E-Update for the Week of August 27, 2018
- An appropriations minibus (a combination of 2-3 bills), including the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Senate Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations Bill and the FY2019 Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) passed the Senate by a vote of 85-7.
- The New York Times reported U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering issuing guidance on allowing for federal grants to be used to purchase guns for teachers and school personnel.
- USED released a notice that it is rescinding regulations pertaining to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which, according to the Department, were either outdated or superseded due to changes made through the reauthorization process.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):
USED Rescinds ESSA Regulations Department Claims Outdated: USED released a notice that it is rescinding regulations pertaining to ESSA. The regulations rescinded, according to the Department, were either outdated or superseded due to changes made in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), or programs had been defunded. Regarding Title I, the regulations that the Department rescinded are: Disaggregation of Data; State Accountability System; Adequate Yearly Progress; Schoolwide Programs; Local educational agency (LEA) and School Improvement; Highly Qualified Teachers and Duties of Paraprofessionals; Migrant Education Program (MEP); and Allocation of funds under the MEP for FY2006 and subsequent years. In addition, ESSA removed the authority for the Migrant Education Even Start Program. A full list of the rescinded regulations is here. The notice in the Federal Register is here. In these final regulations, the Department takes the following three deregulatory actions:
August 22, 2018
Budget & Appropriations:
Senate Passes FY2019 Defense, Labor/HHS Appropriations Package: This week, the Senate continued consideration of an appropriations minibus, including the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Senate Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations Bill and the FY2019 Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Appropriations Bill. On August 23, the minibus package was passed by a vote of 85-7, setting up preconference conversations that are expected to occur between House and Senate appropriations staff beginning in September. The House has yet to consider its version of the FY2019 Labor/HHS appropriations bill. The minibus package is here. A statement by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) is here. A statement by Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is here.
Related, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) both filed amendments to the FY2019 minibus package, in attempts to address school safety concerns. Senator Rubio’s amendment would have prohibited states or districts from adopting school discipline polices that discourage the reporting of student offenses to law enforcement. Senator Cruz’s amendment would have clarified that funds from the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants may be used to strengthen physical security measures, including metal detectors, bullet-proof doors and windows, and other building upgrades. Neither amendment received further consideration by the full Senate.
August 23, 2018
Democratic Congressmen Urge CMS To Discontinue Medicaid Waivers: House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, warning Medicaid waivers impose “burdensome requirements to access essential coverage and care including onerous premiums and cost-sharing, arduous reporting requirements, and arbitrary work requirements…” The letter comes after a recent U.S. district court ruling that found the Kentucky Medicaid waiver violated the law by failing to justify how it would improve care, while an estimated 95,000 people would lose coverage under the waiver. The letter is here. A press release from the House Energy and Commerce Committee Minority is here. A press release from the Senate Finance Committee Minority is here.
August 22, 2018
Finance Committee Considers Nomination of Elizabeth Darling: The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to consider the nomination of Elizabeth Darling as Commissioner on Children, Youth, and Families within HHS. In his opening statement, Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) expressed confidence that Ms. Darling would be able to lead the Family and Youth Services bureau due to her prior experience within HHS and her work in Maryland and Texas. In his opening statement, Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) expressed his concern with the direction the Administration is pursuing in regards to child welfare funding and discrimination against foster parents, who are LGBTQ Americans or people of particular faith backgrounds. During the hearing, Ranking Member Wyden also inquired if Ms. Darling would pursue the transforming of child welfare and foster care funding into a block grant. Chairman Hatch’s opening statement is here. Ranking Member Wyden’s opening statement is here. Ms. Darling’s written testimony is here. An audio recording of the hearing is here.
August 22, 2018
Senate Homeland Security Committee Investigates Medicaid Fraud: The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs conducted a hearing titled, “Examining CMS’s Efforts to Fight Medicaid Fraud and Overpayments.” The hearing follows an earlier June hearing on the same topic. During his opening statement, Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) expressed his intentions for the hearing to focus on solutions to fraud and overpayments, especially as Medicaid continues to grow. In her opening statement, Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-MO) also underlined the importance of addressing the overpayments and fraud, but highlighted the need to examine the impact of “bureaucratic bungling,” not just beneficiary fraud. The Committee heard testimony from Seema Verma, Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Eugene Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States. The opening statement from Chairman Johnson is here. The opening statement from Ranking Member McCaskill is here. The witness testimonies and hearing recording are here.
August 21, 2018
The House began its August recess on July 30. The House will return to session on September 4.
House Ways and Means Committee Highlights Op-Ed Supporting Welfare Work Requirements: The House Committee on Ways and Means Majority published a July 25 op-ed from Ron Haskins titled, “Trump’s work requirements have been tested before. They succeeded.” The op-ed originally appeared in the Washington Post. In the piece, Haskins refers to the 1996 welfare reform initiative, the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act,” which included work-requirements for non-disabled working-age recipients of welfare. He argues the work requirements celebrated by the Trump Administration have been attempted before, and had a positive impact on individuals receiving welfare benefits. Note, Haskins was the staff director of the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee in 1996. The full opinion is here.
August 22, 2018
White House and Administration:
First Lady Calls for Greater Awareness for Cyberbullying, Safe Online Habits: First Lady Melania Trump spoke at the 2018 Cyberbullying Prevention Summit. During the summit, the first lady stated, “Most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults, but we still need to do all we can to provide them with information and tools for successful and safe online habits.” The remarks are related to the first lady’s “Be Best” campaign, targeted toward eliminating cyberbullying. POLITICO has more here.
August 20, 2018
Robert King Nominated for Postsecondary USED Position, Kraninger Nomination Approved by Senate Banking Committee: The White House announced the nomination of Robert King to serve as Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education on August 21. Mr. King had previously served as President and CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation and Chancellor of the State University of New York System. The announcement is here. Also, this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed cloture on 17 nominations, including that of Lynn Johnson for Assistant Secretary for Family Support in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). No date has been set for a full Senate confirmation vote. Ms. Johnson previously served as the Executive Director of the Jefferson County Department of Human Services in Colorado. Ms. Johnson was nominated in June 2017. The filing in the Congressional Record is here. The original nomination announcement is here.
Additionally, the Senate Banking Committee approved the nomination of Kathy Kraninger as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on August 23. Kraninger’s nomination was approved by a party-line vote of 13-12. Kraninger has been serving as an Associate Director in the Office of Management and Budget. No date for a full Senate confirmation vote has been announced. A statement by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) is here. The opening statement by Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is here.
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED Examining Flexibility in Federal Funds for Arming Educators: The New York Times reported USED Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering issuing guidance on allowing for federal grants to be used to purchase guns for teachers and school personnel. The Department is examining the broad flexibility of the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, which are authorized under Title IV of ESSA. The grant program is intended to provide states and districts with wide flexibility in improving school conditions for learning, providing a well-round education, and improving the use of technology for digital literacy. It is reported the Department is examining how the gun purchases could align with the “improving school conditions” goal of the grant program. No other federal agency has approved the purchase of guns, without congressional approval. The full article is here.
Related, during the debate of the FY2019 Senate DoD-Labor/HHS appropriations bill, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) filed an amendment to clarify that federal funds under Title IV of ESSA cannot be used to arm teachers and school personnel. The amendment did not receive further consideration by the full Senate. A press release from Senator Murphy’s office is here. House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) also issued a statement in response to the article, reading in part, “The taxpayer money provided to schools under Title IV of ESSA is meant to fund mental health treatment for student, anti-bullying programming, drug prevention in schools, and other important services that contribute to a healthy school culture.” Ranking Member Scott was one of the Congressional architects of ESSA, which contains the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants. Ranking Member Scott’s full statement is here.
August 22, 2018
Urban Institute Researcher Claims USED Misrepresented Research on Gainful Employment: Sandy Baum, a fellow at the Urban Institute, posted a piece stating USED had “misrepresented [her] research, creating a misleading impression of evidence-based policy making.” The Department had cited Baum’s research when it announced it was planning on rescinding the gainful employment regulations. While the Department claimed Baum’s research supports elimination of the rules, Baum claims her research supports strengthening the gainful employment rules. The full piece by Baum is here.
August 22, 2018
Federal Commission on School Safety:
School Safety Commission Holds Last Field Visit: The Federal Commission on School Safety conducted its final field visit in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Commission visited Miley Achievement Center, which is focused on supporting students with significant mental and behavioral health needs. The Commission will also examine the security upgrades the school implemented. A recording of the field visit is here.
Additionally, the Federal Commission on School Safety will hold its fourth and final listening session in Montgomery, Alabama on August 28. Members of the public who wish to present remarks should register here.
August 23 and 28, 2018
Upcoming Events (Congressional & Administration)
- On August 28, the Federal Commission on School Safety will hold its fourth and final listening session in Montgomery, Alabama. Members of the public who wish to present remarks should register here.
- On August 28, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) will host a planning teleconference call in preparation for a Tribal Consultation meeting to assist ACF with implementing related programs and tribal priorities. The call-in number and passcode are: 866-769-9393 passcode: 4449449#. The registration address for participants can be found here. The notice can be found here.
- On September 6 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm EST, USED will hold the first of three public hearings to discuss the rulemaking agenda for a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, which will prepare proposed regulations for Federal Student Aid programs. The proposed topics for negotiation relate to the core function of accreditation, state authorization issues, the definition of a credit hour, direct assessment programs and competency-based education, and the clarification of requirements for and improvement of outcomes for Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant recipients, among other topics. The notice is here.
- On September 11 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm CST, USED will hold the second of three public hearings to discuss the rulemaking agenda for a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, which will prepare proposed regulations for Federal Student Aid programs. The notice is here.
- On September 13 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm CST, USED will hold the third of three public hearings to discuss the rulemaking agenda for a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, which will prepare proposed regulations for Federal Student Aid programs. The notice is here.
- On September 13, the ACF will host a meeting for a Tribal Consultation with elected or appointed leaders of tribal governments. ACF has identified topics for consultation, including the Family First Services Act; Title IV-E Planning Grants; the Office of Head Start annual consultation; and TANF and welfare reform. The notice is here.
- On September 16 to 19, the 2018 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week Conference will be hosted by the White House Initiative on HBCUs in Washington, D.C. The focus of the conference will be “HBCU Competitiveness: Aligning Instructional Missions with America’s Promise.” Registration and more information is here.
- On September 19 at 9:30 am, the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Capital Financing Board will hold a meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to update the Board on current program activities, set future meeting dates, enable the Board to make recommendations to the Secretary on the current capital needs of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and discuss recommendations regarding how the Board might increase its effectiveness. The notice can be found here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On August 29, the Center for School Turnaround will hold a webinar titled, “Promising Efforts in School Improvement.” The Center, in collaboration with the South Central Comprehensive Center, will highlight the work of the Arkansas Department of Education. The webinar is intended to appeal to state educational agency staff. Registration and more information is here.
- On September 5, Achieving the Dream will hold its fourth annual Data and Analytics Summit. The summit is focused on how an institution’s student success agenda can be achieved by identifying and seizing opportunities to use data in more impactful ways. Specifically, the keynote will address “gaps in data” such as the gap between student and alumni data; the equity gap; the gap between leading and lagging indicators; and the gap between descriptive and predictive analytics. Registration and more information is here.
- On September 6, the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) is hosting a webinar titled, “Opening the Gates: Using Deeper Learning to Expand College Access.” The webinar will build upon the work LPI has conducted, in partnership with EducationCounsel, around performance assessments and other holistic means to assess students’ competencies. The webinar will explore emerging recommendations for how performance assessments can expand college access opportunities. Registration and more information is here.
- On September 6, AEI and the Urban Institute are co-hosting a discussion titled, “What comes next? A look at student borrowers in default.” The panel discussion will examine the trends in student loan default, and focus on two recent studies published by AEI and the Urban Institute. Registration and more information is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On August 23, the National Bureau of Economic Research released a report titled, “Taking PISA Seriously: How Accurate are Low Stakes Exams?” The report examined student behavior when taking the international assessment for student achievement, the PISA. The report found student behavior can have significant results on a country’s ranking, as large as an increase of 15 places in the rankings if its students took the exam seriously. The full report is here.
- On August 22, Bellwether Education Partners released a report titled, “Benefits Take Larger Bite Out of District K-12 Education Budgets.” The report examines the rising cost of teacher benefits, including health insurance and pension plans, and how the increase in costs have had a diminished ability for district budgets to pay for other expenses. While overall K-12 spending has decreased since 2009, the report finds, spending on staff benefits has increased in the same period. Since 2005, there has been a 22 percent increase in spending on staff benefits. The full report is here.
- On August 22, ExcelinEd released a policy brief titled, “Higher Education Requirements: Transitioning to Student-Centered Learning – Policy Solutions for States.” The brief outlines challenges states are facing with implementing “innovative student-centered learning policies and programs.” In the brief, the challenges associated with moving toward more competency-based models of learning, such as complications with calculating credit hours and grade-point average, will be discussed. Specifically, how such complications can impact college admission decisions, awarding of scholarships, and financial aid distribution. The brief offers two policy solutions to “ensure fair and equitable access” when it comes to college admission, scholarships, and financial aid: amend necessary policies to accommodate innovative models and transcripts; and design accommodations for state data system requirements. The full brief is here.
- On August 22, the Fordham Institute released a study titled, “The State of State Standards Post-Common Core,” in which the institute examined how states have altered their standards after repealing the Common Core State Standards. Overall, the study found the Common Core standards to still be the most rigorous of all standard sets available – for both English language arts (ELA) and math. The study recommends states who have not adopted the Common Core “significantly revise their standards” before educators and policymakers continue to make efforts to implement them. The full study is here.
- On August 22, the American School Counselor Association released its annual graphic of the student-to-school counselor ratios of states across the country. The national average caseload for school counselors is 464 to 1. Additionally, a report titled, “School Counselors and College Readiness Counseling” found most school counselors lack training in college readiness training. The full graphic is here. The full report is here.
- On August 22, the Institute for College Access and Success released a policy brief titled, “How Much Did Students Borrow to Attend the Worst-Performing Career Education Programs?” The brief analyzed data from USED to find how many students attended “failing” or “zone” programs (indicative of low performing programs), and how much they borrowed to attend said programs. Based on the analysis, the Institute found that over 350,000 students attended “failing” or “zone” programs, and borrowed nearly $7.5 billion in student loans to attend. The full brief is here.
- On August 17, the National School Boards Association released a report titled, “Fostering Safer Schools.” The report provides school board members legal guidance to find best practices for improving school safety. Additionally, the report offers suggestions as to how districts can collaborate with local law enforcement to assess threats. The full report is here.
- On August 16, the Heritage Foundation released a report titled, “Look to School District Budgets for Better Teacher Pay.” The report examines district budgets and recommends state policymakers look for “wasteful budgeting and poor spending practices” in order to increase teacher pay. The report recommends reevaluating district budgets before funds are redistributed from state general funds or by raising taxes to pay for the increase in teacher salaries. The full report is here.
- On August 15, New America released a report titled, “Rethinking Relicensure: Promoting Professional Learning Through Teacher Licensure Renewal Policies.” The report examined teacher licensure renewal requirements across the country, with more in-depth analysis of states attempting to improve and modernize their systems. The report concludes some states – Georgia, Kentucky, Kansas, and Tennessee – have made improvements to their requirements by incorporating assessment of professional growth into the process; however, the report is definitive in that no state “has yet developed a comprehensive approach to ensuring that the professional development of teachers engage in as part of licensure renewal is actually helping them improve.” The full report is here.
- On August 16, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget released a report titled, “Budgeting for the Next Generation: Does the Budget Process Prioritize Children?” The report analyzed federal spending, and found that less than one-tenth of the budget is spent on children, whereas 60 percent is spent on adults. The analysis found that most spending on children, when compared to adults, is more likely to be discretionary; more likely to be temporary; often capped; lack built-in growth; and lacks dedicated revenue. The full report is here.
A bill to provide grants to communities affected by substance use disorder to enable those communities to plan for and implement full-service community schools.
Sponsor: Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)