E-Update for the Week of October 28, 2019

E-Update for the Week of October 28, 2019

Highlights:

  • On October 25, the House Education and Labor Committee issued a notice announcing a full Committee markup of H.R. 4674, the “College Affordability Act,” which is the House Democratic bill to comprehensively reauthorize The markup will occur on October 29 beginning at 10:15 am.
  • On October 24, a judge for the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California held USED Secretary DeVos in contempt of court due to the Department’s continued collection on student loans owed by former students of Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit operator that closed in 2015.
  • On October 22, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced S.2667, a bill to simply and shorten the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The bill would shorten the application from over 100 questions to between 18-30 questions, according to the Chairman.

Congress:

Senate:

Alexander, Jones introduce FAFSA simplification bill: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced S.2667, a bill to simply and shorten the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The bill would shorten the application from over 100 questions to between 18-30 questions, according to the Chairman. The bill would also allow students as young as middle school to easily learn about their likely Pell Grant award and “reduce the need for the burdensome verification process.” The verification process currently requires families to submit federal tax information, which often results in the delay of student aid being distributed or approved. The Chairman has proposed variations of the bill since 2014. The current bill is co-sponsored by Senator Doug Jones (D-AL). A press release is here.

It is unclear at this time if S. 2667 will receive further consideration, including Senate HELP Committee consideration. There has been no public response to the Chairman’s proposal from Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA). H.R. 4674, the “College Affordability Act,” which was introduced by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) as the House Democratic bill to comprehensively reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA), also includes a proposal to simply the FAFSA.
October 22, 2019

House:

Education Committee to markup Democrats’ HEA bill on Tuesday: The House Education and Labor Committee issued a notice announcing a full Committee markup of H.R. 4674, the “College Affordability Act,” which is the House Democratic bill to comprehensively reauthorize HEA.  The markup will occur on October 29 beginning at 10:15 am. The markup could extend into October 30, as the Committee is expecting a large number of amendments. The bill focuses on reinvesting in higher education by restoring state and federal investments, increasing quality through accountability measures, and expanding opportunities by investing in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). The markup notice is here.  A press release on H.R. 4674 is here. A summary of the bill is here. A title-by-title of the bill is here. The bill text is here.
October 25, 2019

Bonamici, House Democrats call on OCR to release information on investigations into LGBTQ+ students’ harassment complaints:  Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and 58 House Democrats, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth Marcus. The letter outlines the members’ concerns regarding a recent report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) that illustrated the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) was significantly less likely to take corrective action on sexual orientation and gender identity-related complaints compared to the Obama administration. The letter also cites an earlier decision by the Trump administration to rescind guidance on transgender and gender nonconforming students’ access to bathrooms and other gender-segregated facilities in schools. The letter directed the Secretary to provide a number of pieces of information related to OCR investigations related to sexual orientation and gender-based harassment complaints as well as how the Department is currently interpreting protections under Title IX for LGBTQ+ students. The full letter is here. A press release is here.
October 22, 2019

Chairman Scott threatens subpoena if USED does not release information on for-profit college closure: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary DeVos urging her to provide the Committee with requested documents related to the Department’s role in the closure of Dream Center Education Holdings, a for-profit college operator. Within the letter, the Chairman indicated to the Secretary that he is prepared to subpoena the Department for the documents if USED continues to refuse the request. “If the Department continues to refuse to respond, the Committee will then be forced to conclude that the Department is purposefully frustrating Congressional oversight for reasons that are not in the best interest of the American taxpaying public. Therefore, the Committee is left to consider utilizing the full powers at Congress’ disposal to obtain these critical documents,” wrote the Chairman. The Secretary has until November 26 to comply with the request. A press release is here. The full letter is here.
October 22, 2019

Administration:

White House:

Trump creates advisory council on science and technology: President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order to establish an advisory council on science and technology. The “President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)” is intended to advise the president on issues related to science, technology, education, and innovation policy. The advisory council will last for two year according to the order. No members of the advisory council have been announced or appointed. The Executive Order is here.
October 22, 2019

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

DeVos held in contempt of court for continued collections on student loans of former Corinthian Colleges students: A judge for the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California held USED Secretary DeVos in contempt of court due to the Department’s continued collection on student loans owed by former students of Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit operator that closed in 2015. The Department, in addition to being held in contempt, is ordered to pay a $100,00 fine. The judge had previously ordered the Department to cease its collection on the loans as the students qualified for partial loan discharge under the borrower defense rule.

The Department has previously explained to the Court that miscommunication between the Department and the loan servicing company contracted by the Department resulted in the erroneous collections. The judge indicated that the Department could receive additional sanctions if it does not comply with her initial order to cease loan collections. The Department, on Twitter, stated “We’re disappointed in the court’s ruling. We acknowledge that servicers made unacceptable mistakes. [Secretary DeVos] directed [the Office of Federal Student Aid] to take immediate action to help every impacted borrower.” A POLITICO article is here. The Department’s tweet is here. The judge’s contempt order is here.
October 24, 2019

DeVos celebrates 15th anniversary of DC school voucher program: USED Secretary DeVos held an event to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which is the only federally funded student voucher program. During the event, the Secretary urged Congress to support the program once again. “As Congress considers reauthorization of this program, its members should listen to the life-changing success stories of those who received scholarships,” stated the Secretary. House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) also attended the event. A press release is here.
October 22, 2019

USED announces universities, financial service companies to participate in student loan payment card pilot project: USED announced that it has selected four universities and three financial service companies to participate in a pilot program for student financial aid payment cards. The program, announced in 2018, intends for financial aid that is awarded to a student to be applied on a payment card that students can then use to pay for other expenses beyond tuition, such as books or living expenses. The universities participating in the pilot include Purdue University, University of Georgia, Jackson State University, and the University of California, Riverside. The financial service companies include First Data, Urban FT, and Metabank. A POLITICO article is here.
October 21, 2019

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ):

DOJ announces STOP School Violence grant awardees, awards over $85 million: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it awarded more than $85 million through the STOP School Violence Act, which was authorized by Congress in 2018. According to the Department, 215 awards were made to schools, districts, and other jurisdictions to develop school threat assessment teams; implement or improve school safety measures; train law enforcement to help deter student violence against themselves and others; improve notification to first responders; develop and operate anonymous reporting systems of potential school threats; train school officials to intervene when mentally ill individuals threaten school safety; and provide training and technical assistance to schools. “By training faculty, students and first responders, and by improving school security measures, we can make schools and their communities safer,” stated Attorney General William Barr. A press release is here. A list of all 2019 awardees is here.
October 21, 2019

Publications (Congressional and Administration):

  • On October 21, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) published a report titled, “National Evaluation of the Comprehensive Centers Program.” The report summarizes an evaluation of the 22 Comprehensive Centers and the technical assistance (TA) they provided. Key findings of the report include identifying that Centers and the TA recipients reported that the TA provided by the Centers improved the capacity of state educational agencies (SEAs); that Centers largely shared similar approaches to design and implementation of their TA; and that areas of improvement include clarification of the Centers’ role and expected outcomes related to work with local educational agencies (LEAs) and for guidance from SEAs on how best to use Centers. The full report is here.

Publications (Outside Organizations):

  • On October 24, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published a report titled, “State Higher Education Funding Cuts Pushed Costs to Students, Worsened Inequality.” The report summarizes an analysis of the impacts of decreased state funding for two- and four-year colleges between 2008 and 2018. Key findings of the report include identifying that between 2008 and 2018 41 states spent less per student; that four-year public college tuition rose by 37 percent since 2008; and that only nine states have increased funding per student since 2008. The full report is here.
  • On October 21, the Center for American Progress (CAP) published a report titled, “Investing in Infant and Toddler Child Care to Strengthen Working Families.” The report summarizes an economic analysis of access to child care for families with children under the age of 3 years old. Key findings of the report include identifying that families with an infant or toddler spend 50 percent more on child care than families with a preschooler; there are less infants and toddlers in licensed child care compared to preschoolers, 27 percent and 46 percent respectively; and that on average parents see a significant reduction in income following the birth of a child, which results in a higher level of credit card debt. The full report is here.
  • On October 21, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) published a report titled, “Overcoming the Challenges Facing Innovative Learning Models in K-12 Education: Lessons from Teach to One.” The report summarizes an analysis of a learning model developed by New Classrooms called “Teach to One: Math” which focuses on collaborative and independent learning that enables personalized learning for every student. Key findings of the report include identifying that in order to achieve meaningful improvements to student outcomes learning models will need to challenge the basic constructs of classroom operation, which makes innovative learning models difficult to adopt; that schools tend to resist efforts to redesign classrooms due to multiple factors; and that in order to allow for innovation to occur multiple areas of school operation need to be evaluated including accountability policies, supports for innovative teachers, and procurement practices. The full report is here.

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):

  • On October 29 at 10:15am, the House Education and Labor Committee will conduct a full Committee markup of H.R. 4674, the “College Affordability Act.” The markup could extend into October 30, as the Committee is expecting a large number of amendments. The markup notice is
  • On October 28, iNACOL will hold its annual symposium titled, “Shining a Light on the Future of Learning.” The symposium will feature keynote addresses by Brooke Stafford-Brizard of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Jackie Statum Allen of the Bush Institute, and Kirsten Baesler, the North Dakota state superintendent. The symposium is focused on bringing together experts, practitioners, educators, school and district leaders, policymakers and researchers to discuss big ideas and innovations and work together to create a path toward transforming the nation’s education system. Registration can be completed using the code iNACOLMedia19. More information and registration are here.
  • On October 28 at 8:00am, Gallup will hold an event titled, “Creativity in Learning: Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow.” The event will discuss how America’s schools are currently set up and how they need to be set up in order for today’s students to be successful in the workforce of tomorrow. More information and registration are here.
  • On October 30 at 12:15pm, the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) will hold an event titled, “Supporting a Well-Prepared and Diverse Teacher Workforce.” The event will feature Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity, the Center for American Progress (CAP), the Southern Education Foundation, and Teach Plus as they discuss the current conditions within states that have contributed to widespread shortages of teachers across subject and geographic areas. More information and registration are here.
  • On October 30 at 2:00pm, the Forum for Youth Investment will hold an event titled, “Moving from Research to Implementation in Social and Emotional Learning: Exploring the Kernels of Practice with Stephanie Jones.” The webinar will feature Stephanie Jones of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and she will discuss what small-scale strategies can be implemented to address specific behavior needs in students and classrooms. More information and registration are here.
  • On October 31 at 1:30pm, the Alliance for Excellent Education will hold an event titled, “Why Us/Why Now? The Case for Inclusive 21st Century Learning.” The webinar will feature Linda Darling-Hammond of the Learning Policy Institute and Deborah Delisle of the Alliance for Excellent Education. More information and registration are here.

Legislation:

H.R.4776
A bill to direct the Secretary of Education to establish a competitive grant program to award grants to local educational agencies to address implicit bias in elementary and secondary schools, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)

H.R.4787
A bill to amend title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 in order to increase the amount of financial support available for working students.
Sponsor: Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA)

H.R.4822
A bill to promote and ensure delivery of high-quality special education and related services to students with visual disabilities or who are deaf or hard of hearing or deaf-blind through instructional methodologies meeting their unique learning needs, to enhance accountability for the provision of such services, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA)

H.R.4826
A bill to award career pathways innovation grants to local educational agencies and consortia of local educational agencies, to provide technical assistance within the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education to administer the grants and support the local educational agencies with the preparation of grant applications and management of grant funds, to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to support community college and industry partnerships, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN)

H.R.4835
A bill to provide grants to improve trauma support services and mental health care for children and youth in educational settings, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT)

H.R.4851
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to carry out a State workforce incentive program.
Sponsor: Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY)

S.2655
A bill to amend title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 in order to increase the amount of financial support available for working students.
Sponsor: Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

S.2667
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to make it easier to apply for Federal student aid, to make that aid predictable, to amend the Federal Pell Grant program, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

S.2670
A bill to award career pathways innovation grants to local educational agencies and consortia of local educational agencies, to provide technical assistance within the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education to administer the grants and support the local educational agencies with the preparation of grant applications and management of grant funds, to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to support community college and industry partnerships, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Tina Smith (D-MN)

S.2681
A bill to promote and ensure delivery of high-quality special education and related services to students with visual disabilities or who are deaf or hard of hearing or deaf-blind through instructional methodologies meeting their unique learning needs, to enhance accountability for the provision of such services, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Ed Markey (D-MA)

S.2683
A bill to establish a task force to assist States in implementing hiring requirements for child care staff members to improve child safety.
Sponsor: Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)

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