Education

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Governor Mary Fallin stressed the need for teacher pay raises in her State of the State address on Monday, and has allocated $60 million toward $1,000 teacher salary bumps in her proposed budget.

But still, legislative leaders like Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz were hesitant to guarantee it would get done this year.

“Oh I think it’s going to be one of the main areas of discussion,” Schulz said, “And I think we will leave this session in May with a framework in place to put a teacher plan on the table moving forward.”

Flickr / texasbackroads

Every year, lawmakers file hundreds of education bills that have the potential to change the way schools operate. Some would implement minor tweaks, but others—like Education Savings Account legislation—are much more controversial.

In this list, we’ve tried to focus on the legislation that affects the bigger picture, and also the legislation that represents larger debates in the state.  

GENERAL INTEREST

The latest, remarkable misstep of a Cabinet nominee who has misstepped plenty came in answer to a simple question:

"Why do you think their performance is so poor?" asked Senator Patty Murray, D-Wa., in a written question to Betsy DeVos, President Trump's nominee to lead the Education Department.

Of all President Trump's Cabinet choices, only one currently seems at serious risk of being denied confirmation by the Senate.

The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as education secretary is a question mark after two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, announced they plan to vote against her.

What's the best time for students to have recess? Before lunch, or after? What happens if it rains? If students are misbehaving, is it a good idea to punish them by making them sit out recess?

Those are just a few of the issues addressed in new guidelines designed to help schools have good recess. The recommendations come from a group called SHAPE (Society of Health and Physical Educators) America and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A key Senate committee voted Tuesday to approve the nomination of Betsy DeVos, a school choice activist and billionaire Republican donor, to be secretary of education, despite the fierce objections of Senate Democrats, teachers unions and others. There's much speculation as to exactly how she might carry out President Trump's stated priority of increasing school choice.

Recent high school graduates in Tennessee are already allowed to attend community college at no cost. Now Gov. Bill Haslam is looking to expand the year-old program to provide free community college educations to adults, as well.

Haslam, a Republican who has been in office since 2011, made his pitch at Monday night's State of the State address. Afterward, he tweeted, "Let's be the Tennessee we can be."

Saira Rafiee boarded a plane in Tehran this weekend on her way to New York. She had been visiting family in Iran and needed to get back to the U.S. in time for classes at City University of New York's Graduate Center, where she is a Ph.D. student in political science. But, as a result of President Trump's executive order restricting the travel of citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Iran, Rafiee says she was detained in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and, after nearly 18 hours, sent back to Tehran.

The State Board of Education approved a new charter school in Seminole, Oklahoma on Thursday.

This makes the school one of the first rural charter schools in the state. It also makes this school one of the first charters to be approved, and sponsored by, the State Board of Education.

Charter schools are typically run and approved by local school boards, but the Seminole Public School Board of Education had denied this charter application twice, saying it was incomplete.

Niya Kenny pulled out her cell phone and began recording.

It happened in 2015, after a classmate had refused to hand over her own cell phone during class and was being pulled from her chair by a police officer based at their school, Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C. When Kenny loudly protested and, like her classmate, refused to hand over her phone, she too was arrested.

The charge: disturbing a school.

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