Whiteboard Notes | New Trump Education Nominees; Federal Tuition Assistance Bill; Department of Education Pulls Back Regulations 

Congress & Administration

DeVos Rescinds Hundreds of Policy Documents: The U.S. Department of Education announced it’s plan to withdraw nearly 600 regulatory documents that were either outdated, superseded by other rules, or related to programs that no longer exist. A recent report from the Department’s Regulatory Reform Task Force lists the rescinded regulations, which include 72 special education documents that the Department already overturned last week, as well as guidance documents from the Offices of Elementary and Secondary Education; Postsecondary Education; Career, Technical, and Adult Education; Innovation and Improvement; and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.
 
Education Department Offers Voluntary Severances to Reduce Staff: On Friday, the U.S. Department of Education offered early retirement benefits or voluntary separation buyouts of up to $25,000 to members of the Office of Federal Student Aid, in an attempt to condense the Department. These packages are part of the Trump administration’s plan to reduce the size of the government by reorganizing and streamlining federal agencies. Those that accept the offer will leave the Department by the beginning of 2018. During the Obama administration, the Education Department offered employees similar buyouts, and 174 employees accepted the offer. 
 
Trump Nominates CFO for Education Department: On Wednesday, President Donald Trump nominated the current Director of Risk Management at USAID Douglas Webster to serve as Chief Financial Officer for the Department of Education. Webster has over two decades of federal financial management experience and he served in the US Air Force for twenty-one years. As CFO, Webster would advise U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on the Department’s financial management, as well as its procurement and grant programs.
 
Trump Nominates Civil Rights Chief: The White House announced the nomination of former Bush aide and civil rights advocate Kenneth Marcus as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Department of Education. Marcus is currently the director of an anti-semitism advocacy organization called the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and he previously served as Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights under President George W. Bush.
 

States, Districts, & Colleges

Michigan GOP Seeks to Abolish the State Board of Education: In response to declining academic outcomes, Michigan Representative Tim Kelly (R) and fellow Republican lawmakers are fighting to eliminatethe Michigan Board of Education. Rep. Kelly’s proposal blames the Board, which appoints the State Superintendent, for the state’s poor academic performance on national examinations. The proposal follows the publication of a report from the Governor’s 21st Century Education Commission, which includes recommendations to either abolish the State Board or give the Governor more control over its governance. Rep. Kelly’s resolution would require approval from two-thirds of both the House and Senate, as well as support from constituents via a ballot measure during the state’s next general election.
 
Jackson Public Schools Avoids State Takeover: Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R) and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba (D) announced the Better Together initiative as an alternative to the state Department of Education’s recommendation to take over the Jackson Public School District. Through the initiative, Jackson Public Schools would retain local control, and education experts, parents, the Education Commission of the States, the Kellogg Foundation, and the Mississippi Economic Council would collaborate to revamp the district to improve academic outcomes for students. The Mississippi Department of Education is currently not included in the initiative, but the district still must submit a corrective action plan to the Department for approval. The State Board’s request for takeover is still active, and the Board could attempt to incorporate Jackson Public Schools into the statewide achievement school district or withdraw its accreditation.
 
North Carolina Universities Create New Teacher Certification Program: Two institutions in the University of North Carolina system are developing a new certification pathway for lateral entry teachers, who have relevant subject-knowledge but lack a teaching credential. The state currently employs more than 4,000 lateral entry teachers, and through the new program educators that fall into this category will have the opportunity to continue teaching while taking online courses to earn a certification or license. The pilot program of 80 teachers plans to launch this Fall.