May 15, 2019
Education Policy Update
- The House Appropriations Committee approved the FY2020 Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies spending bill, increasing the Department of Education budget by 6 percent.
- An amendment was adopted, adding $103 million for addition funding for career and technical education, magnet schools, preschools and the Open Textbooks Pilot program.
- Read a summary of the bill, view the text or read the committee report.
- The President met with senior congressional Democrats, including Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY), at the White House April 30 to discuss a potential infrastructure package, including potential funding for schools. After the meeting, Pelosi and Schumer said that they reached an agreement with the President to negotiate towards a $2 trillion package without having discussed specific funding mechanisms.
- Last week, the House Education and Labor Committee held the fourth in a five-part series of hearings focused on the Higher Education Act, titled "The Cost of Non-Completion: Improving Student Outcomes in Higher Education." View the archive of the hearing.
- The U.S. Treasury Department announced lower interest rates on new federal student loans effective July 1, 2019 from the current 5.045 percent to 4.529 percent for undergraduates, from 6.595 percent for graduates to 6.079 percent and 7.079 percent for federal PLUS loans compared to the current 7.595 percent.
North Carolina Education Policy Update
The North Carolina General Assembly has been hard at work over the last few weeks; with the House drafting, debating and passing its state budget proposal (H 966), and the House and the Senate putting in long days (and a few nights) debating and passing bills ahead of their self-imposed “crossover” deadline - the date, which was May 9th this year, by which non-appropriations/non-finance legislation must pass its chamber of origin in order to remain eligible for consideration during the remainder of the two year legislative session.
In the middle of this legislative activity, on May 1, for the second straight year, teachers from across the state traveled to Raleigh, to march downtown along Fayetteville Street, before heading to the Legislative Building to advocate for increased teacher pay and school funding, among other items. Many school districts canceled classes for the day of the teacher rally.
Throughout House budget discussions, and during floor debates and votes in both chambers, legislators focused on a variety of education issues facing the state. Read on for updates on the proposed budget, classroom supplies, charter schools, testing reduction, reading proficiency and the Opportunity Scholarship Program.
Twenty-six states are still in session with continued focused on education policy.
Connecticut is considering a bill (SB 1018) that would lower or withhold state grant funding if a school district is not experiencing academic improvement in English language arts and chronic absenteeism. A bill recently introduced in Rhode Island would develop statewide academic standards for math, English language arts, science and technology, history and social students, world languages, and the arts (SB 863).
The Oregon legislature recently passed HB 3427, which establishes a new tax on large Oregon businesses for the Fund for Student Success. Money from the fund will be used for school district academic programs, early childhood learning programs, and career-technical education among other things. Louisiana HB 562 would establish an advisory commission on proprietary schools. The bill also removes the authority for proprietary schools to grant associate degrees, limiting degree granting authority to occupational degrees.
Many states recently concluded their session with various bills signed into law.
Utah enacted the Teacher and Student Success Act (SB 149). This new program provides funding to local education agencies to use for technology, early childhood education, professional learning, and other initiatives to improve school performance or student academic achievement. The Governor of Arizona recently signed a bill (HB 2083) that requires an annual statewide survey of all students in kindergarten through grade 3 on reading proficiency and reading programs used at each school. Florida enacted a large education bill that in part, amends the state’s teacher bonus program and establishes the Family Empowerment Scholarship program that gives private school vouchers for students in low-income families. (SB 7070).