E-Update for the Week of December 14, 2020
- On December 11, the Senate passed a one-week Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend fiscal year (FY) 2020 funding for the federal government until December 18. The CR was adopted by a voice vote. President Trump signed the bill later that day.
- On December 7 and 10, President-elect Biden announced his intent to appoint Tom Vilsack as USDA Secretary, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) as HUD Secretary, Xavier Becerra as HHS Secretary, and Susan Rice as Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
- On December 8, a bipartisan, bicameral group of Members released additional details regarding their proposed framework for a next pandemic relief package. The released details of the $908 billion proposal did not include legislative text. According to the details, funding for education programs will be distributed similar to the CARES Act.
Presidential and Congressional Transition:
Biden to appoint Vilsack as USDA Secretary, Fudge as HUD Secretary, Rice as DPC lead: President-elect Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate and appoint key members to his incoming Administration. The president-elect announced he intends to nominate former U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to once again serve as Agriculture Secretary and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) to serve as U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary. Additionally, President-elect Biden announced he intends to appoint former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice to serve as Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. A press release from the Biden-Harris Transition team is here.
December 10, 2020
Xavier Becerra to lead HHS, if confirmed: President-elect Biden announced his intent to nominate California state Attorney General Xavier Becerra as U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary. In his announcement, the president-elect stated, “This team of world-class medical experts and public servants will be ready on day one to mobilize every resource of the federal government to expand testing and masking, oversee the safe, equitable, and free distribution of treatments and vaccines, re-open schools and businesses safely, lower prescription drug and other health costs and expand affordable health care to all Americans, and rally the country and restore the belief that there is nothing beyond America’s capacity if we do it together.” A press release is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here. A statement by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) is here.
December 7, 2020
Budget and Appropriations:
Congress extends federal funding for one week: The Senate passed a one-week Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend fiscal year (FY) 2020 funding for the federal government until December 18. The CR was adopted by a voice vote. Prior to the CR’s adoption, funding was scheduled to expire at midnight on December 11. The House adopted the same CR previously this week on a largely bipartisan 343-67 vote. The CR, having been signed by President Donald Trump, provides Congress one more week to finalize an omnibus package (which is a combination of multiple appropriations bills) for FY2021, which could also potentially serve as a vehicle for coronavirus relief funding if an agreement can be reached. A press release from the House Appropriations Committee is here.
December 11, 2020
Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):
Bipartisan coalition releases details on next pandemic relief bill, negotiations hit roadblocks on key issues: A bipartisan, bicameral group of Members released additional details regarding their proposed framework for a next pandemic relief package. The released details of the $908 billion proposal did not include legislative text. According to the release, the proposal would include $160 billion for state, local, and tribal governments; $82 billion for education funding, which would be “funded similar to the CARES Act,” and include funding for a Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund, an Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, and a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund; $4 billion to extend federal student loan relief through April 30, 2021; $10 billion to support child care providers struggling due to the pandemic; and $3 billion for an Emergency Educational Connectivity Fund to provide E-Rate support to the provision of hotspots, devices, and other connected devices. Although details were released, negotiations on the relief package have encountered various roadblocks, particularly around relief for state and local governments and the inclusion of liability protections for businesses and schools. Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered to drop his priority of including liability protections if congressional Democrats would drop their push to include funding for state and local governments. However, at this time, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have both refused McConnell’s offer. It is expected that negotiations will continue into next week but it is unclear if congressional leaders will reach an agreement before the holiday recess. A press release from Majority Leader McConnell is here. A POLITICO Article, which includes the full details of the bipartisan proposal, is here. (Note: A subscription to POLITICO Pro is required).
Relatedly, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin made a $916 billion coronavirus relief offer to Democrats on behalf of the Trump Administration. The offer reportedly built off the bipartisan proposal but also would have provided a “robust” liability shield. Drawing immediate objections as “unacceptable” from House and Senate Democratic leadership, the proposal included only $40 billion for unemployment insurance rather than the $180 billion in the bipartisan proposal. Instead, the proposal provided $164 billion for direct payments to household worth up to $600 per person. A Roll Call article is here.
December 8 & 9, 2020
Institute of Education Sciences:
IES defines key buckets for Operation Reverse the Loss: Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Director Mark Schneider published an article to the IES website titled, “Operation Reverse the Loss, Redux.” The article follows up on an earlier article in which Director Schneider announced the formation of “Operation Reverse the Loss.” The initiative is focused on quickly identifying how best to respond to the impacts of the pandemic on student achievement and outcomes. In his second article, the director outlines three main buckets of actions that IES should pursue: understanding the crisis and accelerating discovery; responding to the crisis with new tools to help students catch up; and making sure the most high-need students don’t get left behind. The article further describes specific actions within each of those buckets such as establishing a COVID data “learning pulse” program, establishing an advanced research projects activity at the U.S. Department of Education (USED), and restoring funding to special education research. The full article is here.
December 9, 2020
Congress passes HBCU bill, creates stronger relationship with White House: The Senate passed S. 461, the “HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students Act,” or “HBCU PARTNERS Act.” The bill was passed by a voice vote and was previously adopted in the House by a largely bipartisan 388-6 vote. The bill creates a direct line of communication between the White House and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) by requiring agencies that regularly interact with HBCUs to submit annual plans for strengthening the capacity of HBCUs in order to participate in federal programs. Further, the plans must establish how the agencies intend to increase the capacity of HBCUs to compete effectively for grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements. It is expected President Trump will sign the bill. The bill text is here. A press release with a statement from by House Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here.
December 11, 2020
Congress passes bill to prevent student debt scams: The House passed S.1153, the “Stop Student Debt Relief Scams Act of 2019.” The bill was passed by a voice vote and was previously adopted in the Senate under unanimous consent. The bill creates federal criminal penalties for using another person’s account information to fraudulently access USED computer systems for “purposes of obtaining commercial advantage or private financial gain.” Further, the bill requires the Department to educate federal student loan borrowers about debt relief scams and to proactively warn borrowers about potentially suspicious activity on their accounts. It is expected President Trump will sign the bill. The bill text is here. A press release by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the bill’s sponsor, is here.
December 7, 2020
Murray, Scott call for better implementation of ESSA after five years since law’s passage: Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released a statement on the need to ensure ESSA’s accountability and transparency requirements are carried out in light of widening inequities and student achievement gaps due to COVID-19. In her statement, Ranking Member Murray, lamented that the Trump Administration “undermined” the intent of the law, and highlighted her plans to work with the Biden Administration to “correct course.” The Ranking Member also laid out additional steps she believes must be taken to address inequities that have “left too many students behind, including students of color, students with disabilities, English learners, students experiencing homelessness, children and youth in foster care, and students from families who have low-incomes.” A press release with the full statement is here. A press release from House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here.
December 10, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED creates ‘hotline’ to combat ‘cancel culture’ on college campuses: During an event called “What Is to Be Done? Confronting a Culture of Censorship on Campus,” USED announced a first-of-its-kind “hotline” at the Department for students and faculty members to file complaints of censorship on campus. According to Robert King, the Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education, the “free speech hotline” will be an email account managed by attorneys from the Department’s Office of General Counsel, which will receive reports of First Amendment violations on college campuses nationwide. An Inside Higher Ed article is here.
December 9, 2020
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On December 11 at 1:00 pm, AASA, the Build America’s Schools Infrastructure Coalition (BASIC), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NAASP) will hold an event titled, “Healthy School Buildings: Evidence-Based Choices in Safe School Openings.” The webinar will focus on the impacts of the pandemic and what is needed in order to make school buildings physically safe for students and staff to return to in-person instruction. More information and registration are here.
- On December 15 at 11:00 am, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) will hold an event titled, “Building on What Works: An Analysis of U.S. Broadband Policy.” The webinar will focus on the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the National Broadband Plan, and what changes still need to be adopted in order to reach the benchmarks outlined for 2030. The webinar will discuss policy changes related to facilities-sharing obligations, open-ended net neutrality rules, and others. More information and registration are here.
- On December 15 at 1:00 pm, the Urban Institute will hold an event titled, “Expanding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Tech Apprenticeships.” The webinar will focus on how the recent surges in tech-based apprenticeships have led to the need for intentional recruitment of diverse candidates. Further, the webinar will focus on what can be done to ensure that workspaces and classrooms are inclusive for such candidates and how equitable outcomes are ensured for all underrepresented groups in the tech field. More information and registration are here.
- On December 15 at 1:00 pm, the Education Trust will hold an event titled, “School Funding Policy in Challenging Times: Tools for Advocates and Policymakers.” The online workshop will examine the importance of school funding choices in light of the impacts from the pandemic and will focus on three main topics: state funding cuts; per-pupil expenditures; and state funding formulas. More information and registration are here.
- On December 15 at 1:30 pm, the Brookings Institute will hold an event titled, “School choice in a time of transition.” The webinar will discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on traditional public, charter, and private schools for the years ahead and what these impacts may mean for the broader school choice reform effort. More information and registration are here.
- On December 15 at 4:30 pm EST, the Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance and the National Urban League (NUL) will hold an event titled, “Who Gets to Thrive? The Science of Learning and Development as a Tool for Anti-Racism.” This webinar is part three of a series and is focused on how lessons from the science of learning and development can help define the next education policy agenda to be actively anti-racist? More information and registration are here. For insights of the previous discussions or if there are questions, please email Samantha Kobbah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publications (Congressional and Administrative):
- On December 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report titled, “Estimated Resource Costs for Implementation of CDC’s Recommended COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 Public Schools.” The report summarizes a study of how much schools will need to spend, per student, in order to implement all of the recommended CDC guidelines for opening and maintaining in-person instruction. Key findings of the report include identifying that costs per student range from an average of $55 (for materials and consumables only) to as much as $442 per student (for materials, consumables, additional custodial staff, and potential additional transportation); that incremental costs across states range from an additional 0.3 percent to 7.1 percent in costs needed above reported FY2018 school expenditures per student; and that the report is limited as it did not include costs related to food service operations nor did it include additional costs to provide student masks beyond a 1-month supply. The full report is here.
- On December 11, the CDC published a report titled, “Racial and Ethnic Differences in Parental Attitudes and Concerns About School Reopening During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The report summarizes a study of parents of school aged children in the United States and their feelings toward re-opening schools. Key findings of the report include identifying that 56.5 percent of parents strongly or somewhat agreed that schools should reopen this fall; and that 62.3 percent of non-Hispanic white parents, 46.0 percent of Black parents; and 50.2 percent of Hispanic parents agreed that schools should reopen, highlighting the differences in attitudes based on racial identity. The full report is here.
- On December 8, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report titled, “TIMSS 2019 U.S. Highlights Web Report.” The report summarizes results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Key findings of the report include identifying that the United States had higher average scores than most participating countries in both math and science; that in 2019, the United States had relatively large score gaps between the top- and bottom-performing students, with only one other country (Turkey) having larger score gaps between student performance; and that in all subjects and grades, except fourth grade science, all score gaps in the United States increased compared to prior administrations of TIMSS. The full report is here.
- On December 8, IES published a report titled, “The Transition to ESSA: State and District Approaches to Implementing Title I and Title II-A in 2017-18.” The report summarizes a study of the two federal programs and compares the 2017-2018 transitional year compared to the 2013-2014 transitional year, prior to ESSA. Key findings of the report include identifying that most states had not significantly changed their content standards by 2017-18 and districts increasingly provided supports to implement them; that states broadened the measures they used to identify struggling schools, such as including measures of student attendance, achievement growth, and test scores beyond reading and math; and that states and districts increasingly used performance data as a means to support effective teaching, such as teacher evaluation and student academic growth indicators. The full report is here.
- On December 8, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations published a report titled, “Oversight of HHS Shelter Grants for Unaccompanied Alien Children.” The report summarizes a study of how HHS and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) spent funding to create shelters for unaccompanied minors. Key findings of the report include identifying that HHS and ORR issued grants to two companies with documented histories of failing to provide adequate care of children; that prior to fall 2019, HHS did not require grant applicants to disclose prior adverse actions their respective state and local governments had taken against them; and that HHS disbursed a total of $32.1 million in grant funding for six facilities that were never opened. A press release is here. The full report is here.
- On December 7, the CDC published a report titled, “Implementing Mitigation Strategies in Early Care and Education Settings for Prevention of SARS-CoV-2 Transmission.” The report summarizes a study of how much transmission occurred between children and staff participating in in-person child care programs. Key findings of the report include identifying that Head Start and Early Head Start programs successfully implemented CDC-recommended guidance and other ancillary measures for child care programs, which significantly mitigated the spread of the virus; that funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided approximately $875 per student enrolled in Head Start and Early Head Start programs; and that support to staff members and parents were critical components of mitigation strategies having a successful impact to reduce transmission. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On December 10, the Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed) published a report titled, “When Equity is Optional: School Accountability Systems Fail to Help Most Vulnerable Students Under ESSA.” The report provides new analyses of how well states are serving vulnerable students and closing persistent gaps as required by ESSA. Key findings of the report, which analyzed early ESSA implementation across 10 states, include identifying that Black and Latino students are much more likely to receive a poorly rated education, and students of color are overrepresented in low-rated schools and underrepresented in high-rated ones. The full report is here.
- On December 9, the Afterschool Alliance published a survey titled, “America After 3PM 2020.” The survey examined the unmet demand for afterschool programs, and identified cost and access as barriers that prevent participation, even as satisfaction and support for afterschool programs grow. Key findings of the survey include identifying significant inequities in access to afterschool programs, with parents of 58% of Black, 55% of Latinx, and 46% of white children not currently in an afterschool program saying they would enroll their child if they could. Additionally, the survey found that afterschool participation has dropped precipitously, with fewer children in programs today than in 2009. According to the survey, the decline signals that, while publicly funded afterschool programs have helped millions of students, public dollars are not nearly sufficient to keep up with demand today. The full survey is here.
- On December 9, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) published a report titled, “The Crisis of Trauma and Abuse in Our Nation’s Schools.” The report documents how our nation’s federal special education laws can work both for and against children who are traumatized by their experiences with seclusion and restraint. Key findings of the report include identifying that students with disabilities, who comprise 13% of the nation’s student population, represent 77% of students exposed to seclusion. The report recommends the creation of a new federal law aimed at managing this inequity, which would help “good actors do more to provide research-based support for students and personnel, and stop bad actors from harming children.” The full report is here.
- On December 8, TNTP published a report titled, “A Broken Pipeline: Teacher Preparation’s Diversity Problem.” Using data from USED, the report examined how states’ teacher preparation programs can perpetuate the teacher diversity gap. The report compared the demographics of each state’s teacher preparation program enrollees to that of public school students to calculate a “teacher prep diversity gap.” Key findings of the report include identifying that teacher preparation programs are significantly whiter, on average, than the public school population; that teacher prep diversity gaps exist in almost every state; that a significant percentage of programs (serving a significant number of future teachers) are more than 90% white; and that alternative certification programs are significantly more diverse than traditional programs. The full report is here.
- On December 7, the Center for American Progress (CAP) published a report titled, “An Overview of the Teacher Alternative Certification Sector Outside of Higher Education.” The report examined enrollment data from alternative teacher certification programs run outside of institutions of higher education (IHE), which have seen a steady growth in enrollment over the past decade, and vary in format, curriculum offered, and quality. Key findings of the report include identifying that programs run by for-profit organizations enroll about 68% of the students in this sector while only managing about 12% of the programs in this sector; individual schools, districts, and regional education service agencies run the largest number of non-IHE alternative certification programs and collectively enroll about 19% of students in these programs; and that alternative certification programs enroll a higher percentage of students of color than traditional teacher preparation programs, but white students still make up the majority of enrolled students in all types of teacher preparation programs. The full report is here.
A bill to amend the Higher Education of 1965 to establish the Federal Perkins ARC loan program, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
A bill to provide that for purposes of determining compliance with title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 in athletics, sex shall be determined on the basis of biological sex as determined at birth by a physician.
Sponsor: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
A bill to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act to include leave for employees who are unable to work due to minor children in optional virtual or hybrid learning, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY)
A bill to direct the Director of the National Science Foundation to support STEM education and workforce development research focused on rural areas, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS)
A bill to terminate the Department of Education.
Sponsor: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to direct the HHS Secretary, acting through the CDC Director, to support research and programmatic efforts that will build on previous research on the effects of adverse childhood experiences.
Sponsor: Senator Angus King (I-ME)
A bill to facilitate nationwide accessibility and coordination of 211 services for information and referral for mental health emergencies, homelessness needs, other human services needs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to promote healthy eating and physical activity among children.
Sponsor: Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)