E-Update for the Week of August 15, 2022
- On August 9, President Joe Biden signed the CHIPS-Plus Act, which authorizes funding for the National Science Foundation over five years and includes support for STEM education.
- On August 11, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) hosted the Raise the B.A.R. (Bold + Action + Results) in College Excellence and Equity Summit, where USED Secretary Miguel Cardona announced his goals for the future of higher education and $5 million in funds to support a new College Completion Fund for Postsecondary Success (also known as Postsecondary Success grants).
- On August 11, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced updated COVID-19 guidance, changing recommendations for quarantining and testing, which will allow students to remain in the classroom if exposed to the virus.
CDC updates COVID-19 guidance to lessen required testing and quarantines for students: On August 11, the CDC announced updated COVID-19 guidance, revising recommendations for quarantining and testing. Specifically, the new guidance does not recommend that people who are exposed to COVID quarantine at home, regardless of their vaccination status. This applies to staff and students in school settings, making it possible for more students to stay in the classroom. The new guidelines recommend that people who are exposed should wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day 5, as well as remove the recommendation around routine surveillance testing of people with no symptoms. The new guidance also eliminated the recommendation that schools should limit student contact by cohorting them into groups during the school day. USED Secretary Cardona shared, “This latest guidance from the CDC should give our students, parents, and educators the confidence they need to head back to school this year with a sense of joy and optimism. While COVID continues to evolve, so has our understanding of the science and what it takes to return to school safely.”
August 11, 2022
President Biden signs CHIPS-PLUS Act into law: On August 9, President Biden signed H.R. 4346, known as the CHIPS-Plus bill, into law. Prior to being signed by the President, the legislation passed the House on July 28 by a vote of 243-187-1 and the Senate by a vote of 64-33 on July 27. Named for “Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors” (CHIPS), the bill is primarily aimed at growing U.S. manufacturing of semiconductors. The bill also includes a $81 billion investment in the National Science Foundation (NSF) to expand research and development opportunities, as well as support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the technology sector. Upon signing the bill, President Biden remarked, “the CHIPS and Science Act supercharges our efforts to make semiconductors here in America,” but he noted “this bill is about more than CHIPS, it’s about science as well.” He also went onto highlight that “We’re going to make sure we include all of America, supporting entrepreneurs and technological hubs all across America, including historically Black colleges and universities, minority-serving institutions, Tribal colleges.” In addition to the manufacturing opportunities, the section-by-section summary outlines how the bill supports STEM education from Pre-K to graduate-level education and establishes a ten-year National STEM Teacher Corps pilot program to recruit and retain high-quality STEM teachers to increase STEM student achievement and participation rates. A fact sheet on H.R. 4346 is here.
August 9, 2022
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
Michigan charter school group sues USED over new charter school rule: On August 8, the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA), a charter school association, and the Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank, filed a lawsuit against USED over its proposed charter school regulations, which affect how charter schools would qualify for federal funding. MAPSA claims that USED does not have the legal authority to make changes to a program that was adopted through Congress, and that these changes “punish” Michigan parents and families by “denying them educational opportunities.” MAPSA President Dan Quisenberry shared, “This new rule will profoundly harm children who need the educational opportunities that charter schools provide.” Caleb Kruckenberg, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, representing MAPSA in the case stated, “This attack on charter schools is not only deeply unfair to kids who would benefit from educational alternatives, it’s illegal. The Department of Education has no authority to issue these new rules. The agency cannot advance a policy agenda contrary to Congress’ clear instructions otherwise.”
As background, USED first released proposed priorities, definitions and selection criteria for the Charter Schools program that drew criticism from the Republican leadership of the House and Senate education authorizing committees who argued the proposed rules placed undue burden upon applicants. One particularly contentious provision proposed to require applicants to conduct a “community impact analysis” that would demonstrate a need for a new charter school in their community. The final rule moved away from the previously proposed “community impact analysis,” and instead requires a more general “needs analysis” which “provides applicants with a number of examples of evidence they may provide to indicate the need for the proposed charter school, such as current waitlists for existing charter schools, or interest in a specialized instructional approach,” according to a blogpost from the Department. However, the final rules maintain the requirement that applicants disclose ties to for-profit entities and charter management organizations.
August 8, 2022
USED hosts summit on excellence and equity in postsecondary education and announces new College Completion Fund for Postsecondary Success: On August 11, USED Secretary Miguel Cardona outlined his vision for the future of higher education and actions the Department is taking to support college completion at the Raise the B.A.R. (Bold + Action + Results) in College Excellence and Equity Summit. Additionally, Secretary Cardona participated in a moderated discussion touching on key issues, including support services for postsecondary students, racial equity, data driven systems, teacher shortages, preparation, and professional development, and “whole child” approaches. During the summit, USED also called attention to best practices of institutions of higher education that are reimagining and redefining what excellence in higher education means. The summit particularly drew attention to community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), state and tribal colleges, and other inclusive institutions, which serve communities hit hardest by the pandemic, including communities of color and low-income urban and rural communities. USED Secretary Cardona also used the speech to make a call for a “culture change in higher education,” which “stop[s] conflating selectivity with excellence.” Specifically, the Secretary took issue with college rankings systems that “do little on measures that truly count: college completion, economic mobility, [and] narrowing gaps in access to opportunity for ALL Americans.” He also highlighted what he sees as being critical to “inclusive student success,” including building welcoming, inclusive cultures, using data to help students get support before they drop out, creating accessible pathways for underrepresented students, adult learners, rural students, and first-generation college students, and employing student-centered approaches.
During the event, Secretary Cardona announced a notice inviting applications for new awards for the College Completion Fund for Postsecondary Success (also known as the Postsecondary Success Program). The purpose of this program is to promote postsecondary completion for students close to completion, whether for students currently enrolled in higher education, students who are no longer enrolled because of challenges they faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and close to completion, or both. Specifically, the funding will support grants to Minority Serving Institutions, including HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and HSIs to invest in data-driven, evidence-based reforms that encourage postsecondary retention, transfer, credit accumulation, and completion. The full notice is here.
August 11, 2022
Congress advances the Inflation Reduction Act: On August 7, the Senate passed H.R. 5376, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, with only Democratic support on a 51-50 vote. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote. The Senate vote followed lengthy negotiations on a budget reconciliation package that initially sought to advance President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, including investments in education and child care; however, the final bill, which was able to gain the support of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), was scaled back to primarily include a new minimum tax on domestic corporations, incentives for carbon emissions reductions, the ability for Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, and an extension of enhanced Affordable Care Act subsidies. During the consideration of amendments in the Senate several amendments were offered that would affect children and education. Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) offered an amendment that would expand the Child Tax Credit (CTC) by increasing the corporate tax credit, which failed by a vote of 1-97. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) made a Motion to Commit the bill to the Senate Finance Committee with instructions to report back the legislation with language establishing a short-term Child Opportunity Tax Credit funded by the elimination of new IRS enforcement dollars, which failed by a 50-50 vote. The Senate also rejected two amendments offered by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), one that would block the District of Columbia’s vaccine mandate in schools, on a 49-51 vote, and another that would prevent the U.S. Department of Justice from targeting parents protesting schools as “domestic terrorists,” on a 50-50 vote. Following Senate passage, the House returned to Washington, D.C., and passed the bill by a vote of 220-207. President Biden is expected to sign the bill in the coming days. A one-page summary of H.R. 5376 is here and section summaries are here.
August 7, 2022
Upcoming Events (Congress & Administration):
- On Thursday, August 18 at 3:00 pm, USED will host an event titled, “Implementing High-Quality Community Schools: Leveraging Community School Resources and Forming Partnerships with Tech Asst.” The webinar, part of a series on community schools, will share how policymakers and community partners can support the implementation of high-quality community schools. Experts from the field will share real world examples of how they have leveraged local, district, and state resources, built sustainable partnerships with institutions, organizations, and across agencies; and utilized technical assistance to translate the strong evidence base for community schools into practice. Speakers include: Dr. Bernadine Futrell, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, USED; Bianca del Rio, Executive Director of University-Assisted Community School Programs; Heather Naviasky, Executive Director, Teen Experience at the YMCA in Central Maryland; Naorah Rimkunas, Assistant Professor, SUNY Binghamton; Dawn Anderson Butcher, Professor, Ohio State University College of Social Work; Marangellie Trujillo, Community Schools & Extended Learning Coordinator at New Mexico Public Education Department; and Tina Hike-Hubbard, Chief Operation Officer, Baltimore City Public Schools. More information and registration here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On August 15 at 3:00 pm, the Heritage Foundation will host a hybrid event titled, “Empowering Families in Education.” The event will feature a conversation for parents, educators, and school choice advocates to “ensure it is parents who win-out in the fight for education freedom.” Speakers include Kevin Roberts, Ph.D., President of the Heritage Foundation; Corey DeAngelis, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the American Federation for Children; and Tiffany Justice, Co-Founder, Moms for Liberty. More information and registration here.
- On August 17 at 3:30 pm, Washington Post Live will host a virtual event titled, “The State of Youth Mental Health.”S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, MD and UNICEF Senior Mental Health Technical Advisor Zeinab Hijazi will discuss how young people are navigating the mental health crisis, and how schools, families and communities are working to provide supportive environments and solutions. More information and registration here.
Publications (Congress & Administration):
- On August 10, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report titled, “College Closures: Education Should Improve Outreach to Borrowers about Loan Discharges.” Students affected by college closures may be eligible to have their federal student loans forgiven through a “closed school discharge” from USED; however, GAO found that outreach to student borrowers about their potential eligibility for a discharge is not timely, does not always contain complete information, and misses opportunities to provide additional information to the borrowers who are most at risk for default. Due to delays in USED identifying college closures, GAO also found often takes months to notify borrowers of their eligibility for loan forgiveness. GAO made four recommendations for the Office of Federal Student Aid, including: (1) implement additional strategies to identify college closures in a timely manner, (2) instruct loan servicers to use more frequent reports from USED on closures, (3) develop guidance for what information loan servicers should include in the notification letters they send to borrowers after a school closure informing them about their eligibility for a discharge, and (4) ensure additional outreach is provided to at-risk borrowers who are potentially eligible for a closed school discharge. Upon release of the report, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) said, “In addition to restoring the automatic discharge process, the Biden Administration should implement the GAO’s recommendations and further streamline the process for students to ensure they can quickly access the relief to which they are legally entitled.”
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On August 8, University of California at Berkeley Center for the Study of Child Care Employment released a new brief titled, “Child Care Sector Jobs.” Reporting on the recovery of jobs in the child care sector, the brief shows data that national job recovery has bypassed the child care sector, with employment 8.4% below what it was in February 2020. The report also disaggregates child care employment by state and select metro areas to show the fluctuation in job attainment and security. For example, child care employment in New Jersey has nearly reached pre-pandemic levels, whereas Massachusetts child care jobs are 12.93% and Texas 9.97% below pre-pandemic numbers.
- On August 10, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) released a report titled, “A Failure to Respond: Public School Mask Mandates in the 2021-2022 School Year.” The authors note that the CDC current school masking guidance would have recommended mandates for 99 percent of students during the height of COVID-19’s Omicron variant surge, but actual enacted mandates instead covered only 55 percent of students.
- On August 10, SchoolHouse Connection (SHC) released a new report titled, “Progress and Promise: An Early Look at COVID Relief Funds for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness.” The report examines and highlights how some states and districts are using federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) Funds to identify and serve students experiencing homelessness. Additionally, the report draws attention to the flexibility of ARP-HCY funds, sharing that the funds can be used for capacity building and staffing, outreach and identification, transportation, housing-related supports, and prepaid debit and store cards.
- On July 27, the Learning Policy Institute (LPI), in collaboration with WestEd and the Bear Center, released a new report titled, “Preschool Quality and Child Development: How Are Learning Gains Related to Program Ratings?” The authors investigated the relationships between preschool quality based on California’s Quality Counts California rating system and children’s learning and development. The analysis found that children in higher-tier programs showed more learning and development than those in lower-tier programs, and that multilingual learners, children with disabilities, and children from all racial/ethnic groups exhibited more learning and development in higher-tier programs. Additionally, preschool children who are Black, Multiracial, or Latino/a were underrepresented in higher-quality programs.
- In August, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) published its annual National Student Aid Profile overview of federal student financial aid programs. The annual publication is designed to give a high-level overview of the federal student financial aid programs that provide funding to millions of students each year. In this profile, you will find an overview of the: Federal Pell Grant Program, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Program, Federal Work-Study Program, Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan Programs, and Federal Direct PLUS Loan Program. The report also provides up-to-date data on each program, including the number of recipients, total volume of awards, federal funding levels, and distribution by family income.
- In August, Zearn released a new study titled, “Catching Up and Moving Forward.” The research looked at how 600,000 individual elementary- and middle-school students across all 50 states responded to 5 million instances of learning acceleration and remediation in the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years. Researchers found that when a student is consistently accelerated, they complete twice the amount of grade-level lessons and struggle less in their math learning. More specifically, the study found that a student enrolled in a majority Black, Latino or low-income school was more likely to be remediated when compared with their white and high-income peers, even when they already demonstrated the same level of success with grade-level work.
A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a pilot program under which eligible individuals may elect to receive financial assistance in lieu of educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program to establish and operate a qualified business enterprise, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL)
A bill to allow the use of unspent educational funds under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to address pandemic learning loss through Child Opportunity Scholarships.
Sponsor: Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT)
A bill to support the education of Indian children.
Sponsor: Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA)
A bill to establish a grant program for certain institutions of higher education to plan and implement projects for economic and community development in economically distressed communities, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to establish an income-based repayment for new loans on and after July 1, 2023, and for borrowers who enter income-based repayment after June 30, 2023, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA)