Dear Colleagues:

All eyes were on Washington Friday morning as news broke that the Supreme Court has officially overturned Roe. V. Wade. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued a statement :

“Upending decades of long-settled precedent that will impact the lives of millions of people, the court’s conservative majority this week took away the rights of those who rely on the constitutional separation of church and state to freely practice religion, took away the rights of states to protect children and families from gun violence, and, today, took away the rights of women and anyone who can get pregnant to decide when to have a family. In the span of 24 hours, this court ruled that states can’t regulate gun owners but can regulate the bodies of anyone who can reproduce… We knew this decision was coming, but the damage of reversing Roe is shocking nonetheless. This is a dark day in American history.”

1. House Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee Approves FY2023 Government Spending Proposal

On Thursday, the House Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services appropriations subcommittee approved their FY2023 government spending proposal on a voice vote with Republican opposition. The Labor-Education-HHS funding bill would provide $86.7 billion in discretionary funding for the Education Department, a $10.3 billion increase compared to FY2022. The current bill text specifies funding for the accounts (which often include many programs), and rarely for individual programs.  Once we see the Committee report – likely next Wednesday, the day before the scheduled Committee markup – we’ll know every program level.

The two biggest elementary and secondary education programs have significant increases, as does funding for school-based mental health services and several other programs, including the following:

  • Title I Grants to States – the bill has a $3 billion (17%) increase;
  •  bill has a $2.9 billion (22%) increase, matching the President’s request, which is part of a $3.2 billion increase for all special education programs;
  • Mental Health Services – the bill matches the President’s request for $1 billion for school-based mental health professionals;
  • Full-service community schools –$393 million (524%) increase;
  • English Language Acquisition –$169 million increase
  • TRIO programs –$161 million (14%) increase; and
  • Education Innovation and Research – the bill has a $150 million (64%) increase, which includes a $50 million increase for evidence-based innovations to address social, emotional, and cognitive needs.

The bill also increases the maximum Pell grant by $500 to $7395;  includes $154 million for elementary and secondary education earmarks in the Innovation and Improvement account and $209 million for higher education earmarks; makes DREAMERS eligible for Pell grants, student loans, TRIO, and GEAR-UP assistance; and finally requires for-profit colleges to get at least 15% of their revenue from non-federal sources i.e. not from student aid.

2. Department of Education Unveils Proposed Title IX Amendments

This week marked the 50th anniversary of the Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, more commonly known as Title IX, which protects students from sexual discrimination in educational programs and activities. And on Thursday Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona unveiled his plan to codify safeguards for transgender students and overhaul the Trump-era version of the rule that mandates how schools must respond to sexual misconduct complaints- a DeVos era rule that was a defining aspect of her tenure with the Department.

Secretary Cardona’s proposal  would ban “all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation and gender identity.” However, it remains unclear how the rule will apply to athletics which has been a key point of contention in the past year as several states have moved to ban transgender students from participating in women’s and girls’ sports. The Department announced it will engage in a separate rulemaking process to address Title IX’s application to athletics.

Secretary Cardona’s proposed rule would no longer requires live hearings for Title IX investigations and reverts the definition of sexual harassment back to “unwelcome sex-based conduct that creates a hostile environment by denying or limiting” a person’s ability to participate in a school’s education program or activity. The DeVos rule currently only prohibits unwelcome sex-based misconduct if it is “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity.”

The proposal also clarifies that schools must protect parenting and pregnant students and employees from discrimination. Meaning that schools must have “reasonable modifications for students, reasonable break time for employees for lactation and lactation space for both students and employees.”

3. In the States: Supreme Court Strikes Down Maine Law Barring State Funds for Religious Education

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled , in a 6-3 vote along ideological lines, that Maine cannot prohibit parents from using a state-funded tuition assistance program to pay for their children to attend private religious schools. Under the Maine “tuitioning” program local governments lacking the population to run schools at a certain grade level typically pay for students to be educated at public or private schools of their choice. But, to avoid government funds being used for religious purposes, since 1981 the program has refused to pay for schools providing religious education. The 6-3 ruling expands religious liberty rights and critics say the decision will amount to a further erosion of the separation between church and states. Analysts and advocates alike will certainly have eyes on this case as we learn the long term implications for students, families, and educators.

4. New Resources for Educators

  • Bellweather Education Partners released a report examining juvenile justice education policies in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.
  • The Learning Policy Institute released a new brief on preparing transitional kindergarten through grade 3 educators through teacher residency programs.

Congress and Washington Update are scheduled to be on recess for the next two weeks; however, with the full Committee markup expected on June 30th for the Labor-Education-HHS funding bill you can expect to see me back in your inbox for an update on individual program funding levels.

Until then, be kind to yourselves and each other.

See you on Twitter!