Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says she has “no intention of taking any action” regarding any possible use of federal funds to arm teachers or provide them with firearms training. DeVos’ comments came Friday after a top official in her department, asked about arming teachers, said states and local jurisdictions always “had the flexibility” to decide how to use federal education funds. DeVos said Friday that “Congress did not authorize me or the Department to make those decisions” about arming teachers or training them on the use of firearms.
Back-to-back school shootings this year and inquiries from the state of Texas have prompted the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, to examine whether to allow states to tap the school enrichment fund for another purpose: guns. Such a move would reverse a longstanding position taken by the federal government that it should not pay to outfit schools with weaponry. As recently as March, Congress passed a school safety bill that allocated $50 million a year to local school districts, but expressly prohibited the use of the money for firearms. The Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law in 2015, is silent on weapons purchases, and that omission would allow Ms. DeVos to use her discretion to approve or deny any state or district plans to use the enrichment grants under the measure for firearms and firearm training, unless Congress clarifies the law or bans such funding through legislative action.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and other school choice fans were excited about the potential of a new pilot program in ESSA that allows districts to combine federal, state, and local dollars into a single funding stream tied to individual students. English-language learners, children in poverty, and students in special education—who cost more to educate—would carry with them more money than other students… So far, though, there haven’t been many takers. The law allows up to 50 districts to participate in the first few years of the pilot, with the possibility of more joining in down the road if things are running smoothly. But only one district—Arizona’s Roosevelt School District #66—has applied to use the flexibility in the 2019-20 school year by a July 15 deadline.
The legislation is a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, a $1.2 billion program last overhauled by Congress in 2006. The new law allows states to set their own goals for career and technical education programs without the education secretary’s approval, requires them to make progress toward those goals, and makes other changes to federal CTE law.
The spending bill would provide about $71 billion to the Education Department for fiscal 2019, an increase of nearly $100 million from current spending levels in fiscal 2018. It rejects President Donald Trump’s push to make a significant overall cut to the department, shrink or eliminate several education programs, and direct more money to school choice initiatives. Committee lawmakers adopted an amendment…that maintained current funding levels of $90 million for the School Safety National Activities program. The original House bill introduced last month would have cut the program by $47 million.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Puerto Rico Department of Education will be the first to pilot new flexibility under ESSA to create a student-centered funding system. ESSA provides for 50 school districts to pilot a new student-centered funding system that combines local, state and federal dollars. ESSA specifically requires that pilot districts allocate substantially more funding to support students from low-income families, English learners, and any other educationally disadvantaged group as chosen by the school district. Puerto Rico designed its system to allocate additional funds to support students from low-income families, language learners and students in rural schools.
While most people understand K-12 education spending in terms of average district per-pupil amounts, how districts distribute federal, state and local dollars between schools has long been a mystery even to district superintendents. But many have theorized that seeing distribution levels by school can reveal to the public how (or whether) money boosts academic results and whether money is being spent as intended.
“The $300 million increase … is split evenly between two of those four formulas, with targeted and finance incentive grants each getting $150 million more in fiscal 2018 than fiscal 2017…Targeted grants provide more money per child as a district’s poverty rate increases, while finance incentive grants are designed to address funding environments in “good finance”—those that spend relatively large amounts on schools and do so equitably—and “bad finance” states.”
Tucked into a report filed with the $1.3 trillion government funding bill passed last week is a reminder to states — through the federal Education Department — that their ESSA accountability plans must include assurances that they’ll require districts to use school improvement dollars for organizations or individuals “that have practical expertise in the development or use of evidence-based strategies and programs to improve teaching, learning, and schools.”
Indianapolis, Puerto Rico, and three other school districts have applied to join the Every Student Succeeds Act’s weighted student-funding pilot during the 2018-19 school year. Participating districts can combine federal, state, and local dollars into a single funding stream tied to individual students. English-language learners, children in poverty, and students in special education—who cost more to educate—would carry with them more money than other students.