Current Issues in Public Policy
Every Student Succeeds Act
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will replace the No Child Left Behind Act in the 2017-2018 school year. There have been significant improvements in the bill, especially to the equitable services provisions that will provide greater benefits for students and teachers in Catholic and other private schools.
The consultation process for obtaining benefits for the next school year will begin in early 2017.
The U.S. Department of Education has issued regulations and guidance documents to implement the law. The federal programs section of this page has preliminary information about the new law and the provisions impacting Catholic schools.
New E-rate 2.0 Program Offers Benefits for Catholic Schools
The new E-rate program that will go into effect in the coming school year will focus on significantly expanded funding for broadband and wifi networks to connect all classrooms as digital learning centers. With the infusion of new funds and carry-over monies from prior years, it is anticipated that the fund for internal connections will exceed $5 billion this year. This is an opportunity for all schools in all discount levels to begin to build their networks and the infrastructure to support e-learning devices in all classrooms.
You can find additional information about the program on the NCEA E-rate website and the program guidance pages of the USAC website.
The White House has released guidance documents for developing high-quality emergency operations plans for schools, institutions of higher education and houses of worship. These guides have been jointly produced by the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Education and Health & Human Services on this critical topic.
These emergency planning guides are customized to each type of community and can be used to revise or create new plans and align them with emergency planning practices at the national, state, and local levels.
Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans
In addition, the FEMA Emergency Management Institute is offering a free independent study program online: Preparing for Mass Casualty Incidents - A Guide for Schools, Higher Education and Houses of Worship.
IDEA and 504
IDEA is a federal education law that provides services to some students in private schools, depending upon the funding available.
504 is a civil rights law that indicated the nature of a person's disability and the accommodations required. Private schools, even if they participate in the federal nutrition programs, are not required to write 504 plans — that is the responsibility of the local public school district.
The Catholic school accommodations plan is sufficient. See this article pertaining to 504 plans.