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Newswire: June 6, 2017

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SECRETARY DEVOS received lots of advice about what to say on her latest visit to Capitol Hill—some suggested she revisit past statements or criticisms, others that she steel herself against renewed blows over the budget—but all seemed to miss the point: that federal funding should be a means to an end, not simply a funding stream for previously sanctioned programs that the feds have codified into law to support one interest group or another. Federal funding should follow the priorities of state-level efforts and effective national entities, many of which are carving new paths for personalized learning, for innovations in education technology, for efforts to eradicate zoning by zip code and free up students and families to find the best fit for their child. The best advice for everyone involved: let’s stop focusing on budgetary line items and start talking about how to redefine Washington’s role in creating paths that lead to education innovation.

AND IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…The HELP Committee cracked up when Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about her likability. You’re aware, I’m sure, that some people don’t like you because you support vouchers and charter schools,” Kennedy said in an exchange with DeVos about wasteful Education Department spending that she’s been trying to root out. “I’m peripherally aware of that, yes.”

DESPITE OPPOSITION BY SOME MEMBERS OF CONGRESS educational choice and opportunity are still not only mainstream but very much growing in the states:

In New Hampshire… a bill that allows certain school districts to send students to private schools using taxpayer dollars heads back to the New Hampshire Senate. The bill impacts a group of small towns which do not operate middle or high schools must send their children to schools in nearby high schools.

In Nebraska… parents celebrate the state’s lawmakers’ advancement of LB295, the Opportunity Scholarship bill which fosters an environment where students can access the highest quality education available and tax dollars are spent more effectively.

In Nevada… while the governor seemed to cast a blind eye to the demands of families wanting ESAs wanting to avoid a government shut down, we will take the consolation prize of $20 million more for tax credits for opportunity scholarships.

And in Alabama… where exists a very poorly constructed charter law, open seats at Alabama’s first charter school, The ACCEL Day and Evening Academy are rapidly disappearing. Showing the demand by parents to be able to send their children to schools as good as the ones Members of Congress send their kids to!

O. HENRY WOULD BE PROUD. Purdue president and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has sent his university’s Brahmins into a foot-stomping snit by, a) pursuing a deal to buy Kaplan and, b) not asking them first. Daniels says the purchase is a way for Purdue to build up a robust online presence overnight and to reach older, nontraditional students. Of course, such decisive acts run counter to college traditions, which, Daniels told the Education Writers Assn. are often slow to change due to a “culture of committees [where] everybody has to have a say.” Meanwhile, Purdue’s faculty senate (a type of committee) stressed the need for shared governance (i.e. governance by committee) and said the deal should be rescinded because it didn’t show “respect for the Purdue faculty” (which we’ll call “the committee of the whole”). Yes, as Daniels pointed out, “ironies abound.” “Places that are supposed to be the havens of free inquiry too often are places where conformity of thought is enforced. Places that teach… creative disruption… can’t imagine that it would happen here. The places that are the seedbeds of innovation in so many ways don’t innovate institutionally very often.”