OTS 91: What the Every Student Succeeds Act means for OTPs with Abe Saffer, MPM


OT School House Podcast Episode 72 journal club how much of school is fine motor anyways?

Click on your preferred podcast player link to listen where you enjoy podcasts


Welcome to the show notes for Episode 91 of the OT Schoolhouse Podcast.


Our role in special education was established in 1775 with the passing of The Education for All Handicapped Children Act. A lot has changed since then and we now have what is called the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.


In this episode of the OT Schoolhouse Podcast, we are welcoming Abe Saffer, MPM. Abe is the Senior Legislative Representative for AOTA and I asked him to come on the show to share with us how laws created and updated in Washington D.C. impact us as practicing school-based OTs.


Specifically, we will be discussing how IDEA differs from the Every Student Succeeds Act and what it means for us as OTPs, both now and in the coming years.


Listen in to better understand your role as a school-based OT.


Links to Show References:



Transcript

OTS 91_ What the Every Student Succeeds Act means for OTPs with Abe Saffer, MPM.docx
.pdf
Download PDF • 175KB


Amazing Narrator

Hello and welcome to the OT Schoolhouse podcast, your source for school-based occupational therapy tips, interviews, and professional development. Now to get the conversation started, here is your host Jayson Davies, class is officially in session.


Jayson Davies

Hello, hello, everyone. Welcome to Episode 91 of the OT Schoolhouse podcast. So excited for you to be here today. I'm so excited about today's interview. In previous episodes, you might have heard me use the term ESSA or ESSA and that stands for Every Student Succeeds Act, and that act was actually passed in 2015. It wasn't an amendment or replacement to the No Child Left Behind Act that was passed in the early 2000s. Well, we're gonna dive in deeper into that with a very special person today from AOTA the American Occupational Therapy Association to share more about what ESSA is. And also what AOTA is doing, not just in regards to ESSA, but also for school-based practice in general. Today, we have on Abe Saffer. And He is the senior legislative representative for AOTA I don't want to dive too much into what he does because he's going to share so much with us. Right upfront. He is the sole legislative representative that we have in AOTA and trust me, he is tasked with so much. It's one of the big reasons that I always advocate for you to be an AOTA member. In fact, they have multiple tiers coming out soon, so will be even easier for you to be an AOTA member. I really hope that you enjoy this episode, but even more, so I hope you're inspired a little bit by what he has to say today. So without any further ado, here is Abe Saffer, from AOTA. Hello, and welcome to the show Abe. How are you doing today?


Abe Saffer

I'm great. Thanks so much for having me.


Jayson Davies

Yeah, definitely. So, it's been a while since we've had a non-occupational therapist as the main guest the sole guest here. But as I know, and everyone is soon to find out, you are very connected to the world of OT. So I actually want to give you a second just to kind of share how you're connected to occupational therapy.




Abe Saffer

Well, I appreciate that. And it's a huge honor to be one of the few non-OTs to be on here. So I am one of the American Occupational Therapy Association's congressional lobbyists. So I do federal lobbying, in terms of a lot of issues, basically everything but health, traditional health stuff. And I do that with Congress, as well as the White House, the Department of Education. And I consider myself an education, disability, lobbyist, and advocate. And that's something that I love to be able to do. But then with AOTA now for a little over five years. And it's been absolutely fantastic. And so I'm glad you mentioned I wasn't an OT because I don't want people to get the wrong idea when I started talking about certain OT-specific practice areas or interventions or anything along those lines.


Jayson Davies

Yeah, and people who know the OT Schoolhouse podcast have listened before, they know that I'm a huge advocate for everyone being a part of AOTA paying your dues, or 18 or $19 a month or whatever it comes out to a year. That's kind of what pays your salary. And we're just appreciative of you doing that, and, and advocating for us, you know, without AOTA and all the work that they do and as well as our state organizations, I don't know where OT the profession would be today. So thank you. And going forward, I actually, let's stay on this a little bit is what does your day-to-day activity actually look at? You know, we're used to an occupational therapist, day-to-day activity, what does your day-to-day work look like for AOTA?


Abe Saffer

So I obviously work every day, I don't have what I would consider day-to-day activities I could have, I could have a day where I spend it. I mean, now they're having these virtual back-to-back zoom calls with Hill staff talking about a specific issue, whether that is education or workforce recruitment and shortages. I could have a day where I just spend it writing and I'm working on, you know, either writing articles or just resources for practitioners to understand or something in the mix where I'm just doing a little bit of everything. There's really no consistency to my days, whatever it is, I live my life entirely by my calendar, based on what it says I just do. It is all-powerful. And I listened to that above all else. And it's exciting to be able to see what comes up every day of doing different things. You know, say today, I'm working on a lot of you know, I worked on prep for this podcast as well, just making sure I had resources. I am planning a week of action, which I think will have already taken place related to another bill, a workforce diversity bill. And I'm actually following up with the White House on guidance documents related to how a SISP can be used in schools in general, I can talk a little bit more about that later. But it's I mean, day-to-day is a different hour to hour can be different. It is the perfect environment, I think for someone with ADHD. So it is fantastic that I get paid for probably the only thing I'm really good at and my market.


Jayson Davies

Great. Yeah. And, you know, I think as we go through this podcast, we're gonna get a better understanding of what you're actually doing specifically in relation to what we're talking about today, which is the ESSA Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act, and how you are trying to make sure that occupational therapy is talked about in that act, making sure that that act is actually being followed up on I think, a little bit. So I guess the next point that we want to discuss then is the ESSA Every Student Succeeds Act, and what that is, how it came to be, and kind of where OT fits into that.


Abe Saffer

Yeah, no, that's exactly where I think you should be starting. So the largest legislation that has to deal with Public Schools is the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. So if you've ever heard of Title One schools or funding for low income, that's where it comes. So it's also called ESCA has the largest single source of federal funding for education in the country, or out of all the other bills. And any bill that provides funding, whether it's ESSA or anything else, needs to be reauthorized regularly by Congress. And that just gives them a chance to sort of seeing how things are working, is it still necessary to have you know, all those things and so, the Elementary Secondary Education Act was reauthorized in the early 2000s by and was named No Child Left Behind. So a lot of people know, NCLB. And then in 2015, at the end of that year, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and update it with a whole lot of different changes and get rid of things that didn't work. So No Child Left Behind is, for all intents and purposes, dead and ESSA is the new king of education law. And so that's where we are sort of now in the general education space, but ESSA included a lot of updates, including I talked about Title One that remains, but then they're under No Child Left Behind. They're about 80 to 85 competitive grants that schools could go to a no sorry, there were 50 that provided about 85 million in funding to different schools and programs. And those were eliminated and replaced with a larger grant called the title for a grant which is the student support and enrichment Grant students award success and enrichment grant. And that was authorized at 1.2 billion, so just a huge amount of money more and every year since we've been fighting to the crease that but ESSA is, is due soon for a reauthorization. And so we'll start to see some standalone bills floated and then when there's momentum enough for Congress to actually decide they wanted to act on it, then that's when they'll, that's when they'll update the law and reauthorize it.


Jayson Davies

Wow, that's a lot. So basically, ESSA is an amendment or an addendum to pre-existing law, correct?


Abe Saffer

Yep.


Jayson Davies

It gets reauthorized every like, I don't know, I think No Child Left Behind was in the early 2000s. So about every 10 years or so.


Abe Saffer

Yep. Different bills could have different years between them. But yeah, so you know, if someone says ESSA or if someone says ESCA, it's talking about the exact same thing, ESCA sort of the statute, that the law as it is, and ESSA amended the statute to make the changes that have existed since late 2015.




Jayson Davies

Gotcha. Okay. So now, I want to just delineate the difference between ESSA and IDEA, you said ESSA was the largest general education bill, I think it's kind of how you worded it. And IDEA, as we know, is more special education is that the main difference between those two is explained.


Abe Saffer