E-Update for the Week of January 14, 2019

Highlights:

On January 10, the House Democratic Steering Committee announced new nominations for the House Appropriations Committee. The nominations include Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Ed Case (D-HI), Charlie Crist (D-FL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Norma Torres (D-CA), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).
On January 8, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (USED) announced the recipients of the Preschool Development Birth through Five Grant awards (PDG B-5). Of the 47 “state” applicants, 45 received awards for a total distribution of $241.5 million. Individual awards ranged between $538,000 and $10.6 million.
On January 7, USED released draft regulatory proposals to overhaul several aspects of programs authorized under the Higher Education Act (HEA). It also announced 15 primary and 15 alternate negotiators selected to serve on the negotiated rulemaking committee and additional negotiators to serve on three issue-specific subcommittees. The first of three negotiated rulemaking session will occur January 14 – 16 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at USED headquarters

Budget & Appropriations:
Whitehouse, Blunt introduce bill to establish two-year budget cycle, remove president […]

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E-Update for the Week of January 7, 2019

Highlights:

On January 3, both the House and the Senate began the first session of the 116th In the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was elected to serve as Speaker of the House with 220 votes. Fifteen Democrats did not vote for the Speaker.
On January 3, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released the Republican committee assignments for the 116th Congress. The assignments are subject to ratification by the Republican Conference and the full Senate, which will take place the week of January 7. Notably, Senator Todd Young (R-IN) is no longer serving on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Senator Young is replaced by Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT).
On January 2, POLITICO reported that the U.S. Department of Education (USED) will officially reorganize the Department on January 6. Major changes to the Department include the consolidation of the Office of the Secretary and the Office of the Deputy Secretary; the consolidation of the Office of Innovation and Improvement into the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education; the merge of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer […]

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E-Update for the Week of December 24, 2018

Highlights:

On December 21, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and Department of Justice (DOJ) announced they have rescinded the 2014 Obama-era school discipline guidance. The rescission comes after the Federal Commission on School Safety recommended, within its final report, the Departments rescind the guidance. The rescission of the guidance does not change federal civil rights law or states’ and districts’ obligation to administer school discipline in a non-discriminatory way, and to ensure schools are free of discrimination including free from the disparate impact upon any group of students. Since guidance documents do not have the force of law, like federal regulations or statutes, the guidance did not change any legal requirements of schools, districts or states. A full summary analysis, by EducationCounsel, of the Federal Commission on School Safety Report, including a deeper analysis of the school discipline guidance and implications of its rescission, is here.
On December 18, the Federal Commission on School Safety released its final report, which included a series of recommendations that the federal government, state, and local governments can take to improve school safety. The […]

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E-Update for the Week of December 17, 2018

Highlights:

On December 12, the House passed the conference report for H.R.2, the “Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018,” otherwise known as the “farm bill.” On December 11, the Senate passed the conference report. The bill, as agreed to in the conference report, does not include stricter work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) and does not significantly change the program.
On December 13, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced Democratic committee membership for the 116th Congress. Notably, Senator-elect Jacky Rosen (D-NV) will replace Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Current HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) will maintain her role as Ranking Member of the Committee.
On December 13, POLITICO reported that USED will discharge the loans of 15,000 student borrowers who qualify for “closed school” loan discharges. The Department will discharge, in total, $150 million for the loans. According to POLITICO, the Department will notify students via email and students will not have to take any action in order to complete the loan discharge.

Congress:
CBO recommends cutting Head […]

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Taking a Holistic Look at Higher Ed Admissions

December 13, 2018
Art Coleman

I’m very pleased to share that the College Board’s Access and Diversity Collaborative today released “Understanding Holistic Review in Higher Education Admissions: Guiding Principles and Model Illustrations.” The guide provides insights into the logic, rigor, and fairness behind effective holistic review–a practice that is under attack in a growing number of court and agency actions. My co-author and EducationCounsel colleague Jamie Lewis Keith and I hope that we’ve helped open the “black box” of admissions decision-making, with an overview of the key features and elements of well-designed holistic review policy and practice. We include institutional examples and promising models that illustrate effective and sustainable practices. We also argue for more transparency on these issues. Over time, our challenges are not only in the courts of law, where we’ve won more than we’ve lost. We’ve got to do a better job in the court of public opinion–explaining the compelling case of what admissions officials do, and why, every day. #diversity #affirmativeaction #admissions

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E-Update for the Week of December 10, 2018

Highlights:

On December 6, the Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Kathy Kraninger as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Kraninger was confirmed with a 50-49 vote along party lines.
On November 30, House Republicans selected House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) to serve as Ranking Member of the Committee during the 116th Congress.
On December 4, the White House announced a plan to improve access and quality of STEM education in the country. The plan has three goals: (1) build a strong foundation for STEM literacy; (2) increase diversity in STEM careers; and (3) prepare the STEM workforce for the future.

Congress:
Senate:
CFPB nominee approved by Senate: The Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Kathy Kraninger as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Kraninger was confirmed with a 50-49 vote along party lines.
December 6, 2018
Murray urges USED to outline plans for new student loan collection contracts: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy […]

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E-Update for the Week of December 3, 2018

Highlights:

On November 29, USED published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NRPM) on Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive federal funding, related to schools’ responses to sexual harassment and assault. Public comment will be accepted until January 28, 2019.
On November 29, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a committee vote on the nomination of Robert King to be U.S. Department of Education (USED) Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education. The Committee voted 12-11, along party lines, to successfully advance King’s nomination to the full Senate for consideration. No debate on his nomination has been scheduled.
On November 28, House Democrats nominated current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to be Speaker of the House for the 116th Congress. Minority Leader Pelosi was selected by a vote of 203-32 and will need 218 votes when the entire House votes on January 3.

Tax Reform:
Brady introduces lame duck tax reform package, unlikely to move in House or Senate: House […]

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E-Update for the Week of November 26, 2018

Highlights:

On November 21, USED Secretary Betsy DeVos signed a final order that extends federal approval of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) for another year. Per the order, ACICS must submit a report within the year regarding how it meets two standards it had previously failed in meeting compliance – the “competency of representatives” and “conflict of interest” standards.
On November 20, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) published a 2017 U.S. Department of Education (USED) report regarding the use of loan forbearance by Navient, a student loan servicer. The report, according to Warren, supports pending claims against Navient including one being led by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that argue the company illegally cheated student loan borrowers by moving them into forbearance instead of helping them enroll in income-based repayment plans.
On November 20, USED Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced it would be revising its Case Processing Manual in regards to how it will investigate and resolve complaints made to OCR. Key revisions of the manual include a requirement to comply with the First Amendment when […]

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E-Update for the Week of November 19, 2018

Highlights:

On November 16, USED released a proposed regulation under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive federal funding, related to schools’ responses to sexual harassment and assault. Key provisions of the proposed regulation that have gained attention include: the proposed rule would require schools to apply basic due process protections for students, including a presumption of innocence throughout the grievance process; written notice of allegations and an equal opportunity to review all evidence collected; and the right to cross-examination, subject to “rape shield” protections.
On November 13, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), along with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Cory Garnder (R-CO), introduced S. 3611, the “Faster Access to Federal Student Aid Act of 2018 (FAFSA) Act, which will facilitate the sharing of information between the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
On November 14, current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was re-elected as Senate Majority Leader for the 116th Senator […]

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E-Update for the Week of November 13, 2018

Highlights:

On November 6, midterm elections were held across the country, the results of which will have ripple effects in both the federal government and state legislatures, and on education policy priorities. To help understand these potential effects further, read the EducationCounsel’s Outlook for Education Policy. The brief is found here.
On November 2, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) led a letter addressed to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar. The letter urges the Secretary to “end any effort to redefine sex to exclude transgender and gender nonconforming people.” The letter comes after reports by the New York Times that the Department was reconsidering redefining “sex” as it relates to the enforcement of Title IX.
On October 24, USED released a draft state plan guide for states to use as they begin to develop their state Career and Technical Education (CTE) plans per the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The guide includes two options for states – to either submit a transition plan for the 2019-2020 school […]

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