The bulk of legislative updates are provided on the legislative subgroup of the ASCA SCENE. To stay on top of legislative issues, register for the SCENE and the legislative subgroup today.
Framework for Safe and Successful Schools: ASCA, along with a number of other leading education organizations, have called on Congress and the administration to enact school safety policies that will genuinely support the well-being and learning of students over the long term. These organizations released A Framework to Safe and Successful Schools, their joint recommendations for improved school safety and and access to mental health services for students. Learn more.
President Signs Appropriations Package, Including ESSCP for FY13: The Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program (ESSCP), the only federal program dedicated to creating and expanding school counseling services in American public schools, remains funded in FY13. The Senate and House of Representatives ultimately agreed to funding ESSCP at approximately $49.665 million, a cut of more than 5 percent from FY12 levels due to the federal sequester that took place in March 2013. The continued funding of ESSCP is a testament to ASCA members' grassroots efforts. For further information, contact Amanda Fitzgerald.
ASCA Members Testify on Capitol Hill: Three different ASCA members have recently testified or will testify on Capitol Hill on behalf of the school counseling profession. On Feb. 27, 2013, Vincent Pompei from San Diego, Calif., testified in front of the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee in a hearing on "Protecting Students and Teachers: A Discussion on School Safety." Read his testimony or view the webcast. On March 13, 2013, Kristen Sands, from Jacksonville, Fla., testified in front of the U.S. House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee in a hearing on the Elementary and Seconday School Counseling Program. Read her testimony. In April 2013, Nicole Pfleger from Smyrna, Ga., will testify in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in a hearing on "Safe and Supportive Schools: Lessons From the Field."
Alaska Senator Introduces Counseling for Career Choice Act: Sen. Begich (D-AK) introduced S. 282 to improve and and increase availability to comprehensive school counseling services. Learn more.
President's Proposal on Gun Control: ASCA applauds President Obama and Vice President Biden for their proposal to make this nation -- and its schools -- safer via a set of common-sense, balanced proposals. Read more.
ESSCP Grants Awarded: The U.S. Department of Education awarded $21.2 million to 60 school districts across the country to expand school counseling programs. For more information about the program or to review the list of grantees, click here.
President Signs Appropriations Package Including ESSCP for FY12
[Dec. 23, 2011] The Elementary and Secondary School Counselign Program (ESSCP), the only federal program dedicated to creating and expanding school counseling services in America's public schools, remains funded for FY12. Although the House of Representatives attempted to eliminate the program, the Senate and House ultimately agreed to fund ESSCP at approximately $52.296 million. The FY12 funding amount is a cut of 0.189 percent from FY11, which is the amount that was cut from all education programs.
The continued funding of ESSCP, despite numerous proposals to eliminate it, is a testament to your grassroots efforts. Thank you to everyone who took the time out of your busy day to make a phone call, send an e-mail or visit your elected officials to discuss the important work school counselors are doing every day. The Senate stood behind this program, countering the House's request to eliminate the program and saving it from catastrophic cuts. ASCA will formally thank both the House and the Senate for preserving this program for another year.
What Happens Next?
School districts that were awarded grants in either FY10 or FY11 will receive continued funding for 2012. In addition, a new grant copmetition for FY12 will take place in the near future. ASCA will send out an alert to all members when the U.S. Department of Education releases the request for propsals.
The Senate is actively working on a reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, which is now refered to as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The latest version that recently passed the Senate HELP Committee calls for consolidation of the current ESSCP into a much broader Successful, Safe & Healthy Students program. ASCA is hopeful that the new program will increase the reach of school counseling programs to every school district in every state, if funded appropriately. We are monitoring the Senate's progress on the reauthorization process and awaiting a comprehensive version from the House of Representatives. Although the Senate is optimistic this bill can be completed before election time, much of the education community remains skeptical.
Important New Resource for Borrowers
www.IBRinfo.org is a new Web site that provides independent, reliable information about Income-Based Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness, two new federal programs to help make student loan repayment fair and manageable. The site explains the programs and will be updated as new information becomes available. Users can register to get updates on important developments as the U.S. Department of Education finalizes regulations and creates the systems for managing the new programs.
If you are hearing from individuals or groups worrying about student loan payments or those wondering if they can afford to take a public service job, www.IBRinfo.org will be helpful.
Income-Based Repayment (IBR) is a new payment option for federal student loans. It will help borrowers keep their loan payments affordable with payment caps (less than 10% of income for most eligible borrowers) based on income and family size. IBR also will forgive remaining debt, if any, after up to 25 years of qualifying payments. Public Service Loan Forgiveness will forgive remaining debt after 10 years of eligible employment and qualifying loan payments for people working in key public service professions such as teaching, government, social work, law enforcement, and non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations.
These new programs take effect in July 2009. It will take a while before the U.S. Department of Education has all of the regulations written and the systems up and running. In the interim, IBRinfo.org will provide information on these two new federal programs, as well as other student financial assistance. On this website, consumers also can sign up to receive alerts about new developments as they occur.
National Alliance of Pupil Services Organizations
ASCA is a member of The National Alliance of Pupil Services Organizations (NAPSO). NAPSO is a coalition of national professional organizations whose members provide and support a variety of school-based prevention and intervention services to assist students in becoming effective learners and productive citizens.
NAPSO organizations represent over a million members, including school counselors, school nurses, psychologists, school psychologists, social workers and school social workers; occupational therapists, physical therapists, art therapists, dance/movement therapists, and music therapists; speech-language pathologists and audiologists; teachers, students, parents, and administrators.
NAPSO promotes interdisciplinary practice and collaboration and advocates for ensuring access to quality pupil services for all students. NAPSO member organizations are bound together by our common vision to bring all students, in all states, the programs and professional support services they need to insure success in school. Click here for more information.
Searching for information on a particular member of Congress or a particular bill? Check out these links:
U.S. House of Representatives
The White House
Library of Congress Thomas System