E-Update for the Week of August 17, 2020
- On August 13, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) notified Yale University that the Department, “has determined that the university has violated, and is continuing to violate, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating on the basis of race and national origin in its undergraduate admissions with respect to domestic non-transfer applicants to Yale College.”
- On August 13, the Senate went into recess until September 8. The Senate joins the House, which has been in recess since August 7, in leaving Washington without a deal on a next coronavirus relief package.
- On August 12, the White House held an event titled, “Kids First: Getting America’s Children Safely Back to School.” Relatedly, later that day, the White House issued a brief set of recommendations for how schools can reopen safely.
Coronavirus (as related to education issues):
Note that all information related to the coronavirus (or COVID-19) is up to date as of August 14. 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.
Grassley, Hassan introduce bill to extend federal funding deadline for state, local governments: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced a bill titled, the “State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund Extension Act.” The bill would extend the deadline for states to use federal funding received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act through 2021. Currently, the deadline for states to use funding is the end of 2020. “This money has helped meet the needs of health care providers, schools and other institutions across the country. Our bill extends the end-of-year deadline so states and local governments can continue to utilize this help, especially for more significant projects like improving broadband, which has proved a critical asset while we all rely more on telework, remote learning and even telemedicine,” stated Chairman Grassley. A press release is here. The bill text is here.
August 11, 2020
House Republicans seek investigation into local school closure mandates: House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and House Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos. The Members urged the Secretary to investigate the “lawfulness” of local orders that prohibit private schools from opening, as part of public health orders. The Members cite Montgomery County, Maryland, as one such example in which the local government initially issued an order preventing all schools, including private schools, from reopening. Montgomery County later rescinded its order, which may allow in-person instruction at some private schools in the county this fall. “If schools follow public health requirements, they should be able to make their own decisions about whether and how to reopen, and students should not be deprived of such opportunities. This is especially true given the child-care crisis confronting our nation,” wrote the Members. A press release is here. The full letter is here.
August 13, 2020
Pallone pushes for CDC briefing on impact of pandemic on children: House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) sent a letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield. The Chairman requested that the Director provide a briefing to the Committee on the impacts of the pandemic on children and young people. “As the school year begins across the country and families look to public health leaders for guidance on how best to protect their children, there remain too many questions about the role youth play in the transmission of COVID-19, the risk they face from the disease, and the consequences of the pandemic on their health and well-being,” wrote the Chairman. A press release is here. The full letter is here.
August 11, 2020
White House continues push for school reopening, issues set of recommendations for schools: The White House held an event titled, “Kids First: Getting America’s Children Safely Back to School.” The event featured parents, teachers, district leaders, and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. During the event, remarks were given by President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and USED Secretary DeVos regarding the need to reopen schools safely but urgently. President Trump urged schools to reopen, expressed his support for options for students to attend other schools if their original school remains closed (while not explicitly stated the administration has supported scholarships or vouchers for this purpose), and argued that virtual learning is not as effective as in-person learning. Vice President Pence noted that the Administration is committed to ensuring that states have the best guidance to reopen safely and called on Congress to appropriate another $105 billion to help schools reopen safely. The full remarks from the event are here.
Relatedly, later that day, the White House issued a brief set of recommendations for how schools can reopen safely. The recommendations include suggestions that schools ensure that their communities understand the symptoms of the coronavirus, that schools should encourage frequent handwashing, and that schools should provide high-risk teachers, students, and staff the choice to stay home and engage in distance learning or adjust their work routines. The full set recommendations are here.
August 12, 2020
Chairman Scott seeks investigation into USED role in Dream Center closure: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to the USED Office of Inspector General requesting an investigation into the Department’s role in the “misconduct” of Dream Center Education Holdings. Dream Center is a for-profit higher education company, which has been found to have misrepresented to students the loss of accreditation of its schools. “The facts outlined in the [Committee report] demonstrate that the Department knew Dream Center was unaccredited in early February 2018, and that its accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission specifically informed the Department’s Accreditation Group in May 2018 that Dream Center misrepresented this fact to students. But, the Department took no action until July 2018,” wrote Chairman Scott. A press release is here. The full letter is here.
August 10, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
Title IX rule goes into effect, USED publishes new resource website: On August 12, a U.S. District Court denied a motion for a preliminary injunction against the implementation of a final Title IX rule issued by USED Secretary DeVos, which had been filed by 17 state attorneys general. The rule will be allowed to go into effect starting on August 14. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will still consider the lawsuit against the Department, but while that case moves forward the rule will go into effect. A press release from the Department is here.
Relatedly, on August 14, USED Secretary DeVos announced the launch of a new resource website related to implementing Title IX, including the Administration’s new Title IX rule. The website includes links to the final Title IX rule and previously published summaries and fact sheets on the rule. According to the Department, the website will “serve as an online hub for information and resources students can use to understand their rights under Title IX.” A press release is here. The website can be accessed here.
August 12 and 14, 2020
USED publishes new guidance on protection of religious freedom: USED Secretary DeVos published guidance for how individuals and institutions participating in USED programs may have their religious liberties protected. The guidance, according to the Department, is part of an ongoing effort to fulfill President Trump’s previous Executive Order titled, “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.” The guidance outlines that religious organizations are eligible to participate in USED-administered programs; affirms that financial award decisions must be made based on merit, not on an organization’s religion; and outlines that religious organizations may not use federal financial assistance for religious worship, instruction, or proselytization, but may use funding to carrying out their missions and maintain their religious character. A press release is here. The full guidance is here.
August 7, 2020
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ):
DOJ finds Yale violates Title VI with use of race in admissions decisions: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) notified Yale University that the Department, “has determined that the university has violated, and is continuing to violate, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating on the basis of race and national origin in its undergraduate admissions with respect to domestic non-transfer applicants to Yale College.” In a letter to Yale University, the Department goes on to state, “Yale grants substantial, and often determinative, preferences based on race to certain racially-favored applicants and relatively and significantly disfavors other applicants because of their race. Yale’s race discrimination imposes undue and unlawful penalties on racially-disfavored applicants, including in particular Asian American and White applicants.” In order to voluntarily come into compliance with Title VI, the Department notes, “Yale must agree not to use race or national origin in its upcoming 2020-2021 undergraduate admissions cycle, and, if Yale proposes to consider race or national origin in future admissions cycles, it must first submit to the Department of Justice a plan demonstrating that its proposal is narrowly tailored as required by law. Any such proposal should include an end date to Yale’s use of race.” Finally, the letter expresses that, “if Yale does not agree to this remedial measure by August 27, 2020, [the Department] may determine that compliance cannot be secured by voluntary means. If we make that determination, the Department will be prepared to file a lawsuit to enforce Yale’s Title VI obligations.” A press release is here. The full notice is here. A Chronicle of Higher Education article is here.
August 13, 2020
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On August 13, the Senate went into recess until September 8. The Senate joins the House, which has been in recess since August 7, in leaving Washington without a deal on a next coronavirus relief package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) have both advised their Members that they are subject to a 24-hours’ notice to return to Washington in case there is a vote on a relief package.
- On August 19 at 2:00 pm, USED will hold an event titled, “School Choice during COVID-19 and the Impact on Families as Schools Re-Open.” The webinar will include the perspectives of school leaders, parents, and senior officials from the Department as they share about school choice during the pandemic. More information and registration are here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On August 17 at 11:00 am, the Brookings Institute will hold an event titled, “Back to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic: Balancing students’ right to education against public health.” The webinar will examine the implications of reopening schools for both in-person and online instruction and the federal and state-level responses of support in education amidst the pandemic. More information and registration are here.
- On August 17 at 1:00 pm, the Center for American Progress (CAP) will hold an event titled, “COVID-19 and America’s Health: How Do We Heal?” The webinar will discuss how the pandemic has disrupted the U.S. health care and education systems, especially for communities of color. The event will feature Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, among others. More information and registration are here.
- On August 17 at 2:30 pm, the National Academies of Science will hold an event titled, “High-Impact Educational Practices in Uncertain Times.” The webinar will discuss best practices in high-impact pedagogy and how those practices can be adapted for a virtual learning environment so that engaging and meaningful teaching and learning experiences can persist. More information and registration are here.
- On August 17 at 3:00 pm, the National Press Club will hold an event titled, “Back to School 2020: Feeding Young Minds in Uncertain Times.” The webinar will discuss the importance of school nutrition programs and how the provision of school meals can continue with schools having their typical operations disrupted due to the pandemic. The webinar will feature former USED Secretary Arne Duncan, among others. More information and registration are here.
- On August 19 at 11:00 am, the Heritage Foundation will hold an event titled, “Teacher Union Strike Threats and the Battle to Safely Reopen Schools.” The webinar will discuss the anxiety that parents are facing in thinking about how their schools will reopen, if at all, and the implications of national teacher union threats of strikes. More information and registration are here.
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On August 14, the DOJ Office for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) published a report titled, “Ten Essential Actions to Improve School Safety: School Safety Working Group Report to the Attorney General.” The report summarizes a review of practices that schools, school districts, and law enforcement agencies can do to “mitigate and prevent school violence as well as to facilitate swift and effective law enforcement assistance when it is necessary.” The report is addressed to Attorney General William Barr. Key findings of the report include identifying that schools and districts should consider both physical safety and emotional safety measures; that school climate improvement practices such as violence and bullying prevention programs and social emotional learning programs help reduce school violence; and that school resource officers (SROs) have a positive benefit to schools and should be included in a comprehensive school safety plan. The full report is here.
- On August 13, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report titled, “Early Childhood Program Participation: 2019.” The report presents findings related to early childhood care and education, including participation rates in weekly nonparental care arrangements. Key findings of the report include identifying that approximately 59 percent of children 5 and younger were in at least one weekly nonparental care arrangement; that 62 percent of those children were attending a day care center, preschool, or center-based prekindergarten program and 37 percent were cared for by a relative; and that 64 percent of parents reported that the care arrangement for their child works very well to cover the hours needed for the parent to work. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On August 14, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) published a report titled, “Involving Teachers in State Education Governance.” The report summarizes a review of state laws and policies that require teachers to be a member of or significantly involved in a state board of education. Key findings of the report include identifying that 14 states require a teacher member of the board; that of those 14, only six require that the teacher member be a voting member; and that three states prohibit a current teacher from being a member. The full report is here.
- On August 12, the Student Borrower Protection Center and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) co-published a report titled, “Broken Promises: Employer Certification Failure.” The report summarizes a study of successful employer completion of certification forms required for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Key findings of the report include identifying that borrowers employed by the same organization would receive different answers when seeking to certify their employment; that there is no standardized process for certifying employers; and that “public service” and “public service organization” determinations are often arbitrary due to a lack of clear regulations and guidance. The full report is here.
A bill to amend the Secure and Trusted Communications Network Reimbursement Program to include eligible telecommunications carriers and providers of educational broadband service, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC)
A bill to amend the Head Start Act to extend the duration of grants under such Act, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
A bill to extend certain waivers under the WIC program during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA)
A bill to improve the public health response to addressing maternal mortality and morbidity during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Sponsor: Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL)
A bill to amend the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to prohibit discrimination based on an applicant’s institution of higher education, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX)