Whiteboard Notes | Supreme Court Ruling on Unions; Federal Career & Technical Ed Bill Advances; MI Considers STEM Endorsement

Supreme Court Ruling to Impact Teachers Unions: On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that public sector employee unions, including teachers unions, can no longer collect agency fees, the fees paid by non-union employees to cover the costs of the collective bargaining process. The 5-4 decision in the Janus v. AFSCME also ruled that workers must affirmatively opt in to union membership, overturning a 1977 Supreme Court decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.  Researchers estimate that the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, the largest teachers unions in the U.S., could lose up to a third of their members as a result of the ruling.
 
Senate Confirms Brogan to Lead K-12 Education Office: The U.S. Senate confirmed Frank Brogan as the Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Brogan most recently served as the Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. A former elementary school teachers, principal, and superintendent, Brogan also served as Florida’s Education Commissioner and Lieutenant Governor.
 
CTE Reauthorization Bill Advances to Full Senate: Bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act was passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and now heads to the full Senate for consideration. If passed, this would be the first rewrite the of federal law governing career and technical education in more than a decade. The legislation would allow states to set their own goals for CTE programs without approval from the Department of Education, but would require states to show "meaningful progress" toward their goals in order to maintain funding.

 

Massachusetts Enacts Emergency Spending Measure, Continues to Debate Budget:Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) has filed a $5 billion emergency spending measure to keep the state running through the start of fiscal year 2019. Because key differences remain in the House and Senate budget bills, HB 4401 and SB 2530, the temporary funding is intended to cover government expenses over the next month while lawmakers come to a consensus. The Senate-passed budget would appropriate $41.5 billion, slightly less than the version passed by the House, and the Senate version would allocate $4.91 billion for local education aid, compared to $4.87 billion in the House budget. Other differences include increased funding in the Senate version for education savings account contributions for charter school and special education.
 
Michigan Considers STEM Endorsement: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) has until July 9 to act on a bill that would create a STEM endorsement for high school graduates. According to the bill, SB 344, students would qualify for the endorsement if they complete certain high school credit requirements, including six mathematics and six science credits, as well as coursework involving technology and engineering. If Governor Snyder fails to act on the bill before the deadline, it will become law without his signature.
 
Rhode Island Approves $9.6 Billion Budget for FY19, Continues Rhode Island Promise: Last Friday, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (D) approved HB 7200, which contains the $9.6 billion state operating budget for fiscal year 2019. Among other items, the budget allocates $5,995,000 for the Rhode Island Promise program, which allows qualified students to attend the Community College of Rhode Island tuition-free. 
 
Legislatures in KentuckyMontanaNorth Dakota, and Utah are currently posting 2019 bill drafts, prefiles and interim studies.

 

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Louisiana Summer School Students Earn Credentials and Cash: Following a successful pilot last summer, the Louisiana Department of Education created the Jump Start Summer initiative, which offers school credit, industry-recognized credentials, and cash to students participating in career-oriented summer courses. 1,900 students within 46 districts statewide are taking advantage of the program this summer, and the department expects the number of students to grow next year. Students are earning credentials in fields such as computer programming, first aid, welding, and engineering design.
 
New York and Virginia Require Mental Health Education: In response to the rising rates of adolescent suicide and mental illness, states across the country are increasing access to mental health education. Schools in New York and Virginia are required by law to include mental health education in their base curriculum. Other states have addressed the issue by hiring additional school counselors and psychologists and providing mental health first aid training to all school personnel.
 
Teacher Coaching Reduces Racial Disparity in Discipline: Individualized coaching for teachers on classroom management and culturally responsive strategies can result in fewer racial disparities in discipline, according to a study of the Double Check coaching model published in School Psychology Review. A random controlled trial, involving 158 elementary and middle school teachers in a Maryland school district, found that coached teachers were less likely to refer black students to the office for discipline reasons and were observed to have classrooms with more student cooperation. 

 

First-Generation Students More Committed than Peers: New survey data from Campus Labs demonstrates that first-generation college students are more engaged and committed to their education than their multi-generational peers. The research challenges existing literature claiming first-generation students are academically unprepared. First-generation students did score low on questions relating to navigating stress, identifying an area where colleges can offer additional support and guidance.
 
High School Grads Seek Skills Training: A survey from the College Savings Foundation demonstrates that 81% of high school respondents seek skills training, and the number of students intending to go to community college increased 9% from 2015 to 2018. The survey also explored the importance of college cost in decision making: 65% of students surveyed said that expense affected whether they attend college at all, and 75% of students surveyed said costs are a factor in deciding which school to attend.
 
Pennsylvania Creates College Savings Accounts for Newborns: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D) authorized a new program to create college savings accounts for all babies born or adopted into families in the state. The program will cost an estimated $14 million per year and each newborn’s account will start with a $100 grant. The child will be able to spend the investment and any income it earns on their post-secondary education until the age of 29.