Support for students, not divisive politics, prompts area teachers unions actions on May Day – Daily Republic

By Richard Bammer

Support for all students and their families, rather than overt protests of a political nature, prompted Vacaville-area school teachers to turn out by the dozens Monday morning, as part of nationwide May Day demonstrations against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and perceived threats to public education.

In Vacaville, teachers who are members of Vacaville Teachers Association began preparing for the statewide Day of Action, organized by the California Teachers Association, some six weeks ago, said Tracy Begley, president of the 680-member VTA.

Teachers and educators at more than a dozen Vacaville Unified school sites participated, she said, adding that teachers, staff, administrators and, in some cases, students wore red, black, a “school spirit” shirt or a VTA button.

In an interview and in a press release issue late in the day, Begley said the demonstrations were a way for the rank and file to say they supported district schools and all students.

 

Source: Support for students, not divisive politics, prompts area teachers unions actions on May Day

Federal Role In K-12 Education Being Reviewed Under Trump Order – White House, US Patch

By Colin Miner

President Trump is ordering Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to review what the administration says is “overreach” by previous administrations that have issued “mandates that take away autonomy and limit the options available to educators, administrators, and parents.”

Trump has repeatedly attacked the education department since his days on the campaign trail, saying its role in education needs to be diminished and the department downsized.

“This executive order makes certain that local leaders will be making the decisions about what happens in the classroom,” said Rob Goad, a senior official at the department.

Source: Federal Role In K-12 Education Being Reviewed Under Trump Order – White House, US Patch

President Trump’s Proposal to Eliminate Federal Support for Certain K-12 Programs – California Budget & Policy Center

By Jonathan Kaplan

As we blogged about recently, President Trump’s budget blueprint for federal “discretionary” spending proposes significant cuts to a range of key public systems and services. While this so-called “skinny budget” lacks important details, it calls for eliminating two K-12 education programs and, by doing so, would reduce the funding available to every California school district as well as to many community-based organizations across the state. California is estimated to receive more than $365 million for these two programs in federal fiscal year (FFY) 2017, which began October 1, 2016: $252 million for Supporting Effective Instruction (SEI) State Grants (also known as “Title II, Part A” funds), which aim in part to increase the number of educators and advance their quality and effectiveness; and $114 million for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which supports before- and after-school as well as summer school programs. Although these two federal funding streams represent just a fraction of the $74.5 billion overall that is budgeted for K-12 education in California in 2016-17 (the state fiscal year that began July 1, 2016), their elimination would disproportionately affect students from low-income families because dollars for these programs are targeted to these learners.

Source: President Trump’s Proposal to Eliminate Federal Support for Certain K-12 Programs Would Hurt Economically Disadvantaged Students in Every Part of California – California Budget & Policy Center

“Dreamers” at community colleges urged to apply for financial aid – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

State community college leaders are concerned about a dramatic drop in financial aid applications among undocumented students, due, in part perhaps, to the political climate in Washington, D.C., and the Trump White House.

But Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of California’s 113 community colleges, reminded that assistance is still available through the California Dream Act and urged eligible students to apply.

His announcement, in a press release issued in February, came several days after President Donald Trump broadened immigration enforcement policies, directing federal officials to find, arrest and deport those in the country illegally, regardless of whether they have committed serious crimes.

Source: “Dreamers” at community colleges urged to apply for financial aid

Torlakson files court brief to protect federal funding – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson on Wednesday filed a court brief supporting a Bay Area county’s request to stop an executive order by President Donald Trump that threatens to stop federal funding for California cities, counties, and possibly public schools.

Torlakson filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in the Federal Court’s Ninth District, where Santa Clara County has filed for a preliminary injunction to stop the president’s January executive order that would withhold federal dollars from cities that declare themselves sanctuaries.

The injunction request said the order is unconstitutional because it would compel local governments to take an active role in enforcing immigration law and could withhold federal funding from agencies, including schools, which declare themselves “sanctuary jurisdictions.” The order fails to clearly define that term, Torlakson wrote in a press release issued Thursday.

 

Source: Torlakson files court brief to protect federal funding

Charter schools in line to get extra help despite Trump plan to slash education funding | EdSource

By Mikhail Zinshteyn

Charter schools in California and elsewhere stand to be a major beneficiary of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for the coming year, even though he wants to slash $9.2 billion from many other federal education programs.

Trump called for $1.4 billion in new funding for a “school choice” program that includes an increase of $250 million to subsidize tuition for private schools and $168 million for expanding charter schools. An additional $1 billion is for a program that would allow students to attend a public school of their choice, which could include charter schools. Trump has provided no details for any of these programs.

The extra $168 million for charter schools represents a 50 percent expansion of the Charter Schools Program from its current level of $333 million. The bulk of the funds are shared with states to support new charter schools. Two other grants within the program support the expansion of charter networks and facilities costs. The funds given to states can be spent on purchasing classroom equipment, such as laptops for students and desks, informing parents that schools are opening and training school staff.

Source: Charter schools in line to get extra help despite Trump plan to slash education funding | EdSource

Education Budget Cuts, Student Aid Problems and More : NPR Ed

By Sophia Alvarez Boyd and Anya Kamenetz

National K-12 and higher ed news came fast and furious this week. Here are our highlights to help you keep on top.

The president’s “skinny budget” has cuts for education

The biggest story of our week happened early Thursday morning when President Trump released his budget outline, historically known as a “skinny budget” because it has few details.

The U.S. Department of Education came in for a $9 billion, or 13.5 percent, cut.

During Trump’s campaign, he promised $20 billion for school choice. His 2018 budget is the first small step in that direction, increasing charter school funding by two-thirds, funding an unspecified new “private school choice program,” and adding another $1 billion for Title I, which helps fund high-poverty schools. That Title I money would be earmarked to “encourage” school choice.

Source: FAFSA, Pell Grants And Charters, Oh My! : NPR Ed : NPR

State schools chief vows to battle Trump over cuts – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

State schools chief Tom Torlakson said President Donald Trump’s proposed $1.1 trillion 2018 budget was very disappointing and goes in the wrong direction with funding cuts that would hurt disadvantaged children, after-school programs, teacher training, and other services, but sets aside $250 million for a nationwide voucher program.

In a press release issued Friday, he said the cuts, should they go into effect, would hobble programs that help prepare California 6.2 million public school students for jobs in the increasingly technological, 21st-century global economy.

Trump’s planned budget would take hundreds of millions of dollars from California by eliminating federal funds for programs that have proven successful in educating at-risk students, especially those from low-income backgrounds. It also reduces financial assistance to low-income college students.

 

Source: State schools chief vows to battle Trump over cuts

Here’s What You Should Know About That Voucher Bill From Rep. Steve King – Education Week

By Andrew Ujifusa

Although he’s made headlines recently for controversial comments not directly about schools, Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa has also made waves for introducing a bill that would dramatically reshape K-12 and education policy. That’s House Resolution 610, and it would create federally backed vouchers for students.

We wrote about the bill earlier this year. The Choices in Education Act of 2017, the in-plain-English name of the bill, would repeal the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the main K-12 law, of which the Every Student Succeeds Act is the latest version. It would create vouchers funded by Washington for parents to use at private schools if they chose to do so, or to use for home schooling their child. Under King’s legislation, the federal government would fund those vouchers through creating block grants for states.

“As the spouse of a former Iowa teacher, I understand that it’s the right thing for our children to take their education decision[s] out of the hands of the federal government and put it back in the hands of parents who know how best to meet the educational needs of their students,” King said in a statement last year about a similar bill he introduced in 2016.

Source: Here’s What You Should Know About That Voucher Bill From Rep. Steve King – Politics K-12 – Education Week

Special Education Funding Maintained in Trump Administration Budget Blueprint – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

The “skinny” budget blueprint released by the Trump administration Thursday would maintain current spending levels for special education—about $13 billion, most of which is money sent directly to states.

The budget blueprint is just the beginning of a long process. While this document shows the administration’s priorities, it is Congress that ultimately passes spending legislation. And lawmakers have their own ideas about what programs should be cut, and which should be kept.

But, if these funding amounts were to stay in place, the federal contribution for special education and related services would be about 16 percent of the excess costs of educating a student with a disability, compared to a general education student.

In 1975, when the federal government passed the law that was to become the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Congress authorized paying states up to 40 percent of the excess costs of educating a student with disabilities, based on national per-pupil expenditures. But in the 40-plus years of the law’s existence, the federal government has never gotten close to meeting that goal. The Trump administration is not different from other administrations in that regard.

Source: Special Education Funding Maintained in Trump Administration Budget Blueprint – On Special Education – Education Week

New Trump Executive Order Could Lead to a Smaller Education Department – Education Week

By Andrew Ujifusa

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for education could lead to significant cuts to staff and various programs, sources have told us. But it’s not the only action on the president’s agenda that could shrink the U.S. Department of Education.

On Monday, Trump released a new executive order that directs each agency leader to submit “recommendations to eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs, and to merge functions” to Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget. The recommendations, which agency head must submit to Mulvaney within 180 days, must consider the following factors, according to the text of the order:

Source: New Trump Executive Order Could Lead to a Smaller Education Department – Politics K-12 – Education Week

What Happens to Education Spending if the Budget Stays in a Holding Pattern – Education Week

By Andrew Ujifusa

Right now, the federal budget is flying in circles. It’s operating on a “continuing resolution” through April 28 that essentially holds fiscal year 2017 spending levels at their fiscal 2016 amounts. Trump recently released a very broad outline of his spending priorities for fiscal 2018 that includes a $54 billion cut from domestic agencies—fiscal 2018 starts in October—although we still don’t know how that 10 percent cut in non-defense discretionary spending would specifically impact the U.S. Department of Education.

But where does that leave fiscal 2017 in terms of education spending? And what happens if Congress decides to apply that continuing resolution to the rest of fiscal 2017 through September? With each passing day, that looks increasingly likely.

Below, we examine how a few programs in the Every Students Succeeds Act would be affected if Congress approves a continuing resolution for the rest of the fiscal 2017.

Source: What Happens to Education Spending if the Budget Stays in a Holding Pattern – Politics K-12 – Education Week

Trump Highlighted This Unusual School Choice Idea Last Night : NPR Ed

By Anya Kamenetz

It’s not clear yet exactly how a program like this could be funded. “There isn’t that much money that is fungible from the federal education budget,” points out Samuel Abrams, an expert in education policy at Teachers College, Columbia University.

There is currently a bill in the House that would replace the major federal education law with block grants, including for vouchers. However, that law was reauthorized with broad bipartisan support in 2015, making such a reversal difficult.

Source: Trump Highlighted This Unusual School Choice Idea Last Night

Common Core in California likely to continue despite Trump opposition | EdSource

By Louis Freedberg and Theresa Harrington

Opposition by President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to the Common Core is unlikely to slow implementation of the new standards in English language arts and math in states like California, where there has been little opposition to the standards.

That is the consensus of education leaders in California from diverse regions of the state, even those in areas of the state where the majority of voters cast their ballots for Trump. One reason is that implementation of the Common Core is well underway in most parts of the state, and reversing its momentum will be difficult, if not impossible, to do.

Voters backed Trump in 26 out of 58 California counties, including Kern County, where Trump received 53 percent of the vote. Kern County Superintendent of Schools Mary Barlow said implementation of the standards in her county is fully underway and “we are seeing a lot of progress.” She noted that despite the pro-Trump sentiment there, “we have had relatively little pushback on the California state standards.”

Source: Common Core in California likely to continue despite Trump opposition | EdSource

Time for Solano school districts to declare ‘safe havens’ – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders on Thursday will cast up or down votes to determine if Solano County’s largest school district will be a “safe haven” for all students.

The board’s decision will come some seven weeks after state schools chief Tom Torlakson released a letter — sent to county and school district superintendents, charter school leaders and principals — encouraging California’s 10,500 public schools be declared safe havens for students and their parents and to remind families about existing laws that protect students’ records from questions about immigration status. Some large districts, Los Angeles Unified and Sacramento City Unified, have already declared themselves to be safe havens, two districts, among many others statewide with sizable populations of Hispanics, students of color, and diverse religious beliefs.

Torlakson’s letter came, of course, after Donald Trump’s election as president in November, following a campaign that promised to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, most of them Hispanic, the latter promise toned down in the wake of nationwide outrage, to booting out only those with criminal records.

Source:  Time for Solano school districts to declare ‘safe havens’ – The Reporter

 

Career and Technical Education Advocates Pushing for Changes Under Trump – Education Week

Andrew Ujifusa

Career and technical education advocates have started their push for a facelift to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act under President Donald Trump.

On Thursday, a coalition of 85 advocacy groups and businesses, ranging from AASA, the School Administrators Association, to Boeing and IBM, sent a letter to the four leaders of the respective House and Senate CTE Caucus urging them to make career and technical education a priority.

“As we consider how federal policy proposals can achieve President Trump’s promise to ‘make America great again’ we urge Congress to support the Perkins Act and allocate adequate resources to ensure our country’s CTE programs can take full advantage of a newly reinvigorated CTE law,” says a portion of the letter, which was written to Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.

Source: Career and Technical Education Advocates Pushing for Changes Under Trump – Politics K-12 – Education Week

3 Ways Public School Teachers Are Uniting To Block Betsy DeVos Confirmation – Forbes

By Zak Ringelstein

Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s nomination for secretary of education — whose confirmation Democrats are hoping to block on Tuesday — has reignited the war over public schools like nothing America has seen in recent years. That’s not to say there haven’t been debates over the education system, in part fueled by films such as 2010’s Waiting for Superman and The Lottery, both focusing on charter schools, activist foundations such as the Walton Family Fund pouring billions into school choice, and politicians such as Jeb Bush portraying charter schools and vouchers as the answer to our educational inequity.

Source: 3 Ways Public School Teachers Are Uniting To Block Betsy DeVos Confirmation

Schools Encouraged to Continue Safe Haven Efforts – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today urged all California public schools to continue “Safe Haven” efforts for students and their families, particularly Muslims and refugees targeted by recent federal actions.

“As a teacher, coach, father, citizen, and leader of California’s public school system, I strongly disagree with President Trump’s recent immigration order and want to make sure that our students and families who are refugees and Muslims feel safe and protected in our schools,” said Torlakson. “California public schools welcome all students regardless of their heritage, religion, ethnicity, background, disability, or sexual orientation.

“Diversity is California’s strength. We do not just welcome diversity. We celebrate it. An ill-conceived presidential executive order is not going to change that.”

Source: Schools Encouraged to Continue Safe Haven Efforts – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

‘Safe haven’ resolution for Fairfield, Suisun schools scores support – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

A resolution declaring the Fairfield-Suisun School District a “safe haven” and reminding families about laws that protect students from questions about their immigration status won support Thursday from trustees and most public speakers.

“Every student is our student no matter the circumstances. Period,” Trustee Jonathan Richardson said.

“Our job is to provide education,” he said. “We’re not the education police.”

Trustee John Silva recalled being sent to Mexico twice because his parents weren’t documented and had to get papers together for the family’s return.

Source: ‘Safe haven’ resolution for Fairfield, Suisun schools scores support

Fairfield-Suisun district leaders to consider possible ‘safe haven’ resolution – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders, when they meet tonight, will devote perhaps two hours before they consider agenda item 18A, a one-line entry that might be overlooked if not for headlines spawned Wednesday by President Donald Trump: his executive order to build a Mexican border wall and plans to indefinitely block Syrian refugees from entering the United States and to initiate a temporary halt on all refugees from the rest of the world.

The seven-member governing board will discuss a proposed resolution to declare the district as a “safe haven” for students, and, if approved, will vote on it at a Feb. 9 meeting.

The trustees’ discussion comes two days after Gov. Jerry Brown’s fiery State of the State address, during which — while railing against several controversial Trump proposals — he noted laws passed to expand protections for illegal immigrants.