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Washington Update: Speaker Johnson Elected, Department of Education Awards Grants for Fostering Diverse Schools

This weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Editor’s Note: This is the final Washington Update published on the Ed Prep Matters blog. The updates on federal policies and legislation will now be included in the biweekly member-exclusive AACTE Talks Policy newsletter from AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone. To read the latest issue, visit aacte.org/federal-policy-and-legislation.
On Wednesday, after three weeks of chaos, the United States House of Representatives elected Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) as speaker. Speaker Johnson was first elected to the House in 2016 after practicing constitutional law for two decades. Before his election as speaker, Johnson served as vice chair of the GOP Conference. Speaker Johnson was one of eight House members who served on former President Trump’s defense team during the first impeachment trial in the Senate. He also played a key role in assembling the House Republican case for objecting to the certification of former President Trump’s 2020 loss on January 6, 2021 — recruiting colleagues to support that effort and helming a legal brief seeking to overturn the 2020 election.

Speaker Johnson has laid out what many consider an aggressive schedule for addressing appropriations and has suggested canceling next year’s August recess if all 12 spending bills are not advanced through the House by that time. His current schedule has the Labor HHS-Education spending bill on the House floor the week of November 13.

The Speaker noted that Congress will likely need to pass another continuing resolution (CR) extending government funding, either to January 15 or April 15. Either date would trigger sequestration that lowers the defense and non-defense discretionary caps for FY 2024 to 1% less than the FY 2023 levels.

Congress must act before November 17 to avoid the possibility of a government shutdown.

U.S. Department of Education Awards $14 Million Through First-ever Fostering Diverse Schools Demonstration Grant

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced $14 million in awards to help support local and state-driven voluntary efforts to foster more diverse school communities through its first-ever Fostering Diverse Schools Demonstration Program. As outlined in a press release shared by the Department, these grants, in alignment with the Department’s Raise the Bar: Lead the World call to action, support districts as they work to enrich educational experiences by providing every student with a well-rounded education and improved school conditions for student learning, inclusive of a broader perspective on the world.

Earlier this year, the Department released a report on the state of school diversity in the U.S., showing that schools that are isolated along racial or socioeconomic lines often have less access to critical resources and funding. The Department received applications from eligible entities in over 20 states and made 14 new awards for this inaugural cohort of Fostering Diverse Schools grantees. You can view the full list of grantees here.

New Resources for Educators

  • CASEL is out with a new policy brief: “Supporting Parent and Family Engagement to Enhance Students’ Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.” The brief highlights the critical role parents and caregivers play in supporting students’ academic, social and emotional development. Additionally, the brief explores opportunities for how states and districts can leverage the family engagement provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act to strengthen school-family partnerships in support of students’ academic success and social and emotional well-being.

  • Learning Policy Institute (LPI) recently published a new report — Safe Schools, Thriving Students: What We Know About Creating Safe and Supportive Schools  that summarizes what is known about which school safety measures improve student safety and which ones do not. 

Wishing you all a wonderful week.