E-Update for the Week of November 26, 2018

E-Update for the Week of November 26, 2018

Highlights:

  • On November 21, USED Secretary Betsy DeVos signed a final order that extends federal approval of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) for another year. Per the order, ACICS must submit a report within the year regarding how it meets two standards it had previously failed in meeting compliance – the “competency of representatives” and “conflict of interest” standards.
  • On November 20, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) published a 2017 U.S. Department of Education (USED) report regarding the use of loan forbearance by Navient, a student loan servicer. The report, according to Warren, supports pending claims against Navient including one being led by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that argue the company illegally cheated student loan borrowers by moving them into forbearance instead of helping them enroll in income-based repayment plans.
  • On November 20, USED Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced it would be revising its Case Processing Manual in regards to how it will investigate and resolve complaints made to OCR. Key revisions of the manual include a requirement to comply with the First Amendment when investigating complaints; the restoration of an appeals process for complainants, allowing them to appeal findings of insufficient evidence, as well the opportunity to respond to appeals; and the elimination of automatic dismissals for “mass filers.”

Congress:

Senate:

The Senate was on recess this week due to Thanksgiving. They will return to session on November 27.

HELP Committee to vote on Robert King for USED higher education appointment: The Senate HELP Committee will vote on the nomination of Robert King to be the USED Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education. More information and a webcast of the hearing are here.
November 29, 2018

Murray, Feinstein urges Immigration Director to halt international student visa guidance changes: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sent a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Francis Cissna in regards to guidance the agency had released on how to address international students who have expired visas. The Senators urge the director to rescind the guidance, as it will “encourage students to look elsewhere to conduct groundbreaking research that helps fuel our economy.” The Senators claim many international students do not know they have violated the terms of their visa and the rule unfairly punishes them. The letter is here. A press release from the Senators is here.
November 20, 2018

Warren publishes USED internal report of Navient: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) published a 2017 U.S. Department of Education (USED) report regarding the use of loan forbearance by Navient, a student loan servicer. The report, according to Warren, supports pending claims against Navient including one being led by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that argue the company illegally cheated student loan borrowers by moving them into forbearance instead of helping them enroll in income-based repayment plans. In a statement to POLITICO, USED argues the document is not an audit of the company, as suggested by Warren, and the review did not find that Navient had violated the terms of a contract with the Department. The report is here.
November 20, 2018

House:

The House was on recess this week due to Thanksgiving. They will return to session on November 26.

Scott, Bonamici call on HHS to leave definition of ‘sex’ unchanged: House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) sent a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar in regards to a leaked proposal for the Department to redefine “sex” as it relates to Title IX protections. “A redefinition by this administration of the term gender for the purposes of federal law would express a careless disregard for medicine and science,” the Members wrote. The New York Times had previously reported that HHS wanted to redefine “sex” to be only based on an individual’s genitalia at birth, which would effectively remove protections for transgender individuals. The letter is here. A press release from Ranking Member Scott is here.
November 20, 2018

House Democrats highlight support of ‘Keeping All Students Safe Act’: House Education and the Workforce Committee Democrats posted a summary of supporting statements regarding H.R.7124/S.3626, the “Keeping All Students Safe Act.” The law would prohibit the use of seclusion (isolating a student from their peers) and restraint in response to a student’s behavior challenges. The summary highlights the support of the National Disability Rights Network, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, and the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions, and Seclusion. The posting is here. The bill summary is here.
November 20, 2018

Administration:

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

DeVos extends federal approval of ACICS for one year: USED Secretary Betsy DeVos signed a final order that extends federal approval of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) for another year. Per the order, ACICS must submit a report within the year regarding how it meets two standards it had previously failed in meeting compliance – the “competency of representatives” and “conflict of interest” standards. The final order is here. A press release from ACICS is here.
November 21, 2018

OCR revises Case Processing Manual, no longer dismissing ‘mass filers’: USED Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced it would be revising its Case Processing Manual in regards to how it will investigate and resolve complaints made to OCR. The Case Processing Manual provides guidance to field investigators when examining cases of potential discrimination. Key revisions of the manual include a requirement to comply with the First Amendment when investigating complaints; the restoration of an appeals process for complainants, allowing them to appeal findings of insufficient evidence, as well the opportunity to respond to appeals; and the elimination of automatic dismissals for “mass filers.” Mass filers are those who report the same complaint against many schools, and the Department had previously considered them a “burden on OCR resources.” The revised Case Processing Manual is here. A press release from the Department is here.
November 20, 2018

Upcoming Events (Congressional & Administration):

  • On November 29 at 10:30 am, the Senate HELP Committee will vote on the nomination of Robert King to be the USED Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education. More information and a webcast of the hearing are here.
  • On January 14-16, February 19-22, and March 25-28, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, the Accreditation and Innovation Negotiated Rulemaking committee will meet in Washington, D.C. USED will publish a separate notice in the Federal Register to announce the location of the meeting. The rulemaking committee announcement is here.
  • On January 17-18, February 12-13, and March 11-12, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, the Distance Learning and Educational Innovation Subcommittee for the Accreditation and Innovation rulemaking committee will meet in Washington, D.C. USED will publish a separate notice in the Federal Register to announce the location of the meeting. The rulemaking committee announcement is here.
  • On January 17-18, February 12-13, and March 11-12, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, the Faith-Based Entities Subcommittee for the Accreditation and Innovation rulemaking committee will meet in Washington, D.C. USED will publish a separate notice in the Federal Register to announce the location of the meeting. The rulemaking committee announcement is here.
  • On January 17-18, February 12-13, and March 11-12, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, the TEACH Grants Subcommittee for the Accreditation and Innovation rulemaking committee will meet in Washington, D.C. USED will publish a separate notice in the Federal Register to announce the location of the meeting. The rulemaking committee announcement is here.

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):

  • On November 28 at 9:30 am, Education Week and the George Washington University Graduate School of Education are hosting an event titled, “2020 Vision: Education Policy and Politics Beyond the Midterms.” The event will examine results of the 2018 midterm elections and discuss what education issues and controversies will likely resonate during the 2020 elections. Wade Henderson, former president and CEO of The Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights, will give the keynote address. More information and registration are here.
  • On November 28 at 12:00 pm, the Hoover Institution will host an event titled, “Education 20/20 Speaker Series: Civic Education and the Limits of School Choice.” The event will feature two speakers – Naomi Schaefer Riley, who is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and Jonah Goldberg, who is a fellow and Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at AEI. The speakers will discuss the impacts of charter schools, voucher programs, and the importance of a civics education. More information and registration are here.
  • On November 28 at 12:00 pm, ETS will host a research forum titled, “Broken Connections: Millennials and the Transition to Adulthood.” The forum will highlight two recent ETS studies on how millennials are disconnected from employment opportunities. Speakers will discuss results of the studies as well as policy opportunities to address the growing disconnection rates. More information and registration are here.
  • On November 29 at 9:00 am, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host an event titled, “Work, skills, and community: How to rejuvenate the American working class.” The event will discuss how the 2016 election illustrated a need to reexamine the American working class, and what issues they continue to face. The event will offer recommendations to policymakers, business owners, and citizens. More information and registration are here.

Publications (Outside Organizations):

  • On November 20, the Bipartisan Policy Center published a framework titled, “Early Learning Facilities Policy Framework.” The framework outlines policy solutions to the growing need for improvements to facilities and infrastructure used for early childhood education programs. Key principles of the framework include noting that every child deserves equal access to affordable, developmentally appropriate, high-performing early learning facilities; that early learning programs are an essential workforce support; that home-based programs require infrastructure investments to address facility needs; and that early learning facilities should be flexible and adaptable to account for changes in the workplace, caregiving, and other systems that impact children and families. The full framework and its proposed solutions is here.
  • On November 15, the Heritage Foundation published a report titled, “A State-by-State Comparison of 529 College Savings Plans.” The report analyzed access to 529 college savings plans, which allow families to use saved funds to pay tuition at private K-12 schools. A key finding of the report includes noting that 20 states have legislation that prevent families from using their 529 account funds to pay for private school tuition. The full report is here.
  • On November 14, the National Home Visiting Resource Center published a report titled, “2018 Home Visiting Yearbook.” The report presents 2017 data on early childhood home visiting programs and how it had been implemented across the country. Key findings of the report include all 50 states and the District of Columbia have evidence-based home visiting programs; more than 300,000 families received services through home visit programs; and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) helped fund services for more than 81,000 families. The full report is here.
  • On November 13, the Harvard Graduate School of Education published a report titled, “Initial Data from the Statewide Early Learning Study at Harvard.” The study is analyzing the types of learning and care settings for three and four-year olds in Massachusetts. Initial data of the study finds that approximately 55 percent of families are enrolled in formal settings for early childhood care and education; only 17 percent of children were considered to be in “parental care only;” and over 80 percent of parents reporting being “confident” or “very confident” in their child’s education and care. The full report is here.

Legislation:

H.R.7161
A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to make a permanent program for the procurement of unprocessed fruits and vegetables to provide healthier school meals, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)

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