E-Update for the Week of October 26, 2020
- On October 22, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a Dear Colleague letter to the House Democratic Caucus to provide Members with an update on ongoing negotiations with the White House for a next pandemic relief package. “Our conversation provided more clarity and common ground as we move closer to an agreement,” she wrote.
- On October 22, House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) subpoenaed several USED career staff in an investigation into the Department’s role in the misconduct of Dream Center Education Holdings, a for-profit higher education company.
- On October 21, the Senate did not advance a targeted coronavirus relief bill, which would have provided an estimated $500 billion in pandemic relief funding. The
Coronavirus (as related to education issues):
Note that all information related to the coronavirus (or COVID-19) is up to date as of October 23. Given the fast-moving nature of congressional and administrative actions to address the growing pandemic, we will do our best to update this information as quickly as possible.
Senate fails to advance skinny relief bill, once again: The Senate did not advance a targeted coronavirus relief bill, which would have provided an estimated $500 billion in pandemic relief funding. The bill was based on a previous Republican proposal – often referred to as a Republican “skinny” proposal – which is aimed at providing targeted relief focused on schools, jobs, and health care. The 51-44 partisan vote failed to reach the 60-vote threshold to move the bill forward. A statement by Senate Appropriations Committee Richard Shelby (R-AL) on the Senate vote is here.
October 21, 2020
Murray calls on DeVos to clarify CARES Act student loan relief for borrowers: Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and 33 Senate Democrats sent a letter urging U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos to ensure all struggling federal student loan borrowers can gain access to crucial federal relief. According to new information provided to Senator Murray (D-WA) by the Department, 8.2 million federal student loan borrowers are unable to take advantage of student loan borrower relief included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, because some or all of their loans do not qualify. In the letter, Senators urge Secretary DeVos to immediately reach out to borrowers currently missing out on relief and help them consolidate their loans into qualifying loans. A press release is here. The letter is here.
October 21, 2020
Pelosi optimistic about stimulus negotiations but differences still exist with White House: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a Dear Colleague letter to the House Democratic Caucus to provide Members with an update on ongoing negotiations with the White House for a next pandemic relief package. “Our conversation provided more clarity and common ground as we move closer to an agreement. Today’s deadline enabled us to see that decisions could be reached, and language could be exchanged, demonstrating that both sides are serious about finding a compromise,” wrote the Speaker. She indicated that committee leaders have been directed to resolve differences about funding levels and bill language. The Speaker did not, however, provide any details on when a final agreement may be reached leading to the possibility that even if a deal is reached in the next few days passage prior to the election is becoming more unlikely. In comments made during a press conference, the Speaker indicated that there remain differences with the White House regarding school funding, state and local funding, and liability protections. The full letter is here.
October 22, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
DeVos ‘unsure’ on USED role in tracking school reopening plans, cites other databases: USED Secretary DeVos delivered remarks at a Milken Institute event titled, “Transforming K-12 Education in the Time of COVID-19.” During the event, Secretary DeVos said she’s “not sure there’s a role at the Department to collect and compile” data on school districts’ reopening plans or their coronavirus infection rate. “The data is there for those who want it,” Secretary DeVos said, referencing the various state and county public health databases. An article by The Hill is here.
October 20, 2020
Murray calls on DHS to identifying missing parents of migrant children: Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) issued a statement in response to reports of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) being unable to identify the parents of 545 children who were separated upon entering the country through the Southern Border. In her statement, the Ranking Member called for the need to pass her bill, S.2113, the “Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act,” which would prevent the U.S. Customs and Border Protection from separating a migrant child from their parent or legal guardian upon entry to the country. A press release is here.
October 21, 2020
Scott subpoenas USED career staff for role in Dream Center closures: House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) subpoenaed several USED career staff in an investigation into the Department’s role in the misconduct of Dream Center Education Holdings, a for-profit higher education company. The subpoenas demand the depositions of three career officials involved in the Department’s handling of the for-profit colleges that were purchased by a subsidiary of the Dream Center. After conducting a committee investigation spanning over one year, the Committee found that Under Secretary Diane Auer Jones – a former for-profit education lobbyist – worked extensively on behalf of Dream Center despite knowing that two of its schools had lost their accreditation and were improperly receiving taxpayer funding. Chairman Scott stated that the subpoenas were necessary because the Department had “obstructed the Committee at every turn” as it has sought to obtain documents and interview officials as part of the congressional investigation, which began in July 2019. A press release is here. A cover letter to the subpoena is here. The communications log between the Committee and the Department, as provided by the Committee, is here.
October 22, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
Department provides additional funding to Work Study experimental sites: USED announced additional funding for the Federal Work Study (FWS) Experimental Sites that would allow students to work more hours and permit institutions to pay students for work-based learning such as apprenticeships, externships, and clinical rotations. According to the Department, the funding will be used both “to supplement FWS wages and to create and grow Job Location and Development (JLD) programs,” which provide support for institutions as they seek out employer partners, help students find jobs, and oversee the quality of the work opportunities. The Department also stated that the supplemental allocation formula will prioritize funding for institutions enrolling low-income students based on the number of Pell Grant recipients the institution serves. A press release is here.
October 21, 2020
USED finds ‘massive failure’ in universities’ reporting of foreign funding sources: USED published a report detailing the “massive failure” of certain colleges and universities to disclose more than $6.5 billion in funding and resources from foreign sources. Such sources, according to the Department, included China, Russia, and other nations described as “foreign adversaries.” The Department released the report amid its effort to enforce a 1986 law requiring universities to disclose gifts and contracts of $250,000 or more from foreign sources. The Department’s findings are primarily based on investigations it has opened at 12 schools, including Harvard University, Yale University, Stanford University and Georgetown University. According to the Department, federal officials began investigating the schools amid suspicion that they had failed to report millions of dollars in gifts and contracts from foreign sources. A press release is here. A statement from House Committee on Education and Labor Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here. A statement from House Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY) is here.
October 20, 2020
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On October 27 at 2:00 pm, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Regional Education Lab (REL) for the Northeast and Islands will hold an event titled, “Student Voices: Perspectives on Antiracism in Schools.” The webinar will present two programs that are designed to identify and dismantle racism in schools. More information and registration are here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On October 26 at 2:00 pm, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) will hold an event titled, “Child Care in 25 States: What We Know and Don’t Know.” The webinar will focus on a soon to be released report of the same name that will examine the supply of, need for, and gaps in child care in 25 states. More information and registration are here.
- On October 27 at 1:00 pm, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will hold an event titled, “Why is college teaching so hit-or-miss, and what can we do about it?” The webinar will focus on a book authored by Jonathan Zimmerman titled, “The Amateur Hour: A History of College Teaching in America” and will examine how to better support quality instruction, help support students, and help institutions refocus on teaching. More information and registration are here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On October 22, the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) published a report titled, “Ready to Learn, Empowered to Teach: Guiding Principles for Effective Schools & Successful Students.” The report summarizes NASP’s policy recommendations necessary to maintaining a high-quality public education system. Key guiding principles from the report include recommendations to combine high expectations for all students with high-quality instruction across a well-rounded and culturally responsive curriculum for all students; to provide access to adequately staffed, comprehensive school-based mental and behavioral health services; and to create systems that support the recruitment and retention of trained professionals that reflect the diversity of the school community. The full report is here.
- On October 22, the ACT Center for Equity in Learning published a report titled, “What Do Students Say About School Safety?” The report summarizes students’ responses to open-ended questions from a survey that asked them to document their thoughts, feelings, and concerns about school safety. Key findings included identifying that 24 percent of students reported on their sense of safety at school; that 75 percent of those students felt safe at school, while 17 percent had mixed feelings; and that of the 28 percent of students who suggested actions that schools can do to make them feel safer, 17 percent of them suggested that there needed to be increased mental health resources. The full report is here.
- On October 22, Start Early (formerly known as the Ounce of Prevention Fund) and the University of Chicago’s Consortium on School Research published a report titled, “Closer to Home: More Equitable Pre-K Access and Enrollment in Chicago.” The report summarizes a study of whether and how Chicago’s school-based pre-k system was more equitable after Chicago Public Schools implemented a set of policies focused on changing access to and enrollment in school-based pre-k. Key findings of the report include identifying that the district’s initiative did result in increased access to and enrollment in full-day pre-k for high priority student groups; and that access served as a key policy lever for achieving greater equity in enrollment. The full report is here.
- On October 20, the Education Trust published a report titled, “Opportunities to Advance Educational Equity During the Next Administration.” The report summarizes the organization’s priorities for the next Administration and Congress related to early childhood, K-12, and higher education programs. Key priorities include identifying that a next coronavirus relief package should include at least $500 billion for state and local budget stabilization, including at least $175 billion for K-12 education and at least $50 billion for higher education; $50 billion for a child care stabilization fund; that Congress and the Administration support federal incentives for states to address inequities in school funding systems; and that the maximum Pell Grant award should be at least doubled to support access to higher education. The full report is here.
- On October 20, the Center for American Progress (CAP) published a report titled, “A First 100 Days Agenda for K-12 Education.” The report summarizes the organization’s priorities for a new Administration related to K-12 education. Key priorities include identifying that an explicit racial equity lens should be applied to policy development; that all students should be prepared for college and the future workforce; that the teaching profession should be modernized and elevated; that there should be dramatic increases in federal investments in public schools and improving the equity of existing investments; and a balanced approach to charter school policy should be used. The full report is here.
A bill to improve United States cybersecurity through STEM scholarships, prize competitions, and other STEM activities, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK)
A bill to provide resources for States, State educational agencies, local educational agencies, educators, school leaders, and others to measure and address instructional loss in students in kindergarten through grade 12.
Sponsor: Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI)