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On March 27, the President signed into law the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act” following an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 96-0 in the Senate and passage by voice vote in the House.

The CARES Act is the third package developed in response to the coronavirus crisis by Congress and the Administration. The Act, which is estimated to cost approximately $2 trillion, seeks to provide relief to individuals and families through direct payments and increased Unemployment Insurance benefits, support U.S. industries and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus, and provide emergency supplemental appropriations to various agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Education (USED) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The Act also provides increased authority for federal agencies to waive select statutory and regulatory requirements.  This initial summary provides an overview of the key early childhood, K-12, and higher education provisions of the CARES Act, focused on the emergency supplemental appropriations and authorities for USED and HHS.

This article addresses key policy drivers and considerations, as well as legal design parameters, for effective and legally sustainable initiatives to enhance the diversity of college and university faculty. Its guidance is intended for policy decision-makers and lawyers. This article is an initial contribution to an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation funded project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Diversity and the Law, Part II, which is being undertaken by EducationCounsel. The project is supplementing and providing a 10-year update of robust policy and law resources developed in the first phase of the project in 2009-2010. The objective of this article and the project is to support strong commitment and wise action by colleges and universities to advance diversity and equity in STEMM education and academic careers in a challenging legal landscape, through productive partnerships of academic decision-makers and legal advisors. The article provides guidance that should be useful in all fields; and, while the project is focused on STEMM fields, its resources also should be useful broadly.

On February 4, 2020, President Trump delivered his State of the Union address in which he highlighted some of the Administration’s accomplishments during his time in office, as well as laid out a plan for the upcoming year.  Specifically, the key themes from the President’s address included the strength of the economy; supports for working families, including paid family leave, school choice, and greater access to affordable child care options; and national security.  Additionally, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) delivered the Democratic response to the President’s address. Please find here EducationCounsel’s analysis of the President’s State of the Union address and the Democratic response.

On September 30, 2019, the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts rendered a decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. The plaintiff in that case (Students for Fair Admissions) challenged Harvard’s admissions policies and practices designed to advance its diversity goals as unlawfully discriminatory under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race and national origin by recipients of federal funds. The district court addressed and rejected four claims of discrimination raised by the plaintiff ultimately finding in favor of Harvard. SFFA has appealed that decision.

New types of higher education programs like coding boot camps are gaining prominence as a possible way to impart skills at a lower cost or shorter timeframe to completion. Students in many of these programs are not eligible to receive federal loans or Pell grants, and policymakers are beginning to consider whether these programs should be eligible to disburse federal student aid.


TheSecretary'sCorner

Riley_Richard
May 24, 2018

Secretary Riley reflects on successful strategies to transform schools in rural communities. Read more.


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As I chat with my kids about their first week of school, I can feel their nervous excitement about new classmates and teachers, books yet unread, projects to come, and hidden talents yet to be discovered.  School systems and homes all across America share in this time of preparation and anticipation for the new school year.  Often less heralded, however, is the work schools and education systems do to look back at prior work and figure out how this year can be even better.   For example, at my children’s school, a committee of parents and teachers are starting the year with a backwards look at the newly-released state assessment scores.  We are asking ourselves what the data mean for the effectiveness of last year’s strategies and staffing.  We’ll use those insights to help decide what to keep or change this year and beyond.  It is just one part of a larger process of continuous improvement the school uses to learn from and improve its supports and strategies.

In many schools, fall is also the time for new school improvement plans under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  In most states, this is the first year of plan implementation, so there is rightly considerable attention to what’s ahead this school year and beyond – particularly in schools identified for low performance.  A key part of the improvement process, however, must be looking back at the school improvement “architecture” that states built or refined over the last several years to support and spur school improvement.  It is critical to study and learn how the architecture is working in practice and continuously improve it to make sure a state’s system is actually advancing effective school improvement.

Earlier this month, the College Board, NASFAA, and EducationCounsel released a new publication, Federal Nondiscrimination Law Regarding Diversity: Implications for Higher Education Financial Aid and Scholarship Policies and Programs.  This resource provides guidance to enrollment professionals around financial aid strategies and scholarship policies involving the consideration of race, ethnicity and sex that advance the institution’s diversity goals and are legally sustainable.


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