Here’s your recap of this week’s education news:
- Federal Update: U.S. House education committee looks at draft funding-related ESSA proposal, ED releases new ELL guidance
- New national report highlights policy changes needed to slow teaching shortages, shows Texas isn’t immune
A subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce met on Tuesday to discuss a funding-related proposal under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The proposal, which isn’t completely new, is referred to as “supplement, not supplant” and requires states to show that federal money is only used to bolster a state’s education budget; dollars from the feds cannot be used to replace funding that the state would otherwise spend. The recently updated rule proposal released by the Department of Education (ED) alters the way states must demonstrate compliance, and considerable disagreement has surfaced over the new interpretation.
The Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education showcased that disagreement this week. Republicans generally feel that King has far overstepped his bounds and others have specific concerns about how the new language will realistically affect states and local school districts. King and his supporters, however, maintain that the rule is a step toward better leveling the playing field for disadvantaged students. The U.S. Senate education committee held a hearing earlier this year, when the proposal was in an earlier, non-finalized form. The comment period on the proposed rule runs through Nov. 7.
Meanwhile this week, the same committee’s leadership sent a letter to Secretary King asking him to outline ED’s remaining regulatory plans. The U.S. House Republican education leaders expressed concern over “midnight rulemaking,” or rulemaking that takes place in the months prior to an outgoing president’s departure from office. One piece of non-binding regulatory work King can check off of that list is guidance on how schools and states can better support English language learners under the new law. ED released the guidance today, which touches on things like how states can spend certain federal funds and how to approach specific ELL populations. Something that could be added to his regulatory to-do list is guidance on how funding under Title II can be used to address teacher shortages, as Congress’s Democratic education leaders sent a letter this week requesting input.
Watch for more on supplement, not supplant and other regulatory issues facing ED as time ticks away on this administration’s stay in office.
The Teacher Retirement System (TRS) board met in Austin this week. ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter attended the board meeting and provided a recap of the board’s actions and agenda. The board adopted policy changes affecting current and future beneficiaries, altered TRS Active Care rules to benefit employees going from part-time to full-time status, and heard presentations on the TEAM project and Brexit, among other issues addressed. Read Exter’s post to learn more.
A report released last week by a national think tank called the Learning Policy Institute looks at what they project to be a growing teacher shortage in the United States and makes research-based policy recommendations to reverse the trend. The report notes that declining enrollment in educator preparation programs, high attrition rates, and a rising student population pose a particular threat to teacher shortages in the United States and anticipates shortages to grow if measures aren’t taken by policymakers to address and reverse the trend.
Using research from the report to determine what factors play a serious role in both deterring and detracting new and veteran teachers from the profession, the institute simultaneously assigned a “teaching attractiveness rating” and “teacher equity rating” for every U.S. state. Texas received a 2 for its teaching attractiveness rating, a rating aimed at showing how supportive the state is of teacher retention and recruitment, based on the factors that contribute to working conditions, compensation, teacher qualifications, and teacher turnover. On teacher equity, Texas received a 2.3, which indicates the extent to which students are equitably assigned uncertified or inexperienced teachers. The ratings were based on a 1 to 5 scale.
Read more about this report and dig deeper into its findings and policy recommendations in ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann’s post from earlier this week.
Texas Educators Vote, a coalition of Texas public education groups who are working together to create a culture of voting in Texas public schools, is preparing for the upcoming general election and needs your help! The coalition, of which ATPE is a member, is looking for leaders to help organize local educators to vote in support of Texas public schools. The coalition will provide the tools necessary to get educators in your area motivated and educated, and the role will require minimal time and effort. The reward, however, will be huge: educators receiving the support and encouragement they need to vote in support of their profession and on behalf of the 5 million Texas school children who don’t have a vote. Learn more here.
This week the Texas Secretary of State’s (SOS) office reported an uptick in registered voters ahead of the election in November. Approximately 14.7 million voters are registered to vote in Texas, and the SOS expects that number to rise above 15 million. This increase in registered voters is good, but we must ensure that the number of public school advocates registered to vote grows too. Last week we reported that the Senate Education and Senate State Affairs committees held interim hearings focused on a handful of controversial policies like vouchers and payroll deduction, and, this week, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick gave a speech on his vision for passing vouchers in Texas next session. The interim hearings continue next week as the House Public Education Committee is set to spend two days studying the Texas school finance system (watch for more next week!). The stakes are high for our kids and for your profession, and it is crucial that we vote for pro-public education policymakers who support you and the kids in your classroom.
The last day to register to vote in the general election is Oct. 11, and early voting begins on Oct. 24. Click here to learn more about the election and to make sure you are registered to vote before it’s too late!