Music Education Policy Roundup – August 13, 2018

NAfME News

Perkins-Career and Technical Education Act Signed into Law

Following swift passage by the House and Senate, President Trump signed the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act into law on July 31st. To find out more about the opportunities included for music education, check out Friday’sblog post.

National News

Donald Trump Signs First Major Education Policy Bill of His Presidency

In a watershed moment for his administration on education policy, President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, the first legislation Trump’s signed that makes significant changes to federal education law itself.

The legislation is a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, a $1.2 billion program last overhauled by Congress in 2006. The new law allows states to set their own goals for career and technical education programs without the education secretary’s approval, requires them to make progress toward those goals, and makes other changes to federal CTE law.

With the new ‘Aim Higher Act,’ House Democrats want states to make community college free

House Democrats unveiled the Aim Higher Act this week, which they say would give students the opportunity to go to college debt free without compromising the quality of their education. The proposed bill is a direct response to the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, which House Republicans introduced in December.

Aim Higher, just like Prosper, would be a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act – the federal law that controls much of federal spending and lending for postsecondary education. It has not been reauthorized since 2008. Since then, student debt has grown, and 2016 presidential contenders Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton made “free college” part of their campaign platforms.

Dave Grohl Announces ‘Play’ Project Inspired by His Kids Discovering Music

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl is continuing to explore the world of documentaries, announcing today a two-part mini doc titled “Play” which he directed.

“Play,” arriving on Aug. 10, is described as “celebrating the rewards and challenges of dedicating ones life to playing and mastering a musical instrument.” Grohl has long advocated for music education and the importance of learning to play an instrument. Part one is mostly narrated and offers a look at the music-making process.

State News

Big Changes to School Funding in NJ as Fragile Alliance Holds

Gov. Phil Murphy yesterday signed into law the first significant changes to New Jersey’s school funding system in almost a decade. Filling a school gym for the announcement, the mix of guests at the signing reflected the fragile alliance the governor needed to get the legislation passed.

Murphy was front and center at the event held at Cliffside Park School No. 3, where he declared that the state was finally on a path to closing its notorious gaps in school funding.

The new law phases out various caps and limits that had sustained the disparities in the $9 billion state-aid system, Murphy said, leading the way for major investments overall in public education into the future. The state pays about half of the overall spending on New Jersey’s public schools.

Minnesota Supreme Court says school segregation case can proceed

A lawsuit alleging that Minnesota has failed students by enabling segregation in schools will move forward in the courts, following a decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The 4-2 ruling from the state’s high court settles the question that had paused the legal battle over school segregation: whether it was the role of the courts or the Legislature to determine what defines an adequate education. Writing for the majority, Justice Natalie Hudson concluded that the Minnesota Constitution requires the Legislature to provide students with an acceptable education — but that the courts are the right place for someone to question if the Legislature is following through on that responsibility.

Kentucky revamping high school grad requirements

Kentucky’s revamped high school graduation requirements will go up for a first reading before the Kentucky Board of Education Thursday, part of a two-day retreat in Frankfort that begins at 9 a.m. today.

The requirements align with the state’s current 22-credit policy but add benchmarks to gauge college and career readiness. Graduates also will need to be to demonstrate proficiency in reading and math by the end of their sophomore year.

The proposed requirements are “aligned to the ‘profile of a graduate’ described by post-secondary educators and business and industry leaders,” an agenda document outlining the requirements states.

Betsy DeVos OKs Louisiana Pitch to Use Innovative Tests Under ESSA

Louisiana is the first state to get the all clear from the U.S. Department of Education to participate in the Every Student Succeeds Act’s “Innovative Assessment” pilot.

So what exactly is the Innovative Assessment pilot? ESSA allows up to seven states to try out new kinds of tests in a handful of districts before taking them statewide. New Hampshire got the ball rolling for this back in 2015, under the previous version of the law, the No Child Left Behind Act, when it got the green light to try out performance-based exams in a handful of districts.

Louisiana is seeking to combine tests for two related subjects: English and social studies. The tests will include passages from books students have actually been exposed to in class, rather than brand-new material. Students will be asked to complete a series of brief reading and writing exams throughout the school year, to help their teachers get “real time” updates on progress, according to a statement from the Louisiana Department of Education. Louisiana will initially try out these tests in five school districts.

School funding formula revisions could streamline school budget, tie $$ to enrollment

A panel of Idaho lawmakers and education officials is looking into streamlining the the state’s public school budget, getting rid of line items such as the teacher career ladder, and giving school districts and charter schools money based on the number of students enrolled, writes Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert. It’s part of an intensive effort, now in its third year, to revamp Idaho’s complicated school funding formula, which hasn’t been updated since 1994.

At a 4-½ hour meeting today, the 12-member panel, which includes 10 lawmakers plus state schools Superintendent Sherri Ybarra and state Board of Education President Linda Clark, heard from the Education Commission of the States about the results of surveys and focus groups, and discussed an array of concerns, from how the current career ladder appears to be helping with recruiting new teachers but not with retaining experienced ones, to how Idaho’s school funding formula should address programs for advanced opportunities, charter schools and more.

Research and Analysis

Possible key to black boys’ academic success: Hire black men as elementary school teachers

Near the end of his freshman year at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Ja’Waun Williams heard that a dean there had been a member of the fraternity Williams was pledging.

After bonding over their shared affection for Alpha Phi Alpha, Dean Alfred Tatum persuaded Williams to shift his academic focus. Instead of preparing to teach high school math, Tatum suggested, why not major in urban elementary education?

Modest as it may seem, that change is an example of what supporters say could help solve daunting challenges confronting African-American students, particularly boys, across the country. Spurred by Tatum, UIC’s dean of the College of Education, the school aims to invest about $1 million in an initiative to recruit and train male elementary education majors of color, similar to how universities recruit and train star athletes.

Most Americans say higher ed is heading in wrong direction, but partisans disagree on why

About six-in-ten Americans (61%) say the higher education system in the United States is going in the wrong direction, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. But Republicans and Democrats differ over why they think this is the case.