to the Higher Education Act" (HEA). When asked, "What do you see and what is your view on choice" he said, "I'm a State's rights guy, so why would I be for a federal mandate on choice? The president referenced a $20 billion figure, so how does that $20 billion look? Probably in tax credits" and that he's "not seeing a Title I transfer". Take-away: Unclear this will happen before Congressional mid-term elections.
  • General Session: Public Launch of State Board Insight. Panelists: Robert Hull, NASBE; Sarah-Jane Lorenzo, NASBE; John-Paul Hayworth, DC/SBE. A new database was unveiled: it's drawn from publicly reported SBE meeting minutes and agendas with a potential to help SBEs, researchers, journalists, educators, and community members uncover key insights about ESSA and more. Take-away: Check it out HERE.
  • After lunch, to conclude our conference, Student Representative Nathan Moore and I visited with Congresswoman Clark's and Senator Warren's Legislative Staff. We shared NASBE's concerns on Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 Appropriations Priorities, Perkins CTE, and E-rate + Lifeline Programs:
    • Congress should fully fund ESSA programs with a focus on the law's major formula programs and other initiatives designed to promote educational equity.
    • Congress should reauthorize the Perkins CTE this year and commit to ensuring that more students, particularly students in low-income communities, have access to high quality CTE opportunities aligned to higher education, business, and industry needs.
    • Lawmakers should strongly support the E-rate and the Lifeline Programs, which are critical tools for connecting students to broadband services.
  • Each year, NASBE recognizes distinguished leaders for their contributions to improving education for all children. Information about making those nominations, as well as for nominations to the 2018 Board of Directors will be forthcoming from NASBE.
  • Save the Dates:
    • New Member Institute, Renaissance Arlington Capital View, Arlington VA, June 9-10, 2017 (as a NASBE member State, NASBE pays hotel and airfare for members up to 18-months into their term on BESE).
    • Annual Conference, Atlanta GA, Westin Buckhead Atlanta, November 1-4, 2017
Please be in touch with any questions or comments.

Protect federal online privacy rules

Cross-posting the latest from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), because it's the best round of posts on this issue, plus a CTA, HERE. Ars Technica has also been covering this well, HERE.

Senator Markey was harshly critical of the GOP proposal to roll back protections on broadband privacy. New York Times News Services covered it when the vote was taken last Thursday and picked it up HERE; TruthDig reported out Saturday, HERE.

The vote passed straight down party lines, 50-48 (2 GOP/MoCs absent) on a CRA resolution to repeal the FCC's privacy rules and the resolution is in the House, awaiting a scheduled vote tomorrow - Tuesday, March 28.

If the proposal passes in the House it will dismantle our legal rights to privacy - rights we haven't had to think about for more than twenty years. Upshot? We're one vote away from a world where "your ISP can track your every move online and sell that information to the highest bidder".

Don't let Congress undermine our online privacy. Call your Congressperson. Now. Tell them to protect federal online privacy rules*. There are links in the EFF link at the top of this post, or maybe you already have him or her on speed dial...
- - -
*What to say (via EFF): I'm your constituent and I urge you to oppose the CRA resolution to kill the FCC's privacy rules.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Hill Visits with Congresswoman Clark's + Senator Warren's Legislative Staff

At the end of NASBE's Legislative Policy Conference, Student Representative Nathan Moore and I visited with legislative staff in Congresswoman Katherine Clark's and Senator Elizabeth Warren's DC offices. We shared concerns about the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (CTE), E-rate + Lifeline Programs, and FY17 and FY18 Budgets.

Perkins CTE Recent studies have shown that CTE dual enrollment programming may be a particularly effective high school and college completion strategy. The House reauthorized CTE last year, following on a bill introduced by Congresswoman Katherine Clark and Congressman Glenn Thompson.
  • There's broad, bi-partisan support for career and technical education and House and Senate education committees are working again this year to update the law.
  • Although it's not expected Congress will change the law significantly, the reauthorization process offers an opportunity to address key State Board recommendations for improving the quality of CTE programs and expanding opportunities for students to access them.
  • This work naturally connects to ESSA's requirement that States align their core academic and CTE standards. Congress should commit to ensuring that more students, particularly students in low-income communities, have access to high quality CTE opportunities aligned to higher education, business, and industry needs.
E-rate + Lifeline Programs Lawmakers should strongly support the E-rate + Lifeline Programs, which are critical tools for connecting students to broadband services.
  • Last year, the FCC updated the 30-year-old Lifeline program to permit low-income families to use the subsidy for broadband services. (Lifeline was established by the FCC in 1985 to help poor households gain access to "plain old telephone service"). Recognizing the increasingly vital importance of broadband access to daily life, including addressing the "homework gap", the FCC hopes the 2016 program update will help more families acquire home broadband services at meaningful connection speeds.
  • Among other changes, the new Lifeline will provide support for stand-alone mobile or fixed broadband Internet access service, require WiFi functionality, and ensures minimum connection speeds.
  • Although greater funding will ultimately be needed to ensure all low-income families have access to broadband, the FCC's action is a strong step in the right direction. The FCC's decision complements the agency's work to update the E-rate program in 2015. The FCC's E-rate update was long overdue and provided critically needed new support to expand WiFi in schools and grow the program to better meet the broadband required to meet students' and teachers' needs.
Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 Appropriations Priorities Congress should fully fund the Every Student Succeeds Act's (ESSA's) programs, with a focus on the law's major formula programs and other initiatives designed to promote educational equity. The president's proposed budget eliminates ~ $9.2 billion from the Department of Education's (ED's) budget.
  • Congress is working to complete ED's Fiscal Year 2017 budget by April 28 (the date when the current temporary funding bill expires), while also beginning the Fiscal Year 2018 spending process. This unusual procedural overlap, coupled with proposed deep spending cuts, means that State Board Members and other leaders must be strong advocates for federal education investments.
  • The strict federal spending caps by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (sequestration) remain in effect and Congress will soon make difficult decisions about how to allocate limited federal resources. The president asked Congress to increase defense spending by over $50 billion. Under his proposed budget, non-defense programs would be reduced to pay for this defense increase, including significant cuts to ESSA's Title II (professional development for teachers and school leaders), career and technical education, and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program (after school and extended learning time programs).
  • Congress may not approve the president's proposals and education champions will work hard to help Members of Congress understand the critical role that federal funding plays in supporting schools, especially the significant additional funding provided to States and districts for serving low-income, disabled, and English learner students.
- - - - -
Select Resources:
Career/Vocational Technical Education on DESE's website, includes frameworks and other interesting info about C/VTE

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education released its report on The Degree Gap June 8, 2016

NASBE maintains an online State Policy Database of College, Career, & Civic Readiness Regulations Governing Education Systems in the US

From the Office of Management and Budget: President's FY18 Proposed Budget (see pp. 17-18 for ED)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

NASBE: General Session with Congressman Todd Rokita

NASBE President/CEO, Kris Amundson, welcomes members. NASBE New Member Representative on the Board of Directors, Byron Ernest introduces his Congressman, Todd Rokita (R-IN). Congressman Rokita is the Vice Chair of the House Budget Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education. As a member of the US House of Representatives, he co-authored ESSA.

Congressman Rokita: thanks SBEs for their honest feedback on ESSA, shares thoughts on ESSA. Says, "accountability is a good thing; it's up to states to decide what that looks like". Explains some of the disagreements over accountability rulemaking under ESSA; US/ED still has rulemaking authority. Focus will shift to Higher Education Act next (HEA).

Amundson: Concerned that the new template has now "unwound" some of the intent of ESSA on stakeholder engagement - further than the law allows - we will have some more to say about this.

Rokita: Says he will support NASBE on this issue.

Q: On FERPA - is there a bill moving forward?

Rokita: Intend to move a FERPA Bill, I will be the author. Open to your suggestions.

Q: More about "choice" legislation. Have seen great work on ESSA. Have a concern that choice legislation will be restrictive in other ways - beyond "charters" and "vouchers". What do you see and what is your view on choice?

Rokita: I'm a "states rights guy", so why would I be for a federal mandate on choice? President referenced $20 Billion figure, so how does that $20 billion look? Probably in tax credits. Not seeing a Title I transfer.

NASBE: Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Happy spring! DC cherry blossoms have not yet popped, but the air is full of anticipation!

Below, the schedule for today. Looks as though I'll be attending all sessions. May have to cut the lunch session short, as Nathan and I have scheduled hill visits this afternoon with Congresswoman Katherine Clark and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Area Meeting Breakfasts
NASBE members will meet with others in their area to discuss common concerns and issues. Area Directors will also share information from the NASBE Board of Directors meeting.

General Session
NASBE Board of Directors Chair Jay Barth and NASBE President/CEO Kristen Amundson will provide opening remarks and introduce Congressman Todd Rokita. As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Rep. Rokita will share the direction his committees will take on key education issues coming before Congress.

General Session: Career Readiness
Panelists: Matt Gandal, Education Strategy Group

General Session: Social Emotional Learning
Panelists: Pam Loeb, Edge Research; Shirley Brandman, The Aspen Institute

Concluding Luncheon

Monday, March 20, 2017

NASBE: Last General Session for today

Live-blogging, updating as we go.

Questions Boards should ask about their ESSA plans

Panelists: Kris Amundson, NASBE President/CEO;
John King, Former US Secretary of Education, The Education Trust
Michael Magee, Chiefs for Change;
Sandy Boyd, Achieve (moderator)

Boyd: Talk a little bit about where we are currently at. ESSA changed things. Since then, a number of things: regulations rescinded. What are states to make of that?

King: Great to be with all of you again. Thanks to Kris again for her leadership. Where I think we are, in the absence of regs, greater urgency for kids. Use flexibility to close gaps. Arts. Computer Science. Focused attention on districts that aren't providing opps. Clear commitment for stakeholder engagement - - will ensure success of the law. Relies on State leadership and that is why you are here.

Magee: Thanks to all on SBEs. Chiefs for Change is membership org supporting State Superintendents. Incredible education for us to support them. Chiefs are taking seriously "equity and evidence" in ESSA, as well as new opportunities around new flexibilities around Title funding. The Budget speaks to how much funding will be put in to support plans.

Amundson: No question we are at one of those inflection points. The pendulum had most certainly swung to the point where an almost universal sense that something had to be done. Swung back to giving authority to States. The opportunities are tremendous. It's essential that we never lose sight of what we are about. Secretary DeVos said what Michael Fullan says: excellence is the fundamental equity proposition. We have to be cognizant that hard work is necessary.

Boyd: The pendulum has a way of swinging. Interested to hear about what you see as the opportunities from States that's worth replicating.

Amundson: Some of what Kansas did (Kansas CAN) is worth replicating. The SBE and Commissioner together: what do you want a KS high school graduate to know and be able to do at age 22? Tremendous buy-in from stakeholders. Contributed to the flip in the legislature.

Magee: Teacher leadership and advocacy work begun in Louisiana - began with 5 teachers, now 20,000 teachers. Teacher voice at the center.

Boyd: Rand did a study. LA teachers actually trust what they hear from the State...

Magee: Speaks to the quality of support teachers receive. All plans from our States are putting in 7% set-aside for PD. 3% set-aside for students in high school

King: States are taking advantage under ESSA to go beyond NCLB proficiency. 1). Ability to look at growth. Are students making progress at this school? Inclusion of growth is critical. 2). Populations within schools is vital and States recognize that. Attention to that is critical. 3). Work Massachusetts is doing on the part of "turn-arounds" (Lawrence Public Schools, under state receivership). Not enough to have an accountability system, what areyou going to do about it?

Boyd: Tell me what is your biggest worry at this point?

Amundson: If anything close to the "skinny budget" happens, makes me very nervous. Fed money is very small, but it does what nothing else does. Budget are always things you need to worry about. Second thing: the initial emphasis on stakeholder engagement - important and lived out - it's a boatload of work and you do not always hear what you wanted to hear - - it's not a PR activity. That Stakeholder Engagement is not in the template - I don't want to keep fighting that fight.

Boyd: States have been very serious about the stakeholder engagement work.

Amundson: It's hard to organize on the part of the Board and the Chief. Enormously time-consuming. Not enough to listen, then you've got to do stuff.

Magee: Strong on Stakeholder Engagement. Building consensus. Need a coalition to support implementation of your plan. I'm encouraged by what I have seen our members doing. Use the old template if you need to, to keep it going. I'm most concerned about: consistent stakeholder engagement going forward. Governance structures in MA is another great model.

King: one thing you can control is making sure that in your State's accountability system, kids are not invisible. Let's take ELLS: will that school be identified within your accountability system? You can influence federal and state budgets. Responding requires resources. Advocating for resources. SROs but now School Counselors. There are folks who want to say they want to abandon public schools but I think they are wrong. We must stand up and support them.

Boyd: How do we make State ESSA plans a shared comon expectation? Our kids? Everybody's kids? Feels like a convo that can be siloed.

Amundson: I think it was Cheryl at Chamber of Commerce who said: If you're going to start your plan without a vision, you're never going to get where you want to.

Magee: There's a great deal of urgency to do things differently. Sees charters and school choice as vital in doing that. Sees uniform enrollment and accountability for all schools.

King: Telling comment from Cheryl. She knows that every business community knows that success means all our kids must be successful. We have to hold up a mirror.

Boyd: What do you think the role of SBEs is in this process, now and in the future?

King: Ask tough questions. What happens when we don't get the results? Keep asking tough questions.

Magee: Represent the Public. Move them if they're not where you think they should be. Hold your Departments and Chiefs to serving the Public. Makes the policies and practices sustainable.

Boyd: I don't view this ESSA planning as a one and done event. When do you revisit? Make adjustments? I think you'll have lots of flexibility under the Secretary. College is a destination that most American parents have for their kids.

Amundson: Power of the Question. SBEs look different - elected, appointed. Need a sense that the plan is going to move your State on where you want to go. We came up with 7 different questions for SBEs to ask. Not to give you the answers, but to equip you. SBEs have the power to be the citizen voice. that's what you're there for. Take the paper with you when you leave (or download on the app).

And that's a wrap.

NASBE: Relentless Pursuit of Equity in Education

I'm in the Montpelier Room with panelists Peter Cookson (AIR); Guy Johnson (Partners for each and every child); Dr. Estela Lopez (CT Board of Education); and Kimberly Charis (NASBE) for a session on the relentless pursuit of equity in education policy*. Live-blogging, updating as we go.

Panelists introduce themselves.

Peter Cookson: DeVos has given us a danger and and opportunity". The Opportunity is in 4 parts in ESSA: 1). Higher Order skills for all students 2). multiple measures for assessing schools and performance 3). resource equity and 4). equitable strategies. Linda Darling-Hammond calls these the four pillars necessary for equitable success in this century. The transformation is going to be huge.
  1. Higher Order thinking skills: 21st c curriculum, ability to work in groups, solve problems, create a thinking person who is a life-long learner. Standards and learning goals. What are they?
  2. Assessments: Never been a fan of multiple choice testing. ESSA allows for portfolios, learning is horizontal and vertical.
  3. Equitable Strategies: what are the opportunities to learn? Access to excellent teachers. The quality of teaching is the biggest area that makes a difference.
  4. Access to resources: you know there isn't equitable access to resources. Technology integration. School climate.
Guy Johnson: Grew out of the Equity & Excellence Commission. we work in 7 states at the moment, as a bridge between SBEs and community. Stakeholder engagement - important but insufficient on its own. What we know so far - clear trajectory on ESSA:
  • Passage of ESSA - transfer of authority from federal to state actors
  • Repeal of regulations - elimination of numerous federal "guardrails"
  • New US/ED ESSA Plan Template - SEAs have to report only what's "absolutely necessary"
"Light touch" from US/ED
What to aim for?

  • Transparency and inclusion
    • collaboration across government units
    • reliable data, accessible materials
  • Ongoing involvement with diverse base of stakeholders
      • prioritize the historically underrepresented
        • especially on important/relevant topics
    • CBO/NGO Partnerships to fill needs
  • Setting up systems to support continuous improvement
The plan is submitted on April 3 - - what happens on April 4?

Areas of Focus
  • cross-governmental engagement and policy environment
  • Supports for LEA implementation
  • Community Engagement & Engagement on specific issues and programs
  • Continuous improvement
Equity requires:
  • parent, family and community engagement and consultation
  • accountability for the achievement of all students
  • easily accessible and user friendly data
  • equitable resources aligned to student needs
Estela Lopez: provided all of us with a copy of the Connecticut State Board of Ed''s 5-yr comprehensive plan (2016-21). Wanted a concise document with actionalble steps and outcomes. How to get to equity? Discussions and diversity workshops, including gender and sexual identity. Difference between equity and equality. Believe - a shared value - that every child can learn. Must be about equity because it is all about children. Commitment to equity and excellence in education. Three areas:
  • High expectations for every student
  • Great teachers and leaders
  • Great schools
You want see achievement, but must have growth.

Kimberly Charis, NASBE: New initiative, provide a systemic plan for professional development for State Boards of Education (SBEs). Needs assessment will be emailed to SBEs, followed by Piloting portions. 

Q: What is your definition of equity and what does it look like?
Lopez: You've seen it on facebook - it's that fence thing. Not everyone is the same height. Everyone must be able to see over the fence.
Johnson: Equity is not equality; we see it as equal opportunity for each to make decisions about education. Support. Integrity.

Q: PD plan - does that include legislators?
Charis: We're designing this training for SBEs; if you want to invite your could.

Q: SBE capacity.
Johnson: Each group drew out what they would focus on.

Q: How do you think the national convo will have an impact on equity issues?
Cookson: That's the question of the hour. I'm sure there are multiple perspectives. Some ideas around school choice are around equity, but there are some risks: segregation; loose accountability of schools.
Lopez: CT/SBE approves charters. Renewal includes accountability measures. Equity does apply.

Q: Equity of expectation. Title IIA funding (for teaching and excellence) is proposed elimination in the budget.
Q: School to prison pipeline. SROs. How to address?
Lopez: reports about suspension and expulsion for everyone to look at the data.
Charis: SRO is a local issue. WV/SBE created a model MOU. SBEs can create guidelines
Johnson: Civil Rights Data Collection may see changes under this administration.

Q: We've been at this quest for equity in education since 1965 (ESEA); 2001 (NCLB). Not seen great progress...what is different now?
Lopez: I know some things have failed but I cannot afford not to keep trying.

That's a wrap.

- - -

* Nathan is attending: Ensuring High-Quality Educators for All Our Students Teachers and school leaders have a profound impact upon student learning and school conditions. This session will cover challenges and opportunities states face in supporting teachers and school leaders to improve their craft and ensuring equitable access to high-quality educators. This “policy and proof points” session will feature the latest research available along with practical on-the-ground approaches by states.
Panelists: Melinda George, Learning Forward;
Steve Tozer, University of Illinois 

Exploring Options for Parents: Innovation & Alternatives in Schooling

So, Nathan and I are tag-teaming the concurrent sessions - he's attending the session "Beyond the Test", which he thought appropriate for "the student", hence, this session for "the parent". Live-blogging, updating as we go

The panel is moderated by Paige Kowalski of the Data Quality Campaign. Panelists: Todd Ziebarth, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; Robin Lake, Center for Reinventing Public Education; Todd Mann, Magnet Schools of America 

Todd Z: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is an advocacy organization for public charter schools here in DC, represent on The Hill, partner with states (just began connecting with Kentucky, the 44th state about to enact charter schools). Lots of myths around public charter schools. Many think they are private entities.

Robin: research and policy center, we're different in that we try to stay grounded in "effective schools and effective classrooms". Biggest myth: charter schools take money away from district schools.

Todd M: magnet schools were begun to give parents a choice to send their students to reduce racial isolation in the early 70s, as an alternative to forced school busing.

Paige: Choice in DCPS, includes charters and traditional public schools; common application for all schools. Evidence in what we know about charters - what works? What evidence do we have that they make sense?

Robin: Very hard to give you a picture of charter schools at the national view because each school and state is different. Online charters have across the board not worked well. Boston: quality is a non-negotiable.

Todd Z: get data about their own context (City or State), try to match up across country, other states and cities/towns.

Todd M: impact of magnet schools on student performance, achievement, positive

Paige: What would "Choice 2.0" look like?

Todd M: the emphasis on accountability.

Robin: As we continue to push forward on accountability, need to see ways authorizers can encourage risk-taking beyond the test

Todd Z: Market-driven choice taught us that parent choice is a good thing but an insufficient thing for implementing quality. Need more quality options.

Paige: We can have a hard time getting our heads around choice in rural settings. How can we improve?

Todd Z: People think charters are only for urban districts. 45% are in rural and suburban areas, which tells me that parents want options.

Ohio: grateful to hear comments about rural settings; concern is revenue (tax incentives for businesses...) what's the longevity and stability of options for the life of the child? (great question)

Robin: many options are home grown; can be a retention strategy
Todd Z: vast majority of charters open in rural areas are opened by teachers and parents living in those communities

Massachusetts: Ballot initiative defeated 2:1 on expanding charters (November 2016); big reason they lost because of draw on public school resources and no public oversight. What method will we use to determine parent demand for options?

Todd M: Values
Paige: Programming; parents
Todd Z: Survey data always shows parents want options; a variety of ways 

Paige: What next steps people can take back to their states?

Todd Z: It depends. In some states, like MA, SBE is the authorizer. Maintain a focus on quality. Applications. People may be over-correcting for bad decisions of the past. 
Robin: Do some really good listening to parents, think about what options are missing from your environment.
Todd M: Do your research. Look at ways Magnet Schools can be used.
Paige: SBEs all have a role to play and parents need access to public information.


Opening Night: Annual Town Meeting

Below, the expected schedule for opening night of Lexington's Annual Town Meeting, as forwarded from Madam Moderator:

Monday, March 20, 2017 - 7:30 PM
  • Opening ceremonies
  • Call to order Annual Town Meeting 2017 (ATM)
  • Introductory remarks and instructions
  • Adjourn ATM and call to order Special Town Meeting 2017-1 (STM1)
  • STM1 Article 1 - Reports of Town Boards, Officers & Committees
  • STM1 Article 2 - Design Funds for Fire Station
  • STM1 Article 3 - Design Funds for Fire Station Swing Space
  • STM1 Article 4 - Design Funds for Lexington Children’s Place/20 Pelham Rd
  • STM1 Article 5 - Bond and Note Premiums to Pay Project Costs
  • Dissolve STM1
  • Call back to order Annual Town Meeting (ATM)
  • Time permitting:
    • ATM Article 3 - Cary Lecture Series
    • ATM Article 37 - Amend Bylaws: Trees
    • ATM Article 33 - Amend Bylaws: Scenic Roads
    • ATM Article 35 - Amend Bylaws: NCD Technical Changes
    • ATM Article 36 - Amend Bylaws: Municipal Modernization Act
    • ATM Article 38 - Amend Bylaws: Revolving Funds

NASBE: Continuing with the Opening General Session

Stephen Wright, Connecticut State Board of Education, introduces Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT). 

Senator Murphy: Proud product of public school system. Received graduate degree at public university. Our two kids attend public schools. I'm just so proud of this country, this innovative idea to provide public education. It's an agile system - may not feel that way - but I'm reminded, in my mind, it's rooted in the work that you and our teachers do. NCLB sucked the joy out of teaching and learning. Hopeful about ESSA to change that. Felt that the Department of Education was going to help schools, districts. "Untested idea" about what Departments can do regarding regulations. But, the law is still the law. Choose to be bold. You have discretion. Up to you as to what you choose. Challenge your schools. Look at non-academic measures that can be measured. Not like NCLB that the federal govt is going to tell you what you will do. the challenge is about the future potential of our public schools. The proposed Budget is catastrophic. It's a preview of what is going to come, if we aren't successful. Setting the bar too low will feed the idea that you don't need the Depart of Ed. They want to say that the public education system cannot deliver and give support to privatized education. I hope I hope I hope you will build high standards. Happy to take any questions.

Nebraska: Very interested in your mental health bill. Very concerned about funding for teachers for tiered 3 mental health support.

Murphy: It's a really important conversation. Some schools have full mental health clinics and some have almost none. In CT, it seems like we haven't decided where the mental health system will sit - within the schools, or outside of them. We need to make the decision, one way or the other.

Ohio: Thank you for your work on mental health, gun safety. When you talk about mental illness, get to toxic student stress similar to PTSD, and the importance of art, music, recess, social workers...what can we do to help you to help us help our children?

Murphy: Clearly, the measuring of non-academic skills can be part of state ESSA plans. How to make the school a really welcoming place. Title I dollars availability on this end, flexibility for how to use them on your end.

Utah: Want government to get out of the way of family role. (Speaks to Opt-Out and Data Privacy). How do you ensure that we don't replace the family role and how do we protect student data and health privacy.

Murphy: Those are great questions. The reason the government is involved is because of Civil Rights. Kids were being discriminated against. Required a federal role. Discrimination is still real and rampant in our schools. I don't have an answer for you on the data privacy, but if you do, please let us know.

Virginia: Congratulate you and everyone who helped bring us ESSA. We feel we're very ready in VA. We've eliminated some tests and looking at some of those other non-academic areas. VA is part of the massive resistance in this country. Help us persevere! Addresses poverty, hunger, homelessness. We are far from having "equity" in our Commonwealth. Schools need some capacity for mental health.

Murphy: I'm sincere that you all think big about this. The question is where is it best housed? Also, we need to be attacking poverty. Wealth and inequality "shrinks" with access to education.

That's a wrap.

NASBE: Conference Session with Secretary Betsy DeVos

Live blogging, updating as we go...

Kris Amundson, NASBE President/CEO, welcomes attendees, introduces Jay Barth, NASBE Board Chair.

Secretary DeVos is on-site, awaiting her introduction.

Amundson: Excited to introduce our first speaker at this conference. NASBE has always had a relationship with the Secretary of Education. We are among the first to hear from the new Secretary.

DeVos: Thank you all for the warm introduction. Especially great to see folks from Michigan. Thank you all for what you do on behalf of children. I know you're all anticipating a discussion of ESSA, but I want to talk with you about my background. Shares her personal story about getting involved in her son's education in kindergarten, how, "as a mom", she could make decisions about the best school for her child. Wants to break the "bad habit" of Department of Education being in your way. The President's Budget reflects this. Says the Budget also supports our most vulnerable. Budget supports states and school districts. Now, regarding ESSA. The revised template was released last week. Why this law matters: How does this impact individual students? Every child is different with different learning styles. Need individual approaches, not a one size fits all. Talks about Denisha Merriweather (sp?) from Florida. ESSA will serve all students, with an eye to reducing rules, red-tape. Says all states are different, mentions West Virginia, Nevada. Flexibility within ESSA makes it possible to have state plans that are specific to each, unique state. Under ESSA, hope you will implement policies that best serve students, families, and schools. Nothing short of excellence should be a common theme. We should not rest until each child has an opportunity to learn and thrive. I know you're ready to innovate. Your success is key to America's prosperity. Thank you again, and I look forward to working with you in the coming years.

Steps off dais. Waves to all, says, "Thank you all. I wish I had time to say hello to each one of you."


KA: Clearly there are some areas where we can agree. The power that has been devolved to States is wherever you are. Some State Boards of Ed (SBEs) are empowered via State Constitution, others by Statute. All are the citizen's voice in education. Draws on NCAA basketball: "Keep your eye on the ball". The ball for all of us is equity for all. Secretary said, "Nothing short of excellence". If not, what are you going to do about it? [Plays video - mom does whatever it takes, sees what needs to be done.] Our program today and tomorrow with people on topics that will help give you tools necessary to build coalitions, address key issues, increased access to choice ("which is clearly coming"), and the political landscape.

NASBE: Monday, March 20 2017

Speaking to Board members at the quarterly meeting yesterday, "It's been a very active period", said President/CEO Kristen Amundson, "NASBE is on the verge of hosting the largest-ever (or largest-in-a-long-time) Legislative Conference, featuring not one but TWO current [Betsy DeVos] or former [John B. King] Secretaries of Education, a former Governor [Bob Wise, WV], a sitting Senator [Chris Murphy, D-CT, Senate HELP Committee] and a House member [Todd Rokita, R-IN] who is the chair of a critical education subcommittee [Subcommittee on Early Education, Elementary, and Secondary Education]."

Below, the schedule for today. I plan to blog the general sessions, when possible, beginning with the Opener. Sessions I plan to attend are indicated with an "*". Now that BESE Student Rep, Nathan Moore is on site, perhaps we'll be able to tag-team it through a couple of those afternoon sessions.

* Networking Breakfast A chance for state board members to connect with colleagues from other states, as well as leaders who are shaping national education policy.

* Opening General Session NASBE Board Chair Jay Barth and Kris Amundson welcome attendees, introduce Secretary Betsy DeVos. The Secretary has indicated she will share her thoughts on "her priorities as Secretary of Education, including priorities for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)".

* General Session and Moderated Discussion: Forging Partnerships to Shape and Advance Education Policy Agendas: Players, Perspectives, and Possibilities As state boards of education make key decisions about accountability, equity, and excellence, they need to hear from and involve a wide range of stakeholders. This panel will feature representatives of key groups who will share their thoughts. Panelists: Bob Wise, Alliance for Excellent Education, former West Virginia Governor; Cheryl Oldham, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Marla Ucelli-Kashyap, American Federation of Teachers; Merrit Jones, Student Voice; Kris Amundson, NASBE President/CEO (moderator)

* General Session: Components of a Changing Education Policy Agenda States have new authority to determine the components of a high-quality education. What are some of the major educational opportunities that state boards of education should be aware of as they plan their policy agenda for the future? Panelists: David Griffith, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development; Melissa Tooley, New America

* Lunch Session: Policy Landscapes and the Environment for 2017: How Will Upcoming Federal Policy Affect State Actions? Panelists: Reg Leichty, Foresight Law + Policy; Patrick Lyden, Foresight Law + Policy

Concurrent Session: Beyond the Test: Well-Rounded Education ESSA promotes the importance of providing a “well-rounded” education (including, but not limited to, the arts, STEM, civics, physical education, foreign language, and computer science) for all students. This “policy and proof points” session will help participants explore what should be included and how best to ensure a well-rounded education for all students. Panelists: Jane Best, Arts Education Partnership; David Griffith, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development; Sara Vecchiotti, Foundation for Child Development; Courtney Tanenbaum, American Institutes for Research

Concurrent Session: Exploring Options for Parents: Innovation & Alternatives in Schooling Today in public education, parent and students have an array of innovative alternative approaches to schooling including charter schools, magnets, digital learning, personalized learning, and public school choice. This “policy and proof points” session will delve into the options available to state boards to ensure a high-quality education for every child and new ways to expand public school choice in education. Panelists: Todd Ziebarth, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; Robin Lake, Center for Reinventing Public Education; Todd Mann, Magnet Schools of America

Concurrent Session: Ensuring High-Quality Educators for All Our Students Teachers and school leaders have a profound impact upon student learning and school conditions. This session will cover challenges and opportunities states face in supporting teachers and school leaders to improve their craft and ensuring equitable access to high-quality educators. This “policy and proof points” session will feature the latest research available along with practical on-the-ground approaches by states. Panelists: Melinda George, Learning Forward; Steve Tozer, University of Illinois

* Concurrent Session: Relentless Pursuit of Equity in Education Policy Panelists: Peter Cookson, American Institutes for Research; Kimberly Charis, NASBE

Concurrent Session: Chair to Chair (State Board chairs only) As state boards assume more responsibility, the role of the board chair is even more important. In this session, NASBE experts will provide information and specific assistance for state board chairs. Panelists: Jay Barth, NASBE Board Chair; Kris Amundson, NASBE President/CEO

* General Session: Power of the Question Panelists: Kris Amundson, NASBE President/CEO; Anne Hyslop, Chiefs for Change; Sandy Boyd, Achieve (moderator)

* Networking Reception

Sunday, March 19, 2017

NASBE: 2017 Legislative Conference

Today is Opening Day of NASBE's 2017 Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, which kicks off with an orientation session for new Board members: Over breakfast and through the morning, newly elected and appointed members of the NASBE Board of Directors will meet to learn more about the organization and about their role as board members. (Having attended this orientation last year, I've got the morning to myself.)

At lunch, all Board members will join for the Board of Directors quarterly business meeting - the Board is charged with setting all policy for the association. We'll be briefed by staff and members of the leadership team on NASBE's activities that support the Board's strategic plan. Parenthetically, a couple of us have been asked to share "impressions" from a survey that went out to NASBE members and non-member State Boards last summer and fall; it's not a formal presentation, or anything, but a small number of takeaways from a few of us about the survey's recommendations that may resonate with the Board. A similar survey was taken in 2014.

After the Board meeting, #NASBELegCon participants have been invited to attend an opening reception held jointly with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) at their hotel. As I understand it, Commissioner Chester and a few others from DESE will be there.

Following the reception we'll be welcomed at dinner by Department of Defense Education Activity Director Thomas Brady and NASBE Board of Directors Chair Jay Barth. After that, Kris Amundson, NASBE President/CEO, and Chris Minnich, Executive Director CCSSO, will add some remarks before introducing Nicolle Wallace, who provides the evening's keynote address. As a Political Analyst, New York Times Best-Selling Author, and Former White House Director of Communications, she'll provide a "birds-eye view" of the political landscape in Washington, DC, including legislative priorities of the 115th Congress, priorities of the new Trump administration, and the general tenor in Washington.