E-Update for the Week of September 7, 2021
- On September 9 at 12:00 pm, it is expected the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a markup on draft legislation that could be included in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package.
- On September 2, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal urging Democrats to “hit a strategic pause” in their effort to pass the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package.
- On August 30, USED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that it had opened investigations in five states exploring whether statewide prohibitions on universal indoor masking “discriminate against students with disabilities.”
House Ed & Labor Committee expected to begin consideration of reconciliation language this Thursday: It is expected the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a markup on draft legislation that could be included in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, according to POLITICO (though the markup has yet to be officially announced). According to reports, the draft legislation is expected to include provisions that would expand access to child care, provide universal preschool to all three- and four-year-olds, increase the maximum Pell Grant award, and address issues such as school infrastructure, college completion, and educator development programs. An article from POLITICO is here (Note: A subscription to POLITICO Pro is required).
Relatedly, on September 3, House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) led a letter from all Committee Republicans to Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) requesting he provide the Committee with draft text of the reconciliation legislation “as soon as possible” ahead of the anticipated markup. “It is no exaggeration to state that this legislation would fundamentally alter many aspects of American lives and the U.S. economy,” the Members wrote. “Given the magnitude of this legislation, the public and Members of this Committee deserve ample time to consider the statutory text proposed by the Committee’s majority before all Members are expected to vote on hundreds of billions of dollars that will affect job creators, families, and workers.” A press release is here.
September 3 & 9, 2021
Manchin calls for ‘strategic pause’ on reconciliation process: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal urging Democrats to “hit a strategic pause” in their effort to pass the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, instead suggesting that he would be open to passing a smaller version of the bill. Senator Manchin wrote that he would not support the $3.5 trillion bill “or anywhere near that level of additional spending” without greater understanding of the economic impact of inflation and the current national debt. “A pause is warranted because it will provide more clarity on the trajectory of the pandemic, and it will allow us to determine whether inflation is transitory of not,” he wrote. 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 50 votes. The op-ed is here. (Note: A subscription to the Wall Street Journal is required.)
September 2, 2021
Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED provides guidance on evidence-based ARP strategies: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) published new guidance titled “Strategies for Using American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funding to Address the Impact of Lost Instructional Time,” a resource intended to support educators as they “implement, refine, and work to continuously improve” their strategies for supporting students. The document elevates best practices and evidence-based approaches, all of which can be supported through ARP funding, and to support students’ recovery from lost learning time in the new school year. The document is part of the Department’s broader “Return to School Roadmap,” which aims to support states, schools, educators, and families for the return to in-person learning this fall. A press release is here.
August 31, 2021
IES outlines plan for uses of $100 million in ARP funding: The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) published a blog post outlining how IES has used the $100 million in funding it was allocated by the ARP to conduct research related to learning losses caused by the pandemic. In the post, IES Director Mark Schneider states that the Agency is using the funds to invest in research grants, gather data through the School Pulse survey, and ensure that the information generated about accelerating learning is “translated into forms that are useful, usable, and used.” In addition to the monthly School Pulse survey, IES has also supported research under the Improving State and Local Education Recovery Programs and Policies grant program, and focused the fiscal year (FY) 2022 State Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) program competition on addressing the evidence needs of states and districts as they continue to respond to the pandemic. IES is also establishing a research network to develop evidence-based products for the education marketplace and carrying out two initiatives focused on learning recovery for learners with disabilities. The full post is here.
August 31, 2021
OCR investigating states with prohibitions on mask mandates, exploring potential discrimination against students with disabilities: USED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that it had opened investigations in five states exploring whether statewide prohibitions on universal indoor masking “discriminate against students with disabilities” who are especially vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 by preventing them from safely accessing in-person education. OCR sent letters to the chief state school officers of Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah outlining how prohibitions of universal indoor masking “prevent school districts from implementing health and safety policies that they determine are necessary to protect students” from COVID-19, including those with underlying medical conditions related to their disability. In the letters, OCR states its concern that state mask restrictions on schools and districts “may be preventing schools…from meeting their legal obligations not to discriminate based on disability and from providing an equal educational opportunity to students with disabilities who are at heightened risk of severe illness from COVID-19.” A press release from USED is here.
Relatedly, House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) led a letter to USED Secretary Miguel Cardona seeking additional information about OCR’s decision to investigate five states with statewide prohibitions on universal indoor masking. In the letter, the Members express “concern about the selective application” of the Biden Administration’s “so-called commitment to science and well-being of students,” as well as its “commitment to administrating the laws faithfully.” The Members argue that if the Administration were truly committed to science, Democrats wouldn’t have “dithered” in their efforts to reopen schools for in-person learning. The full letter is here.
August 30 and September 1, 2021
USED approves Minnesota state ARP ESSER plan: USED announced the approval of Minnesota’s plan detailing its proposed use of American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funding. With this most recent approval, 33 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.
August 30, 2021
OMB launches online tool to support Evidence-Based Policymaking Act implementation: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) launched Evaluation.gov, which will serve as a hub for federal agencies to document how they will support program performance with data and metrics, as required in the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. The legislation requires agencies to name chief data officers and chief evaluation officers, as well as post final versions of their learning agendas, annual evaluation plans, and capacity assessments on the site by February 2022. According to OMB, agencies are expected to include questions focused on equity and other Administration priorities in their evaluation policies. A press release is here.
September 1, 2021
OMB, OSTP outline R&D priorities for FY2023 budget proposal: OMB and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published a memo outlining the Biden Administration’s research and development (R&D) budget priorities for fiscal year (FY) 2023. The memo cites five priorities for federal agencies to consider as they develop their FY2023 budget submissions, including pandemic readiness and prevention; climate change research; research and innovation in critical and emerging technologies; innovations for equity; and national security and economic resilience. The memo also includes other guidance instructing agencies to “prioritize making Federally funded R&D open to the public in a findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable way” while engaging researchers from “diverse backgrounds;” and to “develop measurable strategies to promote diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility across all R&D focus areas, while building supportive STEM education and engagement ecosystems.” The full memo is here.
August 30, 2021
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
Twenty Republican attorneys general sue USED after Department expands Title IX protections for LGBTQ+ students: A coalition of 20 Republican attorneys general announced they are suing USED to prevent enforcement of its interpretation of Title IX. The Department previously issued a Notice of Interpretation that indicated the Department will enforce protections against sex-based discrimination to include protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The lawsuit aims to strike down directives from the Biden Administration that would allow transgender students to play on sports teams, use locker rooms and bathrooms, or stay in residence halls that match their gender identity. In the filing, the attorneys general argue the Biden Administration “flout[ed] procedural requirements in their rush to overreach,” and that states now face a “credible threat” of losing significant federal funding due to policies that counter the Administration’s moves to protect the rights of transgender students. An article from Reuters is here.
August 31, 2021
USED restarts FAFSA verification process for next award year: USED published a notice in the Federal Register announcing its plan to restart the verification process for students who apply for federal student aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Department notes that the verification process will restart for the 2022-2023 award year after scaling back that process in response to the pandemic. In the notice, the Department outlines the kinds of information and documentation that students may need to provide to verify the accuracy of the information they include on the FAFSA for the 2022-23 school year. The notice is here.
August 31, 2021
Foxx, Fitzgerald introduce bill to force schools, districts to publish teaching materials: House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Representative Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI) introduced the “Curriculum Review of Teachings (CRT) Transparency Act,” which would require local school districts to post the curriculum for each grade of their elementary and secondary schools on a “publicly accessible website.” According to the Members, “lack of awareness and accountability” for districts’ curricula has “allowed controversial and factually inaccurate ideas, like critical race theory, to be taught to students while keeping parents in the dark.” By requiring districts to post their curricula online, the bill “addresses this problem” by ensuring “parents can see what their children are learning in school.” A press release is here, and an op-ed published by Ranking Member Foxx is here.
September 3, 2021
House Democratic Chairs call on White House to hold hunger, nutrition summit: House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) sent a letter signed by all 25 House Chairpersons calling on the Biden Administration to hold a White House summit on hunger, nutrition and health. Citing the increased demand during the pandemic for food aid through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the letter calls for a convening of “all the arms of government, state and local leaders, tribal leaders, nonprofit and for-profit businesses, advocates, and those with lived experiences” to “design a roadmap to end hunger in America by 2030.” A press release is here.
September 2, 2021
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On September 9 at 12:00 pm, it is expected that the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a markup on the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, focusing on provisions within the committee’s jurisdiction, according to POLITICO (though the markup has yet to be officially announced). An article from POLITICO is here (Note: A subscription to POLITICO Pro is required).
- The Senate is on recess until September 13.
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 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 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.
- On August 31, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report titled, “Baccalaureate and Beyond: First Look at the 2018 Employment and Educational Experiences of 2007–08 College Graduates.” The report describes outcomes of 2007–08 bachelor’s degree recipients in 2018, about 10 years after graduation. Key findings include identifying that roughly 10 years after completing their bachelor’s degrees, 63 percent of graduates owned a home and 86 percent had a retirement account; 20 percent of graduates reported a negative net worth; and 14 percent reported that they did not meet essential expenses, such as mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, or important medical care in the past 12 months. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On August 31, the Christensen Institute published a report titled, “Carpe Diem: Convert Pandemic Struggles into Student-Centered Learning.” The report explores survey data from teachers and administrators to find that while students were behind in average learning growth due to the sudden shift to online learning, remote learning options and tools have allowed some teachers to make their classroom more student-centered through differentiated instruction. Other key findings include identifying that some school administrators are generally optimistic that pandemic-era experiences with flexible learning formats will strengthen efforts for equitable and personalized student learning; and that most hybrid teachers taught in-person and remote students at the same time. The full report is here.
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for the refinancing of certain Federal student loans, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH)
A bill to require the Secretary of Education to initiate a negotiated rulemaking process with respect to when an institution of higher education fails to meet accreditation standards, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)
A bill to require that certain loans made to parents on behalf of a dependent student and to graduate students are included in the definition of cohort default rate under the Higher Education Act of 1965, to require the Secretary of Education to report default rates for such loans, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-TX)