E-Update for the Week of September 21, 2020

E-Update for the Week of September 21, 2020

Highlights:

  • On September 17, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee held a full committee hearing titled, “Time to Finish Fixing the FAFSA.” The hearing was focused how the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be simplified and made shorter to support increased completion.
  • On September 16, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) published a new website focused on providing information related to per pupil expenditure (PPE) data. The tool breaks down federal, state, and local funds that contribute to a total expenditure and the tool allows for examining the expenditures at the state and district levels.
  • On September 15, the House adopted H.R.2639, the “Strength in Diversity Act,” on a largely partisan 248-167 vote. The bill would provide grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) to support voluntary desegregation efforts.

Coronavirus (as related to education issues):

Note that all information related to the coronavirus (or COVID-19) is up to date as of September 18. 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:

Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus fails to kickstart pandemic relief stalemate: The House Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of Members, released “March to Common Ground,” a bipartisan framework pandemic relief funding. The $1.5 trillion proposal is intended to spark movement in an otherwise stalled negotiations process between congressional leaders and the White House on a next pandemic relief package. “Having seen no progress on a new COVID-19 relief package in four months, and in recognition of Americans’ increasing suffering, the Problem Solvers Caucus (PSC) has developed a comprehensive, bipartisan framework to meet the nation’s needs for the next 6-12 months, that can pass both chambers of Congress and be signed into law by the President,” wrote the Members. Included in the proposal is $15 billion for child care providers, split into $10 billion for provider relief and $5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG); $100 billion for K-12 schools for “virtual, hybrid, and/or in-person learning;” and $30 billion for institutions of higher education. The proposal was not well received by House Democratic leadership and is unlikely to receive any further consideration. The framework is here. A joint statement by House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), and others is here. A POLITICO article is here.
September 15, 2020

Non-Coronavirus Updates:

Budget and Appropriations:

House Rules Committee tees up vote on stopgap funding bill: The House Rules Committee will hold a meeting to discuss the rule for the “Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021,” otherwise known as the continuing resolution (CR) for spending authorized by fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills. This meeting sets the stage for the House to potentially consider the CR next week in a floor vote. Funding for this year expires on September 30. More information is here.
September 21, 2020

Congress:

Senate:

HELP Committee clear on need to simplify FAFSA, even without big HEA reauthorization: The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee held a full committee hearing titled, “Time to Finish Fixing the FAFSA.” The hearing was focused how the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be simplified and made shorter to support increased completion. During the hearing, there was bipartisan support for simplifying the FAFSA and multiple Members expressed their support of S.2667, the “FAFSA Simplification Act,” sponsored by Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Doug Jones (D-AL). During the hearing, Chairman Alexander alluded to the notion that there will likely not be any broad reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) before Congress is done for the year, but urged his fellow Members to advance smaller fixes – such as the FAFSA Simplification Act. More information and recording of the hearing are here.
September 17, 2020

House:

House adopts bill to provide more protections for pregnant workers: The House adopted H.R.2694, the “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” on a largely bipartisan 329-73 vote. The bill would establish nationwide protections that guarantee workers the basic right to reasonable accommodations. “These protections are critical to protecting pregnant workers from the tragic consequences of unsafe working conditions, and they are particularly important today, as early evidence suggests that pregnancy leads to an elevated risk of severe illness from COVID-19,” stated House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) in floor remarks. The Chairman’s full remarks are here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here.
September 17, 2020

Education and Labor Committee Democrats setup markup of apprenticeship bill: The House Education and Labor Committee Democrats introduced H.R.8294, the “National Apprenticeship Act of 2020.” The bill is scheduled for a full Committee markup on September 24. The bill, sponsored by Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment Chairwoman Susan Davis (D-CA) and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), would reauthorize the National Apprenticeship Act and invest nearly $3.5 billion over five years to scale-up apprenticeship opportunities, streamline access to apprenticeships for workers and employers, and expand apprenticeships into new in-demand industry sectors and occupations. A press release is here. A fact sheet is here. A section-by-section summary is here. The bill is here.
September 17, 2020

House moves to restore private right of action for racial discrimination in schools: The House adopted H.R.2574, the “Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act,” on a largely partisan 232-188 vote. The bill would restore a private right of action to students and parents to bring Title VI discrimination claims based on disparate impact and would hold schools accountable for providing equal access for all students. The bill also creates a Special Assistant for Equity and Inclusion within the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to coordinate and promote Title VI compliance. Remarks from House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) are here. A press release by House Education and Labor Committee Republicans is here.
September 17, 2020

House advances bill to create voluntary school desegregation grants: The House adopted H.R.2639, the “Strength in Diversity Act,” on a largely partisan 248-167 vote. The bill would provide grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) to support voluntary desegregation efforts. “Communities across the country have recognized the importance of school diversity for student success and developed innovative strategies to promote diversity in education,” stated House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA). The bill is similar to the “Opening Doors, expanding Opportunities” grant program that was administered by the Obama Administration but was ended under the Trump Administration. Chairman Scott’s full remarks are here. A press release by House Education and Labor Committee Republicans is here.
September 15, 2020

Administration:

White House:

Trump to create national commission on ‘patriotic education’: President Donald Trump announced he will be soon signing an executive order to establish a national commission to promote “patriotic education.” The “1776 Commission” will encourage educators to teach “about the miracle of American history.” The president’s announcement was made at an event commemorating National Constitution Day during which he also touted his directive to federal agencies to ban any actions related to critical race theory or the teaching of white supremacy. He further announced that the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a grant to support the development of a “pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history.” It is unclear what either the national commission or the grant provided by the National Endowment will produce and how either will interact with USED, which is prohibited under federal law to endorse, approve, develop, require, or sanction any curriculum for state or local educational agencies to adopt. The president’s full remarks are here.
September 17, 2020

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

USED publishes new tool to explore state, district student spending data: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) published a new website focused on providing information related to per pupil expenditure (PPE) data. The tool breaks down federal, state, and local funds that contribute to a total expenditure and the tool allows for examining the expenditures at the state and district levels. “Parents are increasingly attuned to how their schools are—or aren’t—meeting their students’ needs. They need tools to advocate for reforms, and good decision-making requires transparent, actionable information that, unfortunately, isn’t always easy to find,” stated USED Secretary Betsy DeVos. The website currently includes data available from 20 states for the 2018-2019 school year and will be updated as additional data becomes available. A press release is here. The website is here.
September 16, 2020

Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):

  • On September 23 at 9:00 am, the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will hold a meeting. The meeting will focus on “the future of higher education and U.S. competitiveness.” More information and registration are 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.
  • On September 24 at 9:30 am, the House Judiciary Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Oversight of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.” No witnesses have yet been announced. More information is here.

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):

  • On September 21 at 12:00 pm, the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management will hold an event titled, “Race and Politics: Sparking Change From the Classroom Into Policy.” The webinar will discuss how students have long been involved with the struggle for racial equality and how that energy can be channeled into tangible policy. More information and registration are here.
  • On September 24 at 1:00 pm, POLITICO will hold an event titled, “Confronting Inequality in America: The A, B, Cs of Education Inequalities.” The virtual town hall will include education leaders, scholars, activists, and public officials to discuss the policies needed to overcome disparities experienced by Black and minority students. More information and registration are here.
  • On September 30 at 2:00 pm, First Focus on Children will hold an event titled, “The Children’s Budget Summit.” The webinar will focus on the publication of First Focus’s annual Children’s Budget book. The event will also feature remarks by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM). More information and registration are here.

Publications (Congressional and Administration):

  • On September 15, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) published a report titled, “Can Texting Parents Improve Attendance in Elementary School?” The report summarizes a study of the efficacy of four text-based messaging strategies with the intention of improving student attendance. Key findings of the report include identifying that all four versions of the strategy reduced chronic absence; that the messaging lowered the expected chronic absence rate by two to seven percentage points with higher reductions for students with a prior history of high absence; and that the strategies did not improve third through fifth grade reading or math achievement after one school year. The full report is here.

Publications (Outside Organizations):

  • On September 17, the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) published a report titled, “Advancing education and child development in Opportunity Zones.” The report summarizes how investors and equity holders can leverage the Opportunity Zones program to advance their goals. Key recommendations offered by the report include identifying that investors can align with government leaders to identify high-impact projects in need of equity financing; that businesses that serve children can locate operations in designated census tracts to raise seed and growth capital; and that philanthropic organizations can build a community’s capacity to implement local strategies within Opportunity Zones. The full report is here.
  • On September 16, Chiefs for Change published a report titled, “Change the FAFSA to Change the Future.” The report summarizes various studies to explain the importance of simplifying the FAFSA. Key findings of the report include identifying that FAFSA completion can be made easier by reducing the number of questions asked; having students complete the application only once; and expanding further data sharing between federal agencies. The full report is here.
  • On September 15, Results for America published a report titled, “Moneyball for Workforce Development.” The report discusses the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the opportunities a comprehensive reauthorization can provide workforce development programs. Key recommendations of the report include defining and prioritizing evidence of effectiveness in WIOA grant programs; setting-aside one percent of WIOA funds for program evaluations; and creating a new “Workforce Innovation Fund.” The full report is here.
  • On September 15, Bellwether Education Partners published a report titled, “College and Career Readiness, or a New Form of Tracking?” The report summarizes a study of data that is collected and reported by states which are supposed to monitor if students are on track to being successful in college and career programs. Key findings of the report include identifying that four states – Alaska, Maine, Nebraska, and Oregon – do not yet report any college and career readiness measures; that three states – Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Virginia – track the five most common measures; and that only 16 states disaggregate their measures by student population and identity. The full report is here.

Legislation:

H.R.8282
A bill to prohibit Federal funds from being made available to teach the 1619 Project curriculum in elementary schools and secondary schools, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO)

H.R.8290
A bill to implement title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 with respect to elementary and secondary schools, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL)

H.R.8293
A bill to ensure that Federal work-study funding is available for students enrolled in residency programs for teachers, principals, or school leaders, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO)

H.R.8294
A bill to amend the National Apprenticeship Act and expand the national apprenticeship system to include apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeship registered under such Act, to promote the furtherance of labor standards necessary to safeguard the welfare of apprentices, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA)

H.R.8295
A bill to authorize the Secretary of Education to make grants to support educational programs in American civics and history, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)

H.R.8302
A bill to promote the furtherance of standards necessary to safeguard the welfare of apprentices.
Sponsor: Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI)

S.4615
A bill to establish a competitive grant program to support the development, implementation, and evaluation of successful educator and school leader professional development programs on family engagement that will increase the capacity of educators and school leaders to work with families to develop and support the social-emotional learning of children.
Sponsor: Senator Angus King (I-ME)

S.4622
A bill to amend the Act entitled “Act to provide for the establishment of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in the State of Kansas, and for other purposes” to provide for inclusion of additional related sites in the National Park System, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Chris Coons (D-DE)

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