Wiley College President Herman Felton (UNCF photo)
Tuesday, April 9, Herman Felton, Ph.D., president and CEO of Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, provided testimony before the House panel that decides the funding levels for all federal education programs. The House Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee received public witness testimony from only 24 individuals to inform their crafting of the upcoming bill to fund the government for fiscal year 2020. The remarks provided by Dr. Felton focused on the funding and national benefits of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
A Marine Corps veteran and lifelong educator, Dr. Felton’s testimony was the first of the afternoon to receive bi-partisan support from both Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member Tom J. Cole (R-OK). The funding leaders commended Wiley College (a UNCF-member institution) and similar HBCUs, for their work with first-generation college students, specifically for being an integral part of the American higher education fabric for decades. Chairwoman DeLauro added, concerning the $39 billion National Institutes of Health (NIH), “We will be sure that the center of our discussion and debate will be that we strengthen HBCUs.” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) who introduced Dr. Felton to the Subcommittee prior to his testimony, noted that funding recommendations in Dr. Felton’s testimony “just make sense.”
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) worked with Congress to garner the opportunity for HBCUs to be represented in today’s proceedings. Dr. Felton echoed the priorities laid out by UNCF’s president and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax during the organization’s inaugural “State of the HBCUs Address” on March 5, including:
Increase funding for the discretionary “Strengthening HBCUs” Program to $375 million ($93 million increase over FY 2019);
Reauthorize the mandatory “Strengthening HBCUs” Program this year;
Fund the HBCU Capital Finance Program, including support for the deferment authority;
Double the Pell Grant award and support Second Chance Pell; and
Support funding to produce more African American health professionals and researchers, including at NIH.
“What we witnessed today was history,” commented Lodriguez V. Murray, UNCF’s vice president for public policy and government affairs. “One of our HBCU member presidents delivered remarks about the needs of all HBCUs and their students, weaving in the history of Wiley College. The goals are clear: increase resources necessary for the Pell-eligible and first-generation college students who have found an HBCU education to be a necessity; and allot the funding necessary for HBCUs to continue to remain competitive and thrive.”
Murray concluded, “The reception Dr. Felton received at the hearing showed, once again, that when we take a positive proactive agenda to Capitol Hill, bipartisanship is the response.”
Capitol Hill’s budget arm says that among the many options federal lawmakers have for cutting the budget deficit, they could consider eliminating Head Start and federally supported school meal programs.
The Congressional Budget Office’s “Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2019 to 2028” is the latest in a series of reports the office releases to help lawmakers consider options for reducing the federal deficit, which in fiscal 2018 stood at $778 billion, or 3.8 percent of gross domestic product. There are a total of 121 possibilities the CBO lists for reducing the deficit, and there are a few programs listed that education policy advocates and observers might be interested in. The report also explores changes to Pell Grants and certain loan forgiveness programs available to teachers.
Keep in mind that this report from the CBO doesn’t require or place any burden on Congress to do anything—the office is just listing options for lawmakers to consider. Also: The CBO isn’t explicitly endorsing any of these options.
Child Nutrition Programs
Instead of the current funding and structure provided to school meal programs, the CBO outlines an approach familiar to many who deal with education policy and politics: block grants.
“This option would convert SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps] and the child nutrition programs to separate, smaller block grants to the states beginning in October 2019. The block grants would provide a set amount of funding to states each year, and states would be allowed to make significant changes to the structure of the programs,” the report states.
The budget analysts say this approach would reduce total spending on child nutrition programs by $88 billion, while savings for SNAP would be $160 million over the same time period. Spending on child nutrition programs like school lunch totaled $23 billion in fiscal 2018…
Read full article click here, may require ED Week subscription
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, expressed concerns about the virtual charters’ student-teacher ratios, students’ performance compared to their peers in traditional public schools, and their transparency when it comes to issues like executive pay and advertising.
“Accountability models, funding formulas, and attendance policies were created for brick-and-mortar schools, and yet, state funding and accountability policies have not kept pace with the growth of virtual charter schools,” Brown and Murray wrote to the agency.
Virtual charters have been going through a very difficult stretch. There’s intense skepticism about their performance and management practices. In Brown’s own state of Ohio, for example, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow disintegrated after a lengthy court battle over its claims about student enrollment. (Brown and Murray mentioned the ECOT fallout in their letter). Cyber charters in states like Georgia and New Mexico have also struggled to stay open.
Read the full article here. May require an Education Week subscription.
U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, who is in a fierce race for the Senate, has hit his opponent, Republican Sen.Ted Cruz, for wanting to take money away from public schools, and for being the “deciding vote” in favor of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ confirmation.
“At a time when nearly half of the school teachers in Texas are working a second job just to make ends meet, Ted Cruz wants to take our public tax dollars out of their classrooms, turn them into vouchers,” O’Rourke says in a new campaign ad. “He was the deciding vote in putting Betsy DeVos in charge of our children’s public education. I want to pay teachers a living wage. I want to allow them to teach to the child, and not to the test. And when they retire, I want it to be a retirement of dignity. Those public educators have been there for us. Now it’s time to be there for them.”
It’s true that Cruz has been a big proponent of private school vouchers. And he was the author of a provision in the new tax law that allows families to use 529 college-savings plans for K-12 private schools.
After the unveil of explosive reportswhereU.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, openly considered allowing schools to use federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) funding, to purchase firearms and provide firearm training to educators, members of theLeadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (TLC) have stepped in with an open letterto the same administrator—in protest.
Comprised of over 200 national organizations working together to promote and protect civil and human rights of all people, the open TLC letter was released on Sep. 17, demanding that “the department immediately publicly clarify, that ESSA funds could not be used for weapons.”
“On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights… we write to share our significant concern regarding the Department’s reported contemplation of the use of Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants provided to states under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for purchasing firearms and firearms training for school staff,” the letter stated.
Questioning the department’s intent, the letter further went on to the explore the risks of increased violence that this option could potentially cause.
“The Department’s consideration of this use for the funding is inconsistent with both congressional intent and evidence-based educational practices, working against ESSA’s purpose to ‘provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close achievement gaps.’ Having more firearms in schools would expose children and school staff to a greater risk of gun violence and make everyone in schools less safe,” the letter continued.
Inher letter to Congress, DeVos stated that she would not take “any action concerning the purchase of firearms or firearms training for school staff,” however, Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League and a member of TLC, reflected that an ‘option’ such as this, should have never even been presented.
“This is whole idea is just lousy and makes no sense,” Morial said. “ESSA money should be used to by books and give disadvantaged youth a chance at better education. African Americans already face large amounts of gun violence outside of school, so to even propose such an idea is an added insult to injury.”
“School should be a safe haven for students and there is not one scant of evidence that shows children are safer around guns. The National Urban League does not want or support this,” Morial continued.
“We simply cannot afford to use federal education dollars that are intended for teaching and learning to pay for weapons that will compromise our schools and communities,” New York Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia wrote.
In a report done by CNN, Black Americans (particularly males), were shown to be more likely to die and to be involved with gun violence over their White counterparts, a startling statistic that the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF), an legal organization devoted to fighting for racial justice,fears might spill into the classroom, should states actively pursue such an option.
“We need the department of education to immediately and publicly clarify, that ESSA funds cannot be used for weapons,” Nicole Dooley, a LDF general counsel member said. “The only thing that this option will do is place more students at risk, especially African Americans, who experience implicit bias daily. The purpose of ESSA is to improve educational opportunities, not to create more dangerous practices.”
In an Aug. 6letter to the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, which formally revoked the Obama-era guidance in early July, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the top Democrat on Senate Judiciary Committee, also demanded to know how the decision to revoke the guidance was reached. The two senators also asked for a list of complaints of discrimination based on race and ethnicity filed against K-12 and postsecondary institutions with the Education Department’s office for civil rights since the start of 2016.
In their joint letter withdrawing the guidance, the Trump Education and Justice Departments told schools that the Obama administration’s guidance advocated for “policy preferences and positions beyond the requirements of the Constitution” and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Read full article click here, may require ED Week subscription
Researchers and advocates who support school integration had a message on Capitol Hill Thursday: There are several setbacks to creating integrated schools, but new opportunities as well.
In a panel discussion on integration here hosted by the National Coalition for School Diversity, they highlighted the downside of what they characterized as the Trump administration’s recent U-turn on diversity efforts, court rulings that have undermined local desegregation efforts, as well as what they said was the resegregation of America’s schools.
But they also highlighted additional funding for the office for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, as well as efforts in Congress to remove barriers to integration efforts.
Action on Capitol Hill to promote integration includes House and Senate education appropriations bills for fiscal 2019 that for the first time since the 1970s removes language barring federal funding from being used for transportation to create more integrated schools.
“The threats that we’re facing right now … are not the same threats as the massive resistance of the 1960s. They are shape-shifting,” said Damon Hewitt, the executive director of the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, who moderated the panel. “They threaten to erase the dream of [Brown v. Board of Education].”
However, the Trump administration has a very different approach to these issues. It scrapped that $12 million grant program, for example. And more recently, the Trump Education and Justice Departments withdrew Obama-era guidance on racial diversity in education because they said it went beyond what the Constitution requires—advocates at the panel singled out that move in particular for criticism.
Read full article click here, may require ED Week subscription
First, some background: The House vote last week dealt with a $15 billion “rescissions” package proposed earlier this year by President Donald Trump. The Trump team is seeking to slash the government’s bottom line—even though Trump signed a big spending increase into law for fiscal 2018. Most of the cuts would come from unspent federal funds.
Nearly half of that rescissions package, part of a bill that the House passed 210-206, comes from CHIP, which provides health care to kids from low-income families. As we reported earlier this year, $5.1 billion of the rescission would come out of a part of CHIP that reimburses states for certain expenses. Roughly $2 billion would be cut from CHIP reserves, which help states deal with higher-than-expected enrollment in the program. The Trump team has argued this unspent money is no longer needed. The rescissions would not impact current payments to states.
But when the Republican-controlled House moved to approve the rescission package, including the CHIP cut, opponents of the Trump administration’s move re-upped their previous criticisms of the proposal.
The rescission package included a $1.9 billion, or 80 percent, raid on the CHIP Child Enrollment Contingency Fund, while in the middle of the fiscal year. Again, the CHIP contingency fund is part of a fragile financing mechanism that protects the health coverage of children. (16)
House Democrats are inviting students affected by school shootings to participate in an internship program on Capitol Hill, where they will work on issues related to violence prevention.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley from New York announced the Gun Safety Internship Program on Thursday.
“My colleagues and I are thrilled to invite these young men and women to intern on Capitol Hill this summer and bring their energy and dedication to Congress,” he tweeted.
The Congressman is working with Vice Chair Linda Sánchez from California, Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Mike Thompson from California and Rep. Ted Deutch from Florida to lead the effort.
The secretary will speak to lawmakers on the House education committee about the “policies and priorities” of the U.S. Department of Education. Compared to her predecessors, DeVos hasn’t been on Capitol Hill a lot during her roughly 16 months as education secretary, at least in terms of public appearances: She’s testified before spending committies three times, and once to the Senate education committee for her rocky confirmation hearing in January 2017. Tuesday’s hearing would be the first time she’s testified before the House committee that deals with K-12 issues.
DeVos has met privately a few times recently with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. But education committee lawmakers haven’t had the chance to ask DeVos detailed questions in public about her track record. In fact, on Friday, House committee Democrats sent out a fact sheet pointing out that her predecessors spent significantly more time testifying to Congress over comparable periods of time. In former Secretary Arne Duncan’s first 15 months, for example, he testified to Congress nine times.
With a big House election in November coming up, Dems on Tuesday might be particularly eager to trip DeVos up during her testimony and spin what they see as embarassing sound bites into campaign ads.
So what might lawmakers ask DeVos? Democrats in particular will have pointed questions for her in the name of opposition party oversight; here are a few prominent items that might come up…
Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.