TASH Opposes H.R. 5 & Supports Scott Substitute

UPDATE: On July 9, 2015, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5. Take action.

The nation’s most important education law for our children – the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – has historically provided critical civil rights protections for underserved students through a strong federal role in education and other key principles.  TASH has been at the table since the beginning and has been engaged as a strong voice for children with disabilities. Now Congress needs to hear your voice!

The Student Success Act of 2015 (H.R. 5) – a bill passed by the House Education and Workforce and Financial Services Committees attempting to update the ESEA – falls far short of ensuring equal opportunity in education for all children. If passed, H.R. 5 would devastate our nation’s commitment to the education of our children, by diverting funds for low-income school districts to wealthier ones. Additionally, this bill will:

  • Freeze funding at FY 2015 levels for six years, which represents $800 million in cuts to these programs compared to pre-sequester funding;
  • Block grants a large number of vital programs, with no accountability for how well those funds are spent;
  • Allow Title I “portability” which would allow states to redirect funds away from high concentrations of poverty and siphon monies to low-poverty schools.

HR 5 slashes current accountability requirements and fails to require our schools to provide effective education to all students, abandoning the standards and accountability that ensure children receive the best education:

  • Does not contain requirements that states set high standards to graduate students who are college and career-ready;
  • Eliminates requirements that schools or districts take action when students struggle to achieve at grade-level;
  • Fails to limit the N-size of student sub-groups;
  • Eliminates Maintenance of Effort provisions;
  • Removes the student participation cap in the Alternative Assessment based on Alternate Achievement Standards.

These aspects of the bill would represent the most significant roll back of student protections in generations and would seriously impede education equity for all students, especially those with disabilities.

Representative Bobby Scott has offered an alternative to H.R.5. The Scott Substitute Amendment includes the following key provisions that are necessary for education equity among students with disabilities:

  • Limiting the Alternate Assessment based on Alternate Achievement Standards to 1% of students assessed,
  • Prohibiting the development of additional alternate assessments including an alternate assessment based on modified achievement standard,
  • Requiring states to set high school graduation rate goals for all student categories and to establish well defined points of intervention when students aren’t achieving,
  • Providing support to states and school districts to ensure that teachers have the skills and knowledge necessary to instruct diverse learners,
  • Prohibiting the use of restraint and seclusion in non-emergencies that do not threaten physical safety.

Time is critical. Contact your Representative TODAY and TOMORROW and urge them to oppose H.R.5 and support the Scott Substitute Amendment in order to protect education equity for all students, especially those with disabilities. Call the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.