With help from Kimberly Hefling
CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION BILL ROCKETS TO TRUMP’S DESK: President Donald Trump could sign a bill revamping federal career and technical education law any day now as Congress wastes no time finalizing it. The Senate on Monday night passed H.R. 2353 (115) after the House passed its version last year. The Senate also adopted a substitute amendment from HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to limit the Education Department’s role in how the federal government doles out funding.
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— The House today will consider the Senate’s changes. Career and technical education advocates told reporters Tuesday that they expect the president to move quickly in signing the bill once the House adopts the changes.
— The law, known as the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, governs more than $1 billion in grants to states and hasn’t been updated since 2006. The revamped legislation would eliminate a negotiation process between states crafting goals for their career and technical education programs and the Education secretary, who approves those plans. Instead, states would set their goals and the secretary would approve them, assuming they meet the law’s requirements. The bill would also require states to make “meaningful progress” toward their goals.
— The bill has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress, strong backing from the business community and ringing endorsements from the president’s senior adviser Ivanka Trump and his administration, which has made workforce development a top priority. But groups representing thousands of career and technical education teachers and state leaders have lingering concerns.
— Advocates from the Association for Career and Technical Education and Advance CTE said they don’t expect any regulations or non-regulatory guidance to accompany the law, so they’re hoping Hill staff can clear up a few concerns as the bill gets to the finish line. For example, the groups worry the bill is too broad when it comes to how state and local career and technical education dollars can be spent. The groups have told Senate education leaders that those funds should “be tightly focused on the activities that are most closely related to CTE program quality and student achievement.”
GOOD WEDNESDAY MORNING, JULY 25. One of my favorite stories this week involves the statistic that Americans use an estimated 500 million plastic straws a day. The number has been cited by major news outlets as international corporations look to ban straws because of their harmful effect on the environment. But as it turns out, the number is imprecise and originated with a curious fourth grader working on an environmental project, NPR reports. Talk to me: firstname.lastname@example.org or @caitlinzemma. Send events to: email@example.com. And follow us on Twitter: @Morning_Edu and @POLITICOPro.
DEVOS TO ADDRESS YOUNG CONSERVATIVES: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos this evening will address a gathering of campus conservatives at the Turning Point High School Leadership Summit. The four-day event, held at George Washington University in D.C., features a long list of prominent conservatives from the Trump administration, Congress and beyond. The conversation with DeVos will be moderated by Charlie Kirk, who founded the conservative student nonprofit Turning Point USA. POLITICO Magazine profiled Kirk earlier this year, calling him “Trump’s man on campus.” DeVos is slated to speak at 5:30 p.m.
— Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke on Tuesday and — unsurprisingly — focused on campus free speech. He briefly took part in a chant of “lock her up," used during Trump’s presidential campaign to attack Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. And he railed against the use of therapy dogs and goats on campus as “coddling” of young people by colleges and universities. More from Mel Leonor.
— Hunter Pollack, whose sister was killed during the school shooting earlier this year in Parkland, Fla., also spoke at the summit, saying he backs the notion of arming teachers as a “deterrent.” “It takes law enforcement about seven minutes to engage a scene,” he said. “If we have armed guardians there, they’re there within 30 seconds, a minute.” More here.
SPEAKING OF SCHOOL SAFETY… Students returning to Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School this fall don’t have to wear clear backpacks, but they will have to walk through metal detectors. Broward County School District is doing away with the widely panned clear backpack requirement. Marjory Stoneman Douglas will be the first school in the district to require students to go through metal detectors. More from the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
SENATE EYES MASSIVE SPENDING BUNDLE TO AVOID SHUTDOWN: Senate leaders have agreed to bundle the fiscal 2019 Defense and Labor-HHS-Education spending bills — Congress’ two largest appropriations bills — into a single package in coming weeks. The unusual and groundbreaking bipartisan move is a pointed bid to avoid another government shutdown. Senate action could happen before lawmakers leave town Aug. 6 for a weeklong break, POLITICO’s Sarah Ferris reports.
— Most of the funding goes toward the Pentagon, making it a difficult package for Trump to veto — even though the education and health pieces exceed his own budget request. House Speaker Paul Ryan and his GOP conference would also have to accept that hike in domestic spending in exchange for the assurance that defense spending would be uninterrupted. More here.
MEDIATORS SUGGEST DEVOS ILLEGALLY IMPOSED NEW AGREEMENT ON WORKERS: Federal labor mediators told the Education Department that the agency most likely illegally imposed a new collective bargaining agreement on its employees earlier this year, The New York Times reports. That agreement sought to curb when union officials can perform representational tasks while working at the department, forcing them to request leave without pay in advance to conduct union-related work. It also sought to strip union officials of their office space and equipment, like laptops and phones. And it canceled provisions from earlier contracts that outlined pay raises, performance evaluations, overtime, child care and work schedules.
— That imposition prompted the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 3,900 department employees, to file a charge of unfair labor practices with the Federal Labor Relations Authority in March. But the FLRA, which investigates and resolves government-labor disputes, doesn’t have a general counsel. As a result, it cannot issue decisions that would lead to formal charges or litigation against the Education Department, the Times reports.
VIRTUAL SCHOOL FOUNDER SENTENCED: Nicholas Trombetta was once celebrated as the savior of Midland, Pa., for creating a virtual charter school headquartered in the western Pennsylvania steel town credited with creating jobs. Authorities, however, charged that the former superintendent siphoned $8 million from the school and used the funds to stockpile retirement money and buy personal luxury goods for himself, his girlfriend and his family, according to triblive.com.
— On Tuesday, Trombetta, who founded Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, was finally sentenced in federal court in western Pennsylvania to 20 months in prison after pleading guilty in 2016 to conspiring to defraud the IRS. Online charters like Pennsylvania Cyber, which are run using public funds, allow students to log in from home. The schools have struggled with low graduation rates, as well as low standardized test scores but have been popular with students.
— Despite those issues, Pennsylvania Cyber today has about 11,100 students, according to the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. The newspaper reported earlier this month that the school is renovating a 6,220 square-foot building in northeast Pennsylvania to create a regional office that will serve as a place where parents and students can stop by for support and to enroll.
ICYMI: DEFENSE BILL LOOKS TO CURB SPYING ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES: The latest version of the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, or H.R. 5515 (115), would direct the Pentagon to target foreign spying on college campuses. The bill calls on the Defense secretary to establish an "initiative" to protect university researchers from "undue influence, including through foreign talent programs, and other security threats," according to an explaenatory document released with the bill. The directive comes as attempts by China and other nations to spy on and steal federally funded research on college campuses have drawn intensifying scrutiny in Congress. Benjamin Wermund has more.
— Also on Tuesday: The Charles Koch Foundation said it will make public all multiyear agreements with universities. The libertarian industrialist’s foundation has long focused heavily on higher education and there have been repeated questions raised about whether there are strings attached to the donations. In an open letter online, Charles Koch also said that the foundation supports about 1,000 university faculty members, and is “open to assisting even more.” Kimberly Hefling has the latest.
REPORT ROLL CALL
— The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions has a new report out that explores how college and university presidents engage with students.
— Embattled Michigan State chief: “I regret my errors” in Nassar scandal: POLITICO Pro.
— Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker would extend University of Wisconsin tuition freeze four more years, as Democrats back freezing or cutting tuition: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
— Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam worries testing troubles could unravel state education policy: Chalkbeat.
— Federal education officials investigating Temple business school scandal: The Inquirer.
— Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo aims to expand free tuition program if reelected: WPRI.
— New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signs major school funding reform bill into law: POLITICO Pro New Jersey.
— New documents show what KIPP told Mike Feinberg leading up to his firing: Chalkbeat.
The Pro Education team is racing through my brain: @caitlinzemma (firstname.lastname@example.org), @khefling (email@example.com), @mstratford (firstname.lastname@example.org), @BenjaminEW (email@example.com), @MelLeonor_ (firstname.lastname@example.org) and @JaneNorman (email@example.com).