E-Update for the Week of February 11, 2019

E-Update for the Week of February 11, 2019

Highlights:

  • On February 4, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) delivered remarks at an American Enterprise Institute event titled, “An agenda for higher education reform.” During the event, the Chairman outlined his priorities when pursuing reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Chairman Alexander expressed that he would like to report a bill out of the HELP Committee by this spring and have the Senate pass a bill by the end of the summer. Included within the bill, the Chairman would like to see simplification of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the creation of a new income-based repayment plan, and the creation of a new accountability system for colleges based on borrower repayment of loans.
  • On February 5, CQ reported that President Donald Trump’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request would be released the week of March 11, with supplementary materials being released a week later. It is expected the first half of the release will feature the President’s budget message, overall funding requests for departments and agencies, and summary tables.
  • On February 5, the President delivered his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Few specific mentions to education and early childhood issues were included in the address. The President called on Congress to “pass school choice” and mentioned his budget request would include a plan for nationwide paid family leave. No details on either proposal have been outlined as of yet.

Budget & Appropriations:

Yarmuth, Womack both call for budget cap raise: The House Budget Committee held a hearing titled, “Investing in America’s Economic and National Security.” During the hearing Chairman John Yarmuth (D-KY) described the need to raise the budget caps, which will expire at the end of fiscal year (FY) 2019. “We face $126 billion in cuts to defense and non-defense discretionary spending next year…If we do not act again, investments that are vital to our economic and national security will face devastating cuts.” The Chairman called on Congress to reach a bipartisan agreement that raises the caps in order to avoid the mandatory cuts to defense and non-defense discretionary spending. Following the hearing, Ranking Member Steve Womack (R-AR) released a statement which also called for Congress to work to raise the caps. “It is important that the caps be increased gradually, particularly to accommodate defense spending. The Chairman’s full remarks are here. The Ranking Member’s statement is here.
February 7, 2019

President’s budget request expected week of March 11: CQ reported that President Donald Trump’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request would be released the week of March 11, with supplementary materials being released a week later. It is expected the first half of the release will feature the President’s budget message, overall funding requests for departments and agencies, and summary tables.
February 5, 2019

Congress:

Senate:

Alexander lays out plan for HEA reauthorization, focus on student loans and simplifying FAFSA: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) delivered remarks at an American Enterprise Institute event titled, “An agenda for higher education reform.” During the event, the Chairman outlined his priorities when pursuing reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Chairman Alexander expressed that he would like to report a bill out of the HELP Committee by this spring and have the Senate pass a bill by the end of the summer. Included within the bill, the Chairman would like to see simplification of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the creation of a new income-based repayment plan, and the creation of a new accountability system for colleges based on borrower repayment of loans. A press release from the Chairman is here. The full video of his remarks is here. The following are some additional specifics for his agenda:

  • FAFSA Simplification: Reducing the number of questions from 108 to a “couple dozen,” and to improve the sharing of data between the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help with completion of the application.
  • Income-Based Repayment: Borrowers would not have to pay more than 10 percent of their income and payments would be automatically deducted from their paychecks, similar to federal income taxes. Further, the Chairman described the new system would maintain the current law of automatically forgiving remaining balances after 20 years of payments.
  • Gainful-Employment: The Chairman wans to “simplify and expand” the Obama-era gainful employment rule, specifically the expansion of the rule to apply to all colleges and universities, not just career college programs.
  • Title IX: Although Chairman Alexander has commended the Department for pursuing changes to Title IX regulations on sexual harassment through a formal rulemaking process, the Chairman recognizes his Democratic colleagues do not support the current proposed rule. The Chairman alluded to Title IX being included in a reauthorization of the HEA. “It is my belief that Congress can address some of these issues,” stated Chairman Alexander.

February 5, 2019

House:

Scott focused on comprehensive HEA reauthorization: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) delivered remarks at an Inside Higher Ed event focused on the HEA. During the event, Chairman Scott indicated he expects and is open to compromise when reaching a bipartisan reauthorization agreement; however, such compromise would still need to take a comprehensive approach to the reauthorization. “We can’t waste this opportunity by passing a bill that only changes things on the margins,” stated the Chairman. He indicated reauthorization should include simplifying federal financial aid programs, increasing incentives for states to invest more in public higher education, allowing for tuition-free community college, and increasing federal oversight of higher education including the for-profit sector. The Chairman did not give any indication as to what timeline he is pursuing for the law’s reauthorization.
February 7, 2019

Administration:

White House:

President mentions, briefly, school choice, paid family leave in State of Union address: The President delivered his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. The State of the Union address offers a preview of potential areas of focus that can be expected to be seen in the fiscal year (FY) 2020 President’s budget request, which is expected to be released the week of March 11th.  The President’s only allusion to the remaining FY2019 spending agreements a notice of Congress having “10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our Government, protect our homeland, and secure our southern border.” Between the President’s address and the Democratic response, delivered Stacey Abrams, the largest area of shared sentiment was on the theme of bipartisanship for the sake of the nation as a whole.  Specifically, working collaboratively to support American families, workers, and creating opportunity for all in the country. Few specific mentions to education and early childhood issues were included in the address. The President called on Congress to “pass school choice” and mentioned his budget request would include a plan for nationwide paid family leave. No details on either proposal have been outlined as of yet. In response to the mention of school choice, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos released a statement expressing her willingness to work with Congress to provide American families with the “freedom to choose the right education” for their child regardless of income or where they live. The President’s full address is here. Stacey Abrams’s response is here. The full statement from Secretary DeVos is here.
February 5, 2019

Publications (Congressional and Administration):

  • On February 5, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) published a report titled, “Dual Enrollment: Participation and Characteristics.” The report analyzed data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 regarding student participation in courses that could result in earning college credit during high school. Key findings of the report include identifying that about 34 percent of students took courses for college credit while in high school; that students with parents who had a college degree were more likely to take dual enrollment courses compared to those with parents who have a high school diploma only; and that Hispanic and Black students had a lower level of participation (30 percent, 27 percent respectively) compared to White students (38 percent). The full report is here.

Publications (Outside Organizations):

  • On February 7, the Council of Graduate Schools published a report titled, “International Graduate Applications and Enrollments Continue to Decline at U.S. Institutions.” The report identifies that international graduate applications and first-time enrollment have declined by 4 percent and 1 percent, respectively, compared to Fall 2017. The report also identifies that students from China and India continue to represent the largest share of international graduate applications, first-time enrollment, and total international graduate enrollment. The full report is here.
  • On February 6, the Education Commission of the States published a report titled, “Trends in Pre-K Education Funding in 2017-18.” Key findings of the report include identifying that state funding for pre-K programs increased by $256 million (3.42 percent) between fiscal year 2017 and fiscal year 2018; that most states fund pre-K programs through legislative appropriations; and that Idaho, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wyoming did not provide state funding for pre-K programs. The full report is here.
  • On January 31, the Learning Policy Institute published a report titled, “Untangling the Evidence on Preschool Effectiveness: Insights for Policymakers.” The report analyzed the Tennessee Voluntary Pre-K program and Head start and evaluated the impacts they have on children life outcomes. Key findings of the report include identifying that students who participated in either of the programs had positive benefits on academic achievement, school progress, and educational attainment compared to students who did not participate in either program. The full report is here.

Upcoming Events (Congressional & Administration):

  • On February 12 at 10:15 am, the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a full committee hearing titled, “Underpaid Teachers and Crumbling Schools: How Underfunding Public Education Shortchanges America’s Students.” The hearing will focus on how current investments in public education have led to inadequate school buildings, especially in rural communities. Witnesses for the hearing have not yet been announced. A webcast of the hearing and more information are here.
  • On February 13 at 10:00 am, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a full committee hearing titled, “Homeless in America: Examining the Crisis and Solutions to End Homelessness.” No details or witnesses have been announced. More information is here.

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):

  • On February 12 at 4:00 pm, the Thomas Fordham Institute and Hoover Institution are co-hosting an event titled, “Education 20/20: Eliot Cohen and Yuval Levin.” The event will feature a debate between the two headliners regarding the purpose of civic education, including if it should be focused on character formation or on history and democratic processes. More information and registration are here.
  • On February 14 at 9:00 am, the American Council on education (ACE) is hosting an event titled, “Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: A Status Report.” The event will feature ACE’s recent report of the same title, which examined over 200 indicators to evaluate who gains access to a variety of educational environments and experiences, and how trajectories differ by race and ethnicity. More information and registration are here.

Legislation:

H.R.854
A bill to reform the GEAR UP program.
Sponsor: Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX)

H.R.958
A bill to protect Native children and promote public safety in Indian country.
Sponsor: Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ)

H.R.981
A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to create a demonstration project to fund additional secondary school counselors in troubled title I schools to reduce the dropout rate.
Sponsor: Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA)

H.R.989
A bill to promote registered apprenticeships and other work-based learning programs for small and medium-sized businesses within in-demand industry sectors, through the establishment and support of industry or sector partnerships.
Sponsor: Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)

H.R.1043
A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the exclusion for employer-provided educational assistance to employer payments of qualified education loans.
Sponsor: Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA)

H.R.1054
A bill to strengthen the capacity and competitiveness of historically Black colleges and universities through robust public-sector, private-sector, and community partnerships and engagement, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC)

H.R.1066
A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to require a school food authority to make publicly available any waiver of the Buy American requirement, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)

H.R.1075
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to amend the process by which students with certain special circumstances apply for Federal financial aid.
Sponsor: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD)

H.R.1094
A bill to authorize the Secretary of Defense to make grants to support the study of world languages in elementary schools and secondary schools.
Sponsor: Rep. David Price (D-NC)

S.323
A bill to direct the Secretary of Education to establish the Recognition Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Program recognizing excellence exhibited by classified school employees providing services to students in prekindergarten through high school.
Sponsor: Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)

S.342
A bill to reauthorize title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965 in order to improve and encourage innovation in international education, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Todd Young (R-IN)

S.379
A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permit amounts paid for programs to obtain a recognized postsecondary credential or a license to be treated as qualified higher education expenses for purposes of a 529 account.
Sponsor: Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

S.416
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to amend the process by which students with certain special circumstances apply for Federal financial aid.
Sponsor: Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)

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