Music Education Policy Roundup – May 7, 2018

Read here for brief updates on policy developments affecting music education around the United States. These news items include federal, state, and local items that may be of interest to music educators, and are compiled periodically by Lynn Tuttle, NAfME Director of Content and Policy, and Tooshar Swain, NAfME Public Policy Advisor.


  • Congress has approved $1.1 billion in funding for the Title IV-A block grant in FY 2018.  Your stories are vital to helping NAfME advocate for funding in FY19.  Visit to tell us your Title IV story!




Trump presents teaching award to educator of teen refugees

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump presented the National Teacher of the Year award on Wednesday to a Washington state educator who gave him a stack of letters from some of the teenage refugees she teaches that talk about what coming to the U.S. has meant to them.

Trump did not mention the types of students Mandy Manning teaches during a White House ceremony honoring her and other winners. Manning teaches English to new refugee and immigrant students from all over the world at the Newcomer Center at Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane.

“Teachers like Mandy play a vital role in the well-being of our children, the strength of our communities and the success of our nation,” Trump said. “The job of a teacher is not only to instruct the next generation of workers but the next generations of citizens to teach our children to care for others, to think for themselves, to love their country, to be proud of our history and to be true pillars of their families and their communities.”


Civil rights data at odds with DeVos education agenda

A flood of civil rights data made public Tuesday by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos revealed yawning disparities in how students are treated in the nation’s schools, even as DeVos considers scrapping policies aimed at curbing such disparities.  The data, known as the Civil Rights Data Collection, is a biennial snapshot of bullying, discipline, school safety and more. The latest release shows that black students and students with disabilities are suspended and arrested far more often than their peers. DeVos is mulling whether to scrap Obama-era policies meant to combat those problems.  Advocates and former Obama administration officials say the numbers show that the Trump administration’s education agenda is largely driven by ideology. But Education Department officials stressed that data aren’t everything.  “Data plays an important role in policy formulation, but it’s only part of the equation,” spokeswoman Liz Hill said in an email. “How current policy is impacting students and educators is also critical. [DeVos] will consider both of those things and she works to do what’s best for students.”


Trump administration urges dismissal of suit challenging Title IX guidance

The Trump administration Wednesday asked a federal judge to toss out a legal challenge to the administration’s guidelines for school districts and colleges dealing with sexual harassment and assault allegations.  The administration argued in court documents that the rules are only temporary and that the women’s advocacy groups challenging them aren’t directly affected.  It’s the administration’s first response to a lawsuit filed in January by a handful of groups, led by SurvJustice, which represents assault survivors. The suit claims the administration’s interim Title IX rules are based on “unfounded generalizations about women and girls” and conflict with existing Title IX requirements.


American Higher Education Hits a Dangerous Milestone

Drawing almost no attention, the nation crossed an ominous milestone last year that threatens more economic polarization and social division: For the first time, public colleges and universities in most states received most of their revenue from tuition rather than government appropriations.  This historic shift away from tax dollars funding the bulk of public higher education comes precisely as the nation’s youth population is crossing a succession of milestones to become more racially diverse than ever. As statisticians would say, it’s an open question whether these twin trends represent an example of causation or just correlation. But whether resources are shrinking because diversity is growing, or the two trends are proceeding independently, their convergence is still a dangerous development—not only for higher education, but also for the nation’s economic future.


Teachers say ‘frustration’ over decade of cuts to education is fueling nationwide revolt

On most Mondays, Stacy Masciangelo, a teacher in Mesa, Arizona, would be in her classroom teaching 33 junior high school students computer technology with outdated equipment that sometimes takes eight minutes just to log on.  But this Monday, Masciangelo will join thousands of fellow teachers at the state Capitol in Phoenix, walking a picket line for the third day of a statewide public educator strike.  “We’re frustrated. It’s frustrating. How can you tell a kid education is so important when everything that our leaders do say otherwise?” Masciangelo told ABC News on Sunday.


Education Secretaries Past and Present Give Failing Grades to U.S. School System

IT WAS A RARE MOMENT IN the education world: The last seven secretaries of education convened to assess the country’s K-12 and higher education systems and how they need to evolve to better prepare today’s students for a rapidly changing economy.  The event, held Thursday in Washington by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute to note the 35th anniversary of the seminal 1983 report “A Nation at Risk,” which took the U.S. school system to task for failing to prepare students for an increasingly global economy, drew the well-heeled education policy establishment as well as current and former members of Congress.




North Carolina teachers prepare May 16 protest


North Carolina schools districts are weighing whether to remain open on May 16 after the North Carolina Association of Educators teachers union announced a “rally for respect” that day that could draw thousands.  Already, Durham’s board of education voted Wednesday to close that day, when a mass teacher rally is expected at the state Capitol. In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, a preliminary tally will be taken on Friday to see how many teachers are taking leave that day, school board Chairwoman Mary McCray told the Charlotte Observer.  The union said in a Facebook post announcing the rally that the state ranks 35th for teacher pay, and is “one of the worst in the country in the amount our elected leaders spend per student.”  The announcement of the rally comes the same week that Arizona teachers have been out of school protesting over issues of teacher pay and education funding. Teachers in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Colorado have also launched mass protests this year.  Earlier today, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed a budget deal that will give the state’s teachers a raise. It’s unclear whether all the teachers will go back to work on Friday.


NY Assembly votes to overhaul teacher evaluation rules

By – Associated Press – Wednesday, May 2, 2018

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – The New York state Assembly has voted to reduce the state’s role in teacher evaluations.  The Democrat-led body passed legislation Wednesday would allow local school districts to set their own teacher evaluation rules. The measure would also eliminate a state mandate that required such evaluations to reflect student performance on standardized tests.  The measure was praised by teachers unions, who say it will reduce what it called an over-reliance on standardized testing.  Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, says performance on standardized tests doesn’t accurately reflect teacher effectiveness.  The bill now moves to the Republican-led state Senate, where it’s likely to face significant opposition.


Dayton Wants Emergency Funding for Minnesota Schools

Gov. Mark Dayton is calling for $138 million in emergency funding for Minnesota schools as districts across the state grapple with budget shortfalls.

Dayton unveiled his request to lawmakers Tuesday as the Legislature heads toward a mandatory May 22 adjournment. The Democratic governor’s proposal would increase the state’s per-pupil funding formula by 2 percent.  Twitter Ads info and privacy

More than 26 school districts around the Twin Cities and 33 districts in rural Minnesota are struggling with budget deficits. Those shortfalls are a small fraction of the districts’ total operating budgets.  But many school districts across Minnesota are considering staff and teacher layoffs to solve the deficits. Dayton is urging the Legislature to approve funding.


Arizona Passes Education Budget To End Teacher Walkout

Arizona teachers appeared ready to head back to their classrooms after the governor signed a budget bill Thursday that will pump more money into schools and give teachers the first of what should be two pay raises.  The massive teacher walkout, carried out under the banner #RedForEd, began a week ago and closed schools for a majority of Arizona students. Thousands of teachers flooded the Capitol and turned downtown Phoenix into a sea of red each day, urging lawmakers to restore education funding after years of deep cuts since the recession.  The legislation signed by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) early Thursday did not meet all the demands initially laid out by the groups coordinating the walkout, and some teachers had hoped to keep schools closed until legislators committed to a larger budget. But it was enough progress for union leaders to recommend teachers return to the classroom and prepare for another battle later in the year.


Future of Houston ISD’s struggling schools now in hands of Texas Education Agency

The fate of Houston ISD and its 10 longest-struggling schools now lies with the Texas Education Agency.  Texas’ largest school district missed an April 30 deadline to submit plans to the TEA detailing how it would hand operations of those 10 schools to a third-party group, according to Houston ISD spokesman Tracy Clemons. If approved by the TEA, such a plan would have triggered a two-year grace period and protected the district from state takeover and the 10 schools from closure.  Now, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath must decide how to proceed. His options, as prescribed by law, are limited. Morath can either appoint a board of managers to takeover the elected school board, or he can order schools closed.


Missouri senators back budget that falls $50 million short of fully funding schools

JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri senators came up short on education funding on Wednesday, just a year after they strong-armed GOP leaders to fully fund the formula that allocates state money to K-12 schools for the first time in state history.  Senators worked through a series of budget bills that comprise the state’s near $28 billion budget. Despite the efforts of some senators to force a vote on fully funding K-12 education, spending on schools fell $50 million of what’s necessary for full funding.  “It’s unfortunate that given our budget situation that we have to be pitted against higher education funding and nursing home funding and state employee pay and state employee health insurance. We just don’t have a lot of money right now in the state,” said Mike Lodewegen, associate executive director of government affairs for the Missouri Association of School Administrators.




Is the high school graduation rate really going up?
It was only 10 years ago that the country adopted a standard for measuring its high school graduation rate. The US Department of Education under Secretary Margaret Spellings added a regulation to the No Child Left Behind accountability structure that states needed to report the ‘adjusted cohort graduation rate’ of their high schools.


The Pell Divide: How Four-Year Institutions are Failing to Graduate Low- and Moderate-Income Students

Since 1972, the Pell Grant has served as the primary tool for increasing access to higher education for low- and moderate-income students.  That’s why the federal government continues to spend nearly $30 billion dollars on this important program each year.  But despite this large taxpayer investment, there has been almost no publicly available information on how well institutions serve Pell students. This is in large part because the Department of Education (Department) has not previously required institutions to report the outcomes for this critical student population.  In 2015, The Education Trust gave us our first glimpse at graduation rates of Pell students and the gap between Pell and non-Pell students at four-year institutions.3 They went through the lengthy and labor-intensive project of collecting graduation rate data for institutions—ultimately covering over three-quarters of public and nonprofit bachelor’s degree-granting institutions. Their research found 51% of Pell Grant recipients at these institutions graduated, as compared to 65% of non-Pell students