Education Policy Update

April 16, 2019

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Federal Updates

  • Secretary DeVos testified before the House Education and Labor Committee and answered questions on the president’s FY20 budget request, arming teachers, school choice, and other issues. 
  • The House Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee plans to mark up the Department of Education’s FY20 spending bill on April 30 with a tentative full committee markup scheduled for May 8. 
  • On April 10, the Director of Education, Workforce and Income Security, Kathryn Laren, testified to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. The Government Accountability Office released the testimony titled, “Child Nutrition: Observations on USDA Actions to Improve Program Integrity and Address Improper Payments.”
  • The federally appointed panel of negotiators tasked with reviewing the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed draft rules around accreditation and innovation in higher education reached an agreement. The consensus package of rules:
    • Loosens restrictions on accreditors
    • Includes proposed changes to federal distance education standards regarding faculty and student interaction
    • Provides a fix to the TEACH grant program that allows teachers whose grants were converted to loans to appeal those decisions
  • The House passed the CLASS Act for School Safety on April 1. The bill directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish a council to coordinate activities, plans, and policies of the Department aimed at bolstering school security against acts of terrorism, an active shooter, and other threats.

georgia capitolEducation Policy Recap from the 2019 Georgia Legislative Session

Georgia began 2019 with the inauguration of a new Governor for the first time in eight years and a new Lieutenant Governor for the first time in twelve years. In their first legislative session, Governor Brian Kemp and Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan both pursued an aggressive agenda signaling that they intend to maintain the commitment of their predecessors to education. Reforming choice and increasing funding and academic performance continued to be critical areas of focus.

Education Funding

On the campaign trail, Governor Kemp promised a $5,000 pay raise for all public school teachers in Georgia. In the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, he succeeded in taking the first steps towards fulfilling that promise. The Georgia General Assembly adopted a $27.5 billion budget for the 2020 Fiscal Year, which included a $3,000 pay raise for certified teachers and certified personnel. Governor Kemp has committed that this is the first installment towards a total raise of $5,000. Continuing their long-time commitment to education, the House and Senate expanded the $3,000 raise to include school counselors, social workers, psychologists, special education specialists, speech and language pathologists, media specialists, and technology specialists. The 8.8 percent increase to the state’s salary schedule accounts for more than half of the $1.05 billion in additional appropriations over the FY2019 budget. Also recognized in the FY2020 budget are bus drivers, lunchroom workers, school nurses and assistant pre-K teachers, who will all receive a 2 percent pay raise.

Following years of austerity cuts and funding reductions, the state fully funded the Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding formula in Fiscal Year 2019 for the first time in more than a decade. In addition to appropriating funds for pay raises, the state will once again fully fund education under the QBE formula in Fiscal Year 2020. Read more for an overview on education vouchers and dual enrollment.

State Updates

  • Related to student data privacy amendments, Utah SB 164 repeals provisions related to the sharing of student information between the State Board of Education and the State Board of Regents. Additionally, the legislation provides for parental notification and parental opt-out related to the sharing of student information with the Utah Registry of Autism and Developmental Disabilities.
  • Many states, including Colorado, Idaho and Virginia recently enacted legislation addressing alternative licensure. Idaho H 93 amends existing law to provide that approved nontraditional educator preparation programs may receive funding under certain circumstances.
  • In early learning and literacy, Utah recently enacted HB 463 which expands authorization for schools to use licenses for early interactive readying software from kindergarten and grade 1 to grades 2 and 3 as well. The legislation also eliminates prior requirement that grades 2 and 3 were authorized to use software only for students reading below grade level.
  • Several states have passed legislation concerning charter schools. In Arkansas, HB 1730 allows an authorizer to transfer and assign a public charter school’s charter under the Arkansas Quality Charter Schools Act of 2013. California SB 126 expressly states that charter schools and their authorizers are subject to provisions prohibiting public officials from being financial interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity.