Music Education Policy Roundup – October 2, 2018

NAfME News

2018 Midterm Elections Webinar

ALF members can help promote the next quarterly advocacy webinar, which will be held Wednesday, October 10th.  The webinar is free. Registration can be found here. 

Federal News

House passes $854B spending bill to avert shutdown

The House on Wednesday passed an $854 billion spending bill to avert an October shutdown, funding large swaths of the government while pushing the funding deadline for others until Dec. 7.

The bill passed by 361-61, a week after the Senate passed an identical measure by a vote of 93-7.

The package included two appropriations bills, which fully funded Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education for fiscal 2019, and make up about two-thirds of the annual appropriations total for the year.

Education Is a Top Issue in the Midterms

Oklahoma isn’t anybody’s idea of a swing state–by any measure, it’s one of the most Republican places in the country. But a poll in July put the Democratic nominee for governor, Drew Edmondson, up by a point over his Republican opponent, 40-39. Edmondson thinks he knows why: “The policies of the last eight years have driven us into a billion-dollar deficit and created a terrible situation in our schools,” he tells TIME. “That’s what drove me into this race in the first place.”

Guns and Disadvantaged Students Take Center Stage at Senate ESSA Hearing

While several state education chiefs told the Senate Education committee Tuesday how they’re using the Every Student Succeeds Act to transform their schools and accountability systems, Democrats used much of the hearing to highlight their opposition to the idea of using federal ESSA money to arm educators.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces $2 billion fund to build preschools, help homeless families

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced a $2 billion fund Thursday to help homeless families and create preschools.

“Two billion dollars is a lot of money, and it could do an incredible amount of good,” said Henry Berman, CEO of Exponent Philanthropy, a nonprofit that supports leanly-staffed philanthropic groups.

Bezos is the world’s richest person, with an estimated worth of $164 billion. How he will use that fortune for philanthropy long has been a point of discussion, especially after June 2017 when he solicited ideas on Twitter for ways he could make a difference.

State News

Education funding fights to play out at the polls in November referendums

Voters will weigh in on school taxes, school choice, Ten Commandments displays in schools and education governance questions at the ballot box come November.

The statewide voter referendums reflect education-related fights smoldering around the country. Many center on school funding — an issue so contentious that teachers in several states last spring walked off the job. In at least 11 states, voters will decide on measures that would either boost school spending or provide officials with more flexibility to spend funds.

Prop. 305: Why school-voucher advocates won’t defend the expansion they fought to win

The grassroots effort to overturn a massive expansion of Arizona’s school-voucher program will meet little resistance in November, as major school-choice supporters will largely sit out the campaign over Proposition 305 — the ballot measure that will decide the future of their signature legislative achievement.

Teachers aren’t getting younger, we’re just paying them less

As the new school year kicks off, of the many newsworthy education stories that continue to unfold, one of the most compelling is how teacher protests and strikes continue to develop across the U.S.

This story began with a nine-day strike in West Virginia this February and eventually boiled over last spring to strikes and protests over pay, pensions, and education spending across a number of states, including Arizona, Kentucky, and Colorado. The advent of summer break lowered the heat to a simmer in states like North Carolina and Oklahoma, where some concessions were made, but left some teachers still agitating for more.

Colorado Education Association fighting teacher shortage with new campaign to lure young people to the classroom

Colorado’s largest teacher union is launching a media blitz urging college students to pursue careers in the classroom.

The campaign — “Change a Life, Change the World” — will appear on mobile and digital platforms across a variety of networks. The video ads will feature Colorado teachers, including 2018 Colorado Teacher of the Year Christina Randle, promoting their profession.

Utah governor, schools superintendent issue plea to former teachers: Come back

Gov. Gary Herbert, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson and the CEO of Envision Utah Robert Grow issued a plea Wednesday to Utah educators currently not teaching to return to the profession to help address the state’s teacher shortage.

A collaboration with Envision Utah hopes to re-engage former teachers who may be interested in returning to the classroom. They are asked to complete a questionnaire at to gauge their interest in rejoining the teaching ranks and to find out what it would take to get them to return to Utah public schools.

Report: California schools have improved, but major funding challenges remain

California’s redesigned school funding formula, as well as updated standards and assessments, are pushing the state’s education system in the right direction, according to a comprehensive package of studies released Monday.

But Getting Down to Facts II — a follow-up to an influential policy report released more than 10 years ago — also concludes that large achievement gaps remain, young children are already behind when they enter kindergarten, and changes to the finance system have failed to address funding issues such as employee pensions, special education and school facilities.

Q & A | How will new Washington state teacher contracts affect school-district finances?

Washington’s last remaining school walkout is set to end, wrapping up a heated summer of teacher-contract negotiations.

Teachers in the Tumwater School District voted Monday to approve the tentative contract agreement that their union reached with the administration over the weekend. The deal was struck just hours ahead of a scheduled court hearing that could have seen the union being ordered to end its two-week-old strike or even fined. A strike in Battle Ground ended Saturday, a day after the state’s largest holdout officially ended in Tacoma, with teachers overwhelmingly ratifying a deal to boost their overall salaries by 14.4 percent.