Whiteboard Notes | $693 Million in Disaster Aid for Schools; Borrower Defense Rule Under Review at OMB; NJ Governor Signs Equal Pay Legislation

Education Department Announces $693 Million in Disaster Aid: Schools in California, Puerto Rico, and Texas will receive $693 million in federal aid to help with recovery from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the 2017 California wildfires. Announced Monday, the funding will be administered through the Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations (K-12 Restart) program. The Puerto Rico Department of Education will receive $589 million, while Texas will receive $89.4 million and California will receive $14.4 million.

OMB Reviewing Proposed Borrower Defense Rule: The Office of Management and Budget isreviewing the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed “borrower defense to repayment” rule. The negotiated rulemaking panel convened by the Department earlier this year was unable to reach a consensus, leading the Department to draft its own rules based-on (but not bound by) the negotiations. The final rule, if published by November 1, 2018 will go into effect July 1, 2019. For more information on the negotiated rulemaking process, check out W/A’s update and cheat sheet from January.

DeVos Meets with 2018 Teachers of the Year: On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos hosted a closed-door roundtable discussion with the 2018 Teachers of the Year. DeVos spoke with teachers from all 50 states about the challenges they face on the job, and answered questions related to education policy and funding.


Colorado Proposes Expanding School Lunch Protection Program: A bill that would provide school lunches at no charge to students in grades K-8 who would otherwise have to pay for reduced-price lunch is moving through the Colorado Legislature. The legislation would expand the existing Child Nutrition School Lunch Protection Program, which currently covers students in grades K-5, to include students in grades 6-8. The bill passed the Senate on May 2, and is now pending in the House Education Committee.

Missouri CTE Advisory Council to Approve Certifications, Licenses, and Assessments: Legislationregarding the responsibilities of the Missouri Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education Advisory Council is under consideration in the Senate Education Committee. The bill would require the Council to annually review, update, approve, and recommend a list of industry certifications, state-issued professional licenses, and occupational competency assessments for districts in the state to offer to students.

*W/A provides state legislative tracking services, if you're interested in learning more, drop us a line.

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Invests $14 Million in Personalized Learning: This week, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative invested a combined $14 million in LEAP Innovations’ and Chicago Public Schools’ personalized learning programs. The funding will support professional development, resources, and classroom design around personalized learning in an estimated 100 new schools. Low-performing schools will be given priority and will be able to start applying for the grant in the fall.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Seeks Takeover of State’s Largest School District: Wayne Lewis, Kentucky’s Interim Education Commissioner requested approval from the state Board of Education to takeover Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) in response to the low-performing schools, wide achievement gaps, and several reports of abuse. Authority would be transferred from the elected school board to Lewis. Marty Pollio, JCPS’ superintendent, would continue her responsibilities under the close supervision of Associate Commissioner Kelly Foster.

Research Finds Letters Home Can Reduce Chronic Absenteeism: A new study conducted in the Philadelphia School District found that chronic absenteeism reduced by 10 percent when parents received multiple letters indicating how many days of school their child had missed. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia have prioritized resolving chronic absenteeism in their ESSA plans in order to address the 8 million chronically absent students nationwide. The results of this study present a viable and relatively inexpensive model that other districts across the country could adopt.


Pell Grant Recipients Graduating at Lower Rates: An analysis of federal graduation rate data by think tank Third Way discovered that less than half of first-time, full-time Pell Grant recipients graduate with a bachelor’s degree within six years at the institution they first attended. Their analysis also revealed that only one-fifth of first-time, full-time Pell recipients who enroll at a for-profit institution graduate within six years.

Americans Look to Research Universities for Innovation: A survey conducted by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago revealed 71 percent of respondents believe research universities drive innovation in the country, where as 53 percent attribute innovation to start-ups. Yang Zheng, CEO of the Oxalo Therapeutics, was not surprised by this statistic, citing the value of launching a startup at a university and being able to seek the advice and brainpower of students enrolled in business, medical, and law school. The survey also found that a majority of people consider low federal funding a major barrier to innovation.