Music Education Policy Roundup – July 23, 2018

Welcome to the latest edition of the Policy Roundup, put together by Rob Edwards and Tooshar Swain. 

NAfME News

GAAME Act Update

Thanks in large part to the efforts of advocates on NAfME Hill Day 2018, we are pleased to report that the GAAME Act has 51 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. There are 49 Democrats and 3 Republicans signed on to the bill. Furthermore, following a successful Hill Day, some members of the U.S. Senate have expressed interest in introducing a companion bill into the Senate.

 Perkins – CTE Update

The U.S. Senate’s draft of the Perkins – CTE reauthoriziation bill has passed through the Senate HELP committee. It’s possible the legislation could come before the full senate for a vote in August, as leaders from both parties have expressed a desire to see the process moved along. For more information about the bill and it’s potential impact on music education, check out our most recent blog post.

 Federal News

House Committee Approves $71 Billion Education Funding Bill

The House Appropriations Committee, after a day-long markup dominated by concerns for immigrant children separated from their parents, approved a $71 billion spending bill for the Education Department.

The most notable change adopted during the committee’s consideration was boosting funding for the School Safety National Activities program. The committee’s first draft of the bill would have funded the grants at $43 million; the committee upped funding to $90 million, the same as it received last year.

Congress is inching closer to reauthorizing Perkins

In the waning days of June, the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions advanced a bill that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. A similar bill passed the House over a year ago.

Career and technical education (CTE) enjoys broad bipartisan support, and reports say that the White House has already put its stamp of approval on the Senate version. Nothing is certain, but states could soon be implementing a new law that would meaningfully alter the CTE landscape. Based on the marked-up version of the Senate bill, here’s a broad overview of some of the biggest potential changes.

Education Department awards $10 million grant to launch national school choice research center

The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences has awarded a five-year, $10 million grant to Tulane University to establish the first national research center to study how different approaches to school choice, such as voucher programs and charter schools, can better serve disadvantaged students.

The National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH) will be housed at Tulane University and led by scholars from around the country, including Douglas Harris of Tulane, Joshua Cowen and Katharine Strunk of Michigan State University, Julie Marsh of the University of Southern California and Amy Ellen Schwartz of Syracuse University.

“We designed REACH to answer one big question: How can we improve policy and implementation to make school choice deliver on its promise of raising outcomes and increasing opportunities for disadvantaged students?” said Harris, professor of economics and Schleider Foundation Chair in Public Education at Tulane.

 U.S. Senate confirms two officials to high posts at Department of Education

The Senate voted narrowly Tuesday to confirm Jim Blew, a longtime education reform advocate, to be an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education, rounding out the department’s K-12 team.

Senators voted 50-49 along party lines to confirm Blew as assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development some 10 months after he was nominated. He was the fourth Education Department nominee to be confirmed with only Republican votes, including Secretary Betsy DeVos, Deputy Secretary Mitchell Zais, and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth Marcus. The latest confirmation reflects the deep partisan divide in Congress over President Trump, DeVos, and school choice.

Blew was educated in LA Unified schools and graduated from Reseda High School. He earned his bachelor’s from LA’s Occidental College and an MBA from Yale.

Several less controversial nominees have been approved by voice vote, a general taking of ayes and nays that indicates no senator wanted to register individual opposition. Monday evening senators voted 85-0 to confirm Scott Stump, an industry executive and former Colorado Community College System leader,  as assistant secretary for career, technical, and adult education.

State News

Tennessee’s career readiness program expands beyond high school

Six years after the state launched Pathways Tennessee, a career readiness effort for high school students, the program is growing and rebranding as Tennessee Pathways.

The program will now serve K–12 students, not just high schoolers, with the goal of encouraging them to pursue post-secondary education — be it a college degree or a trade-school certificate. Tennessee Pathways is part of Drive to 55, Governor Bill Haslam’s initiative to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with postsecondary degrees to 55 percent by 2025.

Indiana works on finding, keeping teachers

Meredith Fenimore has always been passionate about working with kids. This summer, she’s teaching children how to play tennis. As part of her National Honor Society community service hours, she’s volunteered at the Terre Haute Children’s Museum.

This fall, the Terre Haute North Vigo High School 2018 graduate will major in elementary education at Indiana State University. She views teaching as an important, but perhaps undervalued, profession. “The education of children is the future of our country. They will be our future leaders.”

Those future leaders need good teachers, said Fenimore, who at one point considered pediatric dentistry as a career choice.

Fenimore is one of 200 recipients of a new state scholarship program aimed at recruiting high-achieving high school and college students into teaching. Now in its second year, the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship provides recipients renewable scholarships of up to $7,500 each year for four academic years, or $30,000 total.

Lawsuit challenges education amendment on Florida ballot

A constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would allow charter school organizers to bypass local school boards to get approval is “intentionally misleading” because it doesn’t directly explain to voters that the amendment is designed to circumvent local control and intentionally leaves out the word “charter,” a lawsuit filed Thursday in Leon County Circuit court claims.

The League of Women Voters, and two individual voters, are asking the court to remove the amendment, known as Revision 8, from the November ballot after it was placed there by the Constitution Revision Commission.

Feds OK Utah’s Every Student Succeeds Act state plan

SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Department of Education has granted final approval of Utah’s Every Student Succeeds Act state plan.

A letter from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos dated Thursday confirmed approval of the plan, which is essentially an application for some $131 million in federal funding for programs that support students experiencing poverty, homelessness and other challenges.

“I congratulate you on this significant accomplishment,” DeVos wrote.

DeVos, in a press release from the Education Department, announced the approval of the Utah and California state plans, which were among the last to be given the green light.

“Utah’s plan explicitly states a long-term goal of reducing gaps by one-third by 2022 in student mathematics and learning arts achievement in grades 3-8. The state will annually publish data on progress in this area,” the release states.


California Wins Federal Approval for Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan

SACRAMENTO — 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.”

Research and Analysis

Education Commission of the States: Teacher Evaluation

This Policy Snapshot explores recent legislation related to teacher evaluations, including trends and the use of student growth.