Federal Legislative Toolkit

Printer-friendly versionSend to friend

Welcome to the DSC Federal Legislative Toolkit. Our goal is to offer a one-stop-shop of resources to assist you with your federal advocacy needs.  We will update the page periodically to ensure you have the best, most recent and relevant information. Please contact us at info(at)dignityinschools.org if there is additional information that will assist you in your federal advocacy work.

Look Up Your Federal Representatives 
 
The United States congress consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Members in the House of Representatives are elected to a two-year term and represent a congressional district within your State.  Your Senator is elected to a six-year term and represents the entire state.  Members of the House and Senate are responsible for FEDERAL legislation and do not have jurisdiction over State law. 
 
Click here to locate your member in the House of Representatives  
Click here to locate your Senator 
 
Contacting Your Representatives to Schedule a Visit 
 
Meeting with your member of Congress, or their staff, is a great way to influence and impact legislation. When scheduling a meeting it is important to know when members are in session in Washington DC, or in recess working at home in your state.  When members are in recess, also known as district work periods, it is a great time to schedule meetings in the state district office. Use the congressional calendars below to find out when your member is in session or recess. Dates in blue are days the House and Senate are in Session. All other Days, with the exception of Federal Holidays and weekends, are district work periods.
 
 
Click here to download the House Calendar 
Click here to download the Senate Calendar  
 

Congressional Committees

A congressional committee is a group of selected members of Congress that focus on particular legislation issues. Committees also have Subcommittees that are assigned specific issues under the umbrella issue area (i.e. the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement). Committee membership enables members to develop specialized knowledge of the matters under their jurisdiction. The committees monitor ongoing governmental operations, identify issues suitable for legislative review, consider legislation under their jurisdiction, gather and evaluate information, and recommend courses of action to the full congress.
 
Committees also decide which bill and resolutions move forward to consideration by the full House and Senate. Committee chairman have enormous influence over this process. The political party that is in the majority (with the highest number of members in the chamber—the House or the Senate) takes the lead on Committees, meaning that Committee chairs represent the majority party of the House or the Senate. The party in the minority has a designated “Ranking Member” who is the highest ranking member of the Minority Party.  For example, Rep. John Kline of Minnesota is currently the Chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and Rep. Bobby Scott is the Ranking Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee.  
 
Committees with jurisdiction over our work on school discipline and school climate are the following committees:
 
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Workforce Committee (HELP): This Senate committee has jurisdiction over matters relating to health, education and training and public welfare. Click below to learn more about the Senate HELP Committee.
 
 
The Education and The Workforce Committee:  This House committee has jurisdiction over matters relating to education and the workforce.  Click below to learn more about the Education and The Workforce Committee.
 
 
 
Current Federal Legislation
 
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
 
ESEA was first signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson. He envisioned the bill as a tool in the “War on Poverty,” that would open access to education to low-income children. The ESEA was last reauthorized as the “No Child Left Behind Act,” in 2001 (enacted in 2002), and expired in 2007. Since then, Congress passed legislation to allow the former version of the law to continue until it is reauthorized.
 
Current Status of ESEA

House of Representatives:  On July 8, 2015 the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), which significantly strips the federal oversight role in education, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 218 to 213.

Senate: On July 16, 2015, the U.S. Senate just passed, the Every Child Achieves Act (S.1177), by a vote of 81 to 17.  

DSC opposes both bills because they fall far short of fulfilling the promise of the original intent of ESEA of 1965— to create equal educational opportunity for all children, regardless of income or zip code. Both bills also fail to hold states accountable for addressing and remedying discipline disparities or improving school climate to ensure all students can learn and thrive.
 
The links below provides information about both the Senate and the House ESEA reauthorization bills.
 
Key amendments from the Senate and House debate on ESEA. These amendments are important to DSC priorities.
 
The Full Senate bill, the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (S. 1177) 
 
The Full House bill, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5)   
 
DSC Comment Letter to Senate HELP Committee Addressing School Climate
 
DSC Comment Letter on The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015
 
DSC Comment Letter on The Student Success Act of 2015
 
Next Steps for ESEA

The Senate bill S.1177 will be combined in conference with the House bill, H.R. 5. During conference the differences are worked out with select members of the House and the Senate. A final bill will be drafted, and agreed to, and that final bill would go back to both chambers, the House and Senate, for final votes on passage. If passed by both chambers, it would go to the President for his signature.  Conference is expected to begin in October 2015.
 
 
Federal Advocacy Tools
 
When preparing for a DSC Days at the Capitol trip or for a visit with your member in the district, the following tools can help you get more familiar with the legislative process and prepare your talking points.
 
LEGISLATIVE PROCESS -The legislative process can seem overwhelming. This easy to follow flowchart can help you understand the process of how a bill becomes a law. 
 
 
(Source: hobnobblog.com)
 
SHARING YOUR STORY - Sharing personal stories are a very effective way to help legislators and policy makers understand how issues, policies and legislation affect real people in real ways. This document will help you craft a memorable story to share with your legislators.
 
 
ADVOCACY TIPS - This advocacy packet offers practical tips, strategies and tools you can use when meeting with your legislator.