E-Update for the Week of March 25, 2019

Highlights:

On March 18, the White House released the Administration’s priorities for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).
On March 21, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) encouraging institutions of higher education to “promote open, intellectually engaging, and diverse debate.” The EO also calls for USED to add program-level outcomes data to the College Scorecard and to produce a report examining policy options for the idea of risk sharing on student-loan debt.
On March 22, Senate Republicans released their FY2020 Senate Budget Resolution. The Senate Budget Committee will meet to consider its budget resolution on March 27 and March 28.

Budget & Appropriations:
Senate Budget Committee Releases a Budget Resolution: Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) released a five-year budget plan to rein in deficit spending, which maintains the spending caps as required under current law. Under the budget resolution, spending caps would be reduced to $576 billion for defense spending and $542 billion for nondefense spending as required under current law. However, according to an overview of the budget resolution, “the [fiscal year (FY)] 2020 budget resolution […]

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AAAS and EducationCounsel to Update Legal-Policy Guidance to Advance Campus Diversity Efforts

Originally posted at www.aaas.org on March 27, 2019.
While the legal landscape has become increasingly challenging, advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM remains doable if you do it right,” said Jamie Lewis Keith, Partner at EducationCounsel. “We are enormously grateful to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for enabling AAAS and EducationCounsel to partner on this critical work to equip higher education institutions and their policy and legal leaders with guidance, strategies and practical tools they need to stay strongly committed. A team-oriented focus on what can be done—and how to do it effectively, but wisely—will help institutions meet new and developing challenges successfully.
Read the Full Article.

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E-Update for the Week of March 18, 2019

Highlights:

On March 12, the Senate HELP Committee held a full committee hearing titled, “Simplifying the FAFSA and Reducing the Burden of Verification.” The hearing examined methods in which the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be simplified in order to all for more students, particularly students from low-income families, to more easily complete and submit the application.
On March 11, the Office of Management and Budget released the first half of President Donald Trump’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 Budget Request (PBR). The PBR includes significant cuts to non-defense discretionary funding, including significant decreases in the budgets for the U.S. Departments of Education (USED) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The PBR outlines a USED discretionary budget of $62 billion, which is a $7.4 billion less (12%) than FY2019 enacted funding. The PBR outlines a HHS discretionary budget of $87.1 billion, which is $3 billion less (12%) than FY2019 enacted funding. OMB is expected to release the Congressional Justifications for department budgets on March 18.
On March 11, USED Secretary DeVos announced that the Department would no longer enforce […]

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E-Update for the Week of March 11, 2019

Highlights:

On March 11, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is expected to release the fiscal year (FY) 2020 President’s Budget Request. The request will be released in two parts, with the second portion being released the week of March 18. It is expected the first section will include the request summary and departmental budget requests. Additionally, on March 11 at 2:30 pm, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) will be holding a briefing on the FY2020 President’s Budget Request, as it relates to the Department’s budget and priorities. The briefing will be held in the Potomac Center Plaza Auditorium located at 550 12th Street SW, Washington, DC.
On March 7, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that USED violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it delayed the Obama-era significant disproportionality rule. Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled the Department failed to provide a reasoned explanation and did not consider costs of the delay when making its decision to delay the rule.
On March 1, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) sent a Dear […]

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E-Update for the Week of March 4, 2019

Highlights:

On February 28, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered remarks during the Center for American Progress event titled, “An Equity and Opportunity Agenda for Higher Education.” Ranking Member Murray indicated she was beginning “good-faith negotiations” with HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN). The Ranking Member outlined her priorities to include improving college affordability, increasing accountability measures for colleges and for-profit institutions, increasing access to higher education, and increasing campus safety and protecting students’ civil rights.
On February 28, USED Secretary DeVos announced a new tax credit program to expand school choice options for students across the country. The “Education Freedom Scholarship” (EFS) program will create a $5 billion federal investment into locally controlled scholarship programs for students to access in order to pay for tuition costs at any education option available to a student, not just private schools. The program will be funded through taxpayer voluntary contributions to state-identified Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs).
On February 25, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Russ Vought published an opinion piece […]

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E-Update for the Week of February 25, 2019

Highlights:

On February 26 at 10:15 am, the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a full Committee markup of H.R.865, the “Rebuild America’s Schools Act.” The bill, sponsored by Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), creates a $70 billion grant program and a $30 bill tax bond program intended to improve the physical and digital infrastructure at high-poverty schools.
On February 21, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos visited school districts in South Carolina to learn more about the efforts to improve some of the state’s lowest performing schools. The Secretary was accompanied by South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC), and Lt. Governor Pamela Evette.
On February 19, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to USED Secretary DeVos requesting information on the since reversed decision to replace the acting Inspector General, Sandra Bruce, with Department Deputy General Counsel Philip Rosenfelt. The Department’s decision to replace Bruce was quickly reversed after the White House intervened.

Congress:
Murray, […]

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E-Update for the Week of February 19, 2019

Highlights:

On February 14, USED Office of the Inspector General released a report titled, “Federal Student Aid: Additional Actions Needed to Mitigate the Risk of Servicer Noncompliance with Requirements for Servicing Federally Held Student Loans.” The report highlighted the need for the Department to take greater actions when addressing the failure of loan servicing companies to meet federal standards for collecting student loans.
On February 12, House Appropriations Subcommittee for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Senator Kristin Gillebrand (D-NY) introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act). The bill would provide 12 weeks of paid leave for a pregnancy, birth or adoption of a child, recovery from an illness, or caring for an ill family member.
On February 12, the House Education and Labor Committee held a full Committee hearing titled, “Underpaid Teachers and Crumbling Schools: How Underfunding Public Education Shortchanges America’s Students.” The hearing focused on various federal investments in public education, including those for school construction and infrastructure improvements, Title I programs, and the Individuals with […]

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Leading science, education, and medical organizations announce new initiative: Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM

February 15, 2019 | By Jamie Lewis Keith, Partner
A recent 2018 consensus study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine titled, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (Academies Report), reported that sexual and gender harassment remain widespread and prevalent, and have negative outcomes for women, as well as others (albeit at lesser rates):

Greater than 50 percent of women faculty and 20-50 percent of women students encounter or experience sexually harassing conduct in academic science, engineering, and medicine (Academies Report 65) and women with multiple societal identities targeted for bias experience harassment at even greater rates (p. 44-46).

Recognizing sexual harassment as a barrier to excellence, the newly launched Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM is a collective act of leadership and accountability—53 societies strong and counting—to advance inclusion and success of all talent in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medical (STEMM) fields. Collective efforts on this scale don’t happen often (the full press release can be read here).
By bringing together academic and professional societies of every size and […]

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E-Update for the Week of February 11, 2019

Highlights:

On February 4, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) delivered remarks at an American Enterprise Institute event titled, “An agenda for higher education reform.” During the event, the Chairman outlined his priorities when pursuing reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Chairman Alexander expressed that he would like to report a bill out of the HELP Committee by this spring and have the Senate pass a bill by the end of the summer. Included within the bill, the Chairman would like to see simplification of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the creation of a new income-based repayment plan, and the creation of a new accountability system for colleges based on borrower repayment of loans.
On February 5, CQ reported that President Donald Trump’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request would be released the week of March 11, with supplementary materials being released a week later. It is expected the first half of the release will feature the President’s budget message, overall funding requests for departments and agencies, and summary tables.
On […]

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E-Update for the Week of February 4, 2019

Highlights:

On January 31, POLITICO reported the USED Acting Inspector General, Sandra Bruce, was replaced by Philip Rosenfelt, the current deputy general counsel. Bruce had been in her role for less than two months before her departure. However, on February 1, the White House announced it was reversing the designation of Rosenfelt as Acting Inspector General. However, no new nomination for the position was named.
On January 30, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ), and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced H.R.865, the “Rebuild America’s Schools Act.” The bill would create a $70 billion grant program and $30 billion tax credit bond program to improve schools in high-poverty areas; it would develop a comprehensive national database on the condition of public school facilities; and it would expand access to high-speed broadband internet.
On January 25, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) released proposed guidance on the ESSA “supplement, not supplant” requirement for school districts. The requirement, under Title I, Part A of the law, directs that federal funds must supplement State and local sources, not […]

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