by Libby A. Nelson
GOOD MORNING and welcome to the inaugural edition of Morning Education. I’m Libby A. Nelson, an education reporter at POLITICO Pro, and I’ll be greeting you early every morning with the most important education policy news of the day.
Education Pro’s focus is “cradle to career”: pre-K through higher ed, featuring policy news from Congress, the Education Department, the White House and the states. Our promise here at Morning Education is to cut through the clutter and the rhetoric and offer you exclusive reporting and incisive analysis on education policy, while making sure we share all the “must reads” from our fellow education reporters around the country.
MORNING EDUCATION SCOOP: COMMON CORE STICKER SHOCK — The tests for Common Core standards are almost guaranteed to be more expensive than most existing state tests, according to a report from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers due for release on Monday. That’s for good reason, a PARCC staffer tells POLITICO Pro: Computer-based tests include plenty of “show your work” questions on the math and English/language arts exam. Answers that require human scoring are more expensive to grade than their multiple-choice counterparts.
The higher costs for this testing will undoubtedly be fodder for tea party activists who are engaged in a state by state fight against Common Core, railing against more federal government involvement in state education standards.
The conundrum for states that might choose to bail: Going their own way could still be more expensive. POLITICO Pro will have the full story with more details on the PARCC estimates later today.
STUDENT LOAN VOTE A DONE DEAL — A measure reversing the interest rate hike and switching to a market-based rate should sail through the Senate this week. Negotiators finally got a compromise that most Republicans support and Democrats are willing to accept some three weeks past the July 1 deadline. The adjustment should be law before the majority of students sign their promissory notes in August.
BUT THERE’S STILL LIBERAL ANGST OVER THE INTEREST RATES — Some liberals remain holdouts: Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) have already said they’ll vote no. And student groups and their allies won’t acquiesce quietly if interest rates increase with the market. Expect the drama to return during Higher Education Act reauthorization if interest rates are rising by then. Two signs that student advocates and some Senate Democrats are already setting the stage: Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) requested a GAO study of loan program costs that could be fodder for a new push to lower rates. And in a press release Friday, Young Invincibles was already shifting its battle to the Higher Education Act: “The changes may help lawmakers score political points, but it hurts young people’s chances to afford a college education over the long run. Congress and the White House must show that higher education is a real priority. The next big opportunity is the Higher Education Act reauthorization.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND — The party-line vote last week in favor of rolling back the federal role in education was the House Republicans’ final repudiation of George W. Bush’s education legacy. But that’s where the drama ends for now. Harkin wants to bring the Senate’s plan to repeal the law to the floor this fall, but the two visions for renewing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act are so far apart that they’re nearly irreconcilable. The American Enterprise Institute’s Frederick Hess (who praises the bill in an op-ed this morning) tells Morning Education that the House bill was “kabuki theater”: “I put the odds of reauthorization before 2015 at roughly … 2 or 3 percent.” The op-ed: http://bit.ly/17xsUtL
MORE THAN 1,000 TEACHERS LAID OFF IN CHICAGO — Chicago Tribune’s Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah: “Schools will be forced to increase class sizes, eliminate field trips, slash art and music programs and cancel intervention initiatives for struggling students, said principals and parents group leaders on a day when more than 1,000 teachers were let go.” And there’ll be a ruling later this week in lawsuits asking for an injunction against the district’s plans to close about 50 schools. http://trib.in587/15Y57Eh
FCC APPROVES ConnectED — POLITICO Pro’s Brooks Boliek: “The FCC … unanimously approved a notice of proposed rulemaking that it hopes will reshape the nation’s largest education technology program. While the $2.3 billion E-Rate program has helped connect 95 percent of the nation’s schools to the Internet, advances in communications have eaten up much of the benefits.”
The Consortium for School Networking reacts: “Only a little over one month since President Obama announced his bold agenda, we are encouraged by the FCC’s steps to make ‘ConnectED’ a reality in classrooms nationwide. The sooner we raise E-Rate’s annual cap and equip schools with increased bandwidth, the sooner students will reap the benefits of true 21st century teaching and learning environments. This initiative moves our schools in that direction.” http://politico.pro/131v8NK
GAO: KIDS DUBIOUS ON BEANS, WHOLE GRAINS IN SCHOOL LUNCH — A Government Accountability Office report on new school lunch regulations found districts doing the equivalent of pushing unwanted food around on their plates: One school district switched from real, shredded cheese on chili dogs to processed cheese to avoid hitting a limit for “meat substitutes.” Another replaced whole-grain chips with potato chips because of limits in grains in student meals. Read the full report: http://1.usa.gov/13RrSf3
FORMER OFFICIALS CASH IN WITH COLLEGE PRESIDENCIES — Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, now president of Purdue University, got his $58,000 performance bonus on top of a $420,000 annual salary, despite an Associated Press investigation that discovered Daniels had tried to ban books by liberal professor Howard Zinn from the classroom while in the governor’s office.
Meanwhile, University of California regents approved a $570,000 annual salary for Janet Napolitano, former secretary of Homeland Security, in her new role as president of the University of California system. That figure more than doubles her salary as a member of Obama’s Cabinet.
MENTALLY ILL STUDENTS ‘OVERWHELM’ SCHOOLS — Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Jeffrey Meitrodt: “In an era of tight budgets, Minnesota has retreated from more intensive adolescent mental health treatment options, at times leaving schools as a setting of last resort for students with problems ranging from schizophrenia to bipolar disorder. And even as special education teachers and specialists try to help, many are now working forever on edge … A decade ago … students with mental illness were rare. Now 75 percent of her students” at one school “have mental health issues.” http://bit.ly/15Y6AKI
AFT POLL: PARENTS SUPPORT TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS — The American Federation of Teachers will release a poll later today finding parents are skeptical about closing low-performing schools while boosting charter schools. The Washington Post: “Union officials say the poll results counter the argument made by those pushing policy changes that parents want more choice in deciding where to send their children and a market-based approach to education. Sixty-one percent of parents polled said they were opposed to closing low-performing schools and reassigning students to a different school, while roughly one-third approved of the policy. … Nearly two-thirds of parents were satisfied with their children’s public schools, while 31 percent were not. Seven in 10 parents said they were satisfied with the quality of their children’s teachers.” http://wapo.st/15aMtrN
THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS: 2 WEEKS TILL RECESS — Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on the 90/10 rule and veterans’ benefits at for-profit colleges, featuring the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Holly Petraeus and the Association of Private-Sector Colleges and Universities’ Steve Gunderson, 10:30 a.m. Tuesday … House Education and the Workforce markup on H.R. 2637, the Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act, repealing gainful employment, state authorization and credit hour rules (although the Education Department isn’t enforcing two of those three regulations) and blocking the Education Department from additional rulemaking before HEA reauthorization, 10 a.m. Wednesday.