House Committee Rejects Democrats’ Bid to Restore Education Funding, Protect Teacher Training

July 19, 2017

Carolyn Phenicie


Dems unsuccessfully try to restore “peculiar and disproportionate” cuts to Title II funding

Republican leader wants to “do more” on Head Start, early childhood in future, touts common ground

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Connecticut Educators Protest Federal Budget Cuts

Educators from Connecticut joined a union-led rally outside the U.S. Capitol Wednesday during a day of lobbying as a House subcommittee debated the federal education budget.

Jan Hochadel, president of AFT Connecticut, said the House Republican budget released this week is a “cruel to kids” budget.

“It’s the students that suffer,” she said in a phone interview from Washington.

House Republicans are seeking to cut the Education Department’s budget significantly less than the $9.2 billion in cuts that President Donald Trump had proposed.

Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., is the senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that deals with education spending.

“This bill is fundamentally anti-teacher,” she told the committee Wednesday morning. It eliminates $2 billion in teacher training grants, she said.

Hochadel said members of AFT Connecticut were in town for a conference and traveled to Capitol Hill Wednesday for the rally and to meet with Connecticut’s congressional delegation.

House Committee Rejects Democrats’ Bid to Restore Education Funding, Protect Teaching Training

July 19, 2017

Carolyn Phenicie


Dems unsuccessfully try to restore “peculiar and disproportionate” cuts to Title II funding

Republican leader wants to “do more” on Head Start, early childhood in future, touts common ground

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TCNJ receives $91K federal grant to train teachers

EWING — The College of New Jersey has been awarded a $91,000 federal grant to provide environmental education training to local teachers.

The college was one of about 30 selected for the Environmental Protection Agency’s grant nationwide.

Associate professor Lauren Madden says the project team is partnering with the college’s Sustainability Institute to create a professional development program for 50 teachers in 10 elementary schools across central New Jersey.

Each team of five teachers will participate in a series of five workshops focused on how best to incorporate environmental sustainability education into their curriculum, Madden said.

The training is designed to increase environmental literacy and promote the protection of local water sources in teachers’ communities and schools.

Each team will develop a project and receive subawards to put their ideas into practice.

Cristina Rojas may be reached at crojas@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @CristinaRojasTT. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

House Republicans at odds with Trump’s proposed higher education cuts


WASHINGTON, D.C.  —  The Capitol dome at dusk on Aug. 13, 2013. (Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

House Republicans issued a 2018 budget bill Tuesday afternoon that rejects several higher education cuts proposed by President Trump but upholds plans to pull billions of dollars in reserves out of the Pell Grant program for needy college students.

Ahead of a markup slated for Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee released the full funding report for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies that provides money for programs placed on the chopping block in the White House budget.

Instead of eliminating the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the committee wants to set aside the same $733 million keeping the program afloat this year. It also maintained the existing funding for the federal work-study program that helps students work their way through college, rather than cut the program’s funding in half, as Trump proposed.

Trump had sought nearly $200 million in cuts to the TRIO and Gear Up programs, which help disadvantaged students in middle and high schools prepare for college, but appropriators are pouring $60 million and $10 million more into each respective program. Policy analysts anticipated that the White House proposal would run into bipartisan resistance on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers have historically supported the college-readiness programs, albeit with modest appropriations.

Not all programs earmarked for cuts by the White House are safe. House appropriators still want to eliminate all funding for Child Care Access Means Parents in School, a program that subsidizes campus-based day care for low-income parents earning a degree. Committee members blamed budget constraints for the cut, while the White House and Education Department has said “subsidizing expenses associated with child care is not consistent with the department’s core mission.”

Resources for the campus child-care program have been stretched thin as the number of parents in college has grown from 3.2 million to 4.8 million in the past 20 years, according to the Institute of Women’s Policy Research. The percentage of public institutions with centers on campus is dwindling, and without support from the federal government, many worry that student parents will struggle to remain in school. Still, student parents could get a bit of a reprieve: The committee is recommending $4 million more in funding for existing child-care programs within the Department of Health and Human Services.

The House GOP is standing with Trump on drawing down the reserves for the Pell Grant program, calling for a $3.3 billion recision on top of the $1.3 billion cut outlined in the fiscal 2017 spending agreement. The committee maintained level funding for the program, but advocacy groups say raiding the reserves could jeopardize the program in the future.

Forty organizations representing students, consumers and colleges sent a letter Tuesday urging House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) and ranking member Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) to oppose the cut.

“Cutting an additional $3.3 billion in FY18 would put much‐needed investments to strengthen the Pell Grant further out of reach, and place the program at risk of future cuts to grant amounts or eligibility that would exacerbate student debt and limit access to higher education,” the organizations wrote. “To support students, the American workforce and a growing economy, Pell dollars must remain in the Pell Grant program.”

The American Federation of Teachers, one of the 40 groups involved in the letter, is planning a rally Wednesday on Capitol Hill to speak out against education budget cuts.

‘Funding for failure’: officials say education isn’t created for everyone

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is vowing to veto a school funding bill over a provision which would require the state to pick up the tab for the employer contributions to teacher pensions in Chicago. For every other district in the state, the state contribution is mandated by statute, but the language is “aspirational” for Chicago Public Schools, which had a pension plan in place before the state established one for the other districts, according CPS CEO Forrest Claypool.

In a recent interview with Education Dive, Claypool shared that the district’s “cash deficits each year almost correlate directly with the pension obligation.” In some places, the state is forcing school districts to meet pension obligations by diverting Title I funds to cover those pension contributions.

The recently-passed budget required separate approval of an “evidence based” school funding model, which the Quad-City Times reports would be based on local property value and the needs of specific students in a district. Opposition has mounted over any funding formula which would seem to favor Chicago Public Schools, but Claypool said the current model puts his district at a significant disadvantage.

The district comprises roughly 20% of the enrollment in the state, but gets only 15% of the state funding, when you account for the amount the state contributes to other districts’ pension systems, he said, for a difference of $500 million per year — “essentially the size of our budget deficit.”


“I believe education is not designed for everybody. Somebody has to be the laborer, and somebody has to be the boss.”

Dr. Sandy Womack

Director of Principal Leadership Cleveland Heights University Heights School District


“The heart of our issue here in Chicago is we have two separate but unequal funding systems,” said Claypool. “There is no other place in the United States where the state itself deliberately provides hundreds of millions of dollars less in funding to African-American and Latino children. … This is not about adequacy, it’s about overt racially-based unequal funding — 60 years after Brown [vs. Board of Education].”

Dr. Sandy Womack, Jr., Director of Principal Leadership Cleveland Heights University Heights School District, believes the pattern is not limited to Chicago, but is indicative of a broader systemic effort to maintain the country’s historic balance of power.

“I believe education is not designed for everybody. Somebody has to be the laborer, and somebody has to be the boss,” Womack said, noting the intentional design which has positioned people of color — first Native Americans, then African-Americans, now Hispanics, as the underclass in this country.

“People are scared of diversity within schools, and therefore funding is made to look as if we are providing resources for those in need, but in actuality, those who have the least are charged the most,” said Womack.

“And I think poverty is a multimillion dollar business,” he said. “When we look at some of the educational outcomes of what we see today, it’s very similar to what the design was.”

Taking money from students who need it the most

After moving one of the worst rated schools in Stark County, Ohio from an F-rated school to a B-rated school — an effort Womack said required a lot of community collaboration — he was dismayed to find “I was removed as principal and sent to a sister school and the staff was reconstituted in spite of coming out of School Improvement Status.”

“Unfortunately, what I found out was the worse we did the more funding we received. The better we scored the fewer resources we had.  This was an anomaly to me. How could failure provide more funding?  Why would academic achievement and closing achievement gaps leave a school destitute and with less human and social capital to sustain the growth?”

He concluded there must be what he describes as “a systemic process that provided additional supports for failure and withdrew support when schools were demonstrating growth.”

“Having a building that moved from an F to a B … when we moved to a B, staffing was reduced, my funding for Title I was reduced, the Eisenhower money I had gotten from the federal government was cut,” along with a number of other funding sources, which provided for an extended school day and additional teachers and staff members to help support student growth and achievement, Womack said. “As soon as you start making progress with that population of kids, all of that money was taken out.”

This pattern was exacerbated by federal policies from No Child Left Behind to Race to the Top, which made way for states and the federal government to punish achievement by diverting funds intended to help struggling schools into alternative, experimental school models, including charters. Despite the fact that additional federal funding was intended “to supplement, not supplant” state and local funding, “those funds are now being dispersed to experimental schools,” and students are being turned over to individuals “we believe can do a good job, but [who have] never received the license and certification” and professional training in education, he said.

What is amazing about the situation and dilemma districts with heterogeneous student populations faced was that due to poverty, these school districts and or school buildings with over 40% poverty school-wide prior to NCLB would have received these dollars regardless of the academic status of the school,” he said.

This has created a situation in which “an already-stressed population whom we know has a systemic process already designed for them to fail” is taxed the heaviest.  

And school officials agree that as long as school populations are determined by neighborhood boundaries — which remain segregated along the lines of race and class — these issues will continue.

“The idea of concentrated poverty is especially important to look at, in terms of communities that are concentrated and segregated,” said California State Board of Education President Michael Kirst, who told an audience at the recent Education Commission of the States National Forum on Education Policy that in California, “Concentrated poverty is at the center of our thinking.”

For its part, Kirst said his agency has made the intentional decision “to have extra money for low-income children, English learners [regardless of family income], and foster care children” and, when individuals are reticent to change, to make them defend the old way of doing things and their intentional exclusion of certain groups of students from the system.

“Separate is never equal when it comes to education funding and race, especially here in Illinois — the land of Lincoln, and the land of Barack Obama, ironically,” Claypool said.

$3.6M grant will expand early education in Southern Nevada – Las Vegas Review

U.S. Representative Dina Titus, D-Nev., speaks to the crowd after a march on Saturday, April 29, 2017. Gabriella Benavidez Las Vegas Review-Journal @gabbydeebee

Underserved children in Southern Nevada will have expanded access to early education under a $3.6 million grant announced Tuesday.

Sunrise Children’s Foundation is receiving the grant from the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, said in a statement Tuesday.

The grant will serve 200 children between the ages of six weeks and 3 years old through the Early Head Start program. Parents must be working or going to school full time for their children to quality.

Head Start and Early Head Start are federal programs that help children from low-income families prepare for school.

“Critical education, health, and nutrition services provided by the Sunrise Children’s Foundation Early Head Start program are vital for developing our nation’s future leaders and empowering underserved communities,” Titus said in a statement. “By providing more access to resources for our children and educators, this grant makes a valuable long-term investment for our community.”

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

Ojakian decries potential federal higher ed cuts

  • Board of Regents President Mark Ojakian meet with Hearst Connecticut Media editorial board on Thursday, May 4, 2017 Photo: Cathy Zuraw / Hearst Connecticut Media / Connecticut Post

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Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, questions Betsy DeVos, U.S. secretary of education, not pictured, during a House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Education advocates say President Donald Trump’s budget contradicts his campaign pledge to make college more affordable with its proposed elimination of subsidized student loans and cuts in other programs that help students pay tuition. The 2018 budget, unveiled Tuesday, slashes funding for the Education Department by 13.5 percent. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg less


Photo: Zach Gibson / Bloomberg

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 13, 2017. Clockwise, from lower left are, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the president, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) less


Photo: Andrew Harnik / Associated Press


A Trump budget plan to slash Pell Grant funding will hurt needy students, Mark E. Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system warned a congressional committee in a letter sent Tuesday.

The message comes in advance of a hearing on the Trump Administration’s budget before the full Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. The proposal would eliminate the annual inflation adjustment for Pell Grant awards.


The cut would prevent eligible students from receiving an estimated $165 increase in their 2018-2019 award. For Connecticut students, the loss could add up to $6 million annually, state officials said.

“This is particularly disturbing for our community colleges, where 34 percent of the student body (25,065 students) received a Federal Pell Grant in 2015-2016,” Ojakian said.

Pell Grants have been around since 1972 and are are awarded largely based on income. Most recipients come from working families who often juggle work and family obligations while pursing an education, Ojakian said.

“Their cost of living increases with inflation and they depend on their Pell Grant to do the same, just to make ends meet,” Ojakian said.

Ojakian said the Administration’s proposal cuts $3.9 billion from the Pell Grant Program reserves while the Appropriation Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services’s budget cuts $3.3 billion. He called either cut potentially devastating to students and the colleges they attend.

His agency oversees not only 12 community colleges in the state, but four regional universities and an on-line degree program.

Ojakian is also worried about the potential full elimination of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program and a 50 percent cut in the Federal Work-Study Program. Additionally, the Federal Perkins Loan Program would expire on September 30, 2017, inhibiting the ability of our institutions to award new loans under this program.

“On behalf of the CSCU community, I urge you to reinstate the inflation adjustment for Pell Grants, and to reconsider these other proposals that would have hurt our students and their ability to pursue an education,” Ojakian said.

The letter was addressed to leaders of the committee including Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, a ranking member of house appropriations subcommittee.

Top 6 Digital Transformation Trends In Education

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This is a continuation of my series looking at how digital transformation has impacted every industry. Today’s focus is on educational trends.

Educators from all grade-levels are coming to realize the benefits of technology in the classroom. Typically, education is one of the last industries to make extensive change, holding on to antiquated methods and practices. But through the digital transformation and the rise of educational technology, teachers have begun making drastic changes to their instruction, assessments, even the physical make-up of their classrooms, and at a much faster rate than expected. These current trends are making headlines in education because of the ways in which they are impacting student learning:

Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality / Mixed Reality

Gone are the days where students are expected to sit quietly at their desks. Educational technology is succeeding in making learning collaborative and interactive. Augmented, virtual, and mixed reality are examples of transformative technology that enhance teacher instruction while simultaneously creating immersive lessons that are fun and engaging for the student.  Virtual reality has the capability of bringing the outside world into the classroom and vice versa. Apps such as Unimersiv can transport students to ancient Greece, while Cospaces allows students to share their virtual creations with the world. Wilkes University online adjunct professor and independent educational technologist Kathy Schrock concludes virtual reality has the potential to increase visual literacy, technology literacy, and attention to audience. The idea of combining AR/VR/MR is highly anticipated. Take, for example, the privately owned company Magic Leap. Even though it has yet to really sell anything, Magic Leap is already valued at four and a half billion dollars! This speaks to the projected endless possibilities of technology transforming classrooms.

Classroom Set of Devices

Schools are moving away from BYOD, or bring your own device, and students no longer have to go to the technology lab for access to a computer or laptop. Recent years have shown an increase in classroom sets of computers that was made possible in part by federal funding. Title I schools have received funds via The Every Student Succeeds Act, and several grants and donations have outfitted classrooms all over the country with iPads and laptops for each student. Google Chromebooks account for over half of the devices in US classrooms. In 2014, more than three million Chromebooks were used in educational institutions. As that number continues to grow, so does the need for increased focus on programs that teach digital citizenship skills. Today’s pervasive online environment poses exciting possibilities, ones that necessitate students are properly educated on cyber safety and individual responsibility.

Futurum Research, LLC

The Top 6 Trends For Digital Transformation In Education

Experts: So Far, DeVos’ Steps Headed Backward


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by Jamaal Abdul-Alim

College is about to become less affordable for low-income students. Protection of civil rights on campus is about to be scaled back. For-profit colleges are about to rob students blind and raid the federal trough.

As the administration of President Donald J. Trump reaches the six-month mark, some critical observers say those looming scenarios have all become closer to reality under the leadership of Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

“In the context of affordability, access, and quality, this administration has taken a backward step,” said Tariq Habash, policy associate at The Century Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank that “seeks to foster opportunity, reduce inequality, and promote security at home and abroad,” according to its website.

“Without question, the outlook for students and student loan borrowers has grown even more dire since Donald Trump took office,” agreed Charlotte Hancock, program director at Higher Ed, Not Debt, a campaign housed at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, a policy institute based in Washington, D.C.

And there’s no shortage of criticism that has been levied against the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which is currently being led by attorney Candice Jackson. Among other things, critics lament a recent memo from Jackson that seemed to suggest that the office no longer take a comprehensive look at civil rights violations when investigating a single civil rights complaint.

“Although the law remains unchanged, and the obligations of this Department of Education are the same as the obligations of the previous administration, the actions and rhetoric of Secretary Betsy DeVos and Acting Assistant Secretary Candice Jackson continue to suggest an abdication of their responsibilities as public servants in a civil rights agency,” said Liz King, director of education policy at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

King said the Office of Civil Rights has historically had a “measurably positive affect on the lives of students and families.”

“The Trump administration’s determination to reverse course and undermine the very infrastructure of civil rights enforcement is immoral and unjustifiable,” King said. “If allowed to proceed, the actions of this Office for Civil Rights will have long-lasting devastating effects.” Education Department officials have said the perceived narrower approach to civil rights investigations is meant to enable the department to handle more cases more efficiently.

Much of the criticism levied at DeVos has been directed at issues of access and affordability for low-income students.

“Around affordability, the DeVos Education Department has already undone important guidelines that previously stopped debt collectors from charging recently defaulted students exorbitantly high fees,” Habash said.

He was referring to a guidance the department sent in March that rescinds a 2015 Obama administration guidance that stated debt collectors could not charge collection costs to a defaulted borrower who enters into a repayment agreement.

Habash also noted that DeVos and Trump have proposed “huge cuts to federal student aid.”

Indeed, the White House’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018 seeks to trim spending at the Education Department by $9 billion — a 13 percent reduction below the fiscal 2017 level. The White House proposal also seeks to take $4 billion from the surplus Pell grant fund.

Many of the cuts are to programs that help students pay for college, such as federal work-study and the federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. The department has said the SEOG grants are a “less well-targeted” way to help students than Pell grants, and that the work-study program should be reformed and limited to undergraduates who benefit most from the program. This is an assessment with which even critics of cuts to the program tend to agree.

Although Congress has proposed a budget with less severe cuts than the Trump White House, the White House education budget still sends a troubling message about its priorities, advocates say.

Dr. Tiffany Jones, director of the higher education team at The Education Trust, said while under the Obama administration there was a big focus on improving post-secondary educational outcomes,that focus has dissipated under Secretary DeVos and President Trump. The Education Trust is a research and advocacy organization that focuses on equity for low-income students and students of color,

“Where we thought we’d be fighting to improve those programs, in some ways we’re fighting to keep them,” Jones said, speaking in reference to various programs that the Trump administration has proposed to cut or eliminate.

Habash noted further that DeVos has removed important “borrower-centric” protections from the loan servicing recompete.

“We continue to worry about the future of student loan borrowers, as Secretary DeVos considers handing the job of servicing federal loans to one company — a task now held by several companies, threatened with a monopoly,” said Hancock, of Higher Ed, Not Debt.

One of the most worrisome issues is DeVos’ decision to delay enforcement of the gainful employment and borrower defense rules as her department seeks to rewrite the rules.  The gainful employment rule sought to hold for-profit colleges and non-degree programs accountable for poor outcomes. The colleges and programs faced the loss of access to federal student aid if too many students graduated with too much debt and not enough income to pay it off.

“All these actions send a clear signal that the current administration is not interested in making college affordable,” Habash said.

Robert Shireman, senior fellow at The Century Foundation and a former deputy undersecretary in the Department of Education during the early years of President Barack Obama, expressed similar concerns. Shireman is considered the architect of the Obama administration’s gainful employment (GE) rule.

“With weakened consumer protection oversight, for-profit schools will increase enrollment in so-called career programs that do not actually lead to good careers, again undermining value and affordability,” Shireman said.

“Colleges have taken steps to eliminate or improve bad programs because of the GE rule,” Shireman said. “If the rule is scrapped or weakened, those improvements will be reversed and many for-profit colleges, in particular, will return to their old ways.”

Not everyone shares the view that DeVos has set things back for higher education. And some say it’s too early to say one way or another.

“There have been no policy changes of import yet,” said Frederick M. Hess, resident scholar and director of education policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

“It’s still in the early months of the administration,” Hess said. “So I’d say that nothing of significance has yet changed.”

Regarding the Education Department’s plans to redo the gainful employment and borrower defense rules, Hess said both measures involved trade-offs.

“How much responsibility for certain loans should fall on taxpayers rather than students?” Hess said of the borrower defense rule. “Or how aggressively should Washington try to control access to certain postsecondary institutions,” he said of the gainful employment rule.

“The Obama administration had its views, which some of us regarded as insufficiently attentive to taxpayer concerns and overly confident that the government can responsibly and effectively regulate higher education,” Hess said.

“Now, the Trump administration is modifying those policies,” Hess continued. “Reasonable people will hold different views on all this. But it’s hard for me to square the vitriolic attacks on Trump’s policies with what is actually being proposed.”

“It is too soon to judge results,” agreed Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of Career Colleges and Universities, or CECU, the main lobbying group for the for-profit college industry.

Rather than criticism, Gunderson said, DeVos deserves credit.

“I strongly commend the Department for recognizing the current regulations were driven by an ideological agenda rather than a goal of creating public policy that really works,” Gunderson said. “My strong hope is the Department will step back, learn how the current rules do not work in the real world, and then constructively work to create sound public policy.”

Gunderson said concerns about the rewriting of the borrower defense and gainful employment rules are overblown and that critics need to keep in mind that the rewriting of the rules is being done through negotiated rule-making.

“Obviously the very purpose of negotiated rule-making is to try and achieve consensus among different views,” Gunderson said.

But other experts say the gainful employment rule has already been proven as effective.

For instance, in a recent op-ed for The New York Times, Kevin Carey, director of the education policy program at New America, said the proof is in the fact that out of more than 500 programs that the Department of Education under President Obama identified as failing, about 300 of them have already been shut down by the colleges themselves.

“The gainful employment test turns out to be an accurate way of identifying programs that for-profit colleges themselves don’t think are worth saving, as well as identifying programs run by colleges that are on the brink of bankruptcy and dissolution,” Carey wrote.

Ben Miller, senior director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, has suggested that — sooner or later — DeVos will need to “flip from reflexively trying to undo Obama-era actions to a proactive agenda.”

“At her confirmation hearing, DeVos mentioned the need to find solutions around accountability, student debt, and a host of issues,” Miller stated in a recent “midpoint report card” on DeVos. “Hitting the undo button repeatedly is only going to take her so far.”

Jamaal Abdul-Alim can be reached at jabdul-alim@diverseeducation.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @dcwriter360.

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