E-Update for the Week of November 16, 2020
- On November 11, POLITICO reported that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has directed White House staff to compile a series of potential Executive Orders that President Donald Trump can issue before the Inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, including one that would direct funding to parents who have children attending schools in districts that have closed their campuses.
- On November 10, the Biden-Harris Transition team announced the formation and members of Agency Review Teams (ARTs), including for the U.S. Departments of Education (USED) and Health and Human Services (HHS).
- On November 10, the Senate Appropriations Committee released all FY2021 subcommittee allocations and its fiscal year (FY) 2021 bills, including the FY2021 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) bill. The Committee also announced that the bills will not be marked up by any of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittees or the full Senate Committee.
Presidential and Congressional Transition:
Long-time aide, Ron Klain announced as first Chief of Staff for President-elect Biden: President-elect Joe Biden announced the appointment of Ron Klain as the White House Chief of Staff. Klain was also the president-elect’s chief of staff when Biden served as vice president for President Barack Obama, as well as coordinated the White House’s Ebola response in 2014. “Ron has been invaluable to me over the many years that we have worked together, including as we rescued the American economy from one of the worst downturns in our history in 2009 and later overcame a daunting public health emergency in 2014,” stated President-elect Biden. A press release is here.
November 11, 2020
Agency review teams announced, Darling-Hammond to again lead USED team: The Biden-Harris Transition team announced the formation and members of Agency Review Teams (ARTs), including for the U.S. Departments of Education (USED) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The ARTs are responsible for evaluating the current operations of all federal agencies and identifying how the incoming Administration can be best prepared immediately following Inauguration. The ART responsible for USED will be led by Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, founder of the Learning Policy Institute (LPI). Darling-Hammond was the ART lead for the Obama-Biden Transition team in 2008 as well. The ART responsible for HHS will be led by Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, who is the Managing Director for Manatt Health. Currently, the ARTs can communicate with former agency staff and relevant organizations but not with existing agency staff. A press release is here. The full ART member lists are here.
November 10, 2020
McConnell, Schumer re-elected as Senate caucus leaders: Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were reelected the leaders of the respective caucuses for the next Congress. McConnell will continue as the longest serving Republican leader and Schumer will begin his third-term as Democratic leader. On the Republican side, the only change for the next Congress is that Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) will serve as the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. On the Democratic side, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) were added to leadership, as vice chair of the policy and communications committee and vice chair of outreach, respectively. A POLITICO article is here.
November 10, 2020
Budget and Appropriations:
Senate Appropriations Committee releases all FY21 spending bills, no plans to mark-up any: The Senate Appropriations Committee released all FY2021 subcommittee allocations and its fiscal year (FY) 2021 bills, including the FY2021 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) bill. The Committee also announced that the bills will not be marked up by any of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittees or the full Senate Committee; instead, the bills were released as an effort “to advance [the negotiating] process [and to] produce bipartisan results,” according to a Committee press release. Key funding levels included in the bill are $16.4 billion for Title I, an increase of $125 million above FY2020 levels; $5.9 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG), an increase of $50 million; $10.7 billion for Head Start, an increase of $100 million; and a $150 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award. The House and Senate are attempting to negotiate an agreement on final FY2021 appropriations bills before December 11, when current funding is set to expire. A press release from the Senate Appropriations Committee is here. A press release by Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is here. The text for the FY21 Labor/HHS bill is here. An explanatory statement for the bill is here.
November 10, 2020
Meadows directs White House staff to draft executive orders, may issue directive on school funding: POLITICO reported that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has directed White House staff to compile a series of potential Executive Orders that President Donald Trump can issue before the Inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. According to the article, included in that list is a potential Executive Order related to funding that schools have received as part of previous pandemic relief packages. The Executive Order would “seek to give COVID-19 relief money to parents in public school districts shut down by the coronavirus, allowing them to use the funds for private or parochial schools.” The POLITICO report is here. (Note: A subscription to POLITICO Pro is required.)
November 11, 2020
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On November 19-20 at 12:30 pm, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) will hold a quarterly meeting. The virtual meeting will include open sessions, but will also include a closed session to discuss operations of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and its associated budget. More information is here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On November 16 from 3:30-5 pm EST, the College Board Access and Diversity Collaborative will hold a webinar on “Major Federal Developments Affecting Higher Education Diversity and Admission: Harvard, UNC, and UT Updates and Implications.” This webinar will provide the latest news and insights from the current wave of federal litigation and administrative agency enforcement activity related to the consideration of race, ethnicity, and sex in admissions and other enrollment decisions—with a particular focus on pending federal court litigation involving Harvard, UNC, and UT. The webinar will include insights based on the November 12, 2020 decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. In addition to providing a comprehensive overview of the relevant policy and legal landscape, the presenters identify policy and practice strategies that institutions of higher education should be taking as they advance mission-based diversity goals in legally sustainable ways. More information and registration here.
- On November 17 at 2:00 pm, the Pathways to Adult Success (PAS) Learning Community will hold an event titled, “PAS Solutions Forum: Promoting Equity During COVID-19.” The PAS learning community is focused on developing innovative solutions to enable students’ school success during the pandemic. The event will feature PAS learning community members such as Ryan Mick, Vice President of School Design and Improvement of City Year; Leslie Cornfeld, Founder/CEO of the National Education Equity Lab; and Rosie Ayala, Manager of the Foundation for Tacoma Students College Support Network. More information and registration are here.
- On November 17 at 4:00 pm, FutureEd will hold an event titled, “Voices from the Classroom: Teachers on Teaching in a Pandemic.” The event is co-sponsored by TeachPlus and Educators for Excellence. More information and registration are here.
Publications (Congressional and Administrative):
- On November 10, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published a report titled “The Volume and Repayment of Federal Student Loans: 1995 to 2017.” The report examines the factors that contributed to the growth in the volume of student loans and the effects of changes to student loan policy on borrowing and repayment. Key findings of the report include identifying that the balance of outstanding federal student loan debt increased from $187 billion to $1.4 trillion (in 2017 dollars) between 1995 and 2017; and that the volume of student loans has grown because the number of borrowers increased, the average amount they borrowed increased, and the rate at which they repaid their loans slowed. The full report is here.
- On November 9, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the Social Security Administration (SSA) published an audit report titled “Social Security Administration Beneficiaries Eligible for Total and Permanent Disability Federal Student Loan Discharge.” The report presents the results of the Office of Audit’s review, which aimed to determine whether SSA notified USED about all beneficiaries with “medical improvement not expected” (or MINE) disability status. These beneficiaries with MINE disability status may have been eligible for total and permanent disability Federal student loan discharge, which relieves student loan borrowers who are totally and permanently disabled. According to a POLITICO report, “the Social Security Administration’s inspector general estimated that the agency failed to notify the Education Department about more than 36,000 borrowers whose disability status qualified them for a full discharge of debt.” A key finding of the report includes identifying that SSA needs to improve its data-matching process to assist USED in administering the total and permanent disability (TPD) discharge process for disability beneficiaries with student loan debt. The full report is here. POLITICO article is here. (Note: A subscription to POLITICO Pro is required.)
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On November 11, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) published a report titled “Education Data Legislation Review 2020.” The report tracked state legislation introduced this year in all 50 states and the District of Columbia with provisions that expressly affect the collection and use of education data. The numbers included in this summary reflect state legislation introduced as of October 9, 2020. Key findings of the report include identifying that policymakers are increasingly introducing bills that would address the information needs of students, educators, parents, and the public, although most new education data laws do not systematically support data use. The report encourages legislators to think holistically about how to leverage state data infrastructure to support decision-making and improvement at all levels, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The full report is here.
- On November 10, the Pew Charitable Trusts published a report titled “Nearly All States Suffer Declines in Education Jobs.” The report analyzed employment levels at local schools and public colleges, and found that education workers have been amongst the hardest hit by the economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Key findings of the report include identifying that that the majority of the temporary education job cuts have impacted local public schools, which has driven employment in the sector down in nearly every state from September 2019 to September 2020; and that, nationally, local public education is down 6.9% during the same period. The full report is here.
- On November 10, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) published a report titled “Weakening Economy, Widespread Hardship Show Urgent Need for Further Relief.” The report examines the current state of the economy, which remains “in a deep hole,” despite economic growth and labor market improvements since the plunge in economic activity and surge in unemployment in March and April, and calls on policymakers to “redouble their efforts” to negotiate a relief package to address the health and economic challenges facing the nation. Key findings of the report include identifying that the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) has grown little after rising sharply in May, and that most job losses in the private sector have occurred in low-wage industries. The report also highlights research that financial hardship can have serious effects on children’s long-term health and education. The full report is here.
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 by updating the definition of untaxed income and benefits.
Sponsor: Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA)