E-Update for the Week of April 27, 2020
- On April 23, the House passed H.R.266, the “Payroll Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act.” The largely bipartisan vote comes after the Senate passed the bill earlier this week under unanimous consent. On April 24, President Donald Trump signed the bill.
- On April 23, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced $13.2 billion for states is being made available under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
- On April 21, USED Secretary DeVos announced the release of the second half of the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) fund, as authorized by the CARES Act. This portion of the relief fund is intended to support institutional costs incurred due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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 24, 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.
Bipartisan deal reached on small business loans, adding more than $320 billion to program: The House passed H.R.266, the “Payroll Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act.” The largely bipartisan vote comes after the Senate passed the bill earlier this week under unanimous consent. The bill provides an additional $321 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which exhausted its previous funding last week. Additionally, the bill provides $62 billion for small business disaster loans and $100 billion for hospitals and other healthcare providers. The bill is here. A statement by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is here. A statement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is here.
Relatedly, on April 24, President Donald Trump signed H.R.266, the “Payroll Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act.” The announcement is here. A press release from the White House is here.
April 23-24, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED announces application for CARES Act K-12 relief fund, $13.2 billion to go out to states, districts: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced $13.2 billion for states is being made available under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Under the CARES Act, these grants are awarded to State educational agencies (SEAs) to provide local educational agencies (LEAs) with emergency relief funds to address the impact of the coronavirus. The Department notes that funding could be used for both continuing to provide educational services, such as remote learning, and developing and implementing plans for the return to normal operations. Each SEA has until July 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 SEA. SEAs must allocate at least 90 percent of their allocations to LEAs, which can then choose how to use their funds to support schools and students – within the allowable uses of the CARES Act. A press release from the Department is here. State-by-state allocations are here. The Department’s website for the ESSER fund is here. A summary from EducationCounsel is here.
April 23, 2020
Colleges, universities now have access to institutional share of CARES Act higher education relief fund: USED Secretary DeVos announced the release of the second half of the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) fund, as authorized by the CARES Act. This portion of the relief fund is intended to support institutions in covering expenses related to shifting programs online, building IT capacity, or reimbursing themselves for student room and board refunds. The second half of the fund comes after the Secretary previously released funds for institutions to provide emergency relief grants directly to students who were facing unexpected costs due to the coronavirus pandemic. A press release from the Department is here. More information, including a FAQ document on the HEER fund, is here.
Relatedly, on April 22, USED Secretary DeVos issued a statement urging “wealthy institutions” to return their allocation of the HEER fund or donate their funds to other institutions with more significant need. In the same statement, the Secretary applauded Stanford University for withdrawing its application for HEER funding. The statement is here.
April 21, 2020
Non-Coronavirus Related Updates:
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
Massachusetts latest state to receive approval for Innovative Assessment Pilot: USED Secretary DeVos announced that Massachusetts is the first state to be approved for the Innovative Assessment Pilot program for the 2020-2021 school year. The Innovative Assessment Pilot allows states to develop and implement new testing methods or formats, while still remaining in compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). According to the Department, Massachusetts’s pilot will focus on a new science assessment, which will incorporate technology-enhanced performance tasks that are “more engaging for students and signal the state’s focus on deeper learning in classrooms.” States previously granted the Innovative Assessment flexibility include Georgia and North Carolina in 2019, and Louisiana and New Hampshire in 2018. A press release from the Department is here.
April 24, 2020
DeVos doubles number of schools in Second Chance Pell experiment for incarcerated students: USED Secretary DeVos announced the Department is expanding the number of schools to participate in the Second Chance Pell experiment, which provides higher education opportunities to incarcerated students. The Department has invited 67 additional schools, expanding the cohort to 130 schools. “By expanding this experiment, we are providing a meaningful opportunity for more students to set themselves up for future success in the workforce. The stories I’ve heard from students and institutions engaged in the experiment are very encouraging, and we look forward to seeing how this expansion will help even more students achieve a better future,” stated the Secretary. A press release is here.
April 24, 2020
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On April 23, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published the results of the history, geography, and civics portions of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Key findings of the report include identifying that there was no significant change in the 2018 average civics score for eighth-graders compared to 2014; that the average score for geography decreased since 2014; and that the average U.S. history score decreased since 2014. The full report is here. A statement by USED Secretary DeVos is here. A statement by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is here.
- On April 22, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report titled, “Education Needs to Address Significant Quality Issues with its Restraint and Seclusion Data.” The report summarizes a review of USED quality control processes for data collected through the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) related to districts’ use of seclusion and restraint practices. Key findings of the report include identifying that 70 percent of all districts reported zero incidents but the Department’s rule to have districts verify zeros only applied to 30 of the 17,000 districts; that no rule exists to identify potential underreporting of incidents by districts; and that almost 600 schools reported more students restrained or secluded than incidents reported. The full report is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here. A statement by Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On April 22, the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice published a report titled, “Hungry to Win: A First Look at Food and Housing Insecurity Among Student Athletes.” The report summarizes a survey of college athletes to determine the level of housing and food insecurity they face. Key findings of the report include identifying that 14 percent of student athletes at Division I schools experienced homelessness in the previous year; that 24 percent of Division I student athletes were food insecure in the last 30 days; and that rates of homelessness and food insecurity were higher among student-athletes at Division II schools and two-year colleges. The full report is here.
- On April 21, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) published a report titled, “An Army of Temps: AFT 2020 Adjunct Faculty Quality of Work/Life Report.” The report summarizes a study of contingent and adjunct faculty at two- and four-year institutions. Key findings of the report include identifying that one-third of contingent and adjunct faculty earn less than $25,000 annually; that only 15 percent report being able to comfortably cover basic monthly expenses; and that fewer than 50 percent have access to employer-provided health insurance, with 20 percent relying on Medicaid. The full the report is here.
- On April 20, FutureEd published a report titled, “The Big Test: The Future of Statewide Standardized Assessments.” The report summarizes a review of state legislative initiatives that would address “over-testing concerns” between 2014-2019. Key findings of the report include identifying that 25 percent of strategies proposed would reduce the number of tests; 12 percent of strategies proposed would shorten tests; and 12 percent of strategies would cap testing time. The full report is here.
- On April 20, Equable Institute published new report titled, “Hidden Education Funding Cuts.” This first of its kind report examines the growing impact of increasing teacher pension unfunded liabilities on state K-12 education budgets and finds that the share of state education spending going to pension costs has nearly doubled from 7.5% in 2001 to 14.4% in 2018, a trend likely to accelerate given the added pressure of the COVID-19 economic recession on education budgets. Key findings of the report include identifying the upward trend in hidden education funding cuts nationally would be even worse — around 16% in 2018 — if states paid their full annual required pension contributions; that out of a total of $60 billion spent nationally in 2018 on teacher pension contributions, $42 billion was spent paying down unfunded liabilities, which came from K-12 education budgets; and the severity of hidden funding cuts varies from state to state. Some states have experienced massive hidden cuts, while others have adjusted their spending appropriately. The full report is here. Individual state profiles are available 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.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On April 27 at 2:00pm, the Aurora Institute will hold an event titled, “Protecting Equity and Access: Online Learning, Special Education, and Serving Students with Disabilities.” The webinar will feature Ace Parsi, Director of Innovation for the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and he will discuss recommendations on how students with disabilities can be served via online education. More information and registration are here.
A bill to provide for E-Rate support for Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and connected devices during emergency periods relating to COVID-19, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY)
A bill to extend zero interest rate benefits and payment suspension to certain Federal student loan borrowers, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY)