Transgender sports restrictions advance on a national level

Transgender sports restrictions advance on a national level

SPORTS BILL ADVANCES FOR FIRST TIME — Congressional Republicans are the closest they’ve ever been to passing legislation that would prohibit transgender women and girls from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity.

— The bill — H.R. 734 (118), the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023 — was introduced by Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) several times, but was taken up by the House Education and Workforce Committee for the first time last week in a 16-hour markup. It would amend Title IX, the federal education law that bars sex-based discrimination, to define sex as based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.

— The measure was recommended by the committee in a vote on party lines and is now primed for a vote on the House floor. While H.R. 5 (118), the Parents Bill of Rights Act, cleared the committee the same day and is slated for a vote in two weeks, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s office said they haven’t made any announcements on when they will take up the sports bill for a vote. House Republicans are expected to pass the bill with their slim majority, but it’s not likely that the Democrat-controlled Senate will allow the bill to move.

— The legislation will be a way for the GOP to force Democrats to go on record with their support for transgender students to play sports, a key part of the GOP’s 2022 midterm policy agenda. It is also a direct rebuke of the Biden administration’s proposed Title IX rule, which seeks to codify protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Education Department is expected to unveil its final rule in May, though it said it would make a separate rule for sports.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey speaks.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. | Leah M. Willingham/AP Photo

— Meanwhile, West Virginia has decided to appeal a stay on its transgender sports law to the Supreme Court, marking the first opportunity for the high court to weigh in on the issue. “West Virginians and the American people are animated,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said at a Thursday press conference. “They know this is a matter of basic, common sense and basic fairness. We believe we’re absolutely correct on the merits. And I know that there’s always a debate as to when you go up to the high court, but … we think it’s justified to make sure that the law that was put in place by the legislature, reflecting the will of the voters, gets back in place very, very quickly.”

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From the Capitol

Suzanne Bonamici. Photo credit: Francis Chung/E&E News

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.). | Francis Chung/E&E News

BONAMICI’S BILL OF RIGHTS — Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) introduced her Bill of Rights for Students and Parents, a Democratic response to the GOP’s Parents Bill of Rights, which is headed to the House floor for a vote in two weeks. “Parental involvement is critical to developing and sustaining high-quality public schools, and we must do all we can to involve parents and break down barriers that prevent or discourage participation,” Bonamici said in a statement.

— The bill, which is supported by dozens of education groups including the National PTA, outlines that a student “should be able to receive a well-rounded education,” and parents and families “should be able to collaborate effectively” with their children’s teachers. Additionally, it dictates that public schools should be “responsive and inclusive,” students should be able to learn in environments “free from all forms of discrimination,” and all students should “receive an education that is historically accurate, reflects the diversity of our nation, and prepares students to think critically and participate actively in a representative democracy.”

House Republicans unveiled their “Parents Bill of Rights” earlier this month. It would require mandates for school districts to offer teacher-parent meetings, publicly disclose budget materials and allow parents to address the school board — things that are already present in many schools across the country.

— “The previously introduced ‘Parent Bill of Rights’, HB5, completely misses the mark and has discriminatory undertones that distract us from the seriousness of this moment,” the National Parents Union said in a statement. “Pitting parents against parents, parents against teachers, and adults against students does nothing to move us forward.”

K-12

BIDEN BUDGET FALLS FLAT WITH CHARTERS — President Joe Biden has proposed a $440 million budget for federal charter school grants, irking advocates after consecutive years of flat funding, Juan reports. The flat funding is a problem for charter boosters concerned about rising inflation that cuts the buying power of nearly half a billion dollars and higher interest rates that swell borrowing costs to pay for facilities.

— The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is asking Congress to approve $500 million for the programs. “We are disappointed that President Biden is proposing flat funding [for] the vital Charter Schools Program, which has been level funded by Congress since FY2019,” said Nina Rees, the alliance’s president and CEO, in a statement on Friday.

— But charter supporters are also praising a renewed department proposal to bring “greater flexibility” to how the program’s funds are spent. The department’s budget pitch notes a request for flexibility to “adjust” federal charter spending “in response to demand across the program components.” Similar language has also appeared in prior year charter program budget proposals.

— “As in past years, this year’s budget will again include a request of Congress to provide greater flexibility to the Department in its allocation of funds under the multiple authorities provided in ESSA’s Charter School Program,” a department spokesperson told POLITICO in a statement. “The Department is interested in utilizing this flexibility to ensure it can efficiently respond to demand for federal funds from the charter school community.”

Higher Education

PROMISE IN DUAL ENROLLMENT — More high schoolers are taking dual enrollment courses, which allow them to take their classes and simultaneously apply the credits toward a diploma and an associate degree. And while Biden’s college affordability agenda has stalled on Capitol Hill, the two-for-one special could cut the cost of college for many teens as the programs grow in popularity.

— It’s also helping community colleges shore up their enrollment. The two-year institutions saw a 12 percent spike this academic year in these programs. The resulting uptick in dual enrollment students has spurred a small increase in overall community college attendees from the last academic year — a much needed boost after those institutions faced the worst enrollment plunges due to the pandemic.

Governors in Arizona and Florida, and elsewhere, have been pushing to expand dual enrollment options as a way to streamline the path from high school to the workforce or quicken the path to a bachelor’s degree. Nearly all states have dual enrollment policies.

— Dual enrollment also provides access to courses in welding and other hands-on technical education to help high schoolers build skills that they can apply to a job or a certificate, a path Republicans in Congress have long touted as an alternative to a traditional college.

— Last week, Biden urged Congress to fund what his administration called the Career-Connected High Schools initiative, which would dole out $200 million for programs that align high school and college by expanding access to dual enrollment, work-based learning and college and career advising for students in high school.

Around California

 Students wear UC Berkeley school apparel as they walk through Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus.

University of California, Berkeley. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

CAL’S NOISE COMPLAINT — The People’s Park, a park near UC Berkeley that once hosted iconic protests against the Vietnam War, is now at the center of another public furor: loud parties, POLITICO’s Blake Jones and Matthew Brown report. The university, a state appellate court found, failed to account for “excessive noise” when it considered the environmental effects of building housing for 1,100 students in a park abutting a residential neighborhood.

— The neighborhood group that filed the lawsuit pointed to hundreds of complaints to the city about student parties and even hired a “noise expert” to describe the role of college partying in undergraduate life.

— UC Berkeley might still get the project at People’s Park built, but the legal challenge has set construction back months, if not years. The court ruling — based on a 1970 state environmental law meant to serve as a check on rampant development — has injected new uncertainty into housing plans at California’s public university campuses, many of which are in dire need of housing amid a yearslong expansion.

— Justice Teri L. Jackson worried aloud during oral arguments about a “great deal of social implications” that could stem from a broad reading of environmental rules on noise. But, she said, she was constrained by the law. “Noise is noise,” she said.

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Syllabus

— School district sued over handling of student’s pledge of allegiance protest: The New York Times

— Arizona launches hotline for public to report ‘inappropriate’ school lessons: CNN

— WA college-going rate dropped sharply during pandemic: The Seattle Times

— Republicans race to outdo each other on education: The Hill

— Texas families would get $8,000 in tax dollars to send students to private school in sweeping ‘parental rights’ bill backed by Lt. Gov.: The Texas Tribune

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