E-Update for the Week of September 23, 2019

E-Update for the Week of September 23, 2019

Highlights:

  • On September 19, the House voted on a continuing resolution (CR) to maintain funding at current fiscal year (FY) levels through November 21. The CR is intended to provide Congress additional time to complete appropriations bills for FY2020 as current funding is set to expire on September 30. The CR was passed by a 301-123 vote. It is expected the bill will be considered by the Senate this week.
  • On September 18, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) released draft text of the Subcommittee’s FY2020 appropriations bill. The draft FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS appropriations bill was released in advance of a full Senate vote on a minibus (a package of 3-5 bills). When the full Senate considered the minibus (which included the draft FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS bill), the package failed due to not gaining enough support. As a result, negotiations will continue in the Senate on a FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS bill.
  • On September 17, the House considered and approved by voice vote H.R.2486, the “FUTURE Act,” which provides a two-year extension of mandatory funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges or Universities (TCUs), and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). Without an extension, mandatory funding for MSIs will expire on September 30.

Budget and Appropriations:

House adopts stopgap funding measure, Senate to consider this week: The House voted on a continuing resolution (CR) to maintain funding at current fiscal year (FY) levels through November 21. The CR is intended to provide Congress additional time to complete appropriations bills for FY2020 as current funding is set to expire on September 30. The CR was passed by a 301-123 vote. The CR also includes an extension through November 21 of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and mandatory funding for childcare through the Child Care Entitlement to States (CCES). It is expected the bill will be considered by the Senate next week. A press release from the House Appropriations Committee is here. A statement by House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) is here. A statement by House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) is here.
September 19, 2019

Senate unexpectedly considers Labor/HHS bill, measure fails and negotiations continue: Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) released draft text of the Subcommittee’s FY2020 appropriations bill. The bill, which includes funding for the U.S. Department of Education (USED), was released despite neither the Senate Appropriations Labor/HHS Subcommittee nor the full Committee having completed a mark-up of the bill.

The draft FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS appropriations bill was released in advance of a full Senate vote on a minibus (a package of 3-5 bills). Overall, the draft bill includes a slight increase in funding of just over 1 percent (taking into account base funding and savings from changes in mandatory programs); however, USED would receive level funding under the draft proposal with only a handful of education programs receiving a modest increase, primarily those programs aimed at addressing school safety and climate. Further, the draft bill includes modest increases to early childhood education programs, including a $25 million increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and a $50 million increase for Head Start. When the full Senate considered the minibus (which included the draft FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS bill), the package failed due to not gaining enough support. As a result, negotiations will continue in the Senate on a FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS bill.

A statement by Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) is here. A statement by Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is here. A summary of the Senate FY2020 Labor/HHS appropriations bill is here.
September 18, 2019

Congress:

Houses adopts HBCU funding extension, Alexander obstructs movement in Senate: The House considered and approved by voice vote H.R.2486, the “FUTURE Act,” which provides a two-year extension of mandatory funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges or Universities (TCUs), and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). Without an extension, mandatory funding for MSIs will expire on September 30.

While the bill has now moved to the Senate, its future there remains unclear. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) objected to the bill’s consideration by the full Senate. Instead, Chairman Alexander is pushing for a permanent extension of mandatory funding for MSIs linked to a small number of previously bipartisan proposals that have been discussed as part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA); however, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) has expressed her support for continuing to work toward a comprehensive HEA reauthorization bill rather than a slimmed down approach.

A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here. A statement by Chairman Scott in response to Chairman Alexander’s opposition is here. A statement by Chairman Alexander is here. A statement by Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) is here.
September 17, 2019

Senate:

HELP Committee hears testimony from Scalia for DOL nomination: The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing to hear testimony from Eugene Scalia, who is nominated to serve as U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary. HELP Committee Chairman Alexander highlighted Scalia’s background and experience in supporting economic growth. Contrarily, HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray focused on Scalia’s record of reducing worker’s rights and “defending corporations.” A statement by Chairman Alexander is here. A statement by Ranking Member Murray is here.
September 19, 2019

Murray, Hirono propose bill to block public charge rule: On September 17, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced S.2482, the “Protect American Values Act.” The bill would prohibit the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from implementing its final regulation on the inadmissibility of immigrants on “public charge” grounds, which refers to whether a person is likely to be dependent on certain public benefits programs. A statement by Ranking Member Murray is here. The bill is here.
September 17, 2019

House:

Education panel explores solutions to PSLF program: The House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment held a hearing titled, “Broken Promises: Examining the Failed Implementation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program [PSLF].” The hearing was inspired after a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report identified 99 percent of applicants to PSLF program have been denied. Subcommittee Chairwoman Susan Davis (D-CA) stated that the purpose of the hearing was to “collectively make it easier for the public servants of this country to take advantage of a promise made to them back in 2007.” The Chairwoman called on Congress to take action in order to fix the implementation issues involved with the program. Subcommittee Ranking Member Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) used the GAO report to argue that government intervention rarely “[leads] to positive reform” and placed the blame for implementation on Congress. Notably absent from the hearing was James Steeley, CEO of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) the loan servicing organization responsible for overseeing the PSLF program. Steeley was invited to testify but refused. The full opening statement by Chairwoman Davis is here. The full opening statement of Ranking Member Smucker is here. A recording of the hearing is here.
September 19, 2019

Education panel approves school shooting bill, partisan divides on issue remain staunch: The House Education and Labor Committee held a full committee markup of H.R.4301, the “School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act.” The bill was would create a federal definition of “mass shooting” and “school shooting”; direct USED to report annually the number of shootings, the number of people killed, demographics of shooters and victims, motivation of the shooters, types of firearms used, and how the firearms were acquired; and direct USED to collect safety and prevention protocols that were in place at the time of a school shooting. The bill was voted favorably out of Committee by a party line vote of 27-22. A press release is here. A statement from Committee Republicans is here. The bill is here. A recording of the markup is here.
September 18, 2019

Administration:

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

Department takes action to forgive student loans of students from ITT Tech, Corinthian Colleges: USED announced it will completely discharge the existing student loans of more than 7,500 former ITT Tech students who attended the school when it closed in 2016. Due to the Obama-era borrower defense regulation, students are eligible for automatic school discharge relief since the school closed while students were attending and because they did not use federal aid at another school for the next three years. According to the Department, approximately $95 million in student loans will be discharged. A POLITICO article is here. (NOTE: A subscription to POLITICO Pro is required.)

Relatedly, USED also announced in a court filing that it plans to partially refund student loan payments made by student borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges. The Department was previously directed to stop collecting on the loans of student borrowers due to the closure of Corinthian Colleges. Since the court order in 2018, the Department collected from approximately 3,200 borrowers, which is a violation of the order. The Department will refund those collected payments to student borrowers and will send notices to those students. According to the document filed, the Department claims these loans were collected upon due to “mismanagement” by FedLoan Servicing, one of the Department’s largest servicing agency. A POLITICO article is here.
September 19, 2019

DeVos highlights school choice, Education Freedom Scholarship during annual “Back to School” tour: This week, USED Secretary Betsy DeVos held her annual “back to school tour.” The Secretary, and various Department senior leaders, visited public and private schools around the country as part of the Secretary’s “rethinking education” campaign. The Secretary began her tour in Milwaukee, WI which the Department claims to be the “home of the first ever education freedom program” due to the city’s Parental Choice Program, which is a school voucher program. During her visit the Secretary highlighted her Education Freedom Scholarships proposal. All media advisories that describe Secretary DeVos’s school visits are here. A transcript of the Secretary’s speech at St. Marcus High School, a private school in Milwaukee, is here. A press release from the Department is here. A POLITICO article is here.
September 16-20, 2019

Publications (Outside Organizations):

  • On September 19, the Center for American Progress (CAP) published a report titled, “The Unwatched Watchdogs: How the Department of Education Fails to Properly Monitor College Accreditation Agencies.” The report summarizes the efforts of USED to monitor college accreditors and their compliance with federal law. Key findings of the report include identifying that the Department has limited capacity to conduct in-depth reviews of accreditors; that reviews are often narrowly focused and lack substantial evidence; and that the Department does not conduct regular monitoring. The full report is here.
  • On September 18, the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) published a report titled, “Student Debt and the Class of 2018.” The report summarizes a national state-by-state analysis of recent graduates and their remaining student debt. Key findings of the report include identifying that nationally, 65 percent of 2018 graduates had some degree of student debt; that borrowers from the class of 2018 had on average $29,200 in debt, an increase of 2 percent from 2017; and that state averages ranged from $19,750 in Utah to $38,650 in Connecticut. The full report is here.
  • On September 18, the National Skills Coalition published a report titled, “The Roadmap for Racial Equity.” The report is a summary of how workforce and economic policies have impacts on communities of color. Key findings of the report include identifying that most jobs in the United States are middle-skill jobs but there is a disparity in the availability of training for such positions; that the nation’s workforce will soon be comprised mostly of people of color and immigrants; and that educational attainment disparities have a direct impact on the workforce readiness. The full report is here.
  • On September 17, the Manhattan Institute published a report titled, “Should Failing Schools Be Closed?” The report is a summary of research studies that evaluated the impact of school closures. Key findings of the report include identifying that only about 2 percent of schools were closed annually between 2003 and 2013; that the impacts of a school closure vary across the country with some students benefiting while others experienced a decline in academic achievement; and that the negative impacts of a school’s closure on local schools are short lived. The full report is here.
  • On September 17, the Urban Institute published a report titled, “Kids’ Share 2019: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2018 and Future Projections.” The report summarizes an analysis of federal spending on programs that directly impact children and their well-being, including education and nutrition programs. Key findings of the report include identifying that in 2018 the federal government spent about $6,200 per child under 19, which is less than in 2017; that as a share of the economy, federal investments accounted for only 1.9 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), which is the lowest in the last 10 years; and that children’s programs are projected to only receive 3 cents of every dollar of the expected $1.5 trillion increase in federal spending over the next ten years. The full report is here.

Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):

  • On September 24 at 10:00am, the Senate HELP Committee will hold an executive session to consider the nomination of Eugene Scalia to serve as U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary. More information will be posted here.
  • On September 26 at 10:00am, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery will hold a hearing titled, “Engaging the Community: Perspectives on School Security.” It is expected the Subcommittee will focus on infrastructure improvements that address school security and safety. Such improvements are often referred to as “school hardening” efforts.” No witnesses have been announced. More information will be posted here.

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):

  • On September 23 at 4:00pm, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is holding an event titled, “In search of deeper learning: The quest to remake the American high school.” The event will feature a panel discussion as education reformers consider what does “deeper learning” mean and how it will impact current and future school designs. More information and registration are here.
  • On September 24 at 10am, New Classrooms and Future Ed are holding an event titled, “The Iceberg Problem.” This event will focus on how education policies may unintentionally exacerbate students’ learning gaps. The event will feature Jim Blew, assistant USED secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development. More information and registration are here.
  • On September 24 at 11:00am, the Education Commission of the States (ECS) is holding an event titled, “Higher Education Policy and the States: A review of the 2019 legislative sessions.” The webinar will focus on major trends from the 2019 legislative sessions and will look ahead to how higher education policy may be discussed in the 2020 legislative session. More information and registration are here.
  • On September 24 at 3:00pm, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) is holding an event titled, “Leveraging Federal Legislation and Data to Build an Education to Workforce Pipeline.” The webinar will discuss the opportunities policymakers in career and technical education have in the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, IDEA, and WIOA. More information and registration are here.

Legislation:

H.R.4342
A bill to direct the Secretary of Education to conduct a study on the feasibility of a single certification for certain programs under the Higher Education Act of 1965.
Sponsor: Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA)

H.R.4343
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to direct the Secretary of Education to publish requirements for financial aid offers to be provided by institutions of higher education to enrolled and prospective students, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA)

H.R.4369
A bill to expand access to apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships among certain populations, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC)

H.R.4371
A bill to authorize funding to strengthen investments in the Nation’s postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) programs and build connections across the entire education and workforce development system.
Sponsor: Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA)

H.R.4372
A bill to direct Federal science agencies and the Office of Science and Technology Policy to undertake activities to improve the quality of undergraduate STEM education and enhance the research capacity at the Nation’s HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)

H.R.4380
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to clarify requirements for disclosure of transfer of credit policies.
Sponsor: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX)

H.R.4381
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.4389
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide additional amounts of loan forgiveness to teachers of English learners, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. James Langevin (D-RI)

H.R.4391
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to modernize and improve the public service loan forgiveness program, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA)

H.R.4395
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require the removal of the record of default from credit history upon obtaining a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan that discharges the defaulted loan.
Sponsor: Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI)

H.R.4396
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to remove the record of default on a loan made, insured or guaranteed under title IV from a borrower’s credit history upon repayment of the full amount due on such loan.
Sponsor: Rep. Debbie Mucarsel (D-FL)

H.R.4414
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to lower the cost of college education by establishing pilot programs to expand student access to digital course materials.
Sponsor: Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA)

H.R.4422
A bill to require the Secretary of Education to award grants for graduate fellowship awards.
Sponsor: Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ)

H.R.4423
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to enhance teacher and school leader quality partnership grants.
Sponsor: Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA)

H.R.4424
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 so that every student has a path to a quality, debt-free degree or credential that leads to a rewarding career, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Del. Kilili Gregorio Sablan (D-MP)

S.2492
A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide best practices on student suicide awareness and prevention training and condition State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and tribal educational agencies receiving funds under section 520A of such Act to establish and implement a school-based student suicide awareness and prevention training policy.
Sponsor: Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO)

S.2498
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to clarify the Federal Pell Grant duration limits of borrowers who attend an institution of higher education that closes or commits fraud or other misconduct, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

S.2499
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-MA)

S.2523
A bill to amend section 455(m) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 in order to allow adjunct faculty members to qualify for public service loan forgiveness.
Sponsor: Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)

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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