E-Update for the Week of January 19, 2021
- On January 14, President-elect Joe Biden released details of his first proposal to address the ongoing impacts of the pandemic. The estimated $1.9 trillion plan includes $170 billion in investments for early childhood, K-12, and higher education programs.
- On January 14, USED made available an additional $21.2 billion to institutions of higher education (IHEs) to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the $21.2 billion released, $20.5 billion is for public and non-profit colleges and universities and $681 million is for for-profit institutions.
- On January 12, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a Dear Colleague letter laying out his legislative agenda for the 117th Congress. The Democratic Leader noted specific priorities such as supporting schools, and state and local governments within the next pandemic relief package, and “significantly improving” the nation’s child care system.
Presidential and Congressional Transition:
Biden proposes $1.9 trillion ‘recovery’ plan, includes additional $170 billion in education investments: President-elect Joe Biden released details of his first proposal to address the ongoing impacts of the pandemic. The “American Recovery Plan” is the first of two steps to address the dual crises of the pandemic and the economic recession. The estimated $1.9 trillion plan includes $170 billion in investments for early childhood, K-12, and higher education programs. Specifically, the plan proposes to provide $130 billion for K-12 education to support school reopening and other uses, with the goal of having the majority of K-8 schools reopened by the end of the president-elect’s first 100 days; $35 billion for higher education through a higher education emergency relief fund; $5 billion for governors to support education programs; and $40 billion to expand access to high-quality, affordable child care by providing $25 billion for an Emergency Stabilization Fund and $15 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The plan also proposes to expand, for one year, the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and to provide $350 billion for state and local fiscal relief. The plan has been largely received positively by Democratic congressional leadership, but it will still face a hurdle of reaching the 60-vote threshold in the Senate, which is necessary to avoid the filibuster.
A summary of the proposal, prepared by the Biden-Harris transition team, is here. A joint statement from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is here. A statement from Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here.
January 14, 2021
Biden builds out DPC team, emphasizes racial justice, economic mobility with selections: President-elect Joe Biden announced additional appointees to the White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC). The president-elect announced that Stefanie Feldman will serve as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the Director of the DPC; that Catherine Lhamon, who currently serves as the Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, will serve as Deputy Director for Racial Justice and Equity; and that Carmel Martin, who previously served as the U.S. Department of Education (USED) Assistant Secretary for Policy and Budget under the Obama Administration, will serve as Deputy Director for Economic Mobility. A press release is here.
January 14, 2021
Cardona meets with disabilities advocates ahead of confirmation hearing: USED Secretary-designate Miguel Cardona met with leaders within the disability community for a virtual roundtable discussion. According to a readout from the Biden-Harris Transition team, Secretary-designate Cardona discussed with advocates issues affecting blind students, deaf students, those with speech-related disabilities. The roundtable also featured a discussion on significant disproportionality, which describes the identification, placement, and discipline of students of color with disabilities compared to their white peers. The full readout of the discussion is here, including a list of advocates who joined the conversation.
January 12, 2021
Harris outlines Administration proposal for immigration reform: Vice President-elect Kamala Harris discussed the incoming Biden-Harris’s plans for addressing immigration, including for individuals who are protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The vice president-elect explained that the Administration plans to introduce a bill that would immediately grant green cards to those protected by DACA and those who are protected by Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Further, the Administration will try to decrease the amount of time required to acquire U.S. citizenship from 13 years to 8 years by making the naturalization process more efficient. A POLITICO article is here. (Note: A subscription to POLITICO Pro is required.)
January 12, 2021
Pelosi announces additional members to Education, Appropriations Committees: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced additional Democratic members to the House Education and Labor Committee. The Speaker announced that Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) have been added to the Committee. A press release is here.
Relatedly, Speaker Pelosi announced additional Democratic members to the House Appropriations Committee. The Speaker announced that Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Josh Harder (D-CA), Susie Lee (D-NV), David Trone (D-MD), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) have been added to the Committee. A press release is here.
January 14, 2021 & December 17, 2020
Top Republican on House Appropriations Committee announces additional members: House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) announced leadership of the Appropriations Subcommittees. Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) will continue to serve as Ranking Member of the Labor/HHS Subcommittee. Additionally, the Ranking Member announced that Reps. David Valadao (R-CA), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Mike Garcia (R-CA), Ben Cline (D-VA), Tony Gonzalez (R-TX), and Ashley Hinson (R-IA) have been added to the Appropriations Committee. A press release is here.
January 14, 2021
Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
Department disburses second round of higher education relief funding: USED made available an additional $21.2 billion to institutions of higher education (IHEs) to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is allocated from the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund II (HEER II) by the latest coronavirus relief package passed by Congress in December, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA). Of the $21.2 billion released, $20.5 billion is for public and non-profit colleges and universities and $681 million is for for-profit institutions. According to the Department, public and non-profit schools can use their awards for financial aid grants to students, student support activities, and to cover a variety of institutional costs, including lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff trainings, and payroll. For-profit schools must use their awards exclusively to provide financial aid grants to students. A press release is here.
January 14, 2021
Schumer outlines priorities for 117th Congress: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a Dear Colleague letter laying out his legislative agenda for the 117th Congress. In the letter, Leader Schumer vowed to move forward on coronavirus relief and confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees. “As we continue to reckon with the horrific events on January 6th, our work on behalf of the American people must not and will not be deterred,” Schumer wrote. “The Senate Democratic Majority, working within President-elect Biden and our House Democratic colleagues, is committed to delivering the bold change our country demands, and the help that our people need.” The Democratic Leader noted specific priorities such as supporting schools, and state and local governments within the next pandemic relief package, and “significantly improving” the nation’s child care system. A POLITICO article is here. The letter is here.
January 12, 2021
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
Outgoing USED official argues that Department does not have authority to forgive student loans: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) issued a memo that concludes that the Department lacks the power to unilaterally forgive federal student loan debt. The legal opinion memo explains that “the Secretary does not have statutory authority to provide blanket or mass cancellation, compromise, discharge, or forgiveness of student loan principal balances, and/or materially modify the repayment amounts or terms thereof, whether due to the COVID-19 pandemic or for any other reason.” The memo does note that Congress could enact legislation to authorize the Department to provide such relief, but it has yet to do so. Until then, the memo explains that Congress appropriated funds for student loans with the “expectation that such loans would be repaid except in very specific circumstances.” A POLITICO article is here. The full memo is here.
January 12, 2021
U.S. Supreme Court and other Federal Courts:
Supreme Court to hear student free speech case for the first time in over 50 years: The U.S. Supreme Court granted the petition for writ of certiorari for Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. The case involves a student who was suspended from a school cheerleading team after posting an expletive-filled message on Snapchat. The message was reported to school personnel and the student was disciplined for violating school rules on profanity and disrespecting school staff. The student and her parents claim that the student’s First Amendment rights were violated as the message was sent off-campus, during non-school hours, and on a personal social media account. The case was previously heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, which ruled that the school violated the student’s rights. The Court cited the Supreme Court ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, which ruled that schools and districts are limited in regulating students’ speech off-campus. Other Circuit courts have recently ruled that Tinker can apply to off-campus speech, in some instances. The Mahanoy case will be the first case heard by the Supreme Court on school regulation of speech since the Tinker case in 1969. The order is here. A POLITICO article is here.
January 8, 2021
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On January 20 at 12:00 pm, President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be inaugurated as the 49th Vice President of the United States.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On January 19 at 12:00 pm, Reinventing America’s Schools will hold an event titled “Parent Choice…Is It a Civil Right?” The webinar will focus on the rights of parents to choose to where their children attend school and debate the topic based on history, the law, and basic morality. More information and registration are here.
- On January 19 at 1:00 pm, the Edunomics Lab will hold an event titled, “Financial Turmoil and Public Education: Impacts of enrollment shifts and learning loss.” The webinar will focus on how enrollment shifts are affecting districts and their budgets. Marguerite Roza will share the latest updates and what they mean for state and district leaders. More information and registration are here.
- On January 19 at 3:00 pm, the Hunt Institute will hold an event titled, “Supporting Housing and Food Insecure Students During the Pandemic.” The webinar will discuss how education leaders can support students who are struggling with housing and food security during the pandemic and how to help them learn. More information and registration are here.
- On January 22 at 1:00 pm, the Hunt Institute will hold an event titled, “Engaging Historically Underserved Students Through Career and Technical Education.” The webinar will focus on how career and technical education (CTE) courses can decrease the risk of students’ dropping out of high school and how CTE courses can expand opportunities for students in historically underserved communities. More information and registration are here.
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On January 13, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report titled, “Baccalaureate and Beyond: First Look at the 2018 Employment and Educational Experiences of 2007–08 College Graduates.” This report presents selected findings about the employment and educational outcomes of bachelor’s degree recipients ten years after they completed their degrees, and tracked specific outcomes such as financial well-being, student loan borrowing and repayment, postbaccalaureate enrollment, employment history, earnings, job characteristics, and teaching status. Key findings include identifying that among 2007–08 bachelor’s degree recipients who were working in 2018, nearly 85 percent were employed full time; and forty-three percent of 2007–08 bachelor’s degree recipients had completed another degree or certificate program as of 2018. The full report is here.
- On January 11, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report titled, “Observations on States’ School Improvement Efforts.” The report summarizes a study of how states have allocated funds for schools identified for support and improvement, as required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Key findings of the report include identifying that 27 states use a formula to allocate funds; that in at least 34 states, all school districts that applied for federal funding received them for the 2018-2019 school year; and that a majority of states reported having at least “moderate” capacity to support school districts’ school improvement activities. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On January 14, the 74 Million published a report titled, “U-Turn – Survey of 477 Districts Shows Surge in COVID-19 Cases Is Reversing Reopening Progress in America’s Schools.” The report surveyed 477 school districts in December and found that the recent surge in COVID-19 cases is reversing previous progress made on reopening schools. A key finding from the analysis includes identifying that 31 percent of districts are operating in fully remote learning, representing a larger percentage than at any other point during the fall semester. Though this trend was most pronounced in urban districts, both rural and suburban districts are shifting toward more remote learning. The full report is here.
- On January 13, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) released the results from a survey titled, “Midyear National Principal Survey on COVID-19 in Schools.” NAESP previously surveyed its members in March and July 2020 to learn how COVID-19 affected their schools and their ability to reopen. In late December, NAESP surveyed members to gain insight into how schools are safely conducting classes and whether the necessary funding is in place to appropriately respond to the impacts of the pandemic. Key findings from the survey include identifying that for 51 percent of respondents, the mode of learning (in-person, hybrid, or virtual) had changed since the first day of school. Additionally, though nearly all respondents reported having isolation or quarantine protocols in place should a student or staff member shows symptoms of COVID-19, 49 percent reported receiving no training from health professionals on how to conduct in-school symptom screenings for students. The full report is here.
- On January 13, the Pew Charitable Trusts published a report titled, “Personalized Interventions Hold Promise for Student Loan Borrowers at Risk of Delinquency, Default.” The report summarizes a study of federal student loan borrowers, using focus groups, to identify how options to prevent delinquency can be made more accessible to borrowers. Key findings of the report include identifying that effective communication can increase borrower engagement, especially if it is targeted and personalized; that a reduction in friction points can improve enrollment in affordable repayment plans, such as streamlining repayment processes and improving automated processes; and that the U.S. Department of Education should establish strong, clear standards for student loan servicing companies. The full report is here.
- On January 13, Education Resource Strategies (ERS) published a report titled, “The Cost of COVID: Understanding the Full Financial Impact of COVID-19 on Districts and Schools.” The report summarizes a review of projected the financial costs of meeting students increased needs and inequities resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly if schools are expected to address lost learning and students’ social-emotional well-being. Key findings from the report include how COVID-19 has exacerbated the financial “triple squeeze” of rising costs, declining revenue, and greater student need, particularly in large, urban districts. Additionally, though the immediate cost of districts’ COVID response will be covered by federal relief dollars, these short-term costs and the federal aid provided so far are “dwarfed by greater pressures from declining state revenue and greater student need.” The full report is here.
- On January 12, the Urban Institute published a concept paper titled, “Providing Better Support to Students of Color: The Importance of School Climate, Belonging, and Wellbeing.” The paper highlights the need for philanthropic and government investment, including support for additional interventions, policies, and research, to better understand the social-emotional needs of students of color. Key recommendations to close the “racial school climate gap” include proactive actions to mitigate racist actions and foster healthy school environments where all children can learn without worrying that they will be treated unfairly because of their race; and increased school supports to help students address the many challenges they face both inside and outside school, particularly as a result from the COVID-19 pandemic. The full concept paper is here.
- On January 12, the Center for American Progress (CAP) published a report titled, “Good Jobs for All: How Federal Laws Can Create Pathways from Education and Training to Good Jobs.” The report explores strategies to better link federal K-12 education, higher education, and workforce systems to create a unified vision where school and training systems lead to employment in good jobs. Key recommendations include Congress aligning the reauthorization schedule with federal education and workforce development laws without creating legislative gridlock; creating a common set of rules and practices around defining quality; and using job quality to break down silos in federal laws for education, training, and workforce development. The full report is here.
- On January 12, the Forum for Student Privacy published a report titled, “Student Privacy Communications Toolkit for Schools and Districts.” The report/toolkit is intended to help school and district leaders communicate about student privacy, and includes high-level best practices and templates for use. Key recommendations include ensuring that a school or district has a communications strategy for discussing student privacy; clearly defining and discussing what is student privacy and what information is considered student information; and setting up a website for student privacy within the school or district websites. The full toolkit is here.
- On January 4, the National Center for Research on Education Access Choice (REACH) published a report titled, “The Effects of School Reopenings on COVID-19 Hospitalizations.” The report examined how reopening schools in-person has affected COVID-19 hospitalizations through analysis of districts’ school reopening plans along with data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Change Healthcare (a private healthcare technology company). Key findings include identifying that it appears safe to reopen schools in counties where there are fewer than 36 to 44 new COVID-19 county hospitalizations per 100,000 people per week. REACH also created a searchable spreadsheet, which provides comparable data for every county in the country, to make it easier to compare these thresholds to current health conditions. The full report is here.
A bill to nullify the effect of Executive Order 13950 relating to combating race and sex stereotyping.
Sponsor: Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to create a reduction schedule for public service loan forgiveness, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL)