Senate Reaches Bipartisan Agreement to Fund HBCUs

SENATE REPUBLICANS AND Democrats reached an agreement to permanently fund historically black colleges and universities and other minority serving institutions after a months-long standoff during which federal funding for the schools expired.

“While this funding should never have lapsed in the first place, I’m glad that we were able to reach a deal that provides minority-serving institutions with the certainty of funding they deserve – and I truly appreciate the work done on both sides of the aisle to get us to this point,” Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, said in a statement.

The bipartisan proposal would make permanent $255 million in annual funding for HBCUs, simplifies the application for federal student aid, known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and eliminates annual paperwork required of borrowers enrolled in income-based student loan repayment plans.

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos Delivers on Promise to Provide Students Relevant, Actionable Information Needed to Make Personalized Education Decisions

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delivered on her promise to provide students more information than ever before as they make decisions about their postsecondary education options. Thanks to the groundbreaking redesign of the College Scorecard, students can now find customized, accessible, and relevant data on potential debt and earnings based on fields of study (including for 2-year programs, 4-year degrees, certificate programs, and some graduate programs), graduation rates, and even apprenticeships.  This total Scorecard “rethink,” as Secretary DeVos says, builds on President Trump’s Executive Order on Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities and will truly help students find the right fit for them.

“Every student is unique,” said Secretary DeVos. “What they study, as well as when, where, and how they chose to pursue their education will impact their future. Students know this instinctively. That’s why we worked to deliver a product that is customizable and transparent—a tool that provides real information students need to make informed, personalized decisions about their education. The Scorecard also ensures students can make apples-to-apples comparisons by providing the same data about all of the programs a student might be considering without regard to the type of school.”

Full story at the Department of Education

GAO Finds Loose Oversight of Scholarship Tax Credits

STATE OFFICIALS IN Arizona and Pennsylvania provide no oversight or monitoring of the private schools that participate in the tax credit scholarship programs they operate, a new report from the Government Accountability Office found, confirming long-standing concerns of congressional Democrats pushing back against the Trump administration’s pursuit of a federal tax credit program.

In a deep dive on the three states with the largest tax credit scholarship programs – Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania – investigators with the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress found that the states differ in how they oversee participating private schools. Specifically, they found that all four of Arizona’s tax credit scholarship programs and one of two Pennsylvania programs generally rely on the individual scholarship-granting organizations to confirm that schools comply with program requirements.

Full story at US News

Chicago Teachers Will Go On Strike, Capping Years Of Social Justice Activism

For the second time in seven years, Chicago Public Schools teachers will be on strike starting Thursday, walking out of class, they say, in the name of better schools.

Gathered on the stage of the union hall on Wednesday, the Chicago Teachers Union said its delegates were in full support of moving forward with a strike. Delegates had already authorized the walkout and set a date so it would have taken a reversal to cancel the strike.

“We have not achieved what we need to bring justice and high quality schools to the children and teachers of Chicago,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey. “We need to have the tools we need to do the job at our schools. We need pay and benefits that will give us dignity and respect. We are on strike until we can do better.”

Full story at NPR

California Becomes First U.S. State To Mandate Later School Start Times

Some California schoolchildren will soon get to sleep later in the mornings, thanks to legislation signed into law on Sunday by Gov. Gavin Newsom that mandates later start times at most public schools.

The new law, which acknowledges research showing that teens perform better when they start later than schools now typically begin, will make California the first U.S. state with this requirement once the law is fully implemented, the Los Angeles Times noted.

Impacted schools will need to begin the new start times — 8 a.m. or later for middle schools and 8.30 a.m. or later for high schools — by July 1, 2022, or the date of expiry of the school’s three-year collective bargaining agreement with its employees, whichever is later.

Full story at HuffPost

The Things Parents Don’t Talk About With Their Kids … But Should

A majority of parents rarely if ever discuss race/ethnicity, gender, class or other categories of social identity with their kids, according to a new, nationally representative survey of more than 6,000 parents conducted by Sesame Workshop and NORC at the University of Chicago. The researchers behind Sesame Street say the fact that so many families aren’t talking about these issues is a problem because children are hardwired to notice differences at a young age — and they’re asking questions.

” ‘Why is this person darker than me?’ ‘Why is this person wearing that hat on their head?’ ” These are just some of the social identity questions parents might hear, says Tanya Haider, executive vice president for strategy, research and ventures at Sesame Workshop. “We sometimes are scared to talk about these things. If the adults stiffen up and say, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t say that loudly,’ that’s sending [children] a cue that there’s something wrong.”

Full story at NPR

Georgia Professor Holds Student’s Baby, A Life Lesson Bundled On Her Back

When a student at Georgia Gwinnett College couldn’t find a replacement babysitter in time for her anatomy and physiology class earlier this month, she did what student-parents sometimes have to do – she brought her child to class with her.

Ramata Sissoko Cisse, an assistant professor of biology for anatomy and physiology, had scheduled an important lecture for that day. It focused on the integumentary system — the organ system comprised of the skin, hair, nails and glands. For Cisse, the lecture went beyond biology.

Cisse said she wanted her student to focus on the meaning of the lecture, a task often difficult in a three-hour class, but made even more challenging when note taking has to be balanced with holding a child.

Full story at NPR

U.S. Department of Education Finalizes Regulations to Protect Student Borrowers, Hold Higher Education Institutions Accountable and Save Taxpayers $11.1 Billion Over 10 Years

WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Department of Education finalized regulations that will protect student borrowers, hold higher education institutions accountable and provide financial protections to taxpayers. The Institutional Accountability regulations, posted on the Department’s website today, come after more than two years of deliberations, public hearings, negotiated rulemaking with a wide variety of higher education stakeholders and careful consideration of tens of thousands of public comments.

“If a school defrauds students, it must be held accountable,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “There is no place for fraud in higher education, and it will not be tolerated by this Administration. From the recent college admissions scandal and intentional misrepresentations by schools to boost their U.S. News & World Report rankings to fraudulent marketing practices from proprietary intuitions, too many institutions of higher education are falling short. The new regulations are aimed at preventing this behavior because students deserve better, and all institutions must do better.

Full story at the US Department of Education

The Case For Summer Vacation

Put down those popsicles. No more sleeping in. Beach time is over.

Economists have long hated summer vacation. All those wasted school facilities! All that educational backsliding! Kids are getting dumber!

The conventional wisdom is that summer vacation is a relic of agricultural times, when kids had to help out their parents on the farm. But the economist William Fischel says that story is completely wrong.

“When the U.S. was a farming country, in the 1800s, kids went to school during the summer and winter,” he says. Rural kids had to take fall off for the harvest and spring off for planting. In other words, summer vacation would have “actually worked against the rhythms of agriculture.”

Full story at NPR

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Calls on National Education Association to Drop Lawsuit that Puts Financial Aid for Students in Jeopardy

WASHINGTON—U.S.Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos called on the National Education Association (NEA) today to drop its politically-motivated lawsuit and stop standing in the way of students working to complete their post secondary education program.

The NEA recently sued the department over its delay in implementing Obama-era rules that govern state standards for online education. The rules require, among other things, that all institutions providing distance education to students in another state document that the state has a process for those students to complain against that institution.

Unfortunately, not all states have the required complaint processes or interstate agreements in place. As a result, the 2016 regulation would deny federal aid to a number of students receiving distance education because their institutions cannot meet the complaint process requirement in one or more states.

Full story at ed.gov