By Kimberly Hefling | 12/06/2017 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Caitlin Emma, Mel Leonor and Benjamin Wermund
LAST-DITCH PUSH BY GRADUATE STUDENTS ON TAXES: Graduate students celebrated that the the GOP-controlled Senate didn't include language in its tax overhaul bill that would tax as income tuition discounts that schools offer to graduate students. But it's in the House version, H.R. 1 (115) , and that has them worried it will be included when the two sides come together to hammer out a final tax bill. More than a dozen graduate students were on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to rally outside House Speaker Paul Ryan's office as part of a push organized by the Service Employees International Union. Some of the protesters wound up getting arrested.
- "We're concerned because everything is at play right now ... so we don't know what will end up in the final bill," Jess Issacharoff, a doctoral student in literature at Duke University who participated but wasn't arrested, tells Morning Education. Issacharoff said her taxable income would go from about $25,000 to $80,000 under the House bill.
- Ben Groebe, a doctoral student in astrophysics at Washington University who was among those arrested, said he has about $30,000 in student debt. Another provision included in the House bill (but not the Senate) that would scrap a deduction for student loan interest feels "almost like throwing salt in the wound," he said. "College costs have been ballooning in recent decades relative to inflation, making it even more difficult for people" to go to college, Groebe said in an interview prior to his arrest. He said Republican lawmakers' elimination of the deduction while taking steps to help wealthy Americans "seems fundamentally wrong to me."
- Meanwhile, at University of California, Berkeley, Kathy Shield, a graduate student in nuclear engineering, and Vetri Velan, a graduate student in physics, created an online calculator that lets grad students figure out what the House plan might cost them.
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TRUMP OFFICIALS TO HEAR FROM SUPPORTERS OF SCHOOL DISCIPLINE GUIDANCE: The teacher advocacy group Educators for Excellence said a group of teachers from across the country will meet with Trump education officials on Friday to discuss maintaining Obama-era guidance aimed at ensuring school districts aren't discriminating against students while disciplining them. CEO Evan Stone said his organization is convening teachers from Minnesota, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts for the meeting with Candice Jackson, the Education Department's acting assistant secretary of civil rights.
- Educators for Excellence asked for the meeting in a letter. The 2014 guidance sought to confront a systemic problem: that low-income students, minority students and students with disabilities are disciplined, suspended out of school and expelled more often than their white, more affluent peers.
- The meeting comes after Education Department officials last month met with teachers critical of the Obama directive because they say it has made their schools less safe. Conservatives critics are pushing the Trump administration to scrap the directive. "Our goal on Friday is to share a very different perspective," Stone told Pro Education's Caitlin Emma. "We agree that there's a real priority to keep schools safe," he said. But the teachers plan to stress that moving away from exclusionary discipline like out-of-school suspensions and expulsions leads to improved behavior, better attendance and better academic outcomes for students, Stone said.
- Stone said his organization will bring a letter of support from partner organizations that don't want the Trump administration to rescind the guidance. He said he's encouraged that the Trump administration has taken a meeting to hear from the other side. "Although, we have a lot of work to do to move their beliefs on this guidance," he said. Stone said he has been told that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos likely won't be able to attend the meeting.
- Some of the teachers will also speak Friday at a day-long briefing on school discipline held by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Details.
COONS, ISAKSON TRY AGAIN TO FORCE ELITE COLLEGES TO ENROLL LOW-INCOME STUDENTS: With Congress starting to take another look at rewriting the law governing federal higher education, Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) are again pushing a bill meant to spur elite colleges and universities to enroll more low-income students. The so-called ASPIRE Act, which the two are refiling today, would penalize the bottom 5 percent of institutions based on percentages of enrolled first-time, full-time Pell Grant recipients if the colleges don't boost that figure in four years. The money collected from that penalty would then go toward a fund open to schools with the worst six-year graduation rates that would receive up to $2 million a year to try to boost those graduation rates. Schools that don't improve would have to gradually return some of that money. Read a description of the bill here.
TODAY IN DALLAS: The George W. Bush Institute is expected to announce the start of its School Leadership District Cohort. Under the effort, the Bush Institute will work closely with chosen districts on efforts to attract, develop and retain high-quality principals. Austin Independent School District in Texas; Fort Worth Independent School District in Texas; Chesterfield County Public Schools in Virginia; and Granite Independent School District in Utah were the four districts selected.
GROUPS OBJECT TO RULES ON CONTRACEPTION: The Center for American Progress and the American Federation of Teachers union are among nearly a dozen left-leaning groups voicing concern about rules put out by the Trump administration that allow virtually any employer to claim a religious or moral objection to Obamacare's birth control coverage mandate. They say the rules will allow schools or individuals who object to providing birth control to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees and students. It will "have a deleterious impact on girls and women, possibly leading to unintended pregnancies that will make it harder for girls to complete high school and college, and ultimately impacting their ability to become economically independent, contributing, fulfilled members of society," the groups write in a letter to Department of Health and Human Services officials.
- ICYMI: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said during a HELP Committee hearing on Tuesday that she's concerned about the status of the Trump administration's overhaul of Obama-era campus sexual assault policies. Collins said she supported efforts to replace the campus sexual assault guidance issued by the Obama administration through a public, notice-and-comment rulemaking process but is worried that the department hasn't outlined a timeline for doing so. In response, a DeVos spokeswoman told POLITICO that the process is not in limbo. "The Secretary wants to ensure that the Department gets its proposed rules right, and thoughtful, deliberate rulemaking takes time," the spokeswoman said. More from Michael Stratford.
EDU-PINION: Jonathan S. Tobin writes in a column for the New York Post that President Donald Trump should look to DeVos' school-choice-friendly ideas as a priority issue in 2018. DeVos supports charter schools and efforts that encourage public funds to help pay for private school tuition. "If Trump is looking for a fight worth having, he needs to lay off Twitter and join her in taking on a cynical liberal education establishment and its Democrat enablers who - despite their supposed sympathy for the poor - continue to deny the pleas of parents for school choice," writes Tobin, editor in chief of JNS.org and a contributing writer for National Review. Read it here.
REPORT ROLL CALL
- While some bright spots exists, state report cards on school-level outcomes in most states still need improvement to be useful and meaningful for families and other stakeholders, according to a new report from the Data Quality Campaign. The organization highlighted Wisconsin and New Mexico for having report cards that are easy for parents to understand, and encouraged other states to simplify report card language, avoid acronyms, disaggregate schoolwide student performance data and include state education priorities in state report cards.
- Texas universities see decrease in international interest: The Daily Texan.
- Why homeschooling is an increasing option for black families: Philadelphia Tribune.
- As More College Students Say "Me Too," Accused Men Are Suing For Defamation: Buzzfeed.
- Harvard will keep penalties for undergraduates who join single-sex organizations: The Washington Post.
- Cengage announces unlimited subscription service: Insider Higher Ed.
- UNC-Chapel Hill's accreditation was reaffirmed: News & Observer.
We Know the Way. Follow the Pro Education team. @caitlinzemma (firstname.lastname@example.org), @khefling (email@example.com), @mstratford ( firstname.lastname@example.org) and @BenjaminEW (email@example.com).
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