E-Update for February 6, 2023

The information covered below is from January 27 to February 2.
Highlights:

On February 1, the House Oversight and Accountability Committee held a hearing to explore waste, fraud, and abuse related to federal pandemic spending.
On February 1, USED released new data estimating that more than 18 million college students have received direct financial aid under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund since the start of 2021.
On January 31, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held an organizational meeting – the first with Republicans in the majority – for the 118th Congress.

Administration:
Biden Administration shares how formal end of COVID-19 emergency declaration will impact student loan forgiveness, repayment: On January 30, President Biden announced that the Administration will formally end the COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency (PHE), first declared at the start of the pandemic by the Trump Administration in March 2020, on May 11, 2023. The COVID-19 national emergency declaration is set to expire on March 1, and the federal PHE on April 11. The Biden Administration’s plan to extend both declarations until the May 11th end date […]

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E-Update for January 30, 2023

The information covered below is from January 20 to 27.
Highlights:

On January 24, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Miguel Cardona gave an address outlining the priorities of the Department for the year ahead.
On January 25, USED’s Fiscal Year 2022 Agency Financial Report was issued, in which auditing firm KPMG found that USED did not provide substantial evidence of the cost of the Biden Administration’s federal student loan forgiveness proposal.
On January 25, leading Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans introduced R. 496, which expands Pell Grant eligibility to short-term workforce training programs.

Administration:
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED Secretary Cardona announces Department priorities in beginning of year address: On January 24, USED Secretary Cardona gave an address, outlining the priorities of the Department for the year ahead. The speech, titled, “Raise the Bar: Lead the World,” named six focus areas the Department identified as opportunities to raise the bar for students. Regarding academic excellence, USED intends to focus on 1) accelerating learning for every student, and 2) delivering a comprehensive and rigorous education for every student. In the area of boldly […]

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E-Update for January 23, 2023

The information covered below is from January 13 to 20.
Highlights:

On January 18, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools, which could have significant implications for two federal laws protecting students with disabilities – the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
On January 16, Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL) was named Chairman of the House Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, which is responsible for the largest pool of non-defense government spending in the entire federal budget, including funding for the U.S. Departments of Education (USED).
On January 19, House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) sent a series of letters to agency heads across the federal government, including USED and Health and Human Services (HHS), requesting information on the potential impact of capping overall federal spending at the FY2022 level – as proposed by some House Republicans.

Administration:
Biden Administration announces national strategy promoting safety and equity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities: On January 17, the Biden Administration convened federal officials to announce a national strategy to […]

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E-Update for January 17, 2023

The information covered below is from January 1 to 13.
Highlights:

On January 4, the Biden Administration announced a list of regulatory changes that federal agencies plan to issue in the coming months.
On January 10, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced new proposed rules to revise the Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) program.
On January 11, USED hosted the fourth “Raising the Bar” convening of education leaders, researchers, and stakeholders to discuss evidence-based strategies for educator preparation and retention.

Administration:
Biden Administration releases Fall 2022 Unified Agenda focusing on higher education policies: On January 4, the Biden Administration announced a list of regulatory changes that federal agencies plan to issue in the coming months. These include a number of proposed rules related to higher education, including:

Federal TRIO Programs: The Secretary seeks to update eligibility requirements for the programs, which assist low-income students in preparing for and enrolling in higher education.
College Accreditation: The Department plans to review and update accrediting regulations and procedures related to institutional eligibility for Federal student financial aid. This also includes state authorization for accreditation and institutional eligibility.
Return to Title IV: […]

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How Federal COVID Relief Dollars Are Helping States and Districts Invest in Early Education

The following article by Vasilisa Smith and Aaron Loewenberg originally appeared on the New America website on Oct. 13, 2022.
In March of 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which included an unprecedented $122 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund (known as ESSER III). Like previous ESSER investments, these funds were provided to state educational agencies and school districts to address safe school reopening and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on students, requiring an emphasis on addressing the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on students of color.

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Making Sound and Resourceful Investments to Improve School Facilities in Rural America

This piece is authored by Jalen Woodard, EducationCounsel’s 2022 summer intern. The views and recommendations stated above are his own.
The carpeted hallways in my high school stunk of mildew when it rained. Droplets from ceiling cracks dotted our desks and splattered our notebooks. A small bucket stood guard near the teacher’s desk under a gaping hole. It wasn’t until I began traveling to neighboring districts for quiz bowl competitions that I realized the dimly lit scene of my classroom stood in stark contrast to the clean, modern classrooms that our opponents may have taken for granted. I wondered: Why? Why were my classmates and I forced to learn in classrooms with moldy floors and leaky ceilings? And why was it taking so long for my school administrators to make the repairs?

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E-Update for November 21, 2022

The information covered below is from November 11 to 18. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, EducationCounsel will not circulate EUpdate on November 28.
Highlights:

On November 14, a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency request from six Republican-led states to also block student loan forgiveness program. On November 17, the Biden Administration filed a new emergency request that the Supreme Court intervene to end the Eighth Circuit’s injunction, which would allow the program to move forward.
Current HELP Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) has expressed that she intends to assume the top spot of the full Senate Appropriations Committee in the 118th Congress, which will likely mean that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will become the lead Democrat on the Senate HELP Committee.
On November 14, USED launched a new initiative titled, “Raise the Bar: Unlocking Career Success,” to increase access to high-quality workforce training programs and skills-based learning.

Administration:
Federal District Judge rules student loan relief program “unconstitutional;” Federal Appeals Court grants injunction to halt program; Biden Administration files emergency request to SCOTUS to allow student loan […]

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E-Update for November 14, 2022

The information covered below is from November 4 to 10.
Highlights:

On November 8, midterm elections were held across the country, the results of which will have effects in both the federal government and state legislatures, and on education policy priorities.
On November 9, President Biden held a press conference following the midterm elections where he shared the Administration’s current positions on several education-related issues, including affirmative action, support for two years of education beyond high school through apprenticeships or community college, increases for Pell Grants, universal pre-kindergarten, and the child tax credit.
On November 10, Federal Judge Mark Pittman of the Northern District of Texas blocked President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program ruling it was “an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s legislative power and must be vacated.”

Administration:
Federal District Judge rules student loan relief program “unconstitutional”: On November 10, Federal Judge Mark Pittman of the Northern District of Texas ruled that President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program was an “an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s legislative power and must be vacated.” Under the plan, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) plans to cancel up […]

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E-Update for November 7, 2022

The information covered below is from October 27 to November 3.
Highlights: 

On October 31, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases brought by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) challenging race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC).
On October 31, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) released final regulations for existing federal student loan discharge programs, including Borrower Defense to Repayment (BD), Total and Permanent Disability Discharge, Closed School Discharge, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
On October 27, USED announced $50 million in supplemental grant funding through the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program to increase attendance and engagement of middle grades and high school students.

Administration:
President Biden announces anticipated approval of 16 million student loan debt cancellation applications, but loan forgiveness continues to be on hold following recent court ruling: On November 3, President Biden announced that USED will have approved 16 million student loan debt cancellation applications by “the end of the week,” or Friday, November 4. Under the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan, USED will cancel up to $20,000 […]

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E-Update for October 31, 2022

The information covered below is from October 21 to 28.
Highlights:

On October 31, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the cases of Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina. The cases challenge the use of race-conscious admissions policies.
On October 24, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the national and state results of the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which showed significant decline in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores between 2019 and 2022.
On October 25, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced several key changes to the application process and eligibility criteria for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
On October 27, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced final rules that will strengthen the “90/10” rule for for-profit colleges, clarify procedures for institutions undergoing changes in ownership, and extend Pell Grants to incarcerated individuals.

Administration:
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, reflecting the impact of the pandemic, show significant declines in reading and math scores.: On […]

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