The Week Ahead in Education Politics: Petitions to Protect DACA & Reinstate Net Neutrality as Congress Weighs School Safety, Data Privacy & More
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In terms of current news, there are two petitions being circulated in Congress that aim to bypass Republican opposition and enforce votes on important issues such as immigration and net neutrality, both of which have an impact on education. This may become a complex issue.
Starting with the House, Democrats are working on a petition that would allow them to bring four different immigration proposals to a vote, bypassing the authority of House Speaker Paul Ryan. These proposals include ones supported by the Trump administration, House Democrats, Ryan himself, and a bipartisan measure. The proposal receiving the highest number of votes would be implemented. Each of these proposals would address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to varying degrees.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was originally established during the Obama era and granted legal status and work permits to young individuals who were brought to the country illegally as children, provided they met certain requirements. The Trump administration ended this program in March, but due to court rulings, current recipients are able to renew their status and new applications may also be accepted.
For the House to consider this petition, it requires the support of all Democratic members and 25 Republican members. As of Friday, 18 Republicans and one Democrat have signed. The House can only address the petition on the first or third Monday of a session, and the next opportunity will be on June 25, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Paul Ryan has expressed his concerns, stating that forcing a vote in this manner would be a spectacle that would ultimately result in a bill vetoed by President Trump. He suggests that members should work together in a bipartisan manner to draft a bill that can pass into law, as CBS reported.
Moving on to the Senate, Democrats are urging the chamber to consider a measure that essentially reinstates the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rule. The FCC reversed an Obama-era rule in December 2017 which prevented internet providers from slowing down or blocking access to specific content, or offering faster access to content that paid for the privilege.
The new rules will come into effect on June 11. The exact implications for users, including schools, are not clear yet, but it could potentially lead to higher internet bills and limited access to innovative educational technology if startups are unable to afford premium access to consumers.
The Democrats’ petition is being processed under the Congressional Review Act, a procedure that Senate Republicans utilized last year to abolish Obama-era rules pertaining to the Every Student Succeeds Act. It is nearing majority support and it is likely that a vote will take place this week, according to Gizmodo.
While the level of support in the House is uncertain, some advocates believe that House Republicans may support it due to the strong public backing for net neutrality.
An update from the House Armed Services Committee indicates that Rep. Jim Banks’ proposition to provide education savings accounts to the children of some active-duty service members did not make it into the annual defense authorization during markup. Supporters of the proposal hope to include it in the bill when it is considered by the full House later this month, as reported by Education Week.
On Monday, to commemorate the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, an educational advocacy group called Journey 4 Justice, which is aligned with teachers unions, will release a report titled "Failing Brown v. Board." The report aims to draw attention to the ongoing inequities in public education along racial lines. Additionally, they will organize a rally with union leaders and other education advocates on the steps of the Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, the House will discuss a bill that requires the Justice and Education departments to survey every public elementary and secondary school within a year to determine the presence of school resource officers and whether they work part-time or full-time. This bill will be considered through the suspension of rules, a parliamentary procedure that streamlines the debate for uncontroversial legislation but necessitates the support of two-thirds of the members for it to pass.
The issue of placing law enforcement officers on school campuses has gained prominence due to safety concerns following mass shootings. However, advocates have warned that it may disproportionately lead to the involvement of young people, particularly young men of color, in the criminal justice system. In fact, many major city school districts have more school resource officers than counselors.
Also on Tuesday, Casey Family Programs, a foundation focused on foster care, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics and families affected by the opioid crisis and the child welfare system, will host a briefing on the recently passed Family First Prevention Services Act. This legislation, which was included in a budget deal in February, makes changes to federal financing systems by providing funding for substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, and parent skills training. The objective is to prevent children from entering foster care.
WEDNESDAY: INDIAN EDUCATION — The Senate Indian Affairs Committee convenes a hearing to address the concerns regarding safety and security measures implemented at Bureau of Indian Education schools. This educational system, which receives federal funding, caters to approximately 48,000 students across 183 schools. Unfortunately, these institutions have long suffered from neglect and mismanagement. In fact, during a similar hearing exactly one year ago, the same committee sharply criticized agency leaders for their failures in this area.
THURSDAY: DATA PRIVACY — The House Education and the Workforce Committee holds a hearing specifically focused on data privacy and the ways in which schools and states endeavor to safeguard sensitive information. Educational institutions now face new and pressing concerns regarding data security. For instance, earlier this month, Leominster Public Schools in Massachusetts fell victim to hackers who demanded a ransom of $10,000 in bitcoin in exchange for restoring the school system’s data. Efforts to rewrite the outdated federal laws governing student data, namely the Education Sciences Reform Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, have faced obstacles in recent years, resulting in their lack of progress.
THURSDAY: FCC — A Senate Appropriations subcommittee organizes a hearing centered around the 2019 budget requests for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In addition to addressing the ongoing issue of net neutrality, the FCC operates the E-Rate program, which aims to provide affordable internet access to schools. Moreover, the FTC, in collaboration with the Education Department, has conducted investigations pertaining to privacy concerns in educational technology.
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