E-Update for the Week of September 4, 2019

E-Update for the Week of September 4, 2019

Highlights:

  • On August 28, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) announced he will be retiring from the Senate at the end of 2019. Isakson cited his ongoing health challenges with Parkinson’s disease as the main reason for his early departure.
  • On August 27, the White House announced the nomination of Eugene Scalia as DOL Secretary.
  • On August 26, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and 44 other Senators sent a letter to acting U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Patrick Pizzella regarding the Department’s proposed rule for establishing industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs). Additionally, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) led a letter signed by 125 House Democrats urging the Department to reconsider the IRAPs program and to extend the public comment period by 60 days. Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter as well commending the IRAPs proposal but urged the Department to not exclude any industries or sectors in the program.

Congress:

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

Democrats decry Labor proposed rule on apprenticeships expansion: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and 44 other Senators sent a letter to acting U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Patrick Pizzella regarding the Department’s proposed rule for establishing industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs). IRAPs would be less regulated compared to federally registered apprenticeship programs, as recognition would be created by Standards Recognition Entities (SREs) not DOL. The Senators argue that the proposed rule would create “duplicative, unnecessary, and lower-quality” programs. The Senators urged the Department to extend the public comment period on the proposed rule for additional 60 days. The comment period closed on August 26 and received over 61,000 comments. The letter is here. A press release is here. The proposed rule is here.

Relatedly, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter, along with 125 other House Democrats, urging DOL to extend the public comment period. House Democrats similarly denounced the rule arguing that it “undermines key standards and protections that are necessary to safeguard the welfare of apprenticeships.” The letter is here. A press release is here.

Additionally, House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter commending DOL for the proposed rule but urged the Department to not exclude any industry or sector from the IRAP. “We know skills-based education can fix our nation’s growing skills gap by providing students and job seekers with the skills and hands-on experience they need to improve their own lives…We were disappointed to see the construction sector was specifically excluded from participating in IRAPs,” wrote the Ranking Member. Ranking Member Foxx and House Republicans did not request the 60-day extension of the public comment period. The letter is here. A press release is here.
August 26, 2019

Senate:

Isakson, longtime HELP Committee member, to retire in December: Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) announced he will be retiring from the Senate at the end of 2019. Isakson cited his ongoing health challenges with Parkinson’s disease as the main reason for his early departure. After the Senator retires on December 31, Georgia governor Brian Kemp will appoint Isakson’s replacement, with a special election to be held in November 2020. Isakson is a member of the Senate HELP Committee and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. A press release is here. A statement from HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is here.
August 28, 2019

House:

Cummings to DHS acting secretary – staff needs ‘meaningful access’ to facilities: House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to acting U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kevin McAlleenan after the Department blocked Committee staff from visiting detention facilities for migrant children. Committee staff requested that they be provided “meaningful access to all [Customs and Border Protection] and [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] facilities” that the Committee staff have identified. A press release is here. The letter is here.
August 29, 2019

Administration:

Nominations:

Scalia nominated as Labor secretary: The White House announced the nomination of Eugene Scalia as DOL Secretary. Scalia, the son of late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, is currently a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and is a labor, employment, and regulatory lawyer. The Senate HELP Committee has not yet announced a hearing on Scalia’s nomination. The announcement is here.
August 27, 2019

Publications (Congressional and Administration):

  • On August 28, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report titled, “Trends in Ratio of Pell Grant to Total Price of Attendance and Federal Loan Receipt.” The report examined Pell Grant awards in comparison to the total price of attendance for academic years 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016. Key findings of the report include identifying that Pell Grants covered 24 percent of the total price of attendance, on average; that Pell Grants covered more of the total price of attendance for students at public 2-year institutions compared to other institutions; and that Pell Grant recipients at private, non-profit 4-year institutions and private for-profit institutions had higher rates of federal loan receipt compared to public institutions. The full report is here.

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 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.

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):

  • On September 9 at 3:00pm, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) is holding an event titled, “How State Boards of Education Can Cultivate a Skilled, Stable Workforce in Early Education.” The webinar will discuss findings from the Early Childhood Workforce Index from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, which examines early childhood workforce policies and the economic status of the workforce nationally. More information and registration are here.
  • On September 10 at 9:00am, New America is holding an event titled, “Varying Degrees: How Americans Perceive Higher Education in 2019.” The event will focus on New America’s recent survey results about the perception of higher education related to affordability, loans, and earnings. More information and registration are here.

Legislation:

H.R.4196
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to include child development and early learning as community services under the Federal work-study program.
Sponsor: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX)

H.R.4206
A bill titled the “Student and Taxpayer Protection Act” which would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to include requirements for programs of training to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.
Sponsor: Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)

H.R.4207
A bill titled the “Justice for Victims of School Shootings Act” which would amend title 18, United States Code, to provide for enhanced penalties for certain unlawful discharges of a firearm on or near schools, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX)

H.R.4212
A bill titled the “America’s College Promise Act of 2019” which would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to establish State and Indian tribe grants for community colleges and grants for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority-Serving Institutions, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI)

H.R.4213
A bill titled the “Universal Prekindergarten and Early Childhood Education Act of 2019” which would establish a grant program to assist States to establish or expand universal prekindergarten in public schools and public charter schools.
Sponsor: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)

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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