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3-14-17 Education in the News

Education Week--Trump Education Dept. Releases New ESSA Guidelines

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Monday released a new application for states to use in developing their accountability plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act.

And, as you might expect, it is shorter and includes fewer requirements than an earlier application released by the Obama administration in November. The biggest difference seems to be on the requirements for outreach to various groups of educators and advocates. More below.

DeVos said the template will allow states and districts to implement the law with "maximum flexibility" as Congress intended. 

"We know each school district is unique," DeVos said in a speech in Washington Monday to the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents urban superintendents. "It's fairly obvious that the challenges and opportunities of Albuquerque and Wichita don't look the same. But neither do Miami and Palm Beach. No two schools are identical, just like no two students are alike. We shouldn't assume the same answer will work for everyone, every time. Too often the Department of Education has gone outside its established authority and created roadblocks, wittingly or unwittingly for parents and educators alike. This isn't right, nor is it acceptable. Under this administration, we will break this habit."

But ESSA's top Democratic architects—Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., were really unhappy with the template, especially the lack of a requirement to reach out to parents, educators, and advocates. 


By Alyson Klein on March 13, 2017 8:06 AM


Education Week--Trump Sharpens Budget Knife for Education Department, Sources Say

The Trump administration is contemplating dramatic cuts to K-12 spending, including a possible $6 billion reduction to existing programs in the U.S. Department of Education, according to multiple education policy sources who have gleaned details about budget documents still being finalized. The department currently has a budget of about $70 billion.

The possible cuts would be included in the Trump administration's initial spending plan for fiscal year 2018, which begins Oct. 1 and generally impacts the 2018-19 school year. Such cuts in a budget proposal expected this week could mean a staffing reduction at the department in the range of 25 to 30 percent, sources said, although it's not clear how the cuts would be applied. The department currently has about 4,000 employees.


By Alyson Klein on March 13, 2017 12:19 PM


The Atlantic-- The Office for Civil Rights's Volatile Power

The influence of the office has waxed and waned with each administration. How will it fare under Betsy DeVos?

Here is a question nobody asked Betsy DeVos at her confirmation hearing to become the eleventh secretary of education: Is the U.S. Department of Education a civil-rights agency?  

The last secretary, John King, thinks so. Over 600 education scholars who protested the nomination of DeVos think so, too. In a letter to the Senate, they recalled that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which created the federal role in American schools, is “at its heart a civil-rights law.”

While much of the controversy over the new secretary has focused on school choice and the privatization of public education, the reality is that DeVos will have little power to enact major changes on those fronts because control lies with the state. When it comes to civil rights, however, DeVos and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) still possess immense power and responsibility. During her hearing, DeVos was evasive about how she would wield both, promising only to review OCR’s policies should she be confirmed. In a recent interview, she acknowledged that “anti-discrimination issues” require “a federal role,” but, she went on, “I also think there is an opportunity to streamline and simplify a lot of the engagement and involvement the department has had around some of these issues.”


James S. Murphy| Mar 13, 2017


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608