By Andrew Ujifusa
Federal lawmakers have struck a spending deal that would boost funding for the U.S. Department of Education to $72.8 billion in discretionary aid, a $1.3 billion increase that would include hundreds of millions of dollars more for big-ticket programs for public schools such as Title I and special education grants.
The fiscal 2020 appropriations bill, which must still be approved by the House and Senate before heading to President Donald Trump, also includes a $550 million increase for Head Start and a $25 million increase for Preschool Development Grants. Other programs to get more money under the deal include Title IV grants for academic enrichment and student supports, English-language acquisition, and after-school programs.
Source: Congress Mostly Snubs DeVos Agenda in Deal Increasing Education Spending – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Shawna De La Rosa
These grants reflect the shift to prevent violence in schools through proactive means like improved mental health services and school climate, rather than hardening schools. Last year, the federal School Safety Commission urged states to take action to physically protect schools, such as removing firearms from at-risk individuals, as well as make it easier for law enforcement and schools to better communicate about potential threats.
Armed school personnel and more metal detectors were among measures discussed at the time, but civil rights advocates countered such measures would only strengthen the school-to-prison pipeline — especially for students of color.
Source: Ed Dept allots $71.6M to boost proactive school safety measures | Education Dive
By Natalie Schwartz
The proposal resulted from a negotiated rulemaking session earlier this year that covered wide-ranging issues in higher education, including accreditation, online education and faith-based schools. Although negotiators reached consensus, some say the Ed Department failed to give consumer protection advocates a seat at the table.
The department’s 400-plus pages of proposed regulations would make it easier for colleges to get program approval, give accreditors more leeway over taking action against institutions, and ease federal review of accrediting bodies.
Source: Ed Dept unveils proposed accreditation rules | Education Dive
By Christina Samuels
An Obama-era Education Department policy relating to racial bias in special education was on, then off, and now is back on again.
The rule was supposed to have gone into effect for the 2018-19 school year but was delayed for two years by the department until a court blocked that move.
The implementation whipsaw is expected to cause problems for states that had relied on the delay of the policy, which relates to disproportional representation of minorities in special education. And these new rules could affect how millions of dollars in federal special education funds are spent at the district level.
Source: Ed. Dept. Reverts to Original Timeline for Rules on Racial Bias in Special Education – On Special Education – Education Week
By Christina Samuels
The U.S. Department of Education will appeal a judge’s ruling that could affect how school districts across the country spend millions of dollars in federal special education money.
The department has wanted to delay the implementation of a rule related to how states monitor their school districts’ identification of minority students for special education, in addition to their discipline or placement in restrictive settings. Districts found to have “significant disproportionality” of minority students in one or more of these areas, compared to white students, must set aside 15 percent of their federal special education funding to spend on remedies.
Source: Education Department to Appeal Decision on Special Education Bias Rule – On Special Education – Education Week
By Christina Samuels
There’s been more than 24 hours of social media furor over the Trump administration’s proposal to cut the federal government’s $18 million contribution to Special Olympics.
But at least some anger also has been directed at a cut that doesn’t really exist, amplified by media outlets who repeated a congressman’s misreading of a budget table. When U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited a House education subcommittee on Tuesday, she was pressed on the budget by Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin. After sparring over Special Olympics, Pocan interrupted DeVos to talk about other programs.
Source: What Special Education Cuts Are Really Proposed in the Trump Budget? – On Special Education – Education Week
By Alyson Klein
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos came into office saying she wanted to slim down the federal role on K-12. By at least one metric, she’s delivered: The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education has lost about 14 percent of its staff since the start of the Trump administration.
So how much does that actually matter to the department’s “customers” (states) and what does it mean for the federal role in protecting vulnerable groups of students?
It depends on who you ask. Some state officials say they often have to wait weeks or months for answers to simple questions, and aren’t getting enough guidance on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
In the past, “You’d reach out to a program officer and you’d get timely responses to inquiries,” said one state official who, like five others interviewed for this article, requested anonymity to speak candidly about interactions with the department. “Now what we’re seeing in some instances is that responses are going unanswered for months at a time.”
Source: What Does a Shrinking Education Department Mean for States and Vulnerable Students? – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Alyson Klein
The U.S. Department of Education Tuesday sought to clear up confusion about how school privacy laws should be interpreted in the context of school safety with the release of a new frequently-asked-questions document that puts previous guidance and technical help on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act all in one place.
The new, comprehensive document, School Resource Officers, School Law Enforcement Units, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), builds on conclusions from the Federal School Safety Commission, which found that school districts seeking to bolster their safety efforts were confused about when and how they could share student information without violating FERPA. President Donald Trump established the school safety commission in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., last February.
Source: School Safety and Student Privacy: Betsy DeVos Seeks to Clarify Law – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Hallie Busta
DeVos continued her department’s deregulation of the for-profit sector last week, when she permanently reinstated federal recognition for the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). The accreditor oversaw the for-profit chains Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute, whose collapses were spurred by the Education Department’s crackdown on the sector under the Obama administration and led to ACICS being stripped of federal recognition in December 2016. Federal recognition gives the accreditor’s colleges access to Title IV funding, which lets it offer students federal financial aid.
Source: House Democrats take aim at DeVos’ Education Department | Education Dive
By Alyson Klein
States: Were you worried you missed the window to apply to the Every Student Succeeds Act’s innovative assessment pilot?
Then, some good news for you: The U.S. Department of Education is inviting more state applications for the testing leeway, which allows states to try out new types of tests in a handful of districts before taking them statewide.
States are being asked to let the department know if they are interested in applying by Oct. 17. Applications are due Dec. 17. More in this notice, published in the Federal Register Monday.
Source: Betsy DeVos Reopens Application Process for ESSA’s Innovative Assessment Pilot – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Alexis Arnold
During their daughter’s freshman year of high school, Paul and Joy Orton spent afternoons describing biology diagrams and illustrations to her. She is blind, and the materials given to her in class were not in a format she could read.
Their daughter had no trouble understanding the material, but she was dependent on her parents. She wanted to learn on her own, like her classmates did.
Her parents successfully lobbied their northern Alabama district for a Braille biology textbook.
“She put her hands on the diagram and said, ‘Oh! I get it now,’ ” Joy Orton says. “It was a really powerful moment that the diagram was helpful to her, but only if it’s tactile or accessible.”
Source: Students Seeking Equal Access To Education May Find Federal Help Harder To Come By : NPR Ed : NPR
California State Board of Education President Michael W. Kirst and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has approved California’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan.
“Given the differences between federal and state law, the plan approved by Secretary DeVos today represents the best possible outcome of our discussions with U.S. Department of Education staff,” Kirst said. “California is a national leader in supporting students with extra needs, providing local control over spending, encouraging community participation in schools, and releasing critical information on measures that indicate student success. Our ESSA plan allows that work to continue.”
Torlakson agreed: “California has the most ambitious plan in the nation to give additional resources to students with the greatest needs as we prepare all students for college and 21st century careers. The ESSA plan approved today will support those efforts.”
Signed by President Obama in 2015, ESSA requires every state that receives federal money for low-income students and English learners to submit and receive approval of a plan for managing and using the funds.
Source: State ESSA Plan Approved – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By Christina Samuels
The U.S. Department of Education is delaying, by two years, implementation of a rule that would require states to take a closer look at how school districts identify and serve minority students with disabilities.
The “Equity in IDEA” rule, issued by the Obama administration in December 2016, would have gone into effect for the 2018-19 school year. It created a new process for states to follow when they monitor how districts identify minority students for special education, discipline them, or place them in restrictive classroom settings.
The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act requires this monitoring. Districts found to have “significant disproportionality” in one or more of these areas must set aside 15 percent of their federal special education funding to spend on remedies.
States have always been in charge of determining how significant a problem must be before it merits the set-aside. And, just a fraction of the nation’s school districts have ever been identified as having problems severe enough to require federal dollars to remedy. (About 3 percent of districts were identified in the 2015-16 school year.)
Source: Special Education Bias Rule Put on Hold for Two Years by DeVos Team – On Special Education – Education Week
The White House is considering a massive reorganization of the federal government with a particular focus on agencies that deal with food, social services and education. The plan was announced on Thursday. And one part that stood out to us was the proposal to merge the Department of Education with the Labor Department to focus on workforce readiness.
Now President Trump is not the first Republican to hope to abolish the Department of Education, just the latest. We wanted to know more about the history, so we called Alyson Klein of Education Week, and she started by pointing out that many of the Education Department’s programs predate its creation by President Carter in 1980.
Source: A History Of The Department Of Education : NPR
By Cory Turner
Lawmakers have asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about an NPR report about a troubled grant program for public school teachers. Here’s NPR’s Cory Turner.
CORY TURNER, BYLINE: It’s called the TEACH Grant Program, and it’s supposed to give teachers money for college or a master’s degree if they promise to teach a high-need subject like math in a low-income school for four years. But NPR revealed that for years now, potentially thousands of teachers have had their grants converted to loans with interest because of minor paperwork problems. Kaitlyn McCollum, a high school teacher in Columbia, Tenn., will never forget the day she got the letter in the mail.
Source: Education Secretary DeVos Acknowledges Problems With Teacher Grant Program : NPR
The State Board of Education today unanimously approved revisions to California’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plan, a document that outlines the use and management of $2.4 billion in federal assistance to the state’s neediest students. California’s revised plan now moves on to the U.S. Department of Education for approval.
Every state that receives funding under ESSA is required to submit a plan to the federal government that meets federal statutory requirements.
California’s ESSA plan has been in development for more than two years with input from thousands of Californians. The revised plan affirms California’s commitment to the state’s broad overhaul of school funding and accountability ushered in by the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which provides an extra $10.1 billion annually to districts that serve low-income students, English learners, and foster youth. LCFF also gives local communities the authority to decide for themselves how best to allocate funding to address local needs.
“Because California is on the right track, it was important to work with the federal government to develop an ESSA plan that complements our state system but doesn’t drive it,” said State Board President Michael W. Kirst, a Stanford professor emeritus. “I am pleased that we have achieved that balance.”
Source: SBE Adopts Revised Every Student Succeeds Act Plan – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By Andrew Ujifusa
The new federal spending levels recently approved by President Donald Trump include a $2.6 billion boost for the U.S. Department of Education. But what’s the story behind that number?
Big programs intended for disadvantaged students, special education, and career and technical education are getting significant boosts. Title IV, a big block grant that can be spent on various initiatives, got a nearly three-fold increase. However, it’s not just that the major line items got increases. Several smaller programs that deal with magnet schools, arts in education, and the Special Olympics got more money too.
In fact, we could only find one K-12 program in the Education Department’s new budget that is getting less money in fiscal 2018 than it did in fiscal 2017.
Source: Meet the Only K-12 Education Program to Get Cut in the Spending Bill Trump Signed – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Mary Emily O’Hara
President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday aimed at decreasing the role of the federal government in education while giving states and local school districts more power over decision-making.
Trump called the called order, which directs Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to study federal overreach in education, “another critical step to restoring local control, which is so important.”
“We know that local communities do it best and know it best,” the president said as he stood flanked by DeVos, Vice President Mike Pence, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and others.
Source: Trump Signs Executive Order Reviewing Federal Role in Education
School districts affected by last year’s wildfire are now able to apply for $2 million in federal assistance.
The wildfires of October 2017 devastated schools in Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sonoma, and Yuba counties.
The federal assistance comes from a School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Project SERV funding may be used to reimburse Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) for select expenses incurred as they worked quickly to reopen their respective schools last year.
“Many of these districts suffered widespread school closures, massive displacement of students and staff, and devastating losses from these horrific fires,” said State Superintendent Tom Torlakson. “We are extremely grateful for the U.S. Department of Education’s support. These funds will assist in the ongoing recovery for these schools and help provide a continued sense of safety and security.”
Source: US Dept of Ed Gives Cali $2 Million for Wildfire Relief | CalSchoolNews.org
By Andrew Ujifusa
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is headed back to the Hill.
On Tuesday morning, DeVos will pitch the Trump administration’s fiscal 2019 budget plan for the Department of Education to the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees federal money for K-12. It’s a safe bet that DeVos’ public appearance before lawmakers will draw a crowd, given the hub-bub over her “60 Minutes” interview a week ago.
So what else can we expect besides the hot glare of the spotlight? Be sure to watch these three elements of the hearing:
1) Cuts Have Come Back
What’s changed between last year’s Trump budget request for education and this year’s? Aside from the total amount desired for the Education Department, not a ton. A lot was made last year about the Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 request to cut over $9 billion from the department, or about 13.5 percent. This year, the Trump team wants to cut 5 percent from DeVos’ department.
Source: Betsy DeVos Is About to Defend Her Budget. Keep These Three Things in Mind – Politics K-12 – Education Week