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Jane E. West

AACTE Education Policy Consultant

Washington Update: Budget and Appropriations

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide update information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

After a 10-day Memorial Day recess, Congress returned for a brief three-day session and then hit the road again. They will roar back into town next week with a plate full of funding issues to address.

  1. Budget and Appropriations: House on the Move!

The House

Democrats are vigorously exercising their hard-won majority in the House by moving rapidly on spending bills for FY 2020. By early next week all 12 appropriations bills will have moved through Committee markups and be ready to go to the House floor. House leadership has announced its intent to see all 12 bills passed by the end of June! 

Washington Updates: Student Aid, Brown vs. Board of Education 65 Years Later

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide update information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Today marks the 65th Anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court landmark decision that established the principle that separate is not equal. How far have we come? Much to contemplate here. You will see below that a House education panel spoke loud and clear on that topic: we have a long way to go. 

  1. Trump Proposes Taking More Funds from Pell Grants – to Fund Moonshot? Huh?

This week President Trump submitted to Congress some revisions to his original budget request. Notably, he took back the proposed cut he originally made for Special Olympics (after great bipartisan outrage); but he also added a new cut in the form of an additional $1.9 billion to the Pell grant surplus. It appears that the Pell cut would go toward funding the President’s proposed 2024 NASA moonshot! Education advocates were outraged. As Jon Fansmith of the American Council on Education put it: “Do I want to make college more expensive to fund space travel to the moon and Mars?” Hmmmm …

The President had already requested a $2 billion cut in Pell funding.  So the total $3.9 billion recission would result in the Pell surplus being exhausted by 2022! This request is likely to be ignored on Capitol Hill, as no one—Republican or Democrat—ever really contemplated cutting Special Olympics.  And while the Pell Surplus has been modestly raided in the past, a $3.9 billion cut is highly unlikely. 

Washington Update: Federal Investment in Public Education

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide update information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

I’m downright excited to have some GREAT news to report from Washington! Some of our leaders want to increase the federal INVESTMENT in public education!  Hallelujah. 

  1. House Moves Expansive Education Funding Bill through 8 Hour Marathon Mark up

This week Chair of the House Subcommittee on Labor/HHS/Education Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) successfully moved her spending bill out of the full Appropriations Committee.  The bill retains its overall 6% increase for education from last fiscal year, bringing the Department of Education to $75.9 Billion, and features significant increases for key education programs.

A Washington Update: May 3, 2019

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide update information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE. To view the full blog, visit janewestconsulting.com.

Congress is back from a two-week recess and education saw a lot of action this week!

  1. House Subcommittee Marks Up FY 2020 Funding Bill with a 6% Increase for Education!

This week, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) began the FY 2020 appropriations process by moving the Labor/HHS and Education bill through the subcommittee. Her first bill as chair of the subcommittee reveals an impressive high-water mark for education spending, raising the federal investment by 6% over last year.  Lead Republican on the subcommittee, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), noted that he does not think the large increases in the bill will be supported by the Senate or the president and that at best, this disagreement will lead to a year-long continuing resolution or at worst, another government shutdown.  Nonetheless, the bill was passed out of subcommittee and will likely be marked up by the full House Committee on Appropriations next week. 

An Update: Federal Budget, Education Hearings, New Resources and more

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide update information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE. 

Congress was busy this week trying to wrap a few things up as they enter an extended recess period. With the timeline for the election pressing, the momentum will continue. Remember the first Democratic presidential candidate debate is in June—just two months away! So the pressure is on.

  1. House Makes Magic Move on Budget!

The Budget Control Act, as it stands now, would require dramatic cuts for education and other programs for FY 2020, which begins October 1. In order to avoid significant cuts to education and other programs, the Budget Control Act needs to be amended to increase the spending caps. While the House Budget Committee adopted new spending caps this week, Democrats were unable to find consensus and bring that provision to the House floor. 

But do not despair! Where there is a will there is a way!  On Wednesday the House adopted something called a “deeming resolution” which provides for $1.3 trillion for the 12 spending bills in FY 2020. The “non-defense discretionary” portion (which includes education) will be $34 billion over the FY 2019 spending level. This deeming resolution paves the way for Appropriations Chair, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), to divvy up the funding into 12 pots—one for each of the appropriations bills.

Will Your Institution’s Voice Be Heard on DACA?

The American Council on Education, the major coordinating association for our nation’s colleges and universities, is leading the Protect Dreamers Higher Education Coalition, of which AACTE is a member. The coalition is coordinating a week of advocacy efforts beginning today, October 16, and has developed a website providing multiple resources related to Dreamers, including fact sheets and talking points, which can be used by individual campuses for advocacy.

In addition, the coalition is leading a letter that your institution can sign on to – but time is tight. The deadline is Wednesday, October 18, at noon EDT. To have your institution sign on to the letter, please reach out to your president’s office as well as your government relations staff. Find the instructions here.

New Report Rings Alarm Bell on Teacher Shortages

The Learning Policy Institute (LPI) is out with a new analysis of teacher turnover and its impact on teacher shortages, showing that the nationwide shortfall of 100,000 teachers predicted in last year’s study A Coming Crisis in Teaching? has largely been realized and issuing recommendations to stem the problem before it grows worse.

In the updated report – Teacher Turnover: Why It Matters and What We Can Do About It – Desiree Carver-Thomas and Linda Darling-Hammond share recent data revealing that in just 31 states, 82,000 positions are filled by underqualified teachers and at least 5,000 are unfilled altogether; extrapolated to all states, the total number is likely around 110,000. If current trends persist, they say, we could face an even higher shortfall next year. The shortages are most acute in the fields of special education and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and are disproportionately present in high-poverty and high-minority schools.

NNSTOY to Hold Congressional Briefing on Teacher Career Continuums, ESSA Implementation

Editor’s Note: This briefing has been postponed due to weather challenges. Please stay tuned for an announcement of the new date.

On Wednesday, January 27, the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) will hold a congressional briefing to release its new study Teacher Advancement Initiatives: Lessons Learned From Eight Case Studies. Completed in conjunction with Pearson, the report is the product of a 3-year study of schools and districts with established career advancement initiatives. The study identifies components of successful, sustainable teacher career continuums with positive impacts on teacher recruitment, retention, and job satisfaction.

The eight case studies include schools and districts in urban and rural areas of Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Iowa, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington. The report identifies key elements of effective career continuums such as structured roles for teacher leaders, opportunities for release time and collaboration, compensation differentiation, peer coaching and evaluation, embedded professional development, and structured opportunities for teacher voice in decision making.

Department of Education to Move Forward With Teacher Preparation Regulations

On Friday at Dunbar High School in Washington, DC, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz announced movement on long-overdue teacher preparation regulations. These regulations are the successor to the spring 2012 negotiated rule making held by the Department of Education, which failed to reach consensus after several tumultuous sessions.

Joined on a panel at Friday’s event by Jim Cibulka (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation), Camilla Benbow (Vanderbilt University, TN), Chris Minnich (Council of Chief State School Officers), Kaya Henderson (District of Columbia Public Schools), Elisa Villanueva Beard (Teach For America), and Secretary Duncan, Muñoz said the regulations are “something that the president has a real sense of urgency about.”

Coalition for Teaching Quality Submits Commentary on HQT Data Collection

Tomorrow, April 18, is the deadline for public comment on the proposed “highly qualified teacher” (HQT) data collection by the U.S. Department of Education. A detailed letter submitted yesterday by the Coalition for Teaching Quality hails the proposed collection as “an important first step towards meeting the legislative intent” of Congress’ directive to report on the extent to which students in certain high-need categories are taught by teachers who are labeled as “highly qualified,” but who are actually teachers-in-training in alternative routes. 

Senate Hearing on Teacher Prep Examines Data Collection, TQP Grants

On March 25, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) convened the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) to consider changes to Title II of the Higher Education Act (HEA), the portion of the law that addresses teacher preparation. This was the seventh hearing in a series in the Senate on HEA reauthorization.

The predominant theme of the hearing was concern that the Title II data reporting requirements for teacher preparation programs are out of date, onerous, and not useful for program improvement. All five witnesses agreed on this point and offered recommendations for change.

ED Calls for Input on Developing Higher Education Rating System

On December 17, the U.S. Department of Education issued a formal Request for Information (RFI) about the development of its new system for rating institutions of higher education, officially known as the Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS). (Note: This system aims to rate institutions as a whole, not their various divisions, although educator preparation programs would be a part of their institutions’ rating.)

The Department is urging higher education faculty, students, parents, researchers, data experts, advocacy groups, organizations with expertise in developing rating systems, and others to provide information about what should be included in this rating system. The deadline for submission is January 31.

U.S. Senate Hearing on Accreditation Shines a Light on CAEP

On December 12, I attended a hearing in the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) billed as “Accreditation as Quality Assurance: Meeting the Needs of 21st Century Learning.” This was one of a series of 13 hearings the Committee is holding in preparation for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) chaired the hearing, and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) sat as ranking Republican on the Committee. Other members in attendance were Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Al Franken (D-MN), and Christopher Murphy (D-CT). A full recording of the hearing along with written remarks from speakers can be found here. (You will note my presence in the audience!)

Robust Florida State Chapter Expanding Membership, Advocacy

FACTE President Marci Greene with AACTE’s Jane E. West

On October 24, I had the great pleasure of joining the Florida Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (FACTE) for its fall conference. With 130 people in attendance and the announcement of a new executive director, FACTE is going strong.

After years of outstanding service, Bob Shockley (Florida Atlantic University) retired as executive director, and FACTE welcomed Terry Osborn (University of South Florida) as its new head. AACTE’s membership ambassador, former FACTE chair Jennifer Platt, shared with FACTE the many benefits of joining AACTE. And we all welcomed Flagler College into the AACTE family as a new member.

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