Education Secretary DeVos pledges support for magnet schools

WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday pledged support for magnet schools in a bid to repair ties with proponents of public education in the wake of a bruising confirmation battle, but also slammed her critics for rejecting innovation and change.

In one of her first public speeches since taking office last week, DeVos praised magnet schools for showing strong academic results, combating segregation and striving for equity.

“There is amble opportunity to really highlight the tremendous successes of so many magnet schools across the country,” DeVos told a room full of teachers and advocates. “It’s clear that the schools that you represent are doing a tremendous job on behalf of students.”

Full story of Education Secretary DeVos supporting magnet schools at Salon Media Group

People’s March for Education Justice

Besty “Amway” DeVos clearly demonstrated at her confirmation hearings that she is unqualified to be Education Secretary. While her approval by Republicans in the United States Senate is a national embarrassment and an insult to public school families, the bigger issue is the Republican/Trump plan to privatize public education in the United States through outsourcing, vouchers, and tax credits and to eliminate opposition and make private schools the profitable by breaking teacher unions. While all public schools do not functional well, problems are rooted in poverty and discrimination in American society, not schools and teachers. Privatization is a threat to a fundamental American institution that promotes democracy and citizenship while contributing to social mobility.

In response to Trump, Betsy, and the Republican Party’s push to privatize public education, students, teachers, parents, and community members across New York State will march on Saturday March 4 for education justice. Multiple marches are being organized by the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE).

Full story of people’s march for education justice at Huffington Post

Number of Homeschoolers Growing Nationwide

As the dissatisfaction among parents with the U.S. education system grows, so too does the number of homeschoolers in America. Since 1999, the number of children who are being homeschooled has increased by 75%. Although currently the percentage of homeschooled children is only 4% of all school children nationwide, the number of primary school kids whose parents choose to forgo traditional education is growing seven times faster than the number of kids enrolling in K-12 every year.

Despite the growth of homeschooling of late, concerns about the quality of education offered to the kids by their parents persist. But the consistently high placement of homeschooled kids on standardized assessment exams, one of the most celebrated benefits of homeschooling, should be able to put those fears to rest. Homeschooling statistics show that those who are independently educated typically score between the 65th and 89th percentile on such exams, while those attending traditional schools average on the 50th percentile. Furthermore, the achievement gaps, long plaguing school systems around the country, aren’t present in the homeschooling environment. There’s no difference in achievement between sexes, income levels, or race/ethnicity.

Full story of homeschooling growing nationwide at educationnews.org

Even with unprecedented opposition, Betsy DeVos is likely to squeak through to become secretary of Education

Phone calls jammed congressional switchboards. Two Republican senators defected. Democrats held a last-ditch, 24-hour Senate debate in hope of shaking loose one additional vote.

“We just need one more,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who was leading the effort.  “Let’s ask President Trump to send us someone who is qualified.”

But the effort is not expected to be enough to prevent Betsy DeVos from becoming U.S. secretary of Education.

DeVos will probably squeak through the confirmation process on Tuesday with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence and the participation of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), whose own confirmation vote for attorney general was scheduled for just after DeVos’ to ensure his vote would be available.

Full story of Betsy DeVos and secretary of education position at LA TImes

Texas education board approves curriculum that challenges evolution

Texas students will continue to learn theories that challenge the scientific understanding of evolution after the State Board of Education signed off Wednesday on a preliminary version of the state’s pared-down biology curriculum.

The board, made up of 10 Republicans and five Democrats, is in the middle of whittling down the state’s voluminous curriculum standards, starting with science. Last month, a committee of mostly school district officials appointed by board members recommended paring down the language of, or removing, four standards that require the state’s high school biology students to learn about scientific phenomena that evolution can’t readily explain.

Full story of Texas students and evolution curriculum at myStateman

Choosing education that works

How about some good news for a change?

Amid the negativity we see online, in print and on the air, something good has been happening in communities all across the nation recently, as parents, teachers and students staged events to mark this year’s National School Choice Week.

This is one trend that’s moving in the right direction, fortunately. If you favor school choice — which simply means you believe that control over our children’s education should be in the hands of parents, not bureaucrats — then you should be pleased to see that the needle has been moving, slowly but steadily, in the right direction.

Full story of choosing and education that works at ed.gov

Chuck Schumer: Trump’s Education Pick Would ‘Single-Handedly Decimate’ Public Schools

PHILADELPHIA ― Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a scathing statement Thursday that he plans to vote against President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Education Department.

Trump’s nominee, Betsy DeVos, floundered during her confirmation hearing last week as Democrats took turns questioning her ability to lead the department. DeVos, a billionaire from a powerful Republican family in Michigan, has been dedicated to funneling money to “school choice” efforts ― and away from public schools.

“Betsy DeVos would single-handedly decimate our public education system if she were confirmed,” Schumer said. “Her plan to privatize education would deprive students from a good public education, while helping students from wealthy families get another leg up.”

Full story on head of the Education Department at Huffington Post

LGBT Students Work to Ensure Safe and Supportive Schools for all Students

Yesterday, myself and four other LGBTQ Activists from GLSEN had the honor of sitting down with US Secretary of Education, Dr. John King, in his second to last day in office. Amid a changing administration, the Secretary offered his words of advice, and listened to our experiences as LGBTQ students as well as our hopes for inclusivity in the future of education.  I think all of us, both visitors from GLSEN and the staff at the Department of Education, can agree that we all walked away with valuable information, useful connections, and an even stronger motivation to fight for student’s rights in schools.

Much of our conversation with the Secretary consisted of talking about our experiences in schools and how the federal government can further support LGBTQ students. We discussed issues like discriminatory bathroom policies, discrimination and bullying in schools, LGBTQ inclusive curriculum, and mutual respect among teachers, administrators, and our peers. As students, we proposed new ideas to help make schools more inclusive: e.g. class rosters with student’s preferred names and pronouns, accessible gender neutral bathrooms, and school bullying policies that specifically mention LGBTQ identities. We also talked about various steps the Department of Education has taken in the last few years; how they have improved school climates, and ways that there’s still room for growth.

Full story of LGBT students to ensure safe schools at ed.gov

Treasury and Education Announce Progress Toward Multi-Year Income Certification System for Student Loan Borrowers in Income-Driven Repayment Plans

The Departments of Treasury and Education announced today that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a framework regarding the requirements for electronically sharing tax data over multiple years for federal student loan borrowers participating in Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans.

The agreement is intended to result in the development of a new digital system at the Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) that will simplify income-driven repayment plans for borrowers. Such a system will allow student loan borrowers to provide consent for the Internal Revenue Service to share certain information with FSA and its loan servicers for a period of at least five years.

Full story of certification system for IDR student loan plans at ed.gov

American Career Institute Borrowers to Receive Automatic Group Relief for Federal Student Loans

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced today plans to grant borrower defense relief for federal student loan borrowers who attended the now-defunct American Career Institute (ACI) in Massachusetts. This move follows the Department’s investigation as well as numerous admissions by the school that it made false and misleading representations to students, misstated job placement rates and employed instructors who were unauthorized to teach under applicable state laws. ED also announced substantial progress with processing borrower defense claims from former Corinthian Colleges Inc. (CCI) students, and that approvals are beginning for borrower defense claims from former ITT Technical Institutes (ITT) students. Additionally, ED announced that a significant number of closed school loan discharges have been approved, particularly for students impacted by the recent closure of ITT.

“With the help of state attorneys general, we’ve cracked down on bad actors that leave students with debt but meaningless credentials. We are especially grateful to Attorney General Healey and her team for investigating and uncovering ACI’s deceptive practices.” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “We’ve taken important steps to provide borrowers the relief they deserve. This is real progress. And more work remains to ensure that relief continues for borrowers who are deceived by institutions that engage in fraud.”

Full story of ACI receiving relief for federal student loans at ed.gov