Legislative Update: Senate Confirmation Vote for DeVos Scheduled for Jan 31

Following a contentious confirmation hearing for Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos that evoked images of guns and grizzlies and showcased a lack of understanding of key education issues, the Senate HELP Committee postponed its planned confirmation vote on her nomination until Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 10 a.m. after Democrats said they didn’t have enough time to examine her financial holdings and that Republicans were moving too fast on her nomination.

If confirmed, DeVos has agreed to divest from a number of companies and investment funds to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

While most pundits anticipate that Republicans will support DeVos’ nomination, Senator Al Franken said in an interview with MSNBC that no Democrats will vote for DeVos, and that they are actively trying to engage Republicans to also vote against her nomination.

Politico is reporting that “Senators’ offices have been flooded with thousands of calls and letters opposing the nomination of Betsy DeVos — with some Democratic offices saying, the opposition to DeVos is stronger than for any other Cabinet nominee.” A petition opposing DeVos’ nomination that was ranked most “popular” last week on change.org had more than 318,000 signatures (as of Friday afternoon).

Science March on Washington

In other political news following the success of the Jan.21 Women’s March on Washington, a group of scientists have organized and are planning a protest march in the nation’s capital as a “starting point to take a stand for science in politics.”

A date has not been set for the event. Read more here, and visit the twitter page here.  

Your How-To Guide on Federal Funding for STEM Education

The U.S. Department of Education issued a letter last week that will help states, districts and other stakeholders to better understand how to use Federal funds under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and other federal programs to support STEM education. This guidance will be critical as states and districts begin to receive funds and implement ESSA. Read it.

Trump Delays Implementation of ESSA rules on Accountability

The Trump administration has delayed the implementation of all pending federal regulations, including the Obama administration’s proposed ESSA accountability rules.

The Obama administration’s accountability rule was finalized last November but not slated to take effect until Jan. 30. The Trump administration has postponed the regulation to March 21, which is a few weeks ahead of the first initial deadline for states to submit their plans for ESSA on April 3.  At her confirmation hearing, DeVos said she plans to stay with the schedule of having states submit plans by either April 3 or September 8, with implementation to begin in the 2018–19 school year. Many organizations are calling on states to move forward and continue developing their state plans. Read more here.

Help Every Student Succeed with STEM

This new campaign is designed to ensure that STEM education is a priority in the state plans required under the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA provides states and local districts with the flexibility and power to set new policy and funding priorities. Every state is now developing a new plan they will submit to the U.S. Department of Education detailing how they will implement ESSA. These plans will have an impact on the education in your state for years. Learn how you and teachers in your school/district can impact your state’s plan by promoting STEM here.  Click here to learn more about ESSA.

ED Withdraws Supplement Not Supplant Regulation

In the final days of the Obama administration the Education Department withdrew their supplement, not supplant draft rule under the Every Student Succeeds Act, saying they simply ran out of time to issue a ruling. “I am glad the Education Department has listened to Congress and has chosen not to move forward with its proposed ‘supplement-not-supplant’ regulation,” said Senator Lamar Alexander in a statement on the action. “This proposal would have dictated from Washington how states and school districts should spend nearly all state and local tax dollars on schools in order to receive federal Title I dollars — which are only about 3 percent of total national spending on K-12 schools. A regulation like this is not authorized by law; in fact, it is specifically prohibited by law.”

Join our New Education Policy Listserv

NSTA is pleased to announce a new listserv for members. The Education Policy listserv will provide members with an opportunity to share information, thoughts, resources and research on federal and state education policies that affect the science/STEM classroom. We invite you to join the Education Policy listserv and bring us your questions, or stop by for critical information and thought-provoking conversations about key K-12 state and federal policy issues such as:

  • Every Student Succeeds Act (the new federal education law)
  • U.S. Department of Education Policies
  • Education funding, with a focus on funding for ESSA and STEM programs
  • Innovation, competitiveness and workforce issues
  • Assessment
  • Serving high risk students
  • Career and technical education
  • Professional development (ESSA, use of Title II and Title IV)
  • Teacher preparation/Higher Education Act
  • Informal education/out of school activities
  • Next Generation Science Standards/three dimensional learning
  • Education research
  • Student achievement in STEM
  • Science and Technology

Please note that we encourage listserv users to discuss policy issues only; posts around specific individuals and/or politics will not be permissible topics for discussion.

You can subscribe to the Education Policy listserv by going to http://www.nsta.org/membership/listserver.aspx.

Stay tuned, and watch for more updates in future issues of NSTA Express.

Jodi Peterson is Assistant Executive Director of Legislative & Public Affairs for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. Reach her via e-mail at jpeterson@nsta.org or via Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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2 Responses to Legislative Update: Senate Confirmation Vote for DeVos Scheduled for Jan 31

  1. RandyVT says:

    I believe America should offer good strong education to all Americans, regardless of their family background or economic status. Vouchers are evil and undermine this philosophy because only the rich have the resources to add to their vouchers and support private or religious schools. We can’t know who among our children will be great scientists, or cancer researchers, or musicians, or athletes, or movie producers, authors, or wonderful farmers and ranchers. Public money should support public water, public roads, public sewer, AND PUBLIC EDUCATION. Public tax dollars should never support religious anything. America should be a place where the separation of church and state remains important and universally recognized. And if parents don’t like their local public education, step up and get on the local Boards of Education and do what you can to support course corrections FOR ALL STUDENTS.

  2. MikeNH says:

    I believe America should offer good strong education to all Americans regardless of their family background or economic status. Vouchers are the vehicle to achieve this. In a poor performing school district, nearly every level of a system protects the little money they have and change takes decades. School systems do not change quickly, but when faced with extinction, via competition from other entities, they begin to try to treat their students/families as customers with a choice rather than required attendees.

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