E-Update for March 30, 2018

E-Update for March 30, 2018

Highlights:

  • This E-Update covers the period of March 19 through March 30, 2018.
  • This week, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos approved Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) consolidated state plans Texas, Idaho, Mississippi, and Rhode Island. USED has approved plans for 37 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico thus far. Thirteen state plans remain to be approved. The press release is available here.
  • On March 28, the first meeting of the Federal Commission on School Safety was held. The meeting followed the March For Our Lives held in Washington, D.C., earlier in the week.
  • On March 23, the Omnibus Appropriations bill finalizing funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The bill sets funding levels for key early learning and education programs for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Key School Safety Meetings and Announcements

  • On March 28, the first meeting of the recently formed Federal Commission on School Safety, which USED Secretary has DeVos has been appointed to chair, was held in Washington, D.C., during which members discussed “the scope of the Commission’s work, timeline, locations for meetings and topics for field hearings.” Earlier, in the week, USED Secretary DeVos announced that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar, and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen had been appointed to the Commission. Members of the public with recommendations on how to increase school safety can send them to safety@ed.gov. The press release is available here.
  • On March 27, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) told the Associated Press that he does not support the idea of arming teachers to protect students at schools. The comment comes at a time when the topic of how to keep students safe in schools is being discussed often, and is at odds with President Trump’s support for the strategy of arming experienced and well-trained teachers. An Education Week article is available here.
  • On March 26, USED Secretary DeVos penned an op-ed in the Washington Examiner titled, “How the omnibus spending law makes schools safer.” In the op-ed, Secretary DeVos touts several provisions in the bill, such as the $700 million increase for Title IV – Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, which can be used for counseling and mental health service programs. Additionally, the Secretary praised the STOP School Violence Act, which 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. The op-ed is available here.
  • On March 24, the March For Our Lives rally was held in Washington, D.C., to demand action from Congress on gun control. The rally was spurred by the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month where 17 people were killed. Speakers included students from across the country who had been affected by gun violence, including several students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where the February 14 shooting took place. Over 800 similar marches also took place across the world on Saturday.
  • On March 21, 10 Democratic Senators from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee sent a letter to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) requesting a hearing on the “causes and remedies of school shootings.” The letter states that it is the responsibility of the Senators to “address gun violence like the public health crisis that it is, investigate the causes of these deadly acts of violence and hatred, and make policy changes to ensure that they no longer happen.” The letter is available here.
  • On March 21, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released a statement regarding language in the Omnibus Appropriations bill which “affirmed the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct research on the public health threat of gun violence.” Ranking Member Murray referenced HHS Secretary Azar’s past statements that gun violence research would be a “priority” for the Department. The statement is available here.
  • On March 20, House Committee on Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), Committee Democrats and Democratic leadership held a forum titled, “Preventing School Shootings: A Comprehensive Approach.” During the forum, members heard from current and former principals, teachers, and students affected by gun violence in schools. More information is available here and press release here.

Budget & Appropriations

Omnibus Appropriations Bill Signed Into Law: The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill, H.R.1625, was released. The bill sets funding levels for key early learning and education programs for the remainder of the fiscal year. The House passed the bill on a 256-167 vote, and the Senate passed the bill on a 65-32 vote. On March 23, President Trump signed the bill into law. Text of the bill is available here. An LHHS explanatory document is available here. President Trump’s remarks at the bill’s signing are available here. The White House press release is available here. The House Appropriations Committee press release is available here. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen’s (R-NJ) statement is available here, and Ranking Member Nita Lowey’s (D-NY) statement is available here. Senate Appropriations Committee press release on the bill’s release is available here. Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) statement and press release is available here.
March 22, 2018

House LHHS Subcommittee Holds Hearing on FY19 USED Budget Request: The House Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing to review the FY2019 USED budget request, during which USED Secretary DeVos testified. The hearing included a series of contentious questions on topics, including racial bias and school discipline, gun violence, and school vouchers. Other issues that were raised at the hearing included career and technical education, charter schools, and STEM education. USED Secretary DeVos’s prepared remarks are available here.
March 20, 2018

Congress:

“FAFSA Fairness Act of 2018” Introduced in the House; Companion Bill Introduced in Senate: House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) introduced H.R. 860, the “FAFSA Fairness Act of 2018,” which is meant to simplify the process to apply for and receive federal student financial aid for students who do not have contact with their parents. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the companion bill – S. 1567 – in the Senate. The House bill is available here and the Senate bill here.
March 23, 2018

Senate:

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Enzi Sends Letter to HHS Secretary Azar on Early Education Programs: This week, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar requesting his help to “consolidate fragmented and overlapping early education programs.” “It is important for Congress to have this information in order to conduct oversight and ensure the proper use and maximum impact of public funds spent in this area,” wrote Senator Enzi. “Investments in early learning and child care programs can benefit the nation and save taxpayers down the road, and we have a duty to all our citizens, particularly those served by these programs, to ensure the wise and efficient use of those resources.” The letter is available here.
Week of March 26, 2018

House:

Linda Brown of Brown v. Board of Education Case Passes Away; House Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott Issues Statement: House Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) issued a statement following the passing of Linda Brown, who as a child was at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) case Brown v. Board of Education, which ended legal segregation in public schools. Ranking Member Scott stated that Ms. Brown’s work is “far from over,” referencing the, “millions of public school students [who] remain segregated by race.” He also stated that our nation “owes a huge debt to Ms. Brown for her sacrifice and perseverance.”
March 27, 2018

House Committee on Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott Sends Letter to USED Secretary DeVos on School Discipline Guidance: House Committee on Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to USED Secretary DeVos urging USED to maintain a 2014 School Discipline Guidance Package, which outlines the non-discrimination requirements under Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and, “reminds schools of their legal obligations to administer student discipline without discriminating on the base of race, color, or national origin.” Ranking Member Scott also requested that the Department wait to make any decision regarding the guidance until after the public has access to a new GAO report which will be published soon regarding disparities in discipline policies and practices applied to students of color, boys, and students with disabilities.
March 19, 2018

Administration:

White House:

President Trump Announces Vocational Technical Education Week; Speaks at Generation Next Summit: President Trump proclaimed the week of March 18th through March 24th, 2018, as Vocational Technical Education Week, calling upon “public officials, educators, librarians, and all Americans to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities designed to highlight the benefits of quality vocational technical education.” President Trump’s proclamation is available here. Additionally, President Trump at the Generation Next Summit this week discussed the need for more vocational schools and stated his preference for the term “vocational” over “community college.” President Trump expressed similar views at an event in Ohio on March stating, “Call it vocational and technical. People know what that means. They don’t know what a community college means.” President Trump’s remarks here.
March 16, 2018

Nominations and Announcements:

USED Reorganization Begins; Nominee for Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration Sent to the Senate: Acting head of the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) James Manning announced to employees the appointment of Marianna O’Brien as the new chief of staff, and John Fare as the new chief information officer. Ms. O’Brien previously worked at the National Student Loan Clearinghouse, The College Board, and FSA. Mr. Fare had been serving as the chief performance management officer. Mr. Fare is replacing current chief information officer Keith Wilson, who will become a senior adviser in business operations. These changes are part of a recently announced reorganization of USED. Additionally, several nominations were sent to the Senate on March 19, including Mark Schultz to be USED Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration. Mr. Schultz is a Deputy Commissioner in the Nebraska Department of Education, and he previously served as the Director of Vocational Rehabilitation.
Weeks of March 19 and March 26, 2018

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

USED Secretary DeVos Visits School in Pennsylvania to Discuss Opioid Epidemic: USED Secretary DeVos traveled to Johnstown Elementary School in Pennsylvania to discuss local and federal solutions to the opioid epidemic, and to observe the “Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies” program, which targets aggression in children, among other behavioral issues.
March 26, 2018

Judge Rules in Favor of ACICS: A federal judge ruled in favor of the nation’s largest accreditor of for-profit colleges – the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) – in a case regarding the Obama Administration’s decision to terminate the agency in 2016. The accreditor was terminated due to concerns over its approval of certain for-profit institutions of higher education, such as ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges. The judge ruled that the Obama Administration illegally failed to consider relevant evidence when they decided to terminate ACICS, and the case has now been sent back to USED. The Department has scheduled a hearing of the federal accreditation advisory committee in May.
March 23, 2018

First HBCU STEAM Day of Action Hosted on Capitol Hill: The Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Caucus and the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) Caucus hosted the first HBCU STEAM Day of Action on Capitol Hill. During the event, HBCU presidents and administrators and industry leaders met with lawmakers to advocate for bipartisan priorities impacting HBCUs and increased efforts to diversify the workforce. Priorities discussed included reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), STEM initiatives, and appropriations.
March 20, 2018

Upcoming Events:

  • 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 17, the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing for members of the House of Representatives to testify on their priorities for FY2019 federal funding at 10:00 a.m. More 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 April 26, the House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing for public witnesses to testify on their priorities for federal funding for FY2019 at 10:00 a.m. The press release is available here and more information 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:

  • This week, USED published a report titled. “Study of the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program.” The report found that over 60 percent of students who received Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants, which aim to increase the number of teachers in high-need fields and schools, had those grants converted to loans because they did not meet eligibility requirements. The report is available here.
  • On March 29, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report titled, “Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2017,” which examines crime occurring in schools and colleges and covers topics such as victimization, bullying, school conditions, student perceptions of personal safety at school, and criminal incidents at postsecondary institutions. The report presents data from various sources, such as the National Crime Victimization Survey, the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, and the Campus Safety and Security Survey. The report is available here. Public-use data files from the School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS) are available here.
  • On March 27, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) published an intervention report titled, “Summer Counseling: Transition to College.” The WWC identified five studies of summer counseling that provide services during the months between high school graduation and college enrollment and involve outreach by college counselors or peer mentors through many different communication methods, including text messaging campaigns, email, phone, in-person meetings, instant messaging, or social media. The report found that summer counseling had potentially positive effects on credit accumulation and persistence and mixed effects on college access and enrollment for recent high school graduates. The intervention report is available here.
  • On March 27, NCES released a brief titled “Findings From the Fourth-Grade Round of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11.” The brief uses data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K:2011) to examine the overall fourth-grade achievement of the students who attended kindergarten for the first time in the 2010-11 school year and were in fourth grade in the 2013-14 school year. The brief is available here. Public-use data files are available here.
  • On March 23, GAO released a report titled, “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education: Actions Needed to Better Assess the Federal Investment.” The report reviews the landscape of federal STEM education programs, and recommends that the Committee on STEM Education “review performance assessments of STEM education programs, document those assessments, and report programs’ participation rates of underrepresented groups.” The report is available here.
  • On March 21, the National Center for Education Evaluation (NCEE) published an evaluation brief which synthesized two recently completed impact studies. The studies focused on providing teachers’ feedback on their performance over a two year period, and providing bonuses to teachers based on their performance. The brief is available here.
  • On March 20, the CFPB submitted to Congress its seventh annual report summarizing its activities, and the activities of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to administer the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). This report describes activities conducted by the two agencies during 2017 in relation to debt collection. More information is available here and press release here.

Legislation:

H.R.5400
A bill to prohibit the Secretary of Education and the Attorney General from encouraging certain policies or agreements between elementary and secondary schools and local law enforcement agencies.
Sponsor: Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI)

H.R.5390
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 E. Cummings (D-MD)

H.R.5384
A bill to establish State-Federal partnerships to provide students the opportunity to attain higher education at in-State public institutions of higher education without debt, to provide Federal Pell Grant eligibility to DREAMer students, to repeal suspension of eligibility under the Higher Education Act of 1965 for drug-related offenses, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)

H.R.5380
A bill to establish a Commission on Securing our Nation’s Children, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. John Katko (R-NY)

H.R.5374
A bill to end discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)

H.R.5371
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide student loan eligibility for mid-career, part-time students, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)

H.R.5339
A bill to reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. John A. Yarmuth (D-KY)

H.R.5332
A bill to improve school safety.
Sponsor: Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI)

H.R.5324
A bill to improve school safety and mental health services, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. A. Drew Ferguson IV (R-GA)

H.Res.803
A resolution expressing support for designation of the weeks of March 25, 2018, through April 7, 2018, as National Young Audiences Arts for Learning Weeks.
Sponsor: Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ)

S.2618
A bill to amend subpart 1 of part A of Title IV of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 in order to ensure that grant activities do not discourage the reporting of violent offenses or interfere with Federal, State, or local law enforcement agencies.
Sponsor: Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

S.2598
A bill to establish State-Federal partnerships to provide students the opportunity to attain higher education at in-State public institutions of higher education without debt, to provide Federal Pell Grant eligibility to DREAMer students, to repeal suspension of eligibility under the Higher Education Act of 1965 for drug-related offenses, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)

S.2596
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 L. Cardin (D-MD)

S.2584
A bill to end discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

S.2572
“Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2018”
A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to address and take action to prevent bullying and harassment of students.
Sponsor: Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA)

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