By Caitlin Emma | 04/19/2017 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Ted Hesson and Benjamin Wermund
ONE-DAY CEASEFIRE IN THE EDUCATION WARS? It would probably take a minor miracle for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten to emerge from their joint visit to public schools in rural Van Wert, Ohio, Thursday as newfound friends and allies. What's more likely is that DeVos will look to reassure rural Republicans in this conservative county that she's a secretary to all schools - not just charter and private schools - while Weingarten gets credit for extending an olive branch and championing public education.
- "These women are mortal political enemies, bent on destroying the other's education agenda through the deployment of vast financial resources," said David Bloomfield, a professor of education leadership, law and policy at Brooklyn College and The CUNY Graduate Center. "But it's necessary for Weingarten to find favor with the Education Department," he said. "And it can only help DeVos if she's seen as the secretary for all schools and not just charters and private schools." Caitlin Emma has the story.
- Weingarten said she hopes DeVos will take away from Van Wert what's working in public schools, in addition to understanding how Trump's budget blueprint would damage public education, cutting the Education Department's $68 billion budget by 13.5 percent, if it were implemented. "This is an area that voted for Trump, but they love their public schools and they're really upset about the cuts to education and this polarization about public schooling," Weingarten said. "They're wary about [DeVos'] policies and they should be wary about her policies." A spokesman for the Education Department declined POLITICO's request for an interview with DeVos.
- Van Wert Superintendent Ken Amstutz said he's eager to have his school district "pull these two people together. "Maybe Van Wert will be the starting point of where this conversation takes place between Betsy DeVos and proponents of public education," he said.
GOOD WEDNESDAY MORNING, APRIL 19. I'm approaching Day Four of living mostly off Easter candy and starting to feel weird. My new diet has only been interrupted by Taco Bell while road tripping back to D.C. after spending a weekend with family. Please send vegetables to firstname.lastname@example.org or @caitlinzemma. Send events to: email@example.com. And follow us on Twitter: @Morning_Edu and @POLITICOPro.
SCOTUS STILL SET TO HEAR CHURCH-STATE CASE THIS MORNING: Despite a last-minute policy shift by Missouri's newly elected governor, the Supreme Court will hear arguments this morning in a church-state separation case from that state that could have major implications for school voucher programs. The dispute hinges on Missouri's denial of Trinity Lutheran Church's application for a state grant to reimburse the cost of resurfacing its playground with recycled tires. The state denied the church based on a provision in its constitution that bars aid to religious groups. Roughly three dozen states have similar provisions, called Blaine Amendments, which have acted as a legal hurdle for some school choice policies like vouchers.
- Both sides are urging the court to go forward with the case even after Republican Gov. Eric Greitens announced last week that he has directed the state agency to consider religious organizations for such grants. The state solicitor and the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian group representing the church, wrote in separate letters to the court Tuesday that it's impossible to know whether the state will stick with the new policy. Regardless of the governor's stance, they argued that the provision in the state constitution barring public money from going "directly or indirectly" to religious groups remains in force and other lawsuits are likely. The governor's announcement also said he does not expect his decision to affect the Trinity Lutheran dispute since that involves a decision "that became final years before the Greitens administration took office." Benjamin Wermund has more.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS WHO ENROLL FULL-TIME HAVE BIG EDGE: Students who take a full course load for just one semester of community college are significantly more likely to earn a degree or certificate, according to a report out today from the Center for Community College Student Engagement. The report is the first to focus on so-called "fluid" students - those who transition between part-time and full-time status from semester to semester. Fifty-four percent of community college students fit the "fluid" mold, according to the report which is based on transcript data of more than 17,000 students from 28 institutions. It found that enrolling full time in the first semester of college makes a big difference. Nearly 80 percent of those students continued onto the second semester, compared to just 64 percent of those who were part time in their first semester. "Because there is an obvious benefit in students having some full-time experience, 'a full-time edge,' you might say, colleges should consider asking each student one straightforward question: 'Is there any way you could attend full-time, even for one semester?'" said Evelyn Waiwaiole, executive director of the center.
SPOTLIGHT ON STATE ESSA PLANS: Vermont's schools can be small, rural and often isolated without much diversity, state Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe told Morning Education. Those demographics posed a challenge in designing plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act as the state sought to increase transparency about how students are performing. "Because our schools and districts are so small, we've had a lot of trouble" when it comes to reporting data on individual groups of students, like African American students and students with disabilities, Holcombe said. So in addition to reporting on individual groups of students, the state is adding two new categories: historically marginalized students and historically privileged students. "Vermont's small schools and relatively low levels of diversity often mean that student groups are too small to show data which might point to inequities in experience," the state's ESSA plan says. "By creating a larger group that accounts for many characteristics, we will be able to share with the public more information about equitable learning experiences in Vermont." Read the plan.
- Nevada's long-term goal is to be the fastest-improving state in the country for student performance. Superintendent Steve Canavero said Nevada has set long-term goals through 2022, at which point the state will re-evaluate those goals. In the nearer term, officials seek to increase the percentage of high school students considered proficient in reading from 68.6 percent in 2016 to nearly 77 percent by 2022. They also aim to raise the percentage of those proficient in math from a little over one third of students to more than half. Nevada's plan notes "emerging evidence" the state is poised to meet its goals. "Our graduation rate, English learner performance in early grades, and eighth-grade reading and science scores are some of the fastest improving in the country," the plan says. Check out Nevada's plan.
- Illinois Superintendent Tony Smith told Morning Education that the state is looking at how to fine tune its measure of students enrolled in fine arts courses as one facet of school quality. In seeking public comment, a number of people "indicated they believed the fine arts should be included in ESSA, but in many cases did not specify what this could mean," Illinois' plan notes. So when it comes to holding schools accountable, the state plans to weight the fine arts measure at 0 percent for the next four years while a work group figures out how to analyze the data and further refine the measure. Read Illinois' plan.
- Meanwhile, in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder has approved the state's ESSA plan, sending it off to federal officials. MLive.
DACA UNDER FIRE? Federal immigration authorities recently deported a DACA enrollee to Mexico, despite assurances from the Trump administration that the program remains in effect, USA Today's Alan Gomez and David Agren report. "After spending an evening with his girlfriend in Calexico, Calif., on Feb. 17, Juan Manuel Montes, 23, who has lived in the U.S. since age 9, grabbed a bite and was waiting for a ride," the pair write, "when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer approached and started asking questions."
"Montes had left his wallet in a friend's car, so he couldn't produce his ID or proof of his DACA status and was told by agents he couldn't retrieve them," USA Today reports. "Within three hours, he was back in Mexico, becoming the first undocumented immigrant with active DACA status deported by the Trump administration's stepped-up deportation policy.
"The fate of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has remained uncertain since Trump took office. Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly told Democrats last month that it remained in place, but this incident, coupled with other arrests of so-called Dreamers, calls that into question.
In Mexico, Montes was mugged and beaten, USA Today reports. "At that point, he decided he needed to get back home," Gomez and Agren write. "He saw some people using a rope to climb over a section of the border wall and joined them. He was quickly captured by federal agents, questioned again and deported again."
POLITICO Pro's Morning Shift contacted the Homeland Security Department, which offered a different version of events. "[Montes] was apprehended by the Calexico Station Border Patrol after illegally entering the U.S. by climbing over the fence in downtown Calexico," DHS spokesperson David Lapan said in an email. "He was arrested by [Border Patrol] just minutes after he made his illegal entry and admitted under oath during the arrest interview that he had entered illegally." Lapan said the department had no report of an initial deportation and that his DACA status had expired in August 2015. Read more from USA Today here.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), perhaps the most vocal immigration hawk in Congress, tweeted out a toast to Border Patrol after he learned of the deportation. "First non-valedictorian DREAMer deported," he wrote, attaching a photo of a frothy mug with the CBP logo. "Border Patrol, this one's for you." King's history of inflammatory remarks includes a 2013 statement where he said that for every DREAMer who is a valedictorian, there's one that has "calves the size of cantaloupes" from hauling marijuana in the desert (h/t Elise Foley of the Huffington Post).
In a separate case, a DACA enrollee in North Carolina threatened with deportation learned Tuesday that she did not need to report to a meeting with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. The woman, 20-year-old collegiate honors student SthefanyFlores Fuentes, told the Asheville Citizen-Times that an ICE official claimed there had been an error. More here.
REPORT: UNIVERSITIES IN U.S., MEXICO NEED TO STEP UP ADVOCACY: Higher education groups in the U.S. and Mexico need to do more to maintain academic collaboration across the border as the Trump administration maintains a hardline approach to immigration, a new report from the American Council on Education says. More students from Mexico are studying in the U.S., according to the report, and Mexico has been and remains one of the primary destination countries for U.S. students in Latin America. "While the data indicate a robust and expanding U.S.-Mexico higher education relationship, cross-border engagement is not without its challenges - logistical, economic, and political," the report says. "Tensions between the two countries are at the highest point in decades. Although the long-term impact of these changes on the higher education sector is yet to be determined, the potential ramifications are significant."
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
- Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance said Tuesday he's resigning and transitioning to another chapter in his career. A spokesman said he doesn't have another job lined up. The Baltimore Sun has more.
REPORT ROLL CALL
- The amount of time students spend in the classroom or studying doesn't appear to have much bearing on whether they feel satisfied, according to results on the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA. More.
- The Learning Policy Institute suggests that states should hold off on using measures of students' social and emotional competence for accountability purposes, at least for now.
- The Government Accountability Office recommends that the Office of Management and Budget work with federal agencies in order to ensure that pilot programs aimed at helping "disconnected youth" have the necessary resources to continue their work.
- Newtown schools ask President Donald Trump to reject conspiracy theorists: The Associated Press.
- Navient to buy JPMorgan's $6.9B education loan portfolio: USA Today.
- An Indiana bill to make the state superintendent an appointed, rather than elected position, heads to the governor: StateImpact Indiana.
- New Hampshire governor signs bill requiring notice to parents before teaching sex education: Union Leader.
- In aftermath of rape scandal, Baylor hires its first female president: The Texas Tribune.
- Maine governor: Regionalizing schools will save taxpayer dollars: The Associated Press.
- Ohio's largest online school has asked an appeals court judge to step down from hearing its funding case with the state after the judge compared the school's founder to a Russian oligarch: The Plain Dealer.
- Student journalists' rights: Missouri bill would strengthen free-speech shield in the state: The Kansas City Star.
- Trump budget proposal raises worries: Could AmeriCorps disappear? The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
- Study: Texas bathroom bill could cost state $3 billion in annual tourism business: San Antonio Express-News.
The Pro Education team is on my mind, all of the time: @caitlinzemma (firstname.lastname@example.org), @khefling (email@example.com), @mstratford ( firstname.lastname@example.org)and @BenjaminEW (email@example.com).
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