E-Update for April 14, 2017

E-Update for April 14, 2017

Highlights

  • Congress is on Easter recess until April 23 and will reconvene on April 24.
  • On April 10, the U.S. Department of Education’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education released a Dear Colleague Letter regarding ESSA implementation.
  • On April 11, USED Secretary DeVos sent a letter to Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer James Runcie announcing her decision to withdraw policy memos from the Obama Administration regarding the student loan servicing procurement process.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

USED Acting Assistant Secretary Releases ESSA Implementation Dear Colleague Letter: The U.S. Department of Education’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education released a Dear Colleague Letter regarding ESSA implementation. The letter specifically addresses the timeline for school support and improvement activities, including a state’s option to delay identification of schools for comprehensive and targeted support and improvement until the 2018-2019 school year, as well as a state’s options for identifying and supporting schools in the 2017-2018 school year without an approved ESSA state plan. The letter also clarifies the stakeholder consultation requirements for consolidated state plans, noting that states must meet the statutory requirements under ESSA in the development of the state plan, but adding that a state does not have to explain in the plan how it met the requirements. The letter can be found here.
April 10, 2017

Congress:

House:

Ranking Member Davis Writes Article on Supporting Trans Youth: Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development Susan Davis (D-CA) wrote an article for The Advocate entitled, “What Betsy DeVos Can Do for Trans Youth.” In the article, Ranking Member Davis recommends that USED Secretary DeVos meet with state and district leaders to discuss best practices for supporting trans youth. The article can be found here.
April 11, 2017

Senate:

Democratic Senators Send Letter to GAO on Tax Credit Scholarships: Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office requesting a study of tax credit scholarships across the country. In the letter, the Senators cite concerns about potential fraud and conflicts of interest within these programs. The letter can be found here.
April 14, 2017

Senators Host Briefing on MIECHV Program: Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) hosted a briefing on the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV) to highlight the benefits of the program for families across the country.
April 11, 2017

Democratic Senators Send Letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Regarding DoD Policy on Compliance of Educational Institutions: Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee Patty Murray sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis regarding their concerns about the Department of Defense’s (DoD) new policy “to ensure regulatory compliance by educational institutions that receive DoD Tuition Assistance funds.” The Senators request that Secretary of Defense Mattis explain the methodology that will be used to audit the institutions and how the Department will avoid conflicts of interest or potential misconduct in the auditing process. The press release can be found here and the letter here.
April 7, 2017

Democratic Senators Send Letter to Secretary DeVos on Concern for Public Loan Forgiveness Borrowers: A group of Democratic Senators, including Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee Patty Murray and Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), and Bill Nelson (D-FL), sent a letter to USED Secretary DeVos regarding their concern about New York Times reports that student loan borrowers “may not be able to rely on notices they have previously received about their eligibility for Public Loan Forgiveness.” In the letter, the Senators request that USED Secretary DeVos increase transparency, efficiency, and notice processes for Public Loan Forgiveness borrowers. The press release can be found here and the letter here.
April 6, 2017

Administration:

Transition

USED Secretary DeVos Announces Senior Staff Members for the Department: This week, Secretary DeVos announced several senior staff members for the Department. Staff include Chief of Staff Josh Venable, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Ebony Lee, Senior Counselor to the Secretary Robert Eitel, Acting Under Secretary James Manning, and Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Jason Botel. The press release can be found here.
April 12, 2017

President Trump Announces Intent to Nominate HHS Assistant Secretary: President Trump announced his intention to nominate Stephen T. Parente to serve as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, Planning and Evaluation. Dr. Parente is Minnesota Insurance Industry Chair of Health Finance in Carlson School of Management, Associate Dean of MBA and MS Programs, and Director of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota. He also serves as a Congressional Budget Office health advisor. The press release can be found here.
April 7, 2017

U.S. Department of Education (USED)

USED Secretary DeVos Sends Letter Withdrawing Obama Policy Memos on Student Loan Servicing Procurement Process: USED Secretary DeVos sent a letter to Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer James Runcie announcing her decision to withdraw policy memos from the Obama Administration regarding the student loan servicing procurement process. In the letter, USED Secretary DeVos states, “We must create a student loan servicing environment that provides the highest quality customer service and increases accountability and transparency for all borrowers, while also limiting the cost to taxpayers.” Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee Patty Murray released a statement expressing concerns about USED Secretary DeVos’s decision to withdraw the policy memos. In her statement, Ranking Member Murray notes that the withdrawal will benefit student loan companies while harming student loan borrowers. The press release can be found here and the letter here. Ranking Member Murray’s statement can be found here.
April 11, 2017

USED Secretary DeVos met with the following individuals and groups this week:

  • Michigan First Lady Sue Snyder to discuss higher education and campus sexual assault. Her statement can be found here.
    April 13, 2017
  • Higher education groups, including the American Council on Education and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. In her statement, USED Secretary DeVos noted that expanding higher education access and affordability is a top priority for the Department. Her statement can be found here.
    April 12, 2017
  • Chancellor of the University of Georgia System Steve Wrigley and Georgia State Rep. Earl Ehrhart to discuss higher education issues in Georgia. Rep. Earl Ehrhart is currently supporting a measure in Georgia to restrict colleges and universities from investigating allegations of sexual assault without police involvement. The press release can be found here.
    April 12, 2017
  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to discuss education in Chicago, the major’s plans to expand opportunity for more students, and the city’s rising graduation rate. The press release can be found here.
    April 12, 2017
  • Val Hoekstra, the middle school director and principal of Inwood Academy for Leadership, a New York City public charter school.
    April 11, 2017

Secretary DeVos Accepts Invitation From AFT President: USED Secretary DeVos released a statement accepting American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten’s invitation to visit a school in Van Wert, Ohio. In her statement, Secretary DeVos stated that she “support[s] and celebrate[s] all great schools.” Her statement can be found here.
April 7, 2017

Publications:

Institute of Education Sciences’ National Center for Education Statistics Releases Report on the Teaching Force: The Institute of Education Sciences’ National Center for Education Statistics released a report entitled, “A Quarter Century of Changes in the Elementary and Secondary Teaching Force: From 1987 to 2012.” The report includes information on teachers’ level of experience, race/ethnic diversity, and the number of teachers across different types of teachers and schools. Among the findings, the report states that the teacher work force grew 46% percent and became more diverse within the 25 year period. The report can be found here.
April 13, 2017

Events:

Brookings Institution Discussion on Effects of Pre-K: The Brookings Institution will hold a discussion on “What we Know about the Effects of Pre-K in 6 Consensus Statements.” During the event, attendees will hear from a number of prominent professors from across the country, as well as Tennessee Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen. More information can be found here.
April 17, 2017

Legislation:

S. Res. 126
A resolution expressing support for the designation of the week of April 10 through April 14, 2017, as “National Assistant Principals Week”.
Sponsor: Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE)

S. 888
A bill to amend the Higher Education Opportunity Act to add disclosure requirements to the institution financial aid offer form and to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to make such form mandatory.
Sponsor: Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

S. 889
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to make technical improvements to the Net Price Calculator system so that prospective students may have a more accurate understanding of the true cost of college.
Sponsor: Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

S. 900
A bill to improve the Federal Pell Grant program, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

S. 910
A bill to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities who need long-term services and support, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)

H.R. 2084
A bill to improve the Federal Pell Grant program, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)

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