E-Update for the Week of December 9, 2019
- On December 12, the White House is expected to hold a summit related to paid family leave and early childhood education. Select guests, including policymakers and advocates, have been invited.
- On December 5, the Senate passed, under unanimous consent, an amended version of H.R.2486, the “FUTURE Act.” The bill would permanently reauthorize mandatory funding for minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which previously expired on September 30.
- On November 27, USED published in the Federal Register a notice of proposing the establishment of six priorities for discretionary grant programs. According to the notice, the proposed priorities would allow for the Department to expand the range of applicants for federal funding and to promote greater innovation.
Senate finally negotiates HBCU funding fix, fate of bill remains less clear in House: The Senate passed, under unanimous consent, an amended version of H.R.2486, the “FUTURE Act.” The bill would permanently reauthorize mandatory funding for minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which previously expired on September 30. The bill also includes provisions of the FAFSA Act, which provides for easier communication between the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) so that taxpayer information could be more easily shared and verified for students applying for federal financial aid or for those applying for income-driven repayment plans. The inclusion of the FAFSA Act provisions creates a pay-for for the permanent funding for HBCUs and MSIs. The bill will be sent to the House where it will need to be approved by both the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. The House could move the bill forward under suspension of the rules if both Committees consent, which would provide for an easier and quicker floor vote. However, the House Ways and Means Committee has expressed concern with the pay-for given the level of access to confidential tax information it would provide to third-party loan servicers. Instead, the Committee is expected to consider alternative pay-for methods. The bill text is here. A press release from Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is here. A statement by Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) is here.
December 5, 2019
Education Committee explores impact of Trump immigration policies on unaccompanied children at border: The House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing titled, “Growing Up in Fear: How the Trump Administration’s Immigration Policies are Harming Children.” The hearing focused on the health, especially mental health, impacts of unaccompanied children being held in federal custody at the Southern border. During the hearing, Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) stated that “…over the past three years, the Trump administration has implemented immigration policies and inflammatory rhetoric to discourage or prevent children growing up in immigrant families from accessing basic services for which they are eligible under federal law.” Republicans, led by Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC), argued that the Committee did not have jurisdiction of the matter and that the Majority did not provide enough notice for the Minority to prepare for the hearing. “If the majority were interested in having a serious conversation about this issue, it would have given Committee Republicans more than one day’s notice heading into a holiday week,” stated the Ranking Member. A recording of the hearing is here. Ranking Member Foxx’s full opening statement is here.
December 4, 2019
White House to host first summit on paid family leave: The White House is expected to hold a summit related to paid family leave and early childhood education. Select guests, including policymakers and advocates, have been invited.
December 12, 2019
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
At annual ALEC convening, DeVos praises flexibility allowed in ESSA for states to improve outcomes, pushes her Education Freedom Scholarship proposal: USED Secretary Betsy DeVos delivered remarks at the annual American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) States and Nation Policy Summit. During her remarks, the Secretary discussed how the Department has supported implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the importance of the law’s reduction in a federal role in education. “ESSA affords your states and your communities more flexibility to address your challenges…You are the leaders to embrace the freedom in ESSA and extend that freedom to empower teachers, parents, and students themselves,” stated the Secretary. Secretary DeVos also promoted her Education Freedom Scholarships proposal, which would create a federal tax credit for school voucher programs. The Secretary’s full remarks are here.
December 5, 2019
DeVos calls for separation between USED and Office of Federal Student Aid: USED Secretary DeVos delivered remarks at the annual Federal Student Aid (FSA) conference. During her remarks, the Secretary described her vision for a “stronger, student-centered FSA” and discussed how the office has many structural challenges to providing high-quality customer service. To resolve such challenges the Secretary argued that FSA should become a “standalone entity, wholly and entirely separate from the [Department].” The Secretary’s full remarks are here. A press release is here.
December 3, 2019
USED publishes proposed discretionary grant priorities, focuses on Opportunity Zones, rural applicants, and data collection efforts: USED published in the Federal Register a notice of a final discretionary grant priority to support the Opportunity Zones program. Opportunity Zones are reserved for those areas that are impoverished based on census tract data. “Through the Opportunity Zones priority, we can focus our discretionary resources on projects that will spur innovative approaches to education in areas of the country that are all too often left behind,” stated USED Secretary Betsy DeVos. According to the Department, in fiscal year 2019, 50 grants were awarded to entities located in Opportunity Zones, providing over $30 million to support grantees operating in Opportunity Zones. The notice is here. A press release is here.
Relatedly, USED published in the Federal Register a notice of proposing the establishment of six priorities for discretionary grant programs. According to the notice, the proposed priorities would allow for the Department to expand the range of applicants for federal funding and to promote greater innovation. The priorities include applications from new potential grantees; applications from grantees that are not new potential grantees; applications from rural applicants; applications from non-rural applicants; applications that demonstrate a rationale in the project’s logic model; and applications that include a data collection period after the conclusion of the grant project period. The notice is here.
November 27, 2019
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On December 3, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report titled, “IDEA Dispute Resolution Activity in Selected States Varied Based on School Districts’ Characteristics.” The report examined disputes related to services guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in five states. Key findings of the report include identifying that nearly 50 percent of high-income districts had at least one mediation request; that high-minority districts had low dispute activity; and that barriers such as language differences, fear of retaliation, or legal costs could impact parents’ decision to pursue dispute resolution services. The full report is here. A statement from House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here.
- During the week of December 2, the Administration of Children and Families (ACF), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), published a report titled, “Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Report on States Priorities for Child Care Services: Fiscal Year 2019.” The report is a summary of an analysis of how states have administered CCDF subsidy programs, including state determined payment rates for child care providers. Key findings of the report include identifying that only 15 percent of all children eligible under federal rules and only 24 percent of children eligible under state rules receive child care subsidies; that in fiscal year (FY) 2017, 45 percent of families served by CCDF were below the federal poverty line and nearly 30 percent had incomes between 100 percent and 150 percent of the poverty line; and that 28 states prioritize enrollment for children with special needs, while 24 states do not waitlist children with special needs. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On December 3, the Center for American Progress (CAP) published a report titled, “What To Make of Declining Enrollment in Teacher Preparation Programs.” The report is a summary of an analysis of enrollment and completion data for teacher preparation programs across the country. Key findings of the report include identifying that enrollment in teacher preparation programs has decreased nearly 33 percent between 2010 and 2018; that there was a 28 percent decline in completion rates for teacher preparation programs between 2010 and 2018; and that approximately 25 percent fewer Black and Latinx teacher candidates enrolled in teacher programs in 2018 compared to enrollment in 2010. The full report is here.
- On December 3, CAP published a report titled, “The Continued Student Loan Crisis for Black Borrowers.” The report summarizes data on student borrower default rates and disaggregates data by race. Key findings of the report include identifying that Black student borrowers default on loans more than twice the rate of their White peers (32 percent compared to 13 percent); that 55 percent of Black borrowers who do not have a degree will default on loans; and that Black borrowers are more likely to use an income-driven repayment plan compared to their White peers (21 percent compared to 17 percent). The report concludes by arguing the data suggests policymakers need to significantly change their approach to addressing student debt to remedy the disparities in default rates. The full report is here.
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On December 12 at 9 am, the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Examining the Education Department’s Implementation of Borrower Defense.” The hearing will focus on the Department’s implementation and processing of borrower defense claims, as well as the ongoing lawsuit regarding its collection on loans of former Corinthian Colleges students. USED Secretary DeVos is expected to testify during the hearing. More information will be posted here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On December 10 at 12:00 pm, Third Way will hold an event titled, “Behind the Bumper Sticker on Repayment Rates.” The event will focus on repayment rates for student borrowers and how such rates can be used to assess institution proficiency. The event will consider the strengths of such a metric, and the challenges it can pose to policymakers and institutions. More information and registration are here.
- On December 10 at 3:00 pm, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will hold an event titled, “What it will take for social and emotional learning to succeed.” The event will focus on how social emotional learning (SEL) contributes to a child’s holistic education, including civics and virtue-based education. More information and registration are here.
- On December 11 at 2:00 pm, the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) and the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) will hold an event titled, “Scaling U Deeper Learning Approaches in Public Schools.” The webinar will focus on how deeper learning contributes to positive student outcomes and how schools and districts are implementing the practices. More information and registration are here.
A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to improve direct certification, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to establish a grant program that will support efforts at the State level to establish anti-bullying task forces to study, address, and reduce bullying in elementary and secondary schools, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL)
A bill to amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to prohibit debt collectors from collecting on certain Federal student loan debt when the borrower would not be required to make payments under an income-driven repayment plan, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL)
A bill to amend the Truth in Lending Act to establish a postsecondary education loan borrower bill of rights and to require certain creditors to obtain private loan certifications from institutions of higher education, to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to require the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection to issue rules to establish standards for reporting information related to student loans to consumer reporting agencies, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC)
A bill to amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and the Richard B Russell National School Lunch Act to eliminate reduced price breakfasts and lunches and to require that the income guidelines for determining eligibility for free breakfasts and free lunches be 200 percent of the poverty-level, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH)
A bill to prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s texture or style of hair.
Sponsor: Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA)
A bill to authorize the creation of a commission to develop voluntary accessibility guidelines for electronic instructional materials and related technologies used in postsecondary education, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. David Roe (R-TN)
A bill to reduce exclusionary discipline practices in schools, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)
A bill to amend and reauthorize the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
A bill to amend the Head Start Act to authorize block grants to States for prekindergarten education, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)