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

‘We Wanted Our Patrons Back’ — Public Libraries Scrap Late Fines To Alleviate Inequity

For nearly a decade, Diana Ramirez hadn’t been able to take a book home from the San Diego Public Library. Her borrowing privileges were suspended, she was told, because of a mere $10 in late fees, an amount that had grown to $30 over the years.

Ramirez, who is now 23 and stays in Tijuana with her mother, attends an alternative education program in San Diego that helps students earn high school diplomas. To her, the debt she owed to the library system was an onerous sum. Even worse, it removed a critical resource from her life.

“I felt disappointed in myself because I wasn’t able to check out books,” Ramirez said. “I wasn’t able to use the computers for doing my homework or filling out job applications. I didn’t own a computer, so the library was my only option to access a computer.”

Full story at NPR

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

Schools Fear Deportation of DACA Recipient Teachers

IF THE SUPREME COURT rules in favor of the Trump administration, the future for teachers like Vicente Rodriguez and some 660,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, would be in doubt.

“I made it my life’s mission to make sure students would never, ever experience such events and hardship in pursuit of education as I did,” he said to thousands of people gathered in front of the steps of the high court Tuesday as the justices began considering the Trump administration’s efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

Rodriguez, who is a teaching assistant and DACA recipient from San Bernardino, California, is one of an estimated 20,000 teachers, assistant teachers and those in the process of being certified to become teachers who are protected under DACA in school districts all across the country.

Full story at US News

DeVos Subpoena On Hold – For Now

HOUSE DEMOCRATS WERE set to subpoena Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday for documents related to her department’s handling of borrower defense claims from students defrauded by for-profit colleges – the latest escalation in a public feud over the fallout of the secretary’s changes to Obama-era rules meant to rein in the sector and protect students.

The subpoena, which would have compelled the secretary to turn over certain records, would have been the first issued to DeVos by Rep. Bobby Scott, Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Education and Labor Committee.

But according to his committee staff, department officials agreed to turn over the requested papers by close of business Friday after learning the subpoena had been cleared by the House counsel and clerk.

Full story at US News

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

DeVos Sued Amid New Evidence About Whether Her Agency Aided For-Profit Operator

TWO STUDENT ADVOCACY groups have filed separate lawsuits against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, one alleging her Department of Education allowed an operator of for-profit schools to mislead students and sack them with debt they are now unable to repay, and another that accused her of continuing to refuse to discharge the student loan debt of borrowers previously enrolled in for-profit schools that abruptly shuttered.

The lawsuits were filed Tuesday, the same day House Democrats threatened to subpoena DeVos for obstructing their investigation into the department’s role in allowing the operator of for-profit colleges to mislead students and continue operating the schools despite losing their accreditation.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by National Student Legal Defense Network is directly related to the subpoena issued by House Democrats. It alleges that the Education Department’s actions “caused students at the schools to borrow money and waste months of their lives in pursuit of an education they did not know was unaccredited.”

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

Kids in poor, urban schools learn just as much as others

Schools serving disadvantaged and minority children teach as much to their students as those serving more advantaged kids, according to a new nationwide study.

The results may seem surprising, given that student test scores are normally higher in suburban and wealthier school districts than they are in urban districts serving mostly disadvantaged and minority children.

But those test scores speak more to what happens outside the classroom than how schools themselves are performing, said Douglas Downey, lead author of the new study and professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.

“We found that if you look at how much students are learning during the school year, the difference between schools serving mostly advantaged students and those serving mostly disadvantaged students is essentially zero,” Downey said.

Full story at Science Daily

What’s the Best State for Teachers? This Year’s Answer Might Surprise You

Seeking a stable teacher salary and a healthy work environment? A new analysis suggests heading north.

This year, North Dakota took first place in personal finance site WalletHub’s annual ranking of the best and worst states to be a teacher.

The other states rounding out the top five spots this year?

  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wyoming
  • Connecticut 

The ranking is based mostly on what the website calls “opportunity and competition”—factors including the average salary and starting pay for teachers, potential for income growth over the course of a career, pension, tenure protections, and job competition in the state. Scores on these metrics make up 70 percent of a state’s rating. 

Full story at Education Week