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The Week Ahead in Education Politics: Petitions to Protect DACA & Reinstate Net Neutrality as Congress Weighs School Safety, Data Privacy & More

By Carolyn Phenicie | May 12, 2018

THIS WEEK IN EDUCATION POLITICS publishes most Saturdays. (See previous editions here.) You can get the preview delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for The 74 Newsletter; for rolling updates on federal education policy, follow Carolyn Phenicie on Twitter @cphenicie.

INBOX: IMMIGRATION & NET NEUTRALITY Two petitions are circulating in Congress that would allow Democrats to circumvent Republican opposition to force votes on immigration and net neutrality, two issues that touch education. Prepare for this to get a little wonky.

In the House, Democrats are pushing a petition that would get around House Speaker Paul Ryan to bring to a vote four immigration proposals: one each backed by the Trump administration, House Democrats, and Ryan, and then a bipartisan measure. The proposal that received the most votes would be adopted. Each would deal, to a different degree, with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The Obama-era program provided legal status and work permits to young people brought to the country illegally as children, so long as they met certain requirements. The Trump administration ended it as of March, but court rulings have meant that current recipients may renew their status, and the administration may be forced to accept new applications, too.

The petition would require the support of all the chamber’s Democrats and 25 Republicans; as of Friday afternoon, 18 Republicans and one Democrat have signed. The chamber can only consider the petition on the first or third Monday of a month when the House is in session; the next time that is planned is June 25, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Ryan has said forcing a vote in this manner would be a “spectacle” that ends with a bill President Trump would veto, and members should instead work in a bipartisan manner to draft a bill that can become law, CBS reported.

In the Senate, Democrats are pushing for the chamber to consider a measure that would, in effect, reinstate the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rule. The FCC in December 2017 overturned an Obama-era rule barring internet providers from slowing down or blocking access to certain content, or providing faster content to other types that pay for the privilege.

The new rules go into effect June 11. The actual impacts to users, including schools, aren’t clear, but it could mean higher internet bills and less access to innovative education technology if startups can’t pay for premium access to consumers, for example.

The Democrats’ petition is running through the same Congressional Review Act process that Senate Republicans used last year to kill Obama-era rules governing implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. It is nearing majority support, and a vote is likely this week, Gizmodo reported.

Although support in the House is less clear, some advocates believe House Republicans can be persuaded to back it because of the strong public support for net neutrality.

ICYMI: The House Armed Services Committee didn’t include a proposal by Rep. Jim Banks to provide education savings accounts to the children of some active-duty service members in the annual defense authorization during markup this week. Advocates hope to add it to the bill when the full House considers the measure later this month, Education Week reported.

MONDAY: BROWN V. BOARD ANNIVERSARY — Journey 4 Justice, an educational advocacy group aligned with teachers unions, will release a report, “Failing Brown v. Board,” to highlight how public education remains inequitable across racial lines. They’ll also hold a rally with union leaders and other education advocates on the steps of the Supreme Court.

TUESDAY: SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS — The House will consider a bill requiring the Justice and Education departments, within a year, to survey every public elementary and secondary school on whether they have a school resource officer, and whether the officer or officers work full or part time. The bill is being considered under suspension of the rules, a parliamentary procedure used for uncontroversial legislation that speeds up debate but requires support of two-thirds of members to pass.

The placement of law enforcement on campus has come to the fore as schools grapple with safety issues in the wake of mass shootings, but advocates have also warned it could put more young people, particularly young men of color, in the criminal justice system unfairly. Many big-city districts have more school resource officers on campus than counselors.

TUESDAY: FOSTER CARE Casey Family Programs, a foundation focused on foster care, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and families affected by the opioid crisis and the child welfare system hold a briefing on the recently passed Family First Prevention Services Act. The legislation, which was included in a February budget deal, changes some federal financing systems by paying for substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, and parent skills training with the aim of preventing children from entering foster care.

WEDNESDAY: SECURE SCHOOLS The House Homeland Security Committee will consider the “Secure Our Schools Act.” The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to develop a strategy to secure schools and colleges from “acts of terrorism, active shooters, and other homeland security threats,” according to the committee’s website.

WEDNESDAY: INDIAN EDUCATION The Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds a hearing on safety and security at Bureau of Indian Education schools. The federally funded system, serving about 48,000 students in 183 schools, has long been plagued by neglect and mismanagement. The same panel dressed down agency leaders for failures in a similar hearing exactly a year ago.

THURSDAY: DATA PRIVACY The House Education and the Workforce Committee holds a hearing on data privacy and “exploring how schools and states keep data safe.” Schools are facing new data security concerns, like when the Leominster Public Schools in Massachusetts earlier this month paid $10,000 in bitcoin to hackers who wiped the school system’s data and held it for ransom. Attempts to rewrite the decades-old federal laws governing student data, the Education Sciences Reform Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, have stalled in recent years.

THURSDAY: FCC A Senate Appropriations subcommittee holds a hearing on the 2019 budget requests for the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. In addition to the net neutrality issue, the FCC runs the E-Rate program, which provides low-cost internet to schools. The FTC has, with the Education Department, looked into privacy issues in ed tech.

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