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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E-Update for the Week of November 5, 2018

Highlights:

On October 31, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos urging her to discontinue the Department’s rulemaking process around Financial Student Aid.
On October 31, the White House held an “Our Pledge to America’s Workers” event featuring remarks by President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow. The event highlighted the President’s call to action for companies and trade groups across the country to sign a new Pledge to America’s workers – committing to expand programs that educate, train, and reskill American workers from high-school age to near retirement.
On October 29, POLITICOreported USED will be undergoing significant restructuring based on an email sent to the Department staff by USED Secretary DeVos. In her email, the Secretary outlined various changes to the Department including elevating the Office of Non-Public Education to report directly to Secretary DeVos; combining of the Office of Innovation and Improvement with the Office […]

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E-Update for the Week of October 29, 2018

Highlights:

On October 26, POLITICO reported Josh Venable, USED Chief of Staff, resigned from the Department. Venable will be replaced by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach Nate Baily.
On October 24, President Trump signed H.R.6, the “SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act,” which is a comprehensive bill focused on addressing the opioids crisis. The bill authorizes $50 million in grants per year for the next five years to help states and districts support students who have experienced trauma, which can include some schoolwide behavioral interventions.
On October 21, the New York Times reported the Trump administration is considering a more narrowly defined definition of gender under Title IX. According to a leaked memo, gender would be defined as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth. Such a definition would effectively ignore individuals who identify as transgender.

Congress:
Warren, Bonamici call for DeVos to share information on for-profit college accreditor: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos requesting information on the Department’s decision to restore the […]

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E-Update for the Week of October 22, 2018

Highlights:

On October 17, President Donald Trump, in comments during a Cabinet meeting, instructed all secretaries to cut five percent from their budgets for fiscal year (FY) 2020. “Whether it’s a secretary, an administrator, whatever, I’m going to ask everybody with a 5-percent cut for our next meeting. I think you’ll all be able to do it.”
On October 17, USED published in the Federal Register its Unified Agenda for Fall 2018. The publication included multiple proposed regulation changes, including those regarding significant disproportionality, minority serving institutions, Charter School Grants, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and Title IX.
On October 16, a federal judge ruled against a for-profit college association effectively ending all efforts to block implementation of the Obama-era borrower defense rule. The rule would allow for students, who have been defrauded by their college or professional school, to seek loan forgiveness.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):
Four more states interested in Innovative Assessment pilot: Education Week reported that four states have indicated interest in participating in the Innovative Assessment pilot. Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, and South Carolina “signaled […]

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E-Update for the Week of October 15, 2018

Highlights:

On October 11, USED announced its creation of negotiated rulemaking committee to develop proposed regulations related to a number of higher education practices and issues, including: (1) accreditation; (2) distance learning and educational innovation; (3) TEACH grants; and (4) participation by faith-based educational entities. Nominations for negotiators to serve on the committees must be received on or before November 15, 2018.
On October 10, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published in the Federal Register its notice to prescribe changes to its determination of immigration status based on an individual’s likelihood to become a public charge. The Administration is considering various public benefits as included in the definition of public charge. The notice will accept comments until December 10.
On October 8, USED published the awards given in fiscal year (FY) 2018 under the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant program. For FY2018, 18 new awards were distributed, with 11 of them having some sort of STEM focus or component.

Congress:
Senate:
On October 11, the Senate went into recess for legislative business until November 13 following the mid-term elections.
Murray, Brown […]

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E-Update for the Week of October 8, 2018

Highlights:

On October 2, USED Secretary DeVos announced New Hampshire is the second state to receive approval for its participation in the Innovative Assessments pilot, as allowed under ESSA.
On October 3, USED announced it will miss the November 1 deadline to rewrite the borrower defense to repayment and gainful employment rules. By missing the deadline, the Department will not be able to implement any changes to the rules until July 2020.
On September 28, POLITICO reported that Diane Auer Jones, Principal Deputy Undersecretary for Postsecondary Education, recommended that Secretary DeVos grant a one-year extension of the federal approval for the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). However, since the announcement, other major accreditation organizations have claimed ACICS does not meet the “widely accepted” standard in order to receive federal approval.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):
New Hampshire approved for Innovative Assessments pilot: USED Secretary DeVos announced New Hampshire is the second state to receive approval for its participation in the Innovative Assessments pilot, as allowed under ESSA. New Hampshire will use its Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE) system […]

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