Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:

Ed. Dept. Budget Plan Hammered by Both Sides in Congress
The political prospects appear dreary for President Donald Trump’s proposed $59 billion budget for the U.S. Department of Education—but that hasn’t stopped it from riling people up. In two budget hearings before the House and Senate during the past three weeks, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has defended the Trump administration’s proposal to cut roughly 9.2 percent, or $13.5 billion, from the department’s budget and dramatically expand school choice. She’s gotten a chilly reception from Democrats, as well as some Republicans, who appear hostile to many of the large cuts, among other things, in the proposed fiscal 2018 spending plan. (Education Week)

US Trails in Early Childhood Education Enrollment
States across the U.S. are taking more seriously the importance of early childhood education and ramping up their offerings, but compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. has a long way to go.​ ​While enrollment rates for children under age three hover just below 30 percent – the middle of the pack compared to other countries – the U.S. falls significantly behind when it comes to enrollment rates of 3- and 4-year-olds, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.​ (U.S. News & World Report)​

New discipline policy means more flexibility for schools
(Mich.) When students in Michigan return to school in the fall it will be to more forgiving disciplinary polices that lawmakers say they hope will reduce suspension and expulsion rates for minor infractions. ​​Beginning in August, school administrators will be allowed more flexibility when deciding on whether an incident regarding student misbehavior warrants suspension, expulsion or some other form of discipline based on the individual circumstances–rather than having to paint every infraction with the broad brush of zero tolerance.​ (Cabinet Report)​

Delaware Lawmakers Mull Nixing State Board of Ed to Help Ease Budget Crisis
When looking to fix a financial crisis, most state lawmakers turn to conventional budget line items such as jobs and administrative expenses to make cuts. Rarely do legislators get rid of public governmental bodies. Until now. The Delaware legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has approved eliminating all funding for the State Board of Education as part of a wave of cuts designed to address a $400 million budget gap, according to The News Journal. (The 74)

Miami-Dade school district hires lobbyist — at $108,000 a year — to take concerns to Congress, Trump
For the first time in nearly a decade, the Miami-Dade school district is hiring a lobbying firm to represent its interests in Washington, D.C. At a meeting on Wednesday, the School Board approved a three-year contract — at $108,000 a year — with Ballard Partners, a Florida lobbying firm, to advocate for the district’s interests before Congress and several federal agencies. (Miami Herald)

Hawaii School Board Signs Off On Bid For Federal Dollars
The Hawaii Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to qualify for federal funding under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Obama administration law that hands more control to the states for measuring student achievement. Board approval of the plan was largely expected. The vote, taken during a packed state Board of Education meeting attended by principals and community members, comes amid a period of transition for the Hawaii public school system. (Honolulu Civil Beat)

Four school board members in Pr. George’s County allege fraud in graduation rates
Four members of Prince George’s County’s school board have urged Gov. Larry Hogan to order an investigation into what they allege is a systemic effort to fraudulently boost graduation rates in the Maryland school district. The members, a minority bloc on a 14-member board, say the state’s second-largest district engaged in “widespread systemic corruption” that has inflated graduation rates since 2014. They allege that grades were changed and that students were credited for courses they did not take. (The Washington Post)

New York
State lawmakers end session without passing mayoral control. Where does that leave us?
The final day of New York state’s scheduled legislative session has come and gone — but there’s no final deal on mayoral control of city schools. Lawmakers wrapped up the legislative session late Wednesday, though they could return to address mayoral control of New York City schools at a later date. The provision expires at the end of June, but blowing the session’s deadline takes state officials one step closer to letting the mayor’s governance of the nation’s largest school system lapse. (Chalkbeat)

New Pennsylvania law eliminates Keystone Exam requirement for career and technical education students
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Wednesday a bill creating an alternate pathway to high school graduation for students in career and technology education — one without Keystone Exams.​ ​The new law eliminates the statutory requirement for Keystone Exams and replaces it with new ways for vocational students to prove they’re ready for the next step, whether it be the workforce, college or a trade school.​ (Lancaster Online)​

S​outh Carolina
S.C. school district, fighting state takeover, ‘has failed the children,’ parent say
The Allendale County School District filed suit Wednesday before the S.C. Supreme Court, arguing S.C. education Superintendent Molly Spearman does not have the authority to seize control of its schools.​ ​Spearman said she would take over the district Monday, stripping the locally elected school board of its management authority. She said problems with the Allendale school board that were identified in a recent review of the district – including the board’s tendency to overstep its authority by trying to influence personnel and daily management decisions – forced her to intervene.​ (The State)​

Mimi Woldeyohannes is the Executive Assistant to the CEO at 50CAN. She lives in Maryland.


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