E-Update for the Week of July 6, 2020
- On July 1, the House passed H.R.2, the “Moving Forward Act,” which is a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package. The bill was adopted on a largely partisan 233-188 vote. As part of the package, the bill includes $130 billion for school construction as part of the “Rebuild and Reopen America’s Schools Act.”
- On June 30, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the “Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA).” The bill would provide $430 billion to address the national child care and education crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
- On June 30, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion on the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The case revolved around the exclusion of private, religious schools from being included within a state voucher program.
Coronavirus (as related to education issues):
Note that all information related to the coronavirus (or COVID-19) is up to date as of 3:00 pm on July 2, 2020. Given the fast-moving nature of congressional and Administrative actions to address the growing pandemic, we will do our best to update this information as quickly as possible.
Senate Democrats propose $430 billion child care, education relief package: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the “Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA).” The bill would provide $430 billion to address the national child care and education crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This bill is considered Senate Democrats’ marker bill for where they hope to begin negotiations on a future pandemic relief bill. The bill includes $50 billion for a Child Care Stabilization Fund; $345 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund, which includes $175 billion for K-12 schools, $132 billion for higher education, and $33 billion for governors to support educational services; $12.9 billion for services to communities disproportionately impacted by the crisis, of which over $11 billion which would be provided through Title I; $12 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); $4 billion for the E-Rate program; and $4 billion for career and technical education, among other funding. A press release is here. A fact sheet is here. The bill is here. A statement from Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) is here.
According to the Democratic press release, the CCCERA would also prevent U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos from “restricting student access to emergency financial aid, ensuring that all eligible students can access the aid, including DACA recipients and undocumented students in need of financial assistance.” Additionally, the bill “overturns Secretary DeVos’ incorrect interpretation of the “equitable services” requirement and requires school districts to calculate the equitable services set-aside based on the number of students from low-income families in private schools,” according to the Democratic fact sheet.
June 30, 2020
HELP Committee returns to exploring safe school reopening needs: The Senate HELP Committee held a full Committee hearing titled, “COVID-19: Update on Progress Toward Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School.” The hearing featured testimony from Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Dr. Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); and Dr. Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). All witnesses reappeared in front of the Committee and provided updates to their testimony from an earlier Committee hearing. Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) emphasized the need to reopen schools and colleges so that students can return to school and underscored the need to do so safely. Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) called for a more detailed plan from the Administration, which should outline their approach to testing, vaccine development and distribution, and support of states. Further, the Ranking Member called on the Senate to consider and adopt an additional pandemic relief package to provide additional funding to states and schools. A recording of the hearing is here.
June 30, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED launches rural high school, competency-based education competition: USED Secretary DeVos announced a $600,000 competition to advance student-centered technology for rural high schools. The “Rural Tech Project” would provide competitive grants to high schools and districts to develop competency-based distance learning programs. “As I’ve said many times, a student’s education shouldn’t be arbitrarily limited by what’s available inside their brick-and-mortar classroom, and that’s never been more apparent than now as the coronavirus pandemic has made clear the need for more innovation to ensure all students have access to robust educational options,” stated the Secretary. Applications must be submitted by October 8, 2020. Up to five finalists will receive an equal share of the initial $500,000, with the final $100,00 being awarded to one awardee in 2023. A press release is here.
June 30, 2020
House adopts $1.5 trillion infrastructure package, includes $130 billion for schools: The House passed H.R.2, the “Moving Forward Act,” which is a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package. The bill was adopted on a largely partisan 233-188 vote. As part of the package, the bill includes $130 billion for school construction as part of the “Rebuild and Reopen America’s Schools Act.” The bill also includes $10 billion in funding to improve and modify child care facilities. The bill is unlikely to move in the Senate. A fact sheet on the Rebuild and Reopen America’s Schools Act is here. A statement from House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here.
July 1, 2020
U.S. Department of Education:
USED approves six more states, all 50 states now have CTE plans approved: USED Secretary DeVos announced the approval of the final wave of states’ Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) state plans. The Secretary announced that six more states have been approved, including Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, and West Virginia. A press release is here, including an overview of the approved states’ plans.
Relatedly, on June 22, USED Secretary DeVos announced the approval of the state plans for Arkansas, Mississippi, Nevada, and Tennessee. A press release is here.
June 26 and June 30, 2020
Federal judge orders Massachusetts Corinthian Colleges students’ loans discharged: A federal judge ordered that USED Secretary DeVos must cancel all the student loans held by Massachusetts borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges. The students requested their loans be canceled under the borrower defense program. This is the first time a federal court has ordered the discharge of student loans under the borrower defense program. A POLITICO article is here. (NOTE: A subscription to POLITICO Pro is required).
June 26, 2020
U.S. Supreme Court
SCOTUS rules that Montana ban on religious school vouchers unconstitutional: The Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion on the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The case revolved around the exclusion of private, religious schools from being included within a state voucher program. The 5-4 opinion, hailed by school voucher program advocates, allows for state voucher programs to include private, religious schools. “The application of the no-aid provision discriminated against religious schools and the families whose children attend or hope to attend them in violation of the Free Exercise Clause,” wrote the Court. The opinion is here.
A statement from the White House is here. A statement from USED Secretary DeVos is here. A statement from House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here. A statement from Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here. A statement from Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) is here.
June 30, 2020
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On June 25, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report titled, “Opportunities to Improve Federal Response and Recovery Efforts.” The report outlines how the federal government has spent funds appropriated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.” Key findings of the report include identifying that USED has awarded nearly all of the $6.3 billion designed for emergency student aid; USED has obligated 89 percent of the Education Stabilization Fund; but that only $83 million of the $17 billion in the Education Stabilization Fund that went directly to states through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Education Relief Fund has been expended. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On July 1, the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) published a report titled, “Learning as We Go: Principles for Effective Assessment During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The report summarizes findings from a panel of assessment experts on diagnostic assessments. Key recommendations of the report include identifying that districts and schools should first determine what information will be needed to guide instructional decisions and resource allocations this fall; that districts and schools should audit their existing assessments to determine if they capture such information; and that information beyond test scores should be captured, such as access to high-quality curricula, access to devices, and access to reliable internet. The full report is here.
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On July 7 at 12:00 pm, the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment will hold a hearing titled, ““A Major Test: Examining the Impact of COVID-19 on the Future of Higher Education.” No witnesses have yet to be announced. More information and a webcast of the hearing will be
- On July 7 at 5:00 pm, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a markup of its fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations bill. The bill text has not yet been released. It is expected the House Appropriations Committee will begin full Committee markups the week of July 16. More information on the July 7 markup is here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On July 21 at 3:00 pm, the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) and EducationCounsel will hold an event titled, “Connecting K-12 and Higher Education Through the Use of Performance Assessments.” The webinar will address why and how to align K-12 performance assessment systems for use in higher education and will focus on why such alignment is critical to support access to higher education for groups historically underrepresented in institutions of higher education. The webinar is part of the Reimagining College Access (RCA) initiative. More information and registration are here.
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide student loan deferment for dislocated military spouses, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY)
A bill to refinance Federal and private student loans, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
A bill to support children with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sponsor: Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)
A bill to ensure that institutions of higher education take steps to protect their college athletes from COVID-19, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
The Child Care and Education Relief Act
A bill to support education and child care during the COVID-19 public health emergency, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
A bill to refinance Federal and private student loans, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)