Whiteboard Notes | ED Schedules Hearings on Higher Ed Regulations; Demand for Bilingual Educators in CA

Congress & Administration

Department of Education Schedules Hearings on Higher Ed Regulations: The U.S. Department of Education announced two public hearings focused on identifying regulations that “may be appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification.” The first hearing will be held on September 26 at the Miller Campus of Salt Lake Community College in Sandy, Utah. The second hearing will be held on October 4 at the Department’s DC headquarters. In June, the Department issued a public call for ideas on education regulations that should be rolled back. Earlier this month, the Department extended the timeline for public comments by 30 days, pushing the deadline back to September 20.
 
Lawmakers Question DeVos, Sessions on Affirmative Action Policies: Congressional Democrats sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos asking for additional information on “the Trump Administration’s intention regarding policies to promote racial diversity in university admissions.” The letter, signed by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA), John Conyers (D-MI) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), stated that “any effort to limit universities’ ability to take students’ backgrounds, including their race, into account during the admissions process is an abrupt and extremely troubling shift in policy for both Departments.”
 
Department of Education Awards Second Round of Upward Bound Grants: On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Education announced a second round of funding for programs designed to help low-income students who aspire to attend college. This round of Upward Bound grants are being awarded to programs that were initially rejected because of formatting errors in their grant applications. In May, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department would reconsider the 77 applications rejected for formatting errors. 
 

States, Districts, & Colleges

California Districts Address Demand for Bilingual Educators: Districts across California are developingplans to address increasing demand for bilingual teachers, including providing specialized training for educators who are bilingual but currently teaching in English-only classrooms. Some districts will provide in-house training or partner with universities and organizations to bring bilingual teachers up to speed on multilingual and multicultural education practices and standards. Others plan to apply for new Bilingual Professional Development Program grants from the state. The increase in demand for bilingual educators follows the passage of Proposition 58 last November, which repealed the state’s English-only immersion requirement.
 
New Report Highlights Postsecondary Attainment, Access to Broadband in Florida: Last week, the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida presented a report to the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Council outlining the connection between access to high-speed broadband service and college degrees. According to the report, expanding online educational opportunities -- and the broadband service needed to access them -- could help the state reach its goal of 55 percent of the working-age population obtaining a college degree or professional certificate by 2025. The report suggests there is a correlation between broadband access and higher education, noting that small, rural counties where a higher percentage of residents lack access to high-speed broadband (ranging from 41-99 percent) have a smaller percentage of residents with college degrees or certificates (ranging from 12-27 percent).
 
Pennsylvania Working to Save Nation’s Oldest HBCU: On Tuesday, the Board of Governors for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education approved a measure to forgive millions of dollars in loans that Cheyney University of Pennsylvania owes if the institution can balance its budget over the next four years. Cheyney University, the nation’s oldest historically black institution of higher education, was put on probation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education in 2015 and continues to face financial and enrollment challenges. The university has until September 1 to submit a plan to MSCHE outlining how it will address its budget gaps in order to maintain its accreditation. 
 
Tennessee’s Literacy Coaching Network is Growing and Showing Gains: An additional 16 school districts are joining Tennessee’s Read to be Ready literacy coaching network as the initiative enters its second year, bringing the total number of participating districts to 99. So far, approximately 200 coaches have worked with more than 3,000 teachers through the initiative, and this year’s increased participation means that two-thirds of districts in the state will now have supports in place to address student reading skills. According to the state’s Review of Year One report on the initiative, educators who participated in the program during the 2016-2017 year improved, on average, in their content knowledge, instructional practices, and coaching skills.