E-Update for September 12, 2014

E-Update for September 12, 2014

E-Update for September 12, 2014


With eight legislative days on the calendar before the mid-term elections, Congressional leaders from both parties are preparing to tackle last-minute legislation, including a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown and a number of jobs and energy bills. Education legislation does not appear to be on the agenda. However, the House may take up the Child Care and Development Block Grant and Senate Democrats may attempt to revisit Senator Elizabeth Warren’s student loan refinancing bill. Both the House and the Senate may also try to act on the Education Sciences Reform Act.

EducationCounsel News

EducationCounsel hosted a briefing in collaboration with the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute (UEI) on September 5 regarding UEI’s research on keeping ninth grade students on-track to graduation. The briefing focused on a new report released by the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago Schools Research (CCSR), which shows that improvements in on-track rates in 9th grade were sustained in 10th and 11th grades and were followed by large increases in graduation rates. Policy analysts and education leaders at the briefing provided UEI with feedback as UEI plans to take their approach to scale.


On September 11, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) hosted a free, back-to-school webinar at 2pm. The webinar described how U.S. K-12 educators can access the $2 billion in donated and discounted educational technology being made available under President Obama’s ConnectED initiative. Participating companies included: Adobe, AT&T, Autodesk, Esri, Microsoft, Prezi, Safari Books Online, Sprint Corporation and Verizon. During the webinar, each ConnectED company described their ConnectED offerings and provided updates on how educators and school leaders can take advantage of their programs.

On September 11, the Alliance for Excellent Education hosted a webinar on “Breaking Down Learning Barriers through the Better Use of Time” at 2pm. Panelists included Gail Manchin (President, West Virginia Board of Education); Susan Patrick (President and Chief Executive Officer, International Association for K-12 Online Learning); Chip Slaven (Senior Advocacy Advisor, Alliance for Excellent Education); and Bob Wise (President, Alliance for Excellent Education). The webinar explored what states are doing related to time and competency-based learning, including an update on West Virginia’s efforts to reimagine time through their ground-breaking strategic planning effort to personalize learning for all of their students.

On September 10, the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training jointly with the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing on “Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs through Independent Oversight.” Witnesses included Kathleen Tighe (Inspector General, U.S. Department of Education); Jacqueline Nowicki (Acting Director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office); and Melissa Emrey-Arras (Director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office).

On September 9, U.S. Under Secretary Ted Mitchell spoke at the New York Times’ fourth annual Schools for Tomorrow conference in New York City. Mitchell conversed with managing editor of the New York Times’ The Upshot David Leonhardt in a discussion entitled, “Getting Your Money’s Worth.” Mitchell discussed the Department of Education’s plan to create a college rating system focused on access, affordability, and outcomes.

U.S Department of Education

Obama Administration Approves NCLB Flexibility Extension Requests for the District of Columbia and Tennessee: The Obama Administration announced on September 5 that the District of Columbia and Tennessee have received a one-year extension for flexibility from certain provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Forty-three states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico currently have ESEA flexibility, 35 of which expire this summer. Of those, 34 submitted an extension request. Twenty-three states: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin and the District of Columbia have been granted extensions since July 3.
September 10, 2014

Arne Duncan Kicks Off Back-To-School Bus Tour: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan kicked off the Department’s fifth annual back-to-school bus tour on September 8 in Georgia. Duncan continued along his southern route through Alabama and Tennessee on Tuesday and Wednesday. Throughout the tour, the Secretary has highlighted the administration’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, effective early-learning programs, and the importance of STEM.
Education Week
September 8, 2014

Department of Education Releases Proposed Revisions to the School Improvement Grant Program: On September 8, the Department of Education proposed significant revisions to the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. The proposed regulatory changes seek to implement statutory language approved by Congress as part of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget for the Department of Education, including adding state determined improvement strategies, extending the grant period from three to five years, and providing additional flexibility for rural school districts. The Department is also using the opportunity to broadly update the program for the first time since 2010.
September 8, 2014

Congressional Headlines

Senate to Markup the Strengthening Education through Research Act: The Senate will markup H.R. 4366, the Strengthening Education through Research Act, on September 17 at 10AM in 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building. H.R. 4366 reauthorizes federal education research through the Institute of Education Sciences.
September 10


U.S. News & World Report College Rankings Report: The 30th edition of the U.S. News College Rankings Report provides nearly 50 different types of numerical rankings and lists, including rankings of national universities, liberal arts colleges, best undergraduate programs by subject area, and the like.
September 9, 2014

TNTP Report: Balancing Teacher Tenure: A Post-Vergara Guide for Policymakers: In this report, TNTP offers eight common-sense changes to existing laws and regulations to achieve a more balanced tenure system without stripping teachers of due process. These recommendations include lengthening the tryout period and tying tenure to performance, making hearings more efficient and focused on students’ interests, and lowering the professional stakes for teachers.
September 9, 2014

Center for American Progress Report: How Public Universities Can Promote Access and Success for All Students: This report examines the extent to which degree-attainment rates do not reflect the nation’s changing demographics, arguing that public universities must do more to even the playing field for all students. The report notes that currently students from the least advantaged populations earn degrees at a lower rate and are burdened with a greater portion of debt than their peers.
September 9, 2014

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Annual Education at a Glance Report: This report provides annual data on the structure, finances, and performance of education systems in the OECD’s 34 member countries, as well as a number of partner countries. The publication examines the quality of learning outcomes, the policy levers and contextual factors that shape these outcomes, and the broader private and social returns that accrue to investments in education.
September 2014

New America Foundation Report: Zero Marginal Cost: Measuring Subsidies for Graduate Education in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program: This paper pairs debt levels for different types of graduate degrees with data from a major national income survey, then estimates the point beyond which students entering ten public and nonprofit professions can continue to borrow money from the federal government at no additional cost. The authors find that borrowers with typical levels of debt, who go on to earn typical incomes, are likely already accruing loan debts beyond this ‘Zero Marginal Cost Threshold,’ or ZMCT, in nine of the ten professions analyzed. The paper suggests that the federal government now provides a very large source of tuition assistance for graduate and professional students who work in the public or nonprofit sectors. Specifically, the debt level beyond which borrowers with graduate and professional credentials who use PSLF bear no incremental cost in borrowing is low relative to what many graduate and professional degrees cost. It is also low relative to how much debt students accumulate today after completing a graduate or professional degree.
September 2014

The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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