E-Update for the Week of September 17, 2019

Highlights:

On September 12, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a full committee markup, during which the Committee adopted top line spending levels (known as 302(b) allocations) for all 12 fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills. The adoption, which was approved by a party line vote with all Committee Democrats voting against the proposal, included a spending level for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies (Labor/HHS) appropriations bill. Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) proposed a one percent increase for the Labor/HHS FY2020 appropriations bill compared to FY2019 enacted levels.
On September 12, USED announced it is no longer appealing a federal court decision that required the Department implement the Obama-era significant disproportionality rule. The rule requires that states and districts develop a uniform approach to monitor that students of color are not over or under-represented in special education programs. The Department had previously attempted to delay implementation of the rule, but attempts were blocked by a federal court ruling in March.
On September 6, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) sent a letter to U.S. Department of […]

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Lessons Learned, or Lost?

September 6, 2019
Kathryn Young

As I chat with my kids about their first week of school, I can feel their nervous excitement about new classmates and teachers, books yet unread, projects to come, and hidden talents yet to be discovered.  School systems and homes all across America share in this time of preparation and anticipation for the new school year.  Often less heralded, however, is the work schools and education systems do to look back at prior work and figure out how this year can be even better.   For example, at my children’s school, a committee of parents and teachers are starting the year with a backwards look at the newly-released state assessment scores.  We are asking ourselves what the data mean for the effectiveness of last year’s strategies and staffing.  We’ll use those insights to help decide what to keep or change this year and beyond.  It is just one part of a larger process of continuous improvement the school uses to learn from and improve its supports and strategies.
In many schools, fall is also the time for new […]

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E-Update for the Week of September 9, 2019

Highlights:

On September 10 at 11:30am, the Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) Subcommittee will hold a markup of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bill. Once the Labor/HHS FY2020 appropriations bill clears the Subcommittee, it will be considered by the full Committee on September 12 at 10:30am.
On September 5, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sent a letter to the Democratic caucus informing them that they can expect a vote on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) the week of September 16.
On August 30, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced it has finalized its re-write of the borrower defense rule, referred to as “Institutional Accountability” regulations. The finalization comes after the Department was forced to implement the Obama-era regulations once a federal court prevented the Department’s efforts to delay them.

Budget & Appropriations:
Senate appropriators to markup Labor/HHS spending bill this week: On September 10 at 11:30am, the Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) Subcommittee will hold a markup of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bill. Once the Labor/HHS FY2020 […]

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E-Update for the Week of September 4, 2019

Highlights:

On August 28, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) announced he will be retiring from the Senate at the end of 2019. Isakson cited his ongoing health challenges with Parkinson’s disease as the main reason for his early departure.
On August 27, the White House announced the nomination of Eugene Scalia as DOL Secretary.
On August 26, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and 44 other Senators sent a letter to acting U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Patrick Pizzella regarding the Department’s proposed rule for establishing industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs). Additionally, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) led a letter signed by 125 House Democrats urging the Department to reconsider the IRAPs program and to extend the public comment period by 60 days. Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter as well commending the IRAPs proposal but urged the Department to not exclude any industries or sectors in the program.

Congress:
Both the House and Senate have adjourned for August recess. Both the House and the Senate will return to session […]

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E-Update for the Week of August 26, 2019

Highlights:

On August 23, USED announced that its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will work collaboratively to improve the information collected in the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The CRDC collects data on key education and civil rights issues in our nation’s public schools. Under the new agreement, NCES and OCR will work together to support school districts by providing technical assistance resources, training and prompt feedback on identified issues.
On August 21, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum that will significantly streamline the process to erase federal student loan debt for totally and permanently disabled veterans.  The U.S. Department of Education (USED) anticipates notifying more than 25,000 eligible veterans and continuing the discharge process on a quarterly basis.
On August 20, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, conducted a community forum focused on preventing, treating, and healing childhood trauma in Baltimore City. The forum, which included a group of experts from Baltimore City Schools, the Baltimore City Health Department, Baltimore Police Department and the Mayor’s […]

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E-Update for the Week of August 19, 2019

Highlights:

This week, USED Secretary DeVos visited two correctional facilities to tour the education programs each offer. On August 15, the Secretary visited Westville Correctional Facility in Indiana, which is an experimental site for the “Second Chance Pell” program. On August 14, she visited Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana.
On August 14, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) sent a letter to President Donald Trump. The Senators urged the president to withdraw his budget request with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget of $5 billion for border wall construction.
On August 13, DHS published a final rule regarding the inadmissibility of immigrants on “public charge” grounds, which refers to whether a person is likely to be dependent on certain public benefits programs. The final rule expands the public benefits programs that can be considered when determining admissibility. A proposed rule was originally published in October 2018 and received over 200,000 comments. The rule will take effect on October 13

Budget and Appropriations:
Schumer, Leahy urge Trump to give up on […]

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E-Update for the Week of August 12, 2019

Highlights:

On August 9, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent a letter to the members of the Committee “to ask for [their] recommendations on bipartisan proposals within the HELP committee’s jurisdiction that could help prevent future mass shootings like the recent tragedies in California, Texas, and Ohio.”
On August 8, POLITICO reported that the overall spending level (also known as an allocation) for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Appropriations bill was “about $5 billion less in order to fund Trump’s border wall.”
On August 6, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee, and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) led a letter of 30 Senate Democratic and Independent members to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos urging her to fulfill her responsibility to help students impacted by sudden closures of for-profit colleges.

Budget and Appropriations:
Senate Labor/HHS Appropriations bill reported $5 billion less to fund president’s border wall: POLITICO reported that the overall spending level (also known as […]

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E-Update for the Week of August 5, 2019

Highlights:

On August 1, the Senate approved the two-year budget deal, which was approved by the House last week. The 67-28 vote was largely bipartisan, which is the result of whipping efforts by Senate leadership and the White House. The agreement was signed by President Donald Trump on August 2.
On July 30, POLITICO reported that USED is opening a new review of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) to determine if it meets federal requirements for recognition. USED Secretary DeVos previously reinstated ACICS as a federally recognized accreditor after the Obama administration had terminated the recognition.
On July 29, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting information about the estimated impact of the Department’s proposed revisions to the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Budget and Appropriations:
Budget deal approved and signed: The Senate approved the two-year budget deal, which was approved by the House last week.  The 67-28 vote was largely bipartisan, which is the result of whipping efforts by Senate leadership and […]

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Federal Nondiscrimination Law Regarding Diversity

June 26, 2019
Art Coleman and Jamie Lewis-Keith

Earlier this month, the College Board, NASFAA, and EducationCounsel released a new publication, Federal Nondiscrimination Law Regarding Diversity: Implications for Higher Education Financial Aid and Scholarship Policies and Programs.  This resource provides guidance to enrollment professionals around financial aid strategies and scholarship policies involving the consideration of race, ethnicity and sex that advance the institution’s diversity goals and are legally sustainable.
Financial aid and scholarship policies and practices are subject to the same federal nondiscrimination laws as admissions programs, but unlike admissions, they have not generated significant attention or been the subject of Supreme Court decisions.  Notably, the current legal landscape now involves an increased number of federal litigation and agency enforcement claims that reflect an expanded scope (beyond admissions), including allegations of race and sex discrimination in financial aid, as well as co-curricular and similar programs.
Advancing the diversity-associated mission of institutions of higher education requires attending to the imperatives of good policy and legal sustainability.  This guide seeks to elevate awareness of how to do that, with a focus on financial aid and […]

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E-Update for the Week of July 29, 2019

Highlights:

This week, the White House and congressional leadership reached an agreement to raise overall spending levels for two years and to suspend the debt limit through July 31, 2021. The agreement increases the cap on non-defense discretionary spending by $24.5 billion (just over 4%) for fiscal year (FY) 2020 to a total of $621.5 billion (plus additional funds available through Overseas Contingency Operations for some domestic programs such as those within the Foreign Operations bill).
On July 26, USED published in the Federal Register a pre-publication notice announcing the Department is proposing to add a new priority for discretionary grant programs. USED proposes to establish a priority for discretionary grant programs that would align the USED discretionary grant investments with the administration’s Opportunity Zones initiative.
On July 25, the Senate Homeland Security Committee held a hearing titled, “Examining State and Federal Recommendations for Enhancing School Safety Against Targeted Violence.” Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) led Republicans in exploring recommendations from state school safety commissions, including those formed after attacks such as those in Parkland, Sandy Hook, and Columbine, and identifying […]

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