Bette Davis said in the movie All About Eve, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” That’s what it might feel like for us in public education given the recent President-Elect cabinet nominees, and most specifically related to the Secretary of Education nominee, Betsy Devos
Department of Education
Education has not been a significant priority for President-Elect Trump and campaign comments included consideration of eliminating the Department of Education, diminishing its regulatory influence and/or infusing more choice. The nomination of Betsy DeVos, who has a history of significantly supporting charter schools and expressing her belief that more federal funds should be made available to give parents greater school choices, appears to suggest we will experience a new educational agenda. Most of the shared comments between President-Elect Trump and Ms. DeVos focus on choice, local control and less regulatory oversight. On behalf of FED ED districts we have advocated for greater local control and decision making. However, given the previous practices of Ms. Devos, we believe we may be in a climate in which we need to very closely monitor this new direction and emphatically advocate for developing and maintaining strong public schools. We do not want important federal funds for our schools to be reduced in any way.
The final ESSA regulations came out just last week. It was apparent that the strong bi-partisan efforts support the critical connection between federal and state planning and the intentions of ESSA. The final regulations reflect several of the important changes FED ED has advocated including giving us additional time. This is reflected in later dates for state plan submission (Illinois is projected for April, 2017) and an additional year for districts to identify schools for comprehensive and targeted supports within a new statewide accountability systems and an important revisions, multiple indicators for statewide accountability plans.
After consideration, the House is scheduled to pass another Continuing Resolution this Thursday to authorize government funding at the same level as last year, a day before the current bill expires. It is then likely that the Congress will discuss a full year of Continuing Resolution in the spring, rather than look at programs individually. A caveat to that, however is that to date there has been no nomination for the Director of Office of Management and Budget – a role that has strong influence on the budgets and staffing at the federal level, include Department of Education. Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has been officially named the Chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee replacing John Kline.
FED ED is scheduling meetings with Illinois legislators and is working on a breakfast meeting for February to discuss the education agenda. The emphasis on establishing relationships, working on committees and advocating on behalf of suburban districts is going to take an intensified, coordinated effort.
Thank you for your continued support of FED ED and we wish you and your families Happy Holidays.