E-Update for the Week of September 14, 2020
- On September 10, the Senate failed to move forward with debate on S.178, the “Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act,” which is the latest targeted or “skinny” coronavirus relief bill drafted by Senate Republicans.
- On September 10, the House Education and Labor Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee held a hearing titled, “On the Basis of Sex: Examining the Administration’s Attacks on Gender-Based Protections.” The hearing focused on implementation of federal law and regulations related to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
- On September 4, a third federal judge ruled that the U.S. Department of Education (USED) interim final rule related to equitable services provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was illegal and that USED Secretary Betsy DeVos lacked the authority to add conditions to the funding appropriated by Congress.
Coronavirus (as related to education issues):
Note that all information related to the coronavirus (or COVID-19) is up to date as of September 11. 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 Democrats block Republican ‘skinny’ COVID relief bill: The Senate failed to move forward with debate on S.178, the “Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act,” which is the latest targeted or “skinny” coronavirus relief bill drafted by Senate Republicans. On a partisan 52-47 vote, the Senate rejected further consideration of the bill as it did not meet the necessary 60 vote threshold. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was the only Republican to vote against the bill.
The targeted coronavirus relief proposal released by Senate Republicans is a slimmed down version of the “Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protections, and Schools (HEALS)” package, which Senate Republicans introduced as a series of bills in late July. The HEALS package was estimated to total approximately $1 trillion. With an estimated overall cost of $500 billion to $700 billion, the relief package released by Senate Republicans earlier this week is approximately half to two-thirds the size of the HEALS package released in July.
Specifically, this latest proposal from Senate Republicans included a total of $105 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund, the same level as in the HEALS package. Different from the HEALS package, however, was the addition of several provisions aimed at supporting school choice, including funding for federal tax credits and expanded uses of funds from tax-advantaged 529 savings plans. Additionally, the latest proposal, similar to the HEALS package, would provide $5 billion through the Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG) for continued payments and assistance to child care providers and $10 billion for Back to Work Child Care Grants to support financial assistance to child care providers aimed at stabilizing the child care industry.
A statement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is here. A statement by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is here. A statement by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is here. A statement by Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) is here. A statement by Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is here.
September 10, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED equitable services rule not ‘in effect’ after third federal court setback: A third federal judge ruled that the U.S. Department of Education (USED) interim final rule related to equitable services provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was illegal and that USED Secretary Betsy DeVos lacked the authority to add conditions to the funding appropriated by Congress. “Congress expressed a clear and unambiguous preference for apportioning funding to private schools based on the number of children from low-income families,” wrote U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich. As a result, USED has noted on its website that the interim final rule is “no longer in effect.” The Department has the opportunity to appeal the decision by Judge Friedrich but has not yet filed such an appeal. A POLITICO Pro article is here. The opinion is here.
September 4, 2020
Federal judge blocks implementation of USED higher ed rule for CARES Act, limited to Massachusetts colleges: Another federal judge blocked implementation of the USED interim final rule that limited student eligibility to access emergency student aid grants created by the CARES Act. The interim final rule prohibited institutions of higher education from providing emergency aid to non-Title IV eligible students. With U.S. District Judge Leo Sorokin’s ruling, the Department is blocked from implementing the rule in the state of Massachusetts only. This decision builds upon previous federal judge orders blocking the rule in Washington state and in community colleges in California. The order is here. A POLITICO Pro article is here.
September 3, 2020
Civil rights subcommittee explores Administration’s approach to gender and sex-based protections under federal law: The House Education and Labor Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee held a hearing titled, “On the Basis of Sex: Examining the Administration’s Attacks on Gender-Based Protections.” The hearing focused on implementation of federal law and regulations related to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Democrats, led by Subcommittee Chairwoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), questioned the Administration’s approach to rewriting a Title IX regulation related to sexual assault and harassment on campuses, as well as USED interpretation of Title IX in light of the U.S. Supreme Court Bostock decision – which ruled that sexual orientation and gender identity were protected under Title VII’s civil rights protections on the basis of sex. “In Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court recently held that prohibitions against discrimination “on the basis of sex” prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. Although the decision was under Title VII because it was in the context of employment, Title IX was essentially modeled on Title VII so there is no rational reason why “on the basis of sex” should be interpreted differently,” stated the Chairwoman. Republicans, led by Subcommittee Ranking Member Ben Cline (R-VA), focused on the Department’s Title IX regulation and applauded the Department for its process and approach to the rule. “This rule will help ensure that all students can pursue education free from discrimination, harassment, and sexual violence, and we owe it to survivors to ensure that clear and fair procedures are in place to respond to sexual violence. The Department of Education’s Title IX rule delivers on this front,” stated Ranking Member Cline. A recording of the hearing is here. Chairwoman Bonamici’s full opening remarks are here. Ranking Member Cline’s full opening remarks are here.
September 10, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED publishes final freedom of speech, religion rule: USED Secretary DeVos published a final rule titled, “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities.” The final rule relates to freedom of speech and religious freedom protections under the First Amendment. “This administration is committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of students, teachers, and faith-based institutions. Students should not be forced to choose between their faith and their education, and an institution controlled by a religious organization should not have to sacrifice its religious beliefs to participate in Department grants and programs,” stated the Secretary. According to the Department, the final rule ensures that institutions of higher education must comply with their own policies regarding freedom of speech; clarifies how an institute may demonstrate its control by a religious organization for purposes of exemption under Title IX; ensures equal treatment of religious student organizations; and revises regulations governing some discretionary grant programs under Titles III and V of the Higher Education Act. A press release is here. A fact sheet is here. The final rule is here.
September 9, 2020
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB):
CFPB launches new podcast series on college financial planning: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced the creation of a two-part podcast series titled, “Financial inTuition.” The series is intended to inform students, parents, and practitioners on managing finances before, during, and after college. “The Financial inTuition podcast series is aimed at providing tools, tips, and other informational resources to prepare students for what is assuredly one of the biggest financial decisions in life,” stated CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger. The first part of the series is focused on managing finances and the second part, to be released later this fall, will be focused on student loan repayment. A press release is here.
September 9, 2020
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ):
DOJ awards nearly $50 million in school violence prevention grants: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it has awarded $50 million in School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) grants. According to the Department, the SVPP grants provide up to 75 percent funding for school safety measures in and around elementary and secondary schools. “Although this school year may look different at the start, now is the ideal time to make preparations to enhance school safety for when all of our children are back in the classroom,” stated DOJ Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Director Phil Keith. A press release, which includes a list of the grantees, is here.
September 10, 2020
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On September 15 at 10:00 am, the Senate HELP Committee will hold a full Committee hearing titled, “Compensating College Athletes: Examining the Potential Impact on Athletes and Institutions.” The hearing will feature testimony from Rebecca Blank, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Karen Dennis, Director of Track and Field and Cross Country at The Ohio State University; John Hartwell, Vice President of Utah State University; and Ramogi Huma, Executive Director of the National College Players Association. More information is here.
- On September 17 at 10:00 am, the Senate HELP Committee will hold a full Committee hearing titled, “Time to Finish Fixing the FAFSA.” The hearing will feature testimony by Kim Cook, Executive Director of the National College Attainment Network (NCAN); Rachelle Feldman, Associate Provost and Director of the UNC Chapel Hill office of Scholarships and Student Aid; Kristin Hultquist, Founding Partner of HCM Strategists; Dr. Bridget Terry Long, Dean of Education and Economics of the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and Dr. Judith Scott-Clayton, Associate Professor of Education and Education at the Columbia University Teachers College. More information is here.
- On September 23 at 10:00 am, the Senate HELP Committee will hold a full Committee hearing titled, “COVID-19: An Update on the Federal Response.” The hearing will feature testimony from Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Dr. Robert Redfield of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Dr. Brett Giroir of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); and Dr. Stephen Hahn of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). More information is here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On September 14 at 9:00 am, the Brookings Institute will hold an event titled, “Beyond reopening: A leapfrog moment to transform education?” The webinar will focus on how the coronavirus pandemic has upended education and what this may mean for the future of not only education but for all systems of social and economic supports. More information and registration are here.
- On September 17 at 2:00 pm, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) will hold an event titled, “The 2020 Election Comes to Campus: Student Citizenship and Civic Engagement.” The webinar will discuss how colleges and universities can help shape students becoming civic leaders and the challenges of the pandemic in engaging college voters. The event is part of the national Constitution Day. More information and registration are here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On September 9, the Society for Research in Child Development published a report titled, “Addressing Inequities in Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic: How Education Policy and Schools Can Support Historically and Currently Marginalized Children and Youth.” The report summarizes a study and review of the impact of systemic racism and the potential exacerbating impacts of the pandemic on racial-ethnic minority children and LGBTQ+ youth. Key recommendations of the report include calling for increased broadband infrastructure to ensure access to technology and connectivity; mandate that teachers and staff take diversity, equity, and inclusion training, including bias reduction and bystander training that addresses issues specific to racial-ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ youth; and provide school districts with funding to enhance instruction that is responsive to students’ individual academic needs, including support for regular formative assessment of progress during and after the pandemic. The full report is here.
A bill to direct the Secretary of Education to establish a grant program to make grants to the parents of students served by local educational agencies that will not provide in-person instruction in a manner consistent with school year 2019–2020, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC)
A bill to authorize grants to establish a national education protection and advocacy program to enforce the rights and protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA)
A bill to require the Secretary of Education to ensure that local educational agencies establish full-time title IX coordinators to improve oversight, data collection on sexual harassment, student survivor support, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY)
A bill to give States the flexibility to have Federal education funds follow the child.
Sponsor: Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA)