E-Update for the Week of September 9, 2019

E-Update for the Week of September 9, 2019

Highlights:

  • On September 10 at 11:30am, the Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) Subcommittee will hold a markup of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bill. Once the Labor/HHS FY2020 appropriations bill clears the Subcommittee, it will be considered by the full Committee on September 12 at 10:30am.
  • On September 5, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sent a letter to the Democratic caucus informing them that they can expect a vote on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) the week of September 16.
  • On August 30, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced it has finalized its re-write of the borrower defense rule, referred to as “Institutional Accountability” regulations. The finalization comes after the Department was forced to implement the Obama-era regulations once a federal court prevented the Department’s efforts to delay them.

Budget & Appropriations:

Senate appropriators to markup Labor/HHS spending bill this week: On September 10 at 11:30am, the Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) Subcommittee will hold a markup of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bill. Once the Labor/HHS FY2020 appropriations bill clears the Subcommittee, it will be considered by the full Committee on September 12 at 10:30am. After the full Senate Appropriations Committee considers the appropriations bill, it is likely the Senate will enter conference negotiations with the House instead of moving to a floor vote by the full Senate.

House Majority Leader already planning CR to keep government open: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sent a letter to the Democratic caucus informing them that they can expect a vote on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) the week of September 16. “I expect the House to consider a clean continuing resolution to fund the government past September 30,” wrote the Majority Leader. The CR will allow for the government to remain open while Congress continues its appropriations process for FY2020. While the letter does not indicate specifically how long the CR will last, the Majority Leader has previously discussed a short-term funding bill to go through November 22. Although this CR is expected to move forward within the House, it is unclear as to how the Senate will react to the measure given the House CR will most likely not include funding for key White House priorities such as funding for the border wall. The letter is here.
September 5, 2019

Congress:

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

Senate:

Senate Democrats to DeVos – provide relief to ITT Tech students: Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos urging her to provide student loan relief to those impacted by the 2016 closure of ITT Tech. The Senators argue students who attended ITT Tech are eligible for relief due to automatic closed school discharges, under the 2016 borrower defense rule. The letter is here. A press release is here.
September 4, 2019

Grassley urges HHS to address childhood trauma: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar regarding the Department’s implementation of Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommendations. Specifically, the Chairman urged the Department to find “innovative ways to target the behavior health resources Congress annually provides to help promote better identification of, and response to, individuals coping with childhood trauma or childhood exposure to violence and related behavioral health conditions.” The letter is here. A press release is here.
September 3, 2019

Murry, Brown request new CFBP ombudsman provide staff level briefing: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) requesting that Robert Cameron, the new private student loan ombudsman, hold a staff briefing for the HELP Committee and the Senate Banking Committee. The Senators urge Cameron to hold the briefing given his previous role with the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), a student loan servicer. “During your tenure… PHEAA had a poor compliance record, as reflected in the number of borrower complaints,” wrote the Senators. “We want to provide you with an opportunity to address our concerns about your record, as well as your views on your role.” The Senators request the briefing be held no later than September 18.
September 3, 2019

House:

Davis, longtime Education Committee member, to retire in 2020: Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA) announced she will be retiring from Congress at the conclusion of her current term in 2020. Davis has been a member of Congress since 2001 and has served as the Chairwoman of the House Education and Labor Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee. The announcement is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here.
September 4, 2019

Administration:

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

USED levies $4.5 million fine on Michigan State: USED announced it will be fining Michigan State University (MSU) $4.5 million after concluding the university failed to implement Title IX and the Clery Act appropriately. The fine comes as a result the Department concluding an investigation into MSU’s handling of reports of sexual violence by former employee and adjunct professor Larry Nassar. The investigation was conducted by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). “What transpired at Michigan State was abhorrent, inexcusable, and a total and complete failure to follow the law and protect students,” stated the Secretary. The fine levied against MSU marks the highest received by any university regarding Title IX and Clery Act enforcement. Further, the university will only be provisionally approved for federal student aid programs over the next year to ensure the university implements required changes. A press release is here.
September 5, 2019

USED finalizes its rewrite of borrower defense rule, takes effect July 2020: USED announced it has finalized its re-write of the borrower defense rule, referred to as “Institutional Accountability” regulations. The finalization comes after the Department was forced to implement the Obama-era regulations once a federal court prevented the Department’s efforts to delay them. The borrower defense to repayment rules allowed student borrowers to file for student loan relief when their institution either closed or students determined the institution “defrauded” them. According to a release by the Department, the new finalized regulations will apply to all federal student loans made on or after July 1, 2020. Loans made prior to July 1, 2020 will be subject to the regulations published on November 1, 2016 (the original Obama-era regulations). Major provisions of the finalized rule include defining a federal standard on what qualifies as a borrower defense claim; allowing for both affirmative and defense claims; maintaining the preponderance of the evidence standard for claim determination; adjusting the notice and process provisions for institutions and students; establishing the limitations period to be three years for all claims; defining “misrepresentation;” describing financial harm; permitting institutions to once again include pre-dispute arbitration and class action waivers; allowing borrowers to choose between a closed school discharge or accepting a teach-out opportunity; requiring borrowers to apply for false certification discharges; and outlining mandatory and discretionary triggering events. A press release from the Department is here. A summary of the final regulations is here. The final regulations are here.

A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here. A statement by Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) is here.
August 30, 2019

Publications (Congressional and Administration):

  • On September 5, the GAO published a report titled, “Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Improving the Temporary Expanded Process Could Help Reduce Borrower Confusion.” The report examined applications for the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) program and USED’s decisions on those applications. Key findings of the report include identifying that 99 percent of applicants were denied for the TEPSLF program as of May 2019; that USED does not require federal loan servicers to include TEPSLF information on their websites; and that USED’s Online Help Tool for borrowers does not include information on TEPSLF. The full report is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here.

Publications (Outside Organizations):

  • On September 5, the Mathematica published a report titled, “State-Level Impact of USDA Proposal to End SNAP Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility.” The report analyzes state level data and uses a data simulation to determine the expected impacts of the proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule that would eliminate broad-based categorical eligibility. Such eligibility allows most families who quality for non-cash Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to automatically qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Key findings of the report include identifying that SNAP households in 39 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands would lose program eligibility due to the proposed rule; that in more than 20 states, at least 10 percent of SNAP households would lose eligibility; and that overall over 1.9 million households would lose eligibility. The full report is here.
  • On September 4, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) published a report titled, “Racial Segregation in the Southern Schools, School Districts, and Counties Where Districts Have Seceded.” The report summarizes a study of how school district boundaries contribute to school and residential segregation. Key findings of the report include identifying that school segregation increased to 63.8 percent in 2015 compared to 57.7 percent in 2000; that based on school district boundaries, segregation between white and black students increased from 59.9 percent in 2000 to 70.3 percent in 2015; and that for Hispanic and white students, segregation increased from 37.1 percent in 2000 to 65.1 percent in 2015. 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 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.” 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. More information will be posted here.
  • On September 10 at 11:30am, the Senate Appropriations Labor/HHS Subcommittee will hold a markup of the FY2020 appropriations bill.
  • On September 11 at 10:15am, the House Education and Labor Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee hearing titled, “The Importance of Trauma-Informed Practices in Education to Assist Students Impacted by Gun Violence and Other Adversities.” The hearing is expected to focus on both gun violence in schools as well as broader adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). No witnesses have been announced. More information will be posted here.
  • On September 12 at 10:30am, the Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of FY2020 appropriations bills for Labor/HHS, U.S. Department of Defense, Energy and Water Development, and the U.S. Department of State, and Foreign Operations.
  • 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 19, the House Education and Labor Committee will hold hearing on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The hearing comes 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. No other information has yet been announced.

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.
  • On September 10 at 9:00am, the Heritage Foundation is holding an event titled, “What’s Next for U.S. Higher Education?” The event will focus on a recent Pew Research Poll that indicates 61 percent of Americans believe higher education is “headed in the wrong direction.” The event will feature Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) and Tim Chapman as they discuss conservative higher education solutions. More information and registration are here.
  • On September 12 at 8:00am, NewSchools Venture Fund and Gallup are holding an event titled, “Using Technology in Schools: Student and Educator Perspectives.” The event will share report findings and discuss how educators, leaders, and developers can maximize the effectiveness of digital learning tools. More information and registration are here.
  • On September 13 at 10:00am, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is holding an event titled, “Fifth Annual American Family Survey: Myths about families, plus what Americans really think about paid family leave.” The survey explores family leave policy views and finds that low-income Americans do not have significant access to paid family leave. The event will feature the survey’s authors as they discuss the results. More information and registration are here.

Legislation:

H.R.4220
A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to allow local educational agencies to use Federal funds for programs and activities that address chronic absenteeism.
Sponsor: Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH)

H.R.4221
A bill to require the Director of the National Institutes of Health to carry out a study to add to the scientific knowledge on reducing teacher stress and increasing teacher retention and well-being, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH)

H.R.4222
A bill to amend the STEM education program for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students under the Higher Education Act of 1965.
Sponsor: Del. Gregorio Kilili Sablan (D-MP)

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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