This Week In Education Politics: Government Funding Countdown, Think Tanks and Advocates Consider Bullying, School Police
Every week, THIS WEEK IN EDUCATION POLITICS provides updates on the latest developments in education politics. You can receive a preview of the content by subscribing to Newsletter, and for real-time updates on federal education policy, you can follow Carolyn Phenicie on Twitter @cphenicie.
INBOX: APPROPRIATIONS CLOCK — Amidst the current political landscape, which includes an anonymous op-ed and a contentious Supreme Court nomination battle, there is an underlying issue of funding the federal government that is brewing into a routine political crisis.
Last month, the Senate passed a bill allocating $71.4 billion to fund the Education Department, marking the first time in ten years that such a bill has been actively debated and approved. This bill, which includes funding for the Labor and Health and Human Services departments, was conveniently combined with the defense spending bill in an effort to streamline its passage through the Senate.
While the House of Representatives had its own version of the bill earlier in the summer, it has not yet been considered on the floor. However, both the Senate and the House voted last week to go to conference on the bill and begin reconciling any differences.
House members have limited time before the September 30 funding deadline, with only seven days left on their schedule. It is likely that members will aim to wrap up their work before then in order to campaign for re-election. Speaker Paul Ryan has expressed confidence in reaching an agreement with the president to continue government funding before the deadline, despite President Donald Trump’s comments suggesting a potential government shutdown over the issue of funding for a border wall with Mexico.
ICYMI: KAVANAUGH HEARING — During Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s lengthy testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which largely focused on controversial topics like abortion and presidential pardon power, there were a few notable mentions of K-12 education-related matters late on Thursday.
Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, inquired about the Janus decision, which was a ruling by the Supreme Court in June that exempted dissenting public-sector employees from having to pay mandatory union dues. Previously, under a 1970s Supreme Court case, non-union public employees were still required to pay fees to cover the costs of collective bargaining and other shared benefits. The current court, however, determined that this compelled support violated the dissenting members’ First Amendment rights.
Hirono accused Kavanaugh’s nomination of being part of a larger campaign by conservative donors to erode workers’ rights, and she questioned the circumstances under which justices can overturn long-standing precedents. Kavanaugh, unable to comment on recent cases due to his nomination process, acknowledged that the Janus decision is now an established precedent within Supreme Court case law.
Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, questioned Kavanaugh about his 1999 comments suggesting that within 10 to 20 years, the government would no longer need to recognize racial differences. She asked whether, if that were to occur, the federal government should cease funding historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Kavanaugh acknowledged that the fight for racial equality remains ongoing and that discrimination is still prevalent in society. Regarding funding for HBCUs, he stated that it is difficult to predict the implications of such a scenario, but he recognizes the historical significance and importance of these institutions.
‘There Is an Open Question’: Four Religious School Choice Cases That Could Face SCOTUS and Kavanaugh
MONDAY: SCHOOL SAFETY — The conservative think tank, Heritage Foundation, is hosting a panel discussion on ensuring student safety through the implementation of "child safety" school choice accounts. Earlier this year, Florida passed a program offering vouchers to victims of bullying.
WEDNESDAY: CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS — The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation is holding its annual legislative conference, featuring sessions focused on "removing the stigma of career and technical education," "combating the administration’s attacks on education," and "protecting our students from gun violence."
THURSDAY: SCHOOL POLICE — The Advancement Project and Alliance for Educational Justice will release a new report on school policing, advocating for the removal of law enforcement from schools. The report will highlight how school policing disproportionately affects youth of color and analyze national and city-specific data on policing and school discipline.
This spring, the Advancement Project brought together student organizers who called for reduced law enforcement presence and increased access to counselors in schools during the student walkouts in March, which aimed to address the need for stricter gun control measures and honor the victims of the Parkland shooting.
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