Whiteboard Notes | New Round of Higher Ed Rulemaking Begins; School Safety Grants in NC; NY Requires Public Colleges to Have Food Pantry for Students

Senior Executives at ED May Be Reassigned: According to the Washington Post, every member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) at the U.S. Department of Education was asked last month to select two or three positions for potential reassignment - a shift that could affect up to 68 jobs. A. Bianca Green, chief human capital officer, said reassignment notices would be made by September 24, with new assignments taking effect by October 14. [The Washington Post; Subscription Required]
Administration Begins New Round of Higher Education Rulemaking: The U.S. Department of Education held a daylong hearing today to accept public feedback on their plans to conduct a second round of negotiated rulemaking on revisions to federal rules on higher education topics including college accreditation, nontraditional education providers, the definition of the “credit hour,” and religious schools. Today’s session is the first of three scheduled public hearings that department officials are holding - the next ones will be September 11 in New Orleans, LA and September 13 in Sturtevant, WI. [Politico]
DeVos Will Not Block States From Using Federal Funds for Firearms: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that she will not block states from using Title IV-Part A funds under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to purchase firearms or firearms training for school staff. Her announcement angered Congressional Democrats, who had sent a letter last week stating that the governing statute did not allow federal funds to be used for the purchase of firearms. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, has said that the law, particularly the flexibility block grant in question, does allow for states and districts to decide on whether federal money should be used for purchasing guns. [Politico]


New School Safety Grants for North Carolina Schools: On Tuesday, State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced $35 million in one-time grant funding for schools across North Carolina to improve school safety. The funding, which was approved during the past legislative session, will go towards hiring school resource officers and funding mental health programs. [The News & Observer]
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 during this time of year 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. 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.

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

Illinois Announces 2019 Grants for State Libraries: Illinois has awarded a total of more than $520,000 in grants to 31 libraries across the state to support student access to and understanding of technology. The grant program, called Project Next Generation, offers funding to public libraries throughout Illinois to establish after-school programs focused on technology, project-based learning, effective communication, goal-setting, and conflict resolution. The program prioritizes libraries that serve low-income and culturally diverse populations. [River Bender]
Two Teachers Create Game to Teach Students about Data Privacy: Two high school English teachers, John Fallon of Connecticut and Paul Darvasi of Toronto, created an alternate reality game called Blind Protocol, designed to teach students about online privacy and data security. The students in CT and Toronto play the game simultaneously and attempt to uncover the identities of the other students, while  revealing as little information about themselves as possible. The goal of the game is to demonstrate how easy it is to identify someone online and to help students understand why they must protect their identity, particularly on social media. Fallon and Darvasi would like to bring the game to more classrooms around the world. [MindShift]


Free College Doesn’t Entirely Benefit Low-Income Students: Education Trust and the Institute of Higher Education Policy (IHEP) each released a report this month examining the effects of tuition free college programs for low-income students. IHEP specifically examined the Tennessee and New York state tuition free college plan, and discovered that low-income students are not receiving financial benefits through either state programs. Meanwhile, Education Trust examined whether tuition free college programs make college more affordable for  low-income families and students of color. Their reports discovered that many times the programs fail to completely cover the cost of attendance. [Inside Higher Ed]
Ohio State Cuts Student Tuition Fees: Ohio State University recently announced a plan to cut 70% of course fees and expand in-state tuition to out-of-state military veterans and their immediate family members. Likewise the Ohio State Board of Trustees have moved to waive the cost of credit hours taken for an internship or research, and launched a pilot program to offer lower-cost digital textbooks with the College of Social Work. Altogether these cuts will save students $1.9 million annually. [Education Dive]