Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee's statewide school voucher pitch: Here's what to know – By Vivian Jones, Nashville Tennessean
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee proposed a new statewide school choice program on Tuesday to offer taxpayer-funded grants to 20,000 students to attend private or home schools of their choice – and open universal eligibility for the program beginning in 2025.
Lee, who has long advocated for offering families more school options, says the program is aimed at empowering parents to find the best school to fit their child's educational needs. Critics of the proposal, commonly known as a school vouchers, are saying that it could dismantle public education in Tennessee.
Lee’s proposed Education Freedom Scholarship Act would offer 20,000 Tennessee students about $7,075 to attend a private school of their choice beginning in the 2024-25 school year. Grants would be allowed to be used at any private school, and most home schools.
Should NJ require students to fill out college aid forms to graduate high school? – By Amanda Oglesby, Asbury Park Press
New Jersey legislators are considering a bill that would make completing financial aid forms for higher education a requirement for high school graduation.
The bill, S2054, would require all high school students to complete financial aid forms in order to graduate, or get a waiver exempting them from the requirement. The exemption could be submitted by a parent or guardian, a school counselor, or the student if 18 or older.
The New Jersey Senate Education Committee approved the bill Monday. Next, the bill will head to the state Legislature for a vote.
R. David Rousseau, vice president of Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of New Jersey, told the Senate Committee that the bill is similar to laws in 12 other states that help provide lower and middle income students with access to college aid.
New certificate program aims to reduce Delaware’s ‘severe shortages’ of special education teachers – By Johnny Perez Gonzales, WHYY
Delaware is facing a big shortage in teachers focused on special education.
According to research by Rachel Juergensen, assistant professor of special education at Delaware State University, there were 165 vacant special education teaching positions over the summer.
“The need for special education teachers in Delaware is critical, and without intervention, the severe shortages and subsequent negative impact on students with disabilities will continue to prevail,” Juergensen said.
To help fill the gap, the U.S. Dept. of Education awarded Juergensen a $1 million grant to help solve the problem. The funding will be used to create the Delaware Special Educator Certificate, or DE-SPEC program, which will help speed the process of getting more special ed teachers into the classroom. The program will help new teachers be better prepared to work with students who have special needs and provide support for any challenges they face.
Many rural California communities are desperate for school construction money. Will a new bond measure offer enough help? – By Carolyn Jones, Cal Matters
As California’s fund to fix crumbling schools dwindles to nothing, lawmakers are negotiating behind the scenes to craft a ballot measure that would be the state’s largest school construction bond in decades.
But some beleaguered school superintendents say the money will not be nearly enough to fix all the dry rot, leaky roofs and broken air conditioners in the state’s thousands of school buildings. And it won’t change a system that they say favors wealthy, urban, left-leaning areas that can easily pass local bond measures to make needed repairs.
“The big question is, why can’t our kids have school buildings that are safe and as nice as other kids’ schools, just a few miles away?” said Helio Brasil, superintendent of Keyes Union School District, a rural TK-8 district in a low-income area south of Modesto. “This school is in such bad shape it can feel like a jail. … I’m speaking up about this because I feel the system needs to be fixed. I don’t want the next generation of students to have to experience this.”
Two bills are currently under consideration in the Legislature, both of which would bring in billions to repair school facilities. Assembly Bill 247 would raise $14 billion for K-12 schools and community colleges, while Senate Bill 28, at $15.5 billion, includes the University of California and California State University, as well.
Legislators are likely to pick only one bill to send to Gov. Gavin Newsom for approval. AB 247 might have the advantage because it doesn’t include the state’s four-year university systems, both of which have means to raise their own revenue. So far it’s garnered little opposition, while SB 28 is opposed by two contractors’ associations because the bill prioritizes projects that use union labor.