E-Update for the Weeks of April 2 and April 9, 2018
- On April 10, the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), or the “Nation’s Report Card” was released. The report provides results for the nation, states, and 27 urban school districts for assessments in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics.
- On April 11-12, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute conducted a summit to assess the American education landscape in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the seminal report: “A Nation at Risk.”
- On April 10, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) titled, “Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility.” The Executive Order orders Secretaries of various federal agencies to review their public assistance programs and guidance documents and to strengthen existing work requirements.
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Released: The 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), or the “Nation’s Report Card” was released. The report provides results for the nation, states, and 27 urban school districts for assessments in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics. Findings from the report include 37% of fourth-graders and 36% of eighth-graders scored at or above Proficient in reading, and 40% of fourth-graders and 34% of eighth-graders scored at or above Proficient in mathematics. When compared to scores from 2015, 2017 scores reflected a growing gap between the highest- and lowest-scoring students. In a statement released by USED Secretary Betsy DeVos, she stated, “We can and we must do better for America’s students.” She also focused on Florida’s performance in her statement, calling the state a “bright spot” and touting their progress in narrowing the achievement gap. Secretary DeVos’s statement is available here. The report is available here.
April 10, 2018
Reagan Institute Summit on Education Event
Reagan Institute Summit on Education (RISE) Event Held: The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute conducted a summit to assess the American education landscape in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the seminal report: “A Nation at Risk.” During the summit, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos discussed the recently released NAEP scores with former Secretary William Bennett, expressing disappointment at the largely stagnant scores, but highlighting Florida as a “model for other states to emulate” due to its gains in test scores nearly across the board.
Additionally, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) spoke at the event of USED’s successful implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), defending USED Secretary DeVos against claims that she is approving state plans which violate the law. He also spoke in favor of the idea of merit-based raises for high quality teachers, accusing the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) of not “supporting governors who are trying to support outstanding teachers.” House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) also discussed teacher pay during the summit in response to a question regarding the recent and ongoing teacher uprisings in states like Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona. Chairwoman Foxx stated that public school teachers should be treated more professionally, and that teachers should be paid the same wages as college professors. Politico article here. A Politico article is available here.
April 11-12, 2018
Senate and House Committees Hold Hearings on Facebook and Data Use: The Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a joint hearing titled, “Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data.” In his opening statement, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) called the potential for abuse of user data collected by social media platforms such as Facebook “significant,” and stated there was “clearly a breach of consumer trust and a likely improper transfer of data.” He urged that data privacy policies should be transparent to consumers. Additionally, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on April 11 titled, “Facebook: Transparency and Use of Consumer Data.” During his opening statement, Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) called Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s story an “American success story,” stating that it embodies “our shared values of freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of enterprise.” He went on to stress the importance of users being thoroughly informed about how their online activity and personal information is used by platforms, such as Facebook, and asked for suggestions on how policymakers can reassure citizens that their data remains private. Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified during both hearings. Recording of the Senate hearing are available here and the House hearing here. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) opening statement is available here, and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden’s (R-OR) opening statement here. Mr. Zuckerberg’s statement from the Senate hearing is available here and House hearing here.
April 10, 2018
Congressional Budget Office (CBO):
CBO Budget Forecast and Pell Grant Baseline Released: On April 9, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its latest Budget and Economic Outlook projections for 2018 through 2028. This report is usually published in January. This year, it was published in April to give CBO additional time to analyze and incorporate some of the effects of recent major legislation, particularly the tax reform bill. The report states, “The deficit that CBO now estimates for 2018 is $242 billion larger than the one that it projected for that year in June 2017. Accounting for most of that difference is a $194 billion reduction in projected revenues, mainly because the 2017 tax act is expected to reduce collections of individual and corporate income taxes. For the 2018–2027 period, CBO now projects a cumulative deficit that is $1.6 trillion larger than the $10.1 trillion that the agency anticipated in June.” Regarding Pell Grants, CBO estimates that the Pell Grant surplus is $7.4 billion, which is approximately $1 billion less than previous projections due to the $175 increase in the Pell Grant maximum award included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill. Pell Grant baseline here.
April 9, 2018
Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing on Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018: The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing to examine a previously released bipartisan, committee discussion draft for the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. During his opening statement, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated that tackling the opioid crisis will “require all-hands on deck work and solutions from states, communities, and local partners,” and said that the federal government’s response must be “bipartisan, urgent, and effective.” During her opening statement, Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke of several provisions included in the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, including addressing “the need to help our schools and children by developing a taskforce and grants to help support trauma-informed care programs, increasing access to mental health care for children, and supporting state efforts to improve plans of safe care for children born to mothers battling addiction.” Chairman Alexander’s (R-TN) press release is available here. Ranking Member Murray’s (D-WA) press release is available here.
The Opioid Crisis Response Act will improve the ability of federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Education (USED), to address the crisis, as well as the the ripple effects on children, families, and communities, and to share data between states. Some provisions in the bill support the development of non-addictive painkillers, assist states in improving plans of safe care for infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, and address child and youth trauma. The Committee requested comments on the draft legislation from interested stakeholders by April 11. Text of the discussion draft is available here and summary here.
April 11, 2018
Democratic Senators Send Letters to IRS and GAO Regarding For-Profit College Conversions: Eleven Democratic Senators sent a letter to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Acting Commissioner David Kautter regarding the recent increase in applications from for-profit colleges seeking to become nonprofit entities. The letter states that the Senators are concerned that these recent attempts by for-profit colleges to convert to nonprofit organizations with tax-exempt status may violate federal tax law. Additionally, on April 2, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding similar concerns with for-profit colleges converting to nonprofit institutions of higher education. In the letter, the Senators request that the agency examine how the IRS, USED, and accrediting agencies evaluate conversion requests, and how these schools are monitored after they are converted.
April 11, 2018
House Education and the Workforce Committee Holds Briefing on School Discipline Disparities; GAO Report on School Discipline Disparities Released: On April 11, House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Congressman A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) hosted a briefing titled, “The Protecting Students’ Civil Rights,” to elevate the importance of preserving students’ civil rights protections. The briefing was held as the Trump Administration is currently conduct a review of school discipline guidance issued by the Obama Administration in 2014. The briefing also highlighted a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on disproportionate school discipline and included a panel discussion with civil rights groups and education experts. The press release is available here. A recording of the briefing is available here.
On April 4, the GAO released a report titled, “Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities.” The report shows that “Black students, boys, and students with disabilities are disproportionately disciplined in K-12 public schools.” In a press release in response to the report, House Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) stated that rather than being rescinded, the 2014 school discipline guidance should be strengthened, as it “remind[s] schools of their legal obligations to administer school discipline without discriminating on the base of race, color, or national origin.” The report is available here and fact sheet here. Ranking Member Scott’s press release is available here. House Education and the Workforce Committee Vice Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici’s (D-OR) statement is available here.
Weeks of April 2 and 9, 2018
President Trump Signs Executive Order on Reducing Poverty through Work Requirements and Welfare Reform: President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) titled, “Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility.” The Executive Order orders Secretaries of various federal agencies to review their public assistance programs and guidance documents and to strengthen existing work requirements. Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Acting Assistant Secretary Steven Wagner’s statement is available here. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Adrian Smith (R-NE) joint statement is available here. House Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) statement is available here. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) statement is available here.
April 10, 2018
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED Approves First EQUIP Experiment: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) approved the first Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships (EQUIP) experiment for Brookhaven College in Dallas, Texas. The experiment allows traditional colleges to partner with alternative programs, such as online education providers, and each experiment will be monitored by a third-party quality control entity. USED gave initial approval to eight schools to take part in the pilot two years ago, and Brookhaven is the first to receive full approval. Brookhaven will partner with an organization called StraighterLine, which provides self-paced online courses, and will offer up to two-thirds of a Dallas County Community College associate’s degree in business or criminal justice.
April 13, 2018
USED Secretary DeVos Hosts “School Safety and Climate Summit:” USED Secretary DeVos hosted a “School Safety and Climate Summit,” which consisted of two listening sessions on school safety and climate across the country. The main topics of discussion were the 2014 school discipline guidance issued by the Obama Administration and a Dear Colleague letter issued by USED, which prohibits racial discrimination under Title VI. The first listening session consisted of individuals and organizations sharing positive experiences with the current guidance, and the second was around concerns with the guidance.
According to Politico, several organizations – such as the National Women’s Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Indian Education Association and GLSEN – sent a letter to USED Secretary DeVos expressing their concern that they could not identify whether groups such as LGBTQ students and immigrant and undocumented would be represented at the summit, stating they were, “very concerned about the lack of transparency regarding the summit participants.” A Politico article is available here.
April 4, 2018
Further Review of ACICS Petition Ordered by USED: USED Secretary DeVos ordered further review of the 2016 petition for recognition by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). The review comes as a result of a ruling by a federal judge on March 23 in favor of ACICS in a case regarding the Obama Administration’s decision to terminate the agency in 2016. The accreditor was terminated due to concerns over its approval of certain for-profit institutions of higher education, such as ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges. The judge ruled that the Obama Administration illegally failed to consider relevant evidence when they decided to terminate ACICS, and the case has now been sent back to USED. USED Secretary DeVos’s order is available here.
April 3, 2018
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ):
DOJ Launches Investigation into Early Decision Admissions Policies of Several Universities: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) began an investigation into the early decision admissions policies of at least seven colleges, including Wesleyan University, Middlebury College, Pomona College, Amherst College, Wellesley College, Williams College and Grinnell College. The Department is specifically investigating whether the early decision policies violate federal antitrust laws by exchanging information about accepted applicants with the other institutions involved in the investigation. A Politico article is available here.
April 11, 2018
DOJ Requests that Harvard University’s Admissions Records be Disclosed in Discrimination Lawsuit: DOJ urged a federal judge involved in a lawsuit in which Harvard University is accused of bias against Asian-American applicants to allow for the public disclosure of records related to the institution’s admissions practices. On April 9, William Lee, an attorney representing the University, sent a letter to the judge overseeing the case calling the DOJ’s request “entirely unnecessary.” He also stated that the Department already has in their possession the key materials related to the lawsuit, as they demanded them as part of an investigation launched last year by officials into the University’s admissions practices. Lee’s letter is available here.
April 6, 2018
- On April 17, the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing for members of the House of Representatives to testify on their priorities for FY2019 federal funding at 10:00 a.m. More information is available here.
- On April 17, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing titled, “Fraud, Mismanagement, Non-Compliance, and Safety: the History of Failures of the Corporation for National and Community Service” at 10:00 am. More information is available here.
- On April 23, USED will host “ParentCamp,” a free day of workshop sessions facilitated by USED staff and invited guests where families, educators, and faith-based and community representatives can share experiences, concerns, and solutions regarding their children’s education. Registration closed on April 6, but a link can be found here.
- On April 26, the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing for public witnesses to testify on their priorities for federal funding for FY2019 at 10:00 a.m. Press release is available here and more information here.
- On May 22-24, NACIQI will hold its Spring 2018 meeting at which time the performance of accrediting agencies currently undergoing review and evaluation for purposes of recognition by the USED will be discussed. The specific list of accrediting agencies, including the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (which was terminated last year under the Obama Administration and is seeking reinstatement), can be found in this notice. Full agenda can be found here.
- June 1 is the deadline to submit written testimony from outside witnesses to the Senate Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee. More information is available here.
- On April 12, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a report titled, “Projections of Education Statistics to 2026.” The report includes projections for national data on enrollment, teachers, high school graduates, and spending at the elementary and secondary level. The report is available here.
- On April 4, NCES released a report titled, “Student Access to Digital Learning Resources Outside of the Classroom.” The report examines the five research areas designated in ESSA and provides a comprehensive picture of student access to digital learning resources outside of the classroom. One of the findings included in the report is that only 61 percent of children ages three to 18 use the internet at home, according to 2015 survey data. The report is available here.
- On April 3, NCES released a Statistics in Brief titled, “Preparation and Support for Teachers in Public Schools: Reflections on the First Year of Teaching.” The brief investigates early-career teachers’ preparation for teaching and receipt of support by selected characteristics of the schools in which they taught during the 2011–12 school year. The brief is available here.
A bill to authorize the Secretary of Education to award grants to eligible entities to carry out educational programs about the Holocaust, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY)
A bill to require operators that provide online and similar services to educational agencies, institutions, or programs to protect the privacy and security of personally identifiable information, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Steve Daines (R-MT)
A resolution expressing support for the designation of the week of April 9 through April 13, 2018, as “National Assistant Principals Week”.
Sponsor: Senator Thomas R. Carper (D-DE)