E-Update for the Week of October 28, 2019

Highlights:

On October 25, the House Education and Labor Committee issued a notice announcing a full Committee markup of H.R. 4674, the “College Affordability Act,” which is the House Democratic bill to comprehensively reauthorize The markup will occur on October 29 beginning at 10:15 am.
On October 24, a judge for the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California held USED Secretary DeVos in contempt of court due to the Department’s continued collection on student loans owed by former students of Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit operator that closed in 2015.
On October 22, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced S.2667, a bill to simply and shorten the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The bill would shorten the application from over 100 questions to between 18-30 questions, according to the Chairman.

Congress:
Senate:
Alexander, Jones introduce FAFSA simplification bill: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced S.2667, a bill to simply and shorten the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The bill would shorten the application […]

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E-Update for the Week of October 21, 2019

Highlights:

On October 17, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed cloture on two minibus packages (or a combination of several appropriations bills) in an effort to begin consideration on the Senate floor of fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills. While negotiations are still ongoing regarding allocations for each of the FY2020 appropriations bills and whether the committee will allow consideration of certain policy riders as part of the appropriations process, it is unclear if the Senate will have the votes to move forward on either of the two bills.
On October 17, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) passed away due to longstanding health issues. The Chairman was 68. A special election to fill Chairman Cummings set will be held in the coming months.
On October 15, House Education and Labor Committee Democrats released their proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). The bill, H.R.4674, the “College Affordability Act,” builds upon House Democrats’ previous HEA proposal from the 115th Congress – H.R.6543, the “Aim Higher Act.”

Budget and Appropriations:
McConnell tries to move FY2020 appropriations bills, again:  Senate Majority […]

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E-Update for the Week of October 14, 2019

Highlights:

On October 10, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced she will retire from Congress at the conclusion of her current term.
On October 10, USED Secretary DeVos announced a new initiative to promote the creation and expansion of high-quality public charter schools in Opportunity Zones.
On October 8, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos. The letter described the Senators’ frustrations and concerns with the Secretary’s management of the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) program.

Congress:
The House and Senate will be on recess in observance of the Jewish holidays form September 30 through October 14. Both the House and Senate will return to session on October 15.
Senate:
Schumer, Murray concerned with DeVos management of temporary PSLF program: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos. The letter described […]

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E-Update for the Week of October 7, 2019

Highlights:

On October 4, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced new grantees for the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) program. The program is designed to support school districts and universities in preparing and developing new and existing teachers and school leaders. According to the Department, 31 grants were awarded totaling $20.1 million, with most going directly to school districts.
On October 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF) published in the Federal Register a notice requesting public information on how to improve access to child care. ACF seeks information on identifying emerging and innovative practices to improve access, as well as what regulatory policies are causing costs to increase or limit choice to parents.
On September 30, the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts rendered a decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. The district court rejected the claims of discrimination. Relatedly, on October 4, Students for Fair Admissions appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

Federal Courts:
Harvard race-based admissions case ruled in University’s favor, decision appealed: The U.S. District Court […]

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E-Update for the Week of September 30, 2019

Highlights:

On September 26, the Senate voted on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to maintain government funding to avoid a shutdown before the current fiscal year (FY) funding expires on September 30. Relatedly, on September 27, President Donald Trump signed the short-term CR effectively extending federal funding until November 21.
On September 26, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced the “Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019.” The bill is Chairman Alexander’s proposal to move forward a package of bipartisan higher education provisions. It is unclear as to how Chairman Alexander will attempt to move his bill.
On September 24, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos released non-regulatory guidance to state and local education agencies regarding Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) report cards. The guidance outlines and clarifies responsibilities that state educational agencies (SEAs) have when preparing report cards and what information should be included on their state ESSA report cards.

Budget and Appropriations:
Government shutdown avoided, current funding levels extended until Nov 21: The Senate voted on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to […]

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E-Update for the Week of September 23, 2019

Highlights:

On September 19, the House voted on a continuing resolution (CR) to maintain funding at current fiscal year (FY) levels through November 21. The CR is intended to provide Congress additional time to complete appropriations bills for FY2020 as current funding is set to expire on September 30. The CR was passed by a 301-123 vote. It is expected the bill will be considered by the Senate this week.
On September 18, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) released draft text of the Subcommittee’s FY2020 appropriations bill. The draft FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS appropriations bill was released in advance of a full Senate vote on a minibus (a package of 3-5 bills). When the full Senate considered the minibus (which included the draft FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS bill), the package failed due to not gaining enough support. As a result, negotiations will continue in the Senate on a FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS bill.

On September 17, the House considered and approved by voice vote H.R.2486, the “FUTURE […]

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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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