October 28th, 2020

October 2020 Policy News Round-Up

This October, Congress fails to respond to COVID-19, NCLD publishes a report on racial and socioeconomic disparities in special education, and the Administration provides guidance for schools. See how NCLD worked on behalf of people with disabilities this month. 

Congress Fails to Pass a 4th Stimulus Package to Address the COVID-19 Crisis

Negotiations on a possible COVID-relief measure continue but seem unlikely to produce a deal before the election, with Senate Republicans opposing the almost $1.9 trillion offer from the Administration as too expensive while House Democrats wanted a bigger deal. Some of the contentious issues are the amount of state and local fiscal relief, whether to offer liability protection to employers that reopen, perennial policy differences about federal funding for abortion and health care for undocumented immigrants, and whether to expand the child tax credit and the unearned income tax credit.

House Democrats Introduce the Save Education Jobs Act

On Tuesday, October 27th, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Save Education Jobs Act in an attempt to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on the teaching profession. NCLD supports this bill because it would create an Education Jobs Fund that would deliver up to $261 billion to states and school districts over 10 years, saving up to 3.9 million education jobs, including 2.6 million teacher jobs as well as jobs of school leaders, paraprofessionals, social workers, school psychologists, nurses, bus drivers, maintenance workers, and more. Read more about the bill here.

Disability Rights Groups Respond to OMB’s Prohibition on Diversity and Anti-Racism Training

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memorandum which directed federal agencies to “cease and desist” from engaging in diversity training that acknowledges critical race theory, White privilege, or the ways that White people contribute to racism, calling these notions “divisive, un-American propaganda.” NCLD and other members of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Education Task Force sent a letter to OMB opposing the prohibition of professional development on diversity and anti-racism. NCLD stands united with our partners in the belief that racism impacts individuals at all levels of the education system, including students and educators with disabilities, and must be actively opposed. 

U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance on IDEA and Civil Rights

This month, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and Office for Civil Rights (OCR) separately issued guidance for schools to help meet the needs of students with disabilities and comply with federal law. OSEP issued guidance on a range of issues around how to conduct meetings for Individualized Family Service Plans and Individualized Education Programs remotely as well as guidance on evaluations/reevaluations of students with disabilities. 

OCR issued guidance to assist elementary and secondary (K-12) schools with meeting their obligations under the federal civil rights laws enforced by OCR. This includes guidance on whether students with disabilities can be the only group to attend schools in-person, whether a student with a disability does not have to wear a face covering, and whether a school district is required to conduct evaluations/revaluations of students with disabilities under Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

NCLD Publishes 6 Briefs on Racial Disparities in Special Education

This month, NCLD released six briefs on the topic of “significant disproportionality” in special education. Students of color are overrepresented in special education, are placed in more restrictive settings, and experience harsher discipline than their peers. NCLD created a comprehensive white paper and six accompanying briefs to share data showing how students from certain communities are impacted and provide policy and practice actions for impact. The six briefs include a focus on: 

  • American Indian and Alaskan Native students;
  • Asian students;
  • Black students;
  • English Learners;
  • Latinx students; and
  • Students from low-income families;

These can be found on NCLD’s webpage: www.ncld.org/sigdispro.

IES Announces “Operation Reverse the Loss” 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Dr. Mark Schneider, announced a new initiative called “Operation Reverse the Loss.” This effort aims to speed up the existing machinery IES uses to identify, scale, and verify the effectiveness of interventions that show promise in reversing learning loss for students at greatest risk—especially early learners, English language learners, students at community colleges, and students with disabilities. As Director Schneider explains in his blog post, “Operation Reverse the Loss” includes the following core components:

  • Understand conditions on the ground.
  • Encourage small businesses to provide schools with innovative learning solutions.
  • Grow the body of research with the greatest potential to reverse learning loss.

Read the full announcement here

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