Whiteboard Notes | The Adecco Group Acquires General Assembly; US Senate Confirms Muñiz

DeVos Considers Educational Vouchers For Military Members: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is considering a plan that would create education savings accounts for military families to cover educational expenses, such as private school tuition. DeVos’ proposal would utilize funds from theImpact Aid program, which provides assistance to schools that operate on military bases, Native American reservations, or other federal land. DeVos met with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis to discuss the plan on Thursday.

Senate Confirms Education Department Nominee: Carlos G. Muñiz was confirmed by the Senate as the U.S. Department of Education’s General Counsel. Muñiz previously served served as Deputy Attorney General of the State of Florida, and was Deputy General Counsel for the Office of Governor Jeb Bush.

Trump Administration Expands Veteran Debt Forgiveness: The U.S. Department of Education announced an initiative on Monday to begin outreach to permanently disabled veterans eligible to have their student debt forgiven. The Departments of Education and Veterans Affairs will provide eligible veterans with a loan forgiveness form to complete and return.

 

Connecticut Bill Would Update Special Education Services for Students: Connecticut lawmakers are considering legislation that would update existing law to ensure that children age 14 through 22 who require special education services receive transition support from the state. Currently, the Connecticut Department of Education is required to collaborate with other state agencies to provide special education and related services to children in need, but House Bill 5462 would specify that transition services must be made available to children age 14 through 22, in particular. In the context of the bill, transition services refers to a coordinated set of activities focused on helping a child move from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, employment, or independent living, among others. The bill is currently pending in the House Committee on Appropriations.

Kentucky Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto, Approves State Budget Bill: Last week, the Kentucky Legislature voted to override Governor Matt Bevin’s (R) veto of HB 200, which contains the state operating budget for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Governor Bevin vetoed the bill in its entirety on April 9, stating that it fails to adequately account for known costs, resulting in an unbalanced budget. Among other provisions, the bill increases per-pupil K-12 funding from $3,700 to $4,000 per year, an increase of roughly $60 million. Notable exclusions from the budget include funding for charter schools, state funding for textbooks, and numerous teacher training programs. The bill, which will guide state spending through fiscal year 2019, has been signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, enrolled, and delivered to the Secretary of State as Act as Chapter 169.

Virginia Updates Dual Enrollment Credit Standards: Virginia HB 3/Chapter 787 was approved by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam on April 9. The act requires the development of a standard Passport Program and a Uniform Certificate of General Studies program to be offered at each community college. By default, four-year institutions will need to accept courses in the passport program for credit, unless a waiver has been granted for a particular course of study. Four-year institutions will be required to map out career education pathways to allow students to see the classes necessary to complete a four-year program. The act takes effect July 1.
 

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Research Links Computer Science Lessons, Higher Test Scores: Students in Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) who completed extra Code.org computer science activities, in classrooms of teachers who reported high levels of resourcefulness, had significantly higher scores on reading comprehension exams, according to researchers at the University of Chicago. Researchers also found that the students scored higher on Florida’s Math, Science, and English Language Arts exams. The research was done as part of Time4CS, an NSF-funded project conducted in BCPS, that seeks to bring more computer science to 3rd-5th-grade students by integrating CS activities into problem-based learning modules.

Kentucky Education Chief Resigns: Following the appointment of seven new members to the state school board, Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt stepped down on Tuesday. Although Pruitt’s four year term was not set to end until November 2019, the board contends that Pruitt was not forced to resign. Wayne Lewis, chair of the Kentucky Charter Schools Advisory Council, will serve as interim commissioner.

Utah Measure Could Raise $585 Million for Schools: A new ballot measure in Utah would triple education funding over the next five years by increasing the state’s gas tax by 10 cents. According to Utah Department of Education data, Utah’s class sizes are extremely large in comparison to other states, yet their spending per student is the lowest in the nation. The extra funding would be directed toward higher pay for teachers and classroom assistants in an effort to increase capacity for one-to-one instruction. 

 

Guaranteed Transfer Path from Community College to University of California Announced: The University of California System and the California Community Colleges system have announced a plan that will make it easier for community college students to transfer into the UC System. Under the new provisions, community college students who complete prescribed sequences of courses referred to as pathways and achieve satisfactory academic performance will be guaranteed a transfer to a UC campus. Though applicants may not be guaranteed admission to their first-choice campus, the initiative is designed to increase the state’s transfer rates and reflects renewed commitment to supporting higher education opportunities for all students.

Enrollment at Four-Year Universities Increases as Two-Year Institutions Expand: University of Florida researchers explored the effects that two-year colleges offering bachelor’s degrees had on neighboring four-year institutions and for-profit colleges. The study found that four-year colleges saw an increase in business, the theory being that many students took pre-requisite courses at two-year institutions and then successfully transfered to four-year colleges. For-profit schools, however, took a hit, as two-year institutions could now offer degrees to students at a competitive price point.

Study Considers Success of HBCU Students: A new study suggests that black students have a significantly higher chance of graduating from a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) than a predominantly white institution. Previous research has shown the opposite, but experts assert that these results don’t take into account socioeconomic status, academic preparation, and wealth disparities. Despite the new results, HBCUs are facing difficulties as their funding is being cut and colleges are instituting diversification initiatives to attract minority students.