E-Update for the Week of September 17, 2019

E-Update for the Week of September 17, 2019

Highlights:

  • On September 12, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a full committee markup, during which the Committee adopted top line spending levels (known as 302(b) allocations) for all 12 fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills. The adoption, which was approved by a party line vote with all Committee Democrats voting against the proposal, included a spending level for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies (Labor/HHS) appropriations bill. Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) proposed a one percent increase for the Labor/HHS FY2020 appropriations bill compared to FY2019 enacted levels.
  • On September 12, USED announced it is no longer appealing a federal court decision that required the Department implement the Obama-era significant disproportionality rule. The rule requires that states and districts develop a uniform approach to monitor that students of color are not over or under-represented in special education programs. The Department had previously attempted to delay implementation of the rule, but attempts were blocked by a federal court ruling in March.
  • On September 6, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos asking her for more information as to the sufficient amount of funding needed to address youth homelessness. The Senator requested that the Secretary provide information as to how much funding Title I-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the McKinney-Vento Act should be provided in the FY2020 Labor/HHS appropriations bill.

Budget & Appropriations:

Senate appropriations process kicks-off, Labor/HHS hits immediate roadblock: The Senate Appropriations Committee held a full committee markup, during which the Committee adopted top line spending levels (known as 302(b) allocations) for all 12 fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills. The adoption, which was approved by a party line vote with all Committee Democrats voting against the proposal, included a spending level for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies (Labor/HHS) appropriations bill. Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) proposed a one percent increase for the Labor/HHS FY2020 appropriations bill compared to FY2019 enacted levels. During the markup, Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) offered alternative spending level allocations, which would have shifted $3.6 billion from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the Labor/HHS allocation. The Ranking Member’s alternative proposal ultimately failed as all Committee Republicans voted against it. Additionally, during the markup Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) stated that she is disappointed that the FY2020 Labor/HHS appropriations bill was not discussed during the markup as she was planning on proposing an amendment related to Title X (family planning) funding. Chairman Shelby expressed that he hopes the Labor/HHS appropriations bill can be discussed but only if both Republicans and Democrats adhere to the handshake agreement to not include “poison pill” policy riders. Moving forward, Senate appropriators will still need to negotiate with House appropriators to finalize FY2020 spending bills as the House bills, which were passed in July, are significantly higher than the adopted Senate spending levels.

A press release from the Senate Appropriations Committee is here. A statement from Chairman Shelby is here. A statement from Ranking Member Leahy is here.
September 12, 2019

Congress:

Senate:

Murray, Duckworth highlight financial aid gaps for student parents: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) released a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that focused on the challenges that college students with children face while attending a postsecondary institution. The report highlighted that approximately 2.6 million student parents could access additional federal student aid but few institutions mention such aid on their websites. “This report shows there are simple steps that colleges and the Department of Education can take to better inform student parents of their financial aid options,” stated Ranking Member Murray. A press release is here. The full report is here.
September 12, 2019

Manchin to DeVos on youth homelessness, ‘How much do you need?’: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos asking her for more information as to the sufficient amount of funding needed to address youth homelessness. The Senator requested that the Secretary provide information as to how much funding Title I-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the McKinney-Vento Act should be provided in the FY2020 Labor/HHS appropriations bill. “As we prepare for the mark-up of the FY20 Department of Education budget in the Senate Appropriations Committee, it’s also important to hear from you on whether or not you have the resources you need to support the local officials on the front lines in states like West Virginia? Congress provided $2.64 million in FY19 from McKinney-Vento programs. How much do you need for FY20?” asked the Senator. The full letter is here.
September 6, 2019

House:

House education panel explores impacts of gun violence, student trauma: The House Education and Labor Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee held A hearing titled, “The Importance of Trauma-Informed Practices in Education to Assist Students Impacted by Gun Violence and Other Adversities.” The hearing largely focused the impacts of gun violence on students and schools. However, the hearing also explored how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) impact student learning. The hearing featured testimony by California Surgeon General Nadie Burke Harris, Ingrida Barker of McDowell County Schools in West Virginia, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson. A recording of the hearing is here. The opening statement by Subcommittee Chairman Gregorio Kilili Sablan (D-MP) Is here.
September 11, 2019

Financial Services Committee hears from Netflix host on growing student loan ‘crisis’: The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing titled, “A $1.5 Trillion Crisis: Protecting Student Borrowers and Holding Student Loan Servicers Accountable.” Witnesses include Seth Frotman of the Student Borrower Protection Center, Persis Yu of the National Consumer Law Center, and Ashley Harrington of the Center for Responsible Lending. Additionally, Hasan Minhaj, host of the Netflix show “The Patriot Act,” testified and expressed the importance of congressional action in addressing the growing level of student loan debt. A recording of the hearing and full written witness testimonies are here.
September 10, 2019

Administration:

White House:

Trump declares HBCU week, touts commitment to their success and improvement: President Donald Trump declared, via proclamation, that the week of September 8 through 14 is National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week. “For more than 180 years, America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have made extraordinary contributions to the general welfare and prosperity of our country by advancing the educational pursuits of African Americans and many others. These fine institutions help shape citizens of character and purpose, position them to thrive beyond graduation, and expand our Nation’s pipeline of productivity by creating meaningful employment opportunities that empower talented employees to succeed in the workforce and in public service,” stated the proclamation in part. The proclamation is here.

Relatedly, on September 10, the President delivered remarks to attendees of the 2019 National HBCU Conference in Washington, DC. During his remarks the President highlighted various administration actions to support HBCUs, including moving the federal HBCU initiative to the White House; providing capital finance loan deferments to 13 HBCUs; and interpreting federal law to no longer prohibit faith-based HBCUs and seminaries from accessing federal support for capital investment projects. The full remarks are here. A press release from the White House is here.
September 6-14, 2019

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

USED drops appeal of federal court judge decision, likely to implement Obama-era special education rule: USED announced it is no longer appealing a federal court decision that required the Department implement the Obama-era significant disproportionality rule. The rule requires that states and districts develop a uniform approach to monitor that students of color are not over or under-represented in special education programs. The Department had previously attempted to delay implementation of the rule, but attempts were blocked by a federal court ruling in March. Dropping their appeal indicates the Department will likely implement the rule as designed.
September 12, 2019

OCR, Chicago school district reach Title IX resolution agreement: USED announced it reached a resolution agreement with Chicago Public Schools after investigating the public-school district’s handling of Title IX complaints. “The Chicago Public Schools have inexcusably failed, for quite some time, to provide their students with the basic protections required by law. I am glad that CPS has now agreed to make a number of serious, substantive changes to come into compliance with Title IX,” stated Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth Marcus. A press release is here.
September 12, 2019

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

ACF commissioner confirmed by Senate along party lines: The Senate confirmed Elizabeth Darling to be Commission on Children, Youth, and Families. Darling was confirmed with a largely partisan 57-37 vote. In response to Darling’s confirmation, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) stated, “[Darling] has given me no assurances that she will stand up to this administration’s efforts to put religion over the welfare of children. We need someone at HHS who will stand up for these kids and say no to state-sponsored discrimination.” The Ranking Member voted against Darling’s confirmation. Ranking Member Wyden’s full statement is here. The roll call for Darling’s confirmation vote is here.
September 10, 2019

Publications (Congressional and Administration):

  • On September 12, the House Education and Labor Committee published a report titled, “Investing in Economic Mobility: The Important Role of HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in Closing Racial and Wealth Gaps in Higher Education.” The report examines federal investments in HBCUs, tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) and minority serving institutions (MSIs) as related to their role in educating a majority of postsecondary students of color. Key recommendations of the report include identifying the need for authorizing an innovation fund for HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs; and the need for providing grants to cover tuition costs for students. The full report is here. A press release is here.
  • On September 10, the U.S. Census Bureau published a report titled, “Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2018.” The report is an annual evaluation of health insurance coverage and how it has changed yearly. Key findings of the report include identifying that approximately 4.3 million children did not have any health insurance coverage in 2018, which is an increase of 0.6 percent from 2017; that the 5.5 percent of children under 19 without insurance was largely due to the decline in public coverage; and that children covered by Medicaid and the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) decreased to 35.3 percent compared to 36.5 percent in 2017. The full report is here.

Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):

  • On September 18 at 10:00am, the House Appropriations Labor/HHS Subcommittee is holding a hearing titled, “Oversight Hearing: Mental Health Needs of Children in HHS Custody.” The hearing will feature testimony by HHS officials including Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Jonathan Hayes, Assistant Inspector General Ann Maxwell, and Commander Jonathan White of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. The hearing will be webcast here.
  • On September 19 at 9:00am, the Senate HELP Committee will hold a full committee hearing on the nomination of Eugene Scalia as U.S. Department of Labor Secretary. Scalia is the only witness expected to testify. More information is here. A press release from Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) is here.
  • On September 19 at 10:00am, the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Protecting Unaccompanied Children: The Ongoing Impacts of the Trump Administration’s Cruel Policies.” The hearing is expected to focus on a recent HHS Office of Inspector General report that described most children in custody have experienced significant trauma due to their custody. No witnesses have been announced. More information will be posted here.
  • On September 19 at 10:15am, the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a full committee hearing titled, “Broken Promises: Examining the Failed Implementation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.” The hearing was originally announced after a recent GAO report on the number of PSLF applicants having their applications denied. It is expected an official from USED will be one of the witnesses, but no official witness list has been released. More information will be posted here.

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):

  • On September 19 at 1:00pm, Education Week is holding an event titled, “Big Ideas in Education.” The online summit will discuss student perceptions of school, Black student achievement, and innovation in K-12. More information and registration are here.

Legislation:

H.R.4245
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to reduce the complexity and length of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Sponsor: Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA)

H.R.4253
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to allow a recipient of an institutional aid grant to use funds under such grant to establish, improve, or expand partnerships with childcare providers.
Sponsor: Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD)

H.R.4259
A bill to the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to provide categorical eligibility for free lunch and breakfast for certain children in kinship care, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA)

H.R.4265
A bill to the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to remove certain limitations with respect to commodity assistance for school breakfast programs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. James McGovern (D-MA)

H.R.4288
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to establish the Honorable Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)

H.R.4297
A bill to amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to treat attendance at an institution of higher education the same as work for the purpose of determining eligibility to participate in the supplemental nutrition assistance program.
Sponsor: Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA)

H.R.4298
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to restore Federal Pell Grant eligibility for certain periods.
Sponsor: Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT)

H.R.4301
A bill to require the Secretary of Education, in consultation with Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to publish an annual report on indicators of school crime and safety that includes data on school shootings, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)

H.R.4308
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to establish an emergency grant aid program, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep: Joseph Morelle (D-NY)

H.R.4310
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to clarify that employment in any position at a nonprofit organization is a public service job for purposes of the public service loan forgiveness program, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA)

H.R.4316
A bill to provide for temporary emergency impact aid for local educational agencies.
Sponsor: Rep. Peter King (R-NY)

H.R.4327
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to promote comprehensive campus mental health and suicide prevention plans, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA)

Highlights:

  • On August 23, USED announced that its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will work collaboratively to improve the information collected in the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The CRDC collects data on key education and civil rights issues in our nation’s public schools. Under the new agreement, NCES and OCR will work together to support school districts by providing technical assistance resources, training and prompt feedback on identified issues.
  • On August 21, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum that will significantly streamline the process to erase federal student loan debt for totally and permanently disabled veterans.  The U.S. Department of Education (USED) anticipates notifying more than 25,000 eligible veterans and continuing the discharge process on a quarterly basis.
  • On August 20, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, conducted a community forum focused on preventing, treating, and healing childhood trauma in Baltimore City. The forum, which included a group of experts from Baltimore City Schools, the Baltimore City Health Department, Baltimore Police Department and the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Services, explored how the community has worked to mitigate the impact of trauma.

Congress:

Both the House and Senate have adjourned for August recess. Both the House and the Senate will return to session on September 9.

House:

Cummings holds community forum on healing childhood trauma: Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Elijah Cummings (D-MD) conducted a community forum focused on preventing, treating, and healing childhood trauma in Baltimore City. The forum, which included a group of experts from Baltimore City Schools, the Baltimore City Health Department, Baltimore Police Department and the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Services, explored how the community has worked to mitigate the impact of trauma. Video and an article on the forum are available here.
August 20, 2019 

Administration:

White House:

Trump directs USED to streamline disabled veteran student loan relief process:  President Donald Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum that will significantly streamline the process to erase federal student loan debt for totally and permanently disabled veterans. Prior to the announcement, only half of the roughly 50,000 disabled veterans who qualified to have their federal student loan discharged have received this benefit. Veterans will now have their student loan debt discharged unless they decide to opt-out of the process.  The U.S. Department of Education (USED) anticipates notifying more than 25,000 eligible veterans and continuing the discharge process on a quarterly basis. The Presidential Memorandum is available here. A fact sheet on the memorandum is available here. U.S. Department of Education’s (USED) press release is available here.

In response to the announcement, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee issued the following statement, “After years of pressure from Senate Democrats, [USED] Secretary [Betsy] DeVos will finally automatically cancel student loans of veterans disabled from service. Under federal law, veterans who have been “permanently and totally” disabled are eligible for student loan discharges.”
August 21, 2019 

Homeland security releases final rule terminating Flores agreement on migrant child detention limit: The Trump Administration issued a final rule, which “aims to change licensing requirements for family detention centers and remove a 20-day limit on the detention of children set by a judge enforcing the 1997 Flores settlement agreement (FSA),” according to Politico. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a press release that states, “the rule will allow for termination of the FSA, and allow [the Department of Homeland Security] and [the Department of Health and Human Services] to respond to significant statutory and operational changes that have occurred since the FSA has been in place, including dramatic increases in the numbers of unaccompanied children and family units crossing into the United States.” Department of Homeland Security press release is available here. Politico article is available here.
August 21, 2019 

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

OCR and NCES to partner on improving CRDC reporting: USED announced that its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will work collaboratively to improve the information collected in the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The CRDC collects data on key education and civil rights issues in our nation’s public schools. Under the new agreement, NCES and OCR will work together to support school districts by providing technical assistance resources, training and prompt feedback on identified issues. Through this partnership, OCR and NCES will also work together to review and revise data quality procedures when needed to reflect lessons learned during collection and review of CRDC data. The press is available here.
August 23, 2019 

DeVos cites recent poll on charter schools and school vouchers to justify Education Freedom Scholarships: USED Secretary DeVos issued a statement in response to an Education Next Poll, published jointly by the Education Next Institute and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, which found support for charter schools and private school vouchers for low-income students has increased — by nine and 12 points, respectively. The poll also found that respondents support for tax credits for donations to organizations that award education scholarships to low-income students increased from 53% in 2016 to 58% in 2019. The Education Next Poll is available here. USED Secretary DeVos’s statement is available here.
August 20, 2019 

Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):

  • Both the House and Senate have adjourned for August recess. Both the House and the Senate will return to session on September 9.
  • On September 10 at 10:00am, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing titled, “A $1.5 Trillion Crisis: Protecting Student Borrowers and Holding Student Loan Servicers Accountable.” No witnesses have been announced. More information will be posted here.
  • On September 8-12, the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will hold its annual HBCU Week Conference. The conference, titled, “Enhancing HBCU Competitiveness: Student Achievement, Quality Partnerships, and Institutional Performance,” will be held in Washington, DC. Registration and more information are here.
  • On September 10 at 10:00am, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing titled, “A $1.5 Trillion Crisis: Protecting Student Borrowers and Holding Student Loan Servicers Accountable.” No witnesses have been announced. More information will be posted here.
  • On September 30 through October 14, both the House and Senate are expected to adjourn for a two-week recess.
  • On October 28-30, the USED’s Green Strides Tour will return to the state of Washington, with the theme Whole Child, Whole School Sustainability. The 2019 Green Strides Tour will highlight how rebuilding schools with sustainable infrastructure cuts costs and creates healthier and safer learning environments that support the needs of the whole child. A tour agenda and more information is available here.

Publications (Congress and the Administration):

  • On August 21, the National Center for Education Statistics released a report titled, “Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto the [National Assessment of Educational Progress Scales.” The 2017 report summarizes the results of applying a methodology for mapping state proficiency standards onto the NAEP scales. According to Politico, the report found that, “States over the last decade have moved to set higher proficiency standards in math and reading.” Report is available here. Politico article is available here.
  • This week, NCES released a report titled, “Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary School Principals in the United States: Results From the 2017–18 National Teacher and Principal Survey.” The report found that among public school principals 78 percent were non-Hispanic White, 11 percent were non-Hispanic Black or African American, nine percent were Hispanic, and three percent were another race/ethnicity. Additionally, public school principals reported having an average of 6.8 years of experience as a principal, of which an average of 4.2 years was spent in their current school. The report is available here.

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