MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” is the signature slogan at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), led by President and CEO Michael L. Lomax.
Local UNCF offices across the country are mandated to raise funds for the Washington, D.C. office where scholarship funding for students is distributed. Funding comes from varying sources including special events, workplace campaigns, and individuals who are committed to the mission of UNCF.
Laverne McCartney-Knighton took on the initiative of helping UNCF raise scholarship funds in June 2017 as the new regional development director of the Minneapolis location. With 24 office locations in the Twin Cities, each is poised to bring in substantial funding to help students across the nation attend colleges. Since raised funds are distributed through the Washington, D.C. office, local offices can focus on fundraising.
McCartney-Knighton says, “Most of what we do is relational. We build relationships with key executives within corporations such as Medtronic Foundation, Cargill, 3M and so forth.” McCartney admits that this is her first time as a development director but points out that her previous positions have been in developing relationships with companies.
After 13 years at Target Corporation as a community relations executive for cities such as Chicago, Seattle and Detroit, McCartney went to work for a small nonprofit organization in the Twin Cities before taking the position at UNCF.
Here in the Twin Cities, UNCF’s two major funding events are, first, the Marin Luther King breakfast, a fundraiser through a partnership with General Mills that happens yearly on MLK Day. The other major fundraiser is the Twin Cities Masked Ball, which takes place in May of each year and in 2016 raised $770,000 in scholarship funds for students in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. In other states this is called the Mayor’s Masked Ball, and even with these large amounts raised, according to UNCF’s website the funds provide scholarships to only one out of 10 students who apply.
UNCF is clear on its brochure that African Americans continue to show among the lowest rates of college attendance “…due to high costs of college compared to lower African American income levels and to the fact that many African Americans are not given the education before college for success in college.” Students not only receive funding to pay for tuition but can also earn scholarships towards textbooks, housing and other college expenses.
The myth of UNCF, founded in 1944, is that it only provides scholarships to students attending HBCUs. Although it significantly supports students attending one of its 37 member HBCUs, UNCF provides its scholarships to any low-income students regardless of race or ethnicity. In 2017 at the MLK Legacy Scholarship dinner, six students received funds to attend their college of choice.
One recipient, Shamarr McKinney-VanBuren, knew she wanted to stay close to home for college as the first in her family to attend. McKinney-VanBuren applied to three other in-state colleges and chose Augsburg College in Minneapolis to study computer science.
Born and raised in the Twin Cities, McKinney-VanBuren said, “This is a brand new journey for me and my family. As a first-generation college student, I was looking for ways to pay for college and came across UNCF online.”
The Gates Millennium Scholars Programs, one of UNCF’s largest funders, supports all students of color attending any college in the United States. Another myth about UNCF, due to lack of graduate-level programs at its 37 HBCUs, is that scholarships aren’t given out towards master’s and doctoral programs. Koch Scholars started in 2014 at UNCF with a $25 million dollar grant from Koch Industries, Inc.
UNCF has a national program called the Empower Me Tour that kicks off yearly in September coinciding with the school year; the Minneapolis Empower Me Tour is held at the Minneapolis Convention Center. In 2016 Caine Knuckles, a graduate of Southwest High School, left the Convention Center with a $50,000 scholarship to Philander Smith College and is now in his freshman year after being accepted at three HBCU, according to Southwest Journal.
Many students who attend this event across the nation get accepted to HBCUs on the spot, having done work prior to the event through their public high schools in making sure they are armed with their résumés and academic transcripts.
UNCF provides a host of scholarship funds for students of color who want to attend a college in the United States at any level of their academic career.
Visit www.uncf.org to scroll through all scholarships and requirements. For more information, visit Health Fair 11’s website at www.healthfair11.org. This story is made possible by a grant from the Medtronic Foundation.
One thing we’ll keep stressing again and again this week: how far federal policy has moved since the days of the No Child Left Behind Act (ESSA’s predecessor). Read on.
So, what kinds of goals are states setting?
Some states chose fixed goals that aim for all students, and all subgroups of vulnerable students, such as those qualifying for subsidized school lunches or English-language learners, to reach the same target (such as 80 percent proficiency). What’s nice about this kind of goal is that it sets the same endpoint, making it easier to see over time how achievement gaps are expected to close. States in this category include: Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Mississippi, (grades 3-8 only), Ohio, Minnesota, New York, Rhode island, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.
The U.S. Department of Education is cranking out responses to state’s plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act at a fast and furious pace. The latest states to hear back are: Hawaii, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. (Scroll down to see which other states have gotten feedback and who has been approved.)
All five states, whose feedback letters were released Thursday, have work to do on the nuts-and-bolts of the accountability plans, their ideas for identifying and fixing schools, and more. Here’s a quick look at some highlights of the responses. Click on the state name to read the full letter.
Hawaii: The department wants the Aloha State to identify languages other than English spoken by a significant number of students. States must “make every effort” to offer tests in those languages, according to ESSA. And Hawaii needs to be more specific about what it will take for a school to get out of low-performing status. Right now, Hawaii says those schools need to make “significant improvement,” but it doesn’t say what that means. Hawaii also needs to make sure disadvantaged and minority students have access to their fair share of qualified teachers.
Kentucky: Kentucky needs to make sure that its English-language proficiency indicator stands alone, right now, it’s lumped in with other indicators in the state’s accountability system. The state also needs to make clear that it is targeting schools as “chronically underperforming” because of the performance of historically overlooked groups of students and not for another reason. And Kentucky cannot include writing test scores as part of a school’s overall “academic achievement” score, because those tests aren’t offered in every grade…
Read the full story here: May require an Education Week subscription.
…on to our next question, which deals with ESSA funding. It comes from Sarah Boder, the director of policy & affiliate relations at the North American Association of Environmental Education.
Boder wants to know: “What’s the latest timeline for distribution of Title IVA funds to states? Are they able to receive funds as soon as their plans are approved? Do you have any sense of how many states will opt to administer those grants competitively, given the smaller appropriation?”
First off, what exactly is Title IV? And what does Boder mean by a “smaller appropriation”?
ESSA cut dozens of programs in the U.S. Department of Education and combined them into one giant block grant districts can use for everything from safety and health programs to arts education to Advanced Placement course fees. The program was supposed to get about $1.6 million annually, but Congress only provided $400 million for fiscal 2017. To help districts get more bang for their buck, lawmakers gave states the option to compete out the funds. They could also choose to dole them out by formula, with the goal of giving each district at least $10,000…
Along with the various cuts to the U.S. Department of Education’s budget proposed by President Donald Trump, the other part of Trump’s fiscal 2018 spending plan getting a lot of attention is the $1 billion the president wants to add to Title I in order to encourage open enrollment in public schools. There are a lot of questions about how that, along with many other parts of Trump’s education budget blueprint, would work. Let’s explore some of them.
First, it’s important to point out this increase isn’t necessarily and strictly a $1 billion bump for Title I. The budget says it’s an increase from the $14.9 billion that Title I grants technically get now. But ESSA gets rid of the Obama-era School Improvement Grants and instead shifts that money over to a portion of Title I money states can set aside for their own school improvement activities. That means that once Congress gets around to doing a regular fiscal year budget, Title I is already slated to rise to $15.4 billion.
So once (or if, for you pessimists out there) that happens, Trump’s proposed Title I funding increase would only be roughly $500 million…
For decades, district leaders have been clamoring for more say over how they spend their federal money. And when the Every Student Succeeds Act passed back in 2015, it looked like they had finally gotten their wish: a brand-new $1.6 billion block grant that could be used for computer science initiatives, suicide prevention, new band instruments, and almost anything else that could improve students’ well-being or provide them with a well-rounded education.
But, for now at least, it looks like most district officials will only get a small sliver of the funding they had hoped for, putting the block grants’ effectiveness and future in doubt.
The Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, or Title IV of ESSA, only received about a quarter of the funding the law recommends, $400 million for the 2017-18 school year, when ESSA will be fully in place for the first time…
By: Michelle Croft and Richard Lee ACT Research and Policy
Despite (or because of) the federal requirement that all students in certain grades participate in statewide achievement testing, stories of parents opting their student out of the testing gained national attention in the media in the spring of 2015. Ultimately, twelve states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin—received a notice from the U.S. Department of Education that they needed to create a plan to reduce opt-outs due to low participation rates.
When statewide testing came in spring 2016, there were more stories of opt-outs, and information about districts failing to meet participation requirements will follow in the coming months.3 Early reports from New York indicate that 21% of students in grades 3–8 opted out in 2016, which was slightly more than the prior year. (See attached PDF below for reference information.)
Participation Rate Requirements
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (both the No Child Left Behind and the Every Student Succeeds authorizations) requires that all students annually participate in statewide achievement testing in mathematics and English in grades 3–8 and high school as well as science in certain grade spans. Ninety-five percent of students at the state, district, and school level must participate; otherwise there is a range of consequences.
Under the No Child Left Behind authorization, the school would automatically fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress if the school—or subgroups of students within the school—did not meet the participation rate requirement. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states with greater flexibility to determine how to incorporate the participation rate into the state’s accountability system. However, in proposed regulations, the state will need to take certain actions such as lowering the school’s rating in the state’s accountability system or identifying the school for targeted support or improvement, if all students or one or more student subgroups do not meet the 95% participation rate.
Michelle Croft is a principal research associate in Public Affairs at ACT. Richard Lee is a senior analyst in Public Affairs at ACT.
This report highlights significant investments made by both Republican and Democratic policymakers in state-funded pre-k programs for the fourth year in a row. In the 2015-16 budget year, 32 states and the District of Columbia raised funding levels of pre-k programs. This increased support for preschool funding came from both sides of the aisle–22 states with Republican governors and 10 states with Democratic governors, plus the District of Columbia.
In contrast, only five states with Republican governors and three states with Democratic governors decreased their pre-k funding.
Overall, state funding of pre-k programs across the 50 states and the District of Columbia increased by nearly $755 million, or 12 percent over 2014-15. While this progress is promising, there is still work to be done to set children on the path to academic success early in life. Still, less than half of preschool-aged students have access to pre-k programs.
Increasing the number of students in high-quality preschool programs is broadly viewed as a way to set young learners on a path to a secure economic future and stable workforce. This report includes several state examples and an overview of the pre-k programs they have in place. Data tables on total state pre-K funding and state pre-kindergarten funding by program are appended. [Megan Carolan contributed to this publication.]
Betsy DeVos’ nomination for education secretary is headed to the full Senate for a vote. Republicans outnumber Democrats in the chamber by 52 to 48, so on a party line vote DeVos should be safe. But where could anti-DeVos forces pick up a crucial third vote against the nominee and overcome the tiebreaker vote held by Vice President Mike Pence? They could look to senators who’ve expressed skepticism about a crucial education policy priority for DeVos: school choice.
We know that two GOP lawmakers on the Senate education committee, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have said they’re concerned about DeVos and haven’t committed to voting for her in the full Senate.
First, let’s assume all 48 Democrats vote against DeVos. Let’s also assume, solely for the sake of argument, that Collins and Murkowski ultimately vote against DeVos. (They very well may not.) That makes it 50-50. So one more vote against DeVos eliminates Pence as a tiebreaker vote and dooms DeVos’ nomination. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., has been confirmed by the Senate judiciary committee to be attorney general, but he hasn’t been confirmed by the full Senate. So as of now, he can still vote on DeVos…