Greetings and welcome to NPR Ed’s weekly roundup of education news from Washington and around the country.
Supreme Court hears a voucher-related case
The Supreme Court heard a case this week that could have huge implications for school voucher programs. In the case, Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley, a church-based preschool applied for a state grant to resurface its playground and was turned down.
At issue is an 1875 provision of Missouri’s Constitution banning public money from going “directly or indirectly” to religious groups, which includes religiously founded schools.
Similar provisions, called Blaine Amendments, exist in three dozen states. They have been a major barrier to the growth of school voucher programs, because 70 percent of existing private schools in the U.S. have religious ties.
Tax credit scholarships have in the last few years become an increasingly popular means of channeling money to private schools while circumventing the amendments.
Secretary DeVos visits an Ohio school district with a union leader
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited Van Wert, Ohio, this week with Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers and a frequent critic of both DeVos and President Trump.
Alongside local union leaders and school officials, the two met with pre-K and special education teachers and staff, as well as parents, students and community members. They also heard presentations from students in robotics and engineering classes. Van Wert is a rural district in northwest Ohio with 2,000 students, 92 percent of whom are white. It boasts a 96 percent graduation rate. The Department of Education noted that this was DeVos’ tenth school visit.
USA Today reported this week that a 23-year-old community college student, Juan Manuel Montes-Bojorquez, was apprehended by immigration authorities in Calexico, Calif., and deported to Mexico in February. He is suing the U.S. government.
Montes-Bojorquez is one of an estimated 750,000 young people known as Dreamers. They came to the United States as children and fall under the protection of a program President Obama created called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA. Many are students.
Trump has promised that the Dreamers will be protected from his immigration crackdown, but advocates say at least 10 of them are now in federal custody. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Wednesday that “DACA enrollees are not being targeted,” but that anyone in the country illegally is subject to being deported.
Ann Coulter will go on at Berkeley
Conservative author and frequent media talking head Ann Coulter promised that she will speak on or near the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, next week. The university had canceled her official event due to safety concerns, then reversed its decision.
In February, a planned Berkeley visit by right-wing, self-described provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos sparked riots.