E-Update for the Week of September 13, 2021
- On September 9 and 10, the House Education and Labor Committee conducted a markup of legislation that could be included in congressional Democrats’ budget reconciliation legislation. The legislation includes proposals to expand access to child care, provide universal preschool, reduce the tuition of community college, and increase the maximum Pell Grant award.
- On September 9, the White House released an updated response plan for the COVID-19 pandemic titled, “Path Out of the Pandemic: President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan.”
- On September 8, Axios reported that Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has privately expressed his willingness to support a budget reconciliation package that totals an amount closer to $1.5 trillion, as opposed to the current $3.5 trillion proposal.
House Committees advance budget reconciliation legislation to expand access to child care, preschool, and higher education: During the week of September 6, several House Committees held markups of their respective pieces of legislation that could be eventually included in a fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget reconciliation process. The Committee proposals are somewhat aligned to President Biden’s proposed American Families Plan but have some key differences, including the addition of programs, the exclusion of some programs, and reduced funding levels for others.
On September 9, the House Ways and Means Committee began a markup of legislation that includes proposals to expand access to child care programs, increase base wages of child care providers, and provide 12 weeks of universal paid family and medical leave. However, the Committee has yet to release its legislative proposal related to tax issues, such as the expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) and the Child Tax Credit, which could be released later in the week. As of this publication being completed, the House Ways and Means Committee voted on the paid medical and family leave proposal and approved the proposal along a party-line 24-19 vote. Recordings of the markup are here (links to each subtitle of the bill text are at the bottom), and a section-by-section summary of the bill is here.
Additionally, on September 9, the House Education and Labor Committee began a markup of legislation that includes proposals to invest approximately $450 billion to provide universal pre-K to all three- and four-year-olds and increase access to child care for working families; increase the maximum Pell Grant award by $500 and expand eligibility for DACA-eligible students; provide nearly $82 billion for school infrastructure investments; provide over $1 billion for various education preparation programs; provide funding to create federal-state partnerships to reduce tuition for community colleges; and invest $9 billion for college completion and retention grants. An amendment of particular note from Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) removed income limits to qualify for subsidized child care; the original proposal included limits for those families with more than $1 million in assets and those with incomes greater than 200 percent of the state median. The amendment was adopted by a 28-21 vote, with all present Democrats in favor and all present Republicans against. After completing roll call votes on over 45 amendments, the Committee approved the amended legislation along a party-line 28-22 vote. It is unclear when the full House will consider the finalized legislative package, as House and Senate Democratic leadership are in close coordination with one another. Recordings of the markup are here; the bill text is here; and a fact sheet is here. A press release from House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here.
September 9-10, 2021
Manchin expresses support for significantly scaled-back budget reconciliation package and inclusion of means-testing for key provisions: Axios reported that Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has privately expressed his willingness to support a budget reconciliation package that totals an amount closer to $1.5 trillion, as opposed to the current $3.5 trillion proposal. Additionally, the Senator expressed his interest in making key changes to certain proposals, such as attaching means-testing to an expanded Child Tax Credit, free community college, and universal preschool and child care tax credits. The budget reconciliation process means that the legislation cannot be filibustered in the Senate, allowing a simple majority to approve the bill in each chamber, but with the evenly divided Senate and no Republicans expected to support the package, Senator Manchin is a needed vote for Democrats in order to pass the bill with 51 votes. The article from Axios is here.
September 8, 2021
White House calls for emergency aid, Afghan assistance funding in September CR package; Yellen expects debt limit measures to expire in October: Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Shalanda Young issued technical assistance guidance to Congress to help begin shaping a Continuing Resolution (CR) that will be needed to prevent a government shutdown after federal funding expires on September 30. In the guidance, OMB outlined that the White House is seeking the inclusion of funding to support recovery efforts from recent hurricanes and funding to support the relocation of refugees from Afghanistan. The engagement by the White House and the strategy of coupling supplemental emergency funding to the CR is intended to secure the necessary bipartisan support to adopt a CR before the September 30 deadline. The guidance is here.
Additionally, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on September 8 sent a letter to congressional leaders indicating that the extraordinary measures currently becoming employed to temporary finance the government would likely be exhausted in October. Even with Secretary Yellen’s warning, it remains unclear if the CR will include language that suspends or raises the federal debt limit, which expired on August 1. If the debt limit is not suspended or raised, Secretary Yellen notes that the U.S. government “would be unable to meet its obligations for the first time in our history.” The letter is here.
September 7 & 8, 2021
Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):
White House releases new plan for pandemic relief, will require vaccinations in large businesses and some federally supported education programs: The White House released an updated response plan for the COVID-19 pandemic titled, “Path Out of the Pandemic: President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan.” The plan implements a six-pronged, “science-based” strategy that includes vaccinating the unvaccinated; further protecting the vaccinated; keeping schools safely open; increasing testing and requiring masking; protecting our economic recovery; and improving care for those with COVID-19. Of note, the plan requires mandatory coronavirus vaccination for all federal employees and contractors; vaccine mandates for workers at businesses with 100 or more employees; mandatory paid time off for workers to get shots; and immunization requirements for the workforces of all health facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding. As part of the mandatory vaccinations, the president’s plan will require vaccinations for all Head Start and Early Head Start employees, staff at all Department of Defense (DOD) schools, and staff at all schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). In a speech introducing the plan, the President also called on governors to get all teachers and school staff vaccinated, as well as encourage schools to institute regular testing regimes. The plan is here.
September 9, 2021
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED creates new competitive grant program targeted to support schools and districts implementing mask mandates: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced a new competitive grant program to provide additional funding to school districts that have funds withheld by states after the districts implemented mask mandates for students and staff. The Project SAFE (Supporting Americas Families and Educators) program will use funding from Title IV, Part F of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The grant program comes after several states have threatened or enacted reductions in funding for districts that have implemented mask mandates in light of state prohibitions on such mandates. The Department previously announced investigations into five states with such prohibitions and the grant program builds upon the Department’s effort to support schools and districts in implementing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A press release is here.
September 9, 2021
President issues Executive Order to bolster support for HBCUs, announces nomination of Delaware State University president to serve as chair of advisory board: The Biden Administration released an Executive Order titled, “White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities [HBCUs].” The Executive Order reestablishes the USED and White House initiative on HBCUs, which is responsible for providing guidance to the president on how best to advance and support HBCUs; supporting implementation of a full-of-government approach to breaking down barriers for HBCU participation in federal programs; and supporting implementation of the HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students (PARTNERS) Act. Additionally, the Executive Order outlines additional specific tasks of the Initiative, including strengthening the capacity of HBCUs to access federal funding; developing new and expanding existing national networks focused on improving and supporting HBCUs; partnering with private entities to build pipelines for future HBCU students, including efforts to support degree attainment for students; and supports the development of a highly qualified, diverse, culturally responsive educator workforce. The Executive Order also reestablishes the president’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs. The full Executive Order text is here.
Additionally, President Biden announced his intent to nominate current president of Delaware State University, Tony Allen, as the chair of the president’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs. Allen has served as president of Delaware State University since 2020 and previously served as provost and executive vice president of the University. A press release is here.
September 8, 2021
CFPB takes enforcement action against income share agreement provider: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that it took action against an income share agreement (ISA) provider for mispresenting its product and failing to comply with federal consumer financial law that governs private student loans. The CFPB said it reached a settlement with the ISA provider, Better Future Forward, which falsely represented that the ISAs are not loans, failed to provide disclosures required by federal law, and violated a prepayment penalty prohibition for private education loans. The action issued requires Better Future Forward to stop deceiving consumers about the nature of their products; provide consumers disclosures about their products as required by federal consumer financial law; not object to bankruptcy discharges; and reform its ISA contracts. A press release is here.
September 7, 2021
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On September 13 at 1:00 pm, the Bipartisan Policy Center will hold an event titled, “Improving Food and Nutrition Security During COVID-19 and the Economic Recovery.” The event will feature a discussion on the long-term challenges of food and nutrition insecurity that will remain after temporary flexibilities and benefit increases to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and school meal programs end. More information and registration are here.
- On September 14 at 12:00 pm, Education Reform Now (ERN) will hold an event titled, “Assessment Bootcamp Part 2: Assessment Types, Their Uses, and Building Balanced Assessment Systems.” The webinar will feature a discussion of the newest advancements and models for assessments, and will explore what’s working and what’s not in terms of state summative assessments. More information and registration are here.
- On September 14 at 4:30 pm, the Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance will hold an event titled, “The Strategy Session #5: Design Principles for Community-Based Settings: Putting the Science of Learning and Development Into Action.” The webinar will discuss “Design Principles for Community-Based Settings: Putting the Science of Learning and Development Into Action,” a new playbook by SoLD Alliance partners that provides practical guidance and actionable strategies to intentionally design community-based settings where every young person, regardless of background, can grow and thrive. More information and registration are here.
- On September 15 at 3:00 pm, the Bipartisan Policy Center will hold an event titled, “Canceled on Campus: GenZ Students on Challenges to Free Expression.” The event will feature a panel of student leaders who will discuss barriers to open inquiry on campus and how they have promoted a culture of free expression. More information and registration are here.
- On September 16 at 10:00 am, the National Center on Education and the Economy will hold an event titled, “Education at a Glance 2021: Implications for the U.S.” The event will focus on findings from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) latest Education at a Glance report. More information and registration are here.
- On September 21 at 2:00 pm, Results for America will hold an event titled, “Results for America Conversations with Gene Sperling, White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator.” The event will feature a conversation on how cities can use American Rescue Plan Act funds to make “big bet” investments that address local challenges with data and evidence. More information and registration are here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On September 9, Varsity Tutors published a report titled, “2021 Back to School Parent Sentiment.” The report explored results from a survey of more than 1,200 parents of K-12 students to better understand their feelings heading into 2021-2022 school year. Key findings include identifying that 35 percent of students remain in an online-only or hybrid learning environment; 81 percent of parents spend more than four hours per week assisting their children’s academics; and 55 percent of parents are recently considering homeschooling as an option. The full report is here.
- On September 8, Education Reform Now (ERN) published a document titled, “Four Recommended Congressional Actions on College Completion Fund.” The four recommendations detail how existing proposals for a federal college completion fund can be strengthened to facilitate college completion. In the document, ERN recommends that eligibility to participate in a federal-state partnership for free college should be tightly paired with eligibility to participate in a federal-state partnership for college completion, and vice versa; the distribution formula for a College Completion Fund should include incentives to states & colleges to distribute their own higher education funding more equitably; a portion of college completion funds should be dispersed through competitive grants available to community-based organizations and to partnerships between high schools and institutions of higher education; and a federal-state free college and college completion fund partnership should contain accountability measures, including rewards and punishments, to ensure that both programs are actually increasing college completion overall and among disaggregated subgroups. The full document is here.
- On August 30, Child Trends published a report titled, “The Landscape of Federal K-12 School Health Efforts, 2010-2020.” The report maps how the federal government currently defines, funds, and supports school health. Key findings include identifying that the U.S. Departments of Education (USED), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Justice (DOJ) each play a central role in federal school health efforts, though each agency approaches school health from different frameworks; that existing school health-related interagency collaborations lack representation from all relevant agencies; and that only 5 percent of grants target students from historically marginalized racial and ethnic backgrounds. The full report is here.
- On August 28, the Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs released a report titled, “How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected Student Learning in Ohio: Analysis of Spring 2021 Ohio State Tests.” The report, which was commissioned by the Ohio Department of Education, analyzed the pandemic’s impact on learning. Key findings include identifying that pandemic-related declines in student achievement are roughly equivalent to students missing one half to one full year’s worth of learning in math and between one-third and one-half of a year’s worth of learning in English; that students with below-grade-level achievement experienced larger test score declines than students performing at or above grade level; and that districts with fully remote instruction experienced test scores declines up to three times greater than districts that had in-person instruction for the majority of the school year. The full report is here.
A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to ensure that local educational agencies applying for certain Federal education funds post the curriculum for elementary and secondary schools online, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI)
A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to provide categorical eligibility for free lunch and breakfast for certain children in kinship care, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA)