E-Update for the Week of August 12, 2019
- On August 9, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent a letter to the members of the Committee “to ask for [their] recommendations on bipartisan proposals within the HELP committee’s jurisdiction that could help prevent future mass shootings like the recent tragedies in California, Texas, and Ohio.”
- On August 8, POLITICO reported that the overall spending level (also known as an allocation) for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Appropriations bill was “about $5 billion less in order to fund Trump’s border wall.”
- On August 6, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee, and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) led a letter of 30 Senate Democratic and Independent members to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos urging her to fulfill her responsibility to help students impacted by sudden closures of for-profit colleges.
Budget and Appropriations:
Senate Labor/HHS Appropriations bill reported $5 billion less to fund president’s border wall: POLITICO reported that the overall spending level (also known as an allocation) for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Appropriations bill was “about $5 billion less in order to fund Trump’s border wall.” The article does not include information on the specific allocation for the FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS bill or context as to whether the $5 billion less is in reference to the level included in the FY2020 House Labor/HHS Appropriations bill, which was $11.8 billion over the FY2019 final level. It is expected that the actual FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS bill will be made public the week of September 9; however, it is likely that the overall spending level for the FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS bill will include some increase above the FY2019 level given that the bill is expected to be bipartisan. POLITICO article is available here.
August 8, 2019
Alexander looks to HELP Committee for school safety recommendations: Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent a letter to the members of the Committee “to ask for [their] recommendations on bipartisan proposals within the HELP committee’s jurisdiction that could help prevent future mass shootings like the recent tragedies in California, Texas, and Ohio.” Specifically, the letter states, “I have asked my committee staff to evaluate existing mental health and school safety programs, including current appropriated funding levels for these programs, and to examine bills that have been introduced within the Committee’s jurisdiction so we may begin to look for bipartisan proposals to provide possible solutions to this crisis.” The letter also notes that Senate Majority Leader McConnell has asked Chairman Alexander to, “seek bipartisan solutions within our individual jurisdictions that can pass the Senate, the House, and be signed into law by the President.” The letter requests that suggestions be submitted by August 23. The letter is available here (Politico subscription required).
August 9, 2019
Murry, Durbin to DeVos – support students after sudden for-profit college closure: Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee, and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) led a letter of 30 Senate Democratic and Independent members to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos urging her to fulfill her responsibility to help students impacted by sudden closures of for-profit colleges. The letter states, “We are extremely concerned by the U.S. Department of Education’s inadequate response to the recent abrupt closures of multiple institutions of higher education…The Department has a duty to help students impacted by school closures…The Department must, therefore, ensure that every closing institution of higher education carries out its regulatory requirement to “provide all enrolled students with a closed school discharge application and a written disclosure, describing the benefits and consequences of a closed school discharge as an alternative to completing their educational program.” The Senators also called on USED to more broadly examine the closed school loan discharge process. The press release is available here. The letter is available here.
August 6, 2019
Hassan, Senate Democrats concerned about impacts of simplified tax form on FAFSA completion: Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) led a letter of 10 Senate Democratic and Independent members to USED raising concerns with how changes to simplify the 1040 tax form could cause a disruption in the functionality of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which allows students to automatically fill in their family’s tax information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). “It is imperative that the Department of Education and IRS work together collaboratively to fix the problems created by Treasury’s changes to the 1040 tax form,” states the letter. The letter also requests that USED outline what will be done to ensure that students who misreport information because of the changes will not be subject to additional arduous information reporting that could discourage students from completing the financial aid process. The press release is available here. The letter is available here.
August 2, 2019
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
OCR to investigate Connecticut transgender athlete policy for Title IX violation: POLITICO reported that USED’s Office of Civil Rights, “will investigate a complaint from three teenage track athletes about a Connecticut policy that allows transgender girls to compete in girls’ athletic events.” The investigation follows a complaint filed in June by the Alliance Defending Freedom. POLITICO article is available here.
August 9, 2019
National Assessment Governing Board:
NAEP 10-year schedule released, four assessments removed: Recently, the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), released an updated 10-year schedule. The revised schedule retains the focus on national assessments of reading and mathematics, which are mandated by Congress. The press release also states, “To adhere to the Board’s priorities and the program’s budget, the updated schedule removes four assessments, including three assessments that provided results only at the national level and were not administered frequently—Arts, Economics, and Geography. Foreign language had been scheduled, but never actually assessed.” Press release is available here. Assessment schedule is available here.
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On August 7, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a report titled, “The Feasibility of Collecting School-Level Finance Data: An Evaluation of Data from the School-Level Finance Survey (SLFS) School Year 2014–15,” exploring whether states have the ability to report school-level finance data on expenditures. NCES developed a survey to collect finance data at the school level—the School-Level Finance Survey (SLFS). This report looks at the school year 2014–2015 collection to determine whether the survey is a viable, efficient, and cost-effective method to gather comparable school-level finance data. Key observations and findings from this report include the following: (1) many states participating in the SLFS are able to report complete personnel and/or non-personnel expenditure data for a high percentage of their schools; (2) SLFS data are generally comparable and consistent with other sources of school finance data; (3) the development of standardized protocols enhances the efficiency of reporting of school-level finance data; (4) there are numerous inherent challenges in collecting school-level finance data; (5) evidence suggests that the feasibility of collecting and reporting school-level finance data of reasonable quality is relatively high. The report is available here.
- Recently, NCES released a report titled, “Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and Dual-Enrollment Courses: Availability, Participation, and Related Outcomes for 2009 Ninth-Graders: 2013,” which found that 99.7% of schools offered AP, IB, or dual enrollment courses, though only 46.3% of high school students earn credits in any of these course offerings. Report is available here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- Recently, the Education Commission of the States released a 50 state comparison of K-12 funding. Education Commission of the States has collected information on general funding model structure, base per pupil, special education, English language learner, at-risk, gifted and talented, and small school funding. A specific state’s approach will be able to be viewed on the state profiles page. The resource is available here. State profiles are available here.
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- Both the House and Senate have adjourned for August recess. Both the House and the Senate will return to session on September 9.
- On September 10 at 10:00 am, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing titled, “A $1.5 Trillion Crisis: Protecting Student Borrowers and Holding Student Loan Servicers Accountable,” which will examine the student loan servicing industry. Witnesses have not yet been announced. More information is available here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On August 13 at 1:00 pm EST, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will conduct a webinar to provide an overview of an opportunity for teams of schools, support organizations, and/or researchers who want to apply the science of learning and human development to improve existing school-based practices that develop self-direction and curiosity, specifically in adolescents (ages 11-18 years old). Applications must be submitted by September 13. Registration for the webinar is available here. More information on the Request for Applications is available here.
- On August 14 at 2:00 pm, Future Ready Schools, which is a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education, will conduct a webinar titled, “Equity and Student-Centered Schools: Emphasizing Inclusion of Our Most Vulnerable Students.” Panelists will describe the characteristics of student-centered learning and the importance of applying an equity lens when planning and implementing digital learning. Registration for the webinar is available here.