Education Policy Update

August 19, 2019

Pardon Our Dust

We recently launched this new site and are still in the process of updating some of our archived content. Some details of this article may be incomplete, links may be broken, and other elements may not display properly yet. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Federal Updates

  • Last week, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent letters to numerous education technology companies expressing concern about “vast amount of data being collected about our nation’s students” and seeking details on company data collection practices.
  • House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Scott (D-VA), Financial Service Committee Chairwoman Waters (D-CA), and Oversight Committee Chairman Cummings (D-MD) requested records from the Education Department regarding the cancellation of information-sharing agreements with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). 
  • No school districts are participating in the “Flexibility for Equitable Per-Pupil Spending” pilot program that was established in the Every Student Succeeds Act. The program allows districts to combine local, state and federal funding into new systems that weight funding on a per-pupil basis. 

Florida Education Policy Update

florida courthouse

Education is always a top public policy issue in Florida, and the 2019 legislative session was no different.

This year, lawmakers made major investments in K-12 funding, expanded career and workforce education, revised school safety policies, expanded educational choice, modified teacher certification requirements, strengthened the state’s college access and articulation pathways, and much more.

Highlights from the 2019-20 budget include:

  • Total K-12 Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) funding of $21.9 billion, an increase of $783 million
  • K-12 per-student funding increase of $242.60, for a total of $7,672 per student
  • $10 million to fund apprenticeships through the creation of the Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program
  • Safe Schools Allocation (for school resource officers, etc) increase of $18 million, for a total of $180 million
  • Mental health allocation increase of $5.7 million, for a total of $75 million
  • Turnaround School Supplemental Services allocation of $45.5 million
  • $10 million in professional development and incentive funds for teachers receiving training in computer science
  • Gardiner Scholarship funding increase of $23 million, for a total of $147.9 million

Read more on major education policy changes in Florida.

State Updates

A handful of states are taking measures to protect student privacy through various legislation and policies.

  • In New Hampshire, the legislature passed SB 267 relating to the release of student assessment information and data. This bill, for the purposes of the state’s assessment program, requires the department of education to give any vendor contracted to provide the statewide assessment individual pupil names and unique pupil identifiers. It also requires testing entities to maintain any results, scores, or other evaluative materials for the purpose of measuring and reporting individual student growth.
  • A bill aiming to protect the privacy of Pennsylvania students’ personal data is still under review by the legislature. As reintroduced, SB 797 defines student data, who owns the data, who can correct records, and the responsibilities of state and local education entities in protecting student data privacy. If passed, the bill would provide policies and protections for the collection, use and safeguarding of student data, as well as designate a chief data privacy officer within the Department of Education.
  • Massachusetts has introduced S 295, a bill which if passed would call for the development of technology and privacy safety measures, such as establishing a new age-appropriate education curriculum in the individual and societal risks from technology. This curriculum would include education on a variety of topics such as the risks stemming from privacy loss, automation, digital addiction, loss of human contact, environmental costs, reduced health, and programming mistakes.
  • The North Carolina state legislature recently passed the Excellent Public Schools Act of 2019. SB 438 makes a variety of changes to the state’s Read to Achieve Program, including establishing individual reading plans, creating a Digital Children’s Reading Initiative as well as a Comprehensive Plan to Improve Literacy Instruction, and creating a uniform reporting structure for Read to Achieve data. The bill also requires educator preparation programs to provide literacy training in programs for elementary education teachers and directs the State Board of Education to study phasing out some alternative assessments for reading, among other new instructional requirements.