Are we EQUIPped to spend billions on (yet) unproven programs?

April 17, 2018
Nathan Arnold
In the 1940s, Russia developed a prototype of a new military advancement called the Antonov A-40. It was an ambitious, seemingly innovative leap forward that would provide battlefield support and overwhelming, agile deployment. It was also, quite literally, a flying tank. For reasons that seem obvious in retrospect—weight and inefficient transportation chief among them—it was not functional in practice and thankfully never produced at wide scale. However, the lessons learned regarding its design ultimately provided beneficial advances to future military developments.
Federal lawmakers would be wise to heed the lesson that all ideas—particularly those with billions of dollars at stake—should not be rushed into wide-scale production. Many of them seem eager to open the $130 billion per year of taxpayer funding to new ways of providing higher education instruction without any assurance that these programs provide quality outcomes to their students. It’s still too early to tell if these innovative models will turn out to be the Antonov A-40 or the (significantly more effective) Chinook helicopter of higher education, but it’s not hard to see the potential […]

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E-Update for the Weeks of April 2 and April 9, 2018

Highlights:

On April 10, the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), or the “Nation’s Report Card” was released. The report provides results for the nation, states, and 27 urban school districts for assessments in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics.
On April 11-12, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute conducted a summit to assess the American education landscape in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the seminal report: “A Nation at Risk.”
On April 10, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) titled, “Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility.” The Executive Order orders Secretaries of various federal agencies to review their public assistance programs and guidance documents and to strengthen existing work requirements.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Released: The 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), or the “Nation’s Report Card” was released. The report provides results for the nation, states, and 27 urban school districts for assessments in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics. Findings from the report include 37% of fourth-graders and 36% of eighth-graders scored at […]

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E-Update for March 30, 2018

Highlights:

This E-Update covers the period of March 19 through March 30, 2018.
This week, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos approved Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) consolidated state plans Texas, Idaho, Mississippi, and Rhode Island. USED has approved plans for 37 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico thus far. Thirteen state plans remain to be approved. The press release is available here.
On March 28, the first meeting of the Federal Commission on School Safety was held. The meeting followed the March For Our Lives held in Washington, D.C., earlier in the week.
On March 23, the Omnibus Appropriations bill finalizing funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The bill sets funding levels for key early learning and education programs for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Key School Safety Meetings and Announcements

On March 28, the first meeting of the recently formed Federal Commission on School Safety, which USED Secretary has DeVos has been appointed to chair, was held in Washington, D.C., during which members discussed “the scope of the Commission’s work, timeline, locations for meetings and topics for field hearings.” Earlier, […]

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E-Update for March 19, 2018

Highlights

This E-Update covers the period of March 12 through March 16.
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees continue work to negotiate a final Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill prior to the current expiration of federal funding on March 23. It is expected that a bill could be released as early as this evening.
On March 14, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing titled, “See Something, Say Something: Oversight of the Parkland Shooting and Legislative Proposals to Improve School Safety.” Florida Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) testified at the hearing.
On March 14, the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 407-10, H.R. 4909, the “STOP School Violence Act of 2018,” which will support evidence-based violence prevention programs (companion bill is sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch – S. 2495). The bill was endorsed by the White House and U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos.
On March 12, the White House unveiled its school safety proposal in response to the recent tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The Trump Administration also announced the creation […]

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Midweek E-Update for March 14, 2018

Highlights

This is an extended version of EducationCounsel’s E-Update covering the period of Tuesday, February 27, through Monday, March 12. We will resume publishing on a weekly basis with this Friday.
On March 6, the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing titled, “Strengthening Welfare to Work With Child Care,” during which members and witnesses emphasized the benefits of high-quality, accessible, and affordable child care.
On March 9, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) released in the Federal Register a notice clarifying the Department’s view on “Federal Preemption and State Regulation of the Department of Education’s Federal Student Loan Programs and Federal Student Loan Servicers.” The notices outlines USED’s position that only the federal government has the authority to oversee federal student loan servicers.
On February 28, USED Secretary DeVos released her Final Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant Programs. The Secretary issued eleven priorities that may be used across USED’s discretionary grant programs in future grant competitions.

Budget & Appropriations
Senate Democrats Release Infrastructure Plan: Senate Democrats unveiled a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, which […]

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E-Update for February 26, 2018

Highlights:

February 23 was the deadline for submission of comments or suggestions regarding the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA).
Last week, the Administration and Congress took a number of actions related to school safety in response to the recent tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead and at least 15 wounded.
Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a case which challenges the constitutionality of fees being paid by government employees who are represented by, but do not belong to, a union.

Budget and Appropriations:
House Subcommittee Outlines Rules for Member Priority Submissions in FY2019: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies issued a Dear Colleague letter outlining the process for members to submit their priorities to the Subcommittee for FY2019. The deadline for member submissions to the Subcommittee is March 19, 2018. The letter […]

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E-Update for February 16, 2018

Highlights:

The President released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Budget Request, which calls for level funding for Title I State Grants and Special Education State Grants, an increase for Child Care and Development Block Grant funding by $150 million, an increase for Head Start by $22 million, and a number of proposals to reform campus-based-aid programs and to simplify student loan repayment and student loan programs.
This week, the Senate considered a series of amendments in an attempt to reach consensus on a bipartisan immigration reform proposal, including a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals DACA) fix; however, no proposal passed the Senate.
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that they are seeking public input regarding the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965. Ranking Member Murray also announced that she was soliciting personal stories inform the reauthorization process.

Budget & Appropriations
Fiscal Year 2019 President’s Budget Request Released: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the FY2019 President’s Budget Request and a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. The budget request […]

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E-Update for the Weeks of January 29 and February 5, 2018

Highlights:

Following the release of a bipartisan budget agreement to increase defense and non-defense annual spending caps (also known as discretionary spending) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and FY2019, the House and Senate approved a Continuing Resolution (CR) on February 9, which will continue federal funding through March 23. The President signed the CR on the same day.
The U.S. Department of Education (USED) conducted a second session of the Gainful Employment Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. At this meeting, an issue paper on technical and conforming changes to the Department’s working draft to overhaul gainful employment regulations was considered. More information can be found here and the issue paper can be found here.
The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) held a meeting on the performance of accrediting agencies currently undergoing review and evaluation for purposes of recognition by USED. Additionally, a panel was held during the session to consider comments related to a student-level data network. The notice can be found here and the agenda can be found here.

Key Upcoming Events:

On February 12, the Administration will release its FY2019 […]

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E-Update for January 26, 2018

Highlights:

On January 25, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing titled, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Access and Innovation,” which focused on ways in which higher education institutions can better meet students’ diverse needs.
On January 25, the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing to consider the nomination of Frank T. Brogan to serve as USED Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.
On January 24, the Senate voted to confirm Alex Azar to serve as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) by a vote of 55-43.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):
USED Secretary DeVos Approves Six ESSA State Plans: U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos approved an additional six ESSA consolidated state plans: Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, and New Hampshire. In the announcement, USED Secretary DeVos stated, “I encourage states to use their plans as a starting point, rather than a finish line, to improve outcomes for all students.” The remaining 17 state plans are expected to be approved in the coming months.
January 19, 2018
Budget & Appropriations:
Congress Passes CR to End Government […]

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E-Update for January 19, 2018

Highlights:

On January 16, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos approved 11 consolidated state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including: Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
On January 18, the House approved by a party-line vote of 230-197 the latest Continuing Resolution (CR), which would provide funding beyond the current expiration on January 19 through February 16. The Senate voted to proceed to consideration of the CR on the same day by a vote of 97-2. It is unclear if the Senate will have enough votes to pass the CR prior to a midnight deadline tonight.
On January 17, the Senate Finance Committee approved the nomination of Alex Azar to serve as HHS Secretary. The full Senate will now be required to consider and approve the nominations. A vote has yet to be scheduled on the nomination.

Budget & Appropriations
Congress Continues to Discuss CR: On January 18, the House approved by a party-line vote of 230-197 the latest Continuing Resolution (CR), which would provide funding beyond the current expiration […]

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