Whiteboard Notes | New Trump Pick for Top Higher Ed Job; IL Law Creates Grant Program for In-State Students; ND Focuses on Mental Health

Trump Announces Pick for Top Higher Education Position: President Donald Trump announced that he intends to nominate Robert King to be the assistant secretary of postsecondary education. King most recently served as the president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Between 2000 and 2005, he served as chancellor of the State University of New York, the largest public university system in the country. [Inside Higher Ed]
DeVos Considering Allowing School Districts to use Federal Funds for Guns: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is considering a plan that would allow states to use federal funds to purchase guns, according to The New York Times. The plan would overturn the longstanding federal government policy of not paying for weapons in schools. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education said, “the department is constantly considering and evaluating policy issues, particularly issues related to school safety. The secretary nor the department issues opinions on hypothetical scenarios.” [The New York Times, Subscription Required]
First Lady Speaks at Bullying Prevention Summit: First lady Melania Trump spoke at the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention summit on Monday. The government-sponsored event focused on helping to prevent cyberbullying, in part, by encouraging social media and technology companies to work with youths on being better online citizens. [The Associated Press]


New Illinois Law Creates Grant Program for In-State Students: On Tuesday, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) signed into law a measure that will provide financial aid for students attending public institutions of higher education in the state through a new grant program called AIM HIGH. According to the law, beginning with the 2019-2020 academic year, each Illinois public university can establish a merit-based scholarship pilot program for eligible students. [Illinois General Assembly]

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.
California and Ohio are the only states 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.

States Struggle to Develop Standards Superior to the Common Core: A recent study by the Fordham Institute uncovered that the 15 states that rejected the Common Core curriculum developed weaker, and in some circumstances, deficient standards. The team of experts commissioned by Fordham gave the Common Core standards a 9/10 in both math and english and found that alternative state standards failed to compete in relation to content, rigor, clarity, and specificity. While the Common Core was held up as the best example overall, researchers did find some positive aspects of alternative curriculum, including an early focus on writing and arithmetic. [The 74]
WI District Considers Ticketing Students for Cellphone Usage: Kewaskum School District in Wisconsin is considering a village ordinance that would allow the district to issue tickets to students who violate the cell phone policy for a third time. While teachers continue to find ways to use cellphones to maximize learning, cell phone usage among students still remains the No. 1 discipline problem in the district. The President of the Village Board has expressed his support for the ordinance as long as the tickets are enforced by district officials, rather than police officers. The Board plans to vote on the ordinance next week. [The Journal Sentinel]
Survey Finds Heightened Support for Increasing Teacher Pay: A new survey from the journalEducation Next found that 67% of respondents believe teacher salaries should increase, representing the highest support for increasing teacher pay since 2008. The researchers have linked this trend to the amount of teacher strikes and protests over the past year, which have encouraged support for higher pay among teachers.


Amazon Continues Investment in Higher Ed Research: Amazon recently announced that it will expand its Amazon Alexa Fellowship to 18 colleges during the 2018-19 academic year. The Alexa fellowship supports graduate students and faculty research in artificial technology (AI), which includes voice technology. The majority of participating public and private institutions are in the U.S., but span across four countries. Carnegie Mellon University, The University of Washington, and Texas A&M University are among the institutions in the U.S. that receive funding. [Education Dive]
Cuyamaca College Offers Automotive Degree to Students: Cuyamaca College is now offering California’s first associate degree program that incorporates classroom/online teaching with on-the-job training at independent repair shops. As a trainee, students are given the chance to be hired for entry-level, minimum wage position with the potential to receive wages.  In addition to training students and providing them with a job, Cuyamaca College hopes that students will strive to become entrepreneurs and open up their own auto shops. [San Diego Union-Tribune, Subscription Required]