E-Update for the Week of April 12, 2021
- On April 15 at 10:00 am, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of James Kvaal to serve as Undersecretary of Education of the U.S. Department of Education (USED).
- On April 9, President Biden released his initial budget proposal to Congress for FY2022. For USED, the President’s budget requests $102.8 billion in annual (also known as discretionary) funding for an increase of $29.8 billion or 41 percent over the FY2021 level.
- On April 9, USED released Volume 2 of its COVID-19 Handbook, titled “Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs.” This guidance focuses on initial strategies for providing equitable educational opportunities that address the impact of COVID-19 on students, educators, and staff, with a focus on underserved students.
Nominations and Personnel:
HELP Committee to begin consideration of Kvaal as USED Undersecretary this Thursday: On April 15 at 10:00 am, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of James Kvaal to serve as Undersecretary of Education of the U.S. Department of Education (USED). Kvaal most recently served as president of the Institute for College Access & Success. A webcast of the hearing will be available here.
April 15, 2021
USED announces next round of political appointees: USED announced additional political appointees that will serve in various roles within the agency. Appointees include: Levi Bohanan, Special Assistant, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education; Amy Loyd, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Strategic Initiatives, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (serving as Acting Assistant Secretary); Rachel Bird Niebling, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs; Jorge Santiago, Confidential Assistant, Office of the Secretary/Office of the Deputy Secretary; and Nick Simmons, Senior Advisor for School Reopening and Recovery, Office of the Secretary. The full list of appointees is here.
April 8, 2021
Biden outlines actions to address gun violence, leverages several education programs: President Biden unveiled a package of executive actions to curb gun violence, including a few actions focused specifically on gun violence in schools. The actions USED will take include issuing guidance on how grantees can use 21st Century Learning Centers (21st CCLC) funds to support children impacted by trauma and reengage disconnected youth; supporting states and school districts in investing Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) funds toward community violence intervention (CVI) activities via a guidance document and technical assistance; launching a new competition in fiscal year (FY) 2022 for Project Prevent, a program that helps schools increase their capacity to identify and serve students who have been exposed to pervasive violence by expanding access to counseling and conflict-resolution strategies; and incentivizing applicants to use CVI strategies in FY2022 grant competitions for the Full Service Community Schools and Promise Neighborhoods programs. President Biden also directed the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to support the use of CVIs in its School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP), with an emphasis on wraparound services for students most likely to engage in or be victimized by gun violence. A fact sheet from the White House further detailing these actions is here.
April 7, 2021
Budget and Appropriations:
Biden proposes 41 percent increase for USED in FY22 budget request: President Biden released his initial budget proposal to Congress for FY2022. For USED, the President’s budget requests $102.8 billion in annual (also known as discretionary) funding for an increase of $29.8 billion or 41 percent over the FY2021 level. Other topline figures include $36.5 billion for Title I grants, which is a $20 billion increase over the FY2021 level; $15.5 billion for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants “that support special education and related services for students with disabilities in grades Pre-K through 12,” which is a $2.5 billion increase over the FY2021 level (though it is unclear if this level is specifically Part B-Grants to States, or if the amount is for the entire Special Education account); and a $400 increase to the discretionary maximum Pell Grant (though it is unclear as to whether there is also an increase to the mandatory funding portion of the maximum Pell Grant at this time). The full request is here, and a press release is here.
April 9, 2021
Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):
U.S. Department of Education
USED releases Volume 2 of COVID reopening guidance: USED released Volume 2 of its COVID-19 Handbook, titled “Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs.” This guidance focuses on initial strategies for providing equitable educational opportunities that address the impact of COVID-19 on students, educators, and staff, with a focus on underserved students. The handbook also provides evidence-based strategies that are grounded in the science of learning and development to help states, districts, schools, and teachers as they reopen schools safely and support students. More specifically, Volume 2 provides underlying research, implementation recommendations, considerations, and examples of best practice for meeting students’ social, emotional, mental and physical health, and academic needs, addressing the impact of COVID-19 on students’ opportunity to learn, and supporting teacher, principal, and staff well-being and stability. The handbook also provides some guidance on allowable uses for American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) funding, though the Department notes that it will issue further guidance on specific provisions of ARP statute and program implementation separately. The full guidance is here.
April 9, 2021
Department allows DC to cancel state testing this spring, provides flexibilities to others: USED approved, denied, or responded to a number of states’ requests for assessment waivers for the 2020-2021 school year. USED’s actions follow the release of guidance in February stating that the Department is, “committed to supporting all states in assessing the learning of all students,” and was “not inviting blanket waivers of assessments.” Rather, USED recognized in February that the pandemic, “requires significant flexibility for the 2020-2021 school year.” To that end, USED approved assessment waiver requests from Washington, D.C., and Oregon, but denied assessment waiver requests from Michigan, Montana, and New York., Additionally, USED responded to California, New Jersey and the state of Washington regarding their assessment plans. The letter to Oregon is here, the letter to Michigan is here, the letter to Montana is here, the letter to New York is here, the letter to California is here, the letter to New Jersey is here, and the letter to the state of Washington is here. The link to USED guidance from February is here.
Of note, the Department’s approval of Washington, D.C.’s request waives the requirement for the 2020-2021 school year to administer statewide general and alternate assessments in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science. USED cites “specific circumstances” that prevent Washington, D.C., from being able to safely administer statewide summative assessments this year as the reason for diverging from the February guidance, according to a letter the Department sent to city officials. “The vast majority of students in the District of Columbia (88 percent) are receiving full-time distance learning as of March 20, 2021, and most students receiving hybrid instruction are in school for only one day per week,” the letter said. “As a result, very few students would be able to be assessed in person this spring.” The letter to Washington, D.C. is here.
April 6, 2021
U.S. Department of Education:
USED to hold public hearing on Title IX, new guidance released later this year: The USED Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced its plans to review regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 issued under the Trump Administration, which mandate how colleges and K-12 schools must respond to reports of sexual misconduct. With this action, the Department is following through on President Biden’s Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity (EO 14021) that directed USED Secretary Miguel Cardona to consider rescinding 2020 Title IX rule after launching a comprehensive review. In a letter to stakeholders announcing the review, OCR said that it plans to hold a public hearing on the rule in the coming weeks and will solicit oral and written comments. OCR also plans to release new guidance for schools in the coming months to “provide additional clarity about how OCR interprets schools’ existing obligations under the 2020 amendments.” Once the review is complete, the Department said it anticipates launching a notice of proposed rulemaking. The full letter is here, and a press release from the Department is here. A press release from House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here, and a press release from Senate HELP Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) is here.
April 6, 2021
Hoyer outlines agenda for Democratic Caucus this month: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) released a Dear Colleague Letter laying out the House’s agenda for the month of April. After returning from recess on April 13, the House will consider the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7), which aims to provide equal pay for men and women who do the same jobs by providing remedies for employees who face gender discrimination. Also on the agenda is the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1195), which directs the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to protect health care and social service workers from violence and other workplace hazards. During the week of April 19, the House will vote on the D.C. statehood bill (H.R. 51), as well as legislation that would ban future administrations from instituting origin-based travel bans, and a measure to ensure access to counsel for some groups if they are subjected to inspection when entering the country (H.R. 1573). House Majority Leader Hoyer also said the House will act “in the coming weeks” on legislation to condemn, prevent and prosecute anti-Asian hate crimes. The full letter is here (note: a CQ subscription is required).
April 6, 2021
Chairman Neal outlines priorities, highlights importance of child care funding: House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) wrote a letter to Democratic committee members laying out his priorities for the upcoming work period, which includes a focus on child care. In the letter, Chairman Neal called for a dramatic expansion in child care support for American families, and highlighted the Economic Mobility Act and the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act as “starting points for which we can build bold, long-term solutions.” He also emphasized the importance of permanently extending the changes to the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit that were made in the American Rescue Plan (ARP). “Child care needs to be a guarantee, not an expensive hassle that drives parents out of the workforce or makes them choose between wages and family,” he wrote. “We will make it easier for people to find the care that fits their specific needs… and we will put an end to a structure that depends on the exploitation of child care workers to make child care affordable, and increase wages for the essential workers helping raise the next generation.” The full letter is here.
April 6, 2021
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On April 13 at 2:30 pm, the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Policy will hold a hearing titled, “The Student Debt Burden and Its Impact on Racial Justice, Borrowers, & The Economy.” Witnesses include U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA); Maura Healy, Attorney General, State of Massachusetts; James Steely, President & CEO, Pennsylvania higher Education Assistance Agency; and John Remondi, President & CEO, Navient. A webcast of the hearing will be available here.
- On April 15 at 10:00 am, the House Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “FY 2022 Budget Request for the Department of Health and Human Services.” U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra will testify. A webcast of the hearing will be available here.
- On April 15 at 10:00 am, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of James Kvaal to serve as Undersecretary of Education of the U.S. Department of Education (USED). Kvaal most recently served as president of the Institute for College Access & Success. A webcast of the hearing will be available here.
- On April 20 at 10:30 am, the full Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing to examine the American Jobs Plan, focusing on infrastructure, climate change, and investing in our nation’s future. A webcast of the hearing is expected to be available on the Committee’s website here. More information is available here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On April 13 at 11:00 am, FutureEd and the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) will hold an event titled, “Using Federal Relief Funds to Support America’s Students.” The webinar will feature a conversation about how state and local governments can use the new funding to support students and schools – and the restrictions that federal law places on spending. More information and registration are here.
- On April 13 at 11:00 am, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) will hold an event titled, “Child Care: the American Rescue Plan and Beyond.” The roundtable discussion will focus on the American Rescue Plan Act’s historic investment in the child care sector and what it means for the future of our country’s child care system. More information and registration are here.
- On April 13 at 4:30 pm, the Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance will hold an event titled, “The Strategy Session #2: New Perspectives and Trends in Philanthropy through a SoLD and Equity Lens.” The webinar will feature a discussion on new perspectives and trends in education and youth-focused philanthropy, as well as the opportunities before our field to help elevate key insights from the science of learning and development to be drivers of equity and excellence for all young people. More information and registration are here.
- On April 14 at 1:00 pm, the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) will hold an event titled, “Civics as a National Security Imperative: A Conversation with U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil M. Gorsuch.” The moderated discussion will focus on the importance of civic education as a national security imperative. More information and registration are here.
- On April 22 at 3:30 pm, Mastery Collaborative (MC), CompetencyWorks, and KnowledgeWorks will cohost an event titled, “Let’s Hear It from the Next Generation! Virtual Panels with Mastery Collaborative Youth Advisors.” The webinar will feature a conversation with Mastery Collaborative Youth Advisors, who will speak about topics such as a sense of belonging in school and living/learning through a dual pandemic. More information and registration is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On April 6, the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) published a report titled, “Arrested Learning: A Survey of Youth Experiences of Police and Security at School.” The report looks at data surrounding students’ experiences, interactions and feelings about police and security in schools, and found that police presence and added security measures in schools do not result in a sense of security for students. Other key findings include that one-third of students surveyed reported feeling targeted by police based on an aspect of their identity, such as race, primary language, sexual orientation or gender identity; that students reported bullying and sexual harassment by police at multiple public schools; and that more than two-thirds of all students said police should be removed from school altogether. The full report is here.
- On April 6, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) published a research brief titled, “Spotlight on Charter Management Organizations: Barriers, Supports, and Approaches to Distance Learning.” The brief examines charter management organizations’ (CMO) experiences with distance learning in spring 2020 through a survey of CMOs ranging in size and geographic location. Key findings include that most CMOs (81%) reported providing digital devices to all families who needed them; that while 60% of CMOs had students attend virtual classes taught by their teacher on a fixed schedule, only 25% had students work on physical learning materials (e.g., paper packets, worksheets, textbooks); and that the experiences of CMOs differed by poverty level across barriers to learning, supports provided to students and families, and approaches to distance learning. The full report is here.
- On April 6, the Center for American Progress (CAP) published a report titled, “Building a College-Educated America Requires Closing Racial Gaps in Attainment.” The report analyzed Census data to find that while half of young adults in the U.S. have now earned a college degree (and increases have occurred across demographic groups), there hasn’t been a great deal of progress in closing large and persistent racial equity gaps. Other key findings include that while Latino and Black adults have the largest attainment growth, they remain the least likely to earn a college degree, and that reengaging students who left college without a degree can help improve attainment. The full report is here.
- On April 7, Excelencia in Education released new analysis titled “25 Years of HSIs.” The analysis aims to inform discussions on Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) by providing data on HSIs and Latino student success. Key takeaways include that HSIs enroll 67% of Latino undergraduates, though the schools only comprise 18% of higher education institutions; that while HSIs are in 30 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, they are geographically concentrated in California, Texas, Puerto Rico, and New York; and that the majority of HSIs are public, two-year institutions. The analysis can be found here.
- On April 7, the National Center for the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) published a report titled, “Teacher Attrition and Mobility Over Time.” Using an analysis of administrative data on the teaching workforce in Washington state, the report aims to project whether we should anticipate high levels of teacher attrition in the near future, due to the recovering economy combined with a particularly challenging school year. Key findings from the report include that while we’re likely to see an increase in attrition as the economy recovers, the turnover likely won’t be a “mass exodus”; and that, when the labor market is tight, teachers are less likely to leave their jobs. The full report is here.
- On April 8, AASA published a report titled, “An American Imperative: A New Vision of Public Schools.” The report, which recommends a holistic redesign of schools, outlines three core components of systemic school redesign, including culture, a social, emotional and cognitive growth model, and resources. Other key recommendations include operating data analytics, planning, learning, and evidence of learning in a “feedback loop” to personalize learning; ensuring education systems attend to the social, emotional, cognitive, mental health, and trauma-based needs of all learners; and making broadband a public utility. The full report is here.
A bill to distribute certain unobligated COVID-19 relief funds to States on the basis of the number of school-aged children in each State.
Sponsor: Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
A bill to provide student loan forgiveness to health care workers who are on the front line in response to COVID-19.
Sponsor: Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)