E-Update for March 19, 2018

E-Update for March 19, 2018

Highlights

  • This E-Update covers the period of March 12 through March 16.
  • The House and Senate Appropriations Committees continue work to negotiate a final Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill prior to the current expiration of federal funding on March 23. It is expected that a bill could be released as early as this evening.
  • On March 14, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing titled, “See Something, Say Something: Oversight of the Parkland Shooting and Legislative Proposals to Improve School Safety.” Florida Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) testified at the hearing.
  • On March 14, the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 407-10, H.R. 4909, the “STOP School Violence Act of 2018,” which will support evidence-based violence prevention programs (companion bill is sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch – S. 2495). The bill was endorsed by the White House and U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos.
  • On March 12, the White House unveiled its school safety proposal in response to the recent tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The Trump Administration also announced the creation of a Federal Commission on School Safety, which will be chaired by USED Secretary DeVos.

Congress:

Senate:

Senate HELP Committee Approves USED and IES Nominations: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held an executive session to consider the nominations of several individuals to key Administration posts, including Frank Brogan to be U.S. Department of Education (USED) Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education and Mark Schneider, Ph.D., to be Director of the Institute of Education Science (IES). Both Mr. Schneider and Mr. Brogan were approved, and can now be considered by the full Senate. More information is available here. Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) statement is available here.
March 14, 2018

Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Parkland Shooting and School Safety Legislation: The Senate Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing titled, “See Something, Say Something: Oversight of the Parkland Shooting and Legislative Proposals to Improve School Safety.” Florida Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) testified at the hearing. During his opening statement, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) discussed he support as a cosponsor of S. 2495, the “STOP School Violence Act,” which was drafted by Senate Judiciary Committee member Orrin Hatch (R-WY). The bill authorizes Department of Justice grants of $50 million per year for training and other initiatives intended to enhance school safety and $25 million per year for physical improvements to schools. Chairman Grassley also highlighted the need to address systemic issues which resulted in the Federal Bureau of investigation (FBI) failing to act on information that was received and may have prevented the Parkland shooting on February 14.

Chairman Grassley also announced that he would introduce a bill called the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Memorial Act of 2018,” that would fund research into school violence prevention through the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center. Chairman Grassley stated that the bill will, “enable the National Threat Assessment Center to train more of our nation’s schools in how to conduct threat assessments and early interventions.” Chairman Grassley’s opening statement is available here.
March 14, 2018

House:

House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee Holds Hearing on the Role of Work in Welfare Programs: The House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a hearing titled, “Strengthening Access and Accountability to Work in Welfare Programs.” During his opening statement, Chairman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) discussed the benefits of work requirements in public benefit programs. Specifically, he stated the requirements give families the opportunity to “grow the skills they need to succeed and eventually reenter the workforce,” and “ help Americans provide for themselves, their families, and pursue the full extent of the American dream.” Chairman Guthrie’s opening statement is available here. More information is available here.
March 15, 2018

House Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee Holds Hearing on FY2019 HHS Budget Request: The House Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing to review the FY2019 HHS budget request. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alexander Azar testified. During his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) stated that he looked forward to hearing Secretary Azar’s testimony regarding the Department’s actions to solve the opioid epidemic. Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) expressed, among other concerns, disappointment during her opening statement due to the budget’s elimination of the Preschool Development Grants (PDG) and cuts to Medicaid.
March 15, 2018

House of Representatives Passes School Violence Prevention Bill: The House of Representatives passed by a vote of 407-10 H.R. 4909, the “STOP School Violence Act of 2018,” which as noted above will support evidence-based violence prevention programs (companion bill is sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch – S. 2495).  The bill was endorsed by the White House and USED Secretary Betsy DeVos. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) made a statement following House passage of the “STOP School Violence Act of 2018” in which she urged the importance of all children feeling safe in their schools, and confident in the security of their learning environments. Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) also made a statement in response to the passage of the bill, stating, “While I applaud the bill’s provisions to support implementation of evidence-based staff training and school-based threat assessments, I remain concerned with any federal efforts to increase law enforcement presence in schools.” Chairwoman Foxx’s statement is available here and Ranking Member Scott’s statement here. White House statement is available here.
March 14, 2018

Administration:

Key School Safety Meetings/Announcements:

  • On March 16, CNN published an Op Ed by USED Secretary Devos in which she outlined the Administration’s school safety plan and stated, “finding solutions to improve school safety will be difficult, but we can’t shy away from seeking answers just because they are hard. Inaction is not an option.” The Op Ed is available here.
  • On March 14, thousands of students and teachers from across the nation participated in a walkout to pay tribute to the 17 people who were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14 and to urge lawmakers to pass stricter gun control laws.
  • On March 13, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released a statement following a meeting with USED Secretary Devos as the chairwoman of the Federal Commission on School Safety. Ranking Member Murray said, “I appreciated that Secretary DeVos came to meet with me, but I was extremely disappointed at how the meeting went. I was hoping that Secretary DeVos would be able to talk to me about real and meaningful steps she could move quickly on as head of President Trump’s new gun commission, but everything I heard from her in our conversation suggested that this is just the latest effort to delay and shift the conversation away from the gun safety reforms that people across the country are demanding.” Ranking Member Murray’s statement is available here.
    • Following the meeting, Ranking Member Murray wrote to USED Secretary DeVos on March 16, to request answers to specific questions regarding the work of the commission, including “goals, timeline, membership, and how much influence the NRA will have.” The tweet is available here.
  • On March 12, the White House unveiled its school safety proposal in response to the recent tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The proposal outlines how U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) assistance programs can be leveraged to enable schools to partner with state and local law enforcement to provide firearms training for school personnel. Additionally, the proposal includes support for legislation and reforms to strengthen background checks and law enforcement operations. President Trump is also proposing an expansion and reform of mental health programs, including those that help identify and treat individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others. The fact sheet is available here.
    • In response to the Administration’s school safety proposal, Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee Bobby Scott (D-VA) released a statement in which he called the President’s proposals “inadequate and concerning,” and stated that going forward our approach to these issues “must include not only commonsense gun violence prevention measures, but also better access to mental health, inclusive and welcoming school climates, and early interventions to provide positive supports to help students succeed.” Ranking Member Scott’s statement is available here.
  • On March 12, USED Secretary DeVos appeared on the TODAY Show to speak about the Administration’s school safety plan. Regarding the issue of raising the minimum age to purchase certain types of firearms, Secretary DeVos said that “everything is on the table.” She also spoke on the topic of arming teachers in schools, stating, “This is an issue that is best decided by local communities and by states.” More information is available here.
  • On March 12, USED Secretary DeVos appeared on the television show Fox and Friends to again speak about the Administration’s actions on school safety. Secretary DeVos discussed the bipartisan support for background checks and the STOP School Violence Act, and also stated that the President is “committed to taking action.” More information is available here.
  • On March 11, the Trump Administration announced the creation of a Federal Commission on School Safety, which will be chaired by USED Secretary DeVos. The commission will examine school safety and the culture of violence and will recommend policy and funding proposals for school violence prevention. Specifically, the commission will study age restrictions for certain firearm purchases and repeal of the Obama Administration’s “Rethink School Discipline” policies, among other areas. The Department will be collecting public input on the topic of school safety at safety@ed.gov. The fact sheet is available
  • On March 11, USED Secretary DeVos appeared on 60 Minutes where she said arming teachers “should be an option for states and communities to consider,”…”But no one size fits all. Every state and every community is going to address this issue in a different way.” The Politico article is available here.
    • Secretary DeVos faced criticism in the days following the 60 Minutes interview, and she posted on Twitter three times on Monday, March 12 to defend herself, claiming that the interview was unfairly edited and failed to mention any of the positive data that USED had provided to CBS regarding student test scores in Michigan. Secretary DeVos’s Twitter account is available here.

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

USED Conducts Third Session of Gainful Employment Negotiated Rulemaking Committee: On March 12-15, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) conducted a third session of the Gainful Employment Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. Throughout the meetings, the panel reviewed proposed regulatory language on issues such as debt calculations, sanctions, and reporting requirements.
Week of March 12, 2018

30 Attorneys General Pen Letter to Congressional Leadership Regarding PROSPER Act: The Attorneys General (AG) of 29 states and the District of Columbia, led by New York’s Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, and Colorado’s Cynthia Coffman, a Republican, wrote a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to exclude a provision in the House Republican HEA reauthorization bill – H.R. 4508, the “PROSPER Act” – which would, “prohibit states from overseeing, licensing, or addressing certain state law violations by companies that originate, service, or collect on student loans.” The AGs stated, “Preempting state laws that apply to these companies would wrongly interfere with traditional state police powers and potentially harm the students and borrowers who rely on the federal student loan program.”
March 15, 2018

Politico Reports that USED will Dismantle Budget Office: Politico released a report that USED Secretary Devos is in the process of taking steps to dismantle USED’s budget office. According to the article, the budget division responsible for cost estimation and analysis will be moved to the Office of Federal Student Aid, budget personnel overseeing specific programs will move to various program offices, and other remaining functions and staffers in the budget office will be moved to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. Additionally, the article noted that Secretary DeVos has reassigned several Senior Executive Service employees, including Erica Navarro, who was budget service director, to the Office for Civil Rights; Craig Stanton, who directed the budget division for special education, rehabilitation, research and postsecondary analysis, to the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education; Sandra Battle, who was the deputy assistant secretary of enforcement in the Office for Civil Rights, to the Office of the Deputy Secretary; and Chief Privacy Officer Kathleen Styles was also reassigned.
March 14, 2018

USED Announces Measures to Provide Relief to Students and Schools Impacted by Hurricanes: USED Secretary DeVos announced that relief loans for the four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) struck by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 will be fully forgiven. Under the HBCU Hurricane Supplemental Loan program in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, funds were made available to fully forgive the loans of Dillard University, Southern University at New Orleans, Tougaloo College and Xavier University of Louisiana. The press release is available here. Additionally, USED Secretary DeVos announced that $22.9 million in unexpended funds will be reallocated to, “aid students who attend colleges and universities located in Federal Emergency Management Agency-declared major disaster areas impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as postsecondary schools across the nation that have enrolled a significant number of students from the affected areas.” USED will provide $5.4 million through the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) Program, and $17.5 million through the Federal Work-Study program. The press release is available here.
Week of March 12, 2018

USED Secretary DeVos Delivers Remarks at National PTA Legislative Conference: USED Secretary DeVos delivered remarks to the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Legislative Conference. During her remarks, Secretary DeVos urged the country to come together and “focus on finding common ground and common sense solutions.” The Secretary also discussed steps that should be taken to address the issue of gun violence in schools, such as expanding and reforming mental health programs, Congress enacting legislation to strengthen background checks and focus on violence prevention, and finally the creation of the Federal Commission on School Safety which she will be leading. Lastly, Secretary DeVos stated that we need to “rethink” the way our school system is designed to allow for more school choice and innovation in education.
March 13, 2018

NGA Issues Statement Regarding USED’s Notice on Federal Student Loan Servicers: The National Governors Association (NGA) issued a statement following USED’s recent notice in the Federal Register clarifying the Department’s view on “Federal Preemption and State Regulation of the Department of Education’s Federal Student Loan Programs and Federal Student Loan Servicers.” The notice outlines USED’s position that only the federal government has the authority to oversee federal student loan servicers. The notice can be found here. NGA expressed concern over USED’s notice, stating, “With this declaration, the department moves to block state policies protecting student borrowers by establishing a federal regulatory ceiling.”
March 12, 2018

Upcoming Events:

  • March 19 is the deadline for House members to submit their priorities for FY2019 funding to the House Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee. More information is available here.
  • On March 20, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Bobby Scott (D-VA), Committee Democrats, and Democratic leadership will hold a forum on school safety and violence prevention. More information is available here.
  • On March 20, the House Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a hearing at 10:00 a.m. to review the FY2019 USED budget request. USED Secretary DeVos will testify. More information is available here.
  • On March 20, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing at 10:00 a.m. to consider the nominations of John J. Bartrum, of Indiana, to be an HHS Assistant Secretary and Lynn A. Johnson, of Colorado, to be HHS Assistant Secretary for Family Support. More information is available here. The press release is available here.
  • On March 21, the House Oversight Government Operations Subcommittee and Intergovernmental Affairs Subcommittee will hold a joint hearing at 10:00 a.m. on “Improper Payments in State-Administered Programs: Medicaid.” More information is available here.
  • On March 21, the Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing at 10:30 a.m. on the Economic Report of the President. Kevin Hassett, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, will testify. More information is available here.
  • On April 10, USED will release the results of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) will be released. National and state results from the 2017 NAEP in reading and mathematics will be released at 10:00 a.m., and results for 27 urban districts will be released at 1:00 p.m.  Registration and further details will be available soon.
  • On April 11-12, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute will conduct a summit to assess the American education landscape in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the seminal report: “A Nation at Risk.” The steering committee for the summit includes Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and former USED Secretaries John King, Arne Duncan, Margaret Spellings and Richard Riley, among others. Summit information is available here.
  • On April 23, USED will host “ParentCamp,” a free day of workshop sessions facilitated by USED staff and invited guests where families, educators, and faith-based and community representatives can share experiences, concerns, and solutions regarding their children’s education. Registration will close on April 6. Registration is available here.
  • On May 22-24, NACIQI will hold its Spring 2018 meeting at which time the performance of accrediting agencies currently undergoing review and evaluation for purposes of recognition by the USED will be discussed. The specific list of accrediting agencies, including the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (which was terminated last year under the Obama Administration and is seeking reinstatement), can be found in this notice. Written comments about the recognition of a specific accrediting or State agency must be received by February 16.
  • June 1 is the deadline to submit written testimony from outside witnesses to the Senate Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee. More information is available here.

Publications:

  • On March 15, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) released its 2018 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP. In the report, three aspects of Medicaid that have been of high interest to Congress are addressed, including managed care, telehealth, and disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payment. The press release is available here and the report here.
  • On March 15, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released new data reports looking at trends in bullying at school over time, repetition and power imbalance as components of the uniform definition of bullying, and the relationship between students’ feelings of safety in school and their perceptions about the level of crime in their home neighborhoods and school neighborhoods. Data and reports are available here.
  • On March 13, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) released the report “Single Study Review Finds Rigorous Evidence for Mainstreaming College Students in Mathematics Courses.” This review focused on research that examined the impact of mainstreaming, or placing students who are in need of remedial courses into regular degree-track courses, college freshmen into college-level quantitative courses. The review is available here.
  • On March 12, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released data which shows where the agency sent GI Bill tuition and fee payments in FY2017, including, “names of institutions, states, countries, school classifications, number of enrolled beneficiaries, total amount paid to each institution by fiscal year and grand total money spent.” The press release is available here.
  • On March 6, NCES published a Statistics in Brief titled, “Public School Teacher Autonomy, Satisfaction, Job Security, and Commitment: 1999–2000 and 2011–12.” The brief highlights changes in teacher autonomy, satisfaction, job security, and commitment between 1999–2000 and 2011–12, focusing on patterns between perceived level of autonomy and perceptions of job security, satisfaction, and commitment. The brief is available here.

Legislation:

H.R.5318
A bill to establish State infrastructure banks for education.
Sponsor: Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA)

H.R.5312
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to reauthorize the Federal work-study program, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)

H.R.5307
A bill to require that certain Federal education funds be used for the improvement of security at elementary and secondary schools.
Sponsor: Rep. Stephen Knight (R-CA)

H.R.5277
A bill to require the Financial Literacy and Education Commission to establish and publish best practices for teaching financial literacy for institutions of higher education, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH)

H.R.5268
A bill to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security, through the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to make grants to eligible local education agencies to provide improved security measures on school grounds, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN)

H.R.5251
A bill to make demonstration grants to eligible local educational agencies or consortia of eligible local educational agencies for the purpose of increasing the numbers of school nurses in public elementary schools and secondary schools.
Sponsor: Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)

H.Con.Res.114
A concurrent resolution recognizing the contributions of the public elementary schools and secondary schools in the United States as an investment in our country’s future and expresses the position of Congress that public funds should be spent to strengthen public elementary and secondary schools.
Sponsor: Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)

H.Res.779
A resolution expressing support for the designation of the week of March 12 through 16, 2018, as “Public Education Week”.
Sponsor: Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)

S.2547
A bill to provide assistance for educational facilities, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator John Kennedy (R-LA)

S.2542
A bill to amend part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to provide full Federal funding of such part.
Sponsor: Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

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