President Trump’s 2020 Budget: The Good and Bad News for Education

As discussed for the last two budget cycles (here and here) President Trump is working to keep his 2016 campaign promise to cut the size and scope of the U.S. Department of Education (USED). Here is some of the good, bad and ugly of the Fiscal Year 2020 budget: The Good News The 2020 budget seeks to cut overall USED spending by $7.1 billion or ten percent. That is consistent with his previous budgets and a good start on what is a big job. Basically level funding is maintained for both Title I, the main federal education program for poor

DeVos’ Swiss Agreement Overlooks Deep Problems with School-to-Work Model

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, along with the Secretaries of Labor and Commerce, recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Swiss government to collaborate in the area of workforce development. Secretary DeVos visited Switzerland in June of this year and was highly complementary of their school-to-work (STW) system, saying that there was much the U.S. could learn from the Swiss. On her U.S. Department of Education blog announcing the agreement, she also listed 15 facts about the Swiss apprenticeship program. The first fact was that these Swiss students are spending a minority of time learning academics: Most Swiss

Opposition Grows to Flawed Obama-Era School Discipline Policies

The debate over what Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos should do about the Obama-era “Dear Colleague Letter” regarding school discipline, especially in light of recent school shootings, rages on. This policy threatens school districts with costly investigations if a disproportionate number of students belonging to a particular racial group are suspended or expelled. Democrat politicians and many groups on the more liberal end of the spectrum continue to demand that the policy be kept in place, believing that much of the disparity is due to discrimination and bias on the part of schools, instead of any outside factors. These groups

Betsy DeVos Just Delivered a Promising Speech. Will Her Actions Back It Up?

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave an interesting speech to the American Enterprise Institute last week. In some parts, it contained rhetoric that skeptical conservatives have been waiting to hear. Yet, other parts toed the corporate-establishment, ed-tech, education-as-workforce-prep line that previous administrations of both parties have pursued. Here is a brief review. The Positives First, we commend Secretary DeVos for unabashedly stating the obvious — that the unconstitutional federal control of education has been an utter failure: The bottom line is simple: federal education reform efforts have not worked as hoped. That’s not a point I make lightly or joyfully. Yes, there

A Conservative Defense of Betsy DeVos

Since her confirmation in February of this year, Betsy DeVos has had a hard time finding her footing as America’s newest Education Secretary — a situation made so obvious in her recent Politico profile that Salon magazine immediately hit the presses to posit her early departure with its initial headline, “DeVos Expected To Resign.” In fact, from the point that Jeb Bush suggested her for the top post through her historic tie-breaking confirmation vote by Vice President Pence, DeVos has enjoyed a very narrow band of support, made evident by the lack of real public pushback against the constant carping

N.H. Takes Action to End Common Core Mandate, But Feds Still a Threat

Common Core took a hit in New Hampshire this month. Although the state adopted the Common Core standards, Republican Governor Chris Sununu signed Senate Bill 44 into law, which “prohibits the department of education and the state board of education” from requiring schools to implement Common Core. The bill will go into effect September 16. Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut also said he plans an informal review of the Common Core standards, despite the state Board of Education voting against a formal review. Edelblut campaigned against Common Core in his unsuccessful run for governor last year. Common Core is a set

Man Up, State Leaders! It’s Time to Declare Independence on Education!

With implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) under the U.S. Department of Education (USED), objections are flying to this or that policy (to the extent policy can be discerned). Conservatives criticize continued USED heavy-handedness and mixed signals, particularly by Secretary DeVos’ Democratic lieutenant Jason Botel, with respect to critiquing state plans. Liberals fear funding cuts and relaxed requirements related to certain subgroups of students. Both sides decry the apparent confusion emanating from USED. But it’s worth asking why USED deserves such attention in the first place. ESSA was sold (duplicitously) as restoring the constitutional requirement of state and

Alabama Wants Local Control over Education. Will President Trump Deliver?

During the 2015 fight over the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), over 200 parent and conservative organizations and leaders denounced the bill due to its extension of tight control over state and local education by the federal government — features it retained from its No Child Left Behind predecessor. One of the strongest concerns was the law giving the education secretary veto power over state plans. Although the authors and proponents of ESSA have constantly spewed forth propaganda that the Common Core Standards are gone at the federal level and that state and local control have returned for the first time

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