E-Update for the Week of March 14, 2022
- During the week of March 7, the House and Senate passed the final Omnibus Appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2022, including a $2.9 billion increase above FY2021 for the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and a $11.3 billion increase above FY2021 for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The final bill includes increases, compared to FY2021, of $1 billion for Title I, $558 million across the core early childhood education programs within HHS (including Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG), Head Start, and Preschool Development Grants (PDG) Birth through Five), and a $400 to the maximum Pell Grant award.
- On March 14 to 18, USED will hold its third and final Negotiated Rulemaking session on Institutional and Programmatic Eligibility covering topics such as gainful employment, financial responsibility, changes in ownership, and recent statutory changes to the 90/10 revenue rule for proprietary institutions.
- Recently, both the House and Senate passed resolutions unanimously condemning threats of violence against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In remarks on the House resolution, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) stated, “Let us come together today in a strong show of unity and resolve to say this kind of hateful and criminal activity has no place in our country and must run counter to our principles of freedom, justice, opportunity, and equality.”
Budget & Appropriations:
House and Senate pass final FY022 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, USED receives a $2.9 billion increase over FY2021: After several weeks of bipartisan negotiations, the House passed the final FY2022 Omnibus Appropriations bill on March 9, while the Senate passed the final bill on March 10. The bill is expected to be signed by the President in the coming day(s). The Omnibus bill – which is a package of multiple appropriations bills – includes legislation to fund the entire federal government, including the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) programs. The legislation provides $730 billion in non-defense funding (an increase of 6.7 percent above FY2021), including an increase of $2.9 billion for USED programs and an increase of $11.3 billion for HHS programs. Of note, it is expected that President Biden will release, within the coming weeks, his FY2023 budget request. Upon release of the president’s request, Congress will begin the process to develop FY2023 appropriations bills.
March 10, 2022
Below are highlights of funding levels included in the Labor/HHS portion of the bill and joint explanatory statement (here and here) for key education and early learning issues:
- Early Childhood Education: For core early childhood education programs (including CCDBG, Head Start, and PDG Birth through Five), there was an overall increase of $558 million, compared to FY2021. Specifically, CCDBG received an increase of $254 million above FY2021, Head Start received an increase of $289 million above FY2021, and PDG Birth through Five received an increase of $15 million above FY2021.
- K-12 Education: Title I received an increase of $1 billion above FY2021 for a total of $17.5 billion, while Special Education Grants to States received an increase of $406 million above FY2021 for a total of $13.3 billion. Other key K-12 programs received the following increases compared to FY2021: an increase of $27 million for Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants (Title II), an increase of $60 million for Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (Title IV-A), and an increase of $40 million for Education, Innovation, and Research Grants. Charter School Grants received level funding compared to FY2021 of $440 million.
- Student Financial Assistance and Higher Education: The maximum Pell Grant award received a $400 increase from $6,495 to $6,895. However, a $1.05 billion rescission from the Pell Grant surplus was included. The Federal Work-Study program received a $20 million increase above FY2021 for a total of $1.2 billion, while Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants received a $15 million increase above FY2021 for a total of $895 million. The Aid for Institutional Development Account, which primarily assists Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), received a $96 million increase above FY2021.
Final FY2022 Omnibus Appropriations bill passes without an extension of temporary child nutrition waivers: Prior to passage of the final FY2022 Omnibus Appropriations bill, several Democratic members, including Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), were seeking to include an extension of temporary child nutrition waivers, which were implemented during the pandemic allowing schools to serve free meals to all students, regardless of income. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) allegedly raised objections to the extension potentially due to the cost, which was estimated at $11 billion, among other factors, according to Politico. In a statement to Politico, House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) also noted, “For some time, I have pushed all stakeholders involved to prepare to return to normal operation and respect that taxpayers’ unprecedented support of these programs over the last two years cannot be unlimited.” Following passage of the final bill, Chairman Scott issued a press release stating, “This relief allowed an additional 10 million students to access free school meals each day. While the country is on the road to recovery, schools and their students are still feeling the impact of the pandemic. The last thing we should do is create chaos for school leaders by prematurely revoking these necessary school meal waivers and depriving students of the nutrition they need to help them learn and grow.” Without further action, the temporary child nutrition waivers will expire on June 30.
March 10, 2022
Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):
Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats highlight one year anniversary of American Rescue Plan (ARP): During the week of March 7, the Administration celebrated the one year anniversary of President Biden signing the ARP into law, which provided $1.9 trillion in funding to support continued relief and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The ARP included $122 billion for K-12 schools in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, $3 billion for students with disabilities, and $800 million for children and youth experiencing homelessness. The bill also included $39.6 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and $40 billion for early childhood education and child care. According to a fact sheet released by the White House, an analysis of school district plans shows a majority of funds are being used toward priorities, such as supporting teachers, counselors, academic recovery, mental health, and health and safety measures, including ventilation improvements. Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), credited ARP investments as integral in helping 99 percent of schools remain open for full-time, in-person learning. Additionally, a White House fact sheet highlighted that a recent American Council on Education (ACE) survey found that HEERF funding enabled 93 percent of colleges to provide direct financial support to students at risk of dropping out and 81 percent of colleges to keep student net prices similar to pre-pandemic levels. Related to early childhood education, the ARP also provided increases to the the maximum Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and expanded the Child Tax Credit.
March 7, 2022
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
State Attorneys General seek release of information related to school board meetings inquiry: More than a dozen Republican state attorneys general joined a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against USED and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), seeking the release of documents and correspondence related to the National School Board Association (NSBA)’s request for DOJ’s assistance to address threats to school officials and teachers. In October 2021, citing a request from NSBA, Attorney General Merrick Garland directed DOJ to meet with state and local law enforcement leaders to discuss strategies to address threats against school officials and teachers; however, NSBA’s request was later rescinded. The plaintiffs in the case, which include State Attorneys General from Indiana, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah, have filed the lawsuit against USED and DOJ because they assert the agencies have not responded “in a timely fashion” to their FOIA requests.
March 4, 2022
USED Secretary Cardona Keynotes SXSW EDU: USED Secretary Cardona traveled to Austin, Texas, where he was the keynote speaker at SXSW EDU. For the keynote conversation, the Secretary joined Dana Brown of A Starting Point for a panel discussion with students on how to reimagine education with student voices and experiences at the center. During his remarks, Secretary Cardona noted, “I don’t want to go back to the system we had in 2020. That didn’t work for all kids…I want to make sure we maintain a level of urgency to address those issues that were there before the pandemic.” He further said, “It is unacceptable that teachers have to have two to three jobs to make ends meet…They are front-liners, they are first responders and concerned about the emotional well-being of their students. Let’s give them the tools they need to be successful and support them as educators as well.” The Secretary also visited Austin Community College (ACC) District’s Highland Campus where he held a roundtable discussion with ACC Chancellor Dr. Richard Rhodes on women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. Additionally, the Secretary visited Blazier Elementary School, where he spotlighted the anniversary of the ARP and held a roundtable discussion that included an ARP-funded parent engagement specialist, educators, and parents of Blazier students.
March 9 and 10, 2022
Final Negotiating Rulemaking Session on Institutional and Programmatic Eligibility to be held: On March 14 to 18, USED will hold its third and final Negotiated Rulemaking session covering institutional accountability topics such as gainful employment, financial responsibility, changes in ownership, and recent statutory changes to the 90/10 revenue rule for proprietary institutions. Gainful employment is likely to be one of the most noteworthy topics for discussion, as the Department is proposing a new requirement that more than half of an institution’s graduates earn more than the median high school graduate in the state aged 25 to 24 (or the national average, if more than half of the program’s graduates are from out of state). This requirement is the most restrictive threshold level proposed by the Department and has never before been considered in a gainful employment rule. If all members of the Negotiated Rulemaking committee agree on proposed language discussed during negotiations, then the Department will publish that consensus regulatory language in a forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). If consensus is not achieved, the Department determines whether to proceed with regulations. If the Department decides to proceed with regulations, it may use regulatory language developed during the negotiations as the basis for its NPRM or develop new regulatory language for all or a portion of its NPRM.
March 14 to 18, 2022
House and Senate pass resolutions condemning recent threats of violence against HBCUs: On March 8, the House passed unanimously on a 418-0 vote, H.Con.Res. 70, which is a bipartisan resolution to condemn recent bomb threats towards HBCUs and to reaffirm the duty of the federal government to “combat violence against HBCU students, faculty and staff.” The Senate passed a similar resolution, S.Res. 534, by Unanimous Consent on March 3. “This bipartisan resolution before us expresses th[e] determination and concern of the House for the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff, at Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD)said in his remarks on the resolution. “Let us come together today in a strong show of unity and resolve to say this kind of hateful and criminal activity has no place in our country and must run counter to our principles of freedom, justice, opportunity, and equality,” he said.
March 3 and 8, 2022
Joint Veterans Affairs Committees hold a hearing to hear testimony from Veterans Service Organizations, including Student Veterans of America (SVA): The House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees held a joint hearing titled, “Legislative Presentation of the American Legion & Multiple Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs).” During the hearing, lawmakers heard testimony from a variety of VSOs, including SVA, which presented on its legislative priorities for 2022. In his testimony, SVA’s National President and CEO Jared Lyon highlighted the impactful work of leading SVA chapters across the U.S., particularly in the challenging context of continued pandemic response and recovery. Lyon also outlined SVA’s policy priorities, which include codifying GI Bill protections implemented during the pandemic for use in future emergencies, identifying and establishing better supports for post-traditional students’ basic needs, passing a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), and ensuring the new 90/10 rule is implemented with fidelity.
March 8, 2022
Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on recent threats of violence against MSIs: The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled, “Combating the Rise in Hate Crimes.” The hearing consisted of two panels, with the first panel featuring testimony from Assistant Attorney General for DOJ’s Civil Rights Division Kristen Clarke. The second panel featured testimony from Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas; Dr. Walter Kimbrough, President of Dillard University; Orlando Martinez, a Detective and Hate Crimes Coordinator with the Los Angeles Police Department; Elan Carr, Former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism; and Maya Berry, Co-Chair of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Hate Crimes Task Force and Executive Director of the Arab American Institute. During the hearing, which includes the first DOJ testimony on hate crimes since the January 15 synagogue attack in Colleyville, Texas, and the recent wave of bomb threats against HBCUs, lawmakers explored policy solutions to address the recent rise in hate incidents, and questioned DOJ about the actions the Department is taking to combat white supremacy. Assistant Attorney General Clarke confirmed in her testimony that DOJ is working with local and state law enforcements to better capture data on white supremacist groups, which is “critical to preventing violent hate crimes from happening.” Clarke confirmed that countering white supremacy is a “top priority” for the Civil Rights Division. Meanwhile, in his testimony, Dr. Kimbrough discussed how the dozens of bomb threats against HBCUs have had a profound impact on the HBCU community and expressed dismay in the FBI’s response. “To date, no one has been brought to justice, these cases are not closed, and the sense of terror has not deteriorated,” Dr. Kimbrough wrote in his testimony. “While it is worth noting the resilient nature of HBCUs and their students, most of whom are rising to the level of higher education despite all the odds against them, this is not a scenario these young people should have to endure,” he said. Dr. Kimbrough also elevated other threats HBCU campuses have faced in addition to the bomb threats, including murals on campuses being defaced and phone threats to intimidate students from voting or institutions from establishing polling locations on campus.
March 8, 2022
Upcoming Events (Congress & Administration):
- On March 16 at 11:00 am, the House Budget Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Ensuring Women Can Thrive in a Post-Pandemic Economy.” The hearing will feature testimony from Dr. Stefania Albanesi, Professor of Economics at the University of Pittsburgh; Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of National Domestic Workers Alliance; and Rosa Walker, Mother and MomsRising Member. The hearing will be livestreamed here.
- On March 16 at 11:30 am, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) and National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will host an event titled, “2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) High School Transcript Study Release.” During the event, NAGB and NCES will discuss findings from the 2019 NAEP High School Transcript Study, which provides information on the types of courses high school graduates take, how many credits students earn, students’ grade point averages, and the relationship between course-taking and NAEP scores. More information and registration are here.
- On April 27 at 11:00 am, the National Science Foundation’s STEM Education Advisory Panel will meet. The purpose of the meeting is to provide advice to the Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education (CoSTEM) and to assess CoSTEM’s progress. The meeting will include reflections on the STEM Strategic Plan. The Federal Register notice announcing the meeting is here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On March 15 at 2:00 pm, FutureEd will hold an event titled, “Local Perspectives on Spending Covid-Relief Aid.” The event will feature a discussion on how local educational agencies plan to use federal COVID-19 aid. More information and registration are here.
- On March 16 at 11:00 am, the First Five Years Fund (FFYF), PBS KIDS, and the National Head Start Association will hold its 2022 Virtual Kickoff Event for the Bipartisan Congressional Pre-K and Child Care Caucus. The event will feature a discussion with Caucus Co-Chairs Representatives Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Tom Cole (R-OK) and Rodney Davis (R-IL). The Members will highlight the goals of the Caucus and the importance of early learning and care for children and families across the country. The Members will also be joined by child care providers and experts to discuss the critical role of high-quality, affordable early education for our nation’s youngest learners. More information and registration are here.
- On March 16 at 2:00 pm, Results For America (RFA) will hold an event titled, “Examining the Evidence: Supporting Students Coping with Trauma and Toxic Stress.” The webinar will discuss evidence-based strategies to help address students’ needs and will draw on RFA’s EdResearch for Recovery brief, “Preparing Schools to Meet the Needs of Students Coping with Trauma and Toxic Stress.” More information and registration are here.
- On March 17 at 1:00 pm, The Hill will hold an event titled, “The Future of Education.” The event will feature remarks from USED Secretary Cardona, Senator Bill Cassidy (D-LA), Representative Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Governor Jared Polis (D-CO), Governor Chris Sununu (R-NH), and others. More information and registration are here.
- On March 17 at 2:00 pm, the American Psychological Association (APA), in collaboration with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Education Association, and the School Social Work Association of America, will hold an event titled, “Briefing on Violence Against Educators and School Personnel: Crisis During COVID.” The webinar will feature a discussion of findings from the APA’s Task Force on Violence against Educators and School Personnel, which conducted a comprehensive assessment of nearly 15,000 teacher, school psychologist, school social worker, administrator, and staff perspectives of school violence during COVID-19. More information and registration are here.
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Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On March 4, Wells Fargo released a report titled, “Who Cares? How the Childcare Industry’s Problems Are Every Employer’s Problem.” The report, which was highlighted by the First Five Years Fund (FFYF), used labor market data to calculate that the historic drop in child care employment from pre-pandemic levels is affecting over 460,000 families nationwide – with a measurable impact on the U.S. workforce, particularly women. Other key takeaways include identifying that no industry is as central to working women as child care; that the daycare industry’s challenges are making hiring more difficult and expensive for all industries right now; and that the core issue for the child care industry is cost, which FFYF notes “underscores the need for significant, sustained federal investment.” The full report is here.
- On March 9, Bellwether Education Partners published a report titled, “Improving Education Finance Equity for English Learners in the Southeast.” The report examined state funding policies for English learners (EL) in nine Southeast states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, and compared them against promising practices in state funding systems for EL students. According to the report, none of the nine states met “the design standards for a fully equitable, transparent funding system” because “they do not incorporate a weighted, student-based formula that accounts for the diversity in learning needs for EL students.” The full report is here.
- On March 10, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) published a blog post titled, “Are Teacher Salaries Keeping Up with Inflation?” The post analyzes whether or not teacher salary increases have kept pace with the consumer price increases by comparing the last four years of raises provided by the largest district in each state against the regional inflation rate. Using the raise of a similarly compensated average federal employee as a benchmark, NCTQ found that 32 of the 51 districts analyzed gave their teachers salary raises that are similar or higher than the benchmark. Additionally, the analysis found that every district in their sample offered raises that outpaced inflation during the four-year time period studied. The full report is here.
A bill to direct the Secretary of Education to carry out grant programs to encourage student participation in local government and volunteer service, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ)
A bill to expand the financial, healthcare, and educational benefits received by Peace Corps and AmeriCorps volunteers, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ)
A bill to transfer the Peace Corps and the Corporation for National and Community Service under the umbrella of an American Volunteering Corporation, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ)
A bill to establish a commission to promote information and media literacy, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for certain freedom of association protections, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require the removal of the record of default from credit history upon obtaining a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan that discharges the defaulted loan.
Sponsor: Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI)
A bill to amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to require States to include a photograph on electronic benefit cards issued to provide supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits.
Sponsor: Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI)
A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to improve program requirements, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to modify the application and review process for changes of control, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA)
A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to provide grants to hire and retain school social workers, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)
A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to fund the information clearinghouse through fiscal year 2029, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Joe Morelle (D-NY)
A bill to expand the use of open textbooks in order to achieve savings for students and improve textbook price information.
Sponsor: Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO)
A resolution expressing support for the designation of the week beginning March 6, 2022, as “School Social Work Week”.
Sponsor: Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)
A bill to require the Secretary of Labor to implement the industry-recognized apprenticeship program process, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator John Thune (R-SD)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to establish an emergency grant aid program, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Tina Smith (D-MN)
A bill to expand the use of open textbooks in order to achieve savings for students and improve textbook price information.
Sponsor: Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)