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CUE Policy and Legislative Update, May 2017

May 30, 2017

Legislative Update for CUE Members - May 2017 | more leg updates

Prepared by John Cradler, CUE Legislative and Policy Consultant

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State Education Budget Proposal for 2017-18


Seal_of_the_39th_Governor_of_California.pngOn May 12, Governor Brown released his proposed revision of the State Budget known as the May Revision. The revised budget is released to the Legislature and again reviewed and amended as needed, with a final budget presented to the Governor in July 2017. The Governor then will sign a final budget which may or may not include all recommended amendments. CUE will provide State Budget updates as changes emerge over the next few months. Go to http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/FullBudgetSummary.pdf for State budget details.


Increased Funding for Schools: The May Revision includes $1.4 billion in 2017-18 to continue implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) until it’s 97 percent complete. The formula focuses most of the new funding on districts with low-income students, English learners, and students in foster care. The increased funding also eliminates the deferral of funding that was included in the January Budget. For K-12 schools, funding levels will increase by about $4,058 per student in 2017-18 over 2011-12 levels.. The state is still on target to reach full funding in 2020-21. That is the point at which every district will receive at least the inflation-adjusted, pre-recession funding it received in 2007-08. Many districts with large percentages of high-needs students already are funded well above that level. LCFF will continue to be the major source of funding for educational technology which means that districts would need to incorporate technology applications and hardware into their Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP).


Assembly/Senate Joint Resolution, AJR 7, to sustain Net Neutrality, LifeLine, and E-Rate


seal.gifCUE Legislative and Policy Consultant, John Cradler proposed a resolution to be potentially adopted by the California Legislature that would ask the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the US Congress, and the President, to support the already FCC-approved implementation of net neutrality, continue broadband-enhanced Lifeline, and sustain the established funding model for E-Rate. Assembly Member and Speaker Pro-Tem, Kevin Mullin is the author of the resolution, now known as Assembly Joint Resolution 7. Mullin’s staff is working closely with us on its development and processing through the State Assembly and Senate. Mullin believes that AJR 7 is very important since President Trump, with the current Republican-dominated FCC, intends to cut and/or repeal these programs.


During%20Hearing-L.jpgWe have been working with Mullin’s staff in Sacramento to refine and amend AJR 7 during January and February 2017. AJR 7 was presented to the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee on May 10 and passed with a vote of 7 to 1.  Assembly Member Mullin presented the bill with testimony for the May 10th hearing provided by John Cradler and Roger Wagner. Letters of support for AJR 7 were provided by CUE, CoSN, ISTE, SETDA, CETPA, ACSA, San Mateo COE, Napa COE, and others. So far, no opposition letters have been received by Mullin’s office.  AJR 7 passed the Assembly Floor with 55 eyes (all Democrats), 18 noes (all Republicans), and 7 abstentions. AJR 7 next goes to the to the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee for a vote and then to the Senate Floor. It is still necessary to continue to actively support the resolution with letters and testimony in Sacramento at the strategically appropriate time. We will inform CUE representatives and other interested persons if and when specific types of support are needed. At this point we are planning to invite CUE’s Legislative Advocacy Committee and CUE Board Members to testify when AJR 7 is presented to the Senate Committee.


AJR 7 supports the CUE Advocacy Platform position which states that: “CUE fully supports the creation and maintenance of equitable access to technology and technology applications for all students, teachers, and administrators in California, including those in rural and other underserved areas.


Recent FCC Actions Related to Net Neutrality


th.jpegFrom net neutrality to online privacy to universal-service programs, the administration of President Donald Trump has taken direct aim at a number of the signature policy changes enacted by the Federal Communications Commission under the leadership of former chairman Tom Wheeler. This is the reason that CUE initiated Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR 7), authored by State Assemblymember, Kevin Mullin, asking the Congress, President, and FCC to sustain the policy changes enacted by the FCC.


Net neutrality: The FCC has officially begun to undo net neutrality rules. In a 2-1 vote along party lines on Thursday, May 18, the FCC's Republicans voted to propose a new review of the rules, with the goal of loosening the regulations on the industry. As dozens of protesters outside urged the agency to stop the proceeding and keep the strict oversight, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai argued that the current rules represented a "bureaucratic straitjacket" on the industry. "The Internet was not broken in 2015," Pai said. "The utility-style regulations known as Title II were and are like the proverbial sledgehammer being wielded against the flea. Except that here, there was no flea."


For the next 90 days, the FCC will collect comments from stakeholders and the general public before drafting a specific order and voting on whether to set it into law. During the 2015 effort to write the net neutrality rules, more than 4 million comments poured into the agency, most of them in support of strict regulation. Pai and his Republican colleague, Commissioner Mike O'Rielly, said the new review of net neutrality will include a cost-benefit analysis, which they say wasn't done in 2015.


Lifeline: On February 3, FCC Chairman Pai reversed an earlier FCC decision to approve nine companies as eligible broadband providers under the federal Lifeline program, which provides low-income consumers with a monthly subsidy of $9.25 to help offset the cost of phone or internet service.  Since 1985, the Lifeline program has helped low-income persons pay for phone service; first landlines, then cellphones, and as of 2016 added the option of Internet connectivity.


According to the Benton Foundation, FCC Chairman Pai’s actions will make the market for Lifeline broadband services less competitive, limiting choice and keeping prices high. As a result, fewer low income Americans will be able to afford broadband. Pai and fellow Commissioner Michael O'Rielly, fundamentally disagree with the structure and goals of the Lifeline program and will seek to undermine it in word and deed. CUE representatives, Mike Lawrence, John Cradler, and Micah Studer, along with about 30 other E-Rate and Lifeline supporters from across the U.S., met with Commissioner O’Rielly, at the FCC in an effort to convince them of the critical need for these programs.


E-Rate:  The current FCC Commissioners previously voted against the expansion and modernization of the E-rate program. You may recall that the previous Commissioner who led E-Rate modernization, Jessica Rosenworcel, CUE Advocacy Award Recipient, was not approved by the Republican Senate to remain on the Commission. With the FCC under new Republican leadership, rumors have circulated about potential changes to the program, which could include lowering the cap and establishing a per pupil distribution formula for the entire program. Bandwidth is not sold on a per pupil basis and limiting E-rate support by a formula linked to per pupil allocations could very well lead to small rural and large urban schools and libraries receiving support that is inadequate to purchase higher bandwidth levels.


The FCC recently rescinded its own report documenting the success of the E-rate program, a multi-billion dollar, FCC-led initiative that has helped tens of thousands of schools and libraries obtain high-speed internet access. The report will have "no legal or other effect or meaning going forward," according to the commission's order.



Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Update


As described in the last Updates and in OnCUE Journal, the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 10, 2015, and goes into full effect in the 2017–18 school year. ESSA reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the nation’s federal education law, and replaces No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).


As part of California’s transition to ESSA, California must submit an ESSA State Plan to the U.S. Department of Education (ED).  The California ESSA funding will be part of a single coherent local, state, and Federal accountability and continuous improvement system that is aligned with and supportive of California’s priorities. The State plan for the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and related Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) and ESSA will be combined into a single plan. This plan will provide the details on how districts will develop plans for their use of the funding. Due to potential Federal changes in ESSA funding, the California adaptation of the ESSA plan may need to be changed. We will provide continuous updates on ESSA as it emerges.


Possible Trump-related change in ESSA: The Federal education budget originally proposed by the Obama administration is still being reviewed by Congress. Changes to the way spending on schools must be reported along with a dramatic political fight in Washington about proper use of federal money in schools—are part of the picture as schools prepare for the new environment under ESSA come the 2017-18 school year. However due to language within ESSA, Trump’s new education secretary will have a restricted role. For details on how Trump could impact ESSA go to: http://understandingessa.org/what-will-trumps-administration-look-like-for-education/


Recent Update on Trump cuts


President Trump's full education budget proposal for fiscal 2018 would make notable cuts to the U.S. Department of Education, and leverage existing programs for disadvantaged students and K-12 innovation to promote school choice. Trump's full education funding blueprint would cut $9.2 billion, or 13.6 percent, from the Education Department's current $68 billion budget, said the report, based on still-unreleased budget documents. Also, the spending plan calls for the creation of a new, $1 billion federal grant program under Title I to allow students to take federal, state, and local dollars to their public school of choice. That money would be added to the $15.9 billion Title I receives this budget year, fiscal 2017— that current funding is not "portable" to public schools of choice and goes out by formula.


Both the cuts and the new grant for Title I, along with other aspects of the full budget proposal expected to be released very soon, are consistent with Trump's preliminary budget released in mid-March. According to the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), this is the first direct threat on ESSA opportunity and ESSA success, "President Trump is completely undermining federal funding to support key elements of the law that Congress passed less than two years ago."


California would lose $400 million in federal K-12 education funding under Trump budget: Programs run by the U.S. Department of Education, which distributes funding for numerous programs to all states, would be cut by $9 billion under the Trump administration’s proposed federal budget for the fiscal year beginning in October. California’s K-12 federal allocation would shrink from the 2016-17 level of  approximately $4 billion to $3.64 billion in 2017-18.


Educational Technology Not Included in the Trump Budget Proposal: The budget did not mention many details about the Office of Education Technology, or how the staggering cuts could affect ed-tech initiatives like the department’s #GoOpen campaign or its commitment to connect 99 percent of American students to broadband by 2018. The department also did not respond to questions around how the budget could affect the Office of Education Technology and its programs.


What is clear, however, is that the proposal does not include funding for Title IV-A, which covers a flexible block grant program called Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants. The grants are intended to fund programs around STEM education, college and career counseling, and supporting effective use of technology around blended learning and edtech devices. Title IV-A received $1.65 billion in fiscal year 2017.


“No money for Title IV, Part A would mean no dedicated investment for supporting teachers using technology to personalize learning, teach computer science or support high-quality online learning options,” Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), said in a prepared statement.


Trump’s Education Agenda


th-1.jpegAs discussed in the last update, the future of education–especially at the National level is uncertain at this time as indicated by the following quotes by President Trump who states that, “If we don't eliminate the U.S. Department of Education completely, we certainly need to cut its power and reach. Education has to be run locally. Common Core, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top are all programs that take decisions away from parents and local school boards. These programs allow the progressives in the Department of Education to indoctrinate, not educate, our kids.” 


Trump states that students should be able to attend a magnet school, charter school, or a public or private school. He says that American schools are no better than those in a developing country, and Common Core standards are a “disaster.” President Trump also said the $20 billion in Title I grants for poor students would come from existing federal spending. Rather than sending federal education dollars to schools, as the existing system does, Trump proposed block grants to states, with the option of letting the dollars follow students to whichever school they choose, including a charter, private or online school.


Trumps positions are clearly supported and stated in the education approach advocated by, Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. In general, she would like to privatize education through the use of vouchers and charter schools.  A recent EdSource article states: “Her single-minded focus on finding alternatives to public education – largely in the form of taxpayer-supported vouchers and other ways to underwrite tuition for private schools – is unmatched by any other previous occupant of the post”




National Educational Policy Summit focus on Federal threats to educational technology


Five CUE representatives along with representatives from most other states participated in the 2017 Education Technology Advocacy and Policy Summit organized by CoSN, ISTE, and SETDA in Washington DC. The SETDA representative reported that the individual and collective efforts undoubtedly made a huge impact on Congress and senior staff and leaders at the U.S. Department of Education and the FCC. Together, Summit participants reached nearly 150 members of the House and Senate, including briefing nearly all of the decision-makers responsible for overseeing E-rate and other major education technology initiatives. It is estimated that this work will pay long-term dividends for states and school districts and will lay a strong foundation for day-to-day advocacy. CUE participants included Mike Lawrence, John Cradler, Micah Studer, Pam Hernandez, and CEDPA representative, Peter Skibitzki. Read a post about the summit on the CUE Blog.


After receiving a comprehensive overview of the education and telecommunications issues, the California group visited congressional staff representing at least eight members of the Senate and Congress and in some cases met with the member. We made the case for preserving the portion of ESSA funding known as Title II that funds professional development and technology, E-Rate, and Lifeline. Also, we shared the California resolution AJR 7 which sends a formal message from the California Legislature to the U.S. Congress to sustain Lifeline and E-Rate. We found most members very interested in knowing about AJR 7 and look forward to receiving the formal version from the California Legislature. We all felt that the trip was well worth the cost and effort and clearly convinced us that both State and Federal advocacy is an increasingly critical function of CUE as well as for all other State and National education associations.


State Legislative Update


Proposed legislation: Internet for all Now Act (AB 1665):

Proposed legislation being developed by the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF)

AB 1665, would focus on broadband adoption for the most disadvantaged residents to achieve 90% access by 2023. This bill clearly addresses the need for students to have home-access to broadband in typically underserved areas, there addressing the “homework gap” Following are some of the major purposes of this bill:


  1. Requires the CPUC to identify priority unserved areas to achieve Legislature’s goal of 98% deployment in each region and set objectives for timely decisions.

  2. Maintains funding priority for last-mile unserved households and allows improvements in underserved areas only if adjacent to unserved areas.

  3. Ensures most disadvantaged residents living in publicly-subsidized housing will be online and able to participate in the Digital Economy to get out of poverty.


CUE supports AB 1665 which has been introduced and presented to, and passed the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee. CUE representatives, John Cradler and Micah Studer, representing CUE, testified at the hearing at the State Capitol on April 17th, in support of AB 1665. AB 1665 passed this Committee without opposition and will soon be scheduled for the Assembly Appropriations Committee and if it passes will go to the Assembly Floor and then on to the Senate.


CUE Advocacy Strategy


The focus on advocacy is to influence implementation of existing programs to include collaborating with other education associations, proactively developing State legislation, providing policy advice on the development of new State and Federal Education initiatives, and continuing to monitor and take positions on current and emerging legislation and initiatives relevant to the CUE Advocacy Platform.


As opportunities arise, CUE will continue to be proactive in the development, co-development, and sponsorship of state and Federal legislation and resolutions. The CUE Legislative Advocacy Committee meets monthly to take positions on relevant bills and other related actions suggested by the CUE Legislative Consultants and the Committee members.


Anyone who is interested in helping to get involved in supporting the CUE advocacy effort should contact Mary Kopp, Executive Assistant to the CUE CEO at mkopp@cue.org.