FW: Whiteboard Notes | Insiders on ESEA, student loans, and E-Rate; Waiver Update; State Budgets
Whiteboard Notes | Insiders on ESEA, student loans, and E-Rate; Waiver Update; State Budgets
“63 percent still see the PARCC consortium as being on the wrong track”
June 21, 2013
Weekly Notes: A Snapshot of the Top News in Education
Whiteboard Advisors News
Beginning next week, Whiteboard Notes will arrive in your inbox on Thursday--giving you more time to enjoy!
Education Insider: With both K-12 and higher education activity in the House and Senate, Education Insiders weigh in on ESEA reauthorization and student loans. Insiders also provide a check-in on Common Core. Among the findings:
- Despite recent committee action on Capitol Hill, Insiders remain pessimistic about the prospects of ESEA reauthorization during this Congress.
- Insiders believe a deal will be struck on student loan interests rates, with the most likely outcome being a plan to tie rates to the market.
- Insiders give higher marks to both Common Core assessment consortia but 63 percent still see the PARCC consortium as being on the wrong track. 54 percent of Insiders now say the SBAC consortium is on the right track, marking a significant shift this month.
- 74 percent of Insiders think the Defending State Authority Over Education Act will be included in the final House version of ESEA. But Insiders are split as to whether the legislation would create new restrictions or be redundant with current law.
Education Insiders on E-Rate: While there is agreement that E-rate needs to be simplified and online programs better addressed, Insiders expressed some uncertainty over changes to the contribution methodology.
ESEA Bill Guide: To help you keep track of ESEA activity, we've created a side-by-side comparison of the Senate and House bills. As events progress, we will keep an updated cheat sheet on the critical bills.
From the W/A blog: New report highlights higher ed innovation that goes beyond “retrofitting”; an evaluation of teacher prep programs; and an ESEA waiver update on teacher evaluation.
Congress & Administration
House Committee Passes Education Bill: On Wednesday, The House Education and Workforce Committee marked up Chairman John Kline’s ESEA reauthorization bill, the Student Success Act. The markup was remarkably short for a bill like this, and only four amendments were introduced. Notably, Representative George Miller (D-CA)--the former Democratic Chairman and a principal author of the No Child Left Behind Act--offered up an alternative bill, which would require a more prescriptive approach to school accountability and improvement. That amendment was voted down along party lines. Among other amendments, Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN) introduced an amendment that would prohibit the U.S. Secretary of Education from influencing or incentivizing states to adopt the Common Core or any other academic standards “common to a significant number of states.” This bill was adopted along party lines. The Committee passed the Student Success Act along party lines, with a 23-16 vote.
Waiver Update: This week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that states who have received ESEA waivers and Race to the Top grants will be able to apply for an extra year to implement their new teacher-evaluation systems before adding consequences. “To be very clear, this is not a pause or a moratorium,” said Secretary Duncan. In his letter to state chiefs, the Secretary lays out two new options for states. A state can apply for a waiver to delay any personnel consequences of the new teacher and principal evaluation policies that are connected to the use of student growth data, until no later than 2016–2017. States can also apply for waivers to avoid “double testing,” meaning that schools participating in the new assessments field tests could be allowed to administer only one assessment in 2013–2014 to any individual student, either the current statewide assessment or the field test. See our blog for additional analysis.
Senate Hearing on FCC Chair Nominee: The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing earlier this week with Thomas Wheeler, President Obama’s nominee for the next chair of the Federal Communications Commission. Wheeler, a strong proponent of reforming the E-Rate program, made the points during the hearing that, "it doesn't make sense that 80 percent of E-Rate schools report the available bandwidth is below their instructional needs" and that schools should not have “1996 technology and connectivity in the classroom.” Chairman Rockefeller (D-WV) and Ranking Member Senator Thune (R-SD) both stressed the critical role of the FCC in their opening remarks.
States & Districts
The California legislature and Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown agreed upon a new budget. The agreement includes the governor’s proposal of a $96.4 billion budget after Democratic leaders backed off of requests for an additional $2 billion in spending, according to The Sacramento Bee. Capitol Public Radio reports that the new spending in the budget includes $250 million in Proposition 98 funds for career technical education programs to incentivize business participation in K-12 and community college programs. The deal also contains a victory for Governor Brown, who campaigned on overhauling school funding in 2010. Total funding for this overhaul will increase by $200 million next year, including an increase of $537 for per-pupil grants and districts receiving an additional 20 percent of their base grant for low-income and English language learners. Districts with at least 55 percent low income or English language learners could qualify for more money.
The compromise allows school districts to get back to the funding levels they had before the state’s budget crisis, adjusted for inflation. Additionally, the “Middle Class Scholarship” program for college students will be phased in beginning in fall 2014, and funded up to $300 million upon full implementation in four years. SIA Cabinet Report has continuing coverage on the budget and its education implications.
In Kansas, the conference committee report of the two-year budget SB 171 was adopted 63-51 by the House on June 1 and in the Senate 21-15 on June 2, and signed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback on June 15. It holds funding for elementary and secondary education steady for the year but still is about $657 million short for year two in meeting a constitutional requirement to adequately fund its public schools based on a court ruling, according to The Lawrence Journal-World. Universities and colleges over the next two years will lose a total of $35 million. According to the adopted conference committee report, for fiscal year 2014, it will:
- Delete $33 million, including $23.3 million from the state General Fund, in the budget of the State Board of Regents and the postsecondary education intuitions, predominantly for salary reduction (10.3 million) and for a 1.5 percent reduction to most state General Fund expenditures ($9.4 million).
- Delete $1.0 million, all from the Children's Initiatives Fund, for the Kansas Reads to Succeed Incentive Program for FY 2014.
- Concur with Governor's Budget Amendment No. 2, Item 7, to replace State General Fund moneys of $4,629,484 with Children's Initiatives Fund moneys of the same amount, for FY 2014 for the Early Childhood Block Grant.
- Add language that states that if the Kansas Reads to Succeed Program is not enacted, $6.0 million from the Children's Initiatives Fund would be used to implement a Lexia Reading Core5 program.
- Add $85,811, all from special revenue funds, for FY 2014 to fund the Educational Technology Coordinator position and request that the Department of Education provide data on the number of school districts served and cost savings for those districts in FY 2014 in order to assess the cost effectiveness of the position.
- Delete $1,176,150, all from the State General Fund, to reduce expenditures.
- Add $250,000, all from the State General Fund, for Communities in Schools.
- Add $46,908, all from the State General Fund, including 0.5 FTE position for an Education Program Consultant for the Coalition of Innovative Districts Act.
In Louisiana, HB 1, sponsored by House Appropriations Committee Chair James Fannin, D-Jonesboro, emerged from conference committee on June 6. The Senate voted 38-1 and the House 104-0 to adopt the conference committee report. It was enrolled the same day and on June 11 it was sent to Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal who will have until July 1 to act or it becomes law. The $25.4 billion budget came together hours before the legislature was set to adjourn and was the work of compromises from both parties, according to The Times-Picayune. It is expected that Governor Jindal will use a line-item veto. The budget includes, “$69 million in new money for education, half of which will go to certified classroom teachers as a pay increase. That will amount to roughly $580 for each teacher.” The remaining funds will be at the discretion of the local school districts. On June 5, Jindal said he was committed to including the teacher funds in the state’s school formula in years to come. The Times-Picayune reports that the budget also includes money to double the state voucher program in order to accommodate 4,000 new students. This particular provision has been hotly debated after the Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional to pay for it through MFP forcing the Senate to find other funding. Other related appropriations include:
- Board of Regents - $816.4 million.
- TOPS tuition program - $188.72 million.
- Louisiana Virtual School - $3 million.
- Board of Elementary and Secondary Education - $1.19 million.
- Louisiana Quality Education Support Fund - $24.53 million.
- School and District innovations - $133.32 million.
- STEM student centered goals - $1.2 billion.
- Recovery School district - $339.87 million.
- Minimum Foundation Program - $3.44 billion.
- Special school districts - $13.54 million.
Texas SB 1 was signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry on June 14. It is the budget for the 2014-2015 biennium. The House strongly supported the bill, which makes “critical investments in water, transportation, public and higher education and mental health services, while also allowing for nearly $1.4 billion in tax cuts and increasing transparency in the tax process,” according to Hillsboro Reporter. House Appropriations Committee Chair Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, said, “This is a conservative budget that Texans can be proud of. It stays within our constitutional spending limit and leaves significant reserves in our Rainy Day Fund. I dedicated myself to producing a budget that my constituents could be proud of, and worked hard over the past six months to eliminate unnecessary or duplicative programs and ensure we are spending Texas taxpayers’ money wisely.” This bill will be effective September 1.
Deals, Startups & Technology
$600K to Crowdmark: Toronto-based Crowdmark builds tools for teachers, including a tool that makes grading hand-written tests more efficient. The startup received $600K from University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program, MaRS Innovation, U of T's Connaught Fund, and other investors.
$1.75M to Nulu: San Diego-based Nulu, a startup Spanish and English language learning program, just received $1.75M from angel investors in the U.S. and Latin America. According to NewsXS, Nulu is geared toward intermediate level learners and focuses on real-world practical material.
Chegg Preparing for IPO: According to Reuters, Chegg has selected JPMorgan and Bank of America to lead an initial public offering. Chegg, often referred to as the “Netflix for textbooks,” has currently raised $200 million in venture funds. The company provides textbook rentals, low cost course materials, and on-demand homework help. To date, Chegg has helped millions of students save money on textbooks and materials.
EdTech Accelerators Grow in Boston: New EdTech accelerators have been popping up this year including Boston-based LearnLaunchX and Exponential Boston. These accelerators are on a mission to develop the city’s startup ecosystem, providing entrepreneurs with residential programs and seed funding. LearnLaunchX’s first round of startups include Gradeable, Cognii, Empow Learning, and eduCanon.
Technology in School Districts: This week, the Los Angeles Unified School District board awarded a $30 million contract to Apple to distribute an iPad to 47 schools for use this fall and $20 million for equipment, software, and staff support. The expenditure will increase as the district plans on extending the project, the Common Core Technology Project Plan (CCTPP), to all of students in the district by the 2014 school year. That is over 650,000 K-12 students at an estimated $678 per iPad. Also this week, the Miami-Dade County school district approved a new plan to lease up to 150,000 devices for students as part of the district’s effort to ensure that all of their 354,000 students have personal learning devices by 2015.
Digital Learning Return on Investment: A new study by Center for American Progress found that while U.S. schools are spending money to bring laptops and tablets into the classroom, they’re not checking the return-on-investment that the technology is providing. In the classroom, students often use technology for basic skills, such as middle school math students using a computer for drill and practice. Additionally, this basic use of technology increases in high-poverty areas and students from disadvantaged backgrounds are being given the least engaging technology-facilitated learning opportunities. Recommendations for future changes include ensuring policymakers do more to make sure that technology promotes key learning goals, addressing the digital divide, and pushing for studies of the cost-effectiveness of technology.
Edujobs: iNACOL is expanding their advocacy and policy team by hiring a Director of State Policy to focus on state-level advocacy strategy. Teachscape is hiring a Chief Program Officer of Professional Learning to oversee the design and delivery of professional learning programs for PreK-12 educators. The Broad Foundation is looking for an Associate Director of Communications to support the education grant team.
Mark Your Calendars
ISTE 2013 Conference: The International Society for Technology in Education will host its annual conference from June 23-25 in San Antonio, Texas with nearly 18,000 educators and corporate representatives in attendance for this year’s sessions, professional learning, and collaborative networking opportunities. This year’s keynote speakers include Adam Bellow, Steven Johnson, and Jane McGonigal. Learn more and register here.
Trillion-Dollar Question: AEI is hosting a research conference on June 24 in Washington, DC to discuss reinventing student financial aid for the 21st century. This conference will discuss ten new pieces of research that explore new ways of designing and delivering financial aid. Register here. Live stream will also be available.
ECS National Forum on Education Policy: The Education Commission of the States will hold its annual education policy forum June 25-27 in St. Louis, focusing on topics including applying lessons learned to high school college-readiness interventions, supporting first-generation college students, Common Core, early learning, English language learners, and assessment literacy. Key speakers include Arne Duncan, Kathleen Sebelius, Governor Brian Sandoval, David T. Conley, William Schmidt, Richard Rothstein, and Rick Hess. More information here.
LAUNCH Education: Whiteboard Advisors is excited to serve as a media partner for the 2nd annual LAUNCH Education & Kids conference, which will take place at Microsoft's campus in Mountain View on June 26-27. The conference serves as a launching pad for new startups, and a platform for companies to announce new products. Both K12 and higher ed, kid-centric startups will be showcased during this two day event. If you’re an existing company interested in launching new products at the event, LAUNCH is accepting applications until May 24 here. Tickets are going quickly, so be sure to RSVP. LAUNCH is also offering scholarship tickets for educators.
National Charter Schools Conference: From June 30 to July 3, the National Charter Schools Conference will be held in DC. The largest gathering of the charter school movement, 4,000 participants are expected this summer. The conference is currently calling for proposals to one of the conferences strands: Instruction, Governance, Leadership, Policy, Operations, Educating Tomorrow's Leaders. Registration is here.
SHEEO Annual Meeting: The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association 2013 Annual Meeting will take place from July 8-11 in Georgetown, Washington, DC. This conference and business meeting for the CEOs of state higher education boards and commissions in the United States and Puerto Rico typically attracts 85-100 attendees, both SHEEO members and the leaders of other national and regional associations with whom. More information here.
ERDI Summer Conference: From July 14-20, the Education Research & Development Institute will host its week-long summer conference in Baltimore, MD. ERDI exists to allow educational leaders the opportunity to influence the development, refinement and delivery of the products and services entering the educational setting in the USA so that those products and services can best meet the needs of children. Find the full conference agenda here.
National Conference on Student Assessment: From July 19-22 in National Harbor, MD, The Council of Chief State School Officers will host a conference for assessment practitioners to discuss what is happening in the real world of educational assessment - what's new, what's going on at the state and federal level, what works and what does not. Register here.
EIA’s EDVentures Conference: Education Industry Association (EIA) will host EDVentures 2013 from July 25-27 in Dallas, TX. Themed Connect-Discover-Create-Grow, this conference features sessions to help entrepreneurs better navigate the challenges affecting the PreK-12 education industry, leverage existing infrastructure to enter new lines of business, and improve selling to schools and private pay customers. Speakers include Michael Horn, Chris Minnich, Kerri Briggs, Jane Swift, Steve Ross, Charlene Blohm, Farimah Schuerman, Paul Hill, and Scott Drossos. Register here.
NASBE Annual Conference: National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) will host its annual conference in Arlington, VA from July 28-30. The 2013 conference will be themed "Born In Another Time: Learners and Learning, Now and Beyond." Speakers and presentations will focus on hot topics in education, the Common Core State Standards, School Discipline, Teacher Effectiveness, Summer Learning, Blended & Virtual Learning, Charter Schools and more. For more information click here.
NCSL Legislative Summit: National Conference of State Legislatures will host a four-day meeting in Atlanta, GA from August 12-15 with more than 5,500 legislators, legislative staff, corporate representatives, unions, government officials, foundation members and others to discuss critical state issues, innovations, cost-saving measures and other major issue being debated in state legislatures today. More info here.
Presidents’ Forum: Save the date for the 10th Anniversary Annual Meeting of the Presidents’ Forum on October 8 in DC. Co-hosted by the United States Distance Learning Association, this meeting will join national experts who are influencing policies in the academic and distance education arena to examine and discuss the evolving promise and policy issues associated with technology mediated learning.
CER Turns 20: The Center for Education Reform (CER) will celebrate its 20th anniversary on October 9 in Washington, DC, with a nod to those who have been the “classics” of the education reform movement, making significant contributions to student success. The Education Reform: Before it Was Cool conference is a prelude to CER’s 20th Anniversary Gala & Awards Show. More information can be found here
National Ed Reform Summit: Mark October 17-18 on your calendar for the Excellence in Action National Summit on Education Reform, hosted by Foundation for Excellence in Education and Governor Jeb Bush. Sign up here for 2013 updates. Last year’s conference filled up quickly, so be sure to register early.