Music Education Policy Roundup – October 29, 2018

NAfME News

Civic Action Field Guide

The NAfME Civic Action Field Guide for Music Education is live on the NAfME website. You can view guide at this link.

Midterm Elections

This interactive map from Education Commission of the States is helpful in learning about races in your state that will impact education policy.


The NAfME Public Policy team hosted its 4thQuarter Advocacy Webinar Wednesday, October 10th. The webinar covered the upcoming midterm elections as well as the Civic Action Field Guide. A recording of the webinar can be accessed here.

 Federal News

U.S. Department of Education Awards $253 Million in Grants to Expand Charter Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that The Expanding Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Program (Charter Schools Program or CSP) has awarded new grants this week to fund the creation and expansion of public charter schools across the nation, totaling approximately $253 million.

Ed Department Sued Over Delay Of Special Education Rule

The U.S. Department of Education is being accused of sidestepping its responsibilities to students with disabilities by delaying a special education regulation that was supposed to take effect this month.

In a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, or COPAA, alleges that the agency is skirting its obligation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to ensure that students with disabilities receive appropriate services no matter their racial background.

The suit comes after the Education Department issued a final rule last week delaying for two years regulations addressing what’s known as “significant disproportionality.”

Senior Higher Ed Official Out at Education Department

A top higher education aide and First Amendment advocate has left the U.S. Department of Education, a spokesman confirmed Thursday. Adam Kissel had served as deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs since June of last year.

He’d previously had stints at the Koch Foundation and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, where he headed the individual rights defense program.

Kissel in that role had been a vocal critic of “intolerance” on college campuses and of colleges that FIRE had accused of violating the free speech rights of students and faculty members.

Obama-era oversight of Indian education grant program slammed in IG report

The Education Department’s Inspector General issued a highly critical audit Monday of the department’s oversight of an Indian education grant program, calling it “insufficient” and accusing department leadership of putting up roadblocks that made it difficult for the IG to obtain information.

The Indian Education Formula Grant program provides funds to school districts and federal Bureau of Indian Education schools to address the academic needs of Native American students. The program — funded at $99.7 million in fiscal 2018 — is overseen by the Office of Indian Education within the department’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The audit covered fiscal 2014 and 2015, during the Obama administration.

State News

Arkansas nonprofit receives $23M to expand charter schools

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $23 million grant to a nonprofit to expand charter schools in Arkansas.

The money was awarded to the Arkansas Public School Resources Center, which will receive an initial $5.6 million to begin the expansion project, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The grant could support up to 30 new open-enrollment and conversion charter schools over five years, said Scott Smith, the center’s executive director.

State-level policy for computer science education continues to grow

With strong policy support, adoption of computer science curriculums for K-12 students continues its steady rise, though availability in some states remains scarce, according to a report published this week by Seattle-based nonprofit

The group’s 2018 report provides an overview of state edtech policy and how those policies are being implemented to achieve its ultimate goal of introducing technology skills to students early on, preparing them for an increasingly technology-based workforce.

Summaries of the governor’s races on the ballot in 36 states

Governor’s races are on the ballot this November in 36 states. The most competitive races are expected to be in states where Republicans now hold the job.

New Hampshire Joins ESSA Innovative Assessments Pilot

New Hampshire is the second state to join the U.S. Department of Education’s Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority (IADA) pilot program. IADA allows states to pilot state assessments on a small scale while avoiding double-testing students with pilot and state exams.  Over time, states will develop strategies to implement these tests statewide.

Enrollment instability is a major reason why schools are struggling — so why isn’t anyone tracking the problem?

There’s no question that Detroit schools are struggling with the serious consequences of students coming and going throughout the school year. What’s less clear is how the problem compares to other cities and states.

That’s because no one is keeping close track nationally of these frequent school moves, known by academics as student mobility or enrollment instability.

Research & Analysis

How People Learn: A Landmark Report Gets an Update

Learning is a conversation with the world, from a newborn’s brain lighting up as his mother sings to him, to a teenager choking on a test for fear of fulfilling a stereotype, to elderly people heading off cognitive decline by learning a new language and receiving proper care from caregivers, learn more about this here. In an update to its landmark reports on education research, the National Academies’ new How People Learn II digs into what science can tell schools about how to build on students’ culture and experience to improve learning.

Schools See ‘Incredible Progress’ on Internet Connectivity, Report Says

More than 44 million students now learn in classrooms with high-speed internet connections, up from just 4 million five years ago, according to a new analysis by the nonprofit broadband advocacy group EducationSuperHighway.

The group’s 2018 State of the States report says such “incredible progress” puts the U.S. on the cusp of providing broadband connections to nearly every public school in the country, the goal set by President Barack Obama in 2013.