E-Update for the Week of October 5, 2020

E-Update for the Week of October 5, 2020

Highlights:

  • On October 2, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) released an updated House floor schedule for the month of October. The Majority Leader noted that Members are advised that no additional votes are expected and a vote on an additional relief package may be possible during October.
  • On October 1, the House adopted H.R.8406, the updated “HEROES Act,” on a largely partisan 214-207 vote. The bill, which is a slimmer version of the measure that was passed by the House in May, would provide $2.2 trillion in pandemic relief funding.
  • On September 30, the Senate adopted a continuing resolution (CR) to extend federal funding until December 11. The CR was adopted on a largely bipartisan 84-10 vote.

Coronavirus (as related to education issues):

Note that all information related to the coronavirus (or COVID-19) is up to date as of October 2. 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.

Congress:

House:

House adjourns for October, could come back for potential pandemic relief bill: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) released an updated House floor schedule for the month of October. In the floor update, House Members were advised that “no additional votes are expected in the House this week [and]…as conversations surrounding additional coronavirus relief legislation continue, it is possible that the House will meet during the month of October. Members will be given at least 24-hours’ notice before the House will be called back to session.” The floor update is here.
October 2, 2020

House advances updated HEROES Act as negotiations with White House continue: The House adopted H.R.8406, the updated “HEROES Act,” on a largely partisan 214-207 vote. The bill, which is a slimmer version of the measure that was passed by the House in May, would provide $2.2 trillion in pandemic relief funding. Included in the bill is $208 billion for an Education State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, which includes $175 billion for K-12 education programs, $27 billion for public institutions of higher education, and $4 billion for governors to support education programs hit hardest by the pandemic. The bill would further provide $5 billion for K-12 schools to improve their facilities to support virus spread mitigation and $12 billion for other institutions of higher education. Additionally, the HEROES Act would provide $50 billion for a Child Care Stabilization grant program, $7 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), and $1.7 billion for Head Start. While the updated HEROES Act is approximately $1.2 trillion less than the previous version, it is unclear if the passage of this version will allow for a final deal to be brokered between House Democratic leadership and the White House; however, negotiations are continuing in an effort to reach a bipartisan deal. It is unlikely the Senate will consider the bill as passed by the House.

The updated HEROES Act is here. A press release from the House Appropriations Committee is here. A statement by House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here. A press release by House Education and Labor Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here.
October 1, 2020

Administration:

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

USED outlines expectations for states, districts to continue providing special education services: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) published a question and answer document related to implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B during the pandemic. IDEA Part B relates to the provision of special education services to school-aged children. According to the question and answer document, OSEP states that “no matter what primary instructional delivery approach is chosen [educational agencies] remain responsible for ensuring that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is provided to all children with disabilities.” The document goes on to state that state educational agencies (SEAs) and public agencies must “make every effort” to provide children with special education and related services appropriate to their needs. The full document is here.
September 28, 2020

Non-Coronavirus Updates:

Budget and Appropriations:

Government shutdown avoided until December 11: The Senate adopted a continuing resolution (CR) to extend federal funding until December 11. The CR was adopted on a largely bipartisan 84-10 vote. President Donald Trump signed the bill shortly after its passage.  A notice from the White House is here. A statement by Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is here. A statement by House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) is here.
September 30, 2020

Administration:

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

Department announces new Charter School grants: USED Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the Department awarded $131 million in new grants to create and expand high-quality public charter schools. The funding is part of the Charter Schools Program (CSP) and is intended to create additional seats in existing charter schools, launch new public charter schools, and guarantee charter schools have access to facilities. “All too many students, particularly the most vulnerable, have fallen further behind because the one-size-fits-all system couldn’t transition and adapt to meet their needs. A bright spot has been high-quality charter schools, many of which pivoted quickly and kept learning going,” stated Secretary DeVos. According to the Department, over 90 percent of the funding awarded will support projects located in certified Opportunity Zones, which are economically distressed communities according to Census data. A press release is here.
October 2, 2020

2021-2022 FAFSA now available, Department announces improvements by end of year: USED released the 2021–22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Students and parents can now complete the form via fafsa.gov, and this year’s form “features enhanced help topics [to] provide even more guidance through the form,” according to the Department. The Department also announced that, by the end of the year, USED will also launch a new myStudentAid mobile app, as well as a FAFSA simulator. The simulator is intended to comply with the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act, which requires increased connectivity between USED and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). A press release is here.
October 1, 2020

Department awards new grants to support tribal-education school choice programs: USED announced it awarded 40 new grants, totaling $24 million, “to promote tribally-directed education choice for Native American students,” according to USED Secretary DeVos. The Accessing Choices in Education (ACE) grants are open to Native American tribes or grantees that partner with a tribe. Proposals must show how parents and students will be able to directly select services, which can include tuition for private schools, advanced or remedial classes, Native language, history, or cultural courses, dual-enrollment programs, and more. A press release is here.
October 1, 2020

USED announces new teacher development programs awards: USED announced nearly $100 million in grant awards to school districts, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations that “challenged education leaders to rethink teacher preparation, professional development, and compensation in order to treat teachers as valued professionals,” according to USED. The three grant programs include the Teacher and School Leader Incentive (TSL) Program, which aims to support local education agencies in developing, enhancing, improving, and/or implementing human capital management systems (HCMS) that include performance-based teacher and/or principal compensation systems (PBCS); the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) Program, which aims to support evidence-based educator development models that prepare teachers, principals, and other school leaders serving students in high-need schools; and the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) Program, which aims to support innovative teacher preparation models that prepare prospective and new teachers to serve students in high-need schools. A press release is here.
September 30, 2020

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):

  • On October 7 at 12:00 pm, the Cato Institute will hold an event titled, “School Choice Myths: Setting the Record Straight on Education Freedom.” The webinar will focus on Cato’s new book, of the same title, and how myths about school choice have prevented the choice movement from progressing quicker. More information and registration are here.
  • On October 8 at 11:00 am, the Hamilton Project will hold an event titled, “Higher Education & COVID-19: The Future of Learning, Opportunity, and Work.” The webinar will discuss the impacts of the pandemic and how it has shaped the future of postsecondary education, including workforce development programs. More information and registration are here.
  • On October 8 at 11:00 am, the Johns Hopkins University will hold an event titled, “Why Tough Conversations Matter: Democratic Preparation and America’s Schools.” Registration is here.
  • On October 9 at 10:00 am, the Brookings Institute will hold an event titled, “Can teaching students real debate reduce political polarization?” The webinar will discuss how teaching the principles of competitive debate in middle and high school can help make more informed citizens and voters later in life. More information and registration are here.
  • On October 15 at 10:00 am, New America will hold an event titled, “How to Remake Higher Education.” The webinar will discuss how colleges, universities, and the government can work together to transform higher education so that it has a greater focus on promoting upward mobility, racial equality, and good citizenship. More information and registration are here.

Publications (Congressional and Administration):

  • On October 1, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report titled, “Child Care Facilities: Federal Agencies Need to Enhance Monitoring and Collaboration to Help Assure Drinking Water is Safe from Lead.” The report summarizes a study of a nationally representative sample of Head Start facilities and their testing and presence of lead in the drinking water. Key findings of the report include identifying that 26 percent of centers tested for lead, with 10 percent of those finding and treating for the presence of lead; that 43 percent of centers had not tested and 31 percent did not know if they tested; and that the GAO recommends that the Office of Head Start should require grantees to document that water has been tested for lead. The full report is here.

Publications (Outside Organizations):

  • On September 30, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) published a report titled, “Estimates of Learning Loss in the 2019-2020 School Year.” The report summarizes a study of the impacts of the pandemic on student learning during the last school year. Key findings of the report include identifying that Tennessee students faced the largest level of learning loss in reading and South Carolina students faced the largest in math; that there is wide variation in the levels of learning loss across states and within states; that the levels of learning loss in 2019-2020 could take years to recover; and that student-level learning assessments will be critical to monitor progress and inform the best recovery efforts. The full report is here.
  • On September 29, Bellwether Education Partners and Teach For America (TFA) published a report titled, “Promise in the Time of Quarantine: Exploring Schools’ Responses to COVID-19.” The report summarizes a study of how 12 schools or systems responded to the pandemic and what promising practices those schools or systems may have discovered. Key findings of the report include identifying that schools used a variety of distance learning models ranging from synchronous to asynchronous instruction to the redistribution of students to other teachers; that schools largely struggled to effectively serve students with disabilities; and that schools will need to continue to monitor student engagement and academic progress throughout the 2020-2021 school year. The full report is here.

Legislation:

H.R.8414
A bill to direct the Secretary of Labor to award grants to eligible entities to carry out or expand youth apprenticeship programs.
Sponsor: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX)

H.R.8415
A bill to provide for the continuation of certain educational assistance benefits during the COVID-19 emergency, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Gilbert Ray Cisneros (D-CA)

H.R.8420
A bill to establish the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policy in the United States, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Debra Haaland (D-NM)

H.R.8423
A bill to reimburse meals and supplements provided to individuals who have not attained the age of 25 under certain meal programs authorized under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)

H.R.8460
A bill to prohibit the use of corporal punishment in schools, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA)

H.R.8468
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to allow certain students enrolled in an institution of higher education to apply for teaching residency programs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA)

H.R.8472
A bill to provide that, due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19, applications for Impact Aid funding for fiscal year 2022 may use certain data submitted in the fiscal year 2021 application.
Sponsor: Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)

H.R.8486
A bill to establish a competitive grant program to increase financial literacy instruction in elementary schools and secondary schools.
Sponsor: Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI)

S.4782
A bill to authorize the Secretary of Education to award grants to improve indoor air quality in elementary schools and secondary schools in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency using proven technologies.
Sponsor: Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

S.4788
A bill to prohibit States and localities that seek to impede the free formation of education pods from receiving Federal emergency education funds, to provide a teacher expense deduction for home educators, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA)

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