Trump’s Education Budget, a Power Shift in L.A., and Pepper Sprayed Students

Choice Media Education Report

This Monday night all eyes will be on Betsy DeVos as she’ll offer details of the Trump administration’s new budget for the US Department of Education.

Her speech at the American Federation for Children’s National Policy Summit in Indianapolis will be streamed live on the Choice Media home page, in our screening room section.

The Washington Post said it obtained a draft copy of the budget that calls for a net 9.2 billion dollar cut to the federal department or 13.6% percent. They also reported the budget calls for an additional 4 hundred million dollars in federal school choice initiatives. Administration budgets, of course, are usually just starting points for congressional debate.

Results are in for the most expensive school board race in American history. On Tuesday Los Angeles voters gave charter supporters a first ever majority on the school board. Charter school supporters now hold 4 of the 7 seats on the board. Some of the local coverage emphasized the charter backed candidates funding sources without equivalent references to campaign contributions to the candidates backed by the union.

After so many negative charter school stories in 2,016 from a John Oliver rant on HBO, to an NAACP moratorium vote, to a Massachusetts charter cap referendum, we got fresh evidence this week on the popularity of charter schools in the nations largest school district. The New York City Charter School Center reported its largest ever number of charter school applications, 73 thousand; up 7% percent from just one year ago. Presently about 10% of New York City Public School students are enrolled in the city’s 227 charter schools.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled against the Denver teachers union this week, holding that Denver public schools were within the law when they created what became known there as innovation plans, which allowed particular schools more flexibility on matters such as curricula changes and additional school days. These innovations fell outside the previous collective bargaining agreement. A lawyer for the state teachers union said allowing the district to approve an innovation plan before a vote from teachers is quote “so illogical” that they’ve petitioned the high court to reconsider its own ruling. It’s kind of a formal way of asking the Colorado Supreme court justices, “Are you sure?” The union lawyer admitted that a reversal at this point is long shot.

This week in the Choice Media screening room, Thomas B. Fordham Institutes’s Checker Finn sat down with AEI’s Rick Hess for a wide ranging interview challenging some of the education establishment’s most sacrosanct conventional wisdom, like class size.

And finally, an unusual lesson by an Ohio high school quickly made its way into the national media by Thursday afternoon: Pepper Spraying Kids. Barberton high school, about 40 miles south of Cleveland, is now defending its decision to pepper spray some 11th graders. The school says the students volunteered for the lesson in law enforcement and had permission slips from parents. The superintendent says the instructor who did the pepper spraying is a former police chief.

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