The U.S. Department of Education has announced it will redirect $22.9 million in unspent funds to provide assistance to institutions that have been affected by the 2017 series of severe hurricanes: Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
According to the announcement, the Department “will provide $5.4 million to students through the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant Program, at 285 colleges and universities, including 277 postsecondary schools located in Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” Additionally, the Department plans to provide $17.5 million by means of the Federal Work Study program.
As we await a spring thaw, things are heating up in Washington as Congress continues tackling a crowded agenda. With a March 23 deadline to pass an omnibus funding the government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018, advocacy abounds to fund educator preparation programs. In addition, the process for Fiscal Year 2019 kicked off with the president releasing his budget request to Congress on February 12, launching Congress into its appropriations process.
With Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization moving in the House and a bill rapidly approaching in the Senate, what might the final bill look like? Will it be bipartisan? Will the process continue or devolve as the election year unfolds? Aside from HEA, will you pay more for Internet access, or will the joint resolution to address the rules change move forward under the Congressional Review Act? Join AACTE’s Deborah Koolbeck to learn about these and other important topics by signing up for the March Federal Update webinar – an exclusive AACTE member benefit.
Congressional briefing panelists (L–R) Jane Bray, Jennifer Robinson, Mario Santos, Lisa Fischman, Danielle Riley, and Qualyn McIntyre. Photo courtesy of Megan Shearin, Old Dominion University.
A well-attended congressional briefing February 14 highlighted the positive impact of Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grants in schools around the country, aiming to inspire lawmakers and staff to continue supporting the program as they reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) and determine appropriations for federal spending.
In a packed Senate hearing room, the Valentine’s Day briefing presented testimony about how TQP grants have catalyzed improvements to educator preparation programs as well as to the schools and communities they serve. Dean Jane Bray of Old Dominion University (VA) served as moderator for the panel discussion.
On February 12, President Trump released his Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget request to fund the federal government. Similar to the previous request, this plan cuts 29 education programs while carving out space and funds for new programs focusing on choice opportunities.
In a press release from the U.S. Department of Education, Secretary Betsy DeVos lauded the request for “expanding education freedom for America’s families while protecting vulnerable students.”
According to the Department’s fact sheet, the president’s education budget features six major themes:
- Providing better choices for more families to attend a high-quality school.
- Supporting high-quality special education services to children with disabilities.
- Creating new and alternative pathways to successful careers for students.
- Promoting innovation and reform around STEM education.
- Implementing school-based opioid abuse prevention strategies.
- Making the Department more efficient while limiting the Federal role in education.
On November 14, the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) held a briefing to share research-based findings and recommendations on investing in community schools as a means to school improvement. The briefing was based on a study LPI recently conducted with the National Education Policy Center and highlighted community schools – that is, schools that partner with local agencies to provide integrated academic, health, and social services to the community – as a school improvement approach that meets the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requirement for “evidence-based” interventions.
At the briefing, panelists included representatives from community schools and other supporters. Community School Director Shanelle England described her work at Baltimore’s Forest Park High School, which consists of supporting her students, their families, and the school staff, as well as developing relationships with community agencies. The panelists all advocated for continued funding for the integrated models.
In 2014, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) received a federal Teacher Quality Partnership grant for a proposal called Transforming Teaching through Technology (TTtT), winning Year 1 funding of nearly $1.7 million, renewable for up to 5 years. Now, as the partners move into their fourth year of grant-funded collaboration, I asked Principal Investigator and Project Director Christina O’Connor for an update on their work and what it takes to secure continued funding from the U.S. Department of Education year after year.
The partnership among UNCG, Guilford County Schools, and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools aims to prepare 300 teacher candidates per year with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to incorporate technology to promote academic learning for all students. The idea is to produce teachers who can embed technology and hands-on, problem-based instruction across all content areas. By approaching this work through partnerships, O’Connor noted, the strategies and lessons benefit not only preservice teachers but also the school-based educators and UNCG faculty.
As Congress returned from August recess, its agenda included a laundry list of items, and it is shaping up to be a very busy fall on Capitol Hill. Budget and appropriations, hurricane relief, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Higher Education Act reauthorization, and tax reform are just some of the issues that will fill the congressional calendar. For many of these topics, the voice of the education profession will be an important perspective for your members of Congress to hear.
Follow these three steps to ensure your constituent voice is heard:
As part of continued efforts to provide relief for hurricane-affected regions, the U.S. Department of Education this week issued guidance to outline flexibility in reporting deadlines, grant-funded activities, continuity planning for disrupted programs, and fiscal management efforts. This guidance applies to state and local education agencies, Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools, postsecondary institutions, and other Department grantees.
Institutions affected by the recent hurricanes are highly encouraged to review the guidance, particularly if your program receives funding from a federal grant, receives federal student financial aid, or if you have other general questions regarding postsecondary education relief.
House and Senate Move on Education Funding Bills
Congress returned from August recess and hit the ground running on its work funding the federal government as the September 30 deadline looms.
U.S. House of Representatives Action
You might recall that the House passed four appropriations bills as a single package at the end of July. The House determined it would move the eight remaining appropriations bills to the floor as a single package – including the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) bill – immediately after August recess. A call for amendments went out in early August.
This report highlights the use of an AACTE State Chapter Support Grant by the North Dakota Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. July 28 is the deadline to apply for this year’s grants. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
With assistance from an AACTE State Chapter Support Grant, the North Dakota Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (NDACTE) recently completed collaborative work on a statewide student teacher observation tool (STOT). This tool is the fourth common assessment developed in a major effort to improve the quality of teacher preparation through implementation of a statewide preservice and first-year teacher performance assessment system across public, private, and tribal programs.