E-Update for the Week of September 20, 2021

E-Update for the Week of September 20, 2021

Highlights:

  • On September 17, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sent a Dear Colleague Letter outlining the House’s legislative schedule after it returns from recess.
  • On September 15, the Senate confirmed James Kvaal as U.S. Department of Education (USED) Under Secretary by a vote of 58-37.
  • During the week of September 13, the House Ways and Means Committee continued its markup of legislation that could eventually be included in a FY2022 budget reconciliation package.

Budget

House expected to consider funding stopgap this week, could see addition of debt limit fix: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sent a Dear Colleague Letter outlining the House’s legislative schedule after it returns from recess. According to the Majority Leader, during the week of September 20, the House will take up a fiscal year (FY) 2021 continuing resolution (CR) that will include emergency supplemental funding for storm disaster relief and Afghan evacuee resettlement. The CR is intended to avert a government shutdown after the current year’s fiscal year expires on September 30. Majority Leader Hoyer also wrote that the House would seek to suspend the debt limit, rather than increase the figure, though he didn’t include a timeline for the length of the planned suspension. The full letter is here.
September 17, 2021

Impasse over spending limits leads to uncertain future of FY2022 Senate appropriations bills:  It was reported that the Senate Appropriations Committee markups are on hold for the remaining FY2022 appropriations bills. So far, the Committee advanced the Agriculture, Energy and Water, and Military Construction-Veterans’ Affairs appropriations bills earlier this year. However, Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) has indicated that Republicans will not support any additional bills until both sides can come together to set overall defense and non-defense spending levels. This development also signals that the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) bill is unlikely to be drafted for quite some time. An article from POLITICO is here (Note: a subscription to POLITICO Pro is required).
September 17, 2021

House Ways and Means Committee completes markup of budget reconciliation language, Committee legislation includes several tax provisions for children, families: During the week of September 13, the House Ways and Means Committee continued its markup of legislation that could eventually be included in a FY2022 budget reconciliation package. The legislation considered by the Committee 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. The bill would also expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) and the Child Tax Credit and would eliminate the endowment tax on wealthy universities if they spend the equivalent of a third of their tuition revenue on financial aid for students. After four days and 40 hours of debate, the Committee approved the legislation along a 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. A press release from Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) is here.
September 13-17, 2021

Biden Administration Transition:

Nominations and Personnel:

With bipartisan vote, Kvaal finally confirmed as USED Undersecretary: The Senate confirmed James Kvaal as U.S. Department of Education (USED) Under Secretary by a vote of 58-37. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Tim Scott (R-SC) joined Democrats to confirm Kvaal, who most recently served as president of the Institute for College Access and Success. “This is critical at a time when increasing college access, affordability, and completion is key to helping America build back better,” said USED Secretary Miguel Cardona in a statement. A press release from USED is here; a press release from Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) is here.
September 15, 2021

Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):

Administration:

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

Starting this week, USED Secretary to tour schools throughout Midwest: USED launched its “Return to School Road Trip,” a bus tour to showcase students and communities safely returning to in-person learning. During the tour, USED Secretary Cardona and Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten, along with local school leaders, will join students and communities for events that highlight schools that are open for in-person learning. The tour will feature stops in Eau Claire, Madison, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Palatine and Chicago, Illinois; Kendallville, Indiana; Toledo, Ohio; and Mt. Pleasant, Lansing, Detroit, and Canton, Michigan. Throughout the tour Secretary Cardona is scheduled to meet with students from pre-K through higher education. A press release is here.
September 14, 2021

USED approves four more state ARP ESSER plans: USED announced the approval of Maine, Idaho, North Carolina and Nevada’s plans detailing each states’ proposed use of American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funding.  With this most recent approval, 38 states have now received both tranches of their ARP ESSER fund allocations. The remaining states will receive their remaining funds once the Department receives and approves their state plan.  A list of approved state plans is here.
September 13, 2021

Congress:

House:

Foxx decries House Democrats’ budget reconciliation process in new opinion piece: House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) published an op-ed in the Washington Times expressing her opposition to the budget reconciliation bill, calling Democrats “contemporary authoritarians” that are “inflicting harm on [the] economy and constitutional rights.” In the op-ed, Ranking Member Foxx calls the legislation a “socialist wish list,” quotes a New York Times piece that described the bill as “touch[ing] virtually every American’s life, from conception to aged infirmity.” Ranking Member Foxx argues that the legislation is a “recent example of the rise of the cult of technocratic elitism,” and is another example of ways in which Democrats “seek control over our lives.” The op-ed is here.
September 13, 2021

Non-Coronavirus Updates:

Administration:

White House:

President Biden signs Executive Order to support improved educational opportunities for Hispanic Americans: The Biden Administration issued an Executive Order titled, “White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics.” The Executive Order establishes a White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics within USED, which will be led by an appointed Executive Director. The initiative is designed to advance educational equity and economic opportunity for Latino and Hispanic students by focusing on certain policy goals, including increasing “general understanding of systemic causes of educational challenges faced by many Hispanic and Latino students,” supporting “Hispanic and Latino children’s and families’ access to and participation in high-quality early childhood programs and services,” and “supporting and improving data collection related to Hispanic and Latino students and the implementation of evidence-based strategies,” amongst others. Additionally, the initiative will develop an Interagency Working Group that will prepare a plan outlining measurable actions each federal agency will take to advance educational equity and economic opportunity for Hispanic and Latino communities. The Executive Order also establishes a Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics, which will provide advice to the President on “matters pertaining to educational equity and economic opportunity for the Hispanic and Latino community.” The Executive Order can be found here.
September 15, 2021

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

HHS announces new MIECHV awards: On September 17, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced nearly $350 million in awards to all 50 states through the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, Healthy Start Initiative, and State Systems Developmental Initiative (SSDI). The funding will expand home visiting services to vulnerable families, increase access to doulas, address health disparities in infant deaths, and improve data reporting on maternal mortality. The investments will “promote maternal and infant health, and ensure equitable access to affordable, quality health care for our nation’s families,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Together, all of the programs we’re funding today will help families get off to a better, healthier start.” A press release is here.
September 17, 2021

Latest from EducationCounsel:

Sandi Jacobs co-authored a publication with FutureEd, titled, “Right From the Start: D.C.’s Groundbreaking Teacher Hiring Strategy.” The report examines how TeachDC, a teaching workforce recruitment system employed in Washington, D.C., helps hire and support a high-quality and diverse teacher workforce.  Key findings include identifying that in recent years, District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) has filled nearly all of its vacancies by the first day of school; that the percentage of teachers hired prior to the end of the previous school year (so-called “early hires”) has increased by 71 percent; and the system has retained 95 percent of teachers rated effective and highly effective by its teacher evaluation system. The report is here.

Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):

  • On September 22 at 10:30 am, the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Putting Kids First: Addressing COVID-19’s Impacts on Children.” Witnesses have yet to be announced. The hearing will be live-streamed here.

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):

  • On September 20 at 12:30 pm, the Orrin Hatch Foundation will hold an event titled, “Civic Education Webinar: Safeguarding America’s Institutions.” The webinar will feature a discussion with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) on civic education and safeguarding America’s institutions. More information and registration are here.
  • On September 21 at 5:00 pm, GLSEN and the National Safe Learning Partnership will hold an event titled, “Back to School in the Time of COVID-19.” The webinar will feature a back-to-school panel discussion on considerations for safety, equity, and inclusion as schools re-open during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. More information and registration are here.
  • On September 23 at 2:00 pm, Educators Rising will hold an event titled, “Using Federal Funds for Grow Your Own Programs.” The event will feature an expert panel who can answer questions about how to start a grow-your-own teacher program, including tips on data collection and how to use funds to increase teacher diversity. More information and registration are here.
  • On September 27 at 12:30 pm, RALLY will hold an event titled, “Allies for Education Equity Field Briefing.” The event will feature an overview of the current audience research with immediate, high-level guidance, as well as a presentation of the communications materials, infrastructure, and resources that are being developed to support the field. More information and registration are here.
  • On September 30 at 10:00 am, the Brookings Institute will hold an event titled, “Transforming Education Systems Through Family-School Collaboration.” The webinar will feature a discussion with education decision-makers about the role of family-school engagement and why it is so urgently needed. More information and registration are here.
  • On October 12 at 12:00 pm, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and EducationCounsel will hold an event titled, “Navigating a Challenging Legal Landscape for Diversity & Equity in STEMM+ Higher Education.” The event will feature the release of new and updated resources, models, and tools to help accelerate the attainment of diversity and equity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medical (STEMM) higher education and beyond. More information and registration are here.

Publications (Administration):

  • On September 15, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a report titled, “Child Care: House Committee on Education and Labor’s FY2022 Reconciliation Recommendations.” The report analyzes details about a provision included in the House Education and Labor Committee’s portion of the budget reconciliation bill that would create a new child care entitlement program, the Birth Through Five (B-5) Child Care and Early Learning Entitlement. More specifically, the report explains how funding for the proposed program would be appropriated, as well as eligibility requirements for both children and child care providers and how payment rates would be set. The report is here.
  • On September 15, CRS published a report titled, “Universal Preschool: House Committee on Education and Labor’s FY2022 Reconciliation Recommendations.” The report analyzes details about a provision included in the House Education and Labor Committee’s portion of the budget reconciliation bill that would create a new Universal Preschool program. More specifically, the report examines how funding for the proposed program would be appropriated and eligibility requirements for both children and child care providers. Additionally, the report summarizes eligible uses of funds, as well as what states must include in their implementation plans to HHS. The report is here.
  • On September 13, USED published a bulletin titled, “Data Matters: Drawing Insights from Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Reporting for 2020.” The report analyzed key insights from the first annual report of the HEERF, which covers Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act spending from the period between March 13, 2020, and December 31, 2020. Key takeaways include identifying that 76 percent of Title IV-eligible institutions of higher education were awarded HEERF funds; 54 percent of eligible students received HEERF emergency grants; and 61 percent of undergraduates who received HEERF emergency grants were Pell Grant recipients. The report is here.

Publications (Outside Organizations):

  • On September 14, the Urban Institute published a report titled, “Dividing Lines: Racially Unequal School Boundaries in US Public School Systems.” The report examines the role of individual school attendance boundaries in perpetuating racial and ethnic segregation in urban school systems by evaluating. Key findings include identifying that more than 2,000 pairs of neighboring public schools that are racially unequal, both in residential demographics and school enrollment; that inequity between these schools exists not only in terms of racial and ethnic demographics but with regard to school staffing, educational program offerings, and other metrics; and that many unequal school boundaries are linked to the New Deal’s Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) redlining maps. The full report is here.
  • On September 14, the Century Foundation published a report titled, “Achieving Financial Equity and Justice for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).” The report shares key historical events that have led to inequities in funding to HBCUs, while highlighting the current challenges in funding. Key takeaways from the report include that while HBCU alumni give generously (some institutions have alumni giving on par or even higher than Harvard University), it doesn’t necessarily translate to large endowments; and that while philanthropy to HBCUs can be large, like MacKenzie Scott’s donations to HBCUs in 2020, it is often uneven. Ultimately, the report recommends that the federal government should make an “unprecedented one-time investment” to provide HBCUs with the financial security of a healthy endowment. The report is here.
  • On September 13, the Gender Equity Policy Institute published a report titled, “Tackling the Student Debit Crisis: An Analysis of Congressional Proposals to Increase Pell Grants.” The report analyzed data on past and current student demographics, college costs, and student debt to examine the impact of improvements to the Pell Grant program, with particular focus on how the benefits would be distributed across gender, race, and ethnicity. Key findings include identifying that by doubling the Pell Grant, community college students who receive the maximum award will graduate debt-free; bachelor’s students who receive the maximum award will see a 79 percent reduction in debt; and that students, on average, will see their debt slashed in half or more. The report is here.

Legislation:

H.R.5249
A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to establish a pilot program to provide selected States with an increased reimbursement for school lunches that are comprised of locally-grown foods, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY)

H.R.5252
A bill to amend the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to award competitive grants for the purpose of developing, offering, improving, and providing educational or career pathway programs for workers, to direct the Secretary of Education to establish a program that awards grants to State coalitions that build or expand career pathways programs in schools within the State, and to establish a program that awards grants to eligible agencies to carry out career pathways programs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA)

H.R.5255
A bill to amend section 7014 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to advance toward full Federal funding for impact aid, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA)

S.2730
A bill to direct the Secretary of Education to establish a pilot grant program to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive mental health services programs in elementary schools and secondary schools, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA)

S.2737
A bill to amend the American History and Civics Education program under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to require inclusion of programs that educate students about the history and principles of the Constitution of the United States, including the Bill of Rights.
Sponsor: Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK)

S.2755
A bill to authorize the Secretary of Education to award grants to States to empower public institutions of higher education in the States to provide student support services to students from low-income backgrounds, historically underrepresented students, first-generation college enrollees, parenting students, students with disabilities, and student veterans.
Sponsor: Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

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