Day 39: Congress is Back to Work, Stay Aware of the Machine & H.R. 610 Your Taxes Paying for Private Schools AND No More Good Food For Kids

Day 39 Action:

That was a lovely break. We’re sure all of our representatives feel rested and rejuvenated after a week home back with the people who love and elected them. Those brave enough to show their faces, that is. And now they are back, so lace up, because we’ve got work to do.

So what are they working on that we should be aware of? So much, is the answer, and Congress is still working on confirmations of the President’s cabinet – but today, know this: The first step is understanding how to navigate this huge confusing machine, also Congress wants to terminate the Elementary and Education Act of 1965. Happy Monday!

Actions and Organizations:

The House:

Bills This Week – This link is the schedule of what may be considered on the floor this week.

Committee List – This will take you to a page where you can choose the committee and drill down to the subcommittee and the documents/bills they are considering, like for instance the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education.

Which would be the subcommittee working on…

H.R. 610, “To distribute Federal funds for elementary and secondary education in the form of vouchers for eligible students and to repeal a certain rule relating to nutrition standards in schools.” Or they’re calling it the “Choices in Education Act of 2017”

Those federal funds, by the way, would go to vouchers for private/religious schools too. While we’re all for people having the freedom to choose a private school for their children, most democrats believe that the government/tax payers shouldn’t pay for it, nor should it come at the detriment of our already vulnerable public school system.

As a WKTB aside: If Republicans don’t want to fund my health care practitioner based on religious reasons, why is it o.k. for me to fund their religious school choice?

What this bill really does is start the process to defund our public schools, it also takes away nutritional standards for school lunches. Put simply, by our friend Colleen B. from the Women’s March App /Google Play (still going strong, jump on in, the water’s very supportive!)

The bill will eliminate the Elementary and Education Act of 1965, which is the nation’s educational law and provides equal opportunity in education. ESSA is a big comprehensive program that covers programs for struggling learners, AP classes, ESL programs, programs for students of color including Native Americans; as well as Rural Education, Education for Students who are Homeless, School Safety (Gun-Free schools), Monitoring and Compliance and Federal Accountability for these and other Programs.

Some things ESSA does for Children with Disabilities:

  • Ensures access to the general education curriculum
  • Ensures access to needed accommodations ( e.g. larger print, additional time) on assessments
  • Ensures use of principles of “Universal Design for Learning” in materials and instruction so that all have curriculum access and ability to learn
  • Includes provisions that require school districts to use research-based instruction and curriculum in schools, especially with students who represent groups that have been consistently “under-performing” or underachieving.
  • ESSA also requires that states write Title I (ESSA granted federal funds to assist students and schools in poverty) plans to address how they will improve conditions for learning including: reducing incidents of bullying and harassment in schools, reducing overuse of punitive discipline practices and reducing the use of aversive behavioral interventions (such as restraints and seclusion).

All of this goes away if ESSA does.

The bill also abolishes the Nutritional Act of 2012 (No Hungry Kids Act) which provides nutritional standards and funding to states for in-school breakfast and lunch. It repeals the nutritional standards for school breakfast and lunches that include providing fruit, low fat milk, less fats, more whole grains, etc. For some children the breakfast and lunch they eat at school are the only nutritious meals they have during the day. For some children they are the ONLY meals they eat in a day.

What a concept… addressing a child’s basic need for food might improve their ability to attend and learn! The bill doesn’t take away the program but repeals the rule relating to nutrition standards so instead of requiring low-fat, low-sugar, meals with fruits and vegetables, the new rule “establishes a calorie maximum.”

Our Action in response:

CALL your Representative in the House – “I’m calling to oppose House Bill 610, The Choices in Education Act, introduced in the house.”

One thought on “Day 39: Congress is Back to Work, Stay Aware of the Machine & H.R. 610 Your Taxes Paying for Private Schools AND No More Good Food For Kids

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