E-Update for February 12, 2016

E-Update for February 12, 2016


On February 9, President Obama released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget request for the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The President’s budget request for USED proposes $69.4 billion in discretionary funding – a 1.9 percent increase above the FY 2016 funding level. His budget request for HHS Administration for Children and Families is $20 billion, which is a 4.2 percent increase above the FY2016 funding level. The budget request focuses on three major priorities: (1) increasing equity and opportunity for all students; (2) expanding support for teachers and school leaders; and (3) improving access, affordability, and student outcomes in postsecondary education.

The FY2017 budget included various new discretionary funding initiatives, such as: $80 million for Next Generation High Schools, which would promote the whole school redesign of the high school experience through competitive grants to districts, and $30 million for the HBCU and MSIs Innovation for Completion Fund, to foster innovative, evidence-based student centered strategies and interventions to increase the number of low-income students and students of color completing degree programs. The FY2017 budget request also includes various new mandatory funding initiatives, such as: $75 billion over 10 years for Preschool for All to support the implementation of high-quality preschool programs, and $4 billion over three years for Computer Science for All state grants, which would support state efforts to offer rigorous coursework to students in preschool through grade 12, focusing on serving students in underserved communities and groups historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

The release of the President’s budget request signifies the beginning of the budget and appropriations process for FY2017. The House and Senate will now begin the process of reviewing the budget proposal through hearings before the relevant authorizing and appropriations committees. The President’s final budget request can be found here, and a USED overview can be found here.

U.S Congress

House Education and the Workforce Committee Discusses ESSA Implementation: The House Education and the Workforce  Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing entitled “Next Steps for K-12 Education: Implementing the Promise to Restore State and Local Control.” Panelists included a State Superintendent, a district superintendent, a civil rights advocate, and former General Counsel for USED.  The goal of the hearing was to receive insight from panelists on what state and local leaders expect from the new law, and how USED can provide increased flexibility and autonomy to state and local leaders. Chairman Todd Rokita’s (R-IN) written opening statement can be found here.
February 10, 2016

House and Senate Committees Request Endowment Information: The Chairmen of the Senate Committee on Finance and House Committee on Ways and Means sent a letter to Harvard President Drew Faust, Yale President Peter Salovey, and the presidents of 54 other colleges with endowments of $1 billion or more. The letters inquired about  the institutions’ endowment fund spending, management of the colleges, including how much the institutions spend to manage their endowments, the net growth and investment return on the endowments each year, and how much of the endowment funds are devoted to student financial aid. The Chairmen requested responses by April 1, 2016.
February 8, 2016

Congressional Democrats Introduce Child C.A.R.E. Act: Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Lois Frankel (D-FL) introduced the Child Care Access to Resources for Early-Learning (C.A.R.E.) Act. The legislation increases funding for child care assistance for low-income families through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) by increasing mandatory funding for child care subsidies for children under four by $25 billion over five years. The legislation also includes an investment in the child care workforce, to help child care providers attract and retain quality staff.
February 11, 2016


Obama Administration to Nominate Acting Secretary King: The White House announced that President Obama will formally nominate Acting Secretary of Education John King to the position of Secretary of Education. If confirmed, Acting Secretary King will formally become U.S. Secretary of Education for the remaining year of the Obama Administration. Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated that Acting Secretary King will receive a prompt and fair hearing from the Committee. The Chairman’s statement can be found here.
February 11, 2016

Administration Encourages Partnerships between Businesses and Community Colleges: The Obama Administration called for the creation of the Community College Partnership Tax Credit. The plan, aimed at incentivizing businesses to hire community college graduates, will award a $5,000 tax credit to employers who partner with community and technical colleges to strengthen job training programs by designing curriculum, donating instructors and equipment, and creating job-based learning opportunities. To qualify for the tax credit, employers must then hire full-time students who complete the programs.  States will be responsible for designating eligible partnerships between community colleges and employers through a competitive process.
February 5, 2016

USED Announces Postsecondary Enforcement Unit: USED announced the creation of the Student Aid Enforcement Unit, designed to respond more quickly to allegations of illegal actions by postsecondary institutions. The unit will be headed by Robert Kaye, an enforcement attorney, and will be under the oversight of the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) and Under Secretary Ted Mitchell. The unit will consist of four divisions: Investigations Group, Borrower Defense Group, the Administrative Actions and Appeals Service Group, and the Clery Group. The formation of the unit is intended to build upon the Administration’s efforts to investigate postsecondary violations to protect students and taxpayers.
February 8, 2016

Acting Secretary King Commemorates Black History Month: Acting Secretary John King issued a statement commemorating Black History Month. In the statement, Acting Secretary King noted the narrowing of the gap in graduation rates between white and African-American students, and the increasing number of African-American students enrolling in college. He also noted that there is continued work to be done to increase opportunity for African-American students.
February 9, 2016


On February 17, USED will host a webinar, including a brief Q&A, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Eastern time, to provide an overview of the rulemaking process, including negotiated rulemaking. Space is limited and will be provided on a first come, first served basis.  For this reason, USED asks that groups have a single representative join. More information on registration can be found here.

On March 2, the College Board’s Access & Diversity Collaborative, the American Council on Education, and EducationCounsel will host a free webinar entitled “Preparing for Fisher II on Your Campus.”  The webinar will provide recommendations to help institutions prepare for and respond to the U.S. Supreme Court’s second decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which is expected to arrive by late June (though it may come sooner). Written guidance will be available in advance of the webinar. The webinar will begin at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. Registration information can be found here.

New Legislation

H.R.4495 : Education for Jobs Act
Sponsor: Rep Lujan Grisham, Michelle [NM-1] (introduced 2/8/2016)      Cosponsors (2)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

H.R.4524 : Child Care Access to Resources for Early-learning Act
Sponsor: Rep Crowley, Joseph [NY-14] (introduced 2/10/2016)      Cosponsors (1)
Committees: House Ways and Means; House Education and the Workforce

H.R.4533 : To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to make technical improvements to the Net Price Calculator system so that prospective students may have a more accurate understanding of the true cost of college.
Sponsor: Rep Cummings, Elijah E. [MD-7] (introduced 2/11/2016)      Cosponsors (1)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

H.R.4541 : To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow individuals providing adult education the same above-the-line deduction as is allowed for expenses of elementary and secondary school teachers.
Sponsor: Rep Beyer, Donald S., Jr. [VA-8] (introduced 2/11/2016)      Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Ways and Means

S.2557 : A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to repeal the suspension of eligibility for grants, loans, and work assistance for drug-related offenses.
Sponsor: Sen Casey, Robert P., Jr. [PA] (introduced 2/11/2016)      Cosponsors (1)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

S.RES.367 : A resolution supporting the goals and ideals of Career and Technical Education Month.
Sponsor: Sen Kaine, Tim [VA] (introduced 2/9/2016)      Cosponsors (20)


College Board Access & Diversity Issue Brief – Preparing for Fisher II: The College Board’s Access and Diversity Collaborative (ADC) released the fifth brief in their issue brief series addressing the anticipated U.S. Supreme Court Fisher II decision, with guidance for institutions of higher education to consider as they prepare for that decision. The brief includes guidance on practical steps to prepare for the decision, an analysis of the amicus briefs filed in this round of Supreme Court litigation, and important insights from oral arguments and the parties’ briefs that can help inform institutional dialogue and action. The brief was co-authored by EducationCounsel’s Terri Taylor and Art Coleman.

Supporting Postsecondary Student Success: The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) released a report and guidebook addressing ways in which community partnerships between various sectors – such as education, business, nonprofit, and public policy – can work together to ensure that all students obtain success in postsecondary education and beyond. The guidebook details how different communities target supports to underserved student populations to eliminate equity gaps in student retention and success.

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