Archive for the ‘IDEA’ Category

Before the 2019-2020 School Year Begins

Thursday, August 1st, 2019
Florida rally against arming teachers

Florida rally against arming teachers

Before a new school year starts, concern is rampant over the huge challenges to recruiting and/or retaining a teacher. Why? In school districts across the country, anyone in education can tick off the continuing reasons: high cost of higher education, low pay, insufficient support for new teachers and programs, unrepaired facilities, revolving doors for administrators, and violence – especially over gun policy.

On July 17 the House Committee on Education and Labor’s hearing on how federal policy can provide more support for teachers hasn’t yet produced any new policy or budget changes. However, problems for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PLSF) are being examined in Congress at this time also.

Currently, fewer than 1 percent of eligible public servants who apply actually receive the loan forgiveness they were promised. If they are accepted into the PSLF program, they must reapply each year. Sometimes if they get a raise, they might not even qualify for the program anymore. OR they might have to pay a higher monthly payment, making it harder to pay off the loan and remain qualified for the program.

Fortunately, the new bill in Congress would simplify the public service loan forgiveness process and expand the number of people who qualify. If it passes, it could be life-changing for educators and other public servants. See S1203 and HR2441.

In addition, on July 25, the House passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (HR 3877), which lifts the budget caps introduced in 2011 and prevents severe cuts in non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding for fiscal years 2020-2021. Not only will Title I and IDEA be expanded, but funds for teachers. Now, as TakeCareSchools has said many times before, the legislation must get enough votes in the Senate and then the president must sign.

From cuts in disability funding for pre-school to fights over actions by the Civil Rights Office (CRO) of the Department of Education, U. S. Education Superintendent Betsy DeVos and her DOE administration continue to throw wrenches at policies that help children in schools. The CRO has gone back on orders developed during the Obama administration to disregard rights for LGBTQ students and for other discriminatory acts, such a paddling. DOE uses different statistics defining the number of cases dismissed vs. righting discrimination in order to dispute reports by Propublica.

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Education continues various attempts to stall the implementation of federal regulations created by the Obama administration to address racial disparities in special education. Despite repeated efforts by supporters to force compliance, it has ballooned into a civil rights issue for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her team’s desire to block the implementation of the law designed to help disabled minority students.

Speaking of disability funding, the Federal government’s overall appropriation of funds for special education preschool programs has varied by year, but generally decreased between 2002 and 2015, from $390 million to $353 million, before getting a slight bump to about $368 million in 2016 and 2017. At the same time, the number of children served by the programs more than doubled from the early 1990s to 2017.

Finally, conflicts about attempts to prepare for school violence by arming teachers has set off resistance actions. Brady Unified Against Violence has started Team ENOUGH for students, the Florida PTA, and other activists in Florida, who are searching for actions to adopt after the shootings in Parkland. Brady has provided a toolkit of activities to use against the state’s law about arming teachers. So far, the team counts victory in four of sixty-seven Florida counties because the school boards of the counties voted against arming teachers.

A good 2019-2020 school year start.