Nevada expands school grant program to help poor students – Las Vegas Review

In this July 6, 2016 file photo, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Nevada Department of Education Steve Canavero speaks to Clark County School District trustees about the Every Student  ...In this Jan. 28, 2016 file photo, Interim Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Nevada Department of Education Steve Canavero speaks during the State Board of Education meeting at the Nevad ...

A change in a competitive grant program run by the Nevada Department of Education — partially prompted by a change in federal law — means more schools serving the state’s poorest students will have access to outside help.

Last year, five state school districts were awarded grants to work with a single nonprofit in an effort to help low-income students. The grants were focused on using data to improve decision-making, developing stronger teachers and training school officials in leadership.

This year, the department awarded grants funded through the federal Title I program to 11 districts to work with 10 different organizations. The increase was in part the result of the state changing the grant parameters and partly because it took on the responsibility of vetting new nonprofits that can work with districts.

For rural districts in counties like Humboldt, Nye and White Pine, securing one of the federally funded grants is a major coup. Despite being smaller than Clark and Washoe counties, the districts serve a sizable number of poor children.

“This is a first time we were awarded a grant under this program,” Humboldt Superintendent Dave Jensen said. “That’s what I think is incredible for us. That’s a significant amount of money that’s going to make a profound impact on our school over time.”

Jensen was referring to a K-12 school in his district — in Northern Nevada, near the Oregon border — serving 135 students with 15 certified teachers, which took home a $390,000 grant.

The grant will allow the school to contract with Achievement Network and The New Teacher Project, both national nonprofits, to help train teachers to improve the quality of their instruction when working with high-need students.

Deep, rather than wide

More than 70 of the state’s 80 or so Title I schools — those with a high proportion of low-income students — had grants approved by the state.

The majority of the money the state receives from the federal government under Title I goes directly to the schools. But the department must set aside 7 percent — about $8 million this year out of approximately $130 million — for school improvement efforts. The state administers that money through the competitive grant program.

Previously, only five districts took part, and they all worked with WestEd, a San Francisco-based nonprofit.

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the new federal education initiative enacted in 2015, Nevada expanded the grant parameters but required more proof from schools that the grant money would made a difference.

“The department has elected to go deep, rather than thin and wide, on a very few core strategies,” state Superintendent Steve Canavero said.

To help the Title I schools, Nevada vetted 19 different vendors and held a “speed-dating event” to match nonprofits with school districts.

“All of the 80 or so schools that were eligible came in and had an opportunity to meet all these vendors and figure out what made sense for them,” said state Deputy Superintendent Brett Barley.

Ten of the vendors were eventually were approved to work with schools in nine counties and two other local education agencies.

Clark County schools were awarded the bulk of the available grant money, raking in $2.8 million for 47 schools. White Pine was awarded almost $950,000 for three schools. Carson City, Elko, Humboldt, Mineral, Nye, Pershing, Washoe, the State Public Charter School Authority and Democracy Prep also received funds.

Influx of providers

In White Pine County, three of the district’s Title I schools will work with Pearson and the National Institute for School Leadership (NISL) to help solve an impending problem: a lack of properly prepared principals.

“All of our current principals are homegrown. They’ve come up through the ranks here,” said Superintendent Adam Young, a former high school principal in the district. “Many of them are getting ready to retire, so we want to increase that leadership pipeline.”

The school leadership program will serve as an 18-month executive leadership boot camp for up to 24 employees in the district. Participants will finish the program with about half of the necessary credits to earn a graduate degree in educational leadership — one of the best perks of the program, Young said.

During the state’s speed-dating event, Young’s staff looked at about a dozen organizations that focused on leadership skills and was finally able to find one that fit the district’s needs best.

“We wanted the vendor to be onsite. I wanted my participants to have a tangible outcome,” he said. “NISL was the only one that did all of what I described.”

title1 expanded options nevada dept of education

Meghin Delaney can be reached at 702-383-0281 or mdelaney@reviewjournal.com. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.

What is ESSA?

The Every Student Succeeds Act was passed in 2015.

The federal law replaced the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act.

Education experts see the ESSA as a more flexible program, as it is intended to return more power to state departments of education.

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Trump’s budget proposal takes chop at teacher training, could cost …

Document: Candice McQueen’s letter


Read Candice McQueen’s letter to the U.S. Department of Education about the proposed cuts to Title II funds

Title II funds received by school districts
in fiscal 2017:

Bledsoe County $84,266

Bradley County $264,755

Cleveland city $222,912

Coffee County $137,894

Franklin County $228,467

Grundy County $146,734

Hamilton County $1,854,179

Marion County $185,089

McMinn County $183, 333

Meigs County $84,995

Polk County $102,199

Rhea County $165,851

Sequatchie County $82,824

Source: Tennessee Department of Education

The budget
reductions

In total, $3.9 billion flows through the state from the federal government, according to the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.

Numerous services would be cut under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, including:

Title I

Title I funds primarily serve schools that have a high number of low-income students. The funds would be held flat in the federal budget and $1 billion would be added and used, instead, for school choice programs.

Title II

The state received
$38 million from Title II for 2016-17 to help in development of teachers and district leaders, and educator recruitment and retention.

Title IV

The state expected to receive $8 million in 2017-18 in block grants for foreign language or magnet programs such as AP, IB and dual enrollment programs. The money also pays for student health and safety and the effective use of technology in schools.

21st Century
Community
Learning Centers

The after-school centers serve more than 30,000 Tennessee students and are intended to provide enrichment during nonschool hours, particularly for those in high-poverty areas. Tennessee received more than
$24 million in 2015-16 to serve 70 of the state’s 146 districts. Trump’s budget
would eliminate the program.

About $75,000 went to the state’s Achievement School District, which is tasked with turning around Tennessee’s lowest performing schools.

Individuals with
Disabilities Act funding

Money for the act and other special education programs would be held flat or cut, although the number of students needing services is projected to increase.

Career and Technical Education

The grant to the states would be reduced by about $45 million in Tennessee.

Source: The Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth via The Tennessean

 

Schools across the country are bracing for the impact of the Trump administration’s proposed education budget, and Tennessee’s top education officials worry its elimination of funding for teacher training threatens to slow student success.

The proposed budget cuts all Title II funding — $2.4 billion — designated for teacher support and training across the states. If Congress approves the budget, Tennessee stands to lose about $35 million in Title II funds.

“These are the only federal funds focused on teacher improvement and growth, and it is absolutely critical these are protected,” Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said Thursday. ” Our students have shown incredible growth over the last few years, and we will not continue to see that same success unless we fully support our educators.”

McQueen sent a letter June 13 urging U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reconsider eliminating Title II funds, saying they are critical to students’ success.

Hamilton County Schools received $1.85 million in Title II money this year, and losing that money would be devastating, school officials said. Across the region, officials in smaller and rural districts worry that a significant share of funds for teacher development could vanish.

In the letter to DeVos, McQueen noted that teachers are the No. 1 in-school factor in improving student achievement. She wrote that “supporting our teachers and leaders from educator preparation programs, to the classroom, and through their careers is the only way to achieve success for all students.”

Tennessee’s 146 school districts use Title II funding to augment salaries for teachers in leadership roles, recruit quality teachers, provide training and support for educators and hire academic coaches, among other things.

If those federal dollars disappear in fiscal 2018, the costs will fall on local taxpayers or force cuts to already strained school budgets.

Jill Levine, chief academic officer for Hamilton County Schools, said the district depends on Title II dollars to foot the bill for most of its professional development and to pay for about a dozen positions across the system.

“Nobody is born a great teacher,” Levine said Friday. “People learn the art and the craft of teaching by being continual learners and being a part of continued development.”

The district has taken strides to bolster its professional development and teacher leadership opportunities in the last year, and school leaders believe it’s proving effective and helping teachers improve.

If Title II money disappears, Hamilton County Schools may not be able to offer the same opportunities in the coming year, Levine said, noting that other federal education funding also is shrinking and the county is not raising taxes to boost school funding this year.

“At this point, we’ve cut so much out of the district’s budget I don’t know what else we would cut,” she said.

McQueen said the same is true in rural districts, which typically don’t have a tax base or private money to turn to when federal dollars are lost.

“It is imperative that rural districts are successful in developing their local talent, because it is more challenging for them to recruit teachers from outside their community,” McQueen wrote.

Jason Bell, an executive board member of the Tennessee Rural Education Association, said the consequences of funding cuts for rural districts are often overlooked.

“Rural districts are already doing so much with so little,” he said. ” Anytime there is a cut, rural districts’ budgets are so small, it’s really significant.”

Bell, also the supervisor of secondary curriculum and assessment for Polk County Schools, said the district is going to face tough budget decisions if Title II funds disappear.

This year, Polk County Schools received about $102,000 in Title II dollars and used it for leadership training, teacher development and a hodgepodge of other supports for teachers, Bell said. Without that money, the district likely will have to choose between cutting most of its staff development or eliminating other things, he added.

“We are having to think about cutting more positions,” he said. “And we’ve already cut some positions.”

The U.S. Department of Education did not respond to McQueen’s letter or the Times Free Press’ request for comment.

But the Trump administration’s budget proposal states Title II funds are “poorly targeted and spread thinly across thousands of districts with scant evidence of impact.”

***

Though it’s one of the single- largest line items cut, Title II funding isn’t the only thing on the chopping block this year. Overall, Trump’s budget proposes to cut education funding by about $9 billion — 13.5 percent.

Other cuts include college assistance for low-income students, mental health services in schools, art programs, language studies and anti-bullying activities.

The administration hopes to use some of the savings to boost school choice — its top priority — by about $400 million. Another $1 billion is being set aside to push public schools across the country to adopt choice-friendly policies.

But the education department’s largest expenditures in K-12 education — special education and Title I funds that support poor children — are unchanged from the first half of fiscal 2017. However, schools educating large shares of poor students are likely to receive less money because of a new law that allows states to take a percentage of Title I money for school improvement initiatives before distributing the funds to districts.

Hamilton County Schools expects to lose 13 percent of its Title I funding, from about $12.6 million to about $11 million. This change is the result of several national and state factors.

Along with federal education cuts, proposed changes to the way Medicaid is distributed could take away an estimated $4 billion in annual reimbursements to schools for services they provide to students with disabilities.

The administration’s budget proposal is far from finalized, and resistance is expected from Capitol Hill. Some lawmakers are fierce opponents of DeVos, are opposed to vouchers and want to protect their states’ education funding.

Tennessee has increased support of teachers by $100 million this year and by $300 million since 2015, and McQueen said the state absolutely believes these are the right investments.

“But we all have to come to the table to support our schools financially, and that is why the federal proposal is so concerning to us, particularly in the cuts it makes to Title II,” she said.

Contact staff writer Kendi A. Rainwater at krainwater@times freepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @kendi_and.

Trump’s budget proposal takes chop at teacher training, could cost Hamilton County Schools $1.8 million

Document: Candice McQueen’s letter


Read Candice McQueen’s letter to the U.S. Department of Education about the proposed cuts to Title II funds

Title II funds received by school districts
in fiscal 2017:

Bledsoe County $84,266

Bradley County $264,755

Cleveland city $222,912

Coffee County $137,894

Franklin County $228,467

Grundy County $146,734

Hamilton County $1,854,179

Marion County $185,089

McMinn County $183, 333

Meigs County $84,995

Polk County $102,199

Rhea County $165,851

Sequatchie County $82,824

Source: Tennessee Department of Education

The budget
reductions

In total, $3.9 billion flows through the state from the federal government, according to the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.

Numerous services would be cut under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, including:

Title I

Title I funds primarily serve schools that have a high number of low-income students. The funds would be held flat in the federal budget and $1 billion would be added and used, instead, for school choice programs.

Title II

The state received
$38 million from Title II for 2016-17 to help in development of teachers and district leaders, and educator recruitment and retention.

Title IV

The state expected to receive $8 million in 2017-18 in block grants for foreign language or magnet programs such as AP, IB and dual enrollment programs. The money also pays for student health and safety and the effective use of technology in schools.

21st Century
Community
Learning Centers

The after-school centers serve more than 30,000 Tennessee students and are intended to provide enrichment during nonschool hours, particularly for those in high-poverty areas. Tennessee received more than
$24 million in 2015-16 to serve 70 of the state’s 146 districts. Trump’s budget
would eliminate the program.

About $75,000 went to the state’s Achievement School District, which is tasked with turning around Tennessee’s lowest performing schools.

Individuals with
Disabilities Act funding

Money for the act and other special education programs would be held flat or cut, although the number of students needing services is projected to increase.

Career and Technical Education

The grant to the states would be reduced by about $45 million in Tennessee.

Source: The Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth via The Tennessean

 

Schools across the country are bracing for the impact of the Trump administration’s proposed education budget, and Tennessee’s top education officials worry its elimination of funding for teacher training threatens to slow student success.

The proposed budget cuts all Title II funding — $2.4 billion — designated for teacher support and training across the states. If Congress approves the budget, Tennessee stands to lose about $35 million in Title II funds.

“These are the only federal funds focused on teacher improvement and growth, and it is absolutely critical these are protected,” Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said Thursday. ” Our students have shown incredible growth over the last few years, and we will not continue to see that same success unless we fully support our educators.”

McQueen sent a letter June 13 urging U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reconsider eliminating Title II funds, saying they are critical to students’ success.

Hamilton County Schools received $1.85 million in Title II money this year, and losing that money would be devastating, school officials said. Across the region, officials in smaller and rural districts worry that a significant share of funds for teacher development could vanish.

In the letter to DeVos, McQueen noted that teachers are the No. 1 in-school factor in improving student achievement. She wrote that “supporting our teachers and leaders from educator preparation programs, to the classroom, and through their careers is the only way to achieve success for all students.”

Tennessee’s 146 school districts use Title II funding to augment salaries for teachers in leadership roles, recruit quality teachers, provide training and support for educators and hire academic coaches, among other things.

If those federal dollars disappear in fiscal 2018, the costs will fall on local taxpayers or force cuts to already strained school budgets.

Jill Levine, chief academic officer for Hamilton County Schools, said the district depends on Title II dollars to foot the bill for most of its professional development and to pay for about a dozen positions across the system.

“Nobody is born a great teacher,” Levine said Friday. “People learn the art and the craft of teaching by being continual learners and being a part of continued development.”

The district has taken strides to bolster its professional development and teacher leadership opportunities in the last year, and school leaders believe it’s proving effective and helping teachers improve.

If Title II money disappears, Hamilton County Schools may not be able to offer the same opportunities in the coming year, Levine said, noting that other federal education funding also is shrinking and the county is not raising taxes to boost school funding this year.

“At this point, we’ve cut so much out of the district’s budget I don’t know what else we would cut,” she said.

McQueen said the same is true in rural districts, which typically don’t have a tax base or private money to turn to when federal dollars are lost.

“It is imperative that rural districts are successful in developing their local talent, because it is more challenging for them to recruit teachers from outside their community,” McQueen wrote.

Jason Bell, an executive board member of the Tennessee Rural Education Association, said the consequences of funding cuts for rural districts are often overlooked.

“Rural districts are already doing so much with so little,” he said. ” Anytime there is a cut, rural districts’ budgets are so small, it’s really significant.”

Bell, also the supervisor of secondary curriculum and assessment for Polk County Schools, said the district is going to face tough budget decisions if Title II funds disappear.

This year, Polk County Schools received about $102,000 in Title II dollars and used it for leadership training, teacher development and a hodgepodge of other supports for teachers, Bell said. Without that money, the district likely will have to choose between cutting most of its staff development or eliminating other things, he added.

“We are having to think about cutting more positions,” he said. “And we’ve already cut some positions.”

The U.S. Department of Education did not respond to McQueen’s letter or the Times Free Press’ request for comment.

But the Trump administration’s budget proposal states Title II funds are “poorly targeted and spread thinly across thousands of districts with scant evidence of impact.”

***

Though it’s one of the single- largest line items cut, Title II funding isn’t the only thing on the chopping block this year. Overall, Trump’s budget proposes to cut education funding by about $9 billion — 13.5 percent.

Other cuts include college assistance for low-income students, mental health services in schools, art programs, language studies and anti-bullying activities.

The administration hopes to use some of the savings to boost school choice — its top priority — by about $400 million. Another $1 billion is being set aside to push public schools across the country to adopt choice-friendly policies.

But the education department’s largest expenditures in K-12 education — special education and Title I funds that support poor children — are unchanged from the first half of fiscal 2017. However, schools educating large shares of poor students are likely to receive less money because of a new law that allows states to take a percentage of Title I money for school improvement initiatives before distributing the funds to districts.

Hamilton County Schools expects to lose 13 percent of its Title I funding, from about $12.6 million to about $11 million. This change is the result of several national and state factors.

Along with federal education cuts, proposed changes to the way Medicaid is distributed could take away an estimated $4 billion in annual reimbursements to schools for services they provide to students with disabilities.

The administration’s budget proposal is far from finalized, and resistance is expected from Capitol Hill. Some lawmakers are fierce opponents of DeVos, are opposed to vouchers and want to protect their states’ education funding.

Tennessee has increased support of teachers by $100 million this year and by $300 million since 2015, and McQueen said the state absolutely believes these are the right investments.

“But we all have to come to the table to support our schools financially, and that is why the federal proposal is so concerning to us, particularly in the cuts it makes to Title II,” she said.

Contact staff writer Kendi A. Rainwater at krainwater@times freepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @kendi_and.

Local education officials prepare for year-round Pell Grants

Pell Grants will be available to students year-round beginning July 1, the U.S. Department of Education recently announced.

The change in the Federal Pell Grant Program will allow an eligible student to receive up to 150 percent of the student’s award beginning with the 2017-18 year.

Pell Grants since 2008 have been available to students only in the fall and spring semesters. The change in policy will ensure that hundreds of thousands of college students have the resources needed to finish their coursework in a time frame that meets their individual needs, the U.S. secretary of education said in a statement.

The change will go into effect July 1, but the first wave of summertime award recipients won’t be seen until next summer, said Becca Diskin, director of financial aid at Missouri Southern State University. That will give administrators time to prepare for the switch and to promote summer classes to students who otherwise might not enroll in them, she said.

“Next year, a student would be able to go fall, spring and at least half-time in summer and receive a Pell Grant,” she said. “For anybody who is planning on attending in summer, you could accelerate your graduation time, you could retake something you didn’t do well in — it just allows people to get a little ahead of the game.”

Approximately 60 percent of the student body at Crowder College is eligible to receive Pell Grants, said Stephanie Ferguson, director of financial aid at the school. The grants can be used for their educational expenses, including tuition, fees, books, or room and board.

“For the students that receive a Pell Grant, it is a critical component of their financial aid package,” she said. “I think (year-round grants) will be important for them. Right now, a lot of students choose not to come during the summer because they know they won’t have the funds.”

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., lauded the announcement of year-round Pell Grants, for which he helped secure money in the government funding bill for fiscal year 2017.

Blunt said that under the way the Pell program has operated, many full-time students and some part-time students exhaust their full benefit after two semesters. Restoring year-round Pell will help an estimated 1 million students stay enrolled in classes throughout the year, which will lower their student debt and accelerate completion of their degree program, he said.

“Going to school year-round allowed me to become the first person in my family to earn a college degree and to do it in three years,” Blunt said in a statement. “Restoring year-round Pell Grants will help more students stay on track for graduation, enter or re-enter the workforce sooner, and graduate with less debt.”

Eligibility requirements

To be eligible for the additional Pell Grant funds, the student must be otherwise eligible to receive Pell Grant funds for the payment period and must be enrolled at least half-time. For a student who is eligible for the additional funds, the institution must pay the student all of the student’s eligible Pell Grant funds, up to 150 percent of the student’s Pell Grant Scheduled Award for the award year.

Federal Budget Cuts Would Impact Local Agencies

AmeriCorps member Taylor Boles teaches a group of youth to construct inexpensive worm composting boxes as part of the Farm and Food Teen Training Program at Rural Resources. Pictured from left to right are Kellen Rice, Jacob Butler, Molly Bauer, Boles, Kristi DeVoti and Phillip Blair.

Southern University warned it could lose accreditation needed to issue degrees, receive federal grants

Southern University was warned last week that it could lose its accreditation that is required for the school to offer degrees and receive federal dollars. 

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges placed Southern University on a warning list during its June board meeting. SACS is one of the six major accrediting bodies in the U.S. for higher education institutions. 

TOPS scholarships are safe from cuts in the coming school year.

Southern received the sanction because the school missed benchmarks related to its faculty, student achievement, “institutional effectiveness,” and student complaints. 

“In one year, the University will submit a report documenting the progress made in each area,” said Southern University spokesman Henry Tillman in a statement. “Because the University has already begun to address each issue and significant progress has been made, we are confident that monitoring beyond next year will not be necessary.”

The warning list is the lightest of three possible penalties issued by the board. SACS can also place schools on probation or revoke accreditation entirely. 

Joseph Rallo, Louisiana Higher Education Commissioner, is a former member of the SACS board. 

“It’s serious, it’s very serious,” Rallo said of Southern’s warning. “Without accreditation, basically the value of the degree is simply not there. If you are not accredited by SACS you’re not able to dispense federal financial assistance. And at Southern University, if you can’t get Pell Grants, well you might as well shut your doors.” 

Southern University officials did not provide details about the issues flagged in their report. But Rallo said based on the brief details made public by SACS, the school was likely flagged for an insufficient number of faculty members. He said problems with faculty can in turn hurt student achievement levels, and increase student complaints. 

Southern University Law Center awarded 135 graduates with the Juris Doctor Degree during the…

Rallo said some of Southern’s troubles could be related to state budget cuts the school has sustained over the past decade. 

“A lot of these factors are driven by inadequate funding,” Rallo said. “With university funding being cut as dramatically as it has been, it’s very difficult to attract and retain faculty.” 

Federal grant to IU program will create Indiana’s ‘Language Roadmap’

The need for a comprehensive discussion of language learning in Indiana is widely recognized by educators and business leaders as the state prepares residents to be competitive in the global marketplace. The Business Roundtable found Indiana’s 2014 exports totaled $38 billion in goods and $9 billion in services, with nearly 200 countries and territories buying from the state.

The Indiana Business Research Center at IU’s Kelley School of Business conducted a survey of Indiana businesses in 2015-16 in which more than 45 percent reported 10 percent or more revenue from international business. Forty-four percent of respondents indicated international sales are equaling or outpacing domestic sales. Sixty-three percent of the businesses surveyed said total sales would increase with staff possessing more international expertise, but that hiring U.S. residents with such skills was difficult.

“The Indiana Language Roadmap will clearly go a long way toward enhancing our state’s ability to meet the social, economic and intellectual challenges of active and productive participation in today’s global society,” said Lee Feinstein, founding dean of the IU School of Global and International Studies. “We are delighted to offer our support and leadership for this project.”

The Indiana Language Roadmap initiative — supported by a grant from The Language Flagship, administered by the Institute of International Education — is intended to help Indiana citizens acquire language skills and certification needed for global careers. In addition to this funding, the project has commitments from prominent Indiana businesses. The Indiana Economic Development Corp., the state’s lead economic development agency, is also a key supporter.

“Indiana is home to more than 800 foreign-owned business establishments, which employ 170,800 Hoosiers,” said Elaine Bedel, president of the IEDC. “The Language Roadmap will continue to take Indiana to the world and bring the world to Indiana, helping take our state to the next level by attracting new business and talent to Indiana.”

Additionally, the project is working with the Indiana Department of Education, with participation from Global Learning and World Languages specialist Jill Woerner. Indiana state Rep. Robert Behning, the chairman of the House Education Committee, and Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane have promoted the program at the state level, as have Sen. Greg Taylor of Indianapolis and Sen. Mark Stoops of Bloomington. Indiana’s U.S. senators, Todd Young and Joe Donnelly, and U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth supported the application for federal funds.

By August, the Language Roadmap project will name nine regional leaders to represent all areas of the state. Regional meetings and workshops will take place in the fall. In January, stakeholders will attend a summit in Indianapolis to provide input that will go into creating the roadmap.

The final roadmap will be unveiled in 2018 and will be officially launched at a November 2018 summit. From February to May 2019, participants will be working on long-term implementation of the roadmap.

Indiana University has historically supported critical language instruction and area studies, particularly supporting instruction of less commonly taught languages. About 70 languages are taught at IU, more than at any other public university. IU and the School of Global and International Studies are home to three Language Flagship programs in Arabic, Chinese and Turkish, more than any other institution. The Center for the Study of Global Change is a national leader in global education outreach and research and is known for its collaborative and innovative approaches to educational internationalization.

Established in 2012, the School of Global and International Studies at IU Bloomington promotes understanding of contemporary and global issues, informed by a deep knowledge of history, culture and language. The school represents one of the nation’s largest investments in global studies, with the addition of 25 new faculty members and the opening of its $50 million LEED-certified building, inaugurated by the U.S. secretary of state in 2015.

Federal budget

The 2018 budget proposal to fund our federal government, specifically proposed federal education funding has been recently released by President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The proposal includes more than $9 billion in cuts to funding for public schools and postsecondary students that, if passed, would be devastating for our schools and community.

As Superintendent of the Northwestern School Corporation, I know firsthand that money matters in education. Without sufficient resources, equitable educational opportunities are not available to all students. The President’s proposed federal education budget that will enable a private school voucher program siphons money from our public school students.  In fact, President Trump and Secretary DeVos have proposed cutting funding that districts like Northwestern use to provide critical resources to students and their families.

For example, the administration’s budget eliminates federal support for after-school and summer learning programs. These cuts could mean that thousands students in Indiana lose access to these enrichment and remediation programs that engage students in safe environments. President Trump and Secretary DeVos do not see what losing these programs would mean to families in our local school districts.

Educational programs and programs for children in Howard County that would be negatively impacted by President Trump’s proposed budget include summer lunch programs, summer school class offerings, and jump start opportunities for pre-K students, as well as para-professionals for many summer programs.

Additionally, The Trump administration also proposes eliminating funding to support and train excellent teachers. This loss of funding statewide could support many teachers throughout many school corporations.  However at Northwestern we utilize those funds to insure smaller class sizes. For many schools that need that funding to recruit and retain teachers, or reduce class size this would result in a damaging loss of funding.

Throughout the state, teachers in many content areas and specialties are becoming more and more difficult to attract.  In past years, Northwestern would have large candidate pools that have now eroded into smaller and smaller applicant bases that limit to opportunity to select talented individuals to fill classrooms.  In prior years, Science and Math, were difficult to secure.  Not only has that difficulty increased, but has spread to more and more content areas including special education, English learner specialists, and foreign language.

The administration’s budget doesn’t stop there – it also attacks 20 other critical programs such as arts in education, gifted and talented education, foreign languages, and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). While President Trump and Secretary DeVos may find these programs non-essential, the reality is that they mean a great deal to the students in the Northwestern School Corporation.

What’s worse, President Trump and Secretary DeVos are proposing to redirect these funds to private schools through a national voucher program. Although decades of research shows that voucher programs do not lead to better outcomes for students, Trump and DeVos continue to praise voucher programs as a model for increasing school choice across the country.

In most communities in Indiana and especially in Howard parents and students have public school options to consider regardless of residence.  For example, Northwestern has over 450 students that have transferred into our schools from outside the school corporation boundaries.  Additionally, few private school options exist in Howard County that accept the vouchers provided by the State of Indiana.  Due to these limited options vouchers throughout the state which are now approaching $14 million dollars annually benefit few Howard County children while the lost dollars could be added to public school tuition support.  When a student receives a private school voucher, the school he or she leaves behind loses thousands of dollars in per pupil funding. It is true that in Indiana the voucher support does not equal the per pupil state support to public schools, the small difference between the voucher credit and the public school tuition support is returned to the state general fund.  The big picture does demonstrate that over S30 million has been drawn from the state of Indiana to support voucher students attending private schools.  This illustration is not an attempt to recall the Indiana voucher program, rather an attempt to illustrate that a federal voucher program would only serve to further reduce funding to public schools while adding to the dollars available to private education providers.  We need to invest in our public schools, not drain them by diverting public funds to private schools. 

To be clear, we also know that we must improve our public schools so that all kids are ready to succeed in college, career, and life. Northwestern School Corporation has focused on maintaining our stellar graduation rate that annually exceeds 97%, shrinking the achievement gap, and getting more students into advanced courses, but there is still work to be done. Siphoning public dollars away from public schools is not the answer.

All students deserve access to an equitable education. Instead, President Trump and Secretary DeVos want to take money away from public schools—which educate 90 percent of students—to invest in private school voucher schemes. Our country has had at its foundation the belief that a quality public education is a right for all children, and has fought to provide an equal opportunity to that education for all.  It is time we hold our elected officials in Washington, D.C. to that expectation as well; they must stand up for students and say no to the administration’s irresponsible efforts to privatize our public schools.

 

Ryan Snoddy