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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E-Update for the Week of October 1, 2018

Highlights:

On September 26, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos announced she approved the Florida ESSA state plan. Florida’s plan had to undergo significant revisions after it initially submitted its plan to the Department. With Florida’s plan now approved, all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have been approved by the Secretary.
On September 28, President Donald Trump signed the fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations minibus (a combination of 2-3 bills) for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Defense-Labor/HHS). By signing the bill, the President averted a partial government shutdown that would have gone into effect midnight September 30, as the appropriations package includes a continuing resolution for all agencies that have yet to be funded.
On September 25, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a full committee hearing titled, “Every Student Succeeds Act: States Leading The Way.” The hearing featured three state education chiefs and one education reform organization leader. Democratic members were focused on state plans monitoring subgroup performance, as well as […]

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E-Update for the Week of September 24, 2018

Highlights:

On September 18, the Senate adopted the fiscal year (FY) 2019 final conference report for the appropriations minibus (a combination of 2-3 bills) for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Defense-Labor/HHS). The Senate adopted the report by a vote of 93-7. The House is expected to consider the report when they return from recess the week September 25.
On September 17, in recognition of Constitution Day, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) all delivered remarks at events on the topic of the first amendment. All three discussed the importance of free speech on college campuses and called for the preservation of spaces to express diverse opinions and perspectives.
On September 19, USED released new data regarding the current claims submitted under the borrower defense rule. As of June 30, there were approximately 106,000 claims pending review by the Department. Thus far, the Department has approved 47,942 applications for loan discharges, but those applications also […]

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E-Update for the Week of September 17, 2018

Highlights:

On September 25 at 10:00 am, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a full committee hearing titled, “The Every Student Succeeds Act: States Leading the Way.” It is expected the hearing will focus on implementation of ESSA at the state level. Witnesses include state education chiefs from Nebraska, Delaware, and South Carolina, as well as a representative from Democrats for Education Reform.
On September 13, the conference committee for the fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations minibus (a combination of 2-3 bills) for the Department of Defense and the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Defense-Labor/HHS) released its committee report. Attached to the bill is a Continuing Resolution (CR) that will extend federal funding through December 7 for bills not passed by the end of the fiscal year on September 30. It is expected the Senate will vote on the package this week, with the House considering the package when they return from recess the week of September 24.
On September 7, the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and […]

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E-Update for the Week of September 10, 2018

Highlights:

The House and Senate have begun negotiations on the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Appropriations Bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS). According to House Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the conference negotiators, including Republican negotiators, support adopting the Senate’s total allocation of $179.3 billion, which is $2.2 billion more than the House version. The package is expected to be considered after the House finalizes its work on the Military Construction-VA, Energy-Water, and Legislative Branch minibus.
On September 5, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development hearing titled, “On-The-Job: Rebuilding the Workforce Through Apprenticeships.” The Subcommittee focused on how the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) has supported work-based learning, including on-the-job education and apprenticeships.
On September 5, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos delivered remarks at a meeting of G20 Education Ministers in Mendoza, Argentina. In her remarks, the Secretary described the relationship between the economy and education, and how a “dynamic and changing economy requires dynamic and […]

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E-Update for the Week of September 4, 2018

Highlights:

Senate Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), in addition to 43 Senate Democrats, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos urging her to not consider allowing federal funds to be used to purchase guns for school personnel. Additionally, on August 28, House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and 172 House Democrats also sent a letter to USED Secretary DeVos with the same request.
The New York Times reported USED is proposing new rules in regards to on-campus sexual misconduct. The Department has not officially released any rules or regulations, nor has the Department commented on the article. Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) have already denounced the proposed changes.
The Senate confirmed the nomination of Lynn Johnson to serve as U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Family Support. Johnson was confirmed with a vote of 67-28.

Congress:
Senate, House Democrats Urge DeVos to Reject Requests for […]

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