E-Update for the Weeks of January 29 and February 5, 2018
- Following the release of a bipartisan budget agreement to increase defense and non-defense annual spending caps (also known as discretionary spending) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and FY2019, the House and Senate approved a Continuing Resolution (CR) on February 9, which will continue federal funding through March 23. The President signed the CR on the same day.
- The U.S. Department of Education (USED) conducted a second session of the Gainful Employment Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. At this meeting, an issue paper on technical and conforming changes to the Department’s working draft to overhaul gainful employment regulations was considered. More information can be found here and the issue paper can be found here.
- The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) held a meeting on the performance of accrediting agencies currently undergoing review and evaluation for purposes of recognition by USED. Additionally, a panel was held during the session to consider comments related to a student-level data network. The notice can be found here and the agenda can be found here.
Key Upcoming Events:
- On February 12, the Administration will release its FY2019 President’s Budget Request, including proposed funding for early learning and education programs.
- During the week of February 12, the Senate is expected to consider immigration legislation, which is likely to include a plan to address a DACA fix. Legislative details of the proposal are not yet available.
Budget & Appropriations
Bipartisan Budget Agreement Reached and Federal Funding Extended: The House and Senate approved a CR to continue federal funding through March 23 and to provide emergency supplemental spending in response to recent disasters. The President signed the CR on the same day. The approval of the CR followed an announcement by Senate Republican and Democratic leadership on February 7, that a bipartisan budget agreement had been reached which would set overall spending caps for defense and non-defense annual spending (also known as discretionary spending) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and FY2019. The bipartisan budget agreement will provide an increase to non-defense discretionary spending caps of $63 billion in FY2018 and $68 billion in FY2019 above the current law cap levels. Specifically, non-defense discretionary spending caps will be increased by $37 billion in both FY2018 and FY2019 to reverse the non-defense spending sequester + $26 billion in FY2018 and $31 billion in FY2019 will be available for additional increases in non-defense discretionary spending above the cap levels needed to reverse the sequester. Text of the CR can be found here. Summary of disaster spending in the CR can be found here.
- As part of the bipartisan budget agreement, the following funding is expected to be appropriated in the upcoming Omnibus bill: $2 billion increase over two years for the National Institutes of Health; $6 billion increase over two years to combat the opioid epidemic and support mental health initiatives; $5.8 billion increase over two years for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program (this level will double available funding for the program); and $4 billion increase over two years for programs that aid college affordability, including those that help police officers, teachers, and firefighters.
- Additionally, the CR package includes an increase to the debt limit through March 1, 2019; the Family First Prevention Services Act, which will provide supports for children in foster care; the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act, which will allow social-impact partnership projects to award federal funding when certain agreed upon outcomes are achieved; the creation of a Joint Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform; tax extenders; and extenders for a number of health care investments, including home-visiting programs, among other provisions.
February 9, 2018
House Democrats Release an Infrastructure Plan: House Democrats announced A Better Deal to Rebuild America, an infrastructure plan that would put $1 trillion towards, “American iron and steel and new American-made green infrastructure materials to support good-paying jobs, and ensure opportunities for small business owners.” House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) spoke of the proposals plans for school facility improvements and the proposals plans to “lower the crippling cost of prescription drugs and the cost of a college or technical education that leads to a good job.” More information can be found here. House Committee on Energy and Commerce press release can be found here.
February 8, 2018
House and Senate Democrats Request a Review of Private Collection Agencies: House Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Susan A. Davis (D-CA), and Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to the USED Inspector General asking that she examine whether the use of private collection agencies to collect defaulted student loans is a waste or misuse of taxpayer dollars. The letter cites a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) report that estimates that the government pays collection agencies nearly $40 for every $1 recovered. The letter can be found here.
February 5, 2018
House and Senate Education Committee Leadership Address The Council for Higher Education: House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), and House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) delivered remarks at the annual conference of The Council for Higher Education. At the conference, Chairwoman Foxx spoke on the House Republicans proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). During her remarks, she noted that the Democratic members of the Committee wanted additional funding for higher education programs through a reauthorization, but there “isn’t any more money out there to spend.” During remarks at the conference the next day, Ranking Member Scott stated it was still “possible to produce a bipartisan HEA that spends the same amount we currently spend, but in a more equitable fashion.”
Week of January 29, 2018
Senate HELP Committee Hearing Held on the Opioid Crisis: The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing titled, “The Opioid Crisis: Impact on Children and Families.” During Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) opening statement, he spoke of the growing rate of babies being born in withdrawal from opioids. He also discussed a program called 180 Health Partners, which helps coordinate comprehensive care for expecting mothers who are struggling with opioid use. He also spoke on the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016, which included $1 billion in grants for states to fight the opioid crisis. During Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray’s (D-WA) opening statement, she stated that Congress must “continue its bipartisan work to combat this crisis by addressing both the root causes and the ripple effects of the opioid epidemic.” She also discussed the Head Start program, which supports families as they “heal, grow, and succeed together.” Chairman Alexander’s opening statement can be found here and Ranking Member Murray’s can be found here.
February 8, 2018
Senate Republicans Working on Paid Family Leave Proposal: Republican Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) announced that they are working on legislation, which will reportedly allow workers to deduct from their Social Security contributions for paid family leave. The Hill article can be found here. While the legislation is still in the drafting stage, it is reported by The Hill newspaper that the plan will replace 45 percent of the average parent’s income for a period of up to 12 weeks. In exchange, the parent would have to defer retirement by roughly six weeks to offset the cost. House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott responded to reports of the plan by saying, “This proposal would put pressure on Social Security’s already strained resources.” House Committee on Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott’s (D-VA) statement can be found here.
February 7, 2018
Senate HELP Committee Hearings Held on HEA Reauthorization: The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on February 6 titled, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA): Improving College Affordability.” During his opening statement, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said that the rewrite of HEA should “simplify the existing two grant programs, five loan programs and nine different repayment programs and redirect some of those dollars to higher priorities.” He also stated that the new law should simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and spoke repeatedly of the importance of Pell Grants. During her opening statement, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke of the issue of student debt and its crippling effects on students, as well as the importance of making college affordable for all students. On January 30, the Senate HELP Committee also held a hearing titled, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Accountability and Risk to Taxpayers.” During the hearing, the Senators discussed how best to reform or replace the current higher education accountability system through the reauthorization of the HEA in order to be more transparent and to better protect students. More information on the hearings, opening statements, and witness testimonies can be found here and here.
January 30, 2018 and February 6, 2018
Republican and Democratic Leadership Release White Papers on HEA Reauthorization: Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) issued a white paper calling for changes to how colleges are held accountable for the federal dollars they receive. The paper suggests that lawmakers should consider eliminating some of HEA’s current requirements, such as cohort default rates, a measure of how many of a school’s graduates default on loans; the so-called 90-10 rule, which requires for-profit colleges to receive at least 10 percent of revenue from non-federal sources; and a gainful employment metric, which measures earnings of career colleges graduates compared to the debt they carry. Comments are being sought on the white paper by Chairman Alexander until February 15, 2018. White paper can be found here. Press release can be found here. Following the release of the Chairman’s white paper on accountability in higher education, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released HEA Reauthorization Principles on behalf of the Senate Democratic Caucus. The document highlights the four key principles that Democrats believe any reauthorization of HEA must address: 1) affordability, 2) accountability, 3) access, and 4) protecting the rights and safety of all students. Document can be found here.
February 1, 2018 and February 2, 2018
CBO Releases Score for the PROSPER Act: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a cost estimate for H.R. 4508, the Promoting Real opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act. The PROSPER Act is the Republican plan for reauthorization of HEA, which passed out of the House Education and the Workforce Committee on a partisan vote in December 2017. According to the cost estimate, the PROSPER Act would result in a net loss in student aid of approximately $15 billion over 10 years. House Education and the Workforce Committee Bobby Scott (D-VA) issued a statement in response to the score, which can be found here.
February 6, 2018
House Committee Hearing Held on Evidence-Based Policymaking: The House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing titled, “Protecting Privacy, Promoting Policy: Evidence-Based Policymaking and the Future of Education.” The Committee heard from prominent researchers, privacy advocates, and other stakeholders about how education research can support evidence-based policymaking, while ensuring the protection of student privacy. Throughout the hearing, both Democrats and Republicans emphasized the importance of evidence and data in informing the education policymaking process and policy and program implementation to increase efficacy, effectiveness, and accountability. The Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee agreed that it is crucial to take intentional steps to promote data and privacy protection. Chairwoman Virginia Foxx’s (R-NC) opening statement can be found here and Ranking Member Bobby Scott’s (D-VA) opening statement can be found here. Press release can be found here.
January 30, 2018
President Trump Delivers State of the Union Address: On January 30, President Trump delivered his State of the Union address in which he highlighted some of the Administration’s accomplishments during his first year in office, as well as laid out a plan for the upcoming year focused on “building a safe, strong, and proud America.” Specifically, the key themes from the President’s address included tax cuts and the economy, infrastructure, immigration reform, trade, and national security. Related to early learning and education, areas of agreement between the President’s address and the Democratic response included support for vocational education, paid family leave, and the need for an investment in our nation’s infrastructure. A call for school choice was not included in President’s address this year.
- USED Secretary DeVos’s statement on the State of the Union address can be found here. Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Virginia Foxx’s (R-NC) statement can be found here. Ranking Member Bobby Scott’s (D-VA) statement can be found here. Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Patty Murray’s (D-WA) statement can be found here. HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s statement can be found here.
- Additionally, Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA) delivered the Democratic response to the President’s address from Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River, MA. The text of the Democratic response can be found here.
January 30, 2018
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED Secretary Participates in Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion: USED Secretary Betsy DeVos participated in the second Task Force Meeting on Apprenticeship Expansion. The mission of the Task Force is to identify strategies and proposals to promote apprenticeships, especially in sectors where apprenticeship programs are insufficient. At this meeting, the Task Force heard from the Subcommittee on Education and Credentialing, as well as the Subcommittee on Attracting Businesses to Apprenticeship. The first meeting of the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion was held on November 13, 2017.
February 6, 2018
USED Announces Student-Centered Funding Pilot: USED Secretary Betsy DeVos announced a Student-Centered Funding Pilot that would give local educational agencies (LEAs) new flexibility to create equitable, student-centered funding systems as part of a pilot program authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Press release can be found here.
February 2, 2018
Century Foundation Files Lawsuit Against USED Related to ACICS: The Century Foundation filed a lawsuit against USED in an attempt to force the agency to release records related to former for-profit college accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), which is currently requesting that the Trump Administration reinstate its federal recognition. The accreditor was terminated in 2016 under the Obama Administration due to concerns over its approval of certain for-profit institutions, such as ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges.
February 9, 2018
- On February 12-15 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, USED will conduct a third session of the Borrower Defenses and Financial Responsibility Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. More information here.
- On February 12, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will release the FY2019 President’s Budget Request. Updated information for FY2019 is expected to be posted here.
- On February 13, the Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the FY2019 President’s Budget Request at 10:00 am. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney will testify. More information here.
- On February 14, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on the FY2019 President’s HHS Budget Request at 10:00 am. HHS Secretary Alex Azar will testify. Press release here. More information here.
- On February 14, the House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the FY2019 President’s Budget Request at 10:00 am. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney will testify. More information here.
- On February 14, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing titled, “Examining the Government’s Management of Native American Schools” at 10:00 am. More information here.
- On February 15, the Congressional Baby Caucus will hold a briefing titled, “Signed, Spoken, or Cross-Cultural: How Babies are Wired for Language and Learning.” The event will be hosted by co-chairs of the Congressional Baby Caucus: Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN). The briefing will explore how babies acquire language and what that means for later literacy and learning.
- On February 15, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on the FY2019 President’s HHS Budget Request at 12:30 pm. HHS Secretary Azar will testify. More information here.
- On February 15, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing to examine the FY2019 President’s HHS Budget Request at 9:00 am. HHS Secretary Alex Azar will testify. More information here.
- On February 22, Digital Learning Day will be held. The goal of the day is to highlight more examples of how great teaching paired with technology can improve student outcomes. More information here.
- On February 26, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a case which challenges the constitutionality of fees being paid by government employees who are represented by, but do not belong to, a union. More information here.
- On March 1-3, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) will hold its 2018 Quarterly Board Meeting. During the session, NAGB will hear from the Ad Hoc Committee on Postsecondary Preparedness, review the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment for grades 4 and 8, receive a briefing from the Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and discuss the schedule and subject areas for the NAEP, among other activities. Notice here.
- On March 12-15 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, USED will conduct a third session of the Gainful Employment Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. More information here.
- On April 11-12, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute will conduct a summit to assess the American education landscape in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the seminal report: “A Nation at Risk.” The steering committee for the summit includes Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and former USED Secretaries John King, Arne Duncan, Margaret Spellings and Richard Riley, among others. Summit 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. Written comments about the recognition of a specific accrediting or State agency must be received by February 16.
Publications and Website Launch:
- On February 8, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report titled “First-Generation Students: College Access, Persistence, and Postbachelor’s Outcomes.” The report examines the high school success and postsecondary enrollment, persistence and degree completion once enrolled in college, and graduate school enrollment and employment outcomes after the attainment of a bachelor’s degree for students whose parents did not attend college. Report here.
- On February 7, the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance published the third report volume from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 (NLTS 2012), titled “Preparing for Life after High School: The Characteristics and Experiences of Youth in Special Education. Findings from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012. Volume 3: Comparisons Over Time.” This volume of the report presents information on the changes over time in the characteristics and high school experiences of secondary students participating in special education. Volume 1 focused on comparisons with other youth, and volume 2 on comparisons among disability groups. Report here.
- On February 1, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) released a technical brief titled, “The Forum Guide to Collecting and Using Attendance Data.” The brief is designed to help state and local education agency staff improve their attendance data practices – the collection, reporting, and use of attendance data to improve student and school outcomes. The guide offers best practice suggestions and provides real-life examples of how attendance data have been used by education agencies. Brief here.
- On February 1, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a publication titled “High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09) Second Follow-Up: A First Look at Fall 2009 Ninth-Graders in 2016.” This longitudinal study follows a sample of students from 9th grade in fall 2009 into higher education and the workforce. In the study, researchers examined an array of outcomes for these students, such as delayed high school completion, postsecondary enrollment, family formation, and family financial support. Report here.
- On January 31, USED’s Inspector General issued a report titled, “The Department’s Communication Regarding the Costs of Income-Driven Repayment Plans and Loan Forgiveness Programs.” The report stated that the Department’s communications regarding cost information related to the federal student loan program’s income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs need to be more informative and easier to understand. The Department will be required to develop a final corrective action plan within 30 days setting forth specific action items and targeted completion dates. Report here.
- On January 30, NCES published a report titled “2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:16): Student Financial Aid Estimates for 2015–16.” The report describes the percentages of students who receive various types of financial aid and average amounts received, by type of institution attended, attendance pattern, dependency status, and income level. This study is the most comprehensive nationally representative survey of student financing of higher education in the U.S. Report here.
- On January 30, the National Council on Disability (NCD) released a report that states that colleges’ sexual assault prevention efforts largely don’t include students with disabilities. The report points to statistics from a recent study by the Association of American Universities that revealed that 31.6 percent of undergraduate females with disabilities reported nonconsensual sexual contact involving physical force or incapacitation, compared to 18.4 percent of undergraduate females without a disability. Report here.
- On January 29, USED launched a new website with interactive data about English-language learners throughout the nation, including maps and graphics that show the size of English learner populations across different states and tallies of the most common non-English languages spoken by students in each state. The site is part of an ongoing collaboration between the Office of English Language Acquisition and the Department’s Policy and Program Studies Service. Press release here and website here.
A bill to establish a career pathway grant program.
Sponsor: Senator Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH)
A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to improve nutrition in tribal areas, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)
A bill to better support our early childhood educators and elementary school and secondary school teachers, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ)
A resolution supporting the goals and ideals of Career and Technical Education Month.
Sponsor: Rep. James R. Langevin (D-RI)
A resolution expressing support for designation of the week of February 5, 2018, through February 9, 2018, as “National School Counseling Week”.
Sponsor: Rep. Linda T. Sanchez (D-CA)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to ensure that public institutions of higher education protect expressive activities in the outdoor areas on campus.
Sponsor: Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT)
A bill to amend the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to support community college and industry partnerships, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
A bill to better support our early childhood educators and elementary school and secondary school teachers, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen. Cory A. Booker (D-NJ)
STOP School Violence Act of 2018
Sponsor: Representative John Rutherford (R-FL)
To amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to provide assistance to schools to replace drinking water fountains that may contain lead, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL)
To amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a grant program to assist eligible entities in carrying out programs to replace lead service lines for schools and solder that is not lead free used in the plumbing for schools, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL)
Preserving Teacher Loan Forgiveness for Military Spouses Act of 2018
Sponsor: Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)