By Caitlin Emma | 05/17/2017 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Kimberly Hefling
MEET THE NEW HEAD OF CAREER AND TECHNICAL ED? A Michigan state lawmaker aligned politically with Betsy DeVos on school choice issues - and who was a recipient of funds from a school choice advocacy group with ties to her - is reportedly being eyed as an assistant secretary overseeing career and technical education within the Education Department. Tim Kelly, a Republican who chairs both the House education committee and the appropriations subcommittee that controls school spending in Michigan, has done interviews with both Detroit newspapers saying he expects to get the appointment. Beyond his enthusiasm for measures like vouchers, Kelly's socially conservative views on LGBT issues have also put him at odds with Michigan Democrats - calling guidelines spelling out bathroom protections for transgender students "hogwash" in a radio interview. But despite these disagreements, some Democrats interviewed by Morning Education say they've found Kelly to be respectful of the legislative process and positively engaged on issues that he would oversee.
- State Rep. Adam Zemke, a Democrat from Ann Arbor who serves as vice chair of the state House education committee, said the two worked closely to update the state's educator evaluation system and boost access to hands-on STEM programs in the state's schools. Zemke said he think Kelly would do a good job focused on career education "Even though we don't see eye to eye on all things, I've always found him good to work with," Zemke said. On "CTE stuff and the STEM stuff he's been a great partner."
- David Hecker, the president of AFT Michigan, said the union and Kelly have clashed on issues such as teacher retirement, the future of Detroit schools and school funding. Hecker, however, said he thinks they share a belief that career education is an equal track to college and deserving of attention. If Kelly's really centered on career and technical education "he'll probably be a good advocate," Hecker said. If Kelly "wanders" into working on areas of school choice or schooling funding, "then you know we may have some problems," he added.
- Still, Stephanie White, executive director of Equality Michigan, said Kelly hasn't shown an awareness or understanding of LGBT issues, and she hopes he's had a chance of heart. "Any time somebody who has has these outdated views of LGBT people and they take on national roles, it's a concern for us," White said.
- An Education Department spokeswoman referred questions about whether Kelly would be nominated to the job to the White House, which declined to comment. Kelly couldn't be reached for comment. Gary Naeyaert, the former executive director of the Great Lakes Education Project, which advocates for school choice in Michigan, said if Kelly is picked, there really isn't any question whether he shares the same views as DeVos and President Donald Trump - at least when it comes to school choice. "If you're going to be surrounded by a leadership team, I think it's always helpful that they are rowing in the same direction," Naeyaert said.
GOOD WEDNESDAY MORNING, MAY 17. It's been quite a week and we're not even over the hump. So I'd like to inform you that the Architect of the Capitol installed ramps to make it easier for ducks to climb into the Capitol Reflecting Pool and the BABY DUCKS ARE USING THE RAMPS!!! There's video of it! Talk to me at email@example.com or @caitlinzemma. Send events to: firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow us on Twitter: @Morning_Edu and @POLITICOPro.
SPEAKING OF CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION... The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a markup of the "Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act," a bill introduced earlier this month to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The bill seeks to limit federal intervention, streamline the process for states to receive federal funds and increase state flexibility in spending those funds, among other things. The markup comes as some in the education policy community expect the president's budget to partially cut grants to states for career and technical education programs, which currently total about $1.1 billion. More budget details are expected next week. Trump and DeVos have both stressed the value in career and technical education, noting that college isn't for everyone and it's critical to build a skilled workforce. Details about the markup.
OUTCOME IN LA SCHOOL BOARD SHOWDOWN: Charter school proponents in Los Angeles toppled the president of the nation's second largest school district and were outpacing another union-backed candidate in a second contest Tuesday, drawing close to claiming a majority of the board. The election, following a bruising, multi-million dollar campaign, marked a major victory for charter school proponents and their benefactors - and a setback for labor unions in the nation's most populous state. Board president Steve Zimmer, down nearly 15 percentage points, conceded to challenger Nick Melvoin soon after polls closed.
- The other contest remained too close to call, with charter school teacher Kelly Gonez running about 3 percentage points ahead of Imelda Padilla, a commissioner on the Los Angeles County Commission on Women and Girls. But in a tweet, Gonez declared victory early today.
- If Gonez prevails, charter school proponents will seize a board majority. Outside groups, including public employee unions and charter school supporters, poured nearly $15 million into the races, the latest in a longstanding feud between charter school proponents and teachers unions. The contests drew national attention, with unions seeking to yoke Melvoin and Gonez to President Donald Trump and his controversial education secretary, Betsy DeVos. In response, Arne Duncan, President Barack Obama's education secretary, endorsed both Melvoin and Gonez, saying the board needed "new blood."
STATE OF INDIAN EDUCATION HIGHLIGHTED ON CAPITOL HILL: Tony Dearman, the director of the historically troubled Bureau of Indian Education, is scheduled to testify at 2:30 p.m. today before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Dearman was named to lead the agency in the final months of the Obama administration after the previous director stepped down. The GAO in February questioned in a report how well the Interior Department is overseeing school safety and construction in BIE schools and how well it monitors the way schools use federal funds. In the report, BIE was identified as a "high risk" federal program with vulnerability to fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement. The hearing is expected to address problems identified at BIE and elsewhere that serve tribes. Details about the hearing.
- In opening remarks, Committee Chairman John Hoeven is expected to call the inclusion of BIE school on the GAO's high-risk list a "serious concern." "We must increase accountability and oversight to ensure that our Native students receive a high-quality education," Hoeven will say, according to his prepared remarks shared with Morning Education.
- It's the second consecutive day that BIE schools are getting lawmakers' attention. On Tuesday, Yatibaey Evans, board president of the National Indian Education Association, told a congressional panel that some BIE schools go without air conditioning and have broken windows, wiring, ceilings and flooring. Her organization asked appropriators for $263.4 million for construction and repairs for BIE schools. "We're trying to figure out where to get the resources," responded Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), chairman of an appropriations subcommittee. "Obviously, our demand is a lot more than the $200 million you are asking for. It's in the billions. ... So, we're going to hopefully come up with a solution to this problem, but it's not for lack of trying." More from Kimberly Hefling.
ON DEVOS' CALENDAR TODAY: DeVos this morning will meet with Johnny Taylor Jr., who leads the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a group that represents the nation's 47 publicly funded historically black colleges and universities. Taylor earlier this month told Morning Education that he gives DeVos credit for speaking at Bethune-Cookman University, an HBCU in Florida. That DeVos is somehow "bad because she's pro-school choice just doesn't make sense from a black education space," Taylor said. "It just seems odd to me that we wouldn't give her a shot." Graduating students at Bethune-Cookman booed DeVos throughout her speech, in which she said, "Let's choose to hear each other out."
- Later this afternoon, DeVos will meet with Robert Ballard, president and CEO of Scholarship America, a nonprofit organization that awards college scholarships to students based on financial need, among other things.
- And in other scheduling news, President Trump is expected to deliver commencement remarks to U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduates in New London, Connecticut, at 11 a.m. ET.
FORMER OBAMA OFFICIALS SIGN ON TO SUPPORT GAVIN GRIMM: Former Obama administration officials spanning multiple agencies filed a brief this week in support of Gavin Grimm, the Virginia student who's suing his school district for the right to use the boy's bathroom at his high school. The Supreme Court earlier this year sent Grimm's case back down to the 4th Circuit. The federal appeals court could decide whether Title IX, the federal law that protects against sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs, also protects against gender identity discrimination. The Obama administration previously issued a directive saying that federal law protects the right of transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identities. The Trump administration rescinded that directive earlier this year.
- In a new brief, former Education Secretaries Arne Duncan and John B. King Jr. - in addition to a host of other former officials from the Departments of Education, Justice and Labor - write that their interpretation of federal law is backed by "a substantial body of case law and administrative decision-making." Each Obama official signing onto the brief "undertook an extensive administrative process to ensure that his or her department fully considered statutory law, legal precedent, regulatory guidance, scientific analysis, and the factual record in reaching their conclusions concerning the scope of federal antidiscrimination statutes," the brief says. "In so doing, each amici reached the conclusion. The Departments of Education and Justice determined that discrimination on the basis of gender identity constitutes sex discrimination under Title IX." Read the brief.
REMEMBERING BROWN V. BOARD: Today is the 63rd anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, which held that racial segregation of children in public schools is unconstitutional. The Thurgood Marshall Center Trust plans to hold a fundraising gala tonight to "raise financial support for outreach programs that represent the living legacy of our beloved Justice Thurgood Marshall," the NAACP's chief counsel who argued the case before the Supreme Court and was later appointed to the high court. More on the event.
REPORT ROLL CALL
- The National Women's Law Center says in a new poll that the vast majority of Trump voters believe the Trump administration should uphold strong Title IX protections and "promptly investigate reports of sexual assault and provide accommodations and services to students who have been sexually assaulted."
- ACLU of Massachusetts files a complaint against a charter school for disciplining and suspending black and biracial students because their hairstyles violate the school's dress policy: The Associated Press.
- Pressure rises on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to veto education budget: CBS.
- Fidget spinners, the hit toy that spun out of nowhere: The Associated Press.
- Mississippi school money fight arrives at state Supreme Court: Hattiesburg American.
- Kansas boy's slaying prompts call for new home school rules: The Associated Press.
- California governor's revised budget plan draws mixed response from early education advocates: EdSource.
- Texas Senate sends bill on inappropriate teacher relationships to governor: Houston Chronicle.
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