E-Update for the Week of August 20, 2018
- Last week, the Senate began consideration of an appropriations minibus (a combination of 2-3 bills), including the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Senate Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations Bill and the FY2019 Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Appropriations Bill. Amendments to the package will begin to be considered this week.
- On August 16, the Federal Commission on School Safety held its fifth meeting, with a focus on school building security, active shooter training for schools, and practitioner experience with school-based threat assessment. All four members of the Commission were in attendance at the meeting. During the meeting, US. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced the commission will hold its last field visit in Las Vegas, Nevada, this week and will visit the Miley Achievement Center.
- On August 16, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing titled “Oversight of Efforts to Protect Unaccompanied Alien Children from Human Trafficking and Abuse.” Additionally, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing titled “Oversight of the Care of Unaccompanied Alien Children,” on August 15.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):
Nevada Smarter Balanced Assessment Approved by USED: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) approved the state of Nevada’s use of the Smarter Balanced assessment for assessing student proficiency with its state standards for grades 3-8. The assessment had to be peer reviewed, and the Department informed the Nevada Department of Education its assessment met all the requirements under ESSA. The approval is the first time a Smarter Balanced assessment has received federal approval. Most other states who are using the assessment are still waiting on their final determination. The letter is here. An Education Week article about the approval is here.
July 24, 2018
Budget & Appropriations:
Senate Begins Consideration of Labor/HHS, Defense Appropriations Minibus: Last week the Senate began consideration of an appropriations minibus (a combination of 2-3 bills), including the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Senate Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations Bill and the FY2019 Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Appropriations Bill. Amendments to the package will begin to be considered this week. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) delivered remarks on the floor in regards to the package stating, “I am proud to present this legislation to my colleagues and urge their strong support. With the continued cooperation of my colleagues, I am confident that we will continue to get our work done in a deliberate and timely manner.” Chairman Shelby’s full remarks are here. The minibus package is here.
Additionally, the White House released a “Statement of Administrative Policy,” regarding the minibus package which states the Administration “looks forward to working with Congress as the FY2019 appropriations process moves forward.” Within the statement, which does not include an indication of if the President would veto or not the minibus package; however, there were multiple concerns raised regarding proposed education programs. Specifically, the Administration is “concerned” with funding 28 “unnecessary” programs, totaling $6 billion. Additionally, the statement claimed the $350 million for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is “wasteful,” and expressed frustration with the lack of funding for the President’s $1 billion Opportunity Grants program, which would support federal funding for school vouchers. The full statement is here.
August 16, 2018
California Congressional Delegation Calls for Student Loan Servicer to Follow State Regulations: On August 13, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) sent a letter to Nelnet, one of the country’s largest student loan servicing companies. Nelnet recently told the state of California it would not be following state regulations for one of its subsidiaries – Great Lakes Educational Loan Services. California has stricter regulations on student loan servicers, compared to the federal government, and Nelnet said the state’s regulations are preempted by federal law. The two California congresswomen strongly urged the company to reconsider its position, stating in part, “We do not believe your assertion that state regulation does not apply to student loan servicing conducted by Great Lakes has basis in federal statute or is consistent with Congressional intent.”
The Congresswomen were joined by fellow members of the California delegation, including Senate Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Reps. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Julia Brownley (D-CA). The letter is here. A press release from Senator Harris is here. A press release from Senator Feinstein is here.
August 13, 2018
Senate Homeland Security Committee Investigates Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors: The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing, on August 16, titled “Oversight of Efforts to Protect Unaccompanied Alien Children from Human Trafficking and Abuse.” Subcommittee Chairman Rob Portman said, “These federal agencies must do more to care for unaccompanied minors and ensure they are not trafficked or abused.” The opening statement by Subcommittee Chairman Rob Portman (R-OH) is here. The opening statement by Ranking Member Thomas Carper (D-DE) is here. A recording of the hearing and witness testimonies are available here.
Additionally, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing titled “Oversight of the Care of Unaccompanied Alien Children,” on August 15. The hearing focused on the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to account for the well-being of unaccompanied migrant children, even after they are turned over to an adult sponsor. Currently, HHS checks in with sponsors by phone after the children are released from government custody. The majority and minority staff report is here. A related Government Accountability Office report is here.
August 15 and 16, 2018
The House began its August recess on July 30. The House will return to session on September 4.
House Energy and Commerce Democratic Leadership Call for FTC to Monitor For-Profit Colleges: House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging the Commission to intensify its law enforcement of for-profit colleges. Specifically, the Members called for increased enforcement to mitigate fraudulent and predatory practices of some for-profit colleges. Further, the Members urged the FTC to engage in additional consumer outreach, focusing more intently on low-income, minority, and veteran populations. The press release is here. The letter is here.
August 13, 2018
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
DeVos Visits All-Girls STEM Camp: USED Secretary Betsy DeVos visited the Smithsonian’s “She Can” STEM Summer Camp, which provides sixth through eighth grade girls the opportunity to explore STEM fields. The camp was open to girls who attend Title I schools in the Washington, D.C. area. President Donald Trump donated his second quarter salary to the camp. The press release is here.
August 17, 2018
USED Launches FAFSA Mobile App: USED launched its mobile app for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The app, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, will allow students to complete their FAFSA application on their cell phones or mobile devices. The app is part of the Department’s larger goal to modernize student aid. An article by the Washington Post is here.
August 15, 2018
Schools Slow to Spend Disaster Relief Money, USED Distributes $350 Million More in Relief: On August 13, POLITICO reported that almost no funds have been spent that have been allocated to states to help with devastated schools. Awarded via the Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations program, almost $800 million has been allocated to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, California, Texas, Florida, and Georgia in response to recent hurricanes and wildfires. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jason Botel confirmed that only Texas has begun to spend a fraction of its grant. The funds are intended to help devastated schools quickly recover from hurricanes and wildfires by paying for minor remodeling and repairs, recovering student data, replacing lost software and hardware, renting mobile classroom units, developing curriculum, and more. The POLITICO article is here.
Related, on August 14, USED announced it will be distributing approximately $359.8 million in new federal assistance for 20 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The assistance is provided via the Temporary Emergency Impact Aid for Displaced Students program, and is intended to assist with the costs of educating students displaced by recent hurricanes and wildfires. Funds will be provided to states, who can then make payments to local educational agencies. A press release is here.
Navient Ordered to Provide Documents in CFPB Case: On August 10, a U.S. District judge ordered Navient to turn over documents related to the how the student loan company collects and manages the payments of federal student loan borrows. The judge ordered the documents be submitted to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The order comes amidst the ongoing case between the CFPB and Navient, in which the CFPB claims Navient defrauded student loan borrowers. Previously, the CFPB attempted to acquire the documents from USED, but the Department refused to provide any documents related to Navient. The court order is here.
Federal Commission on School Safety
School Safety Commission Discusses School Security, Training for Students, Staff at Recent Listening Session: On August 16, the Federal Commission On School Safety held its fifth meeting, with a focus on school building security, active shooter training for schools, and practitioner experience with school-based threat assessment. All four members of the Commission were in attendance at the meeting. Max Schachter, a father of a student killed during the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, urged the Administration to create a federal “school safety czar.” Mr. Schachter cited the creation of czars for the AIDS and Ebola crises. During the meeting, US. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also announced the commission will hold its last field visit in Las Vegas, Nevada, this week and will visit the Miley Achievement Center. No additional details of the visit have been announced. The media advisory for the August 16 meeting is here. A recording of the August 16 meeting is here.
Additionally, at an August 16 Cabinet Meeting, President Trump referred to the Commission, and commented on actions that he would like to see happen in regards to improving school safety. The President mentioned he would like to “harden our schools against attack,” which would include improving communications between relevant local agencies; improve early warning systems; and keep guns “out of the hands [of those] who pose a threat to themselves and to, more importantly, frankly, others.” USED Secretary DeVos also provided an update regarding the progress made by the Commission. The Secretary outlined the visits the Commission had made to this point, and concluded, “Culture and climate really matter in schools.” The full transcript from the Cabinet meeting is here.
August 16, 2018
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
Preschool Development Grant Applications Delayed: Last week, a notice inviting applications for new awards for the Preschool Development Grants, as authorized under ESSA, was expected to be released based on a prior U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grants forecast. The notice was not released as of August 17, and it is unclear as to when it will be published.
August 17, 2018
U.S. Department of Homeland Security:
Grace Period Offered for Expired Foreign Student Visas: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a revised memo in regards to foreign student visas. The memo offers a grace period for certain international students who are in the country on F, M, or J visas. Students who apply for renewal of their visa within five months after its expiration will have “unlawful presence” suspended pending the outcome of the visa application. The revised memo is here.
August 10, 2018
Upcoming Events (Congressional & Administration)
- This week, the Federal Commission on School Safety is expected to hold its last field visit in Las Vegas, Nevada. During the August 16 meeting of the Commission, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced the commission will visit the Miley Achievement Center. No additional details of the visit have been announced.
- On August 20, First Lady Melania Trump will speak at a government-led summit on cyberbullying prevention held in Rockville, MD. The summit is hosted by the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention, which was created in 2010 by the Obama Administration. The first lady is expected to discuss the positive and negative effects of social media on youth.
- On August 22 at 10:00 am, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing to consider pending nominations. Specifically, the Committee will question Elizabeth Darling, nominated as Commissioner on Children, Youth, and Families within the Department of Health and Human Services. The hearing will be webcast here.
- On September 16 to 19, the 2018 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week Conference will be hosted by the White House Initiative on HBCUs in Washington, D.C. The focus of the conference will be “HBCU Competitiveness: Aligning Instructional Missions with America’s Promise.” Registration and more information is here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On August 22, Education Week will host a webinar titled “How Big Data Can Help You Personalize Learning.” The webinar will address how data can be applied and the implications it has for personalized learning today and in the future. More information is here.
- On August 23, the Million Women Mentors will host a webinar titled, “The Elements of Effective Practice for Youth Mentoring Programs.” The webinar will discuss six research-based standards for mentoring programs. More information is here.
- On August 28, iNACOL will host a webinar titled, “Fit for Purpose: Taking the Long View on Systems Change and Policy to Support Competency Education.” The webinar will be a discussion on moving toward personalized, competency-based education in the United States. The webinar will reference an earlier iNACOL report focused on systems change toward competency-based education. More information is here. The iNACOL report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On August 16, the National Association of State Boards of Education released a policy update titled, “Collaborating to Support the Early Childhood Workforce.” The update examines the role of state and local policymakers, and professional associations when improving early childhood education. The update provides several recommendations, including the importance of establishing a clear vision and shared goals; collaboration with all the right stakeholders; recognizing strengths, defining roles, aligning responsibilities, and adapting to context; building in time for increasing awareness; and leveraging national organizations and peer learning to make connections and sharing resources. The full update is here.
- On August 16, the Manhattan Institute released a report titled, “Enforcing Classroom Disorder: Trump Has Not Called Off Obama’s War on School Discipline.” In the report, author Max Eden, discusses the implications of the January 2014 Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) on school discipline. Specifically, Eden examines data from OCR and claims OCR investigated 350 school districts with the “express purpose of coercing districts into changing their discipline policies.” The full report is here.
- On August 14, the Center for American Progress released a report titled, “How Medicaid Cuts Could Threaten Public School Students and Teachers in Every State.” The report conducted a state-by-state analysis to find that federal Medicaid payments made up an average of 17.7 percent of states’ local expenditures. The full report is here.
- On August 14, the Education Commission of the States released a report titled, “Redesigning State Financial Aid: Principles to Guide State Aid Policymaking.” The report offers four principles for state financial aid redesign: financial aid programs should be student-centered; financial aid programs should be goal driven and data-informed; financial aid programs should be timely and flexible; and financial aid programs should be broadly inclusive of all students’ educational pathways. The full report is here.
- On August 13, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers released a report titled, “Inside Charter School Growth: The Emergence of Non-District Authorizers.” The report finds, that for the first time, since data has been examined, new charter schools are being opened more frequently by entities other than local school districts. In 2016, 59 percent of all new charter schools were authorized by non-district authorizers. However, both district and non-district authorizers are opening fewer new schools compared to 2013. The full report is here.
- On August 13, the American Enterprise Institute released a report titled, “Federal Student Loan Defaults: What Happens After Borrowers Default and Why.” Key findings of the report include 70 percent of borrowers bring back their federal loans into good standing within five years after they have defaulted; five years after defaulting, 30 percent of borrowers pay off their loans in full; and, within five years after exiting default status, 30 percent of borrowers take out more loans, and another 25 percent default again on new or existing loans. The full report is here.
- On August 13, the Urban Institute released a report titled, “Underwater on Student Debt: Understanding Consumer Credit and Student Loan Default.” The report examined data from a major credit bureau to examine who defaults on their loans. Key findings of the report include borrowers who owe less than $5,000 were more likely than those with higher amounts to default within four years; the likelihood of defaulting on student loans was positively correlated with holding other collections debt; defaulters were more likely to reside in neighborhoods that have more residents of color and fewer adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher; and borrowers who defaulted saw an average credit score drop of 50 to 90 points the year or two before defaulting. The full report is here.
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require the Secretary to provide for the use of data from the second preceding tax year to carry out the simplification of applications for the estimation and determination of financial aid eligibility, to increase the income threshold to qualify for zero expected family contribution, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)