E-Update for the Week of May 10, 2021
- On May 7, the USED Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced it will hold a series of virtual listening sessions related to the Department’s efforts to improve enforcement of Title IX.
- On May 6, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) announced during a webinar with the Brookings Institute, that the House will mark up fiscal year (FY) 2022 spending bills in June, ahead of floor votes in July
- On May 3, President Biden appointed Richard Cordray, the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), to serve as the head of the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) at the U.S. Department of Education (USED).
Nominations and Personnel:
Biden taps former CFPB director as head of USED Federal Student Aid office: President Joe Biden appointed Richard Cordray, the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), to serve as the head of the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) at the U.S. Department of Education (USED). “It is critical that students and student loan borrowers can depend on the Department of Education for help paying for college, support in repaying loans, and strong oversight of postsecondary institutions,” said USED Secretary Miguel Cardona in a statement. “Cordray has a strong track record as a dedicated public servant who can tackle big challenges and get results.” The full statement is here, and a press release from House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here.
May 3, 2021
Budget and Appropriations:
DeLauro predicts that House Appropriations Committee will consider FY22 bills in June, full adoption by House in July: House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) announced during a webinar with the Brookings Institute, that the House will mark up fiscal year (FY) 2022 spending bills in June, ahead of floor votes in July. Chairwoman DeLauro said that appropriators will fit subcommittee and committee markups for funding bills in June, and earmarks included in the bills will be unveiled ahead of each markup.
May 6, 2021
USED Secretary testifies in front of House Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee: The House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing titled, “FY 2022 Budget Request for the [U.S. Department of Education (USED)].” The hearing focused on the Department’s FY2022 discretionary budget request, in addition to other issues, and featured testimony from USED Secretary Miguel Cardona. Chairwoman DeLauro (D-CT) opened the hearing by emphasizing the need for increased investments to address educational inequities and support early childhood education programs. Secretary Cardona echoed Chairwoman DeLauro’s statements, and argued that the budget request is necessary to reverse “years of underinvestment in federal education programs.” Meanwhile, Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) expressed his concern for the Administration’s proposed, total discretionary spending level, and argued that within the context the Administration’s other proposals, such as the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, the spending request is “irresponsible.” During the hearing, Members asked a variety of questions exploring several disparate areas and programs within USED. Democratic Members expressed their support for both the Administration’s budget request and the American Families Plan. Meanwhile, Republican Members, while recognizing some areas of agreement, were largely critical of the request. A full recording of the hearing is here, Chairwoman DeLauro’s opening statement is here, and Secretary Cardona’s opening statement is here.
May 5, 2021
Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):
Republicans seek additional information exploring potential influence of teachers’ unions on CDC school guidance: House Education and Labor Committee Members Greg Murphy (R-NC) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) wrote a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asking for more information on the “outsized influence” teachers’ unions had in the Agency’s development of updated school reopening guidance in February. Referencing recent reporting from the New York Post, the letter called the unions’ involvement “alarming, considering the significant national outcry from parents to follow the well-established science and get schools reopened.” The full letter is here, and a press release is here.
May 6, 2021
Biden Administration seeks public comments on efforts to advance equity, support underserved communities: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published in the Federal Register a request for information (RFI) for Methods and Leading Practices for Advancing Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through Government. Recent Executive Orders (EO), including EO 13985, have charged OMB, in partnership with agency heads, to identify effective methods for assessing whether agency policies and actions equitably serve all eligible individuals and communities, particularly those that are currently and historically underserved. As part of this effort, which must be completed by July 2021, agencies are directed to consult with members of communities that have been historically underrepresented or underserved by Federal policies and programs, and to evaluate opportunities to increase coordination and engagement with community-based and civil rights organizations. Through this RFI, OMB seeks input, information, and recommendations from stakeholders in the public, private, advocacy, not-for-profit, and philanthropic sectors, including State, local, Tribal, and territorial areas, on available methods, approaches, and tools that could assist in this effort. More information and key questions are in the notice. Responses will be accepted until on or about July 5. The notice can be found here.
May 5, 2021
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
OCR to seek public comment on Title IX enforcement in June: The USED Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced it will hold a series of virtual listening sessions related to the Department’s efforts to improve enforcement of Title IX. The sessions will be held on June 7 through June 11, and will offer members of the public to comment on steps that the Department can take to ensure that schools are providing students with educational environments free from discrimination or sexual harassment. Additionally, OCR is seeking comments on the Department’s role in addressing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in educational environments. More information is here.
May 7, 2021
McConnell, Senate Republicans urge USED to withdrawn civics education program grant priorities due to mention of “1619 Project”: On April 29, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) led a letter signed by 37 Republican Senators to USED, demanding that the Department withdraw its proposed priorities for the American History and Civics programs. In the letter, Senate Republicans criticize the Department’s citation of the New York Times’s “1619 Project” and argue that the Department is encouraging a curriculum that promotes a “politicized and divisive agenda.” “Families did not ask for this divisive nonsense,” the Members write, “Americans never decided our children should be taught that our country is inherently evil.” Further, the Members argue that the proposed priorities go against the “clear legislative intent” of the program, which is to “equip young citizens with foundational knowledge about American history, a better understanding of our governing institutions and more of the vibrant patriotism brought forth by a balanced assessment of our imperfect but exceptional nation.” The full letter is here.
April 29, 2021
Hoyer outlines May work period, focus on mental health and STEM education supports: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sent a Dear Colleague Letter outlining the House’s anticipated actions during the May work period. After returning from recess on May 11, the House will consider bipartisan legislation to address critical mental health needs in communities, including a bill that would authorize grants for school-based mental health services and address disparities in mental health care among underserved and high-poverty communities. During the week of May 17, the House will consider bills to promote early-career STEM fellowships aimed at helping recent graduates from underrepresented communities, rural areas, and Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), as well as legislation to address sexual harassment in the STEM workforce. The full letter is here.
May 6, 2021
House Republicans seek probe into USED handling of student loan debt portfolio: House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC) wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) asking for an investigation into the federal student loan program’s finances. The Members, in their request, reference a report that was commissioned by former USED Secretary Betsy DeVos. The Members claim that USED is “hiding information from the public that could provide a more accurate depiction of the budgetary impact of the federal student loan program.” The letter to the GAO is here and a press release is here.
Relatedly, the request to GAO follows an initial letter that Ranking Member Foxx (D-NC) and Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) wrote to the Department last week, calling on USED Secretary Miguel Cardona to release the report, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. In the letter to Secretary Cardona, the Members argued that the report shows that the Department had miscalculated student loan budgetary projections for years, creating a “hundreds of billions of dollars wide gap between what the executive branch says student loans are worth and the real value of those loans.” The letter to USED is here, and a press release is here.
May 6, 2021
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On May 12 at 10:00 am, the House Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Making a Difference for Families and Foster Youth.” No witnesses have yet been announced. More information will be posted here.
- On May 12 at 3:00 pm, the USED Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse will hold an event titled, “Lessons from the Field: How Schools and Districts Are Meeting the Social-Emotional and Mental Health Needs of Students and Staff.” The webinar will provide information from the Department and the CDC, and will include a panel discussion of practitioners as they share lessons learned and best practices. More information and registration are here.
- On May 13 at 10:00 am, the House Judiciary Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Juvenile Justice Pipeline and the Road Back to Integration.” No witnesses have yet been announced. More information is here.
- On May 13 at 10:15 am, the House Education and Labor Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act [WIOA] Reauthorization: Creating Opportunities for Youth Employment.” No witnesses have yet been announced. More information is here.
- On June 7-11, the USED Office of Civil Rights (OCR) will hold a series of virtual public hearings to gather information on how to improve enforcement of Title IX as related to discrimination and sexual harassment in educational environments. The public hearings will also gather information on how the Department can help address discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. More information and registration are here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On May 11 at 2:00 pm, the Urban Institute will hold an event titled, “Accelerating Public-Sector Apprenticeships.” The webinar will focus on the advantages of public-sector apprenticeships, how states can apply to receive support to launch or expand such apprenticeships, and the benefits of participating in the apprenticeship consortium. More information and registration are here.
- On May 11 at 4:30 pm, the Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance will hold an event titled, “American Rescue Plan Implementation through a SoLD and Equity Lens.” The webinar will feature a discussion about state and local district implementation of American Rescue Plan and the opportunities that new federal funds provide the field to help operationalize key insights from the science of learning and development to be drivers of equity and excellence for all young people. More information and registration are here.
- On May 12 at 1:30 pm, the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution will hold an event titled, “Rethinking the Economics of Child Care and Paid Leave: Policies to Protect Workers and Families.” The webinar will examine reforms to federal policies around paid family and sick leave and early childhood education and care, and will feature framing remarks by U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. More information and registration are here.
- On May 12 at 2:00 pm, the Bipartisan Policy Center will hold an event titled, “Reforming Student Loan Repayment.” The webinar will feature a conversation about how to improve the student loan repayment process in a way that better supports borrowers and improves loan outcomes. More information and registration are here.
- On May 12 at 2:00 pm, Communities in Schools will hold an event titled, “Student Reengagement Beyond the Pandemic.” The webinar will feature a discussion with House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and his perspective on the role of federal policy in reengaging students. More information and registration are here.
- On May 6, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) published new data from the March 2021 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to its School Survey Dashboard. The survey found that while most K-8 schools were open for in-person learning as of March, many challenges remain, including addressing racial disparities and reassuring families that classroom learning is safe. According to the data, nearly 90 percent of public K-8 schools offered hybrid or full-time in-person instruction, and 54 percent of K-8 schools were open in person on a full-time basis. “While we’ve made important progress, I will not be satisfied until 100% of schools are safely open for full time in-person learning for all students,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “We are still seeing a much lower percentage of Black, Hispanic, and Asian students enrolled in full-time in-person learning compared to their White counterparts.” The data is here, and the Secretary’s full statement is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On May 6, the RAND Corporation published a report titled, “Understanding the Cost to Deliver High-Quality Publicly Funded Pre-Kindergarten Programs.” The report examines the “true cost” of publicly funded pre-K programs by considering varying quality standards and as well as the resources used at both the provider and system levels. Key findings from the report include that cost data collected from the sample pre-K systems varied “tremendously” in cost per child within systems; that main factors that contributed to dramatic cost variations at the provider level included annual program hours, staffing structure, staff compensation, and facility costs; and that the average reimbursement rates for several of the state-funded pre-K systems examined were below the estimated per-child cost for at least some of the providers that were sampled. The full report is here.
- On May 6, Learning Heroes published a report titled, “Out-of-School-Time (OST) Programs This Summer: Paving the Way for Children to Find Passion Purpose & Voice.” The report aimed to understand how parents, teachers, and OST providers perceive the value of OST in social, emotional, and academic development, with the goal of helping inform communications, programs, and policy. Key findings include that parents, teachers & OST providers see OST programs as providing a child-centered experience with a differentiated and highly valuable offering, though participation in high-quality OST opportunities is not equitably distributed; and that districts are critical players in ensuring equitable access to high-quality OST programs. The full report is here.
- On May 6, the Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) published a series of fact sheets titled, “California Community College Financial Aid Facts.” The fact sheets explore the financial aid available to California’s community college students and how it varies by region, race/ethnicity, and age, using data from the California Community Colleges (CCC) Chancellor’s Office Management Information Systems Data Mart. Key findings include that the amount of financial aid students receive can be related to their financial need, how many courses they take per term, and even their age or prior grades; and that aid distribution at CCCs also differ across demographics, including student race/ethnicity. The fact sheets are here.
- On May 5, the Consortium for School Networking published a report titled, “Student Home Connectivity Study.” The report examines the student experience of learning from home, and aims to provide home bandwidth, device, and related guidelines for students learning in a remote or hybrid environment. Key findings from the report include that many students participate in online learning activities outside of their house, with 93 percent using wi-fi instead of a wired connection; that students tend to use both district-provided devices and personal devices, increasing wi-fi bandwidth needs; and that more than 85 percent of network traffic in remote learning is used for video, which requires sufficient upload and download speeds. The full report is here.
- On May 5, New America published a report titled, “The Short-term Credentials Landscape.” The report explores the utility of short-term credentials in the labor market. While the report finds great potential for expanding opportunities for high-quality training through credential programs, it urges policymakers to be cautious about short-term credentials, as they’re not always a “sure bet” for workers and could end up leaving students of color out time and money without improved prospects for work or income. Other key findings include that even if certificate programs are “stackable” and could lead to additional educational credentials, they are rarely stacked in practice; and that short-term certificates are varied in their effectiveness at ensuring employment. The full report is here.
- On May 5, the Albert Shanker Institute published a report titled, “The Great Divergence in State Education Spending.” The report examines whether or not K-12 spending varies more between states now than it did 25 years ago. Key findings from the report include that spending decreased or stagnated in most states during 2009-2012 as a result from the Great Recession; that while education spending started to recover around 2013, the recovery was unequal; and that the past 15 years have seen increasing variation between states in their spending levels, which means increasing inequality of educational investment. The full report is here.
A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow the deduction for interest paid on student loans without reduction for employer educational assistance.
Sponsor: Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)
A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a credit for employer-provided worker training.
Sponsor: Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL)
A bill to increase the amount of loan forgiveness available to teachers.
Sponsor: Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA)
A bill to authorize the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Program and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
A bill to build on America’s spirit of service to nurture, promote, and expand a culture of service to secure the Nation’s future, address critical needs of the Nation, and strengthen the civic fabric of American society.
Sponsor: Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA)
A bill to amend the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to create a pilot program to award grants to units of general local government and community-based organizations to create jobs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)