January 31st, 2022

January 2022 Policy News Round-Up

NCLD joined partners in supporting inclusive school climate, NCLD provided input to ED on state accountability systems, the Fiscal Year (FY) 21 funding is due to expire next month, and a state bill on college accommodations was introduced in Arizona. See how NCLD worked on behalf of students with disabilities this month.

NCLD Joined 90 Organizations in Promoting Inclusive School Climates

NCLD joined 90 other civil rights and education organizations with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR) calling on members of Congress to advance legislation promoting safe, healthy, and inclusive school climates. The letter specifically urged cosponsorship and support for the following five pieces of legislation:

  • Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act (S. 2125/ H.R. 4011)
  • Keeping All Students Safe Act (S. 1858/H.R. 3474)
  • Protecting our Students in Schools Act (S. 2029/H.R. 3836)
  • Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2021 (S. 2410/H.R. 4402)
  • Ending PUSHOUT Act of 2021 (H.R. 2248)

Learn more about these bills through NCLD’s Action Center.  

NCLD Commented on ED’s Assessment and Accountability Guidance

NCLD provided input to the Department of Education (ED) on the recently released FAQ on COVID-19’s Impact on 2021-2022 Accountability Systems. In the letter, NCLD demonstrated continued support for quality statewide assessments that include students with disabilities and urged ED to uphold the expectation that schools, districts, and states are held accountable for equity gaps. 

NCLD urged ED to: 

  • Encourage states to establish the same, ambitious long-term goals for students with disabilities as their peers if they are amending their accountability plans
  • Include information on the administration of alternate assessments and the 1 percent cap on students who are assessed using these tests
  • Emphasize and clarify accommodation requirements for assessments 
  • Reiterate the requirements to report assessment results and participation rates on state report cards, including disaggregation by subgroups including students with disabilities

Read the letter here.

Federal Funding Set to Expire Next Month

Unless Congress acts, funding for the government will expire on February 18 resulting in a government shutdown. Currently, funding is frozen at FY 2021 levels. Congress will need to agree on spending levels, or enact another extension for current funding to keep the government open as negotiations continue. NCLD has urged the Appropriations Committees to increase funding for critical education programs and reiterated the time-sensitive nature of passing FY 2022 spending bills. 

Arizona HB 2031 Was Introduced in State Legislature to Support Higher Education Students with Disabilities

HB 2031 was recently introduced in the Arizona State Legislature, marking a major opportunity to increase accessibility for college students with disabilities in the state. The bill has passed in the state’s House of Representatives and moved to the state Senate. 

If passed, this bill would reduce barriers in the process to get accommodations for students with disabilities by requiring all institutions of higher education in Arizona to accept an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan as documentation of proof of a disability. Currently, most postsecondary institutions do not accept a student’s IEP or 504 Plan as proof of a disability, and most colleges and universities require a recent psycho-educational evaluation to be submitted as documentation.

If you are an Arizona resident, show your support for this bill by writing to your State senator. 

In Case You Missed It:

  • As the RISE Act gains support and co-sponsors in Congress, read 5 Things to Know Now About the RISE Act and show your support for the bill today!
  • Secretary Cardona shared his vision for education in America. Read his speech here
  • NCLD is pleased to share new, insightful reports from our partners. Check out Education Reform Now’s Driving Toward Equity report, an analysis of all states’ American Rescue Plan spending plans, and the National Disability Rights Network’s Out From the Shadows, a report on the informal removal of children with disabilities from public schools.

Join the NCLD movement