Whiteboard Notes | CA Adopts K-12 Computer Science Standards; Bezos Launches $2 Billion Day One Fund; Teachers Apprehensive of Tech Teaching Ability

DeVos Attends First-Ever Gathering of G20 Education Ministers: Last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos attended the first-ever G20 meeting of education ministers in Mendoza, Argentina. DeVos highlighted to reporters an after-school program in Mendoza which focused on getting K-12 students interested in STEM programs and she discussed the importance of offering programs like these during the school day. DeVos also stated that the Ministers’ declaration, agreed to by all member countries at the meeting and aligned with the United Nations 2030 Agenda, was consistent with the Administration's agenda to align education with workforce skills for today's K-12 students. [Education Dive]
DeVos Loses Student Loan Lawsuit Brought by 19 States: On Wednesday, a U.S. District Court judgeruled in favor of 19 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia claiming that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education violated federal law by rolling back the Borrower Defense to Repayment rule - an Obama-era program meant to protect students when they have been defrauded by an institution of higher education. DeVos had sought to delay the regulations until July 1, 2019 to give the Education Department more time to rewrite them; however, the court ruled that DeVos's actions were "unlawful" and "arbitrary and capricious." [The Hill]
ED to Re-examine Case Alleging Discrimination against Jewish Students at Rutgers: The Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education has reopened a case alleging discrimination against Jewish students and will use the working definition of anti-Semitism that is adopted by several government entities, including the U.S Department of State. In a letter to the Zionist Organization of America, Kenneth Marcus, Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights, said he would vacate a 2014 decision by the Obama administration that closed the case, and would re-open an investigation into possible discrimination because of “Jewish ancestry or ethnic characteristics." [Politico]


The last 2018 legislative sessions are coming to a close. We’ll continue to share the latest state policy news here each week, but content might be lighter as lawmakers shift gears to election mode. According to Ballotpedia, 87 of the nation's 99 state legislative chambers will hold elections this year, and nearly 82% of all state legislative seats will be up for grabs.
Michigan is the only state currently in regular session. Puerto Rico is also in regular session. However, next year’s session are just around the corner, and activity for 2019 has already begun: Florida, Kentucky, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia are currently posting 2019 bill drafts, prefiles, and interim studies. The following states are currently holding 2019 interim committee hearings: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida (House), Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois (Senate), Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi (Senate), Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma (House), Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
California Adopts K-12 Computer Science Standards: Last week, the California State Board of Education approved computer science standards for K-12 students in the state. The optional standards, which were developed by educators, encourage critical thinking and deep understanding of core computer science concepts and practices. The state is also creating a strategic plan for expanding equitable access to computer science education, to be considered by the State Board in March 2019. [California Board of Education]
Lawmakers Discuss Changes to Michigan Virtual School and Virtual University: Michigan legislators are considering legislation to expand the scope of the state’s virtual school and virtual university. The bill would  update the Virtual University’s goals to include creation of curricular offerings for middle schools (in addition to high schools) and requires that the University should be a hub for research, best practices and innovation for virtual education in the state. The bill would also require the Michigan Virtual School to explore opportunities to act as a broker for college-level equivalent courses (including Advanced Placement) and maintain an accreditation from a recognized national or international accreditation entity. The bill was introduced on September 5 and is pending in the House Education Reform Committee. [Michigan Legislature]

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

Bezos Launches $2 Billion “Day One Fund”: Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is launching a $2 billion fund for philanthropic efforts called the Bezos Day One Fund. The fund will initially have two areas of focus: supporting existing nonprofits serving homeless families (the Day 1 Families Fund) and launching and operating “a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities.” (the Day 1 Academies Fund).  Read more on our blog here.
Philadelphia Grocery Stores’ New Initiative Supports Early Learning: Groceries stores in Philadelphia are doing their part to contribute to early learning, according to NPR’s Philadelphia affiliate, WHYY.  Ten grocery stores around the city are implementing a new initiative caled “Talk it Up” which encourages parents to engage in early learning activities with their children are various points around the store, facilitating skills like estimation, number fluency, and sight words.  The initiative also aims to increase conversation between caregivers and children. The outcomes of the program will be evaluated, with hopes of expansion should the initiative prove to be impactful. [WHYY]
K-12 Teachers Apprehensive of Their Tech Teaching Ability: A study published by consulting firm PwC surveyed more than 2,000 teachers and found that only 10 percent of K-12 teachers feel confident incorporating high-level technology into learning. This apprehension was one of six major findings, including that only 32 percent of student tech usage is active, while the majority of tech usage is passive (e.g. watching videos and reading from websites). PwC is working to make learning tools accessible as a way to expand teacher's skills and knowledge as well as adequately prepare students for jobs of the future. [EdScoop]


Community College Adjunct Professors May Cause Lower Grades For Students: New researchreveals that adjunct professors may adversely affect student performance at community colleges. Di Xu, an assistant professor at the University of California Irvine, discovered that while adjunct professors did not have a negative impact on entry-level courses, those students instructed by an adjunct professor in subsequent courses received 4 percent lower grades on average compared to those instructed by a full-time faculty member.  While adjunct faculty are able to provide industry expertise, they are typically less available to interact with students outside of class, which may be a cause of lower grades. [Education Dive]
Analyst Predicts a 15% Drop In College Students: According to The Hechinger Report, the college population will likely decline by about 15 percent between 2025 and 2029. Nathan Grawe, an economist at Carleton College made this prediction based on the low number of births from 2008 to 2011. Grawe noted that the financial crisis in 2008 played a major role in reducing fertility rate during 2008-2011.  [The Hechinger Report]