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New York Governor Spars With N.Y.C. Mayor on Pre-K

What's the best way to pay for full-day kindergarten in New York City and the rest of New York state? That question could lead to a prolonged tussle between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Gotham Mayor Bill de Blasio, as the two Democrats seek to outmaneuver each other on the issue of pre-K.

Mayor de Blasio wants to raise taxes on city earners making over $500,000 a year to pay for universal pre-K. He pledged to do so when he was running for mayor. But state lawmakers would have to approve any such local tax, and he could face big political headwinds.

Gov. Cuomo, meanwhile, has laid out a plan to funnel $1.5 billion to provide universal pre-K over five years to the whole state. (The mayor's plan would yield $340 million for universal pre-K over five years.)

The governor seemed interested in defusing any conflict when he told the New York Times that he would provide whatever funding the new mayor wanted for pre-K: "Whatever he needs. As fast as he can phase in, we'll fund it." (He didn't cite a dollar amount.) But he said that the legislature was unlikely to approve the tax increase de Blasio wants, and questioned why the mayor would raise taxes to fund something the state had its own plans to fully support.

Andrew Ujifusa


Cases of Ed. Interest Added To Supreme Court's Docket

The U.S. Supreme Court has added two issues to its docket with potential implications for education. One case involves whether government agencies may retaliate against public employees for certain testimony under oath. Also on Jan. 17, the court added a pair of cases about whether the police need a warrant to search the contents of a criminal suspect's cellphone.

The cellphone cases, United States v. Wurie (Case No. 13-212) and Riley v. California (Case No. 13-132), may be relevant for school discipline because there has been a growing number of cases in which school administrators searched students' phones.

The public-employee speech case, Lane v. Franks (Case No. 13-483), involves the administrator of a training program for at-risk youth run out of Central Alabama Community College in Alexander City, Ala. He was fired after testifying in the criminal trial of a state legislator later convicted of creating a no-show job for herself in the program.

Mark Walsh


Calif. Board Approves Rules For School-Finance System

The California State Board of Education has approved new regulations governing K-12 finance under the state's new Local Control Funding Formula, which directs more money to needier students and gradually raises overall state K-12 funding until 2020. Districts and schools with relatively high percentages of low-income children, English-language learners, and students in foster care will receive certain flexibility under the formula to spend money at their discretion on a districtwide or schoolwide basis. At the same Jan. 16 meeting, the state board also approved a template for Local Control and Accountability Plans, which districts and counties must use to involve the community to a greater extent than required previously when making budget decisions.

Andrew Ujifusa


Would Federal Incentives Entice States to Pass DREAM Acts?

Democratic lawmakers in Congress have rolled out legislation that proposes financial incentives for states that adopt measures making college tuition more affordable for undocumented students. Introduced by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, the In-State for Dreamers Act would raise fees on visas issued to international students who study in the United States.

That revenue—roughly $750 million during the next decade—would be funneled to states that already offer in-state tuition rates or financial-aid packages to undocumented students. The measure would also seek to entice the 31 states that don't have their own so-called DREAM Acts to scrap any immigration-status conditions connected to receiving lower tuition and/or qualifying for financial aid.

Gaining traction in Congress—or the states—seems iffy at best, given that only Democrats are listed as sponsors, not to mention the larger, more divisive (and partisan) differences surrounding immigration reform.

On the flip side, Murray and Polis have focused on a subgroup of undocumented immigrants who have generated more support among GOP lawmakers: some undocumented youths who were brought to the United States as children by their parents. And raising revenue through new fees imposed on international students would seem more politically palatable.

But like in Congress, some states are just as divided on the immigration issue, and no amount of federal money would likely persuade them to act.

Lesli A. Maxwell


New York Not Alone in Looking to 'Review' Common Standards

In his budget address last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that, due to his disappointment over the way the state's board of regents has rolled out the Common Core State Standards, he will assemble a panel to examine the standards and recommend "corrective action."

The pushback has been bubbling in the Empire State for some time. Just to cite one example, the state teachers' union and others are upset about the state's implementation of the common-core-aligned curriculum. And just over a month ago, the board of regents announced it would be setting up its own review of common core in the state. GOP Sen. John Flanagan also held his own public hearings on the standards. Soon, you may not be able to count the number of official common-core reviews in New York on one hand.

New York has company. In South Dakota, for example, the Senate education committee approved a bill to institute an official study of the standards. In Tennessee, a group of gop lawmakers are putting their own "pause" legislation together that would stop the common core, as well as the associated assessments from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

And don't forget, there's a bill froma Republican lawmaker in Indiana that would extend the state's current review of the standards until 2015. Right now, it's set to end this upcoming summer. That's assuming the standards survive that long, given recent remarks from Gov. Mike Pence.

Andrew Ujifusa

Vol. 33, Issue 19, Pages 10, 17

Published in Print: January 29, 2014, as Blogs
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