E-Update for June 25, 2014

E-Update for June 25, 2014

E-Update for June 25, 2014



The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may take formal action to update the E-rate program next month, but there does not yet appear to be agreement among a majority of the commissioners about the program’s future focus and requirements, including ensuring appropriate near- and long-term funding levels.  If Chairman Wheeler is unable to secure the votes of two other commissioners by the next commission open meeting (July 11), the agency will not be able to act on the rulemaking until at least August.  Further delays beyond August could threaten the FCC’s ability to update the program in time to make changes for funding year 2015 and may lead to inaction for months.

If the Commission does act next month, their decision will represent the culmination of a multipart rulemaking launched by the agency in July 2013, with the goal of refocusing the program on the delivery of high capacity broadband to all classrooms, streamlining administration of the initiative, and examining the program’s funding needs.  Mr. Wheeler has indicated that one of his primary goals for the program’s retooling is closing the WiFi gap.  On June 6, Wheeler wrote a WiFi-focused blog post, which noted that nearly 60% of schools in America lack sufficient Wi-Fi capability. He said solving this challenge must be a national priority.

With this goal in mind, the Chairman has proposed to set aside at least $1 billion for each of the next five funding years for internal connections projects.  In the near term, funding for this set aside would be derived using the $2 billion roll over funding identified by the Commission earlier this year. Out year funding would most likely be derived – at least in part – from existing program investments that are likely to be phased out over time (such as voice) and supplemented by other sources of support, but the chairman has also pledged to examine the funding cap in 2015 and make a swift decision about raising it to meet program needs.  The agency is also expected to take smaller, but important, steps to support build-out, such as permitting schools to begin inside wiring and other construction beginning in May or June to coincide with the end of the school year, rather than only covering expenses beginning on July 1 of each year.  In addition to these WiFi focused changes, the FCC will also likely address other issues raised during the rulemaking, including streamlining the application process, promoting greater transparency, and improving USAC’s ability to serve beneficiaries.

Competitive Grant Priorities

On June 24, the Department of Education published a notice in the Federal Register inviting public comments on proposed priorities for all future discretionary grant competitions. The fifteen proposed priorities build on priorities adopted by the Department in 2010 and address a number of policy areas, from early learning to higher education. The Secretary has said these priorities “reflect the lessons learned from implementing discretionary grant programs, as well as our current policy objectives, and emerging needs in education.” Public comments will be accepted until July 24. The Department released a full draft of the proposed priorities for public review.

EducationCounsel News

On June 24 and 25, the Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium (the “Consortium”) held its second meeting of 2014 in Washington, D.C. The 16 members of the Consortium discussed ways to continue development and expansion of its work in federal policy, national leadership, and building a community of practice. Meetings with Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and senior U.S. Department of Education leaders, including Chief of Staff Emma Vadehra, were held as part of efforts to create an ongoing dialogue between federal policymakers and the districts about shared goals and ideas for collaboration. Members also engaged in discussions with representatives from the Bush Center, New Leaders, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Association of Elementary School Principals, and America Achieves.

EducationCounsel published a legal update on Vergara v. California: California Court Invalidates State Tenure, Dismissal, and Last-in-First-Out Statutes. This update provides a summary and analysis of the Vergara decision, its history and context, and key questions to consider.  State policymakers may consider proactively engaging with their legal counsel on the key questions to discuss potential implications for their specific context. The legal update can be found on the Education Counsel website under K-12 publications.

EducationCounsel published a working draft entitled “State Transitions to College- and Career-Ready Assessments: A Policymaker’s Guide to Decisions Regarding High-Stakes Student Assessments.” The purpose of this guide is to support state efforts to develop educationally and legally sound policies associated with their current, or planned, high stakes testing regimes for graduation and/or grade promotion. The working draft can be found on the EducationCounsel website under K-12 publications.

EducationCounsel’s Art Coleman and Terri Taylor contributed a chapter entitled “Emphasis Added: Fisher v. University of Texas and its Practical Implications for Institutions of Higher Education” to a new book published by the Century Foundation and Lumina Foundation, The Future of Affirmative Action (released June 17).  Edited by Richard Kahlenberg, the volume draws from a diverse group of authors, including college presidents, chancellors, and administrators, as well as academics, lawyers, and economists. Coleman and Taylor’s chapter can be found on the EducationCounsel website under Higher Education publications.


The Consortium for Higher Education Tax Reform, in conjunction with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, hosted a panel discussion entitled, “A Shared Agenda for ReformMaking Higher Education Tax Breaks Work for Students and Families.” The event was held on Tuesday, June 24 at 1pm at the New America Foundation. Speakers included Rachel Fishman (Education Policy Program Policy Analyst, New America), Lily Batchelder (Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director, National Economic Council), Michael Dannenberg (Director of Higher Education and Education Finance Policy, The Education Trust), Steve Holt (Principal, HoltSolutions), Rory O’Sullivan (Deputy Director, Young Invincibles), Stephen Burd (Education Policy Program Senior Policy Analyst, New America), and Libby Nelson (Education Reporter, Vox).

The Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and the Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies hosted a joint hearing entitled “How Data Mining Threatens Student Privacy” on Tuesday, June 25 at 11am in Cannon HOB 311. The witness list included: Joel R. Reidenberg (Chair and Professor of Law, Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham University School of Law), Mark MacCarthy (Vice President of Public Policy, Software and Information Industry Association), Joyce Popp (Chief Information Officer, Idaho State Department of Education), and Chris Beck (Vice President of Policy and Strategic Initiative, Electric Infrastructure Security Council).

On June 23, the White House Council on Women and Girls, with the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Center for American Progress (CAP), hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Working Families at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Speakers included Tina Tchen (Executive Director, White House Council on Women and Girls), Maureen Conway (Executive Director, Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program), Victoria Budson (Executive Director, Harvard Kennedy School of Government Women and Public Policy Program), and Sunil Kumar (Dean, University of Chicago Booth School of Business).

U.S Department of Education

U.S. Department of Education Announces Action to Help Colleges Keep Campuses SafeThe Obama Administration announced new steps to address growing concerns about sexual violence on college campuses by requiring institutions of higher education to comply with new campus safety and security related requirements aimed at curbing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. The proposed rule would implement changes to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 signed by President Obama in March of last year.
June 19, 2014

U.S. Department of Education Heightens Oversight of Corinthian Colleges: The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) office has placed Corinthian Colleges Inc. on an increased level of financial oversight after the company failed to address concerns about its practices, including falsifying job placement data used in marketing claims to prospective students and allegations of altered grades and attendance. Corinthian is the parent company of the Everest Institute, Everest College, WyoTech and Herald brands, which enroll 72,000 students nationwide who receive $1.4 billion in federal financial aid money annually.
June 19, 2014

Congressional Headlines

Appropriations Bill Stalls in Subcommittee: The Senate Appropriations Committee had yet to schedule a markup for this year’s labor, health and education spending bill when it posted last Friday’s weekly schedule. It has almost been two weeks since the committee marked up the bill in subcommittee.
POLITICO Morning Education
June 23, 2014

Senate Agrees to Consider Workforce Innovation and Opportunity ActSenate coauthors of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) today announced the Senate has reached agreement to consider the bill to improve the nation’s workforce development system and said it could be voted on as early as next week. The bill, which was introduced by a bipartisan group of leaders from the House and Senate, would improve federal workforce development laws that have been overdue for reauthorization for over a decade.
June 20, 2014

Senators Alexander, Bennet Would cut 100-Question Student Aid Form to 2 QuestionsSenators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) today released a draft bill to simplify the process of applying for and receiving federal financial aid to attend college, allow year-round use of Pell Grants, discourage over-borrowing and simplify repayments. The bill would reduce to a single postcard—called the “Student Aid Short Form”—the questions any student must answer to apply for federal financial aid and inform high school students in their junior year of the amount they’ll receive in federal aid to help pay for college. It would also address the problem of some students borrowing too much money, and simplify the options students have to repay their federal loans. The act also streamlines federal grant and loan programs to better serve more students more effectively.
June 20, 2014

Harkin, Hagan Intoduce Reverse Transfer Bill to Help Boost Degree Attainment: Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) announced that they have introduced the Correctly Recognizing Educational Achievements to Empower (CREATE) Graduates Act, legislation that helps young people receive the degrees they have earned by encouraging states to establish or expand “reverse transfer” programs. These programs allow four-year colleges and universities to transfer credits back to a community college where a student was originally enrolled.
June 20, 2014

New Legislation

H.R.4897 : To require the Secretary of Education to complete a data analysis on the impact of the proposed rule on gainful employment prior to issuing a final rule on gainful employment.
Sponsor: Rep Salmon, Matt [AZ-5] (introduced 6/18/2014)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce
Latest Major Action: 6/18/2014 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

H.R.4902 : To improve college affordability.
Sponsor: Rep Sanchez, Loretta [CA-46] (introduced 6/19/2014)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce
Latest Major Action: 6/19/2014 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

H.R.4913 : To reauthorize the Enhancing Education Through Technology Act of 2001.
Sponsor: Rep Roybal-Allard, Lucille [CA-40] (introduced 6/19/2014)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce
Latest Major Action: 6/19/2014 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

H.R.4929 : To establish a grant program for career education in computer science.
Sponsor: Rep Cardenas, Tony [CA-29] (introduced 6/20/2014)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce
Latest Major Action: 6/20/2014 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce

S.2506 : A bill to award grants to States to support efforts at institutions of higher education to increase degree attainment, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Hagan, Kay [NC] (introduced 6/19/2014)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Major Action: 6/19/2014 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

National and State Headlines

Tennessee Quits PARCC, Leaving 15 MembersIn a letter to PARCC CEO Laura Slover last month, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman and Fielding Rolston, the chairman of the state board of education, said the decision was sparked by a new law, House Bill 1549, which had recently been signed by the governor. The law doesn’t actually dictate that Tennessee quit PARCC, but it does require the state to use its current assessment, the TCAP, in the 2014-15 school year.
Education Week
June 20, 2014

Teacher Evaluation Changes Could Cost New York a Slice of its Race to the Top Grant: New York state could lose nearly $300 million in Race to the Top funds if the state follows through on a proposal to put off incorporating test scores from common-core-aligned exams in teacher evaluation.
Education Week
June 18, 2014

Governor Plans to Cut Ties to Common Core in LouisianaGov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said Wednesday that he would seek to end his state’s enactment of the Common Core educational guidelines and plans to administer a test tied to them, but other officials immediately said that the governor had overstepped his authority and vowed to resist his moves.
The New York Times
June 18, 2014


A framework for rethinking state education accountability and support from birth through high schoolThis paper first lays out its proposed framework for how education accountability and support systems could work. It then discusses existing accountability and support systems in early learning and K–12, identifying specific ways existing systems need to be improved. It concludes by identifying steps to begin improving and unifying state education accountability and support systems.
June 3, 2014

Staying on target for college: How innovation can improve the pipeline to higher education:Students are not entitled to a college education, and the pathway to college is designed to sort students according to their ability to succeed academically. But when procedural hurdles and information problems trip up qualified students, society misses out on the benefits of educated citizens. How can we increase the chances that students will not miss out on purely procedural grounds? This study argues that policymakers and entrepreneurs should take a page from other sectors of public policy and the economy, where innovation has lowered transaction costs and empowered consumers to make good choices. Advances in technology and data collection have made it easier to inform individuals about their options, reduced the labor necessary to sort through those options, and created new opportunities to guide consumers through complicated processes.
June 18, 2014

Disproportionality in School Discipline: An Assessment of Trends in Maryland, 2009–12This study examines whether disproportionate rates of suspensions and expulsions exist for racial/ethnic minority students and special education students in Maryland during the period 2009/10 to 2011/12. The study found that disproportionalities between Black and White students increased in 2011/12 despite an overall decrease in the number of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions. Moreover, black students receive out-of-school suspensions or expulsions at more than twice the rate of White students. In addition, special education students are removed from school at more than twice the rate of students who are not in special education.
June 17, 2014

Identifying At-Risk Readers in Florida Using Evidence-Based Decision Trees Instead of Formulas: The purpose of this study was to examine whether the early identification of students who are at-risk for reading comprehension difficulties is improved using logistic regression or classification and regression tree (CART). This research question was motivated by state education leaders’ interest in maintaining high classification accuracy while simultaneously improving practitioner understanding of the rules by which students are identified as at-risk or not at-risk readers. Logistic regression and CART were compared using data on a sample of grades 1 and 2 Florida public school students who participated in both interim assessments and an end-of-the year summative assessment during the 2012/13 academic year. The comparability of results suggests that CART should be used due to its ease in interpretation by practitioners. In addition, CART holds several technical advantages over logistic regression.
June 17, 2014

NCTQ Teacher Prep Review 2014 ReportTeacher Prep Review 2014 is the second edition of NCTQ’s annual assessment of the nation’s 2,400 teacher prep programs. The Review uncovers early evidence that teacher prep programs are beginning to make changes. It arrives at a time of heightened, unprecedented activity across the nation to improve teacher preparation.
June 2014

The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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