E-Update for the Week of February 3, 2020
- On January 31, USA Today reported that President Donald Trump will include a call to action for Congress to adopt the U.S. Department of Education (USED) Education Freedom Scholarship proposal within his State of the Union address.
- On January 31, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced the approval of four states to participate in the Education Flexibility Program (Ed-FLEX). The program, updated by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), allows for states to support innovation and waives certain statutory or regulatory requirements. The four states approved for the program are Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, and Vermont.
- On January 28, the House Education and Labor Committee held a joint subcommittee hearing between the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee and the Workforce Protections Subcommittee. The hearing titled, “Expecting More: Addressing America’s Maternal and Infant Health Crisis,” focused on efforts to improve maternal and infant health outcomes.
House Democrats roll out infrastructure framework, schools could be included says Chairman Scott: The House Transportation Committee released a framework for a five-year, $760 billion infrastructure investment. The framework includes funding proposals for projects such as modernizing highways; investing in public transit; increasing investments in railways and airports; developing clean water and waste water infrastructure; and expanding broadband internet access. Missing from the released framework are any proposed plans for school construction investments; however, since the release, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) has suggested that schools could be a part of an amended framework. “I don’t know the actual procedural steps but I expect that when we pass [the bill] education will be involved,” stated the Chairman to reporters. In 2019, the House Education and Labor Committee favorably reported H.R.865, the “Rebuilding America’s Schools Act,” which would provide $100 billion in federal school infrastructure investments. The released framework is here. A press release from the House Transportation Committee is here. A POLITICO article is here. (NOTE: This requires a subscription to POLITICO Pro).
January 29, 2020
House hearing illustrates bipartisan support for improving maternal health, especially for women of color: The House Education and Labor Committee held a joint subcommittee hearing between the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee and the Workforce Protections Subcommittee. The hearing titled, “Expecting More: Addressing America’s Maternal and Infant Health Crisis,” focused on efforts to improve maternal and infant health outcomes. Both Democratic and Republican Subcommittee members expressed an interest in continuing to work together on a bipartisan basis to address the maternal and infant health crisis, particularly disparities in health outcomes for women of color. Additionally, Republican Subcommittee members noted that the House Education and Labor Committee should continue to have additional hearings to ensure that efforts to address the crisis do not result in federal requirements or mandates that could have unintended consequences. Democratic and Republican Subcommittee members also called attention to several legislative proposals ranging from extending Medicaid coverage beyond the current postpartum period to strengthening protections for nursing mothers in the workplace. A recording of the hearing is here.
January 28, 2020
Foxx celebrates National School Choice Week from House floor: House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) delivered a floor statement to celebrate National School Choice Week. During her remarks, the Ranking Member stated, “Unfortunately, the media continues to conjure up misleading claims about school choice, and it’s time we corrected the record. School choice is not about picking winners and losers, it’s about letting families choose the educational options that meet the unique needs of their children.” A press release is here. The Ranking Member’s full remarks are here.
January 27, 2020
Trump likely to highlight Education Freedom Scholarships in State of Union address: USA Today reported that President Donald Trump will include a call to action for Congress to adopt the U.S. Department of Education (USED) Education Freedom Scholarship proposal within his State of the Union address. The proposal, which would provide federal tax breaks to individuals who contribute to a scholarship program for students to use at various educational programs, has been championed by USED Secretary Betsy DeVos since its introduction last year. “The truth is that families that can afford private school tuition, or have the means to move out of a bad school zone, already have education freedom. All American families need that freedom,” stated Joe Grogan, director of the Domestic Policy Council. The President is scheduled to deliver his State of the Union address to Congress on February 4. The USA Today article is here.
January 31, 2020
White House announces new Medicaid program, likely to face legal challenges: The White House announced, via a letter to state Medicaid directors, its Medicaid Health Adult Opportunity plan, which would allow states to convert a portion of their Medicaid funding into block grants. Under the proposal, “Medicaid would no longer pay whatever is necessary to provide medical care to the people in or near poverty who qualify for its benefits. Instead, spending would be limited in states that got a waiver from the federal government, and they could impose cuts on benefits,” according to a news article published by Vox. Opponents of the plan assert that by allowing a portion of a state’s funding to be converted into block grants that fewer individuals may have access to the program. A similar proposal was introduced in 2017, but it was ultimately rejected by Congress after an analysis of the proposal found that millions of individuals would lose coverage. A press release from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is here. The letter to state Medicaid directors is here. The Vox article is here. A POLITICO article is here. A statement by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) is here.
Relatedly, on January 31, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) released a joint statement announcing the House will vote on a resolution to disapprove of the Administration’s proposed Medicaid program. The House is expected to consider the resolution on February 6. “Congress has a responsibility to protect Medicaid beneficiaries from the harm that would be caused by this new guidance. The goal of this new waiver is clear: reduce access to health care for millions of low-income Americans, including access to affordable prescription drugs. The Democratic-led House will not allow this challenge to health care access in our country to go unanswered,” stated the House Democratic Leaders. The joint statement is here.
January 30 and 31, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
Four new states approved for Ed-FLEX program: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced the approval of four states to participate in the Education Flexibility Program (Ed-FLEX). The program, updated by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), allows for states to support innovation and waives certain statutory or regulatory requirements. The four states approved for the program are Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, and Vermont. According to the Department, Massachusetts will focus on enhancing educator recruitment and licensure; North Carolina will focus on addressing class size, the school year schedule, and funding for schools in areas of need; Texas will focus on providing flexibility for staff development requirements, teacher certification, and attendance requirements; and Vermont will focus on local districts’ ability to implement long-term improvement initiatives. A press release from the Department is here.
January 31, 2020
Top USED official previews potential Department action on financial responsibility composite scores: Diane Auer Jones, principal deputy undersecretary, delivered remarks to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities’ 2020 Presidents Conference. During her remarks, Auer Jones indicated that USED is considering new rulemaking related to financial responsibility composite scores, which are a financial standard for colleges to meet to be eligible for federal student aid. “We will probably next venture into rulemaking on financial responsibility composite scores, you know that’s long overdue,” stated Auer Jones. She went on to suggest that much of this year would be used to establish the groundwork for a formal rulemaking process, likely to occur if the President is elected for a second term. A POLITICO article is here. (NOTE: A subscription to POLITICO Pro is required.)
January 30, 2020
DeVos appoints Chair, two new members to National Assessment Governing Board: USED Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the appointment of three new members of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The Secretary appointed former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour as Chair of the Board, in addition to Christine Cunningham, a curriculum specialist, and Patrick Kelley, a high school teacher, as members of the Board. “Their richly diverse backgrounds will help the Board as it continues its critical work to inform students, parents, educators and policymakers about the state of American education. The latest Nation’s Report Card shows a student achievement crisis, especially in reading, and I’m eager to see how the Board continues to tackle that critical challenge,” stated the Secretary. The appointees will serve on the Board between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2023. A press release is here.
January 30, 2020
SCOTUS clears way for Trump’s public charge rule, still faces challenges in lower courts: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that a national injunction barring implementation of the Trump Administration’s “public charge” rule should be lifted. “Public charge” refers to whether a person is likely to be dependent on certain public benefits programs. With the Court’s decision, the Administration can proceed with implementing its rule while lower courts consider the various legal challenges against the rule. The rule, which was published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on August 13, expands the public benefits programs that can be considered when determining admissibility under public charge. A POLITICO article is here. A statement from the White House is here. A statement from Senate Finance Committee Ron Wyden (D-OR) is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here.
January 27, 2020
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On January 29, the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) released updated data for school years 2016 to 2018 related to homeless children and youth. The data is a summary of collections by the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program. Key findings of the data collection include identifying that the number of students experiencing homelessness at some point during the years evaluated increased by 15 percent; that 16 states experienced at least 10 percent growth in their populations of students facing homelessness; and that the average per pupil spending of McKinney-Vento programs was $76.50 in school year 2018. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On January 30, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) published a report titled, “A New Course for Higher Education: Strengthening Access, Affordability, and Accountability.” The report summarizes the findings of a BPC task force led by former Chairmen of the House Education Labor Committee Howard McKeon (R-CA) and George Miller (D-CA). Key findings of the report include recommending the renewal of the federal-state partnership in higher education; reforming and expanding federal Pell grants; and improving the performance of the federal student loan programs. The full report is here.
- On January 28, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) published a report titled, “High School GPAs and ACT Scores as Predictors of College Completion: Examining Assumptions about Consistency across High Schools.” The report summarizes a study of how high school grade points averages (GPAs) correlate to a student’s likelihood of completing college. Key findings of the report include identifying that across schools, students with the same GPA graduate at different rates based on which high school they attended; that GPAs are more predictive of college completion compared to a student’s ACT score; and that relationships between GPA, ACT scores, and college completion are significantly compounded by the high school a student attends. The full report is here.
- On January 22, Ed Choice published a report titled, “The ABCs of School Choice: The comprehensive guide to every school choice program in America. The report includes a state-by-state overview of available school choice programs, in addition to how school choice programs are funded and operated in each state. Key findings of the report include identifying that spending on school choice programs accounts for approximately 0.4 percent of all K-12 expenditures; and that over 538,000 school voucher programs (including education savings accounts and tax-credit scholarships) were awarded for the 2019-2020 school year. The full report is here.
- On January 13, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) published a report titled, “Principal Quality and Student Attendance.” The report summarizes a Tennessee study of how principal quality can impact student absenteeism. Key findings of the report include identifying that a principal moving from the 25th to the 75th percentile in principal value-add decreases student absences by 1.4 days; that the same increase in principal value-add lowers the probability of chronic absenteeism by 4 percent; and that high-quality principals have a greater impact on absenteesim in urban and high-poverty schools. The full report is here.
- In January, Diversity Data Kids published a report titled, “The Geography of Child Opportunity: Why Neighborhoods Matter for Equity.” The report summarizes initial findings from the Child Opportunity Index 2.0, which quantifies, maps, and compares “opportunity” across neighborhoods based on 29 conditions such as availability and quality of early education centers, high school graduation rates, and the number of adults with high-skills jobs. Key findings of the report include identifying that neighborhoods directly influence the quality of experiences of a child; that neighborhoods can have a direct impact on a child’s health; and that there is a direct correlation between neighborhood and future outcomes. The full report is here.
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On February 4, President Donald Trump is expected to deliver his annual State of the Union Address.
- On February 5 at 10:00 am, the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations will hold a hearing titled, “A Threat to America’s Children? The Trump Administration’s Proposed Changes to the Poverty Line Calculation.” No witnesses have yet been announced. More information will be available here.
- On February 6 at 10:00 am, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship will hold a hearing titled, “Taking Care of Business: How Child care can Support Regional Economies.” Witnesses will include Cindy Cisneros of the Committee for Economic Development of the Conference Board (CED) and Veronique de Rugy of George Mason University. More information is here.
- On February 6 at 10:00 am, the House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy will hold a hearing titled, “A Threat to America’s Children? The Trump Administration’s Proposed Changes to Broad Based Categorical Eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.” No witnesses have yet been announced. More information will be available here.
- On February 6 at 10:15 am, the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education will hold a hearing titled, “Solving America’s Child Care Crisis: Supporting Parents, Children, and the Economy.” No witnesses have yet been announced. More information will be available 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 Betsy DeVos will testify in front of the House Education and Labor Committee. On either date the Secretary will testify on the Department’s fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget request, which is scheduled to be released on February 10.
- 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.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On February 6 at 3:30 pm, the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) will hold an event titled, “College Costs and Debt in the 2020 Elections.” The event will focus on how the 2020 elections have addressed college affordability, so far, and how the issue may continue to play out on the campaign trail. More information and registration are here.
- On February 6 at 4:00 pm, New America will hold an event titled, “Equity and Education in 2020: Innovations in Teaching and Learning within PreK-12 Schools.” The event will focus on how policy and practice can reshape the way students are taught and supported to enable personalized learning. More information and registration are here.
A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to require that only a school food authority that had a negative balance in the nonprofit school food service account on June 30th of the year preceding the previous school year shall be required to establish a price for paid lunches.
Sponsor: Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
A bill to provide that for purposes of determining compliance with title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 in athletics, sex shall be determined on the basis of biological sex as determined at birth by a physician.
Sponsor: Rep. Gregory Steube (R-FL)
A bill to require reporting of bullying to appropriate authorities and assist with equal protection claims against entities who fail to respond appropriately to bullying, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA)
A bill to increase students’ and borrowers’ access to student loan information within the National Student Loan Data System.
Sponsor: Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
A bill to advance STEM education, provide for improved worker training, retention, and advancement, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)