E-Update for the Week of July 12, 2021
- On July 9, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a Dear Colleague letter outlining the chamber’s legislative schedule for the upcoming work period.
- On July 7, USED published the approved plans for seven states and their proposed use of ARP Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funding.
- On July 6, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced several new political appointees to serve within the Office of the Secretary and other Department offices.
Biden Administration Transition:
Nominations and Personnel:
HELP to begin consideration of Lhamon, Brown, and Rodriguez nominations for USED senior roles: On July 13 at 10:00 am, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hear testimony from Catherine Lhamon, who is nominated to serve as U.S. Department of Education (USED) Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights; Elizabeth Brown, who is nominated to serve as USED General Counsel; and Roberto Rodriguez, who is nominated to serve as USED Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. The hearing will be livestreamed here.
July 13, 2021
USED announces new political appointees: USED announced several new political appointees to serve within the Office of the Secretary and other Department offices. Katy Neas, who was previously the vice president of public affairs at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), will serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS); Toby Merrill, who previously directed the Project on Predatory Student Lending, will serve as Deputy General Counsel; and Antoinette Flores, who previously served as the managing director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress (CAP), will serve as Senior Advisor for American Rescue Plan (ARP) Implementation in the Office of Postsecondary Education. A press release with a full list of new appointees is here.
July 6, 2021
Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED approves first seven state ARP ESSER plans, 33 states still awaiting decision: USED published the approved plans for seven states and their proposed use of ARP Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funding. Thus far, the Department has approved the plans of Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah. These seven states have now received both tranches of their ARP ESSER fund allocation, whereas the remaining states have only received their initial tranche of funding, which was distributed in March. Now that states have received approval of their state plans, they will now work with districts to develop their own use of funds plans, which must subsequently be submitted to the state before receiving their district-level allocation of ARP funding. States have discretion in determining how long districts have to submit these plans, with Texas requiring districts submit as early as July whereas Massachusetts will allow districts to submit in October. The other states will receive their remaining funds once the Department receives and approves their state plan. In total, 41 states have submitted their plans to the Department. A press release is here.
July 7, 2021
USED releases application for remaining ARP funds dedicated to supporting students experiencing homelessness: USED published the application for states to receive ARP funding related to supporting students experiencing homelessness. The ARP included $800 million in supplemental funding for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Fund (EHCY), of which $200 million was previously released to states in April. Once received, states will award funds to districts through formula grants based on a combination of the districts’ Title I allocation and the number of identified homeless children and youth. The funds are intended to support the identification and reengagement of students in advance of the 2021-2022 school year. A press release from the Department is here. Additional information on the ARP EHCY, including state allocations, is here.
July 6, 2021
USED seeking input on ESSER reporting requirements: USED published a comment request for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER I/ESSER II/ARP ESSER Fund) Recipient Data Collection Form, otherwise known as reporting requirements. The notice requests approval for an information collection that includes annual ESSER reporting requirements and provides the Department with more information on how state education agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) are spending their funds. In the form, the Department sets the initial reporting deadline as February 10, 2022 for the period of October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021, and asks SEAs to report how much funding they allocated for various activities, including implementation of evidence-based interventions aimed specifically at addressing lost instructional time; mental health services and supports; and early childhood education program expansion or enhancement, amongst others. The notice can be found here, and the reporting requirements can be found here.
July 2, 2021
Chairman Scott introduces bill to support opportunity youth: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the “Opening Doors for Youth Act,” which aims to address the challenges facing youth who have lost connection from both school and work. The bill would help at-risk and opportunity youth gain their first employment opportunities and support a successful transition from school to work by helping in-school youth access summer employment opportunities; providing out-of-school youth with year-round work experiences and work-readiness; and establishing or expanding youth employment programs through community-based organizations. A press release is here.
July 9, 2021
Biden highlights American Families Plan in speech to NEA: President Joe Biden delivered remarks at the 2021 National Education Association (NEA) Annual Meeting. During his address, the president highlighted the support of the NEA in helping vaccinate staff and families, as well as highlighted proposed funding within the bipartisan infrastructure framework that can be used to support schools. Specifically, President Biden noted that the agreement includes funding for broadband expansion to every American family, including rural and urban areas, and funding to replace lead pipes across the country, which currently exist in 400,000 schools and child care centers. Additionally, the president discussed his proposed American Families Plan and its proposals to offer high-quality preschool for every three- and four-year-old; to provide two years of community college; to increase the affordability of and access to child care; and to increase the maximum Pell Grant by $1,500. The president also highlighted his fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request, which included a proposed $20 billion for Title I schools. A press release is here.
July 2, 2021
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED approves newest batch of borrower defense claims: USED announced the approval of over 1,800 borrower defense claims for borrowers who attended three institutions: Westwood College, Marinello Schools of Beauty, and the Court Reporting Institute. These borrowers will receive 100 percent loan discharges, resulting in approximately $55.6 million in relief. The announcement brings total loan cancellation based on borrower defense by the Biden Administration to over $1.5 billion for nearly 92,000 borrowers. A press release is here.
July 9, 2021
Schumer expects Senate work on infrastructure, reconciliation to last into August recess: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a Dear Colleague letter outlining the chamber’s legislative schedule for the upcoming work period. In the letter, Majority Leader Schumer expressed his intention that the Senate consider both the bipartisan infrastructure legislation and a fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget resolution, which would include instructions for budget reconciliation, during the next few weeks. Majority Leader Schumer also warned that Senators should be prepared to work long nights, weekends, and into the August recess to finish this work.
July 9, 2021
Chairwoman Murray calls on USED to expand, improve student repayment and debt relief programs: Senate HELP Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to USED Secretary Miguel Cardona requesting that the Department expand student debt relief programs as part of the Department’s rulemaking processes. The Chairwoman urged the Department to improve the income driven repayment (IDR) and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) programs, as well as the borrower defense rule. Chairwoman Murray called on the Department to cap IDR payments at no more than 10 percent of a borrower’s income and to limit repayment to 20 years. She also urged the Department to ensure that lump sum and advance payments count as qualifying payments for the PSLF program, as well as to ensure that borrowers are not penalized when they consolidate their loans. The Department is currently in the process of forming a negotiated rulemaking committee to address several higher education rules and regulations. A press release is here.
July 6, 2021
House Oversight Committee seeks information on NCAA treatment of women’s athletic programs: House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) sent a letter to Mark Emmert, President of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), requesting documents and information on NCAA’s “disparate treatment” of men’s and women’s sporting events and the Association’s ongoing reviews of gender equity across its championship programs. “Reports of other disparities…have raised serious questions about how longstanding NCAA organizational decisions have perpetuated gender inequities in collegiate athletics,” the Members wrote. In the letter, the Members request a briefing from NCAA by July 21, as well as documents related to NCAA’s investments in its women’s and men’s athletics programs and activities. A press release is here.
July 7, 2021
Krishnamoorthi calls on USED to ‘root out’ sex trafficking in higher education: House Oversight and Reform Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) sent a letter to USED Secretary Miguel Cardona elevating a new report indicating that some postsecondary vocational schools are allegedly being used as cover for illegal practices. In the letter, Chairman Krishnamoorthi seeks the Department’s assistance in “root[ing] out any remaining issues” to determine “if any other federal funds are unknowingly being provided to bad actors.” Chairman Krishnamoorthi also requested information on the Department’s policies and procedures for protecting against sex trafficking in postsecondary education. A press release is here.
July 7, 2021
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On July 12 at 11:00 am, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a subcommittee markup of the FY2022 Labor/HHS appropriations bill. More information will be posted here.
- On July 13 at 10:00 am, the HELP Committee will hear testimony from multiple USED nominees, including Catherine Lhamon, who is nominated to serve as USED Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights; Elizabeth Brown, who is nominated to serve as USED General Counsel; and Roberto Rodriguez, who is nominated to serve as USED Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. The hearing will be livestreamed here.
- On July 15, the House Appropriations Committee is expected to hold a full Committee markup of the FY2022 Labor/HHS appropriations bill. No hearing announcement has been published and a time has not yet been set.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On June 13 at 4:30 pm, the Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance will hold an event titled, “Why a Racial Equity Lens is Essential to Implementing the Science of Learning and Development.” The webinar will explore how the recent backlash against anti-racism is showing up for educators and why insights from the science of learning and development on the importance of attending to issues of identity, belonging, context, and relationships in education make it critical to the work of the SoLD Alliance. More information and registration are here.
- On July 8, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published new data from its NAEP 2021 School Survey, which collects data on a monthly basis from a nationally representative sample of schools in an effort to understand how the pandemic impacted students’ learning opportunities. Key findings include identifying that in May, almost half of public school fourth- and eighth-graders enrolled for in-person learning, up three percentage points since April; that about two-thirds of the schools surveyed were open for full-time in person instruction to all students; and that students who are white, Black, Hispanic and of two or more races increased their percentage of full-time, in-person instruction, while the majority of Asian students still attended remote classes full-time. The full report is here.
- On June 7, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report titled, “Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Education.” The report highlighted four new high-priority recommendations for USED to “significantly improve agency operations.” Key recommendations include collecting and publicly reporting when districts and states commit to spending federal coronavirus relief money and how much they actually spend; implementing another rule for collecting data on restraint and seclusion that targets schools reporting very high instances; and creating a Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) rule targeting schools that report very few instances of restraint or seclusion of students. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On June 9, the School Nutrition Association (SNA) published a report titled, “Back to School 2021 Report.” The report surveyed school nutrition director members during May to June 2021 to understand the effect of offering meals at no charge, readiness to meet meal pattern mandates and associated challenges, and the financial state of school nutrition programs. Key findings include identifying that 97 percent of school meal program directors are concerned about continued pandemic supply chain disruptions; and 82 percent are concerned about low meal participation. The full report is here.
- On June 8, The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) published a report titled, “How Can Congress Improve College Affordability & Permanently Reduce Reliance on Student Debt?” The report explores strategies to help break the cycle of rising college costs and increasing student debt. Key recommendations include both doubling the maximum Pell grant and creating a new federal-state partnership; preemptively addressing the threat of economic downturns to public higher education; and using data and evidence to explicitly target persistent racial and economic equity gaps. The full report is here.
- On June 7, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) published a report titled, “The Value of Community College Short-Term Credentials.” The report assesses short-term credential programs in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Virginia’s community college systems, and issues multiple recommendations to help modernize federal postsecondary policies. Key recommendations include expanding Pell Grant eligibility to short-term education and training programs; supporting student access during and after program participation by funding community college and business partnerships; and improving data infrastructure to connect students’ academic and employment outcomes. The full report is here.
- On June 6, the Center for American Progress published a report titled, “Remote Learning and School Reopenings: What Worked and What Didn’t.” The report tracked key trends during remote learning and school reopening efforts across the United States to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted education. Key findings include identifying that by March 25, 2020, schools in all but two states, Wyoming and Montana, remained closed through the end of the school year; and that despite the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) granting of waivers to allow increased flexibility in schools’ distribution of meals, only about 15 percent of children from low-income households who qualified for free or reduced price meals were receiving them in fall of 2020. The full report is here.
A bill to increase the participation of historically underrepresented demographic groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and industry.
Sponsor: Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)