E-Update for the Week of July 8, 2019

E-Update for the Week of July 8, 2019

Highlights:

  • On July 2, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) published in the Federal Register a notice of a final rule regarding technical changes to Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). According to the executive summary, the final rule makes only technical changes to existing regulations to align them with the statutory changes from when ESSA was adopted. However, one additional change included in the published rule is the finalization of the Department’s decision to no longer enforce the restriction from religious organizations serving as contract providers of equitable services.
  • On July 1, USED announced that states are officially implementing their Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) one-year transition plans. The Department has reviewed and approved plans from every state, according to the release.
  • On June 28, USED published in the Federal Register a final rule regarding the Obama-era gainful employment regulation. The regulation previously required for-profit colleges and career programs to demonstrate their graduates were able to acquire “gainful employment” after graduation, meaning they would be able to earn a salary that allows them to pay back any student loan debt they may have accrued during their education. The final regulation published by the Trump administration fully repeals this regulation.

Congress:

Both the Senate and House were on recess last week in recognition of July Fourth. The Senate will return to session on July 8 and the House will return on July 9.

Administration:

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

USED finalizes position to no longer exclude religious organizations from providing equitable services: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) published in the Federal Register a notice of a final rule regarding technical changes to Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). According to the executive summary, the final rule makes only technical changes to existing regulations to align them with the statutory changes from when ESSA was adopted. However, one additional change included in the published rule is the finalization of the Department’s decision to no longer enforce the restriction from religious organizations serving as contract providers of equitable services. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) prohibited schools from contracting with religiously affiliated organizations for services such as tutoring, teacher training, technical assistance, and other work. The Department had previously stated, after the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decided in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, that it would not enforce the restriction anymore. The Trinity Lutheran decision reaffirmed the long-understood intent of the First Amendment to not restrict the free exercise of religion. Those seeking to provide high-quality educational services to students and teachers should not be discriminated against simply based on the religious character of their organization,” stated the Secretary in an earlier press release in response to the decision. The statement released did indicate the Department would ensure services offered by religious organizations were “secular, neutral, and non-ideological.”  Public comments will be accepted until August 1, 2019. The final rule is here. The previous Department press release is here.
July 2, 2019

States begin implantation of CTE one-year transition plans: On July 1, USED announced that states are officially implementing their Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) one-year transition plans. The Department has reviewed and approved plans from every state, according to the release. “As states begin to think about their long-term career and technical education strategies, I would encourage them to continue to act boldly and break down the silos that exist between education and industry so that all students are prepared for the in-demand, high-paying jobs of today’s economy and tomorrow’s,” stated USED Secretary Betsy DeVos. Within the announcement, the Department outline key “innovative ideas” that were found in the states’ plans. Such ideas include adjusting federal funding directed to community colleges and high schools based on labor market demands and employer needs; building partnerships between high schools and postsecondary institutions; incorporating the Department’s “Programs of Study Framework” and the Association for Career and Technical Education’s “Definition of High-Quality CTE” reports; piloting online courses; requiring all students to complete individualized success plans; and experimenting with competency-based learning. A press release is here.
July 1, 2019

USED repeals gainful employment regulation: USED published in the Federal Register a final rule regarding the Obama-era gainful employment regulation. The regulation previously required for-profit colleges and career programs to demonstrate their graduates were able to acquire “gainful employment” after graduation, meaning they would be able to earn a salary that allows them to pay back any student loan debt they may have accrued during their education. The final regulation published by the Trump administration fully repeals this regulation. The repeal is officially enacted on July 1, 2020, but the Department is exercising its authority to permit “early implementation” of the rule, essentially making it effective immediately. The notice is here.

Relatedly, a press release by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here. A press release by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member is here.
June 28, 2019

Applications for school safety grants now available: USED announced it is accepting applications for three fiscal year (FY) 2019 grant applications focused on “locally tailored approaches to school safety.” The programs include the Project Prevent grant, the School Climate Transformation grant, and the Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration grant. A press release is here.
June 28, 2019

Publications (Congressional and Administration):

  • On July 2, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report titled, “Adult Literacy in the United States.” The report summarizes findings from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Key findings of the report include identifying that White and Hispanic adults make up the 35 percent and 34 percent respectively of U.S. adults with low levels of English literacy; that 43 million adults possess low English literacy skills; and that U.S. born adults make up 66 percent of adults with low English literacy skills while non-U.S. adults make up 34 percent of the population with low literacy skills. The full report is here.

Publications (Outside Organizations):

  • On July 2, the Center for American Progress (CAP) published a report titled, “A Quality Education for Every Child: A New Agenda for Education Policy.” The report is series of policy priorities that CAP argues should be addressed during the 2020 election and beyond. Key recommendations of the report include applying an explicit race equity lens to policy development; preparing all students for college and the future workforce; modernizing and elevating the teaching profession; increasing investment in the nation’s public schools; and bringing a balanced approach to charter school policy. The full report is here.

Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):

  • On July 12, the House Oversight Committee is holding a hearing focused on the separation and treatment of immigrant children. The hearing will include testimony by acting U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and acting Commission of the U.S. Customs and Board protection Mark Morgan. A press release is here.

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations)

  • On July 9 at 11:00am, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is holding an event titled, “Beyond walls and tariffs: Responding to migration challenges at the US-Mexico border.” The panel discussion will focus on immigration across the southern border and what policy solutions could be applied to address the situation. More information and registration are here.
  • On July 10 at 10:30am, AEI is holding an event titled, “Robot-proof: Higher education in the age of artificial intelligence.” The event will feature Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University, as he discusses his new book focused on how colleges and universities need to respond to the advances in technology. More information and registration are here.
  • On July 12 at 1:00pm, the Forum for Youth Investment is holding an event titled, “Implementing a Whole Child Approach: A Thought Leader Conversation with Jonathan Raymond.” The webinar will feature Raymond, former superintendent of Sacramento Public Schools, as he discusses his new book focused on how to put children at the center of education and how to improve adult capacity to successfully implement a whole child approach to education. More information and registration are here.

Legislation:

H.R.3608

A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the ability of veterans to receive in-state tuition using educational assistance administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsor: Rep. David Roe (R-TN)

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