Trump Will Propose Merging Labor and Education

“The White House is set to propose merging the Labor and Education departments as part of a broader reorganization of the federal government,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Washington Post: “The long-awaited proposal to reorganize federal agencies would shrink some and augment the missions of others. It is the result of a directive that Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget, issued to federal leaders 14 months ago. He urged them to find ways to merge overlapping, duplicative offices and programs and eliminate those the administration views as unnecessary.”

“The plan also is expected to include major changes to the way the government provides benefits for low-income Americans, an area that conservatives have long targeted as excessive, by consolidating safety-net programs that are administered through multiple agencies.”

Democrats Propose Swapping Tax Cut for Teacher Salaries

“Responding to teacher walkouts across the country, congressional Democrats on Tuesday proposed raising teachers’ salaries by canceling the tax cut for the nation’s top 1 percent of earners,” the AP reports.

“The Republican-controlled Congress was unlikely to support the idea of giving states and school districts $50 billion over a decade to fund the teacher raises at the expense of dismantling the hard-won tax bill.”

“But the proposal gives Democrats an issue they can use ahead of the November midterm elections. Teachers have won widespread support, even in conservative areas, as they complain about low pay.”

Arizona Teachers Vote for Statewide Walkout

“Arizona teachers voted for a statewide walkout next week, escalating their push for higher pay and increased school funding,” CNN reports.

“The Arizona Education Association announced Thursday night that its members voted to strike. Of the more than 57,000 votes tallied, 78% of school employees in the state were in favor of a walkout.”

Bevin Says Kids Were Assaulted While Teachers Protested

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) lashed out against teachers participating in a statewide protest, saying they exposed some of the “hundreds of thousands” of children to sexual assault and drug use by walking out of class, the Washington Post reports.

Said Bevin: “I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today, a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them. I guarantee you somewhere today, a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were left alone because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them.”

White House Shocked at Education Secretary’s Interviews

“White House officials were alarmed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ struggle to answer basic questions about the nation’s schools and failure to defend the administration’s newly proposed school safety measures during a tour of television interviews Sunday and Monday,” CNN reports.

“Though DeVos was sworn in to her Cabinet position 13 months ago, she stumbled her way through a pointed 60 Minutes interview with CBS’ Lesley Stahl Sunday night and was unable to defend her belief that public schools can perform better when funding is diverted to the expansion of public charter schools and private school vouchers. At one point, she admitted she hasn’t ‘intentionally’ visited underperforming schools.”

Exchange of the Day

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke with Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes:

STAHL: Why have you become, people say, the most hated Cabinet secretary?

DEVOS: I’m not so sure exactly how that happened. But I think there are a lot of really powerful forces allied against change.

STAHL: Does it hurt?

DEVOS: Sometimes it does. Sometimes it does. Again, I think, I think …

STAHL: Do you ever say …

DEVOS:  I’m more misunderstood than anything.

Trump Has Led to More Law School Applicants

Above the Law: “We’ve known for a while that more people are taking the LSAT — we’re talking a double-digit increase. But exactly why has largely remained a source of speculation and anecdotal reports that the surprising results of the 2016 election were motivating people to go to law school. Now we have the hard data to support that hypothesis.”

“Kaplan Test Prep conducted a survey of over 500 pre-law students and the results confirm the suspicions of many in the industry: the Trump Bump is real. Thirty-two percent of respondents said politics were a motivating factor in deciding to apply.”

Catholic School Threatens to Expel Student Over Sticker

A Catholic high school in Greenwich, CT told Sophomore Kate Murray that “if she does not remove a Planned Parenthood sticker from her laptop, she cannot attend the school next year,” the Greenwich Time reports.

“Murray was told by the private Catholic school’s administrators Tuesday she has a choice: If she keeps the sticker, she can leave the school now or leave at the end of the academic year, her parents said. If she removes the sticker, she can continue to attend the school.”

“The sticker states ‘I stand with Planned Parenthood’ and is one of many on Kate’s laptop.”

In response, more than 2,500 people have signed a petition saying  “I Stand with Kate Murray.”

How DeVos Softened Her Message on School Choice

Politico: “A year into her tenure as President Donald Trump’s Education secretary, Betsy DeVos generally steers clear of the words, ‘school choice,’ a phrase she once used often that’s freighted with racial, demographic and religious implications. Instead, she opts for gentler terms such as ‘innovation’ and ‘blended learning,’ and speaks of coming together and ‘finding solutions.’ DeVos has by no means backed off her push to fulfill Trump’s promise to inject $20 billion into expanded private education options for kids.”

“But one of the most divisive figures in Trump’s Cabinet … has figured out how to market that effort differently. Behind the scenes, DeVos met with Frank Luntz, one of the top Republican messaging experts, to figure out how to talk about conservative educational policies without sparking protests from teachers and liberals.”

Department Awards Contract to Firm with Ties to Secretary

“A company that once had financial ties to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was one of two firms selected by the U.S. Department of Education to help the agency collect overdue student loans. The deal could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to the Washington Post.

“The decision to award contracts to Windham Professionals and Performant Financial Corp. — the company in which DeVos invested before becoming secretary — arrives a month after a federal judge ordered the department to complete its selection of a loan collector to put an end to a messy court battle. Windham and Performant beat out nearly 40 other bidders for contracts valued at up to $400 million, but their win may be short-lived if the losing companies fight the decision.”