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Newswire: February 7, 2017 — Schooling Poverty

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DeVos debacle on Senate floor comes to a close, ESSA regulations to rollback, teacher freedom sees another day in court, and threats to digital learning access — all this and more in this week’s Newswire.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING. Senate Dems talked about DeVos all night? No, that’s not what we’re talking about. While you were sleeping on your comfy Posturepedic mattress, about 15 million children in poverty were probably not sleeping, and their parents were probably worried about whether they could make a future for their children, and what they’d be like if they did not get a great education (which they don’t, if you read the Nation’s Report Card). Want to talk for 24 hours? That’s what the subject should be. Why don’t we educate everyone? It’s not money, and it’s not because we don’t have enough union rules to go around. It’s because we limit the ability of our best educators and administrators to do their jobs, and as they’re working overtime to address challenges, we limit the ability of parents to find schools that can address their children’s biggest needs, in real time. That’s why the path to innovation is opportunity and why we call on our nation’s leaders to get over this partisan bickering and bring real changes to American public education.

ESSA REG ROLLBACK. Perhaps the most important federal work at hand is starting over with the rules governing the Every Student Success Act, which the House is moving to do as you read this. The Congressional Review Act permits Congress to repeal regulations older than 60 days, which is the case with the Obama ESSA regs. Most education leaders and reformers are in unique agreement that the regs were an overreach and that the intent of the law was violated by numerous dictates created in them. This is why our recommendations for the Trump Administration’s first 100 days are so important: they outline a path forward for lawmakers on this topic.

TEACHER FREEDOM. Teachers faced a setback in March of 2016 when the supreme court ruled issued a tied decision in the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. Most concede that had the late great Antonin Scalia been present, more teachers would be well on their way to enjoying the critical freedoms they need to be the professionals they deserve to be. The tied decision left in tact mandatory agency fees and union membership. But now there’s another chance to bite the apple. A band of concerned teachers has filed another suit in their local district court to try to overturn the Friedrichs decision. We will be watching closely the upcoming case of Yohn v. California Teachers Association.

DIGITAL ACCESS THREATENED. Given the critical need to ensure all student are able to access 21st century learning technologies (but most are still restricted to 20th century classrooms), we were struck by the ridiculous move by the new FCC chairman to reverse funding to expand broadband access to students who have little. Not only does access to digital learning technologies expand the potential for school choice that the Trump Administration has vowed to support, but it also helps with expanding infrastructure in rural communities and putting people to work. Again, for a primer on why this is important, check out CER’s 100 Days report to help expand education in rural communities.