E-Update for the Week of September 17, 2018

E-Update for the Week of September 17, 2018

Highlights:

  • On September 25 at 10:00 am, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a full committee hearing titled, “The Every Student Succeeds Act: States Leading the Way.” It is expected the hearing will focus on implementation of ESSA at the state level. Witnesses include state education chiefs from Nebraska, Delaware, and South Carolina, as well as a representative from Democrats for Education Reform.
  • On September 13, the conference committee for the fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations minibus (a combination of 2-3 bills) for the Department of Defense and the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Defense-Labor/HHS) released its committee report. Attached to the bill is a Continuing Resolution (CR) that will extend federal funding through December 7 for bills not passed by the end of the fiscal year on September 30. It is expected the Senate will vote on the package this week, with the House considering the package when they return from recess the week of September 24.
  • On September 7, the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and USED announced applications for the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5) program were now available. The announcement solicits applications from 50 states and 6 territories, which can apply for awards between $500,000 and $15 million for the first year of funding. The applications are due November 6.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):

Senate HELP Committee to explore ESSA implementation at state level: On September 25 at 10:00 am, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a full committee hearing titled, “The Every Student Succeeds Act: States Leading the Way.” It is expected the hearing will focus on implementation of ESSA at the state level. Witnesses include Matthew Blomstedt, commissioner of the Nebraska Department of education; Susan Bunting, state education secretary for Delaware; Molly Spearman, superintendent of instruction for South Carolina; and Shavar Jeffries, president of Democrats for Education Reform. The hearing announcement is here.
September 25, 2018

Budget and Appropriations:

Labor/HHS Appropriations Conference Committee releases report, Senate to consider bill this week: The conference committee for the fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations minibus (a combination of 2-3 bills) for the Department of Defense and the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Defense-Labor/HHS) released its conference report. Attached to the bill is a Continuing Resolution (CR) that will extend federal funding through December 7 for bills not passed by the end of the fiscal year on September 30. If President Donald Trump were to not sign the minibus package he would force a government shutdown.

Overall, there was a 0.8 percent increase for total discretionary funding for the U.S. Department of Education (USED) raising the total to $71.4 billion. It is expected the Senate will vote on the package next week, with the House considering the package when they return from recess the week of September 24. Notable account increases include:

  • For early education, (1) Child Care and Development Block Grants increased by $50 million from FY2018; and (2) Head Start received an increase of $200 million from FY2018; (3) Preschool Development Grants were funded at $250 million, making it level with FY2018.
  • For K-12 education, (1) Title I grants to local educational agencies increased by $100 million for a total of $15.8 billion; (2) Charter School grants increased to $440 million, compared to $400 million in FY2018; (3) Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants increased by $70 million compared to FY2018; (4) state grants for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) increased by $87 million compared to FY2018; (5) and the Perkins Career and Technical Education state grants received a $70 million increase from FY2018.
  • For post-secondary education, the maximum Pell Grant award was increased to $6,195, which is $100 more from FY2018.

The conference report is here. A press release from the Senate Appropriations Committee is here. A press release from Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is here. A press release from the House Appropriations Committee is here. A statement by House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) is here. A recording of the hearing is here.
September 13, 2018

Congress:

Senate:

Warner, Portman call on DeVos to expand dual enrollment Pell Grant program: Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) sent a letter to USED Secretary Betsy DeVos, urging the Secretary to expand or modify the dual enrollment Pell Grant program. The program, started during the Obama Administration, invited postsecondary institutions to allow low-income high school students to use their Pell Grants for dual enrollment programs. It was intended to be an experiment before expanding the program to more students and postsecondary institutions – roughly 43 institutions participate, with the intention of serving 10,000 students. The Senators urged the Secretary to accept another round of applications for more institutions to participate beginning next school year. The letter is here.
September 11, 2018

House:

Scott calls for DeVos to maintain gainful employment rule: House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) submitted a public comment to USED as part of the Department’s request for public comment on the proposed repeal of the gainful employment rule. The rule would require career programs and for-profit schools to prove their graduates are employed in positions that will allow them to successfully pay off their student loans, otherwise known as “gainful employment.” Programs which are unable to do so would be ineligible to accept federal student aid. Ranking Member Scott stated, in part, “Without a compliance standard set through rulemaking, this statutory requirement will go unfulfilled, leaving students and taxpayers to suffer at the hands of predatory programs pedaling high-cost, low-quality degrees and credentials.” The deadline to submit public comment was September 14 at midnight. The full comment is here.
September 13, 2018

Scott, Bonamici urge Congressional leadership to prohibit federal funds for guns in school: House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Rep. Susan Bonamici (D-CA) sent a letter to Congressional Leaders urging them to prohibit the use of federal funds for the purchasing of and arming of teachers with firearms. The representatives urged for both Senate and House Leadership to include language within the FY2019 Defense-Labor/HHS Appropriations minibus. The letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). A press release is here. The letter is here.
September 10, 2018

Administration:

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

Federal court rules DeVos delay of borrower defense rule illegal: A federal judge for the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia ruled USED Secretary DeVos’s delay of the Obama-era borrower defense rule is illegal. The borrower defense rule allowed students who had been defrauded by their institution of higher education to seek relief from their student loans. The judge determined the Secretary’s delay was “unlawful” and “procedurally invalid.” The Department had delayed the rule until July 2019, which would have given the Department more time to rewrite the rule. The court ruling is here.
September 12, 2018

Proposed Title IX rule would decrease number of investigations, save campuses millions: The New York Times reported the proposed rule regarding Title IX investigations would reduce the number of investigations conducted. The New York Times had reported earlier USED intends to propose a new rule for Title IX, particularly for investigating claims of sexual harassment and assault. According to an internal USED analysis, the proposed rule – which has yet to be published – would reduce the average number of sexual harassment investigations by colleges and universities from 1.18 per year to 0.72 per year, a 39 percent decrease. For K-12 school districts, the change in rule would reduce the number of investigations from 3.23 per year to 1.61 per year, a 50 percent decrease. The reduction in investigations would save colleges and universities $19 million annually, and school districts $54 million annually. USED Spokeswoman Liz Hill said the rule is still under development, and “therefore it’s too early to speculate the cost of a new rule.” The proposed rule is currently being examined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The full article from the New York Times is here.
September 11, 2018

USED leadership embarks on “Rethink School” tour: USED announced school visits by various Department leadership as part of the Department’s “Rethink School” back to school tour. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan visited Ronald Regan College Preparatory High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Purdue Polytechnic High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Johnny Collett traveled to various schools across New England. Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Scott Stump visited the National Center for Aviation Training in Wichita, Kansas. Assistant Deputy Secretary for English Language Acquisition José Viana traveled to Wyoming to visit three schools in the Laramie County School District. Finally, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Executive Director Johnathan Holifield visited Kentucky State University.
September 10, 2018

Office of Civil Rights redefines anti-Semitism, reopens 2014 Rutgers investigation: USED Assistant Secretary for the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Kenneth Marcus sent a letter to Zionist Organization of America. Marcus stated OCR was reopening a 2011 investigation into Rutgers University in connection with alleged discrimination against Jewish students. Further, Marcus stated the Department would adopt a “widely established” definition of anti-Semitism. Included in the newly adopted definition are examples in which “demonizing or delegitimizing Israel or holding it to a double standard not expected of other democratic nations are deemed anti-Semitic.” In terms of the Rutgers investigation, Marcus wrote OCR investigators will attempt to determine “whether a hostile environment on the basis of national origin or race existed at the University for students of actual or perceived Jewish ancestry or ethnic characteristics.” The case was originally closed in 2014 after the Obama Administration determined there was insufficient evidence of discrimination.
August 27, 2018

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

Preschool Development Grant application now open, due November 6: The Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and USED announced applications for the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5) program were now available. The announcement solicits applications from 50 states and 6 territories, which can apply for awards between $500,000 and $15 million for the first year of funding. The PDG B-5 program differs significantly from the Preschool Development Grants that are currently funded, as the PDG B-5 grant targets comprehensive statewide birth through age five needs assessment, strategic planning, parent choice and knowledge about mixed delivery systems, and sharing best practices prior to implementation. The applications are due November 6. More information is here.
September 7, 2018

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB):

Mulvaney limits scope of CFPB to focus on private loans only: The acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Mick Mulvaney described the role of the CFPB, as it relates to postsecondary education, to primarily focus on overseeing private student loans. During an interview with CNBC, Mulvaney cited the CFPB authorizing statute as making the oversight agency responsible for private student loans only. Mulvaney stated, “Under a handshake agreement within the Obama Administration, the Bureau was going after and regulating public student loans, which is most of them – 92 percent of them.” Mulvaney’s comments come after the CFPB student loan ombudsman Seth Frotman resigned in August. Frotman had charged the leadership of the CFPB was undermining efforts to take action against predatory student loan companies and for-profit colleges. The full interview is here.
September 12, 2018

Federal Courts:

Federal judge rules opportunity to cross-examine during Title IX investigation a right for accused, accuser: A judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth District ruled that a student accused for sexual harassment or assault under Title IX has the right to an opportunity to cross-examine the accuser and adverse witnesses in the present of a “neutral fact-finder.” The ruling comes after a suit was filed against the University of Michigan, in John Doe v. University of Michigan. The ruling is significant given the reported changes USED Secretary DeVos intends to make to Title IX guidance. One such change would be for universities to allow for the accuser and accused to cross-examine one another during investigations. It is expected the Secretary will announce the new guidance in the coming weeks as the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is currently reviewing the guidance. The Sixth District ruling is here. The OMB review of the guidance proposal is here.
September 7, 2018

Upcoming Events (Congressional & Administration)

  • On September 18 at 10:00 am, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is holding a full committee hearing titled, “The Implications of the Reinterpretation of the Flores Settlement Agreement for Border Security and Illegal Immigration Incentives.” No witnesses have been announced, nor has a description of the hearing been published. Given the title, it is expected the hearing will focus on the recent proposed rule change regarding the Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA). The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register, stating the Departments intend to eliminate the FSA. The FSA prohibits the government from detaining migrant families for more than 20 days. More information about the hearing is here. The FSA notice is here.
  • On September 19 at 9:30 am, the HBCU Capital Financing Board will hold a meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to update the Board on current program activities, set future meeting dates, enable the Board to make recommendations to the Secretary on the current capital needs of HBCUs, and discuss recommendations regarding how the Board might increase its effectiveness. The notice can be found here.
  • On September 25 at 10:00 am, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a full committee hearing titled, “The Every Student Succeeds Act: States Leading the Way.” It is expected the hearing will focus on implementation of ESSA at the state level. Witnesses include Matthew Blomstedt, commissioner of the Nebraska Department of education; Susan Bunting, state education secretary for Delaware; Molly Spearman, superintendent of instruction for South Carolina; and Shavar Jeffries, president of Democrats for Education Reform. The hearing announcement is here.

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):

  • On September 17 at 2:00 pm, the American Institutes of Research (AIR) is holding a roundtable discussion titled, “Building Safe, Engaging and Equitable Schools.” The event will showcase best practices, strategies, and recommendations to create safe, engaging, and equitable environments for students that focus on social and emotional learning. Registration and more information are here.
  • On September 27, the Hoover Institution’s Education 20/20 Speaker Series holds a discussion titled, “Double Standards on Discipline Will Widen the Racial Divide.” The event will feature Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute, who will share her perspective on race-based discipline reform, including why it hurts the children it purports to help and how it cuts against one of the core purposes of schooling. Registration and more information are here.

Publications (Outside Organizations):

  • On September 12, the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools released a report titled, “The NCSECS Equity Coalition’s Principles for Equitable Schools.” The report includes a series of principles the NCSECS proposes for all public schools to abide by to ensure students, regardless of ability, have access to an equitable education. The principles include a school maintaining or providing accessibility to physical and nontangible school resources; inclusion in a least restrictive environment; quality instruction for all students; collaboration between all stakeholders; accountability to all laws and standards; autonomy and flexibility to promote high standards; sufficient and adequate resources. The full report is here.
  • On September 11, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) released a report titled, “Improving Skills Through America’s Workforce Development System.” The report offers recommendations for enhancing the federal workforce development system by reviewing and identifying inefficiencies in the current system. The full report is here.
  • On September 10, the XQ Super Schools Project released a report titled, “High School & the Future of Work: A Guide for State Policymakers.” The report outlines a series of recommendations for state policymakers as to how they can help support the improvement of secondary education and workforce development. Included in the recommendations are building momentum for high school transformation; empowering local communities; making diplomas meaningful; and providing teachers with the tools they need. The full report is here.
  • On September 7, the Education Commission of the States released a report titled, “Creative Youth Development: Transforming the Learning Environment.” The report explores the design of Creative Youth Development (CYD) programs, which intentionally incorporate creative skill-building, inquiry, and self-expression in instructional programs. The report provides four policy considerations for policymakers: consider using Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants to incorporate arts and music education; encourage and support partnerships between CYD programs and youth-serving government agencies, including data sharing; include CYD programs in broader youth-focused initiatives and funding at the state level; and encourage local councils and agencies to coordinate with arts nonprofits. The full report is here.

Legislation:

H.R.6765
A bill to direct the Secretary of Education to establish a competitive grant program to award grants to local educational agencies to address implicit bias in elementary and secondary schools, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-At Large)

H.R.6766
A bill to authorize the Secretary of Veteran Affairs to make grants to public institutions of higher education for the establishment of Veterans Resource Centers, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA)

H.R.6767
A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow qualified education loan repayments from section 529 plans.
Sponsor: Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN)

H.R.6769
A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend the period in which members of the uniformed services may transfer entitlement to educational assistance under Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Scott Taylor (R-AZ)

H.R.6770
A bill to amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to provide parity for outlying areas, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU-At Large)

H.R.6773
A bill to direct the Secretary of Transportation to issue rules requiring the inclusion of new safety equipment in school buses, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)

H.R.6775
A bill to effectively staff the public elementary schools and secondary schools of the United States with school-based mental health services providers.
Sponsor: Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA)

H.R.6791
A bill to establish a grant program within the Department of Labor to support the creation, implementation, and expansion of registered apprenticeship programs in cybersecurity.
Sponsor: Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV)

S.3427
A bill to effectively staff the public elementary schools and secondary schools of the United States with school-based mental health services providers.
Sponsor: Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

S.3435
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to direct the Secretary of Education to issue guidance and recommendations for institutions of higher education on removing criminal and juvenile justice questions from their application for the admissions process.
Sponsor: Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)

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