A federal panel led by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that’s charged with making policy recommendations on school shootings in the wake of the massacre at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School last Valentine’s Day promised to have its report out by the end of the year. That means we will see the commission’s report any day now.
So what do we already know about what may be in it? And what should we be watching for? Here’s your quick preview.
The report will almost certainly call for scrapping the Obama administration’s 2014 guidance dealing with discipline disparities. So what happens next?
Almost every advocate watching the commission believes it will recommend ditching Obama guidance, jointly issued by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice. (The Washington Post reported that this is a for-sure thing last week.) The directive put schools on notice that they may be found in violation of federal civil rights laws if they enforce intentionally discriminatory rules or if their policies lead to disproportionately higher rates of discipline for students in one racial group, even if those policies were written without discriminatory intent. You can read about the arguments for and against the guidance here.
The big question will be, how do school districts react to the change? How many will decide to keep using the practices they set up to respond to the guidance, which supporters say has helped school districts revise their discipline policies to benefit of all kids? And how many will decide to make changes, in part because some educators say the guidance has hamstrung local decision-making on discipline? And will Democrats in Congress, who will control the House as of January, move to somehow formalize the guidance in law? It’s unlikely that would pass a Republican-controlled Senate, but it would send a message and keep the debate going in Washington.
What does the report say about arming teachers and about guns in general?
President Donald Trump said that the massacre at Stoneman Douglas might not have been as bad if educators had been armed. “A teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened,” Trump said, referring to Nikolas Cruz, the former student who is accused of the slayings.
Since this is Trump’s commission, after all, it’s hard to imagine the report would come out against arming teachers. But it’s an open question how strong the language will be on this topic. Will the report encourage districts to arm educators, and point out that, under the department’s interpretation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, federal funds can be used to arm educators? (Democrats who helped write the law have a different take.)…
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Despite past pledges to shrink or eliminate the U.S. Department of Education, the spending bill that President Donald Trump signed into law provides a small boost to the department’s budget for this fiscal year.
The increase of $581 million for fiscal 2019 brings the Education Department budget to roughly $71.5 billion. It’s the second year in a row Trump has agreed to boost federal education spending—last March, Trump approved spending levels that increased the budget by $2.6 billion for fiscal 2018.
The spending deal for fiscal 2019, signed late last month, includes relatively small increases for Title I (the main federal education program for disadvantaged students), special education, charter schools, career and technical education, and other programs. Although fiscal 2019 began on Oct. 1, the agreement mostly impacts the 2019-20 school year.
In addition to Education Department programs, funding for Head Start—which is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services—now stands at $10.1 billion, a $240 million increase from fiscal 2018. And Preschool Development Grants, also run by HHS, are level-funded at $250 million.
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The office of nonpublic education, which was previously part of the soon-to-be-defunct office of innovation and improvement, will now report directly to the office of the secretary. DeVos is a longtime advocate for vouchers, tax credit scholarships, and other forms of private school choice.
That move and other reorganization changes were first reported by Politico.
DeVos is also planning to move the department’s budget office, which she has reportedly sought to eliminate, into a new office of finance and operations. That office’s other jobs will include finance, accounting, budgets, contract management, personnel, business data analysis and more.
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After years of being blamed for the problems in schools, teachers are now being held up as victims of a broken system. How did the pendulum swing so quickly?
For years, teachers continually heard the message that they were the root of problems in schools. But in a matter of months, the public narrative has shifted: The nation is increasingly concerned about teachers’ low salaries and challenging working conditions.
Teachers, it seems, are no longer bad actors ruining schools—they’re victims of an unfair system, and the only hope for saving kids.
Before, “there seemed to be a lot of teacher blaming going on,” said David Labaree, a professor emeritus at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. “You now see a surprising degree of growing sympathy for teachers.”
Published: July 17, 2018, Updated: July 17, 2018 at 06:37 PM
What to do?
President Donald Trump’s administration has in many ways held up Florida’s education system as a model for the nation. It’s hired many former Florida education officials to top jobs in its own education department.
Yet Florida’s proposed plan to meet federal Every Student Succeeds Act standards is now the only one that remains unapproved by Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The creation of a Department of Education and the Workforce, which the administration proposed June 21, aims to help the nation’s schools catch up to counterparts in other countries that handle both issues in one agency, including some that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited on a recent swing through Europe.
“I saw such approaches during my first international trip as the U.S. secretary of education to schools in Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom,” DeVos wrote in an Education Week commentary that appears in this issue. “Each country takes a holistic approach to education to prepare students for career and life success…”
But congressional Democrats overwhelmingly panned the proposal, which would almost certainly need their votes to pass. Republicans said the idea is worthy of consideration but haven’t introduced legislation to make it a reality.
President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP) student recipients are selected annually by their school principal. This year, PEAP provided individual recognition to nearly 3 million graduates (at the elementary, middle and high school level) across the nation at more than 30,000 public, private and military schools from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Outlying Areas — American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands — and American military bases abroad.
Students received a certificate signed by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Schools also received letters from the President and the Secretary.
The Department encourages schools to be on the lookout for 2018-19 school year materials from PEAP program partners: the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). The materials outline how to order certificates to award students before the end of the school year. Certificates are FREE, and there is no limit.
Please review the participant list at to see if your school is currently involved. If not, contact your local school/principal and urge them to participate for the upcoming school year.
PEAP was founded in 1983. Every year since then, the program has provided principals with the opportunity to recognize students who meet high standards of academic excellence, as well as those who have given their best effort, often overcoming obstacles in their learning. Eligible graduating K-12 students are selected by their principal under two categories.
The President’s Award for Educational Excellence – This award recognizes academic success in the classroom. To be eligible, students must meet a few academic requirements, including a high grade point average or other school-set criteria and a choice of either state test performance or teacher recommendations.
The President’s Award for Educational Achievement – This award recognizes students that show outstanding educational growth, improvement, commitment, or intellectual development in their subjects but do not meet the academic criteria above. Its purpose is to encourage and reward students who give their best effort, often in the face of special obstacles, based on criteria developed at each school.
The awards were presented to students by their fifth-grade homeroom teachers: Mrs. Sullivan, Mrs. Black, Mrs. Staggs, Miss Dillon, and Ms. Thompson.
Ombudsman Alternative Center in Mississippi serves high school-age students in Natchez School District who meet criterion and can take classes at their own pace to earn their high school diploma. Two Natchez students were recognized by PEAP this year, receiving certificates for their academic achievements. Principal Allison Jowers announced the students’ awards in May at the local board meeting, saying both students had earned the honors through their hard work and dedication to education. Jaila Queen, a freshman, earned the academic excellence award, while Briana White, a senior, earned the educational achievement award.
Two Natchez students Jaila Queen (left) and Briana White (right) received awards signed by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for their academic success this year.
The program also receives great feedback throughout the year. From Long Pond Schoolin New Jersey, which celebrated their students’ achievement on May 24: “This is the 34thyear that Long Pond has participated in this program, and it’s really exciting to be part of it.” Principal Bryan Fleming closed the event with the reading of the anonymous poem “Just One,” which speaks of the many ways a small effort can spark greatness. The poem ends with the lines, “One life can make a difference, that one life could be you.”
Frances Hopkins is director of the President’s Education Awards Program at the U.S. Department of Education.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ team is working on guidance to help districts and states puzzle through changes to a key spending rule—known as “supplement-not-supplant”—in the Every Student Succeeds Act, multiple education advocatessay.
ESSA made some key changes to “supplement not supplant” that says federal Title I funds targeted at low-income students must be in addition to, and not take the place of, state and local spending on K-12. And districts and states have questions about how those changes are supposed to work.
The Education Department did not respond to multiple requests to confirm that it would be issuing new guidance on ESSA spending…
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Representatives of President Donald Trump’s school safety commission, which is charged with making recommendations to combat school violence in the wake of February’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and other tragedies, spent the morning at Hebron Harman Elementary School here learning about positive behavioral supports and interventions, a widely-used system to help improve school climate and student behavior.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who chairs the commission, and others heard plenty of discussion of restorative behavior practices in which students resolve conflicts through conversation, common expectations for behavior, and community building circles.
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With race relations and civil rights issues boiling in America, the Gary chapter of the NAACP is calling on residents to take action and become more active in their community engagements more than ever before.
The call comes as the branch prepares to hold its Annual Life Membership Banquet at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 2 at the Genesis Convention Center.
Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the first Black woman to ever hold the position, will be among several distinguished guests to speak.
Lynch will share the guest speaker role with the Honorable Gonzalo P. Curiel, District Judge for the U.S. District Court of Southern California. Branch President Stephen Mays, and Indiana State Senator Eddie Melton, who serves as Honorary Chairman will also be in attendance. Dorothy R. Leavell, also an Honorary Chairperson and publisher of the Crusader Newspaper Group (Gary and Chicago) and Chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), also will attend.
Making this banquet a Who’s Who event will be the President and CEO of NNPA, Benjamin F. Chavis. Earlier this year the NAACP and the NNPA made an unprecedented move to work together and pool their resources to step up the fight to advance and defend the interests of Black America.
The rights of Blacks and minorities in Gary and across the country are imperiled under President Donald Trump, whose populist message “Make America Great Again” has reignited racial tensions and threatened to roll back the civil rights gains that Black America has achieved in the past decades. With the heated mid-term elections in November, the new rules governing the U.S. Census count, the plight of Gary Schools and the state joining a lawsuit against Gary as a welcoming city, NAACP leaders are urging Blacks everywhere to turn up their involvement in politics, education and social issues that have torn apart the Black community in recent years.
With all 435 seats in the U.S. House up for reelection in November, Black voter suppression remains a serious concern in the wake of numerous reports of Russia spreading fake news in the Black community and meddling in the 2016 elections to help elect President Trump. The arrest of two Black men at Starbucks in Philadelphia has sparked a wave of 911 calls on people of color who are unsuspecting victims of racial profiling in restaurants, parks and schools.
“Now is the time to fight. We have come too far to allow decades of hard work, sweat and bloodshed to be vain,” said Leavell. “The Black Press stands by the nation’s oldest civil rights organization in calling on Black America to take their community activism and engagement to the next level. The future of Black America is at stake.”
“The NAACP must remain steadfast, unmovable and never silent about the things that matter,” said Stephen Mays, president of the Gary branch of the NAACP.
At the annual Life Membership Banquet, Lynch and Curiel are expected to address civil rights, immigration and other legal challenges the country is facing under President Donald Trump. Lynch became the nation’s most powerful attorney after her predecessor Eric Holder, the first Black U.S. Attorney General, stepped down in 2015. She was nominated to the position by former President Barack Obama.
Like Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Lynch has a bachelors and J.D. degree from Harvard University.
As head of the U.S. Justice Department, Lynch investigated the practices at several police departments across the country that were accused of racial profiling and police brutality. Days before she left the department in January 2017, Lynch’s department released a scathing report on the Chicago Police Department for its treatment of minorities in the wake of the Laquan McDonald case. Lynch also made headlines after she opposed then FBI Director James Comey, who called for an investigation into the personal emails of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton 11 days before the presidential election in November 2016.
Curiel gained national attention while presiding over two class action lawsuits against Trump University. The president’s university was accused of making “tens of millions” of dollars off its students who were promised a legitimate education and services. Both cases were eventually settled out of court for $25 million.
During his campaign for the White House, Trump repeatedly called Curiel a “hater” and described him as “Spanish” or “Mexican,” suggesting that Curiel was biased because of Mr. Trump’s calls to build a wall along the border to prevent illegal immigration.
Curiel was born in East Chicago, Indiana, the youngest of four children. His parents emigrated from Mascota, a small Mexican town near Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco. Curiel received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University in 1976 and his Juris Doctor from the Indiana University School of Law in 1979.
The NAACP is the largest and oldest civil rights organization in the country. The Gary chapter is one of the largest branches in Indiana.
The annual Life Membership Banquet is a premier event in the community and is expected to attract over 450 business, political, educational, civic and religious leaders in the region.