E-Update for the Week of February 22, 2021
- On February 19, President Biden announced his nomination of James Kvaal to serve as Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education (USED).
- On February 19, the House Budget Committee released text for the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 in advance of its scheduled full Committee markup next week.
- On February 16, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sent a Dear Colleague Letter to the House Democratic Caucus with the update that the House will consider a vote on the American Rescue Plan during the week of February 22.
TICAS president nominated to serve as USED Undersecretary: President Biden announced his nomination of James Kvaal to serve as Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education (USED). Kvaal is currently serving as the president of the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) and was previously a Deputy Domestic Policy Adviser in the Obama Administration. The announcement is here.
February 19, 2021
Biden rescinds Trump-era apprenticeship order, recommits to traditional apprenticeship programs: President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order titled, “Revocation of Executive Order 13801,” which rescinds President Trump’s executive action directing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to implement the Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP). The IRAP had raised concerns among some labor groups that it sought to deregulate government-funded apprenticeship programs by shifting oversight to industry groups. The Biden administration will instead focus on traditional registered apprenticeships, which have been supported by labor groups. The full Executive Order is here. A fact sheet is here. A statement from House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here. A statement from Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here.
February 17, 2021
Budget and Appropriations:
House Budget Committee releases full text of next pandemic relief bill, Committee markup today: The House Budget Committee released text for the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 in advance of its scheduled full Committee markup next week. The $1.9 trillion package, which is in line with President Biden’s coronavirus relief proposal of the same name, was developed based on reconciliation instructions included in the recently passed budget resolution; therefore, this broader reconciliation bill will only require a simple majority for passage rather than the typical 60-vote threshold in the Senate. The text of the package is a combination of legislation adopted by nine House Committees and does not include substantive changes from the bills approved by the Committees, including the coronavirus relief bill adopted by the House Education and Labor Committee. The House Education and Labor Committee bill provided $130 billion in relief funding for elementary and secondary schools, $40 billion for higher education, and $40 billion for early childhood education. The bill text is here. A press release is here.
Additionally, the House Budget Committee released a report along with the text in which the Committee described the need for additional relief, as would be provided by the American Rescue Plan. The Committee report describes that employment rates for workers making less than $27,000 have decreased by more than 20 percent; that women, especially mothers and women of color, are exiting the workforce at high rates; that as many as 12 million children live in food insecure households; and that students of color are experiencing learning loss at a higher rate than their white peers. Further, the Committee cites estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that suggest the nation’s real Gross domestic product (GDP), without the bill, will not recover to its pre-pandemic projection until 2025. The Committee report is here.
February 19, 2021
House Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee explores child care crisis: The House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing titled, “COVID-19 and the Child Care Crisis.” During the hearing, Members heard about the impact that the pandemic is having on child care providers, as well as challenges families are facing to finding affordable, high-quality child care. Specifically, the hearing highlighted how many child care providers have been operating at a loss and taking on debt to be able to stay open or have had to close. At the same time, child care providers are facing reduced capacity to serve children to meet health and safety standards and increased expenses, including for personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitation, and social distancing. House Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) emphasized during the hearing, “At the end of the day, if we cannot make families feel that their kids are going to be safe and secure in their child care setting, then we cannot build a feasible path to a recovery.” More information and a webcast of the hearing is here. House Labor/HHS Appropriations Chairwoman DeLauro’s statement is here.
February 19, 2021
Hoyer outlines plan for House to advance next relief package, vote expected later this week: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sent a Dear Colleague Letter to the House Democratic Caucus with the update that the House will consider a vote on the American Rescue Plan during the week of February 22. The vote could be potentially held on February 26 or over the weekend. Given the goal of getting a coronavirus relief bill to President Biden for signature by mid-March, it is likely the Senate will take up the House resolution for consideration, rather than having Senate committees draft a separate reconciliation package. Should the Senate amend the legislation, however, and send it back to the House, the Majority Leader notes that the House could consider the amended bill the week of March 8. The full letter is here.
February 16, 2021
Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):
Biden doubles down on plans to re-open schools, support affordable higher education: President Joe Biden participated in a town hall, sponsored by CNN, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during which the president answered several questions about how he will support school reopening and ensure the safety of students and staff. President Biden described the need for schools to have small classes of students; for all students and staff to have and to wear PPE, such as masks; and to ensure that student transportation can also be done safely. Further, the president alluded that the beginning of next school year may require adjustments and considerations in light of the pandemic’s continued progression. Additionally, the president described his plans to address student debt and expressed that he would not forgive significant levels of student debt. Instead, President Biden proposed making community college free for everyone and that students from families making less than $125,000 should be able to attend state institutions for free. The president’s full remarks are here.
February 17, 2021
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
House panel explores need to expand broadband access: The House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing titled, “Connecting America: Broadband Solutions to Pandemic Problems.” During the hearing, Members explored how the pandemic has illustrated the disparity in access to internet connectivity and how such disparities impact school, work, and telehealth. Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) stated that “For many school kids, the dining room table or a bedroom workspace have replaced their classrooms, so a lack of connectivity means that, in essence, they are locked out of school.” Additionally, Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers also noted that “unreliable internet and limited broadband access has set countless children back in school because of connectivity issues while far too many schools remain closed. It’s unacceptable and hurting the next generation.” A press release from House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats is here. A press release from Committee Republicans is here.
February 17, 2021
USED seeking input on next volume of school reopening and recovery guidance: USED published a guidance and resource document titled, “COVID-19 Handbook Volume 1: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools.” Within the handbook, the Department signaled additional guidance is forthcoming that will provide “specific strategies to address the extraordinary disruption created by COVID-19 for students, educators, and parents, especially for historically underserved students and communities.” The Department notes that it is considering additional guidance on a range of topics, including providing research-based and practitioner informed strategies related to meeting the social, emotional mental health, and academic needs of students; supporting educator and school staff well-being; addressing lost instructional time; stabilizing a diverse and qualified educator workforce; ensuring equitable access to broadband and internet devices; providing school nutrition; providing all students with access to a safe and inclusive learning environment; extending learning time; addressing resource inequities; and using data to inform students, parents, and educators of progress. Input can be submitted to ReopeningK12@ed.gov by March 15, 2021. More information is here.
February 12, 2021
Equality Act reintroduced in House, path in Senate remains unclear: Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced H.R.5, the “Equality Act.” The bill, which is co-sponsored by the entire Democratic caucus, would expand federal non-discrimination laws to include protections against discrimination due to an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity. In response to the introduction, President Joe Biden stated, “The Equality Act provides long overdue federal civil rights protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, locking in critical safeguards in our housing, education, public services, and lending systems — and codifying the courage and resilience of the LGBTQ+ movement into enduring law…Now, it’s time for Congress to secure these protections once and for all by passing the Equality Act.” It is expected the House will consider the bill the week of February 22. It is unclear when the Senate will consider the bill. The bill text is here. The president’s full statement is here.
February 18, 2021
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
Department closes investigation into Princeton, finds no evidence of racial discrimination: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced that it had closed its investigation into whether Princeton University discriminates on the basis of race. The Department announced that it had closed its investigation last month without any finding. The investigation’s original basis was a Princeton statement that the University was committed to investigating and dealing with systemic racism in the United States. An Inside Higher Ed article is here.
February 12, 2021
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- A confirmation vote by the full Senate on Dr. Miguel Cardon’s nomination to serve as USED Secretary has not yet been scheduled, but it could happen sometime the week of February 22. The Senate HELP Committee favorably reported the nomination of Dr. Cardona out of Committee on a bipartisan 17-5 vote on February 11.
- On February 23 at 10:00 am, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a full Committee hearing to consider the nomination of Xavier Becerra to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). More information is here.
- On February 24 at 2:30 pm, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a full Committee hearing to consider the nomination of Xavier Becerra to serve as HHS Secretary. More information is here.
- On February 22 at 1:00 pm, the House Budget Committee will hold a full Committee markup of the American Rescue Plan of 2021, which would provide $1.9 trillion in pandemic relief funding. More information is here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On February 23 at 1:00 pm, Whiteboard Advisors will hold an event titled, “What Does It Mean for Schools to be Digitally Ready in 2021 and Beyond?” The webinar will focus on what existing federal funds are available to support digital and remote learning, and how educators and policymakers can leverage those funds. More information and registration are here.
- On February 24 at 10:00 am, the Brookings Institute will hold an event titled, “Opportunity Zones: The early evidence.” The webinar will discuss research on Opportunity Zones, which were created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and what impact they have had on low-income communities. More information and registration are here.
- On February 24 at 4:00 pm, the Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance will hold an event titled, “Who Gets to Thrive? Accelerating Equity for All Learners in All Settings.” The webinar is the fifth part of a series that examines the importance of learning environments on student experience. Panelists will discuss approaches to training and building capacity for adults to support the creation of healthy and supportive learning environments for all students. More information and registration are here.
- On February 25 at 2:00 pm, the Brookings Institute will hold an event titled, “Addressing education inequality with next generation community schools.” The webinar will discuss how community schools, through policy actions at the federal, state, and local levels, can support the recovery from the pandemic – especially in consideration of the pandemic’s disproportionate impacts on schools and neighborhoods of color. More information and registration are here.
- On March 4 at 10:00 am, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) will hold an event titled, “The State of Higher Education Finances in 2021.” The webinar will discuss how the pandemic has financially impacted institutions of higher education and how the outlook for the higher education system looks into 2021 and beyond. More information and registration are here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On February 19, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools published a report titled, “Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws, 2021.” The report summarizes a review of state laws related to charter schools. Key findings of the report include identifying that 44 states have charter schools, with 3.3 million students attending them nationwide; that Indiana has the strongest charter school law, as it does not cap charter school growth, includes multiple authorizers, and provides a “fair amount of autonomy and accountability;” and that Maryland has the weakest charter school law, as it only allows for district authorizers and provides little accountability, even though it does not cap growth. The full report is here.
- On February 19, the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) published a report titled, “A Policymaker’s Guide to Using New Student Debt Metrics to Strengthen Higher Education Accountability.” The report summarizes a review of metrics that can be used to better measure and indicate student and borrower success. Key findings of the report include identifying that using debt-to-discretionary earnings ratios, earnings net of expected debt payment thresholds, and repayment rates can be used to indicate student and borrower success; earnings net of debt payments is the most promising option, in conjunction with Cohort Default Rates (CDR), to determine federal aid access; and that repayment rates are better indicators of strong performance on loan outcomes, compared to being used for measuring college performance. The full report is here.
- On February 18, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget published a report titled, “Pell Program Faces Funding Cliff in 2026.” The report summarizes a review of the Pell Grant surplus and its outlook, if current spending continues. Key findings from the report include identifying that it is estimated that the Pell Grant reserve fund will be depleted by 2026; that the reserve fund will face cumulative deficits of $18 billion by 2031; and that annual appropriations for the program are expected to fall more than $3 billion annually, contributing to the outlook. The full report is here.
- On February 16, the National Center on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) published a report titled, “Program Diversity and Admissions 2021.” The report summarizes a review of teacher preparation programs across the country and how well they contribute to diversifying the teaching profession. Key findings of the report include identifying that most programs exceed the diversity of their state teacher workforce but do not exceed the diversity of their local community; that 34 percent of rural teacher preparation programs exceed the diversity of their local community, compared to only 8 percent of suburban programs; and that 70 percent of all elementary teacher preparation programs set a GPA threshold of 2.75 or lower. The full report is here.
A bill to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI)
A bill to require the Secretary of Education to provide assistance to the immediate family of elementary or secondary school staff members killed in an act of violence while performing school duties.
Sponsor: Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
A bill to create a task force within the Department of Education to address the threat of foreign government influence and threats to academic research integrity on college campuses, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN)
A bill to direct the Secretary of Education to establish a grant program to make grants to the parents of students served by local educational agencies that will not provide in-person instruction in a manner consistent with school year 2019-2020, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to include child development and early learning as community services under the Federal work-study program.
Sponsor: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to include certain employment as a health care practitioner as eligible for public service loan forgiveness, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA)
A bill to reimburse meals and supplements provided to individuals who have not attained the age of 25 under certain meal programs authorized under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Pramilia Jayapal (D-WA)
A bill to amend the Truth in Lending Act to modify obligations relating to private education loans due to the disability of a cosigner or borrower of the loan, to amend title 11 of the United States Code to make student loans dischargeable, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Daniel Kildee (D-MI)
A bill to codify the Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs of the Department of Labor.
Sponsor: Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to improve protections against foreign influence at institutions of higher education, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC)
A bill to provide an earned path to citizenship, to address the root causes of migration and responsibly manage the southern border, and to reform the immigrant visa system, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Linda Sanchez