E-Update for January 29, 2016

E-Update for January 29, 2016


On January 21, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), and Senate Democrats unveiled a new college affordability legislative package, entitled the Reducing Educational Debt (RED) Act. The RED Act contains three main components of legislation: (1) provides tuition-free community college, creating a partnership between states and the federal government to help waive tuition fees; (2) makes student loan refinancing available to eligible federal student loan borrowers, and the ability for private loans to be refinanced into the federal program; and (3) indexes the Pell Grant program to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) beyond 2017, with mandatory funding to sustain its value in the future. A press release, including details of all of the provisions and a video of the announcement, is available here.

U.S Congress

House Labor-HHS Subcommittee Announces Deadline for FY2017 Member  Requests: The Chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Activities (Labor-HHS) issued a Dear Colleague letter announcing the deadline for members of Congress to submit comments to the Subcommittee for consideration in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Labor-HHS Appropriations bill. The member submission period will open up on February 9 and members must submit requests by March 24.
January 27, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander Celebrates National School Choice Week: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) issued statements recognizing National School Choice Week. In the statements, they noted the importance of maintaining a diversity of school options, such as charter schools, magnet schools, and private schools. They also highlighted the expanded support for charter schools in the recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and the House’s recent renewal of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.
January 28, 2016

Senate Democrats Launch #InTheRed Campaign: In addition to unveiling the RED Act, Senate Democrats also announced the creation of the #InTheRed Campaign. Senate Democrats will travel to college campuses across the country to meet with students and families who are struggling with student loan debt. The goal of the campaign is to underscore the importance of Congress acting quickly to help reduce the burden of student loan debt on American families.
January 21, 2016

Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray Seeks Student Debt Stories: Ranking Member Patty Murray is looking for stories from students and families about their struggles with the cost of college and student loan debt, in order to highlight the importance of college affordability. To help collect these stories, she created an online tool encouraging the public to weigh in and share their experiences. Some stories may be broadcast on Ranking Member Murray’s social media or website, to bring national attention to the issue.
January 26, 2016


USED Clarifies ESSA Transition Process:
The U.S. Department of Education (USED) released a Dear Colleague letter providing additional information about the ESSA implementation and transition process.  In follow up to the letter that the Department released in December addressing transition questions for the 2015-2016 school year, the letter released yesterday provides more clarity around the transition to ESSA for the 2016-2017 school year.  This additional guidance is particularly worth highlighting as current waiver flexibility will end on August 1, 2016 – just before the start of the 2016-2017 school year.  Specifically, the letter provides guidance regarding use of formula funding, school and local educational agency (LEA) interventions and supports, interventions for English learners, and teacher effectiveness and equitable distribution.
January 28, 2016

 James Cole Jr. to Replace Acting Secretary John King Jr. as Deputy Secretary: USED announced that current General Counsel to the Department James Cole Jr. will assume the duties of Acting Deputy Secretary, the position previously held by current Acting Secretary of Education John King Jr. Cole will manage USED’s operations in addition to leading its work on President Obama’s My Brothers Keeper Initiative. Cole has served on the board of directors for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, in addition to working with youth leadership development and mentorship programs in New York City and Chicago.
January 28, 2016


Due to inclement weather, the House Education and the Workforce Committee postponed their hearing entitled “Expanding Educational Opportunity Through School Choice.” The hearing, which was set to take place on January 26, will now take place on February 3 at 10:00 a.m. in room HVC-210 Capitol Visitor Center. Additional Information, including live webcast of the hearing, will be available here.

On February 2 at 10:00 a.m. in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will host a hearing entitled “U.S. Department of Education: Investigation of the CIO.” The purpose of the hearing will be to review the state and security of the Department’s information systems and to examine the conduct of the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Danny Harris. Acting Secretary King is scheduled to testify.  Additional information, including live webcast of the hearing, is available here.

New Legislation

H.RES.592 : Supporting the contributions of Catholic schools.
Sponsor: Rep Lipinski, Daniel [IL-3] (introduced 1/28/2016)      Cosponsors (27)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

S.2463 : Strengthening Forgiveness for Public Servants Act
Sponsor: Sen Blumenthal, Richard [CT] (introduced 1/21/2016)      Cosponsors (1)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

S.2471 : A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to improve and expand Coverdell education savings accounts.
Sponsor: Sen Kirk, Mark Steven [IL] (introduced 1/28/2016)      Cosponsors (3)
Committees: Senate Finance


Examining Quality Across the Preschool-to-Third-Grade Continuum: This report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) examines whether young children in early childhood education programs and early elementary classrooms are receiving the support and quality experiences necessary to establish children’s success as they transition into their formal education and beyond.  The report was co-authored by EducationCounsel’s Danielle Ewen.

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