Whiteboard Notes | WV Teachers Win Pay Raise; Carranza Named Chancellor of New York City

Banking Bill Includes Benefits for Student Loan Borrowers: A banking bill, known as the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, that is being debated in the U.S. Senate this week includes new provisions that would provide additional flexibility for student loan borrowers. The first provision would prevent lenders from automatically placing borrowers in default or accelerating their payments solely because their cosigner died or declared bankruptcy. Additionally, if a student dies, the lender would be required to release the co-signer from the debt. The legislation would also allow private lenders to offer defaulted borrowers the opportunity to remove the default from their credit report after making a certain number of on-time payments.

DeVos Criticizes State ESSA Plans: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos during a speech this week admonished state governments for lacking ambition in educational innovation and barely meeting the minimum requirements of the Every Students Succeed Act in their plans. The law, which provides the states billions of dollars in funding, gives states flexibility to design plans to improve K-12 systems. In her comments, DeVos said that even the plans that have been approved as ESSA compliant have largely failed to take advantage of this flexibility and have lacked ambitious or creative solutions.

HELP Committee Chair Proposes ESSA Changes to Improve School Safety: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R - TN), Chairman of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, proposed changes to the Every Student Succeeds Act that he said would mitigate safety risks to schools. His proposal would free up federal funds to finance schools’ purchase of safety technology, implementation of physical safety measures, and personnel training. It would also allow professional development-directed funds to be more easily used to hire school counselors. Opponents said, though, that most of these expenditures are already legal under the current version of ESSA, and that Alexander’s proposal would merely clarify existing law. 


Iowa Community Colleges Partner with Business Leaders: Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R) announced the launch of the Work-based Opportunity Regional Referral Consortium, a new partnership between presidents of the state’s community colleges and the Association of Business and Industry (ABI). The 15 community colleges and 1,500 ABI member companies will work together to offer students more apprenticeships, internships, and job-shadowing opportunities. The Governor said work-based learning opportunities will not only increase students’ chances of finding a job post graduation, but also boost Iowa’s economy by encouraging more graduates to remain in the state.  

WV Teachers Win Pay Raise, End Strike: On Tuesday, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) signedlegislation increasing pay for educators and all state employees by 5 percent, thereby ending the statewide teacher strike that began on February 22. The teacher walkout used social media to unite three different state unions, as well as teachers not belonging to a union, without a contract or collective bargaining rights. Teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky, and other states are looking to West Virginia as an example as they consider taking similar action.

Carranza Named Chancellor of New York City: Superintendent of Houston Independent School District (HISD) Richard Carranza has been tapped as the next Chancellor of the New York City Schools system. Carranza has held a variety of roles throughout his career in K-12 education, including as a social studies teacher, a principal, a school administrator, and Superintendent of San Francisco Unified School District prior to HISD. He has promised to advance Mayor De Blasio’s equity agenda as the next NYC Schools Chancellor, and will work closely with current Chancellor Carmen Fariña as he transitions to leading the country’s largest school system.