Federal

In her first appearance before the Council of Great City Schools, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told district representatives today in Washington that she and the Department looked forward to working together with school districts for a system that “trusts parents, trusts teachers and trusts local school leaders to do what’s best for students.” DeVos, who released the revised state plan template that’s linked below, said the revisions would require states to do only what is “essential” in implementing Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and pledged to make sure states and districts have greater flexibility. She highlighted her guiding philosophy of “parents know what’s best for their children…parents know children’s unique needs…parents showed be empowered and have quality choice, private and public, that work best for children.”

Currently at stake is development and issuance of regulations that would replace those passed during the Obama administration on state requirements, professional staff development and others which were negated by recent administrative action and Congressional passage last week of HR57 (state) and HR58 (teacher prep).

Meanwhile, President Trump is expected to release the abbreviated version of his proposed 2018 (our 2018-2019 year) budget that would take effect next October 1st. There is a lot of speculation here in Washington that domestic spending–and education is part of that–could face significant cuts from current year, ranging from 5% to over 10%. The President’s announced priority is to increase defense and national security spending.

April 28th is the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution for this year’s budget (our 2017-2018). It is unclear if Congress and simply continue current year through the remaining 5 months of the federal fiscal year or craft a different budget. Regardless, states are slated to take an additional 3% setaside (“reservation” in federal parlance) off the top of Title 1 funding per ESSA which could reduce district appropriations below current year without any offsetting increase of federal dollars.

And…look for House and Senate education committees in the near future to begin work on either taking up where they left off last year or developing new legislation for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and Perkins Career/Vocational Education Act (House passed a bipartisan bill last year, but the Senate took no actions). Not mentioned so far is any reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that has also technically expired and is awaiting renewal.

03/13/2017 01:00 PM EDT
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Announces Release of Updated ESSA Consolidated State Plan Template

In a letter delivered today to chief state school officers, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos provided clarity on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation and released the updated template for the consolidated state plans.

State

Legislative subcommittees this week have full agendas to hear member bills as part of Week Two. The Senate Education Committee did not meet today and the full House Education Committee is expected to take a bye Thursday. Bills that we see on agendas this week and for the next two weeks are often those which have been cleared by legislative leadership for full consideration. For instances, HB436 and its House companion, HB303 (“religious freedom” for students in schools), have been cited by Senate President Joe Negron as a key bill for passage this year.

Bill texts and staff analyses are available at http://www.flsenate and http://www.myfloridahouse.gov by entering the bill number in the dialog box. Most of these meetings will be webcast on http://www.thefloridachannel.org. we’ll have an update tomorrow night along with an updated tracking chart of filed bills thus far.

9:30AM
(H) – Careers & Competition Subcommittee, 212 K (9:30AM–1:00PM)
HB 0909 Building Code Administrators & Inspecto (Goodson)
(H) – PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee, 306 H (9:30AM–12:00PM)
HB 0591 Maximum Class Size (Massullo, Jr.) – moves staffing of CSR to school average;
HB 0781 Designation of School Grades (Porter)
HB 0827 Teacher Bonuses (Porter)
HB 1109 Private School Student Participation in athletics (Antone)
(H) – Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee, 102 H (9:30AM–1:00PM)
HB 0493 Enhanced Safety for School Crossings (Toledo)
10:30AM
(S) – Community Affairs, 301 S (10:30AM–12:00PM)
SB 0880 Government Accountability (Stargel) – penalty for failure to correct state audit deficiencies
2:00PM
(S) – Judiciary, 110 S (2:00PM–4:00PM)
SB 0436 Religious Expression In Public Schools (Baxley)
SB 0080 Public Records (Steube)
(H) – Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, 212 K (2:00PM–7:00PM)
HB 0153 Excess Credit Hour Surcharges (Mariano)
HB 0509 Postsecondary Fee Waivers (Ponder)
(H) – PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee, 102 H (2:00PM–7:00PM)
HB 0079 Education (Harrell) – early grades reading and I-D of possible student learning concerns (similar to HB7123 from last year)
HB 0293 Middle School Study (Burton)
HB 0303 Religious Expression in Public Schools (Daniels)
HB 0773 K-12 Student Assessments (Diaz (M)) – reduces state testing window and moves to end of year
HB 1111 Teacher Certification (Plasencia)
HB 1331 Education (Grall) – creates “schools of excellence”