E-Update for the Week of August 16, 2021
- On August 11, Senate Democrats approved a $3.5 trillion budget resolution by a vote of 50-49, teeing up efforts in the coming weeks and months for congressional Democrats to develop and pass a legislative package that could fulfill most President Biden’s proposals within the American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan.
- On August 11, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed a procedural motion to advance James Kvaal’s nomination to be Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education (USED). The action by the Majority Leader sets up a procedural vote in the Senate when the chamber returns from recess in mid-September.
- On August 10, the Senate passed H.R.3684, the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” by a 69-30 vote – this bill has been referred to as the “bipartisan infrastructure bill.”
Biden Administration Transition:
Nominations and Personnel:
Schumer sets up final vote on Kvaal’s nomination for USED undersecretary: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed a procedural motion to advance James Kvaal’s nomination to be Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education (USED). The action by the Majority Leader sets up a procedural vote in the Senate when the chamber returns from recess in mid-September. Though Kvaal’s nomination was favorably reported on a bipartisan basis by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on April 21, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) placed a hold on the nomination as she negotiated with the Biden Administration on reforms to USED’s federal student loan portfolio management. An article from POLITICO is here (note: a subscription to POLITICO Pro is required).
August 11, 2021
Loyd nominated to serve as USED Assistant Secretary for career and technical education: President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Amy Loyd to serve as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) at USED. Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Loyd was a vice president at Jobs for the Future where she designed and led programs across the United States that improve education and workforce outcomes. “Amy’s experiences building strong partnerships across sectors will be integral in helping to further the Biden administration’s goal that all learners across America are able to access high-quality, robust pathways both to college and to careers,” stated USED Secretary Miguel Cardona following the announcement. A press release is here.
August 10, 2021
Senate advances budget blueprint for $3.5 trillion package, House expected to consider resolution August 23: Senate Democrats approved a $3.5 trillion budget resolution by a vote of 50-49, teeing up efforts in the coming weeks and months for congressional Democrats to develop and pass a legislative package that could fulfill most President Biden’s proposals within the American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan. The resolution, which contained instructions for budget reconciliation – a legislative process that allows for some budget-related legislation to be adopted with a simple majority in the Senate – will next be considered by the House. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said in a Dear Colleague Letter that the chamber planned to return the week of August 23 to consider the legislation. Once the resolution is adopted by the House, committees across both chambers will draft legislation to ultimately be included in the final reconciliation package, which is expected to be completed later this fall. The Senate’s adopted budget resolution is here. The announcement from Majority Leader Hoyer is here.
As part of the resolution, several congressional committees, including the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) and House Education and Labor Committees, have been instructed to draft legislation that would abide by spending limits set in the budget resolution. Additionally, a recent Dear Colleague memo released by Senate Democrats outlined some potential priorities that could be reflected in the final legislation, including universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds, child care for working families, tuition-free community college, increases to the maximum Pell Grant award, school infrastructure, student success grants, and educator investments, amongst other policies. Committees are instructed to submit legislation to the Budget Committees by September 15. The Senate Democrats’ Dear Colleague memo is here.
Relatedly, on August 12, nine House Democrats wrote a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) explaining that they do not want to delay a vote on H.R.3684, the “Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act,” (or the bipartisan infrastructure bill), which recently passed in the Senate. In the letter, the Democrats warned the Speaker that they will not vote on the budget resolution, which contains instructions for budget reconciliation, until the infrastructure package is passed. “We will not consider voting for a budget resolution until the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes the House and is signed into law,” the Members wrote. The Members are also requesting more detail about what will actually be included in the still-unwritten reconciliation bill. Speaker Pelosi has previously stated that the infrastructure bill will not be voted on in the House until the Senate completes the budget reconciliation process, which could provide an additional $3.5 trillion in new spending. The letter from House Democrats is here.
Additionally, House progressive Democrats released an internal survey that found that a “majority” of the Congressional Progressive Caucus would not vote for the infrastructure bill “until the Senate has passed budget reconciliation legislation deemed acceptable.” A press release is here.
August 11 & 12, 2021
Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED approves six more state ARP ESSER spending plans: USED announced that it approved plans for six additional states and their proposed use of American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funding. With the approval of Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, North Dakota, and South Carolina, 28 states have now received both tranches of their ARP ESSER fund allocations. The remaining states will receive their remaining funds once the Department receives and approves their state plan. A list of approved state plans is here.
August 12, 2021
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED to administer CRDC for second year in a row: USED announced that the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) will administer the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) during the 2021-2022 school year. The announcement is notable as this collection will be the first time that the CRDC has been collected two years in a row – typically the CRDC is administered biennially. The Department explained that the second administration will gather data to support the “ongoing decisions regarding additional support that schools, educators, and students need to succeed.” The announcement is here.
August 12, 2021
Federal Student Aid office issues new guidance on state oversight of student loan servicers: USED released a new legal interpretation that revises and clarifies its position on the legality of state laws and regulations that govern various aspects of the servicing of federal student loans. According to the Department, the interpretation “will help states enforce borrower bills of rights or other similar laws to address issues with servicing of federal student loans,” and is part of the Office of Federal Student Aid’s (FSA) efforts to “[enhance] oversight and accountability” for student loan servicers. While the interpretation took effect the week of August 9, the Department is also seeking public comment on the accompanying Federal Register notice for the next 30 days in order to identify any additional changes that may be needed. A press release from USED is here, and the Federal Register notice is here. A press release from House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here, and from Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here.
August 9, 2021
Senate advances bipartisan infrastructure bill: The Senate passed H.R.3684, the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” by a 69-30 vote – this bill has been referred to as the “bipartisan infrastructure bill.” The legislation includes $550 billion in new spending and reauthorizes highway and water programs, including funding to replace lead pipes in schools and child care centers. Additionally, the bill also includes $65 billion for broadband expansion and $500 million to support districts purchase or upgrade their school bus fleets to be more energy efficient. The bill language is here.
August 10, 2021
Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS)/Federal Courts
Supreme Court refuses appeal of lower court decision to maintain university vaccine mandate: Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett opted not to block Indiana University’s vaccine mandate, which requires students, faculty, and staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or be subject to mask mandates and regular testing. Though she did not give further explanation into her decision, Justice Barrett denied the motion for emergency relief from multiple students who challenged the school’s mandate, acting by herself as opposed to referring it to the full court. A press release is here.
August 12, 2021
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On August 17 at 12:00 pm, New America will hold an event titled, “The State Must Provide: Why America’s Colleges Have Always Been Unequal – and How to Set Them Right.” The event will feature a discussion on how histories of segregation continue to pervade the college experience. More information and registration are here.
- On August 17 at 1:00 pm, the Government Executive Media Group will hold an event titled,“New York’s Current and Future Education in a Post COVID-19 Era.” The event will offer industry executives, public sector leaders, and academics the opportunity to share ideas and debate over critical issues such as remote learning, standardized testing, public school funding and more. More information and registration are here.
- On August 17 at 2:00 pm, the Brookings Institution will hold an event titled, “The future of Early Childhood Education after COVID-19.” The event will feature a virtual panel discussion that considers the present and future of early childhood education in the United States. More information and registration are here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On August 12, Mathematica published a report titled, “DC School Reforms Demonstrate Lasting Impact on Student Achievement.” The report examines the impact of multiple District of Columbia (DC) school reforms passed in 2007, finding that these policy shifts “appear to have contributed to improvements in math and reading assessment scores, especially for Black students.” Other key findings include that DC’s reforms seem to have contributed to large improvements in grade 4 math and reading scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP); that these gains in grade 4 were much larger than gentrification would explain, suggesting they represented real increases in student learning; and that similar gains in math persisted through grade 8, even after controlling for gentrification. The full report is here.
- On August 12, the Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance published a report titled,“Using ARP Funds to Redesign Schools for Whole Child Equity.” The report provides a set of state and local policy recommendations on how to use American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to redesign schools such that every young person, particularly those most historically and presently excluded, “has the opportunity to thrive.” Key recommendations include building positive developmental relationships with peers, educators, and other adults; establishing learning environments that center safety and belonging; and fostering rich learning experiences that engage and inspire deep learning and development. The full report is here.
- On August 11, the NewDEAL Forum Education Policy Group and the Alliance for Excellent Education published a report titled, “American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funding: State and Local Spending Recommendations for College and Career Pathways.” The report outlines strategies for states and localities to use ARP funds – including those reserved to address learning loss – to build high-quality college and career pathways. Key recommendations include expanding access to programs that give students a head start on postsecondary learning; identifying and expanding career pathways, such as integrated programs intended to develop students’ core academic, technical, and employability skills; and promoting Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion. The full report is here.
- On August 9, Child Trends published a report titled, “Despite Reductions Since 2011-12, Black Students and Students with Disabilities Remain More Likely to Experience Suspension.” The report analyzes out-of-school suspension data from USED’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) to find that overall rates of out-of-school suspension decreased from school year (SY) 2011-12 to SY 2015-16. Other key findings include identifying that nationally, schools continued to slowly reduce their reliance on out-of-school suspension in SY 2017-18; that while schools’ reliance on out-of-school suspension decreased for Black, White, and Hispanic students and students with and without disabilities, the decrease occurred at uneven rates; and that despite reduced reliance on out-of-school suspension, schools still suspended their Black students and students with disabilities at rates more than twice as high as White and Hispanic students and students without disabilities. The full report is here.
A bill to amend title III of division H of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 to prohibit the expenditure of funds on divisive concepts under the priorities noticed in the proposed rule submitted by the Department of Education relating to Proposed Priorities-American History and Civics Education.
Sponsor: Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to provide rules of construction that nothing in those Acts requires the use, teaching, promotion, or recommendation of any academic discipline, program, or activity that holds that the United States is a Nation founded on white supremacy and oppression, or that these forces are at the root of American society.
Sponsor: Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)