E-Update for the Week of April 20, 2020
- On April 16, President Donald Trump published guidelines for the Administration’s vision for reopening the American economy. The guidelines outline three phases to reopen the economy, with schools and child care providers not recommended to reopen until phase two.
- On April 15, USED Secretary DeVos published in the Federal Register a new funding priority for the Education, Innovation, and Research (EIR) grant program focused on personalized teacher professional development.
- On April 14, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced that the nearly $3 billion for states under the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is being made available.
Coronavirus (as related to education issues):
Note that all information related to the coronavirus (or COVID-19) is up to date as of 4:00 pm on April 17, 2020. Given the fast-moving nature of congressional and Administrative actions to address the growing pandemic, we will do our best to update this information as quickly as possible.
Schools not to reopen until phase two of president’s strategy to restart economy: President Donald Trump published guidelines for the Administration’s vision for reopening the American economy. The guidelines outline three phases to reopen the economy, with schools and child care providers not recommended to reopen until phase two. Throughout all three phases the Administration recommends some continuation of social distancing practices and continued monitoring of individuals with symptoms. According to the Administration’s proposal, states should only reopen on a step-by-step basis rather than all at once. A press release is here. The guidelines are here.
April 16, 2020
President Trump announces congressional working group to focus on reopening economy: President Donald Trump announced the creation of a congressional working group to assist the Administration in developing a plan to re-open the American economy. The working group will help develop guidance to governors as to how they can “reignite the economies in their respective states.” Specific issues to be considered by the working group could include the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), international and domestic supply chains, surprise medical billing, determining the difference between essential and nonessential workers, mental health supports, and relief for small businesses. Notable members include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) among others. An announcement from the White House and the full list of members are here.
April 16, 2020
U.S. Department of Education:
DeVos publishes application for $3 billion governor’s education relief fund: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced that the nearly $3 billion for states under the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is being made available. Under the CARES Act, these flexible grants are for Governors to provide local educational agencies (LEAs), institutions of higher education (IHEs), and other education-related entities with emergency assistance to respond to the coronavirus. Each state has until June 1, 2020, to submit a signed certification and agreement (or application) to the Department. The Department expects to obligate the funds within three business days of receiving a signed certification and agreement from a state. States must provide an assurance that they will use their best efforts to provide grant funding on an expedited basis. Notably, the Department does not require states to release funds to LEAs, IHEs, or other education-related entities within a specific time period (as the CARES Act did not specify a timeline for states to release funds). The Secretary encourages states in its cover letter to Governors, “to focus these resources on ensuring that all students continue to learn most likely through some form of remote learning.” Building on this, the certification and agreement specifically asks states to what extent they intend to use any of the awarded funds to support remote learning for all students. A press release from the Department is here. State-by-state allocations are here.
April 14, 2020
CTE programs now able to donate unused medical equipment: USED Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that career and technical education (CTE) programs can donate or loan personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies that were purchased with federal funds. The Department announced that CTE programs can donate their supplies to public health agencies, private nonprofit hospitals, and other licensed health providers. “After hearing from educators about their desire to contribute to this fight, it was a no-brainer to cut through the red tape and provide them the flexibility needed to donate valuable medical equipment to our brave medical professionals on the front lines,” stated the Secretary. A press release from the Department is here. The guidance is here.
April 14, 2020
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):
HHS releases CCDBG funding authorized by CARES Act: The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the release of funding to support child care access and resources, as provided by the CARES Act. The law provided $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to support states, territories, and tribes in providing assistance to child care providers to financially support them during the public health crisis. A press release from ACF is here.
April 14, 2020
Non-Coronavirus Related Updates:
U.S. Department of Education:
DeVos announces funding priority for teacher professional development vouchers program: Secretary DeVos published in the Federal Register a new funding priority for the Education, Innovation, and Research (EIR) grant program focused on teacher professional development. The proposed priority would focus on personalized professional development for teachers and if such personalized development has a positive effect on instructional practice. The proposal would allow for select teachers to receive stipends that they can use to purchase professional development of their choice. “If we can trust teachers with our children each day, we should trust them to select the right continuing education courses,” stated the Secretary. Comments on the proposed priority will be accepted until May 13. A press release is here. The proposal is here.
April 15, 2020
USED proposes settlement to resolve borrower defense claims within 18 months: USED announced it has reached a proposed settlement in a suit focused on the Department’s processing and resolution of borrower defense claims. The proposed settlement would require the Department to make a final decision on the existing backlog of claims within the next 18 months. If claims are not resolved by then, borrowers will have 30 percent of their loans discharged for each month the Department exceeds the deadline. The Department would also be required to publish a report every 90 days explaining how many decisions it has made and the name of the institutions where the Department finds misconduct qualifying for a loan discharge. Further, the Department will have to publish the names of institutions who have had 100 or more claims made against it. A judge will have to approve the proposed settlement. A POLITICO article is here.
April 10, 2020
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On April 13, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report titled, “Child Care and Development Fund: Office of Child Care Should Strengthen Its Oversight and Monitoring.” The report examines the HHS Office of Child Care (OCC) and their efforts to monitor state implementation of state child care plans. Key findings of the report include identifying that OCC does not require states to describe the results of their program-integrity efforts; OCC has not defined or communicated what information it would consider to be the “results” of program-integrity efforts; and OCC does not have documented criteria for reviewing and approving state corrective action plans for improper payments. The full report is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who requested the report, is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On April 16, the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) published a guide titled, “5 Actions to Take Right Now to Help Seniors Transition After Graduating.” The guide is directed to K-12 system leaders. The report suggests districts and schools conduct a senior exit survey now; focus on completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); decode financial aid offers and compare costs; navigate decision deadlines; and combat summer melt. The full guide is here.
- On April 16, the RAND Corporation published a report titled, “Digital Instructional Materials: What Are Teachers Using and What Barriers Exist?” The report summarizes a survey of teachers and their use of digital materials to support English, math, and science instruction. Key findings of the report include identifying that most teachers use digital materials for planning and instruction; most teachers do not use digital materials as their main instructional materials; and that teachers who used standards-aligned curricula, who had more low-income students, or who attended district or charter management organization (CMO) run preparation programs were more likely to use digital materials. The full report is here.
- On April 14, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) published a report titled, “Teachers are People Too: Examining the Racial Bias of Teachers Compared to Other American Adults.” The report summarizes a study of the racial bias differences between teachers and nonteachers. Key findings of the report include identifying that approximately 77 percent of both teachers and nonteachers held some significant amount of pro-White/anti-Black implicit bias; and that there was no change in the results when controlling for demographics, education level, political preference, or a combination of the above. The full report is here.
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- Both the Senate and the House are in recess until May 5. As of now, it is expected that both chambers would return to session on that date; however, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has said that can be adjusted depending on what is in the best interest of members’ safety.
- On April 23 at 1:30 pm, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) will hold an event titled, “Release of the Nation’s Report Cards in Civics, Geography, and U.S. History.” More information and registration are here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On April 21 at 1:00 pm, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) will hold an event titled, “How to Close the Homework Gap and Boost Online Education.” The webinar will focus on how policymakers can address the divide between those who have reliable access to computers and high-speed internet and those who do not, as well as what needs to change beyond the pandemic so that personalized, online learning is a core component of public education. More information and registration are here.
- On April 22 at 1:00 pm, the American Bar Association (ABA) will hold an event titled, “Learning for Students with Disabilities in the Time of COVID-19.” The webinar will focus on how families, educators, and service providers can support students with disabilities while schools remain closed due to the pandemic. Expert panelists will provide an overview of the laws protecting students with disabilities and what educational models and strategies can be used to support students. More information and registration are here.
- On April 23 at 4:00 pm, Florida International University (FIU) will hold an event titled, “Supporting Online Learning for Struggling ELs and SLIFE.” The webinar will focus on how schools and educators can support English language learners and students with limited and/or interrupted formal education (SLIFE) during the pandemic. More information and registration are here.
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for deferral of loan repayment for graduates during the period of the coronavirus.
Sponsor: Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA)