E-Update for the Week of January 31, 2022
- On January 27, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Miguel Cardona delivered a speech outlining his priorities for the Department, as well as his priorities for “continued recovery through the pandemic and improving America’s education system more broadly.”
- On January 26, House Democrats released the bill text of the America Competes Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521), which aims to boost the nation’s economic competitiveness.
- On January 24, the Supreme Court agreed to consolidate and hear two cases, both initiated by the Students for Fair Admission (SFFA), that could impact how colleges and universities consider race in their admissions process.
Budget & Appropriations
Senate Budget Committee set to hear from Nominees for OMB Director and Deputy Director: The Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on February 1 at 2:30 pm to hear from Shalanda Young, who is nominated to serve as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Nani Coloretti, who is nominated to serve as Deputy Director of OMB. Young has served as Acting Director of OMB since being confirmed as Deputy Director by the Senate in a bipartisan 63-37 vote on March 23, 2021. Previously, Young served as Clerk and Staff Director for the House Appropriations Committee. Coloretti is currently a Senior Vice President at the Urban Institute. Coloretti’s federal government service includes serving previously as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Assistant Secretary for Management and Acting Chief Financial Officer of U.S. Department of the Treasury and Acting Chief Operating Officer of the CFPB.
February 1, 2022
Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED releases tool to support transparency and effective use of ARP funds: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) and its technical assistance partner the National Comprehensive Center released a new resource to help states share their progress deploying the $122 billion American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funds. The ARP Partnership, Assistance, Transformation, and Heightened Support (ARP PATHS) tool “invites states to describe the strategies they are implementing” to elevate bright spots and promising practices. The tool also includes a number of considerations for states as they build capacity and communicate their work to districts and the public.
January 28, 2022
USED Secretary Miguel Cardona lays out his vision for education in America: USED Secretary Miguel Cardona delivered a speech outlining his priorities for the Department, as well as his priorities for “continued recovery through the pandemic and improving America’s education system more broadly.” The Secretary emphasized that during this critical time, “simply reopening schools is just the baseline,” as students need to make up for lost time. Secretary Cardona urged the field to “turn crisis into opportunity” by leveraging the ongoing pandemic response and recovery as a chance to “reset” and “level up” our education systems from pre-kindergarten through adult education. Additionally, the Secretary spoke on four priority areas that he sees for the Department, including: (1) supporting students through pandemic response and recovery; (2) boldly addressing opportunity and achievement gaps; (3) making higher education more inclusive and affordable; and (4) ensuring pathways through higher education lead to successful careers. Secretary Cardona’s speech likely provides a preview for federal education investments that will be proposed in the fiscal year (FY) 2023 President’s budget request.
January 27, 2022
AASA, the School Superintendents Association, requests USED consider how it may extend the deadline to use ARP funds: AASA, the School Superintendents Association, led a coalition letter to USED Secretary Cardona requesting the Department “expeditiously consider how it can extend the timeline school districts have to expend funding for school construction and capital projects under the American Rescue Plan through December 2026.” Though ARP mandates that schools obligate their federal funding by September 2024, AASA and others say that districts are struggling to get estimates for their construction-related projects due to larger issues outside of districts’ control, such as limited contractor availability and supply chain disruptions. Additionally, according to the letter, “many districts were expecting to receive standalone school facilities funding through either the Build Back Better Act or the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that unfortunately did not come to fruition, many are now eager to find ways to utilize the American Rescue Plan funds for significant and sorely needed school facility and renovation projects. Unfortunately, the ability to utilize ARP funds for these facility upgrades under the current deadline will be nearly impossible.”
January 25, 2022
USED makes districts plans for ARP funding available: USED is making publicly available district plans for use of ARP ESSER funding. According to the Department, “highlights from across the country demonstrate the efforts of State Educational Agencies (SEAs) and districts to address the needs of their schools with ventilation improvements, staff hiring and retention, mental health services, high-dosage tutoring programs, after-school and summer learning partnerships, and more.”
January 21, 2022
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED issues a notice requesting comments for proposed priorities, requirements, and definitions for the Project Prevent Grant Program: USED proposes specific priorities and requirements designed to direct funds toward local educational agencies (LEAs) impacted by community violence and to expand the capacity of LEAs to implement community and school-based strategies to help prevent community violence and mitigate the impacts of exposure to community violence. The Department proposes the following three priorities for this program: 1) Addressing the Impacts of Community Violence; 2) Established Partnership with a Local Community-Based Organization; and 3) Supporting Children and Youth from Low-Income Backgrounds. The notice also includes several proposed requirements for the program, including a description of the severity and magnitude of the problem; identification of schools to be served by the proposed project; collaboration and coordination with community-based organizations; and evidence-based, culturally competent, and developmentally appropriate programs and practices, amongst others. Lastly, the notice includes a proposed definition for “community violence.” Comments will be accepted until on or about February 28. The notice is here.
January 26, 2022
USED scraps planned requirement for Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement: USED announced that borrower completion of the Annual Student Loan Acknowledgment prior to disbursement will not be required for the 2022–23 award year and beyond. As background, the Department had planned to roll out the requirement in November 2019, but it was delayed due to the pandemic. The Annual Student Loan Acknowledgment process would have required student and parent borrowers to view how much they currently owe in federal student loans, and to acknowledge that they have seen this amount before a school could make the first disbursement of the first Direct Loan that a student or parent borrower receives for each new award year. The information which was planned to be included in the Annual Student Loan Acknowledgment will continue to be available on StudentAid.gov, but federal student loan borrowers will not be required to sign an acknowledgment about their total student debt each year before taking out new loans.
January 21, 2022
Democrats urge Biden to release legal memo on student debt cancellation: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and dozens of other Democratic Members wrote a letter on January 26 to President Joe Biden asking him to direct USED to “publicly release the memo outlining [the Department’s] legal authority to broadly cancel federal student loan debt and immediately cancel up to $50,000 of student loan debt per borrower.” According to the lawmakers, doing so is “crucial to making a meaningful difference in the lives of current students, borrowers, and their families.” The Members also wrote that “it has been widely reported that the Department has had this memo since April 5, 2021 after being directed to draft it.”
January 26, 2022
Foxx publishes op-ed in support of school choice: House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) published an op-ed in The Hill expressing her support for school choice, particularly in the context of continued recovery and response from the pandemic. In the piece, Ranking Member Foxx criticizes teachers unions and bureaucrats, who she claim try to “maintain a tight monopoly on K-12 education.” Highlighting a recent EdChoice poll that found between 74 to 84 percent of parents support school-choice policies, Ranking Member Foxx called choice “the biggest weapon we have against the education bureaucracy.”
January 27, 2022
America Competes Act of 2022 is released; Likely to be considered in the House in coming week(s): House Democrats released the bill text of the America Competes Act of 2022(H.R. 4521), which aims to boost the nation’s economic competitiveness. Specifically, the bill includes a comprehensive reauthorization of the National Science Foundation, which includes programs aimed at supporting the next generation of diverse STEM teachers, researchers, scientists, and professionals. The bill also promotes both gender and racial diversity in STEM. The National Apprenticeship Act, which would expand registered apprenticeship programs, is included. Additionally, the bill would create new competitive grant programs to support equitable access to postsecondary STEM pathways and to support equitable access to computer science education for elementary schools and secondary students. The bill also includes provisions aimed at increasing support for workforce development initiatives. A section by section summary of the bill and a fact sheet drafted by the House Education and Labor Committee were released.
In response to the bill, Republican House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) released a statement saying that, “The last thing America needs right now is another legislative masquerade orchestrated by House Democrats – and yet, that’s exactly what we’ve received. With over 3,000 pages of misplaced priorities, this bill is nothing more than a conduit for more bureaucratic bloat from this administration.” Of note, the Senate passed its plan to increase American competitiveness with the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260), on a 68-32 vote last year.
January 26, 2022
Pelosi provides an update on upcoming legislative agenda for the House: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a Dear Colleague letter outlining the chamber’s upcoming agenda. In the letter, Speaker Pelosi emphasized the need for the House to pass a “strong omnibus” that will “address critical priorities for our country, including for our national security and for communities at home.” The letter also identified the America Competes Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521) for potential action, which, according to Speaker Pelosi, will “supercharge our investment in chips, strengthen our supply chain and transform our research capacity, plus many other key provisions.”
January 21, 2022
U.S. Supreme Court:
Supreme Court agrees to hear two affirmative action appeals: The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consolidate and hear two cases, both initiated by the Students for Fair Admission (SFFA), that could affect how colleges and universities consider race and ethnicity in their admissions process. Lower federal courts in the cases that involve challenges to Harvard University’s and University of North Carolina’s consideration of race in admissions have each upheld the challenged practices. In addition to appealing those fact-based lower court decisions, SFFA seeks to have the Court overturn over 40 years of precedent and to categorically eliminate any consideration of race and ethnicity in higher education admissions decisions. Such a broad ruling could have implications far beyond the admissions realm.
January 24, 2022
Upcoming Events (Congress & Administration):
- On February 1 at 2:30 pm, the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a hearing on expanding broadband access, focusing on the Commerce Department’s broadband programs in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. More information about the hearing is here.
- On February 1 at 2:30 pm, the Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing to consider the nominations of Shalanda Young, who is nominated to serve as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Nani Coloretti, who is nominated to serve as Deputy Director of OMB. The hearing will be livestreamed here.
- On February 3 at 2:00 pm, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) will hold an event titled, “National Call to Action.” Ahead the ACF’s release of an “Equity in Action: Prioritizing and Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Information Memorandum,” the webinar will discuss the Biden Administration’s actions to advance racial equity. More information and registration are here.
- On February 23 and 24, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) will hold a virtual meeting. NACIQI advises USED on the establishment and enforcement of the standards of accrediting agencies or associations. Agenda items include an administration policy update from USED Undersecretary James Kvaal, and a discussion of the Department’s Accreditation Dashboard. More information and registration are here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On February 1 at 3:00 pm, ACT will hold an event titled, “Disrupted Learning: What We Know and How to Move Ahead.” The webinar will discuss the effects of disrupted learning during the pandemic, and will delve into data-driven insights regarding pandemic-related score declines and overall education trends. More information and registration are here.
- On February 1 at 2:00 pm, the Hunt Institute will hold an event titled, “Early Efforts: Aligning State Child Care Subsidy Systems with the True Cost of Quality.” The webinar will examine how New Mexico is realigning its systems to ensure high-quality care. More information and registration are here.
- On February 2 at 2:00 pm, EducationWeek will hold an event titled, “Examining the Evidence: Supports to Promote Teacher Well-Being.” The webinar will discuss what the research evidence tells us about structural supports that enable teacher well-being. More information and registration are here.
- On February 2 at 4:30 pm, the American Bar Association will hold an event titled, “Race, Reform & Retrenchment Revisited.” The webinar will examine how critical race theory has been “increasingly misrepresented in an effort to stifle racial justice and gender equity.” More information and registration are here.
Latest from EducationCounsel:
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Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On January 25, the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) published a report titled, “Implementing a Student-Level Data Network (Part III): Insights from Financial Aid Experts.” The report is the third brief in a series focused on supporting the modernization of our postsecondary data infrastructure. IHEP and RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, coordinated expert convenings to explore how to build and maintain a federal student-level data network (SLDN), which would streamline data reporting and answer key questions about students’ postsecondary outcomes. The report offers insights on data elements, institutional burden, timing of reporting, and use of data. The full report is here.
- On January 25, New Leaders published a report titled, “All Hands on Deck: School Principals Navigate School Reopenings.” The report examines the challenges school leaders are facing during the pandemic. More specifically, the report details the “herculean effort” on the part of principals that was required to reopen schools safely. Ultimately, the report concludes that the work is “far from over,” and calls for continued investments in school leaders to support on-going pandemic response and recovery. The full report is here.
- On January 25, AASA, the School Superintendents Association, released the third installment in its series of Learning Recovery & Redesign tools titled, “Major Strategies Self-Assessment Tool III.” All of AASA’s tools are focused on helping district leaders reflect on and improve their recovery plans – especially, but not limited to, the use of ARP ESSER funds. The third tool aims to support districts specifically in their major strategies for recovery and/or redesign. The tool is here.
- On December 8, AASA released the second installment in the series titled, “Priorities & Self-Assessment Tool II.” The second tool aims to support districts in focusing on what’s in their recovery plans (including their ESSER spending plans), both in a short-term response to the immediate needs stemming from the pandemic, and as part of a long-term strategy to advance the education vision AASA laid out in its Learning 2025 framework. The tool is here.
- On November 16, AASA released its first installment in the series titled, “Learning Recovery and Redesign Guidance.” The resource, which is designed to help school districts reflect on their recovery and redesign plans, encourages districts to use their ARP ESSER funds to both meet immediate needs while redesigning toward a more student-centered, equity-focused, and future-driven approach. The guidance also includes a self-assessment tool to help districts analyze their recovery and redesign plans, including initial decisions about spending ESSER funds. The guidance is here.
- On January 27, Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce published a report titled, “The Colleges Where Low-Income Students Get the Highest ROI.” The report found that overall, students with low income get the best return on investments (ROI) from attending public institutions, where costs are generally lower. Among institutions that primarily award bachelor’s degrees, public institutions generally lead to the highest ROI for low-income students during a 40-year timeframe, followed by private nonprofit institutions and for-profit colleges. The ROI for low-income students follows a similar pattern at colleges that primarily grant associate’s degrees and certificates, with the highest returns from public institutions, followed by private nonprofit and for-profit institutions. The full report is here.
- On January 27, the American Federation for Teachers (AFT) released findings from a national survey of public school parent voters. The report found that 78 percent of parents expressed satisfaction with their children’s schools’ overall handling of the pandemic, including 82 percent of urban parents, 77 percent of Black parents and 74 percent of Hispanic parents. Additionally, according to the survey, 72 percent of parents say that the public school(s) their children attend provide them with an excellent or good quality education. Only 22 percent of parents believe that schools waited too long before resuming in-person instruction, while 48 percent feel that the school struck a good balance between safety and learning. The full report is here.
- On January 27, Third Way released a report titled, “Out With the Old, In With the New: Rating Higher Ed by Economic Mobility.” The report examines which schools enroll the highest proportion of students from low- and moderate-income backgrounds and provide them with a strong return on their educational investment. The report proposes a new rating system called the Economic Mobility Index (EMI). The full report is here.
- On January 28, the Education Trust released a new resource titled, “FundEd: State Policy Analysis,” which examines K-12 school funding policies for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The tool includes summaries of each state’s education funding policy broken down by specific issue areas, including local revenue, student characteristics, and district characteristics. The resource is here.
A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to award grants to eligible entities to establish, expand, or support school-based mentoring programs to assist at-risk middle school students with the transition from middle school to high school.
Sponsor: Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to prevent certain alcohol and substance misuse.
Sponsor: Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM)
The ‘‘America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength Act of 2022’’ or the ‘‘America COMPETES Act of 2022.’’