E-Update for the Week of February 24, 2020

E-Update for the Week of February 24, 2020

Highlights:

  • This week, on February 26 at 9:30 am, the House Appropriations Labor/HHS Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Department of Health and Human Services Budget Request for FY 2021.” HHS Secretary Azar will testify.
  • Also, this week, on February 27 at 10:00 am, the House Appropriations Labor/HHS Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Department of Education Budget Request for FY 2021.” USED Secretary Betsy DeVos will testify.
  • On February 20, POLITICO reported that the USED Inspector General raised concerns with the Department’s calculation mechanism for potential student debt relief under the borrower defense regulation. The Inspector General raised concerns with the Department’s legal authority to use earnings data from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Budget and Appropriations:

Potential markups on FY21 House Labor/HHS spending bill: CQ reported tentative dates for the House Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee markups of all fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations bills. According to CQ, it is expected the House Appropriations Labor/HHS Subcommittee will hold a markup of the FY2021 Labor/HHS appropriations bill on April 29. It is expected the full Committee will then hold a markup of the bill on May 13. These dates are subject to change and have not yet been announced officially by the Committee.
February 21, 2020

Congress:

Senate:

Murray urges DeVos to discontinue religious liberty rule changes: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos regarding the administration’s proposed rule on supporting religious liberty. The proposed rule was published on January 17 in the I and proposes to expand religious exemptions for institutions of higher education. According to the Ranking Member, the proposed rule would allow institutions to “green light discrimination” against members of the LGBTQ+ community and women. “LGBTQIA+ students often feel unsafe during their first year on college campuses. By creating carve-outs for religious educational institutions to avoid creating equitable environments for LGBTQIA+ students and women, the Department is effectively encouraging institutions to turn away from their legal obligations to serve all students,” wrote the Ranking Member. A press release is here. The full letter is here.

Relatedly, on February 21, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) also sent a letter to USED Secretary DeVos on the same issue. The Chairman writes that the proposed rules, “further a political and religious agenda requiring taxpayers to fund discriminatory practices.” A press release is here. The full letter is here.
February 19 and 21, 2020

Smith, Murkowski seek more information on undercounting of Alaska Native, American Indian students: Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) sent a letter to USED Secretary DeVos regarding the undercounting of American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) students. According to the Senators, the Department’s current guidance around data collection results in a “significant” undercounting of AIAN students. “Reliable student demographic data is necessary not only to ensure compliance with federal education and civil rights laws that relate to school accountability, but also to build a public education system where every student has access to a quality education that can bring a lifetime of opportunity,” wrote the Senators. A press release is here. The full letter is here.
February 14, 2020

Collins calls on DeVos to remedy changes to rural education program: Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) sent a letter to USED Secretary DeVos regarding the Department’s decision to change criteria for the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP). According to the Senator, the Department’s changes will result in significant cuts to Maine’s rural, low-income schools – potentially up to $1.2 million. “Small and rural school districts often forgo competitive grants because they lack the resources to compete for grants. REAP helps rural schools overcome these challenges by providing them with additional funding and flexibility. Decisions that curtail this flexibility run counter to the purpose of the law and undermine the effectiveness of these programs.” A press release is here. The full letter is here.
February 13, 2020

Administration:

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

USED IG finds issue with DeVos borrower defense formula: POLITICO reported that the USED Inspector General raised concerns with the Department’s calculation mechanism for potential student debt relief under the borrower defense regulation. The Inspector General raised concerns with the Department’s legal authority to use earnings data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to calculate the debt relief. Specifically, the report suggests that the current data sharing agreement between the Department and SSA does not include the earnings data used within the formula. The POLITICO article is here.
February 20, 2020

Department announces institutions to participate in Work-Study expansion pilot: USED announced the final list of 190 higher education institutions that will participate in the Department’s pilot expansion of the Federal Work-Study program. The Department’s experimental program allows for institutions to use Federal Work-Study funds to contract with third-party intermediaries, for institutions to provide job development activities for students, and to allow for students to participate in more private sector employment programs. A press release is here.
February 19, 2020

Publications (Outside Organizations):

  • On February 12, the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) published a report titled, “Inequitable Opportunity to Learn: Student Access to Certified and Experienced Teachers.” The report summarizes a review of state and national data from the USED Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) on student access to certified and experienced teachers. Key findings of the report include identifying that schools with high enrollments of students of color are four times more likely to employ uncertified teachers; that schools with high enrollments of students of color have nearly 20 percent of teachers that are just beginning their careers; and that in five states (Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Tennessee) schools are three times as likely to have inexperienced teachers in their schools with high enrollments of students of color. The full report is here.
  • On February 18, the Migration Policy Institute published a report titled, “The Patchy Landscape of State English Learner Policies under ESSA.” The report summarizes a review of state Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans and their descriptions of supports for English Language Learners (ELLs). Key findings of the report include identifying that ESSA plans are more consistent within states but not between states for ELL identification and reclassification procedures; that there is no guidance on how to address ELLs who do not reach proficiency in state-determined timelines; and that there is still a high degree of uncertainty for how ELLs’ performance contributes to school accountability ratings. The full report is here.
  • On February 18, the Center for American Progress (CAP) published a report titled, “The Child Care Crisis Causes Job Disruptions for More Than 2 Million Parents Each Year.” The report summarizes a review of data from the National Survey of Children’s Health. Key findings of the study include identifying that more than nine percent of parents had to quit a job, not take a job, or change their job because of child care problems; that child care problems cost the economy nearly $57 billion in annual lost revenue, wages, and productivity; and that Oregon had the highest concentration (over 14 percent) of parents who were harmed due to child care problems. The full report is here.

Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):

  • On February 25 at 10:30 am, the Senate Appropriations Labor/HHS Subcommittee will hold a hearing focused on the proposed budget request and estimates for fiscal year (FY) 2021 for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS Secretary Alex Azar will testify. More information is here.
  • On February 25 at 1:00 pm, the USED Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) will hold an event titled, “VR 100 – Vocational Rehabilitation.” The webinar will feature acting Assistant Secretary Mark Schultz and will focus on transition services and experiences for students with disabilities. The webinar will be streamed here.
  • On February 26 at 9:30 am, the House Appropriations Labor/HHS Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Department of Health and Human Services Budget Request for FY 2021.” HHS Secretary Azar will testify. More information is here.
  • On February 27 at 9:00 am, the House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing titled, “The Administration’s Religious Liberty Assault on LGBT Rights.” No witnesses have yet been announced. More information is here.
  • On February 27 at 10:00 am, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Proposed Fiscal Year 2021 Budget with Health and Human Services Secretary Azar.” HHS Secretary Azar will testify. More information is here.
  • On February 27 at 10:00 am, the House Appropriations Labor/HHS Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Department of Education Budget Request for FY 2021.” USED Secretary Betsy DeVos will testify. More information is here.
  • On February 27 at 10:00 am, the House Budget Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Budget Priorities: Members’ Day.” The hearing will feature multiple Members of Congress as they testify regarding their biggest priorities for FY2021. More information is here.
  • On February 27 at 10:15 am, the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a Subcommittee hearing titled, “Reauthorizing the National Apprenticeship Act: Strengthening and Growing Apprenticeships for the 21st century.” No witnesses have yet been announced. More information is here.
  • On February 27 from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) will conduct a meeting. NACIQI provides recommendations regarding accrediting agencies that monitor the academic quality of postsecondary institutions and educational programs for federal purposes. During the meeting, Diane Auer Jones, delegated the duties of USED Under Secretary, will provide an update on the Administration’s implementation of regulations on the recognition of accrediting agencies (34 CFR 602). The Department amended the rules governing the Secretary’s recognition process, which were published November 1, 2019, and will take effect on July 1, 2020. A full agenda and more information on the meeting is here.
  • On March 2, states must submit their Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state plans to USED. More information is here.
  • On either March 24 or April 1, USED Secretary DeVos will testify in front of the House Education and Labor Committee. The Secretary will testify on the Department’s FY2021 budget request.
  • On April 15, states must submit their three-year Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans. States previously submitted their one-year transition plans. More information is here.
  • On April 29, it is expected the House Appropriations Labor/HHS Subcommittee will hold a markup of its FY2021 Labor/HHS appropriations bill.
  • On May 13, it is expected the House Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of the FY2021 House Labor/HHS appropriations bill.

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations): 

  • On February 25-26, the Association for Learning Environments will hold an event titled, “2020 Early Childhood Education Conference.” The conference will focus on the developmental experience of early childhood and how schools can be designed to support both developmental and academic goals. More information and registration are here.
  • On February 25 at 12:45 pm, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget will hold an event titled, “2020 Better Budget Process Summit: Building Momentum for a Meaningful Reform.” The event will focus on how the congressional budget process can be improved and reformed. The event will feature Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). More information and registration are here.
  • On February 26 at 9:00 am, the Washington Post will hold an event titled, “Working Families: The Cost of the American Dream.” The event will focus on the plight of low-income workers and the costs of housing, child care, and health care. The event will to feature Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA). More information and registration are here.
  • On February 26 at 2:00 pm, the Learning First Alliance will hold an event titled, “Public Schools Week 2020 Panel Discussion.” The discussion will celebrate the successes and show the potential of public education in the United States. The panel discussion will feature Lily Eskelsen Garcia of the National Education Association, Curtis Jones the AASA 2019 Superintendent of the year, Laura Ross the AASA 2020 Counselor of the year, Leslie Boggs the 2019-2021 President of the National PTA, and others. More information and registration are here.
  • On February 28, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will hold an event titled, “Early Ed Summit: The Economic Impact of the States.” The event will focus on the child care challenges facing Iowa, Idaho, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania, as well as the economic impact of child care breakdowns. More information and registration are here.

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