Federal Flash: Education Department Proposes Changes to Competitive Grant Program

Hello, and welcome to Federal Flash. I’m Phillip Lovell and I’m joined by Nikki
McKinney. This week, we’ll review news from the U.S.
Department of Education on competitive grants and provide updates on state plans submitted
under the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA. We’ll also discuss the reauthorization of
the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education ACT and President Trump’s nominee to serve
as General Counsel at the Education Department. Let’s turn to Nikki for a read-out of the
Department’s proposed new priorities around competitive grants. Thanks, Philip. Last week the Department published a set of
11 new priorities for discretionary grant programs and is seeking comment from the public
before they are finalized. The proposed list will help guide the way
in which competitive grants are awarded. It includes priorities around expanding school
choice-a cornerstone of the Trump Administration’s Education agenda-promoting effective instruction
in classrooms, and meeting the needs of students with disabilities, among other items. The top Democrats on the House and Senate
Education Committees, Representative Bobby Scott and Senator Patty Murray, released statements
expressing concern that the proposed list includes efforts to divert taxpayer dollars
away from public schools to private schools. Scott said QUOTE “Despite the lack of evidence
proving the effectiveness of vouchers, the Secretary is proposing to divert taxpayer
dollars to private schools and for-profit interests through the use of supplemental
priorities. This is not aligned with the will of Congress
nor taxpayers. I urge the Secretary to heed the advice of
the overwhelming majority of Americans and prioritize investment in public schools and
the students they serve.” END QUOTE To view the Department’s proposed priorities in their entirety or to comment on them in
the Federal Register, visit the link below. Comments are being accepted until November
13th. Thanks, Nikki. According to the department, the remaining
states submitting plans for the fall deadline are ready for peer review. This means a group of experts will review
the plans and make their recommendations to the Secretary on whether or not the plans
comply with the law. For those keeping track of the plans submitted
in the Spring, all have been approved by the Department with the exception of Colorado
and Michigan. The Alliance has condensed many of these 200-plus
page state plans into a one-page ESSA Equity dashboard. The dashboard provides a red-yellow-green
light analysis for 13 indicators on how states are and are not prioritizing equity. Find the dashboard for your state at the link
below. A bipartisan group of 59 Senators sent a letter
to Senate Education Committee leadership urging them to QUOTE “Take action on reauthorization
of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act as soon as possible” END QUOTE. The House of Representatives unanimously approved
the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act earlier this year
but efforts to move the legislation in the Senate have been mired by partisan disagreements
over the oversight role of the Secretary of Education in administering the program. On Wednesday, Carlos Muñiz cleared an important
hurdle in his quest to serve as General Counsel at the Education Department. The Senate Education Committee held an executive
session on his nomination and he was voted out on straight party line vote, meaning that
all Republicans voted in favor of his nomination and all Democrats opposed. His nomination will now go before the full
Senate for a vote before he can assume the role. And finally, in case you weren’t able to watch
live, you can view an archived version of the Alliance’s webinar on the Deferred Action
for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program. The webinar provides important information
on the right of every child to public education regardless of their immigration status. It also has the latest on the DREAM Act and
how you can support its passage. To view the webinar and to access additional
resources, please visit the link below. That’s all for now. For an email alert when then next episode
of federal flash is available, email us at [email protected] Thanks for watching.

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