E-Update for February 26, 2018
- February 23 was the deadline for submission of comments or suggestions regarding the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA).
- Last week, the Administration and Congress took a number of actions related to school safety in response to the recent tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead and at least 15 wounded.
- Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a case which challenges the constitutionality of fees being paid by government employees who are represented by, but do not belong to, a union.
Budget and Appropriations:
House Subcommittee Outlines Rules for Member Priority Submissions in FY2019: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies issued a Dear Colleague letter outlining the process for members to submit their priorities to the Subcommittee for FY2019. The deadline for member submissions to the Subcommittee is March 19, 2018. The letter is available here.
February 15, 2018
Democratic Senators Send Letter to USED Regarding Concerns Over Possibility of Insider Training: Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OH) sent a letter to USED Secretary Betsy DeVos regarding their concerns about “repeated disclosure of nonpublic information prior to official public announcements about important Department actions that have market-moving implications for publicly traded firms.” Specifically, the Senators noted that disclosures appear to be creating opportunities for insider training. In the letter, the Senators ask that the Secretary respond to a series of questions about the Department’s procedures and protocols to prevent these actions from occurring. The letter is available here.
February 22, 2018
Administration Takes Several Actions Regarding School Safety in Response to Parkland Shooting: On February 21, the President and USED Secretary DeVos held a listening session with students, teachers, and parents, where attendees were given an opportunity to express their sadness. During the meeting, the President said that the Administration will take a look at the background check process, the age of purchase of certain firearms, and mental health aspects. The President also raised the possibility of, “people in the school — teachers, administrators — who have volunteered to have a firearm safely locked in the classroom, who are given training throughout the year.” President Trump and Vice President Pence’s remarks are available here. On February 22, the Trump Administration also held a meeting with 10 state and local officials to discuss school safety. President Trump’s remarks are available here. On February 23, President Trump addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where he reiterated his call for well-trained teachers and school officials to be allowed to carry concealed firearms in response to last week’s Florida school shooting. President Trump’s remarks are available here.
Additionally, House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) announced that all 17 Democratic members of the committee are urging Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) to conduct hearings examining school shootings. The press release can be found here and the letter here. On February 26, Chairwoman Foxx responded to Ranking Member Scott’s hearing request by informing him that she is asking key Appropriations Committee leaders this week to make funding ESSA’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAEG) a top priority, and asking him to join her in sending the letter. The press release is available here. Chairwoman Foxx’s letter to Ranking Member Scott is available here, and her letter to Appropriations Committee leaders here.
On February 20, President Trump issued a memorandum directing the U.S. Department of Justice to dedicate all available resources to complete the review of the comments received, and, as expeditiously as possible, to propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns. The U.S. Department of Justice started the process of promulgating a federal regulation interpreting the definition of “machinegun” under federal law to clarify whether certain bump stock type devices should be illegal in December 2017. Public comment concluded on January 25, 2018, with the Department of Justice receiving over 100,000 comments. The press release can be found here.
Week of February 19, 2018
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED Releases Federal Register Notice Postponing “Equity in IDEA” Regulations for Two Years: USED Secretary DeVos released a pre-publication notice in the Federal Register announcing the decision to postpone the Obama Administration’s “Equity in IDEA” or “significant disproportionality” regulations for two years. These regulations sought to address the disproportionate numbers of minority students in special education classes. The notice also postpones for two years the date for including children ages three through five in the analysis of significant disproportionality with respect to the identification of children as children with disabilities.
February 23, 2018
USED Secretary DeVos Delivers Remarks at CPAC: USED Secretary DeVos addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). During her remarks, USED Secretary DeVos led the attendees in a moment of silence for those killed in last week’s shooting at a Florida high school. According to Politico, the Secretary also called for providing education savings accounts to military families that they could use to pay for private school tuition.
February 22, 2018
Dismissal of Title IX Lawsuit Requested: Both parties in a lawsuit regarding Obama-era Title IX guidance asked a federal court to dismiss the case, citing the current Administration’s decision to rescind the guidance in September 2017 as reason to dismiss the case. The guidance had required that colleges and universities use the “preponderance of the evidence” standard of proof in all sexual misconduct cases. The court filing is available here.
February 21, 2018
USED to Seek Public Comment on New Loan Collection System: USED announced that they will seek public comment on the formulation of a new system of loan collection, titled the “Next Generation Processing and Servicing Environment.” The Next Generation Processing and Servicing Environment, which was announced in August 2017, will provide for a single data processing platform to house all student loan information, while at the same time allowing for customer account servicing to be performed either by a single contract servicer or by multiple contract servicers. Currently, the Department works with nine student loan servicers, whose contracts expire next year. USED will accept proposals until April 6, at which point the Department will choose which proposals will advance to a second round of consideration.
February 20, 2018
20 State Attorneys General Send Letter to USED Regarding ACICS Case: A coalition of 20 state Attorneys General sent a letter to USED calling on the Department to deny the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools’ (ACICS) application to regain its status as a nationally recognized accreditor. On February 16, a federal judge in New York ordered USED Secretary Betsy DeVos to postpone the deadline and extend the period for public feedback on whether the Trump Administration should reinstate ACICS’ federal recognition. The accreditor was terminated in 2016 under the Obama Administration due to concerns over its approval of certain for-profit institutions, such as ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges. The letter is available here.
February 20, 2018
Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS):
SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments in Union Fees Case: Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a case which challenges the constitutionality of fees being paid by government employees who are represented by, but do not belong to, a union. The plaintiff, Mark Janus, is a child-support specialist in the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Mr. Janus argues that he should not have to pay the “agency fees” required by Illinois state law to his union to compensate for its expenses in negotiating a contract on his behalf, claiming that the First Amendment gives him the right to do these things himself.
February 26, 2018
- Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a case which challenges the constitutionality of fees being paid by government employees who are represented by, but do not belong to, a union. More information is available here.
- On February 27, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a meeting at 1:15 p.m. to adopt the committee’s Views and Estimates on the FY2019 Federal Budget. More information is available here.
- HEARING POSTPONED: On February 28, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development was scheduled to hold a hearing titled “Strengthening Access and Accountability to Work in Welfare Programs” at 10:00 a.m. More information is available here.
- On February 28, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold an executive session at 10:00 a.m. to markup several bills, including S.1091, the “Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act.” More information is available here.
- On March 1-3, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) will hold its 2018 Quarterly Board Meeting. During the session, NAGB will hear from the Ad Hoc Committee on Postsecondary Preparedness, review the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment for grades 4 and 8, receive a briefing from the Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and discuss the schedule and subject areas for the NAEP, among other activities. The notice is available here.
- On March 12-15 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, USED will conduct a third session of the Gainful Employment Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. More information is available here.
- On April 11-12, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute will conduct a summit to assess the American education landscape in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the seminal report: “A Nation at Risk.” The steering committee for the summit includes Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and former USED Secretaries John King, Arne Duncan, Margaret Spellings and Richard Riley, among others. Summit information is available here.
- On May 22-24, NACIQI will hold its Spring 2018 meeting at which time the performance of accrediting agencies currently undergoing review and evaluation for purposes of recognition by the USED will be discussed. The specific list of accrediting agencies, including the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (which was terminated last year under the Obama Administration and is seeking reinstatement), can be found in this notice. Written comments about the recognition of a specific accrediting or State agency must be received by February 16.
- On February 22, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study titled “Federal Agencies Could Improve Dissemination of Resources to Colleges.” GAO interviewed officials from a sample of 18 colleges across the nation, as well as officials from three states in which some of these schools operated, to examine how colleges prepare for emergencies and how federal agencies support college emergency preparedness efforts. The report is available here.
- On February 22, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a report titled “Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2014.” The report uses data from several nationally representative surveys and datasets to present statistics on high school dropout and completion rates. The report includes estimates of the percentage of students who drop out in a given 12-month period, and the percentage of young people in a specified age range who hold high school credentials (status completion rates). The report is available here.
- On February 20, NCES released a report titled “Digest of Education Statistics, 2016.” The purpose of this Digest is to provide a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of education from prekindergarten through graduate school. This report is the 52nd in a series of publications initiated in 1962. The digest is available here.
H.R.3397 – Referred in Senate
A bill to direct the National Science Foundation to support STEM education research focused on early childhood.
Sponsor: Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
H.R.620 – Engrossed (passed) in House
ADA Education and Reform Act
A bill to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to promote compliance through education, to clarify the requirements for demand letters, to provide for a notice and cure period before the commencement of a private civil action, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)
H.R.5020 – Introduced in House
A bill to provide for the establishment of a Department of Education program to award grants to secondary schools that establish a project to encourage students in their junior and senior school years to experience career and technical education courses at a community college, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: David Loebsack (D-IA)
S.2409 – Introduced in Senate
A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to improve nutrition in tribal areas, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)