E-Update for the Week of March 28, 2022
- On March 28, the Biden Administration is expected to release its Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget request, which will include proposed appropriations for all federal agencies, including USED. The budget will be released here. Relatedly, at 3:00 pm on March 28, USED will hold a budget briefing. The briefing will be livestreamed here.
- On March 22, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing titled, “Child Care and Preschool: Cutting Costs for Working Families.” During the hearing, witnesses spoke to the need for families and children to have access to high-quality, affordable child care and preschool services, as well as the ongoing challenges facing the child care industry.
- On March 24, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Miguel Cardona sent a letter to educators and parents regarding new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and their impact on children with disabilities.
Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED Secretary Cardona holds roundtable with faith leaders in New York: On March 18, USED Secretary Miguel Cardona held a roundtable discussion with faith leaders in New York City to highlight the contributions of faith-based organizations during the pandemic and in ongoing recovery efforts that support young people and their communities. During the conversation, Secretary Cardona called faith-based communities “critical partners” in the efforts to rebuild and recover from the pandemic. “Now is our moment to provide every student with the support and resources they need to thrive, and to ensure that education truly becomes the great equalizer,” Secretary Cardona said. “The task before us is not only to improve our education system from where it was before the pandemic, but also to take bold and unapologetic action to elevate it to lead the world.” Faith leaders discussed the importance of diversity, uplifting student voices and the challenges of mental health for students, educators, and the community. The group also talked about ways to disrupt hate, especially geared towards children, educators, and schools.
March 18, 2022
USED and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launch joint effort to support implementation of school-based health services: In a letter to Governors on March 24, USED Secretary Cardona and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra launched a joint-departmental effort to expand school-based health services for children and youth. According to the agencies, a “major focus” of the joint effort is to help states and communities “take full advantage of the funding available under the American Rescue Plan (ARP).” More specifically, the Departments will provide additional technical assistance, resources, and support that will “(1) provide guidance on the federal funding available for school-based physical and behavioral health services, including how Medicaid can support the delivery of these services; (2) help reduce federal administrative burden for states and localities, including local educational agencies (LEAs), and barriers to the provision of school-based physical and behavioral health services; and (3) improve and strengthen access to physical and behavioral health services.” Along with its announcement, the Departments also published a list of federal resources to support the effective implementation of school-based health services.
March 24, 2022
USED Secretary Cardona sends letter on new CDC recommendations and their impact on students with disabilities: Secretary Cardona sent a letter on March 24 to educators and parents regarding new recommendations from the CDC and their impact on children with disabilities. In the letter, Secretary Cardona acknowledged the difficulties many families have experienced “as they strived to balance the need to ensure their child’s physical safety and their child’s need for in-person learning.” As the country enters a “new phase” in its pandemic response, Secretary Cardona urges schools to “lead with equity and inclusion” to ensure all students, including those with disabilities, have access to in-person learning. Accordingly, the letter includes sections on leveraging the individualized education program or Section 504 process to ensure schools have protections in place to protect in-person learning; continuing use of layered prevention strategies to keep school communities safe; and ensuring students receive education and services in the least restrictive environment.
March 24, 2022
House Democrats urge Biden Administration to extend loan payment pause: On March 21, more than 40 House Democrats, led by Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), sent a letter to President Biden asking that his Administration extend the pause on student loan payments at least until the end of the year. In their letter, the Members argue that a further extension is necessary because borrowers are still struggling from the challenges of the pandemic. According to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) that the Members cite in the letter, 20 million households reported having too little to eat in the past seven days and 10 million households are behind on rent. “Accordingly, we believe that the Administration should extend its pause on student loan repayment and interest accrual,” the Members write. The Members also argue that USED is “unprepared” to resume payments in May, and cite a 2020 report finding that the government will “face a heavy burden in ‘converting’ millions of borrowers to active repayment.”
March 21, 2022
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED invites applications for new jobs initiative for people with disabilities: On March 18, USED’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) released a notice in the Federal Register inviting applications for the Subminimum Wage to Competitive Integrated Employment (SWTCIE) demonstration project, which aims to help phase out the subminimum wage for people with disabilities. The new program makes $167 million in funding available to sponsor innovative approaches to transition workers with disabilities who earn subminimum wages into competitive integrated employment opportunities where they can earn a fair wage. According to the Department, the competition will award grants to as many as 18 State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies and their partners that will create employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The jobs will be in “critical need areas,” including home and community-based services, the arts, or transportation and related industries. A press release from Senate HELP Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) is here.
March 18, 2022
Biden Administration partners with Aspen Institute to host Latino Regional Economic Summits: The Biden Administration announced a partnership with the Aspen Institute to jointly host forums in several cities across the country titled, “White House Initiative Latino Economic Summits.” According to the Department, the regional forums will highlight the Administration’s “commitment to advancing equity and economic empowerment and connect local Latino community members directly with federal leaders and resources.” The program kicked off on March 22 in San Antonio, TX, and will be followed by an event in Denver, CO, on March 26. Through sessions on topics, such as educational equity and workforce development, the forums aim to increase engagement between the Latino community and the Administration, as well as demonstrate the Administration’s focus on “advancing racial equity and support[ing] underserved communities.”
March 21 and 26, 2022
USED issues new policy to hold institutions liable for private colleges’ fraud, sudden closure: On March 23, USED announced a new policy aimed at making sure companies that own institutions of higher education are held liable for government losses related to closed school loan discharges and borrower defense to repayment claims. According to USED, “this will ensure that even if a school closes, the Department can recover funds from entities that had a direct or indirect ownership interest in the school instead of leaving the bill to taxpayers.” Under the new policy, any organization or entity with at least a 50 percent interest in a non-public college that meets certain other conditions will generally join that institution’s leadership in signing the school’s Program Participation Agreement (PPA). The additional signature will be required in cases where the institution has not met financial responsibility requirements, where the school is provisionally certified to participate in the federal financial aid programs, and for schools with significant liabilities for borrower defense or other findings, among other circumstances. The Department notes, “The additional signature(s) will ensure that sole or controlling entities—and not just their defunct institutions—are held responsible for losses to taxpayers when institutions close.” Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal expressed, “If a company owns, controls, or profits from a college, it should also be on the hook if the institution fails students.” He went on to say the new policy “will ensure taxpayers aren’t held liable for colleges that fail their students or close their doors, especially without the opportunity for students to finish their courses of study.”
March 23, 2022
USED and NASA host fireside chat celebrating how Title IX supported women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM): USED Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten and NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy hosted a fireside chat on March 24 titled, “50 Years of Title IX: Breaking Down Barriers in STEM.” The discussion spotlighted how Title IX has helped women enter and succeed in the STEM field. The event celebrated the partnership between the two agencies and elevated the role of Title IX in exposing girls and women to STEM programs.
March 24, 2022
National Academies report issues recommendations to improve the Nation’s Report Card: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report on March 24 issuing several recommendations to modernize and improve the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – known as the Nation’s Report Card – which measures elementary, middle, and high schoolers’ skills in literacy, math, and science. The report recommends that USED’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) “develop clear, consistent and complete descriptions of current spending on NAEP’s major components and use them to ensure that the budget can support any major programmatic decisions.” The report also recommends that NAEP administer longer, 90-minute tests that incorporate computer-adaptive questions and automated scoring, and cut costs by using local school staff and computers to administer the exam, rather than relying on paid contractors and outsourced equipment. “NAEP has been and can continue to be an invaluable resource for the nation to understand the learning of U.S. students over time,” the report said. “To make that possible, however, NAEP must adapt to the evolving landscape of technology and be mindful of the costs of its past practices and upcoming decisions.”
March 24, 2022
Key House Education and Labor Committee Members and Democratic Senators write letter to USED concerning delays on Corinthian borrower defense claims: On March 22, House Education and Labor Committee Members Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Mark Takano (D-CA), along with Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), led Democratic Representatives and Senators in a letter to Secretary Cardona expressing frustration about the prolonged delay in discharging the loans of students defrauded by the former Corinthian College and other for-profit colleges. In the letter, the Members write that that USED is “woefully behind” in processing borrower defense claims for an estimated 429,000 students, nearly one-third of which were from former Corinthian students. The Members wrote that the Department “has chosen to provide borrowers with relief in a complex and piecemeal fashion, placing the burden on mistreated individuals to apply for the relief they are entitled to under the law and insisting on separate, borrower-by-borrower findings of fraud despite [the Department’s] own clear evidence of widespread wrongdoing.” While the lawmakers applaud USED’s efforts to provide some relief to defrauded students, including through revised regulations related to borrower defense, they ask for an “explanation” for the years-long delay, as well as an update on the Department’s expected timeline for discharging the loans.
March 22, 2022
Senate HELP Committee holds hearing to examine the costs of child care and preschool: The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on March 22 titled, “Child Care and Preschool: Cutting Costs for Working Families.” The hearing featured testimony from Rhian Evans Allvin, Chief Executive Officer, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC); Julie Kashen, Director, Women’s Economic Justice, and Senior Fellow, Century Foundation; Maria-Isabel Ballivian, Executive Director, ACCA Child Development Center; and Ellen Reynolds, Chief Executive Officer, Georgia Child Care Association. During the hearing, witnesses spoke to the need for families and children to have access to high-quality, affordable child care and preschool services, as well as the ongoing challenges facing the child care industry. Republican and Democratic Committee members further drew attention to the importance of child care to families and the economy, including recognizing the need to improve our nation’s early learning system. Senate HELP Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) emphasized during the hearing, “that our child care system is not working for families. Right now, families are struggling to afford child care—with child care often costing more than college tuition or a mortgage and putting families into debt; families are struggling with too few options—with millions living without a child care provider in their area; and on top of all that, child care workers are struggling to get by on poverty level wages—forcing them to leave the field and leaving child care providers scrambling.” Additionally, Chairwoman Murray noted the significance of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, while making the case for Democrats’ plan “to bring down costs for families, bring up wages for workers, and give parents more child care options.” Committee Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) began his statement by underscoring the Committee’s bipartisan record of working together on child care, but went on to outline his support for a Republican proposal introduced by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) to reauthorize the CCDBG program. While acknowledging the different approaches being put forward by Democrats and Republicans to improve the early learning system, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) called attention during the hearing to the points of agreement across both sides of the aisle noting, “one that a greater investment in high-quality childcare would be good for kids; two, that the greater investment would be good for families; three, that the greater investment would be good for educators; and four that the greater investment would be good for the workforce.”
March 22, 2022
Republican Senators introduce CCDBG reauthorization bill: Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), along with Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Richard Burr (D-NC), introduced the CCDBG Reauthorization Act of 2022. The bill proposes certain reforms to the CCDBG program to increase access to early education programs while “protect[ing] the ability of parents to choose the provider that best fits their family’s needs,” according to a press release from Senator Scott. More specifically, the reauthorization increases family eligibility for CCDBG; ensures eligible families making less than 75 percent State Median Income (SMI) pay no child care copay and that no eligible family has a copay greater than 7 percent of family income; improves reimbursement rates for child care providers so they can recruit and retain qualified staff; and supports the education and professional development of child care staff. In his press release, Senator Scott argues that Congress should reauthorize the existing, bipartisan CCDBG program, rather than advancing a Democratic plan to improve the child care system and establish universal preschool. Senator Scott said, “I believe there is a better way. This bill improves upon a program that has already helped families afford a variety of options to care for the most important people in their lives: their kids.”
March 22, 2022
Senate HELP Committee holds hearing on addressing mental health and substance use disorder crises: The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on March 23 titled, “Strengthening Federal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Programs: Opportunities, Challenges, and Emerging Issues.” The hearing featured testimony from Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); Carole Johnson, Administrator at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA); Joshua Gordon, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and Nora Volkow, Director of National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at NIH. During the hearing, lawmakers focused on how the federal government can better support efforts to address the mental health and substance use disorder crises that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) also reiterated her intention to put a bipartisan, mental health package together “in early summer.”
While much of the hearing focused on the recent surge in substance use disorders and overdose deaths, all the witnesses touched upon about federal efforts to bolster youth mental health services in their testimonies. In her opening statements, Assistant Secretary Delphin-Rittmon highlighted federal supports for children and youth mental health, including SAMHSA’s Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education) program, Resilience in Communities after Stress and Trauma (ReCAST) grants, and the Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) grants, all of which aim to improve communities, schools, and youth access to mental health resources. Carole Johnson spoke about the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access program, which promotes behavioral health integration in pediatric primary care, and Director Gordon specifically elevated school-based mental health programs as effective strategies to increase access to mental health care, particularly for children from underserved communities. Multiple Senators raised specific questions about the role of schools in expanding access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment, including Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who asked about federal strategies to support the efforts of institutions of higher education in preventing overdose deaths on campus. Additionally, both Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) mentioned their recently introduced bill, the Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Act (S. 3628), which would authorize SAMHSA to provide direct funding assistance to school districts for comprehensive student mental health promotion and suicide prevention efforts.
March 23, 2022
Senate set to take action likely leading to a Conference Committee with the House on Bipartisan Innovation Act: On March 23, the Senate voted 66-31 to proceed to consideration of the House-passed, America Competes Act (H.R. 4521), which aims to boost the nation’s economic competitiveness. The move sets in motion a plan for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to amend the House bill as early as next week and replace it with language from the Senate-passed, United States Innovation and Competition Act, or USICA, (S. 1260). The plan is then for the Senate to send the amended bill back to the House leading to the likely appointment of a Conference Committee. The Conference Committee will work to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills to produce a Bipartisan Innovation Act.
March 23, 2022
Upcoming Events (Congress & Administration):
- On March 29 at 10:00 am, the House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the President’s FY 2023 Budget Request. Shalanda Young, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), will testify. The hearing will be livestreamed here.
- On March 30 at 11:00 am, the Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the President’s FY 2023 Budget Request. Shalanda Young, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), will testify. The hearing will be livestreamed here.
- On March 30 at 3:00 pm, USED’s National Center on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments will hold a webinar titled, “Lessons from the Field – Expanding School-Health Center Partnerships.” In partnership with HHS, the webinar will highlight successful models of health center service delivery in schools, as well as approaches, needs, and opportunities to support partnerships between schools and health centers. More information and registration are here.
- On March 31 at 10:00 am, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing to examine on the FY 2023 Budget Request for HHS. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra will testify. The hearing will be livestreamed 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 27 to 29, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching will hold its Summit on Improvement in Education. The conference will feature sessions examining ways leaders have helped students thrive despite the challenging circumstances of teaching and learning during the pandemic. More information and registration are here.
- On March 31 at 10:00 am, the Brookings Institution will hold an event titled, “What Universities Owe Democracy.” The event will feature a conversation with Ron Daniels, President of Johns Hopkins University, about the relationship between liberal democracy and universities, the importance of civic education in democracy, how universities can create a shared sense of truth for the citizenry, and what more universities can do to promote social mobility and free speech on campuses. More information and registration are here.
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On March 23, the U.S. Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) released findings from a survey on the on-going impact of COVID-19 on public K-12 education. The report estimates that nearly half of public school teachers had students who registered but never showed up for class in the 2020-21 school year. Of these teachers, nearly 72 percent said this was more than in a typical year. Based on these data, GAO estimates that at least 1.1 million students were unaccounted for in the 2020-21 school year. High school teachers were the most affected, with almost an estimated 65 percent having at least one student who never showed up, and teachers in majority non-White schools and urban schools more commonly reported having students who never showed up in the 2020-21 school year, compared to other teachers. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On March 17, Excelencia in Education and Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) released the 2020-21 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) list. According to the data, this year is the first time in 20 years that the number of HSIs have decreased. In 2020-21, there were 559 institutions that met the definition of an HSI, compared to 569 in 2019-20. This drop represents a decrease in the enrollment and concentration of Hispanic students in colleges and universities around the country. In contrast, the number of Emerging HSIs (eHSIs) –colleges approaching the 25 percent Latino student enrollment threshold, showed significant growth from 362 to 393. More information on the data is here.
- On March 22, the New York Federal Reserve released a new analysis on student loan repayment during the pandemic forbearance. Using data from New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel, the report estimates that nearly 37 million borrowers have not been required to make payments on their student loans since March 2020, resulting in an estimated $195 billion worth of waived payments through April 2022. However, the 10 million borrowers with private loans or Family Federal Education Loan (FFEL) loans owned by commercial banks that were ineligible for the relief were more likely to struggle with payments during the pandemic. According to the report, this could suggest that the borrowers who didn’t have to pay during the pandemic will face delinquencies once payments resume. The full report is here.
- On March 23, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) published a report titled, “College of Education: A National Portrait.” The report attempts to provide a comprehensive picture of colleges of education and found that the number of bachelor’s degrees conferred in education dropped between 2005 and the 2018-19 academic year. Additionally, according to the report, of the high-need fields identified by USED (bilingual education and English language acquisition, foreign language, math, reading, science, and special education), only special education is among the most popular degree fields. The full report is here.
- On March 25, UnidosUS, the Student Borrower Protection Center and Data for Progress released findings from a survey exploring the effects of student debt on Latino likely voters. The poll found that 60 percent of Latino voters expect to make “major changes to saving or spending” if student loan payments resume in May. It also found that 68 percent of Latino voters support extending the pause on student loan payments, and 65 percent support government action to cancel some or all student loan debt for borrowers. The full findings are here.
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require additional reporting on crime and harm that occurs during student participation in programs of study abroad, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY)
A bill to direct the Secretary of Education to award grants to eligible partnerships to increase access to specialized instructional support personnel, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Marie Newman (D-IL)
A bill to amend the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 to reauthorize and update the Act, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Tim Scott (R-SC)
A bill to establish the Mental Health Excellence in Schools Program to increase the recruitment and retention of school-based mental health services providers, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)