E-Update for the Week of August 24, 2020
- On August 21, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara J. Rothstein granted the state of Washington’s motion for a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation of the interim final rule issued by U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos regarding the distribution of Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to private schools.
- On August 18, Republicans released a draft proposal to provide coronavirus relief funding which would be a scaled-back or “skinny” version of the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protections & Schools (HEALS) package introduced by Senate Republicans in July.
- On August 18, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued guidance formally declaring teachers as essential workers.
Coronavirus (as related to education issues):
Note that all information related to the coronavirus (or COVID-19) is up to date as of August 21. 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.
Scott, Murray seeking more guidance on supporting the child care sector: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), along with led 87 of their colleagues, sent a letter to the Office of Child Care at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting more detailed public health guidance to support the child care sector during and following the coronavirus emergency. The lawmakers wrote, “As more families across the country transition back to work and increasingly rely on child care, it is essential that the existing child care industry receives comprehensive guidance and implementation assistance so that providers are able to meet public health recommendations, protect the health and safety of both families and their workers, and continue to provide high quality and developmentally appropriate care for children.” A press release is here. The letter is here.
August 14, 2020
Scott, Stabenow seek extension of school meal flexibilities, USDA argues only Congress can grant extension: On August 14, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) wrote to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue. The letter requested that the Secretary immediately extend all school meal flexibilities so that schools and state agencies are equipped to provide school meals for students during the coronavirus pandemic. The lawmakers wrote, “While several waivers have been approved and extended already by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the 2020-2021 school year, we ask that you use your authority as granted under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to extend all nationwide waivers for unexpected school closures that allow for the operation of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO), including non-congregate and area eligibility, for the duration of the 2020-2021 school year.” A press release is here. The letter is here.
On August 20, USDA Secretary Perdue responded in a letter stating, “While we want to provide as much flexibility as local school districts need during this pandemic, the scope of this request is beyond what USDA currently has the authority to implement and would be closer to a universal school meals program which Congress has not authorized or funded.” The letter also noted that, “As we transition out of the Summer, the National School Breakfast and Lunch program helps increase accountability to ensure children in need receive meals. USDA has provided a range of flexibilities that extend through all of School Year 2020-2021 to ensure students who are eligible for free or reduced priced meals will still be able to receive their meals.” The letter is here. A press release by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) criticizing USDA Secretary Perdue’s response is here.
Relatedly, on August 20, USDA issued several waivers extending summer meal service flexibilities from August 31, 2020, through September 30, 2020; however, lawmakers had requested an extension through the duration of the 2020-2021 school year.
August 14 and 20, 2020
Senate Republicans release draft ‘skinny’ relief bill with education funding but no child care funding: On August 18, Republicans released a draft proposal to provide coronavirus relief funding which would be a scaled-back or “skinny” version of the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protections & Schools (HEALS) package introduced by Senate Republicans in July. The “skinny” version would include liability protections for businesses and schools, additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to provide small business relief, and $105 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund to support elementary, secondary and postsecondary education; however, the proposal would not include most other emergency funding included in the HEALS package. As the “skinny bill” has not been formally introduced, the proposal could change before introduction. A Roll Call article is here. A National Association of Counties blog detailing the draft proposal is here.
August 18, 2020
House Democrats hold virtual forum on student loan relief under Trump executive orders: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) hosted a virtual forum to discuss how President Donald Trump’s recent executive action on student loans impacts student loan borrowers and to compare the executive action to steps included in the Democratic coronavirus relief proposal known as H.R. 6800, the “Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act.” On August 8, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum to extend the suspension of student loan payments and interest from September 30, 2020, to December 31, 2020. During the forum, Chairman Scott noted that the executive action only extends the suspension of student loans and interest for three months as compared to the 12 months in the HEROES Act and fails to deliver comprehensive support compared to the Democratic proposal. A video of the briefing is here. The Presidential Memorandum is here.
August 14, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
Federal judge blocks DeVos rule on equitable services under CARES Act: U.S. District Court Judge Barbara J. Rothstein granted the state of Washington’s motion for a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation of the interim final rule issued by U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos regarding the distribution of Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to private schools. The dispute revolves around whether the CARES Act requires states to allocate funding to private schools using a formula based on the percentage of students from low-income families who attend private school (as the state of Washington asserts) or whether the CARES Act authorized USED to direct states to allocate funding based on total enrollment in private schools (as the Department asserts). According to a press release issued by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, the ruling blocks the implementation of the interim final rule nationwide while the state of Washington’s lawsuit against the rule progresses. In her ruling granting the motion for a preliminary injunction, Judge Rothstein called the administration’s arguments “remarkably callous, and blind to the realities of this extraordinary pandemic and the very purpose of the CARES Act: to provide emergency relief where it is most needed.” A press release is here. The Motion for a Preliminary Injunction is here.
August 21, 2020
USED considering changes to interim rule on emergency student aid grant eligibility: According to Politico, the Trump administration disclosed in a court filing that USED is “actively considering” making changes to an interim final rule issued by the Department that restricted emergency financial assistance under the CARES Act to students who qualify for financial aid, excluding DACA students and undocumented students. As noted by Politico, “the interim final rule took effect immediately on June 17 when it was issued, but the Department solicited public feedback for a month.” The Politico article goes on to cite the court filing as specifically stating, “the Department is actively considering whether to retain or modify the rule in response to the comments it received.” A Politico article is here (subscription required).
August 20, 2020
DeVos launches program to support higher education institutions to recover from pandemic: USED Secretary DeVos launched the Institutional Resilience and Expanded Postsecondary Opportunity (IREPO) program using funding from the Education Stabilization Fund included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The grants can be utilized in a variety of ways, including resuming operations, supporting students, reducing disease transmission, and developing more agile instructional delivery models for students who cannot or choose not to attend classes in person. The deadline to apply for the grants is October 20. A press release is here. Additional information on the grants is here.
August 19, 2020
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
DHS classifies teachers as ‘essential workers’ during pandemic: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued guidance formally declaring teachers as essential workers. Under the guidance, “workers who support the education of pre-school, K-12, college, university, career and technical education, and adult education students, including professors, teachers, teacher aides, special education and special needs teachers, ESOL [English to Speakers of Other Languages] teachers, para-educators, apprenticeship supervisors, and specialists,” are now considered “critical infrastructure workers.” The notice states that, “This list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard.” However, the declaration of teachers as essential workers “means that teachers exposed to coronavirus but who show no symptoms can return to classrooms and not quarantine for 14 days as public health agencies recommend,” according to the Washington Post. The guidance is here. The Washington Post article is here.
August 18, 2020
Oversight Committee requests that USED change policies on LGBTQ+ youth in light of Bostock decision: The Chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Jamie Raskin (D-MD), sent letters to the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requesting that they reevaluate their policies and rulemakings that allow for discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County. The letter to USED states, “In Bostock, the Supreme Court ruled that prohibitions on discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity…There is little doubt that the Bostock decision is readily transferrable to Title IX and the programs that the Department administers.” Further, the letter goes on to say, “The Department, therefore, should immediately reverse its systematic refusal to enforce LGBTQ+ rights.” A press release is here. The letter is here.
August 19, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED ‘launches’ space-themed student challenge: USED launched a national challenge to inspire students to build technical skills for careers in space and beyond titled, “CTE Mission: CubeSAT.” High school students from across the country are invited to design and build CubeSat (cube satellite) prototypes, or satellites that aid in space research, bringing space missions out of the clouds and into the classroom. In a statement, USED Secretary DeVos said, “This is such an exciting way to rethink education and get students engaged in hands-on learning in the growing aerospace and technology fields.” The deadline to submit a proposal is October 16. A press release is here. The submission form is here.
August 18, 2020
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On August 24 at 1:00 pm, the Heritage Foundation will hold an event titled, “Keeping Every Child Safe in Class: Confronting the Push for De-Policed Schools.” The webinar will discuss the role of school resource officers in school, how they can contribute to school safety, and the impacts of movements for schools and school districts to disinvest from their use. More information and registration are here.
- On August 26 at 2:00 pm, the Bipartisan Policy Center will hold an event titled, “Child Care in COVID-19: Another Look at Parents’ Perspective.” The webinar will discuss findings from a survey of parents and their access to child care during the pandemic and what this could mean for both the child care industry and K-12 school systems. More information and registration are here.
- On August 27 at 1:00 pm, New Schools Venture Fund will hold an event titled, “Digital Tools and Equity Amid the Pandemic: Teacher, Parent, and Student Perspectives.” The webinar will discuss how digital learning and the various tools have impacted student learning and how parents and students have perceived such tools. More information and registration are here.
- On September 2 at 1:00 pm, the Brookings Institute will hold an event titled, “Charter school city: A book discussion with Douglas Harris.” The webinar will feature the named author as he discusses his new book “Charter School City: What the End of Traditional Public Schools in New Orleans Means for American Education.” The webinar will include a panel discussion featuring former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers; and Andre Perry, Fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program. More information and registration are here.
- On September 14 at 9:00 am, the Brookings Institute will hold an event titled, “Beyond reopening: A leapfrog moment to transform education?” The webinar will focus on how the coronavirus pandemic has upended education and what this may mean for the future of education systems. More information and registration are here.
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On August 21, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report titled, “A 2017 Follow-up: Six-Year Persistence and Attainment at Any Institution for 2011-12 First-time Postsecondary Students.” The report summarizes a review of a longitudinal study to understand students and their retention, persistence, attainment, and transfer rates at postsecondary institutions. Key findings of the report include identifying that for students beginning postsecondary education in 2011, the average total cost of attendance was $20,500 and the average amount of grant aid received was $7,900; that as of 2017, 56.2 percent of students who began in 2011 had earned a credential; and that by 2017, of those students who have not received a credential, 12.1 percent were still enrolled at any institution. The full report is here.