W/A Notes | Florida Considers New Pre-K Programming; Bullying in Schools Reaches Record Low; Push for Financial Aid Transparency

From @WhiteBdAdvisor:


@WhitebdAdvisor: “That’s what we’re doing in our grant-making portfolio with whole children, that it’s more than just a warm fuzzy feeling when you walk into that great classroom,” @ChanZuckerberg @richardwhitmir @The74 http://bit.ly/2GsfmtG


RT @jselingo: Perfect @futureupodcast for financial-aid award season, @michaelbhorn and I talk with @NewAmericaEd’s @higheredrachel about the confusing offers colleges send. https://t.co/M7Xd3kv7MV


@WhitebdAdvisor: Only a third of 4-year-olds in the US were enrolled in state-funded preschool programs during the 17-18 school year, an increase of about 35k children from the previous year, according to new research from @PreschoolToday https://t.co/OqCvMtl1Cn


@WhitebdAdvisor: During @asugsvsummit, W/A's Ben Wallerstein commented on how coverage of the scandal centered on rich parents but didn’t further examine the inequalities that exist across all levels of the education system. Read more ⇨ https://t.co/nHHKOZ61gc



Congress & Administration


FSA Issues Recommendations on Financial Aid Transparency: On Monday, the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) issued recommendations for colleges to improve the transparency of financial aid offered to students. The guidance suggests, among other things, that college financial aid letters should avoid referring to financial aid offers (including loans and Federal Work Study) as "awards,” and should also include next steps for students and families to follow after they receive their aid offers. These recommendations reflect research from New America that found financial aid offers from colleges used inconsistent terminology and often failed to reflect the full cost of attendance. Last month, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced bipartisan legislation that would require that colleges use a standardized financial aid offer for admitted students. [Inside Higher Ed]


ED Names Acting General Counsel: On Tuesday, the White House named Reed D. Rubinstein as acting general counsel for the U.S. Department of Education. Rubinstein fills the vacancy left by Carlos Muñiz, who was the Senate-confirmed general counsel until January, when he was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court. The White House has not announced a nominee to serve as a permanent general counsel. Rubinstein most recently served as deputy associate attorney general at the Department of Justice and was previously senior counsel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. [Politico Pro, Subscription Required]


President Signs Bill Recognizing Classified School Employees: Last week, President Trump signed into law H.R. 276, the "Recognizing Achievement in Classified School Employees Act," which directs the Secretary of Education to establish an award program, known as the "Recognizing Inspiring School Employees" (RISE) Award Program, to nationally recognize classified school employees — such as bus drivers, secretaries, school nurses, custodians and other support staff — for providing services to students in prekindergarten through high school. The Secretary of Education will select one employee each year to receive the award (which has no monetary value) from a nomination pool submitted by Governors of each state. Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), who authored bill, noted that “School nurses, janitors, counselors, cafeteria workers, security guards and bus drivers work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the success of our students and schools. Yet, too often their contributions go unrecognized. Now we will honor the dedicated employees who devote time and effort to help students become the best versions of themselves.” [Las Vegas Review Journal]


State Policy News

Arkansas Combines Departments of Education, Higher Education, and Career Education: Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) signed into law a bill that will reorganize and eliminate several of the state’s government agencies. The act authorizes the reduction of the number of cabinet-level agencies from 42 to 15, and combines the Department of Education, Department of Higher Education, and Department of Career Education to be overseen by a new cabinet-level Secretary of Education. According to Governor Hutchinson, the measure will increase efficiencies and improve state services, and is the largest reorganization of state government in decades.


Florida Considers New Pre-K Programming: Legislation moving through the Florida Senate would address access to early learning for children in the state. SB 970 would create the Family Engagement Computer Adaptive Prekindergarten Program, which would allow private prekindergarten providers to offer programming including but not limited to individualized reading, mathematics, and science curriculum, as well as parental engagement. As part of the bill, an early learning coalition would reimburse approved private prekindergarten providers for authorized services provided to eligible students. SB 970 and related bill SB 1138 are both pending in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.


Early Childhood and K-12


North Carolina Considers Online Preschool Programs: The North Carolina House Education Committee passed legislation that would allow for the state to fund UPSTART, a virtual preschool program developed to serve at-risk students unable to enroll in traditional prekindergarten classes due to lack of space. The measure, which is pending in the House Committee on Education Appropriations, would require the State Board of Education to select up to 10 school districts to participate in a three-year pilot of the program. UPSTART, which was founded in Utah, currently serves students in 15 states.  [News Observer]


High School Students Participate in Teacher Prep Program: A Kansas City school district has engaged the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) to support career development for their students. The program offers students the opportunity to have hands-on exposure to industries of interest to them. The program is designed to connect the community with the workforce, and through help their students as they advance into college. CAPS reports that program graduates finish college faster than other students, and that 85 percent of their program graduates stay in the education field after they graduate college. [EdSurge]


Higher Education


Bootcamps Are Changing the Landscape of Higher Ed: The Christensen Institute released a paper examining the future of coding bootcamps given their growth in the last few years. The paper identified five scenarios on how the growth of bootcamps may play out in the next few years and provided evidence around how bootcamps could dramatically shift the higher education landscape. According to the report, coding bootcamps are responsible for graduating over 36,000 students each year. [The Christensen Institute]


A New IBM Skills Academy Will Open This Fall: This week, the University of Louisville and IBM announced their plan to open an IBM Skills Academy on the university’s campus beginning fall 2019. The Academy will provide students with a curriculum and additional learning tools that are focused on artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, cybersecurity, cloud computing, data science, and more high-demand digital skills. Students who participate in the Academy will earn college credits and IBM certifications. [Inside Higher Ed]


New Skills, Talent, and Employment


High School Graduates in Tulsa to Receive Digital Credential: Learning Machine, a company that uses blockchain to secure digital records, is partnering with Union Public Schools (UPS) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Starting with the class of 2019, UPS graduates will receive Blockcerts, the most widely recognized blockchain credential that they can send to colleges and employers at any time for free. Beginning with the class of 2022, UPS will also begin to digitize student transcripts. [Newswire]


Federal Court Will Hear Class Action Lawsuit over On-Campus Hiring: A federal court agreed to allow a collective action suit against PricewaterhouseCoopers for age-related discrimination in its hiring practices. Specifically, the lawsuit argues that the company’s recruiting on college campuses and school job boards discriminates against older applicants. [HR Dive]


U.S. Government and Accountability Office Wants More Data on Automation: The U.S. Government and Accountability Office (GAO) released a report calling for better data on the impact of automation on job markets. The report also warned that automation could impact Hispanic workers and people without college degrees the hardest because those two groups hold many of the jobs that are vulnerable to automation. [GAO]


Health and Wellness


Federal Data Shows Drop in Bullying, Crime, and Violence in Schools: On Wednesday, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice released data showing that 20% of 12 to 18 year-old students reported being bullied at school during the 2016-17 school year, the lowest percentage since the federal government began collecting this information in 2005. Since the 2000-01 school year, the percentage of students who reported being afraid of being attacked or harmed at school decreased from 6% to 4%, and the percentage of students who reported that gangs were present at their school dropped from 20% to 9%. Overall, there was less public school crime and incident reports in the 2015-16 school year than in any prior survey year. [US News]


New Research Finds Meditation Boosts Middle School Students’ Social-Emotional Competencies: According to a new study published in Education, practicing meditation as part of a school Quiet Time program enhances middle school students’ social-emotional competencies while reducing psychological distress. The study compared 51 sixth-grade students who practiced Transcendental Meditation twice a day to 50 students from a matched control school within the same west coast urban public school district. [PsychCentral]


Industry News


Pearson Ventures Will Invest $50M in Tech and Workforce Startups: Pearson Education has launched a new investment fund, Pearson Ventures, to fund companies advancing tech and workforce skills. The $50 million fund will back up to five companies per year over the next three years, participating in Series A and Series B rounds for education startups including next-gen assessment and credentialing platforms, AI and augmented reality, and other new educational experiences. [EdWeek Market Brief]


Childcare Startup Raises $5.95M to Expand In-Home Programs: MyVillage, a company founded in 2017 helping caretakers launch and run in-home preschool and childcare programs in Colorado and Montana, has received $5.95 million in seed funding to expand its operations. The startup provides educators with front- and back-office tools for marketing, accounting, scheduling, as well as curriculum and mentoring. Investors included Acumen, Atlassian Foundation, and Gary Community Investments. [American Inno]


Mark Your Calendars


Restoring the Promise of Community Colleges: The Century Foundation will be hosting a panel of experts to discuss the revival of community colleges. The event will take place on April 25 at The National Press Club in Washington, DC and speakers will include Secretary John B. King, Jr., a former U.S. Secretary of Education and President of the Education Trust. Click here for details and to register.


NationSwell Summit West: NationSwell is hosting Summit West on April 25 in San Francisco. The summit will explore ideas that are likely to shape the decade to come. Attendees will hear from some of America’s leading problem solvers, and learn what they’re working on and discover how to get involved. For more information, click here.


NCHEMS’ Quality Never Goes Out of Style Webinar: Join NCHEMS on May 10 for the Quality Never Goes Out of Style webinar. In this webinar, Peter Ewell addresses 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.


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