POLITICO's Morning Education: DREAMers status gets murkier — Los Angeles nixes ‘McTeacher’s’ nights — SCOTUS looking for line in church-state separation

By Benjamin Wermund | 04/20/2017 10:00 AM EDT

With help from Ted Hesson and Caitlin Emma

DREAMERS STATUS GETS MURKIER: The Trump administration's plans for roughly 800,000 DREAMers who are protected from deportation by Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program got murkier this week amid reports that a 23-year-old DACA recipient had been deported to Mexico. Cabinet members, including Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, have said the administration would honor the program, which Trump vowed to scrap on the campaign trail, but later described as among the most difficult questions he's faced in office. In February, Trump said he planned to treat undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children "with a lot of heart," but Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Wednesday that the administration "can't promise" it won't deport them.

- "If you read between the lines ... what [Sessions] is saying is we're going to deport whomever we get our hands on," said David Leopold, an immigration attorney and former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "DACA is an exercise of discretion, it's an exercise of grace, basically, by the government." If the administration is deporting DACA-protected individuals, Leopold said, it casts doubt on whether they're still committed to the program - and whether they're actually prioritizing criminals as they say they are.

- People with DACA status shouldn't worry as long as they keep renewing their status and don't commit crimes , said Michael A. Olivas, an immigration law expert at the University of Houston. "Jeff Sessions can't simply un-ring 800,000 bells because he's having a bad day," Olivas said. New DACA applications are being accepted and renewals are being granted. Olivas said he isn't aware of any clear-cut case in which a DACA-protected immigrant has been deported without questions about their status or whether they've committed a crime. "I just think they need to keep their head down for the time being," he said of program enrollees. He also said the confusion around the issue should send a message that Congress needs to act on immigration: "Otherwise we'll be having these cases spread out over years and years and years with more frustration and more uncertainty ... These 800,000 kids can't freeze their lives simply waiting for the administration to decide what path it's going to take."

- USA Today reported this week that the first DACA recipient had been deported. Juan Manuel Montes, 23 - who has lived in the U.S. since he was 9, graduated from high school in the U.S. and was working toward completing a community college degree - was deported on Feb. 18. Advocates say his DACA status was not set to expire until next year. The National Immigration Law Center, which filed a lawsuit on Tuesday seeking more information in the case, said it is "deeply concerned that his basic rights have been violated." Advocacy groups on Wednesday organized rallies in D.C. and elsewhere in support of Montes.

- But the Department of Homeland Security told Morning Education that Montes left the country without seeking permission as is required of DACA recipients and therefore lost his protections. When he returned to the U.S., he was technically re-entering illegally and was deported, said David Lapan, a Homeland Security spokesman. Lapan said the DACA policy hasn't changed. He counted Montes among 1,500 immigrants who have been deported after their DACA status lapsed. The Trump administration has stepped up efforts to deport such people, USA Today reported Wednesday. Sessions said that DACA recipients "are not being targeted." But when pressed, he said, "The policy is that if people are here unlawfully, they're subject to being deported ... We can't promise people who are here unlawfully that they're not going to be deported." Ted Hesson has more on his comments here.

GOOD THURSDAY MORNING AND WELCOME TO MORNING EDUCATION. This collection of classic songs from the '70s and '80s designed as Stephen King paperback covers is both random and awesome. My favorite is probably "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out." "Lady in Red" is pretty good, too. Tips? Feedback? Hit me up: bwermund@politico.com or @BenjaminEW. Share event listings: educalendar@politicopro.com . And follow us on Twitter: @Morning_Edu and @POLITICOPro.

LOS ANGELES NIXES 'MCTEACHER'S NIGHTS': The board of the nation's second largest public school district this week voted to end "McTeacher's Nights," or local school fundraisers in which teachers work behind the counter at McDonald's and serve students and their families.The National Education Association, in addition to dozens of state and local teachers unions nationwide, have called for an end to the fundraisers, which they see as marketing of fast food to kids. The advocacy group, Corporate Accountability International, which opposes the fundraisers, says more than 700 McTeacher's Nights have taken place in more than 30 states since 2013. LAUSD's board is the first to end McTeacher's Nights, according to to the organization.

- Steve Zimmer, president of the LAUSD governing board and lead sponsor of the resolution to scrap the fundraisers, said in a statement: "While I am thankful to the independent McDonald's operators and business partners for their desire to support our students, I look forward to working with them to support our schools without relying on the labor of our teachers or interest of our families to promote food and other products that are in conflict with existing policies."

- When reached for comment, McDonald's provided a statement from Frank Sanchez, a McDonald's franchisee in Los Angeles: "As a member of the community and a McDonald's franchisee, I have long supported what matters most to my customers and the community," he said. "McTeacher's Nights are one way we do that. We've held these events at the request of and in partnership with local schools to help raise funds needed for important student programs and initiatives."

SCOTUS LOOKING FOR LINE IN CHURCH-STATE SEPARATION: It was clear from the questions posed by several Supreme Court justices Wednesday during oral arguments in a Missouri church-state separation case that they are looking to find the line on how and when states might withhold taxpayer-funded benefits from religious organizations, including schools. Several justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Neil Gorsuch peppered an attorney representing the state in the case with a series of hypothetical questions: Can churches be excluded from police or fire protection? Should religious school groups be kept out of tours of the state Capitol? "One could seem to play with that line forever," Gorsuch said, summing up the sentiment.

- The answer could have broad implications for vouchers and other school choice programs. Whether or not the court rules on the Missouri case - in which a church pre-school was denied a state grant to resurface its preschool playground - it may soon address the issue in a related case from Colorado. In that case, the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State argue that a voucher program in Colorado violated a clause in that state's constitution that prohibits public money from aiding religious institutions, including schools. Missouri and Colorado are two of 39 states with similar provisions.

- The Colorado litigants want the justices to toss this case out or send it to a lower court and take up theirs, which the court has yet to agree to do. The ACLU and Americans United argued in a letter to the court this week that when the newly elected Missouri governor told the state agency at the center of the dispute to consider religious organizations for grants, it rendered the case moot. More on Wednesday's arguments here.

HERE WE GO AGAIN? BERKELEY CANCELS ANN COULTER SPEECH: Citing safety concerns, officials at the University of California-Berkeley canceled a planned speech by conservative author Ann Coulter, the Washington Post reports . Berkeley drew the president's ire in February when officials there canceled a talk by alt-right icon Milo Yiannopoulos after violent protests broke out against the speech. At the time, Trump seemed to threaten he would withhold federal funding if Berkeley "does not allow free speech." Coulter told the Post that she believes her speech "has been unconstitutionally banned" by the "public, taxpayer-supported UC-Berkeley."

HIGHER POVERTY DISTRICTS HAVE LOWER FAFSA COMPLETION RATES: The rate at which students complete the application for federal student aid tends to be lower in school districts with higher poverty levels, according to a new report by the National College Access Network. According to the group, completing the FAFSA is the best predictor that a student will continue her education. "Given that students from low-income backgrounds may be particularly dependent on financial aid, such as the Pell Grant, to make postsecondary education affordable, it might be reasonable to guess that districts that serve higher-poverty student populations have higher FAFSA filing rates than their wealthier counterparts," the report says. "Unfortunately, we find the opposite."

REPORT ROLL CALL

- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is out with a new report that looks at the role Medicaid plays in schools. More than two thirds of superintendents say they use Medicaid funding to employ school nurses, counselors and other health professionals.

- A new brief from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, or CASEL, takes a look at how states are incorporating social and emotional learning into their plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

- Special education students who apply for Boston's charter school lottery "are two times less likely to keep their IEP and three times more likely to move to a more inclusive classroom setting" than students who enroll in Boston Public Schools, a new piece published by The Brookings Institution finds.

SYLLABUS

- At least seven Wyoming school districts have authorized legal action against the state over school funding: The Billings Gazette.

- Republican New Hampshire governor replacing longtime state education chairman: The Associated Press.

- Three more students have joined a suit against a Pennsylvania district saying its transgender-friendly policies violate their privacy: The Associated Press.

- Trump's executive order on visas could make American colleges less appealing to international students: The Chronicle of Higher Education.

- A wave of new language learning apps haven't helped English language learners: EdSurge.

Follow the Pro Education team where there's music and there's people and they're young and alive. @caitlinzemma (cemma@politico.com), @khefling (khefling@politico.com), @mstratford ( mstratford@politico.com ) and @BenjaminEW (bwermund@politico.com).

To view online:
http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-education/2017/04/dreamers-status-gets-murkier-219877

To change your alert settings, please go to https://secure.politico.com/settings/settings

This email was sent to contact@emailingnewsletter.com by: POLITICO, LLC 1000 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA, 22209, USA

Please click here and follow the steps to unsubscribe.