Last week Congress avoided a possible shutdown of the federal government when it approved and sent to President Trump a consolidated appropriations bill (H.R. 244) to fund public education and other federal programs throughout the remainder of federal Fiscal Year 2017, which runs through Sept. 30. The so-called “omnibus” bill (H.R. 244) was passed by the House of Representatives on a vote of 309-118 and by the U.S. Senate on a vote of 79-18. It was signed into law by President Trump on May 5.
Overall, in the education area, the FY 2017 omnibus bill, makes net cuts of about $1.1 billion, but provides a more than a $1 billion increase compared with comparable 2016 funding levels for Title I grants for disadvantaged students, special education, Impact Aid, and student support programs under Title IV (ESSA). The text of the bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education is available here. Continue reading President Signs Spending Bill to Fund Federal Government Thru Sept. 30
- The U.S. House of Representatives voted today (Thursday May 4) to approve a bill to repeal and replace the federal Affordable Care Act (a/k/a “Obamacare”) with new legislation known as the American Health Care Act (ACHA). The measure was passed on a 217-213 vote.
Among other things, the ACHA would make profound changes to the state-federal partnership program known as Medicaid or Medical Assistance, including reducing by $880 billion over the next 10 years the amount of Medicaid dollars the federal government sends to states. These changes would significantly impact the ability of students with disabilities and students in poverty to receive critically necessary health services in public schools. The changes would require schools to compete for limited Medicaid funding, which would likely result in arbitrary caps on the amount of Medicaid reimbursements made to public schools.
Continue reading U.S. House Passes Obamacare Repeal Bill, Deep Cuts to Medicaid Will Impact Special Education
Newly confirmed U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced an interim final rule on Monday (May 1) that postpones further sodium reductions in school meals for at least three years, allows schools to serve 1 percent flavored milk, and gives states authority to exempt schools from having to replace all their grain-based products with whole-grain-rich products.
During a visit to a Leesburg, Virginia elementary school to mark School Nutrition Employee Week, Perdue signed a proclamation which he said begins the process of restoring local control of guidelines on whole grains, sodium, and milk. Perdue claimed the new rule is needed to give schools more flexibility in meeting the strict standards. Some see the measures as an attempt to roll back healthy school lunch standards promoted by former first lady Michelle Obama.
Continue reading USDA Relaxes School Meals Nutrition Rules
A recently introduced Assembly Bill—Assembly Bill 267—aims to call attention to the growing impact of Wisconsin voucher programs on school property taxes.
The “Wisconsin Voucher Taxpayer Transparency Bill,” authored by state Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) would require property tax bills to include information from the school district where the property is located regarding the amount of any net reduction in state aid, if any, to the district as a result of pupils enrolled in the statewide voucher program, the Racine voucher program, or the Milwaukee voucher program. (See news release.)
Continue reading Bill Seeks Transparency on Property Tax Impact of Voucher Funding
The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) today (April 28) released a draft for public review of Wisconsin’s Consolidated Plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The plan describes how the state will implement ESSA and will undergo a public comment period through June 30.
To assist the public and lawmakers to understand the plan, a joint informational hearing of the Senate and Assembly Education committees has been scheduled for Wednesday, May 3 at 10:30 a.m. in room 412 East, State Capitol. At this meeting the DPI will provide a briefing on the draft Wisconsin ESSA State implementation plan. Testimony will be provided by invited speakers only. (View notice.)
Continue reading DPI Releases Draft of Wisconsin ESSA Plan
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday (April 26) directing U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to conduct a study to “determine where the federal government has unlawfully overstepped on state and local control” with regard to K-12 schools. According to the White House, the executive order is “intended to return authority to where Congress intended—state and local entities.”
In response to the executive order, an Education Department task force, led by Robert Eitel, a senior adviser to the secretary, will take a close look at all of the K-12 regulations put out by the past administration and decide which intrude upon local control. After 300 days, the department will release a report on its findings, according to a department spokesperson.
You can find the executive order here.
Continue reading President Trump Orders Study of Federal Role in Education