W/A Notes | Federal Student Loan Interest Rates to Decrease; MN Legislators Debate K-12 and Higher Ed Finance Bills; Uber Expands Education Benefits to Most Markets;

From @WhitebdAdvisor

@WhitebdAdvisor: Happy #TeacherAppreciationWeek, everyone! Thank you to all the educators who work tirelessly for their students each and every day!

RT @AlisonRGriffin: There's a new thumb tack on the map: One Dupont West. Read my latest piece in @Forbes about the climate of collaboration, innovation & a tenacious spirit of problem solving for #highered. https://t.co/2j0K4KKHnp

RT @TedEismeier: What are the top stories in #highered for 2019? @ScottJaschik is about to break it down at #ewa19. Harvard affirmative action case and admissions scandal are in a special exempt category. 2019 top ten, here goes… http://bit.ly/2Vfk1mO

@WhitebdAdvisor: “Personalized learning wasn’t invented by Silicon Valley” —> @PhyllisLEAP in @hechingerreport https://t.co/e9STAk5ni6

RT @jfftweets: .@MariaKFlynn answers 6 big questions focused on the #skillsgap with @chronicle's @GoldieStandard. Watch https://t.co/E2UdwFqCj0?amp=1 #workforce #wkdev #HigherEducation #highered

@WhitebdAdvisor: .@AVID_Vargas & @Super_GGuerrero: Though perhaps not as exciting as trendier facets of reform, the building blocks of teaching and learning must be central to conversations surrounding the transformation and improvement of our schools. @The74 https://t.co/VmFitk740X


Congress & Administration


House Appropriations Committee Approves Education Spending Bill: On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee marked up and approved the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies spending bill for fiscal year 2020. The proposed legislation, which was approved by a vote of 30 to 23, will now be reported for consideration to the full House. The bill would provide an additional $4.4. billion, or a 6.2 percent hike, over current spending levels for the Department of Education. An amendment to the bill was adopted Wednesday that would increase career and technical education funding by $10 million, magnet school funding by $5 million, and special education funding by $5 million over the amounts in the original legislation proposed last week. In advance of the markup, the Committee released its report accompanying the fiscal year 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. The report language explicitly directs the Secretary of Education to issue guidance to states clarifying that funds allocated under the Title IV-Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) -- the Student Support and Academic Enrichment State Grants (SSAE) -- cannot be used to purchase firearms or firearms training. [Education Week, subscription required] 


Secretary DeVos Speaks at EWA National Seminar: On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sat down for an interview with Erica Green of the New York Times in front of an audience of education journalists from across the country during the Education Writers Association National Seminar in Baltimore. This marked the first appearance of Secretary DeVos at this annual event since she took office - and she admitted that she does not enjoy being the focus of media attention, saying "I don't enjoy the publicity that comes with my position. I don't love being up on stage or on any kind of platform. I'm an introvert." DeVos spoke about a range of issues, including her new signature initiative on Education Freedom Scholarships, which would offer up to $5 billion in federal tax credits to individuals and corporations who donate to scholarship-granting organizations that are state-approved. Allowable uses of the scholarships include helping students cover the cost of private school, public school choice options, transportation, dual enrollment courses at a community college, and after-school programs. The Secretary also discussed issues related to teacher strikes, the education of undocumented children, and the decision to rescind the 2014 discipline guidance issued by Obama Administration.  She also pushed back on media coverage of for-profit colleges, saying that in the wake of the college admissions scandal, more attention should be paid to how elite institutions operate. [Education Week; subscription required]


Senator Mike Enzi Not Seeking Reelection: Last weekend, Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) announced that he would not seek reelection after his current term expires in 2021. Enzi has served in the Senate for more than two decades, and currently serves as the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. He previously served as both Chairman and Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Senator Enzi was a key negotiator, along with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), on the recent reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act in 2018. [Washington Post; subscription required]




State Policy News


Minnesota Legislators Debate K-12 and Higher Ed Finance Bills: Minnesota’s K-12 omnibus education finance bill (HF 2400) and omnibus higher education finance bill (SF 2415) are both pending in conference committee. Among other provisions, HF 2400 would increase the general education basic formula allowance by 3% in FY2020 and another 2% in FY2021, as well as increase funding for school districts to support English learners and career and technical education, and establish an inclusive school enhancement grant program. Measures within SF 2415 include establishing a Student Loan Debt Counseling Program to support Minnesotans who obtained loans from a postsecondary institution and expanding the state’s workforce development program established in 2017. Lawmakers have until the last day of legislative session on May 20, 2019 to agree on the bills.


Missouri Considers Additional Supports for Gifted Students: A bill moving through the Missouri General Assembly would expand support for gifted students in the state. HB 112 would require school districts with 3% or more of students qualifying as gifted to establish a program to meet their needs. The State Board of Education would be required to create standards for gifted programs and services, and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would be responsible for approving each LEA’s program.


Early Childhood and K-12


Johns Hopkins University Will Open a Center on School Safety and Health: Johns Hopkins University announced the opening of their Center for Safe and Healthy Schools. The interdisciplinary center will focus on students from kindergarten through undergraduate education, and will provide resources to schools, communities and policymakers on issues of student health and safety including bullying, suicide, and trauma.  [Baltimore Sun]


United Community Center Aims to Build Early Learning Academy: Milwaukee’s United Community Center (UCC) announced earlier this week that they are planning to raise $5 million to open a the UCC Early Learning Academy. The academy will be built on Milwaukee’s south side where they will serve children as young as six weeks old. The academy will provide several different programs that include art, music, reading, math and science. [Milwaukee Business Journal]


Higher Education


Interest Rates on Federal Student Loans Will Decrease in 2019-2020: For the 2019-2020 academic year, interest rates for federal student loans will decrease by about half of one percent. The new rates of 4.5% for undergraduates, 6% for graduates, and 7% for parents will apply to federal loans borrowed after July 1, 2019. [CNBC]


Seven Higher Education Bills Introduced in California Legislature: The California legislature will consider a package of seven higher education bills, most of which target private and for-profit providers. One bill, AB 1340, proposes a gainful employment rule that would punish for-profit colleges whose students have low loan repayment rates. Another bill, AB 1345, would prohibit all institutions that are registered with the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education from pursuing tuition-sharing agreements with online providers. [Inside Higher Ed]


New Skills, Talent, and Employment


Parents of High Schoolers Support Professional Jobs with a Bachelor’s Degree Component: In a recent survey of U.S. parents, 79% said that the purpose of college is to teach students skills that are valued in the workforce, but only 47% agreed that U.S. colleges prepare students well for careers. 79% of parents were excited about the concept of high school graduates pursuing paid, professional (not vocational) jobs that also have a bachelor’s degree component, and 74% would consider it for their own children. [Kaplan, sign-up required]


What Happens When People Automate Their Own Jobs? The conversation around automation tends to focus on employers using technology to automate jobs, but some computer programmers have “self-automated” their jobs by writing code to tackle time-consuming or repetitive aspects. A Forbes article shares five questions that employers need to consider as self-automation becomes more widespread, including how to reward employees who develop time-saving technologies. [Forbes]


Uber Expands Its Education Benefits to Most Markets: Uber announced that it is expanding its Uber Pro program from eight cities to nearly all of its major markets. The program allows drivers to pursue undergraduate degree and certificate programs through Arizona State University with tuition 100% covered. Drivers can also transfer the benefit to a family member; Uber reports that 28% of eligible drivers have already chosen to transfer the benefit. [RealClearMarkets]




Marshall Anthony Jr., Ph.D. will be joining The Education Trust team as a research analyst for higher education. Most recently, he was a gubernatorial fellow at the Florida Department of Education.


The Jefferson Education Exchange announced the appointment of Dan Brown as Director of National Engagement. Brown, a National Board Certified Teacher and co-founder of the national nonprofit Educators Rising, joins JEX with nearly two decades of experience at the intersection of education practice, policy, and innovation.


Angélica Infante-Green’s first day as Rhode Island’s commissioner of education was Monday, May 6. A veteran New York educator who began her career in the South Bronx, she most recently served as deputy commissioner of the office of P-12 instructional support for the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and before that held various leadership posts overseeing English language learner (ELL) programs in the New York City Department of Education and the NYSED.


Wesley Whistle is joining New America’s education team as a senior advisor for policy and strategy, where he will support the organization’s efforts on Capitol Hill towards the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.


Industry News


Kahoot Buys Math App Developer for $18 M: Kahoot has acquired DragonBox, a company specializing in gamifying math education, for $18 million in the form of cash and stock. Kahoot is famous for its mobile device-enabled digital quizzes and both platforms offer a variety of engaging activities to teach students in the classroom or individually. [TechCrunch]


Google Company Partners with CareerVillage: The nonprofit website CareerVillage, which allows high school and college students to crowdsource career advice, has partnered with Kaggle, a Google company. Google is now sponsoring a $15,000 contest for data scientists around the world to write algorithms that improve CareerVillage’s ability to match professionals with student-submitted questions.[The 74]


$8M in Series B Funding to CollegeDekho: India-based startup CollegeDekho has raised $8 million in Series B funding led by GirnarSoft Education, CollegeDekho’s parent company, and Man Capital. The edtech startup specializes in connecting colleges with prospective applicants and plans to use the funding to support more schools and expand into international educational institution partnerships. [Business Standard]


Pluralsight to Acquire GitPrime: Pluralsight, a provider of online tech courses, is set to acquire GitPrime, a company that creates data to quantify software engineering, for $170 million. This will be Pluralsight’s first acquisition since it went public one year ago. [EdSurge]



Mark Your Calendars


NCHEMS’ “Quality Never Goes Out of Style” Webinar: Join NCHEMS on May 10 for the Quality Never Goes Out of Style webinar.  The webinar will cover the evolution of quality assurance since the emergence of the assessment movement in the early 1980s, with an emphasis on the role of institutional accreditation and the constantly improving array of approaches to gathering evidence about what and how much students have learned. Click here for more information and to register.


ATD 2019 International Conference & Exposition: The largest talent development conference of the year will be hosted in Washington, DC from May 19-22. The conference will feature speakers including Seth Godin, Eric Whitacre, and Oprah Winfrey, and will highlight the conference will discuss evolving industries and promising tools for talent development in the future of work. Click here for agenda details and to register.


Learning Impact Leadership Institute 2019: IMS Global Learning Consortium's 13th annual Learning Impact Leadership Institute will be held in San Diego, California, May 20-23. This event brings together education and technology leaders from K-12, higher education, workforce training, government, and the edtech solutions industry to work collaboratively to enable digital transformation and innovation in teaching and learning. Click here for agenda details and to register.


Education Commission of the States’ annual National Forum on Education Policy: ECS’s yearly policy forum will take place on July 10-12 in Denver, Colorado. The National Forum will bring together education leaders from across the country to discuss policy issues that range from early childhood education through higher education and workforce development. Click here for agenda details and to register.


ISTE 2019 Conference & Expo: The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) will host ISTE19 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 23-26. The conference’s theme is “Bold Educators Motivate Change” and attendees will include industry representatives, teachers, technology coordinators, library media specialists, teacher educators and policymakers. Click here for agenda details and to register.