By Alyson Klein
One of the big goals of the Every Student Succeeds Act was to give districts way more control over their federal funding, in part by creating a new block grant—aka the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants or Title IV. Under the law, districts can use the money for a whole smorgasboard of things: student safety, dual enrollment, dance instruction, training teachers to use technology, hiring school counselors.
And the funding—a whopping $1.6 billion—was supposed to flow to districts through a formula, meaning that pretty much every district in the country would get a piece of it. The districts would have serious latitude in deciding the dollars are spent.
It may not quite work out that way—at least not this year.
Lawmakers are seriously considering turning Title IV into a competitive-grant program at the state level, at least temporarily, sources say. In fact, multiple sources consider the possibility of a competitive-grant program more likely than not this year.
Source: States May Get to Run Competitions for ESSA Block Grant Money – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Richard Bammer
The incoming California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley and the heads of the University of California and California State University have formally asked President-elect Donald Trump to continue an Obama policy allowing children of undocumented immigrants to pursue higher education in the United States.
Their Tuesday letter comes as the Republican businessman campaigned on a platform of being a strict enforcer of U.S. immigration laws and eliminating many of President Barack Obama’s executive orders, including the policy (not a formal executive order) of giving “particular care” before deporting students, military veterans and others, many of them Hispanics and Latinos who are deemed low risks.
Of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants now living in America, 2 million of them were brought here as children. About 800,000 of these “Dreamers” qualified for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the 2012 Obama program that would shield the children from deportation and allow them to obtain work permits, driver licenses and a sense of hope and safety.
Source: Top state educators ask Trump to protect “Dreamers” – The Reporter
By Louis Freedberg
California lags slightly behind the national average in high school graduation rates, but has increased more substantially over the last five years than the national average, according to figures for 50 states released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education.
President Barack Obama touted improving graduation figures at a speech at a Washington D.C. high school Monday morning as part of an effort by his administration to showcase the progress officials say has occurred during Obama’s eight years in office.
The figures show that between 2010-11 and 2014-15, the average graduation rate nationwide, based on graduation rates reported by all 50 states and the District of Columbia, increased to 83.2 percent, compared to 82 percent in California.
Source: California high school graduation rates close in on national average | EdSource
by Louis Freedberg
The long-running battle between California and the federal government over the direction of state education policy continues, despite passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the new federal education law that delegates far more decision-making powers to local school districts than its much-maligned predecessor, the No Child Left Behind law.
In an unexpected response two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Education rejected California’s application for a federal waiver from having to administer the California Standards Tests in science, a multiple choice test based on outdated science standards adopted nearly two decades ago.
What makes the latest run-in with the administration so head-scratching is that it comes in the waning months of the Obama administration — over a relatively small piece of a student’s standardized testing regimen, at least compared to the Smarter Balanced math and English tests aligned with the Common Core standards.
Under the No Child Left Behind law, as well as the Every Student Succeeds Act replacing it, states are required to administer a science test each year to 5th- and 8th-graders, and once to high school students, and to report the scores on those tests.
Source: Duel between California and Obama administration over education continues | EdSource
By Darlene Superville
The White House says 1 million low-income high school students will receive free internet access under President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative for minority males.
The Sprint Corp. will provide students who can’t get on the internet at home with free tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices, and four years of service.
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure says the goal is to complete distribution within five years.
Obama launched “My Brother’s Keeper” in 2014. The program is among the topics the president will discuss Tuesday in Greensboro, North Carolina, during a forum hosted by “The Undefeated.” The ESPN website explores the intersection of race, sports and culture. ESPN is broadcasting the forum Tuesday night.
Source: Sprint to connect 1M students under ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ – Times Herald
By Richard Bammer
In an effort to boost college and career prospects for California’s poor children, the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday announced it has awarded the Golden State more than $11 million in grants so low-income students can take Advanced Placement tests.
Federal education officials, pointing out the poor have been a historically underserved group, noted that California is one of 41 states and Washington, D.C., to receive a total of $28.4 million to help pay for the taking of AP tests by students from low-income families.
States receiving the next highest grant amounts were Texas ($3.5 million), New York ($2.7 million) and Illinois ($1.8 million).
Mark Frazier, the chief academic officer for Vacaville Unified, said the announcement did not come as a surprise, since the district has applied to set aside some money so poor students can take the AP tests if they wish.
Source: State gets $11M in fed grants to help poor kids take AP tests
By Evie Blad
A Texas federal judge issued a nationwide order late Sunday, temporarily halting application of the Obama administration’s guidance on transgender students while a 13-state legal challenge on the issue, led by Texas, is decided.
The case is one of a number of legal challenges related to the May guidance, in which the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice said that, under Title IX, public schools must allow transgender students to use single-sex restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity, even if it differs from their sex at birth. A related case, brought by a transgender Virginia student, may be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor sided with Texas and 12 other state plaintiffs in his order for a temporary injunction, which bars the federal agencies from enforcing the guidance and from from initiating civil rights investigations in schools based on their interpretation that Title IX’s discrimination protections apply to gender identity until he makes final judgment on the case.
Source: Judge Halts Obama Administration’s Transgender-Student Rules Nationwide – Rules for Engagement – Education Week
By Alyson Klein
President Barack Obama may not have many allies left in the newly GOP-dominated Congress—but he’s still planning to ask lawmakers for a sizable increase for the U.S. Department of Education in his fiscal year 2016 budget request.
The request, being formally unveiled Monday, includes big hikes for teacher quality, preschool development grants, civil rights enforcement, education technology, plus a new competitive-grant program aimed at helping districts make better use of their federal and local K-12 dollars.
The administration also is seeking big spending bumps for programs that have proven unpopular with Republicans in Congress, such as the School Improvement Grant program.
Overall, the president wants a total of $70.7 billion in discretionary spending for the U.S. Department of Education, an increase of $3.6 billion, or a 5.4 percent hike over 2015 levels.
via Obama Budget Seeks Boosts for Early Ed., High Schools, Technology – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Michelle Maitre
President Barack Obama has unveiled a proposal to make the first two years of community college free for students who are diligent about working toward a degree.
“What I’d like to do is see the first two years of community college free for everybody who is willing to work for it,” Obama said Thursday in a Facebook video announcing the plan. “It’s something that we can accomplish and something that’ll train our workforce so that we can compete with anybody in the world.”
Under the plan, the federal government would contribute three-quarters of the average cost of community college, while participating states would contribute the rest, according to information on a White House blog. To qualify, students must maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average, attend college at least half-time and “make steady progress toward completing their degree.” States would have to opt-in to participate in the program.
via Obama proposes free community college | EdSource#.VLAL6WctHGg#.VLAL6WctHGg.
By Evie Blad
The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice will jointly announce today guidance on education of confined or incarcerated youths with the aim of helping states and localities to improve outcomes when juveniles are released and to reduce their likelihood of recidivism.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder will release the materials at the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center in Alexandria, Va., following on recommendations from a report created as part of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. That effort seeks to improve schooling outcomes and opportunities for boys of color.
African American boys are more likely to be disciplined at school than their peers, and they also face higher rates of incarceration and contact with the justice system.
via New Federal Guidance Aims to Improve Schooling for Incarcerated Youth – Rules for Engagement – Education Week.
By Lauren Camera
By the end of this week, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass a bill as early as Wednesday that would restore a slate of expired tax breaks, including three education-related measures.
This is precisely the sort of bizarre and wonky thing that Congress is known for doing: The tax breaks it would like to retroactively reinstate initially expired Jan. 1 of this year. The proposal would extend those tax breaks only through the end of this year, meaning they would once again expire at the end of December.
The move comes after President Barack Obama threatened to veto a tax deal that Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Rep. David Camp, the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, were brokering. That developing proposal would have extended some tax breaks indefinitely, among other things.
via House to Vote on Short-Lived Education Tax Breaks – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Evie Blad
President Barack Obama is poised to require federal officials to develop additional oversight and required training for local police departments, including school police departments, that receive surplus military supplies from the Pentagon and other federal agencies.
A White House review of programs that provide equipment to local agencies released Monday details a patchwork of inconsistent regulations.Obama has directed staff to prepare an order “directing relevant agencies to work together and with law enforcement and civil rights and civil liberties organizations to develop specific recommendations” about issues like training, oversight, and approval of acquisitions requests in the next 120 days, the White House said in a news release.
via Obama Order May Result in More Training for School Police Who Get Military Gear – Rules for Engagement – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia, which have already won federal grants to bolster their early-learning systems—or have robust early-childhood programs in place—could tap into even more money to improve preschool programs, under a new, $250 million “preschool development” grant competition announced by the Obama administration Wednesday.
And 15 states and Puerto Rico, which are just getting started on their early-learning programs would be able to compete, on a somewhat separate track, for a portion of those funds.
The preschool development grant program, which will be jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, represents a relatively modest down payment on the Obama administration’s much broader, $75 billion request for matching grants to help states cover the cost of a major expansion of early-childhood education programs. The bigger program is likely to go absolutely nowhere in a tight-fisted Congress, so this scaled-back version may be all the extra early-learning money states see from the feds for quite a while.
via Obama Administration Unveils New Preschool Grant Program – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
The Obama administration wants to focus the next round of the Race to the Top program on bolstering educational equity for disadvantaged students, according to sources.
The administration’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal—which is slated to be released Tuesday—seeks a $300 million iteration of the administration’s signature Race to the Top program aimed at enticing schools to close the achievement gap. It’s unclear if the money would go to districts, states, or some combination.
The program would include a teacher-equity component, as well as seek to close gaps in other areas, such as student discipline. The administration has already put forth guidance to encourage districts to ensure that minority students aren’t punished more—or more harshly—than others. That move prompted questions in a letter from U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, and other key Republicans on the panel.
via Obama to Propose Race to the Top for Educational Equity – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Lillian Mongeau
House Republicans questioned the need for new early education programs and asked if the research showing the benefits of preschool has been oversold Tuesday at a Workforce and Education Committee hearing on early childhood programs.
“Serious questions remain as to whether these programs are producing positive results for the children they serve,” said committee chairman Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., at the hearing.
President Barack Obama first proposed a new federal grant program to help states establish or expand publicly funded preschool programs in his 2013 State of the Union Address. He renewed that call in his 2014 address. A bill, called the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, which codifies the president’s proposal, was introduced in both houses in November. When the bill was first announced, Kline promised he would hold hearings on early childhood programs, though not the bill specifically, in early 2014. Tuesday’s hearing was the first.
via Value of early education questioned at House committee hearing | EdSource Today.
By Alyson Klein
President Barack Obama placed education at the center of a broad strategy to bolster economic mobility and combat poverty—calling on Congress in his State of the Union speech to approve previously unveiled initiatives to expand preschool to more 4-year-olds, beef up job-training programs, and make post-secondary education more effective and accessible.
“Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old,” said Obama, whose education agenda in his second term has shifted away from K-12 toward prekindergarten and college affordability. “As a parent as well as a president, I repeat that request tonight. But in the meantime, 30 states have raised pre-K funding on their own. They know we cant wait.”
via Obama Sells Race to Top, Early-Childhood Education in State of the Union – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
President Barack Obama is expected to use his State of the Union speech Tuesday night to try to pinpoint areas of potential agreement with Republicans in Congress—while making it clear he’s willing to exert executive authority and the power of the bully pulpit to push his priorities when lawmakers won’t cooperate. (That’s a theme he also hit last year.)
There have already been a couple of big test cases for this philosophy in education policy. When a divided Congress failed to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, the Obama administration issued a series of 42 waivers, giving states relief from many of the most onerous pieces of the law.
via How Will Education Play in the State of the Union? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
Set your DVRs: President Barack Obama will give his State of the Union speech next week, on Jan. 28. So that means a week from now, we’ll all be mulling over the education portion. After all, Obama (and most other presidents) typically use their annual address to Congress to outline an edu-wish list for the year. It often includes at least one big idea (whether brand new or recycled from an earlier proposal).
Is Obama usually able to get what he wants from Congress? Short answer: Not so much. For the longer answer, check out these past State of the Union speeches:
via Obama’s State of the Union Speeches and Education: A Scorecard – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Michele McNeil
Today, the Obama administration will announce details of a $100 million competition for high schools that better prepare students for college and high-tech careers, U.S. Department of Education officials confirmed this morning.
First reported in the Wall Street Journal, the competition is shaping up to be a mix between the federal Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation programs, and will be funded and run through the Department of Labor. Between 25 and 40 grants will be awarded next year for high schools that team up with colleges and employers. The grants will range in size from $2 million to $7 million. Just as with the i3 competition, winners will have to secure private matching funds of at least 25 percent to get their grant.
via High Schools to Compete for $100 Million in New Race to the Top-Style Contest – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
Brokedown Congress appears likely to spend the weekend attempting to keep the government from shutting down and the U.S. from defaulting on its debt. The sticking point this time isn’t schools. Instead, education is getting caught in the crosshairs. Republicans want to defund, or at least delay implementation of, the president’s landmark health care overhaul law (the Affordable Care Act to its fans and “ObamaCare” to its critics).
What does the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad budget situation mean for schools?
via What Does the Possible Government Shutdown Mean For Schools? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.