E-Update for the Week of January 27, 2020
- On January 23, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a proposed rule within the Federal Register outlining the Department’s intent to reduce regulations related to the National School Lunch Program. According to a report by POLITICO, the proposed rule would significantly roll back regulations implemented by the Obama Administration.
- On January 22, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. It is expected the Court will issue its opinion and order later this summer.
- On January 21, USED announced the creation of a new center within the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The “Outreach, Prevention, Education and Non-discrimination (OPEN)” Center is intended to focus on “proactive compliance” with federal civil rights laws.
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
DeVos addresses HBCUs at inaugural Heritage Foundation event: U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos delivered remarks at the Heritage Foundation’s inaugural Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) forum. The event was intended, according to the Foundation, to strengthen relationships between HBCUs and the military. During her remarks, the Secretary discussed actions taken by the Department to support HBCUs, including the expansion of Pell Grant eligibility, passage of the FUTURE Act (which permanently extended mandatory funding for HBCUs), and the Department’s new borrower defense rule. “We’re also reviewing, rewriting or removing onerous regulations that are impediments to HBCUs and their missions,” stated the Secretary during the event. Additionally, the Secretary discussed how her Education Freedom Scholarships proposal can also be supported by HBCU leaders, specifically mentioning that some HBCUs have supported public charter schools. The Education Freedom Scholarships proposal is a federal tax credit program that would provide scholarships to students to attend a variety of education options, including private options. A POLITICO article is here. (NOTE: A subscription to POLITICO Pro is required.)
January 23, 2020
USED opens “OPEN Center” to proactively support civil rights enforcement and compliance: USED announced the creation of a new center within the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The “Outreach, Prevention, Education and Non-discrimination (OPEN)” Center is intended to focus on “proactive compliance” with federal civil rights laws. According to the Department, the Center will “provide assistance and support to schools, educators, families, and students to ensure better awareness of the requirements and protections of federal non-discrimination laws.” In a statement, USED Secretary Betsy DeVos stated, “The OPEN Center underscores OCR’s efforts to support all schools and provide technical assistance to help them come into compliance with federal civil rights law prior to the filing of a complaint. This agency will continue supporting school districts and colleges by working with them cooperatively to ensure that every child has access to a quality education.” At this time it is unclear if the OPEN Center will seek out recipients to provide supportive technical assistance or if assistance is provided on a requested basis only. The Center will be overseen by Christian Corrigan, senior counsel within OCR. A press release from the Department is here.
January 21, 2020
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):
USDA rolls back Obama school lunch regulations, increases flexibility for vegetable selections: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a proposed rule within the Federal Register outlining the Department’s intent to reduce regulations related to the National School Lunch Program. According to the Department, the proposed rule would “add flexibility to the existing vegetable subgroups requirement.” Additionally, the Department asserts that the proposed rule would change the requirements on meat and grain requirements in school breakfasts, would allow for different menus for different age/grade groups, and would decrease the burden associated with administrative reviews. According to a report by POLITICO, the proposed rule would significantly roll back regulations implemented by the Obama Administration. A press release from the Department is here. The notice is here. A POLITICO article is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here.
January 23, 2020
SCOTUS hears arguments in Montana religious school funding case: The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The case focuses on whether a state tax credit scholarship violates a state constitutional provision banning public funds from being used for religious school tuition. It is expected the Court will issue its opinion and order later this summer. A POLITICO article is here. (NOTE: A subscription to POLITICO Pro is required.)
January 22, 2020
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On January 21, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report titled, “High School Longitudinal Study of 2009: A First Look at the Postsecondary Transcripts and Student Financial Aid Records of Fall 2009 Ninth-Graders.” The report summarizes a study of ninth grade students from 2009 through the 2016-2017 academic year. Key findings of the report include identifying that 41 percent of students had taken one or more remedial course after entering a postsecondary institution; that 91 percent of students had attempted some STEM credits; and that 70 percent received an average of $8,100 in federal Title IV aid. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On January 23, ACT published a report titled, “Supporting the Mental Health Well-Being of High School Students.” The report summarizes a study of high school students and their perception of mental health services provided in school. Key findings of the report include identifying that most students reported having access to some type of health professional at school, but almost 25 percent report not knowing if the school offered mental health services; that rural students reported less access to mental health services compared to suburban and urban students; and that students of color were less likely to report they could reach out to a teacher or counselor for mental health support, compared to their White peers. The full report is here.
- In January, the Ounce of Prevention Fund published a report titled, “Expanding High-Quality Child Care for Infants and Toddlers: Lessons from Implementation of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships in States.” The report summarizes a study of how states have leveraged federal funding for child care, including the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. Key findings of the report include identifying that states used Early Head Start grants to pay for quality improvements; that states used Early Head Start grants to increase child care provider payment rates to improve the quality of care; and that states used multiple funding streams to support the continuity of care for infants and toddlers in working families earning low incomes. The full report is here.
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On January 28 at 10:00 am, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Legislative Proposals for Paid Family and Medical Leave.” No witnesses have yet been announced. More information will be available here.
- On January 28 at 10:15 am, the House Education and Labor Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Expecting More: Addressing America’s Maternal and Infant Health Crisis.” No witnesses have yet been announced. More information will be available here.
- On January 29 at 10:00 am, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Paving the Way for Funding and Financing Infrastructure Investments.” No witnesses have yet been announced. More information will be available here.
- On January 30, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation will hold its annual conference in Washington, DC. The key note address will be provided by USED Secretary Betsy DeVos. More information and registration are 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. The Department’s request is expected to be included with the President’s 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 January 27 at 9:00 am, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will hold an event titled, “Evidence in policymaking: How is the Evidence Act changing federal, state, and local policymaking?” The event will focus on how the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policy Making Act, signed into law at the end of the 115th Congress, has been implemented thus far. The event will feature former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI). More information and registration are here.
- On January 28 at 2:00 pm, the Alliance for Excellent Education will hold an event titled, “Building a Stronger Future for Evidence-Based Improvement in ESSA Implementation.” The event will focus on the challenges and opportunities for states and districts as they implement evidence-based interventions to support school improvement, as required under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). More information and registration are here.
- On January 28 at 3:30 pm, the Shanker Institute will hold an event titled, “‘Slaying Goliath’ Discussion and Reception with Diane Ravitch and Randi Weingarten.” The event will feature a conversation between Ravitch and Weingarten, focused on Ravitch’s newest book of the same title. More information and registration are here.
- On January 30 at 9:30 am, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) will hold an event titled, “A New Course for Higher Education: Strengthening Access, Affordability, and Accountability.” The event will feature the release of a BPC report of the same titled, which will provide recommendations for a bipartisan blueprint to improving the higher education system. The event will also feature former House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA), former Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), and Mark Brown, Chief Operating Officer for the USED Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). More information and registration are here.
A bill to ensure full labor protections for graduate student workers, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
A bill to establish a grant program relating to the prevention of student and student athlete opioid misuse.
Sponsor: Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)