Federal and State Policy Updates Published July 12th

Federal Updates

  • Education in a Pandemic: The Disparate Impacts of COVID-19 on America’s Students The U.S.Department of Education released a 53-page report that seeks to identify and describe the hardships facing students during the pandemic. The report reveals that many students faced additional obstacles to academic and health access and opportunities over the last year and a half. Calling the disparities a “cause for great concern,” the report includes guidance for school systems in preventing budget cuts that disproportionately impact student subgroups and builds on additional proposals by the Biden administration at equitably closing funding gaps between districts and identifying and addressing disparities in school discipline. (Education Department)  Read More
  • Congresswoman Clark Introduces Education Equity Challenge Grant Act To Combat Learning Loss Due To Pandemic – Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (MA-5) and Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-5) introduced the Educational Equity Challenge Grant Act to form a $100 billion application-based grant program to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting consequences in the education system. The bill invests in solutions to learning loss and addresses students’ social, emotional, mental, and behavioral needs that were exacerbated by this unprecedented crisis. Senators Warren, Markey, Blumenthal, and Murphy introduced companion legislation in the Senate earlier this year. (Framingham SOURCE) Read More
  • Statement by Miguel Cardona Secretary of Education on the U.S. Department of Education Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request – Secretary Cardona testified to the Senate LHHS Subcommittee outlining the U.S. Department of Education FY2022 budget request. Notable priorities include eliminating funding inequities, increasing investments for Title I, and securing resources to modernize and update the teacher profession. (U.S. Department of Education) Read More

State Updates

Alabama

  • Progress reported in goal to add 500,000 newly credentialed workers by 2025 Alabama leaders say 45% of the state’s workforce now has an educational certificate or degree beyond high school, representing progress in the goal of adding 500,000 newly credentialed people to the workforce by 2025 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Kay Ivey in 2018 set the ambitious 500,000 postsecondary attainment goal as part of her “Success Plus” initiative, which if accomplished would bring the level of work-age Alabamans with post-high school training or degrees from about 43% in 2016 to 60% by April 30, 2025. (Alabama Daily News) Read More

California

  • Budget proposal would ease testing requirements for California teachers – California teachers may soon have more flexibility when it comes to the tests they are required to take to earn a credential. The state’s Assembly and Senate budget subcommittees on education are recommending that legislators approve a proposal in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2021-22 state budget that would allow candidates to earn a teaching credential without taking two tests currently required. (EdSource) Read More

Colorado

  • Colorado’s education pie just got bigger. Now lawmakers want to give a larger slice to higher-needs students. – House Bill 1325 would expand the definition of children living in poverty and qualifying for additional funding and, for the first time, give districts more money for every English language learner enrolled in their schools. The bill also proposes a matching fund to the incentive for voters in districts with low property wealth and high tax rates to put more local money into the pot. (Chalkbeat) Read More

Kentucky 

  • Interim education committee hears effects of remote learning, student engagement Data reported by Kentucky school districts indicate that student participation through distance learning over the past school year was roughly in line with previous years’ in-person attendance rates, Jessica Carlton told members of the Kentucky Senate Interim Joint Committee on Education on June 1. Carlton, from the Division of District Support in the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) Office of Finance and Operations, said at the committee’s first interim meeting of 2021 that a review of 29 randomly selected districts showed that nearly 80% of students were regularly engaged online during the pandemic, with about 11% more participating through pen-and-paper assignments. (Kentucky Teacher) Read More

Louisiana 

  • $3.9 B Louisiana school funding formula with raises approved – A $3.9 billion financing formula to pay for K-12 public schools and give those schools’ workers a pay raise in the upcoming year received final legislative passage in June with a unanimous vote from the House. Teachers, principals, and other certificated personnel will receive an $800 salary boost in the 2021-22 school year, while school support workers such as cafeteria staff and bus drivers will receive a $400 pay hike. The new spending plan takes effect July 1. It doesn’t require a decision from the governor. (AP News) Read More
  • Louisiana planning $180 M broadband internet expansion effort – Louisiana intends to spend $180 million over three years on grants to telecommunication firms that construct broadband internet infrastructure in underserved communities, hoping to lessen a technology gap exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The problem is particularly acute in Louisiana’s rural communities — where residents are widely dispersed and internet providers have little incentive to shell out the capital it takes to install fiber cables, the gold standard of broadband capabilities. With $180 million, up to 145,000 households could become connected to high-speed internet. (AP News) Read More

Michigan

  • Michigan lawmakers OK ‘historic’ $17B spending plan that closes school funding gapsMichigan lawmakers approved a landmark school spending bill, but not before the Senate added another $300 million. The bill ensures equal base funding — $8,700 per student — across the state, a goal the Legislature has been working toward since 1994. This year the state provided $8,111 to $8,529 per student in base funding. Districts operating on balanced year-round calendars will get a 3 percent boost in their foundational funding, bringing it to $8,961 per student. (Chalkbeat) Read More

Minnesota

  • GOP wants private school option; Walz, DFL push back – Senate Republicans are holding firm on their proposal to establish education savings accounts. They want to give parents the option of moving a child from public school to private school, with state money following the student. Rep. Jim Davnie, D-Minneapolis, chair of the House Education Committee, is also concerned about the impact such a program would have on other students who do not make a move. Walz, Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, and DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman agreed last month to a $525 million increase over the next two years for education spending, but House and Senate negotiators still have several disagreements on where the money should go. (MPR News) Read More
  • Minnesota’s ‘Grow Your Own’ programs aim to diversify teaching staffs – In the five years since Minnesota began statewide “Grow Your Own” grant programs to recruit teachers, the state has expanded educator preparation programs for paraprofessionals and high school students of color, according to a recent study released by New America, a think tank based in Washington, D.C. (K-12 Dive) Read More

Mississippi

  • Mississippi spends thousands less per pupil than surrounding statesA new report by Mississippi’s Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) shows that Mississippi spends less per pupil than each of its surrounding states — Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama. (Magnolia State Live) Read More 

North Dakota

  • Burgum kicks off Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education, highlights legislation, presents awardsGov. Doug Burgum held its fifth annual Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education, spotlighting recently passed personalized learning legislation. Summit topics included graduation pathways, virtual academies, anytime-anywhere learning, and career pathways legislation. (ND Office of the Governor) Read More

Tennessee

  • Tennessee Department of Education announces $4.5 Million Grow Your Own Grants issue The Tennessee Department of Education announced $4.5 million in Grow Your Own grants has been awarded to establish partnerships between Educator Preparation Providers (EPPs) and local school districts and create innovative pathways to becoming a teacher in Tennessee for free. This second round of Grow Your Own grants awards 45 grants of $100,000 each to 13 EPPs in Tennessee to form Grow Your Own partnerships with more than 50 school districts across the state. (Clarksville Online) Read More

Texas

  • Some Texas students with disabilities thrived on remote learning, but have few options this fall – Some students thrived learning remotely, including students with disabilities, who make up more than 500,000 students in the Texas public education system, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That includes students who are physically, mentally, and developmentally disabled — who all have different ways of learning that are best for them. After legislation that would have funded remote learning stalled in the Texas Legislature, many school districts canceled virtual learning plans for the upcoming school year — leaving families with months to weigh limited options before the fall semester starts at many school districts in August. (Texas Tribune) Read More

Legislation We are Watching

  • CO HB 1325 – This bill makes a number of modifications to the “Public School Finance Act of 1994”, including making low-income students eligible under the at-risk funding calculation.  (Enacted into law)
  • IA HF 868 – This bill develops a task force to grow the pre-K-12 teacher diversity. (Enacted into Law)
  • LA HB 60 – This bill removes the termination of the dual enrollment framework task force signed. (Enacted into law)
  • MI HB 4911 – This bill requires all districts or schools of innovation to draft a statement of commitment documenting a district’s or school’s vision for competency-based education, personalized learning, and “any time, any place, anyway, any pace” learning or any other innovative approaches to learning in the school district or school. (Introduced)
  • NC SB 654 – This bill funds the development of competency-based education at $10 million in North Carolina. (Second Chamber)
  • TX HB 572 – This bill authorizes a study on competency-based education. (Enacted into Law) 

For questions, comments, or technical assistance, contact:
Fred A. Jones, Jr.
Policy Director, Aurora Institute
fjones@aurora-institute.org

Alexis Chambers
Policy Associate, Aurora Institute
achambers@aurora-institute.org

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