E-Update for November 7, 2022
The information covered below is from October 27 to November 3.
- On October 31, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases brought by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) challenging race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC).
- On October 31, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) released final regulations for existing federal student loan discharge programs, including Borrower Defense to Repayment (BD), Total and Permanent Disability Discharge, Closed School Discharge, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
- On October 27, USED announced $50 million in supplemental grant funding through the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program to increase attendance and engagement of middle grades and high school students.
President Biden announces anticipated approval of 16 million student loan debt cancellation applications, but loan forgiveness continues to be on hold following recent court ruling: On November 3, President Biden announced that USED will have approved 16 million student loan debt cancellation applications by “the end of the week,” or Friday, November 4. Under the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan, USED will cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loans for certain Pell Grant recipients, and up to $10,000 for certain non-Pell Grant recipients. Applications for loan forgiveness opened on October 15, and in President Biden’s remarks this week, he confirmed that close to 26 million borrowers have submitted an application. However, on October 21, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals – which covers appeals in the Eastern District of Missouri, along with cases in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Arkansas – temporarily put the program on hold and prohibited the Biden Administration from “discharging any student loan debt” until it rules on the emergency request from the six states. Despite ongoing legal challenges to the student loan forgiveness plan, both President Biden and USED Secretary Miguel Cardona have continued to encourage eligible borrowers to apply.
White House announces new commitments to equitable workforce development for infrastructure jobs: On November 2, the White House published a new fact sheet and guide with commitments to developing equitable workforce development for infrastructure jobs through the Infrastructure Talent Pipeline Challenge. The fact sheet outlines commitments from the federal government and from private organizations to expand equitable pathways to jobs and meet employer needs. The announcement also features more than 50 institutions of higher education – community colleges, technical colleges, and four-year universities – that are committed to recruiting students from diverse backgrounds to programs that meet skilled labor needs. The guide, titled “Advancing Equitable Workforce Development for Infrastructure Jobs,” provides information on the federal workforce development system and notes advantages that Registered Apprenticeship programs could have for employers and workers, such as hiring and retaining a skilled and diverse workforce. The guide also highlights specific USED programs that can fund workforce development initiatives, including Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act State Grants, Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) programs, and Pell Grants. Both the fact sheet and guide spotlight states and communities that have implemented successful programs specific to their industry and local needs.
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED announces supplemental grant funds through summer and after school program to increase attendance and engagement of students: On October 27, USED announced supplemental grant awards to states existing fiscal year (FY) 2022 grants through the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program. The $50 million in total supplemental funds, which will be dispersed across states according to the current formula for the program, was included in Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Specifically, funding is being awarded to increase attendance and engagement of middle grades and high school students. In the announcement, OESE recommended the following strategies to support students in attendance and engagement: creating a welcoming and inclusive environment, providing family engagement, implementing trauma-informed practices, and establishing mentoring programs, among other activities.
USED announces final regulations for federal student loan discharge programs: On October 31, USED released final regulations for existing federal student loan discharge programs, including Borrower Defense to Repayment (BD), Total and Permanent Disability Discharge, Closed School Discharge, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. USED first proposed these changes in July and in general made only minor modifications to the proposals in these final regulations. These topics were first negotiated in late 2021, during which consensus among negotiators was reached and the text of the proposed rule was recommended to USED for three issues in this package, including interest capitalization, total and permanent disability discharges, and false certification discharges. For other topics on which the Negotiated Rulemaking committee did not reach consensus, USED proceeded with its normal rulemaking activities. The most significant change from the proposed rules was the provision that all approved BD claims will receive a full discharge, removing the provision allowing USED to grant borrowers a partial discharge on approved claims. The regulations will be effective July 1, 2023. The federal register notice with the regulations is available here, along with a fact sheet outlining the final rules.
USED issues FAFSA Simplification Act changes for implementation in the 2023-2024 Award Year: On November 4, USED issued a notice announcing the timely implementation for the 2023-2024 Award Year of a few provisions of the FAFSA Simplification Act (the majority of the Act’s provisions are still slated for implementation in the 2024-2025 Award Year). The three major changes are: (1) Section 702(b) regarding cost of attendance which is intended to provide more cost transparency to students, requiring that institutions account for sufficient food costs, separate allowance for transportation, and disclosure of childcare costs; (2) Section 703 restoring Pell Grant eligibility to students who were misled or defrauded by their institution; and (3) implementing recently published rules re-establishing Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated students. The notice can be found here.
U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments regarding the continuing lawfulness of race-conscious admissions policies: On October 31, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases brought by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) challenging race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC). SFFA seeks to overturn decades of Court precedent and eliminate the consideration of an applicant’s race/ethnicity in higher education admissions. In the nearly five-hour marathon of oral arguments, the Members of the Court addressed a wide range of issues, including: the validity of the Court’s four-decade precedent that permits the limited consideration of race in admissions to achieve diversity-related goals; the viability of a range of race-neutral policies; whether a definitive endpoint to the consideration of race is warranted; and the equity implications of precluding students from discussing their racial identity in their applications. SFFA’s counsel distinguished the potential contextual relevance of an applicant’s race as part of holistic review (which they did not challenge) from a categorical, “check-the-box” consideration of “just race” in the admission process (which was their central point of challenge). Final decisions in the SFFA cases are expected by the end of June 2023. A recording of the oral arguments can be found here and the transcripts are here.
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ):
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announces $136 million to reform state and local juvenile justice systems: On November 1, the DOJ announced over $136 million in grant awards to state and local juvenile justice systems to support reforms in youth violence prevention, to support mentoring programs, and to study outcomes for youth in the justice system. The grants are administered through the Office of Justice Programs’ Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and will support programs like the Title II Formula Grants Program, which supports state and local delinquency prevention and intervention efforts, as well as the National Mentoring Programs Initiative, which assists in implementing mentoring services to youth at risk for delinquency. The awards are meant to advance the OJJDP’s three priorities aimed at continuing the trend away from youth involvement in the juvenile justice system: treating children as children; serving them in their homes, with their families, and in their communities; and opening opportunities for system-involved youth. OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan shared her support, stating, “These investments deliver on a pledge to put youth first and to make contact with the system rare, fair, and beneficial for those it is intended to serve.”
Upcoming Events (Congress & Administration):
- On November 8 at 10:00 am, the S. Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Labs will host a webinar titled, “Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign Recognition Kick Off.” The webinar will outline how K-12 schools can be recognized for their efforts to improve school health and air quality through the Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign. The campaign, aimed at areas serving low-income and underserved student populations, helps schools reduce energy costs and improve energy performance. More information and registration here.
- From November 16-18, the National Assessment Governing Board will host an open meeting in Washington, D.C. Multiple committees will meet on November 17 to discuss recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data and assessment items, including the Executive Committee, Reporting and Dissemination Committee, Assessment Development Committee, Committee on Standards, Design and Methodology, and the Nomination Committee. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Commissioner Peggy Carr and Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Director Mark Schneider will both provide updates on federal budgeting and assessment schedules. More information, registration, and instructions to submit public comment are here.
- On December 5 and 6 from 4:00-7:00 pm, the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders will host an open meeting. The Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders will meet to discuss full and draft recommendations by the Commission’s six Subcommittees on ways to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. The Subcommittees are: Belonging, Inclusion, Anti-Asian Hate, Anti-Discrimination; Data Disaggregation; Language Access; Economic Equity; Health Equity; and Immigration and Citizenship Status. More information and registration here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On November 7 at 10:00 am, the Brookings Institution will host a virtual discussion titled, “How can we support local learning priorities in the post-COVID-19 era?” As education systems consider how to best support students in recovery from the pandemic, the discussion will explore whether leaders should prioritize building literacy and numeracy skills, or more holistic skills like social-emotional learning and critical thinking. Speakers include Lynda Eunice Nakaibale, Program Associate at Raising Teenagers Uganda; Suman Sachdeva, Education Specialist at UNICEF Sierra Leone; Mexican Ambassador to the United States and the Former Mexican Secretary of Public Education Esteban Moctezuma; and Rukmini Banerji, CEO of the Pratham Education Foundation. More information and registration here.
- On November 9 at 10:00 am, the Brookings Institution will host a webcast titled, “Making schools work: How the science of learning can help students thrive.” The webcast will discuss a new book written by teachers, school administrators, and scientists to create a model for changing educational mindsets around joyful learning in the classroom. The discussion will feature Angela Duckworth, Co-founder, Chief Scientist, and Board Member, Character Lab, and Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania; Author Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development, Center for Universal Education, and Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Faculty Fellow, Department of Psychology, Temple University; Carol Lautenbach, Fellow, Steelcase Social Innovation Lab and Grand Rapids (MI) Community Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship; Robert Pianta, Dean, School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia; and Eduardo Escallon Largacha, Founder, Spanish Center, and Dean of School of Education, Universidad de los Andes. More information and registration here.
- On November 9 at 10:00 am, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host an in-person event titled, “What Will the 2022 Midterm Elections Mean for Education?” The panel discussion will consider how the midterm election results could affect federal and state education policies. Panelists include Derrell Bradford, President, 50CAN; Frederick M. Hess, Director of Education Policy Studies, AEI; Bethany Little, Principal, EducationCounsel; Andy J. Rotherham, Cofounder, Bellwether; with moderator Nat Malkus, Deputy Director of Education Policy Studies, AEI. More information and registration for in-person and virtual viewing here.
- On November 14 at 10:00 am, the Center for Universal Education at The Brookings Institution and The School Superintendents Association (AASA) will host a virtual event titled, “How district leaders start and sustain community schools.” The event will launch an upcoming report, “Starting and sustaining community schools: 10 tips for district leaders,” which focuses on the role superintendents and district leaders can play in successfully implementing the community school strategy. The panel will be moderated by report author and Director of the Education Policy and Leadership Program at American University Reuben Jacobson, and feature Adrienne Battle, Director, Metro Nashville Public Schools, TN; Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators; Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent, Hartford Public Schools, CT; and Ingrid Williams-Horton, Director of Community Schools, Prince George’s County Public Schools, MD. More information and registration here.
- On November 15 at 2:00 pm, the Bipartisan Policy Center will host a webinar titled, “The Supreme Court, Race-Conscious Admissions, and the Campus Fallout.” In light of recent Supreme Court cases considering race in college admissions, a panel of experts will discuss how colleges can prepare for “difficult” questions and conversations about race. Panelists include Fanta Aw, Vice President of Undergraduate Enrollment, Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence at American University; Wanda Heading-Grant, Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer at Carnegie Mellon University; and Andrew Tutt, Senior Associate, Arnold & Porter. More information and registration here.
- On November 30 at 3:00 pm, the Education Law Center, in partnership with the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) and ETS, will host a webinar titled, “Money Matters: Evidence Supporting Greater Investment in PK-12 Public Education.” The webinar will feature experts in school finance reform to present the benefits of increased education spending in PK-12 public education to improve student achievement. Panelists include Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, President & CEO of LPI and the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University; Dr. Rucker Johnson, the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy in the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and faculty research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research; and Dr. Jesse Rothstein, Director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) and professor of public policy and economics at the University of California, Berkeley. More information and registration here.
Publications (Congress & Administration):
- On October 27, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a new report titled, “Veterans Employment: Promising VA Technology Education Pilot Would Benefit from Better Outcome Measures and Plans for Improvement.” The VET TEC program was created through the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, which instructed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop a 5-year pilot program to help veterans obtain high-technology jobs. The GAO found that more than 6,700 veterans enrolled in the program from May 2019 through May 2022, and about 66% of the enrollees completed training, but the VA is missing information as to why some veterans dropped out of the program. The report also notes that because the VA is not collecting relevant data, it cannot assess the program’s success. The GAO made six recommendations to the VA Secretary, including requiring training providers to inform VA of the reasons why veterans drop out of the VET TEC program; using available data, determine what additional data are needed to fully inform VET TEC employment outcomes, and develop concrete time frames for collecting and reporting these data; and identifying and documenting a single set of clear, measurable objectives for the VET TEC program.
- On November 2, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a new analysis titled, “Update on student loan borrowers during payment suspension.” The analysis provides an update to an April 2022 report on the credit health of student loan borrowers during the pandemic, after which inflation has risen and delinquencies and balances have increased. The report shows that a growing share of student loan borrowers are 60 days or more past due on a non-student-loan credit account since mid-2021. Data showed that as of September 2022, 7.1 percent of borrowers who were not in default on their loans at the start of the pandemic were having difficulty repaying other debts, an increase from 6.2 percent at the beginning of the pandemic.
- On November 3, the Institute of Education Sciences posted new findings of the 2022 School Pulse Panel. The new findings reflect data collection in September 2022 from 1,010 public elementary, middle, high, and combined-grade schools. The areas of focus were after school programs, learning mode (in-person, hybrid, remote), mitigation, quarantine, and summer programs, among others. Responses to the surveys found that 56 percent of schools are providing after-school support for students who need academic assistance, 48 percent of which implemented high-dosage tutoring. The data also showed no significant change in schools offering full-time in-person instruction – 99 percent of schools offered this learning mode in September, as compared to 98 percent in June. Finally, 69 percent of public schools indicated that they required selected students to attend summer programs for academic support, 34 percent of which included high-dosage tutoring.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On October 26, the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) released a new analysis titled, “COVID Relief Funds: Still a Potential Source of Funding for Boosting Career and College Readiness.” In light of recent scores from the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) showing a significant decline in national reading and mathematics scores, the analysis studied how much federal pandemic relief money has been spent. Through data from USED, NCAN’s findings show that beneficiaries have spent the following amounts of funding: 34% of Elementary and Secondary Education Relief Funds (ESSER), 87% of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEER); 26% of Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS); and 70% of Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER). NCAN also released a helpful spreadsheet totaling spending and spending rates for each fund, and showing each state’s spending on all four funds. Authors recommended that program leaders discuss spending with state and local officials and provided multiple questions to ask to find strategies to best serve students who need extra support.
- On November 1, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) published a new report titled, “Leading Forward: Ideas from the Listening and Learning Tour.” Gregg Wieczorek, NASSP’s Immediate Past President, visited schools in all 50 states and this report features one or more idea(s) from most of the schools in 10 broad categories. These categories are: advisory time, student recognition, scheduling, connecting with the community, curriculum and instruction (student- and teacher-focused), making connections (student and teacher perspective), social-emotional/mental health, and teacher preparation.
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to establish a pro bono service requirement for individuals who borrow Federal student loans for graduate legal education, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN)
A bill to direct the Secretary of Education to establish a pilot program to award competitive grants for the integration of cybersecurity education, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. James Langevin (D-RI)
A bill to establish an award allocation to facilitate financial literacy programs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. David Scott (D-GA)