Today's news -- June 28, 2017




More than 7,500 educators to gather for NEA meeting

At this year’s Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly, NEA delegates will gather in Boston to vote on issues facing public education and to set the organization’s policies and priorities for the upcoming year. The theme for this year’s meeting is “Uniting Our Members and the Nation for Strong Communities.” More than 7,500 educators are expected to participate in NEA’s 154th Annual Meeting and 95th  Representative Assembly (RA) June 25–July 5 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Among the many business items to be voted on, the RA will consider a revised NEA policy statement on charter schools. Developed by a task force of nearly two dozen educators over the past year, the statement makes clear NEA’s support for public charter schools that are held accountable for their students’ success while decrying their privately managed, unaccountable counterparts. Delegates can learn more about the proposed statement during an open hearing on Saturday, July 1. The Representative Assembly (RA) is the top decision-making body for the nearly 3 million-member National Education Association, where delegates adopt the strategic plan and budget, resolutions, the legislative program and other policies of the organization. A complete agenda for this year’s Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly can be found at:

“Fight like hell” (Lily Eskelsen García, Becky Pringle and Princess Moss quoted)


Challenging institutional racism in education (John Stocks quoted)


Students, retired members lend a hand with hands-on project


Manatee charter offering $3,000 signing bonuses to teach middle school math (Pat Barber quoted)


Indian River district still mulling appeal over charter ruling


“A private, for-profit group making a living on the back of our children’s education”


Supreme Court ruling could shape future of school choice

A Supreme Court ruling that a church-run preschool must be granted publicly funded tire scraps for its playground seemed this week to be narrowly drawn, attracting even the votes of two of the court’s liberal justices, Elena Kagan and Stephen G. Breyer. But school choice advocates across the nation saw the decision as a game changer in the divisive debate over publicly funded vouchers for private religious schools. And their judgment seemed validated Tuesday when the legal ramifications began to reshape education debates across the country. The Supreme Court on Tuesday sent two cases back to state courts for reconsideration in light of the ruling for Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo. One of those cases concerned a program in Colorado -- ruled unconstitutional by the state’s highest court -- that awarded public funds to help families cover tuition at private schools, including sectarian ones. The Supreme Court regularly sends back pending cases for a re-airing after it renders decisions that seem legally relevant, but such a move does mean that the court believes there is a “reasonable probability” that a lower court may come to a different decision in light of its findings. In the Trinity opinion, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, held that the Missouri ruling against aiding the church “expressly discriminates against otherwise eligible recipients by disqualifying them from a public benefit solely because of their religious character.” To voucher advocates, that language was cause for celebration. Voucher opponents, however, considered the narrow scope of the Supreme Court decision to be an indication that the court was not interested in taking on the fundamental church-state divide. “It is crystal clear that the court here avoided the larger constitutional issue,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who said the opinion “cannot be read as opening the door for states to promote religion or expand vouchers.” In a footnote of the majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts seemed to back that up. “This case involves express discrimination based on religious identity with respect to playground resurfacing,” the footnote read. “We do not address religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimination.” Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, called the ruling a “setback” for school voucher proponents. The association filed an amicus brief in the Trinity case in favor of the state, and argued that its constitutional provision should be upheld. Garcia said she applauded the “court’s refusal to accept the invitation of voucher proponents to issue a broad ruling that could place in jeopardy the ability of states to protect their public education system.”


Ruling sidesteps questions regarding state protections In a narrowly written decision, the Supreme Court held in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer that Missouri could not refuse a playground grant to a church solely due to the fact that the church is a religious institution. In so holding, the court noted that the case involved express discrimination based on religious identity with respect to such a grant, and that the court was not “address[ing] religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimination.” The court’s refusal to rule broadly will surely be a disappointment to school voucher proponents who had sought to use the dispute over playground resurfacing grants to undermine state constitutional protections for public education. The 7–2 decision both leaves intact the Missouri constitutional provision at issue in the case insofar as it prohibits state funding of religious actions and leaves undisturbed the similar provisions of 38 other states. These “no aid” provisions were enacted to protect the common schools and have been applied for decades to ensure that resources for those schools were not diverted to private religious institutions. The National Education Association filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that these state constitutional provisions should not be swept aside and that a state’s independent interpretation of their constitutional provisions regarding church-state separation should be respected. NEA applauded the Supreme Court’s decision. The Court’s refusal to accept the invitation of voucher proponents to issue a broad ruling, said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, preserves the ability of states to protect their public education system by refusing to divert public school funding to private religious schools. “State constitutional provisions and decades of precedent protect our public education system from voucher programs. The court’s ruling is a big setback for those who want to push voucher programs that take taxpayer dollars out of public schools to divert them to private religious schools,” Eskelsen García explained. “Rather than continue the flawed policy of vouchers, let’s focus on what works to provide students with the great public schools they deserve.”


Florida: Death to public education


Many in education showing concern over new textbook law


Two SBOE seats remain open after six months


Another sign of retreat on civil rights

Civil rights organizations and some members of Congress are troubled by the Trump administration’s rollback of civil rights enforcement generally, but they are particularly worried by what is going on at the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The office has played a crucial role in protecting the rights of transgender students and victims of sexual assault and especially in forcing school districts to abandon disciplinary policies that unfairly single out minority children for suspension and expulsion. This issue came to the fore this month when the acting assistant secretary for civil rights, Candice Jackson, sent a memo to the office’s regional directors backing away from a policy that requires investigators to look for systemic problems -- and whole classes of victims -- when civil rights complaints emerge. The department says the new policy will expedite investigations, but critics rightly argue that it could discourage the staff from opening cases at all. Over the past decade, investigators often looked at years of data to determine if discrimination, harassment and other problems raised in a complaint indicated a systemic problem that affected other students in the same school district or institution. That kind of data collection has allowed the department to ferret out trends that might otherwise have been missed -- notably concerning school disciplinary practices. For example, in 2014 parents and educators across the country were startled to learn that minority children were subjected to excessive disciplinary practices at every level in the public schools. Federal data showed that minority preschoolers -- mere 4-year-olds -- were nearly four times as likely to be suspended as their white peers, at an age when they cannot absorb the lesson from such a punishment. Federal civil rights officials issued guidance showing districts how to avoid such discriminatory policies. Beyond that, the data has had a powerful effect on researchers who have begun looking into the roots of this serious problem. Civil rights groups and lawmakers are worried that the Education Department is preparing to abandon the role it is supposed to play in prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex and disability.


GOP health bill could strip public schools of billions for special education


Trump voters aren’t impressed with the president’s education agenda (AFT mentioned)


Study: Black girls viewed as “less innocent” than white girls


North Carolina Legislature attacks teachers’ benefits again


State colleges face “stagnation,” “lost opportunity”

While state universities are starting the new academic year in July with a major financial boost, Florida's 28 state colleges will face a budget cut. The 12 universities will see an increase of more than $250 million in state support in the 2017-18 academic year, including a $20 million increase in performance funding and $121 million in new programs to help schools hire top-level professors and to reward top-performing business, law and medical schools. But the new budget left the 28 state colleges with $25 million less than they received in the prior year -- and that doesn't include Gov. Rick Scott's vetoes, which eliminated more than $13 million in projects and spending for the schools. Embedded in the cut is a $30.2 million reduction in funding for remedial education for the colleges. David Armstrong, president of Broward College, the second-largest school in the system, said the new budget sets up a year of “lost opportunity” and “stagnation” at the state colleges, which serve about 800,000 full- and part-time students across the state. Armstrong, a former state college system chancellor, said while the university budget increase will allow schools like the University of Florida to launch an ambitious plan to hire 500 new faculty members and reduce class sizes, it will be a different story at the state colleges. “My guess is at a number of our colleges, class sizes will possibly increase this year because of budget cuts and vacant positions will be held open in some cases,” Armstrong said. “Our students deserve better.”


Broward College to raise class sizes, close academic site


Bright Futures funding is cloudy


Poor grades on Sunshine


Scott's poor choice for CFO


Patronis’ move to CFO creates PSC, CRC openings


Scott political adviser reviewed Patronis' talking points before CFO announcement


A month into hurricane season, Crist says Trump needs to fill NOAA post now


It's unlikely economic growth will meet Trump's goal, IMF says,amp.html


Panel approves bill privatizing air traffic control


Ford’s shift to China offers the Trump administration a lesson in economics


Trump campaign chief’s firm got $17 million from pro-Russia party


Spicer set a standard for collusion that could haunt Trump


The “international man of mystery” linked to Flynn’s lobbying deal


Stone set to testify next month in House Russia probe


Yates on Mueller: “Folks ought to have tremendous confidence in him”


Midterms loom over Mueller’s Russia probe


Vote delayed as Republicans struggle to marshal votes for health care bill


Opponents of health law repeal vow to keep pressure on over recess


How Schumer kept Democrats united on Obamacare


McConnell’s reputation as a master tactician takes a hit


McConnell warns Trump, GOP on health bill failure


On Senate health bill, Trump falters in the closer’s role


Trump has given us no reason to believe he knows anything about health policy


Inside the GOP’s surprise health care flop


How health costs would soar for older Americans under the Senate plan


Trumpcare could bring back epidemic of nursing-home abuse


Ryan dismisses CBO analysis, argues 22 million people just don’t want health care


When cutting access to health care, there’s a price to pay


Trumpcare will kill people. Why is that so hard to accept?


The GOP health-care plan threatens to kill jobs nationwide


GOP’s new insurance penalty is harsh punishment for sick Americans


The GOP’s big setback on health care, courtesy of basic math


The health care system is leaving the Southern black belt behind


Health bill does not “cut” Medicaid spending, Republicans argue


The Senate health care hoax has been exposed


“Repeal and replace” was once a unifier for the GOP. Now it’s an albatross.


Why we shouldn’t drug test poor people


How governors from both parties plotted to derail the Senate health bill


Nelson knocks Scott over Senate health bill


Scott wants changes to Senate health care bill


Message to Rubio: Stalled health care bill should “first, do no harm”


Gwen Graham denounces Senate Obamacare repeal bill


Gillum proposes constitutional amendment on health care


Beware healthcare “spin,” Conway says in Miami, doing her own spinning


Health care protests heat up outside Rubio office in Orlando


Flagler protesters rally for health care


EPA chief gets an earful about Trump’s “downright offensive” budget plan


EPA moves to rescind contested water pollution regulation


Putnam praises rollback of Clean Water Rule


Trump’s travel ban isn’t safe yet


What’s next for Trump’s travel ban and vetting procedures


With three words, Supreme Court opens a world of uncertainty for refugees


The Supreme Court is in no hurry to protect voters from gerrymandering


Pesticide that Trump's EPA refused to ban blamed for sickening farm workers


EPA chief met with Dow CEO before deciding on pesticide ban


Ingredient in popular weed killer going on list as cancerous


New database shows Trump is filling the government with fossil fuel lobbyists


Trump's company gets millions so Toronto hotel can erase brand


Trump uses Twitter feed to sell book for Fox News personality, blurring ethical lines


Trump dreamed of his name on towers across former Soviet Union


A Time magazine with Trump on the cover hangs in his golf clubs. It’s fake.


Making Ivanka Trump shoes: Long hours, low pay and abuse,-low-pay-and-abuse


Trump attorney’s family has been paid millions from charities they control


Spokeswoman went on an anti-media tirade, until a reporter couldn’t take it


A costly retraction for CNN and an opening for Trump


Trump’s asymmetric warfare against the media continues to pay off


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