E-Update for the Week of November 4, 2019
- On October 31, the Senate rejected a procedural vote on a fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations minibus (a combination of two or more bills) with a 51-41 vote. For the minibus to have moved forward, 60 votes were required. The minibus included the appropriation bills for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (Labor/HHS), State-Foreign Operations, and Energy-Water.
- On October 31, the House Education and Labor Committee favorably reported H.R.4674, the “College Affordability Act,” by a party-line vote of 28-22. The College Affordability Act is the Democratic proposal to comprehensively reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). The report comes after a three-day markup of the bill which included consideration of over 50 amendments.
- On October 31, USED Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the publication of the final accreditation and state authorization distance education regulations. According to the Department, the final regulations are intended to expand educational options for students, lower the cost of postsecondary education, and ensure occupationally-focused education aligns to current workforce needs.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):
USED sends letter to State education chiefs on ESSA plan amendments, identification of schools for improvement: U.S. Department of Education (USED) Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan sent a letter to state education leaders. The letter detailed how states should submit amendments to their state Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans; how states should identify schools for comprehensive support and improvement (CSI), targeted support and improvement (TSI), and additional targeted support and improvement (ATSI); how states are to report and publish all schools identified for improvement; and how states can access technical assistance in implementing these ESSA requirements. “I want to express my appreciation for the work you and your team have done implementing your consolidated State plan under [ESSA], while also representing the unique needs of your districts, schools, and stakeholders,” wrote the Assistant Secretary. The full letter is here.
October 24, 2019
Budget and Appropriations:
Senate fails to advance Labor/HHS appropriations package, again: The Senate rejected a procedural vote on a fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations minibus (a combination of two or more bills) with a 51-41 vote. For the minibus to have moved forward, 60 votes were required. The minibus included the appropriation bills for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (Labor/HHS), State-Foreign Operations, and Energy-Water. Democrats objected to the measure as they do not believe Senate Republicans have engaged or negotiated with them in full faith to reach a consensus on the bills. Floor remarks from Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) are here. A statement by Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is here.
October 31, 2019
Pelosi, McConnell reported to be in talks over FY2020 appropriations bills: POLITICO reported that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) held a phone conversation to discuss Congress’s approach to completing all 12 FY2020 appropriations bills before the end of the calendar year. According to reports of the call, the congressional leaders were both committed to completing the bills before the end of the year; however, there were no reports on how the leaders intend to reach that goal.
October 30, 2019
Hoyer to McConnell – ‘work together with us’ on funding government: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urging him to work with Democrats in order to reach a bipartisan agreement on topline spending levels for each of the 12 individual appropriations bills for FY2020. These levels, referred to as 302(b) allocations have been a main point of contention for House and Senate informal negotiations, particularly related to defense and nondefense spending amounts. “I am urging you, as the November 21 deadline approaches, not to forgo our responsibility to act on appropriations by taking up another months-long continuing resolution but to take a meaningful step forward and work together with us to reach bipartisan agreement on 302(b) allocations for all twelve appropriations bills,” wrote Majority Leader Hoyer. Government funding is set to expire on November 21, when the current continuing resolution (CR) ends. The full letter from Majority Leader Hoyer is here.
October 29. 2019
Senate, House Democrats seek answers on declining enrollment in children health insurance coverage: House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar. The Congressmen urged the Secretary to explain why there has been a decrease in the number of children has been covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The total enrollment losses since December 2017 now top one million children, according to the letter. A press release is here. The full letter is here.
October 29, 2019
Education Committee advances Democrats’ proposal to revamp higher education: The House Education and Labor Committee favorably reported H.R.4674, the “College Affordability Act,” by a party-line vote of 28-22. The College Affordability Act is the Democratic proposal to comprehensively reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). The report comes after a three-day markup of the bill which included consideration of over 50 amendments. At the conclusion, the Committee adopted 15 amendments to the bill. The bill could now move to the full House for consideration but is unclear as to when this could happen. Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) has expressed that he wishes for the bill to be considered by the House before the end of the year, but there are competing demands related to appropriations bills for FY2020 and the House impeachment inquiry. A statement by Chairman Scott is here. A statement by Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here. A list of the amendments considered is here.
October 31, 2019
House Budget Republicans decry costs of Democrats’ higher education plan: The House Budget Committee Republicans published a post titled, “Budget Buster: Making College Unaffordable.” The post refers to the House Education and Labor Committee favorably reporting H.R.4674, the “College Affordability Act,” out of Committee. The post argues that the bill would “substantially add to the federal debt” and specifically notes that one of the more expensive provisions in the bill is the one-time $625 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award and the indexing to inflation for the awards. The post concludes by stating House Republicans support “fiscally responsible reforms to ensure federal resources are targeted at students most in need.” The full post is here.
October 31, 2019
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
DeVos publishes final accreditation and distance education regulations: USED Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the publication of the final accreditation and state authorization distance education regulations. According to the Department, the final regulations are intended to expand educational options for students, lower the cost of postsecondary education, and ensure occupationally-focused education aligns to current workforce needs. “These reforms are necessary to bring higher education into the current century, to be more responsive to the needs of students, and to reduce the skyrocketing cost of higher education,” stated the Secretary. The regulations will take effect on July 1, 2020. According to the Department, it is expected USED will soon publish final regulations related to distance education and innovation, TEACH grants, and the equitable treatment of faith-based institutions. A press release is here. The final rule is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) in response to the final rule is here.
October 31, 2019
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On October 30, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) published a report titled, “Impacts of a Principal Professional Development Program Focused on Instructional Leadership.” The report summarizes a study on the effectiveness of a principal professional development program related to student academic achievement. Key findings of the report include identifying that principals’ practices did not change in ways intended by the program; that teachers reported principals who received the professional development received less frequent instructional support and feedback; and that the program did not improve students’ academic achievement. The full report is here.
- On October 30, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) published a report titled, “The Nation’s Report Card.” This is a biannual publication based on the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Key findings of the report include identifying that scores for fourth- and eighth-grade students have decreased since 2017; that reading scores for both high-performing and low-performing students have decreased; and that there has been no significant progress on academic improvement since 2009. Additionally, USED Secretary DeVos released a statement in response to the publication, stating “This must be America’s wake-up call. We cannot abide these poor results any longer. We can neither excuse them away nor simply throw more money at the problem.” The full report is here. The full statement by the Secretary is here.
- On October 28, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report titled, “Religious-Based Hate Crimes: DOJ Needs to Improve Support to Colleges Given Increasing Reports on Campuses.” The report summarizes a study of religious-based hate crime and bias incidents on college campuses, what steps colleges have taken to address them, and what USED and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have done to help colleges monitor and address such bias incidents. Key findings of the report include identifying that the number of reported religious-based hate crimes spiked in 2016 according to USED and DOJ data, with a high number of anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim crimes being reported; that the Attorney General should ensure that DOJ offices have updated information available to college campuses and how they may address such incidents; and that DOJ should have a centralized location on the website for assisting stakeholders in addressing and monitoring such incidents. The full report is here.
- On October 28, IES published a report titled, “Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Survey Analysis.” The report summarizes an analysis of a survey administered to states about the type of data that they include in their respective SLDSs, how they use their SLDS to inform policy, and how well the SLDS links information across different sectors. Key findings of the report include identifying that student demographic information, grade level, school enrollment and completion, attendance, and statewide assessment data were all operational and available in 96 percent of SLDSs; that at least 70 percent of SLDSs have automated linking between K-12 student data to K-12 teacher data, postsecondary data, Perkins CTE data, and early childhood data; and that states most often reported that SLDSs were useful in reporting K-12 student data for feedback reports for high schools and state legislature reports. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On October 30, the ACT published a report titled, “The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2019.” The report, which is published annually, summarizes a review of the year’s administration of the ACT and student results. Key findings of the report include identifying that nearly 1.8 million high school graduates took the exam in 2019; that 37 percent of test takers met at least three of the four ACT benchmarks for college and career readiness, which is a one percent decrease from 2018; and that 36 percent of test takers did not meet any of the four benchmarks, which is a one percent increase from 2018. The full report is here.
- On October 29, the Data Quality Campaign, Learning Heroes, and National PTA published a brief titled, “Disaggregated Data: Not Just a Box Checking Exercise.” The brief discusses the importance of disaggregated data on student performance, especially when reported on school and state report cards. The brief offers key recommendations for data reports including making the data easier to find; helping families understand the data; and explaining what the data means and why it’s there. The full brief is here.
- On October 24, the Brookings Institution published a report titled, “Better serving the needs of America’s homeless students.” The report summarizes an examination of federal funding and support for homeless students. Key findings of the report include identifying that the percent of students facing homelessness in public schools has nearly doubled to almost 3 percent since 2006; that academic achievement for students facing homelessness is lower than students who are considered economically disadvantaged; and that federal funding, offered through McKinney-Vento funding, for students facing homelessness is roughly $54 per student. The full report is here.
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On November 19, the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a full Committee hearing titled, “Debt Relief to Defrauded Students.” The hearing will focus on efforts of the U.S. Department of Education (USED) related to assisting students who attended the now closed Corinthian Colleges. The Committee notes that USED Secretary DeVos has been invited to testify. A press release by Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here. More information will be posted here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On November 5 at 4:00pm, the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the Fordham Institute will hold an event titled, “Moonshot for Kids.” The event will feature a “shark tank” type set up for individuals to propose their own education “Moonshot” and propose the next “billion-dollar” idea for education. Experts will judge the ideas presented and offer a chance for finalists to win $10,000 for their idea to propel forward. One of the expert panelists will be Sara Allan of the K-12 Education Strategy Leadership team of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. More information and registration are here.
- On November 6 at 12:00pm, the Heritage Foundation will hold an event titled, “The Not-So-Great Society.” The event will discuss the “War on Poverty” and how it has addressed (or not) issues facing the country’s education system. The event will also feature a discussion of bold conservative solutions to improve the situation. More information and registration can be done by emailing Jude Schwalbach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- On November 6 at 3:00pm, the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) will hold an event titled, “Integrating Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning: Lessons for Educators and School Leaders.” The webinar will discuss the benefits and challenges of integrating social, emotion, and academic learning in the classroom and explore concrete strategies to inform practice. More information and registration are here.
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to remove all adverse credit history related to a loan from the credit history of a borrower who has rehabilitated the loan.
Sponsor: Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to establish a work-based learning opportunities pilot grant program.
Sponsor: Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA)
A bill to provide for appropriations for Title I of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.
Sponsor: Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to increase the knowledge and skills of principals and school leaders regarding early childhood education.
Sponsor: Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
A bill to reduce violence and health disparities by addressing social determinants of health, enhancing health care recruitment, and improving the delivery of quality, coordinated care services, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
A bill to increase rates of college completion and reduce college costs by accelerating time to degree, aligning secondary and postsecondary education, and improving postsecondary credit transfer.
Sponsor: Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH)