E-Update for March 24, 2017

E-Update for March 24, 2017


  • On March 23, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a unanimous decision in the case of Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. The court ruled against the school district and in favor of students with disabilities.
  • This week, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy Devos and House and Senate Education Committee leaders addressed state education chiefs.On March 21, the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a hearing to discuss the complexities of the federal financial aid system, and how to improve it.

U.S. Congress & Administration
Congressional and Administration Officials Address State Chiefs: Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), and USED Secretary DeVos addressed chief state school officers to discuss President Trump’s FY2018 budget proposal. In his comments, Chairman Alexander emphasized his commitment to funding the Every Student Succeeds Act’s (ESSA) Title IV Enhanced Academic Enrichment Grants. USED Secretary DeVos noted that President Trump’s FY2018 budget proposal would support underserved communities by increasing funding for charter schools and private school choice programs. She also highlighted the budget proposal’s elimination of programs that are considered ineffective or are best left to states and districts.
March 20-21, 2017

OMB Director and House Appropriations Committee Ranking Members Comment on the FY2018 Budget Process: White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney released a memo regarding testimony and public statements on the President Trump’s FY2018 budget proposal.  In the memo, Director Mulvaney stated that all agency comments or testimony on the budget should be restricted to the information in President Trump’s “skinny” budget proposal and should not make specific commitments about programs or details not included in the proposal. Also on the issue of budget processes, House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) and House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) released a statement raising concerns about the decision to delay budget hearings for the National Institutes of Health and USED, particularly in light of the budget cuts proposed by President Trump for these agencies. Director Mulvaney’s memo is here. Ranking Members Lowey and DeLauro’s letter can be found here.
March 17 & 20, 2017

U.S. Congress:


House Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Financial Aid: The House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a hearing on the federal student aid system. The hearing focused on how the system can be improved to better serve students, including eliminating complexity in types of loans and loan repayment programs. Subcommittee Chairman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) commented on this system complexity, noting that it leads to confusion for students. Subcommittee Ranking Member Susan Davis (D-CA) highlighted the challenges that low-income students face in accessing higher education. Full video recording of the hearing and witness testimony is available here. Chairman Guthrie’s opening statement is available here. Ranking Member Davis’ statement can be found here.
March 21, 2017


Ranking Member Murray Discusses Consequences of Education Privatization: Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member released a memo to the Democratic caucus on the potential consequences of education privatization and the importance of supporting high-quality public schools. In addition to outlining her vision of a path forward for improving schools, including investing in neighborhood public schools and promoting community engagement, Ranking Member Murray highlighted the challenges of privatization. She underscored consequences such as the repercussions that students with disabilities and rural schools could face, and the potential lack of accountability associated with privatization efforts. The memo can be found here.
March 22, 2017


Secretary DeVos Recognizes National Reading Month and Celebrates Dual Enrollment Programs: Secretary Betsy DeVos joined Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD) to visit Carderock Springs Elementary School in Bethesda, Maryland in honor of National Reading Month. Additionally, Secretary DeVos visited Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, to highlight high school dual enrollment programs. The Visit to Valencia College comes at the same time that a bipartisan bill is being reintroduced in Congress incentivizing the expansion of dual enrollment programs. The Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act, sponsored by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Boozman (R-AR), and Al Franken (D-MN), and Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Tom Reed (R-NY), would offer grants to colleges and universities to start dual-enrollment programs. A press release announcing the introduction of the bicameral legislation can be found here.
March 24, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court:

SCOTUS Rules on IDEA Case: The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in the case of Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, in which the Court rejected the claim that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) imposes an obligation on states to provide students with disabilities with “some educational benefit” that is “merely more than de minimis.”  Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the Court, ruling that a more demanding “general standard” (but “not a formula”) was required under the law; and finding that the IDEA imposes not just procedural steps as part of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process, but more substantively “requires an educational program reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” Supreme Court decision can be found here.  Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray’s statement is here. House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Scott’s statement is here.
March 23, 2017

Upcoming Events:

  • On March 28, the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and the Workforce Development will hold a hearing entitled, “Examining the Corporation for National and Community Service and Its Failed Oversight of Taxpayer Dollars,” at 10:00 am. More information here.
  • On March 28, the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a FY2018 budget hearing for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting at 10:00 am. More information here.
  • On March 29, the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a FY2018 budget hearing for the Department of Health and Human Services at 10:00 am. More information here.
  • On March 30, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on Alexander Acosta to serve as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. Time is TBD. More information here.


  • On March 22, the Institute of Education Sciences’ Regional Education Laboratory Program released a report entitled, “Exploring District-Level Expenditure-to-Performance Ratios,” which analyzes how district rankings can vary depending on the ratio used. Report here.
  • On March 21, the Institute of Education Sciences’ National Center for Education Statistics released a report entitled, “Certification Status and Experience of U.S. Public School Teachers: Variations Across Student Subgroups.” The report provides information on the number of students taught by certified and experienced teachers. Report here.
  • On March 20, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released the 2017 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Annual Report, which includes information about debt collection for student loan debts and highlights CFPB’s efforts to better support students and their families in making decisions about paying for college and repaying student loans. Report here.
  • The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) released a report entitled, “Limited Means, Limited Options.” The report examines how the increasing price tag of many colleges is leaving many segments of the population behind and limiting access to higher education. Report here.


H.R. 1659
A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide an exclusion from income for student loan forgiveness for students who have died or become disabled.
Sponsor: Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL)

H.R. 1635
A bill to amend the loan counseling requirements under the Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY)

H.R. 1614
A bill to authorize borrowers of loans under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program to modify the interest rate of such loans to be equal to the interest rate for such loans at the time of modification.
Sponsor: Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)

H.R. 1601
A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to clarify when certain academic assessments shall be administered.
Sponsor: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)

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