Education Policy Update

January 13, 2020

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Federal Updates

  • The White House is expected to release its FY21 budget request on February 10.
  • The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services released joint guidance on the application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) to student health records.
  • The Department of Education announced the opening of nominations for the Inaugural Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award — established May 2, 2019, by the President’s Executive Order on America’s Cybersecurity Workforce.

State Updates

By the end of the month, 38 states will have convened for their 2020 sessions. The following highlight various education policy initiatives expected out of states where MWC has a footprint, with links to full 2020 legislative session previews.

Top of the list for both the Governor and legislators is addressing funding concerns for two of Florida’s most challenging public policy issues: criminal justice and education. On education, Governor DeSantis wants a minimum teacher salary of $47,500 and to revamp the state’s teacher and principal bonus system. The state’s largest union has yet to support the proposal, but if lawmakers can find the funding, teacher pay will be going up. Other priorities by education leaders include teacher professional development and early learning.

The state budget will be the largest issue facing legislators when they convene on January 13. As one of the state’s largest appropriations, education will be an issue at the forefront of budget discussions. In 2019, teachers across Georgia received a $3,000 pay raise as an installment of the larger campaign promise of first term Governor Brian Kemp. Entering his second legislative session, the Governor remains committed to his promise of teacher pay raises; however, lagging revenue collections may stall the remaining $2,000 pay raise. The Governor also has reiterated his commitment to fully funding the state’s education formula, which the state began doing a couple years ago despite the formula’s adoption in the 1980s. One place lawmakers will look to for budget savings is its dual enrollment program. The popular program currently lacks established goals and parameters, which has resulted in the cost of the program growing by 350% between 2014 and 2018. Other education-related issues that may emerge during session outside of the budget include, K-12 vouchers, grading public school performance, and removing barriers to higher education access.  

Illinois legislators will reconvene in the last week of January, during which Governor JB Pritzker (D) will give his State of the State address. As was the case last year, education is expected to be a key item on the governor’s legislative agenda for 2020. As part of the state’s 2017 overhaul of the school funding formula, the legislature committed to increase education funding by at least $50 million each year for the next decade. Pritzker, a billionaire who is active in education philanthropy, maintained the state’s statutory commitment in that formula as well as increased funding for early childhood education in 2019. Similar investments are likely to be discussed this year. With many bills introduced throughout the month, lawmakers will continue to address education issues that the state has dealt with for years including teacher shortages, teacher retention, and additional curriculum mandates as well new issues like limiting the use of student restraint and isolation for behavioral problems. A task force report meant to address the issue of high property taxes is expected to include recommendations for school district consolidation, a perennial topic in the statehouse.       

North Carolina
NC lawmakers will reconvene in January, but are limited in what they are able to consider during the January session. Legislators may discuss bills that have been vetoed by the governor, appointments, confirmations of gubernatorial nominations, new district maps in response to litigation, the adoption of conference reports for bills already in conference committee, the funding and oversight of the Department of Transportation, bills addressing access to health care, appropriations modifications, and a joint adjournment resolution. Education-related bills vetoed by the governor, include SB 392: Various Charter School ChangesSB 438: Excellent Public Schools Act of 2019SB 354: Strengthening Educators’ Pay Act, and HB 231: UNC & Community College Pay/Retiree Bonus.

South Carolina
Education reform will remain the focus of 2020 legislative session in South Carolina, after the Senate failed to push the House-passed reform package to the floor for debate in 2019. Teacher pay and testing reform have consistently been points of contention in previous years, a result of poor national performance and the long-running Abbeville lawsuit for school equity. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) promised education reform for the state’s failing system after his election as governor in 2018, and supports the House’s reform efforts. Senate leaders expect to discuss the reforms on the floor in January.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam proposed a robust education agenda for the 2020 General Assembly. His proposal includes new investments to expand early childhood education, increase teacher pay, fund more school counselors, and increase funding for at-risk schools in Virginia. Additionally, Governor Northam proposed a tuition-free community college program for low- and middle-income student in high demand fields. With Democrats in control of both the House of Delegates and the Senate, these initiatives will also be a priority for the General Assembly.

education policyEducation Policy Updates

MWC’s national education team recently wrote a series of articles highlighting national K-12 education policy, higher education policy, technology in education and school safety. 

National K-12 Education Policy

Higher Education Policy

Technology in Education and School Safety