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In This Moment (5/1): Policy Updates in a Changing World

May 1, 2020 | Iish Ryaru

State policy will continue to be critical as we all navigate the realities of COVID-19, and we’ll no doubt be tracking on California’s “May Revise” to the state budget once it’s available. That said, this week we’ve seen considerable policy activity at the federal level. Here, we share news of a recommendation to waive administrative requirements for Perkins, competitive grants that State educational agencies may apply for, and Secretary DeVos’ response to inquiries about IDEA requirements. We also have one California-specific update on the CDE’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) FAQs.

If you have additional policy updates that would be valuable for the Linked Learning field, please share them with Iish@LinkedLearning.org.

DeVos Recommends that Congress Waive Perkins Requirements

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (“Perkins”) is the federal law authorizing career and technical education (CTE) programs. Some Linked Learning pathways are resourced, in part, with Perkins funds. As a result, we want to be sure you’re aware that in an April 27 report to Congress Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recommended that Congress waive three administrative requirements under Perkins. The requirements she recommended for waivers include:

  • The “Tydings Amendment” or the requirement that all Perkins funds be expended within 27 months.
  • The prohibition against carrying forward any unexpended funds from the 2019-20 academic year into the next fiscal year, allowing LEAs to carryover unexpended funds which would otherwise revert back to the state.
  • The restrictive requirements on professional development expenditures that recipients would be unlikely to meet while focusing on distance learning during the COVID-19 crisis.

Two Competitive Federal Grants Announced

Secretary DeVos also announced the $307.5 million in discretionary grant funds, as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The funding will be split into two competitive grants:the Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant and the Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grant. These grants will be available for states to create adaptable, innovative learning opportunities for K-12 and postsecondary learners in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.

State educational agencies (SEA) can apply for the Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant competition funding in one of the three categories:

  1. Microgrants for families, so states can ensure they have access to the technology and educational services they need to advance their learning
  2. Statewide virtual learning and course access programs, so that students will always be able to access a full range of subjects, even those not taught in the traditional or assigned setting
  3. New, field-initiated models for providing remote education not yet imagined, ensuring every child is learning and preparing for successful careers and lives

SEAs can also apply for Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grants designed to expand short-term postsecondary and work-based learning programs in order to get Americans back to work and stimulate the return of small business as essential drivers for economic growth.

In California, the State Board of Education serves as the SEA. It is unclear if California will apply for either grant but it seems likely, given the rapid decline of the economy, that any potential federal funding opportunities would be very seriously considered.

DeVos Rejects Requests for Special Education Waivers

Despite a request from Congress to consider the issue, and strong advocacy from education groups for narrow and temporary waivers Secretary DeVos also announced this week that she would not request any waivers of the core parts of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). A number of education groups sought temporary relief from federal special education timelines under IDEA including the Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) requirements. While the request was for temporary relief from the processes and compliance measures that are difficult or impossible to maintain during school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Secretary DeVos held her ground saying “With ingenuity, innovation, and grit, I know this nation's educators and schools can continue to faithfully educate every one of its students."

Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) FAQs

Last week Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order (EO) on the (LCAP). Soon after, the California Department of Education (CDE) released LCAP EC FAQs as a resource to address changes to the 2020-21 budgets and LCAP. CDE also held an LCAP webinar earlier in the week. It is expected that the webinar and Power Point presentation that accompanied the webinar will be available on the CDE website in the coming days.