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Feb. 9, 2024

E-Update for February 9, 2024

The information covered below is for the period of January 19, 2024, through February 1, 2024. Updated information for this week will be included in our next publication.


  • On January 22, the USED released the 2024 National Educational Technology Plan (NETP): A Call to Action for Closing the Digital Access, Design and Use Divides.

  • On January 31, the House passed H.R. 7024, the “Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act,” by a bipartisan vote of 357-70, which will enhance the Child Tax Credit (CTC), among other economic and business tax credit provisions.

  • On January 31, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a markup and advanced H.R. 6951, the “College Cost Reduction Act,” by a vote of 22-19 along party lines.


White House:

White House convenes the White House Artificial Intelligence (AI) Council to highlight key actions following President Biden’s Executive Order on AI: On January 29, the White House convened the White House AI Council to highlight key actions the Biden Administration has taken following President Biden’s October Executive Order (EO) on AI. As the meeting, the White House announced that federal agencies reported having completed all of the 90-day actions tasked by the EO and advanced other vital directives that the EO tasked over a longer timeframe. In a fact sheet, the White House provided examples of the range of actions that federal agencies have taken within 90 days to address risks to safety and security, as well as to support AI innovation. As an example, an EducateAI initiative has been launched by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help fund educators in creating high-quality, inclusive AI educational opportunities at the K-12 through undergraduate levels. Additionally, the NSF announced the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) Pilot, which is a collaborative effort across agencies to connect U.S. researchers and educators to computational, data, and training resources needed to advance AI research.

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

U.S. Department of Education (USED) releases 2024 National Educational Technology Plan: On January 22, the USED released the 2024 National Educational Technology Plan (NETP): A Call to Action for Closing the Digital Access, Design and Use Divides. Prior to the release, the NETP had last been updated in 2016 and was first released in response to the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994. As noted in its title, the 2024 NETP is organized around the need to address three key divides limiting the transformational potential of educational technology to support teaching and learning: (1) the digital use divide, (2) the digital design divide, and (3) the digital access divide. The plan provides background on the factors that lead to each of these specific digital divides and makes recommendations to states, districts, and schools to close the divides.

With regard to the digital use divide, key recommendations include: developing a “Profile of a Learner/Graduate” outlining cognitive, personal, and interpersonal competencies students should have when transitioning between grade levels and graduation; designing and sustaining systems, including needs assessments, technology plans, and evaluation processes; providing professional learning and technical assistance to district leaders, building-level administrators, and educators to support the use of evidence to inform edtech use; and developing guidelines for emerging technologies to protect student data privacy, among other recommendations. Similarly, a key recommendation to close the digital design divide is to develop a “Portrait of an Educator” outlining the cognitive, personal, and interpersonal competencies educators should have to design learning experiences that help students develop the skills and attributes outlined in the profile of a graduate. Designing and sustaining systems for ongoing learning for teachers and administrators, as well as providing teachers the time and space needed to design learning opportunities aligned with the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Framework, is also recommended. To address the digital access divide, the plan recommends that states and school districts develop a “Portrait of a Learning Environment”; establish a cabinet-level edtech director to oversee use of edtech funds; and leverage state purchasing power to purchase edtech hardware, software, and services. Additional recommendations include that states, school districts, and building-level administrators should conduct regular assessments of technology needs; develop learning technology plans in consultation with a broad group of stakeholders; and leverage public/private partnerships and community collaboration to support broadband internet access.

Additionally, the 2024 NETP maps each of the divides to the “instructional core” (i.e., students, teachers, content) and provides examples of how educational technology can help design learning experiences that improve student access to educational opportunities and outcomes. In conjunction with the NETP, the Department also released guidance to increase understanding of the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in regard to providing assistive technology (AT) devices to children with disabilities. The USED also released a collection of federal resources to support students’ digital health, safety, and citizenship.

USED announces additional negotiated rulemaking session to address providing relief for borrowers experiencing hardship: On January 31, the USED announced that it will hold a fourth virtual meeting of the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee for Title IV Federal Student Aid Programs focused on the process to provide student debt relief on February 22 and 23. The session will focus exclusively on issues related to hardship, including regulatory text provided at least a week in advance for review by the negotiators and the public. Negotiated rulemaking on student loan debt relief follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June which found that the Biden Administration does not have the legal authority to broadly cancel student loan debt under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (“HEROES”) Act. In response to the Supreme Court ruling, the Biden Administration announced a negotiated rulemaking process aimed at opening an alternative path to debt relief for as many borrowers as possible using authority related to the modification, waiver, release, or compromise of federal student loans under the Higher Education Act.

The upcoming negotiated rulemaking session builds on three prior sessions held from October 2023 through December 2023. The Department is separately continuing its work on draft rules covering issues discussed at these earlier sessions for publication later in 2024. These issues include relief for borrowers whose balances exceed what they originally borrowed, who first entered repayment long ago, who are eligible for relief but have not applied for it, or who attended programs or institutions that failed to provide sufficient financial value. More information on higher education negotiated rulemaking sessions can be found here.

USED releases revised issue papers ahead of second Program Integrity and Institutional Quality negotiated rulemaking session: Recently, the USED released revised issue papers across a number of issues related to higher education institutional quality ahead of the second meeting of the Institutional Quality and Program Integrity Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, which is being held from February 5 to 8. Additionally, a Negotiated Rulemaking Subcommittee focusing on TRIO eligibility will meet on February 9. The issue papers cover the following issues, which the rulemaking committee will continue to discuss during negotiations:

  • USED Secretary’s recognition of accrediting agencies and related issues.
  • Institutional eligibility, including state authorization.
  • The definition of distance education as it pertains to clock hour programs and reporting for students who enroll primarily online.
  • Return of Title IV of Higher Education Act of 1965 funds.
  • Cash management to address disbursement of student funds.
  • Eligibility requirements for participants in the Federal TRIO Programs.

A previous issue paper released by USED proposed expanding eligibility for TRIO programs to all students, regardless of their immigration status. Current USED regulations restrict eligibility for TRIO programs to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Members of the public who wish to register to view the sessions or provide public testimony can find more information here.

USED announces delays in the release of FAFSA applicant information following challenges with the rollout of the simplified FAFSA form: On January 30, the USED released an Electronic Announcement notifying institutions of higher education, state higher education agencies (IHEs), and designated scholarship organizations that Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applicant information would not begin to be available until March 2024 at the earliest. This announcement follows the delay of several months of the launch of the simplified FAFSA at the end of 2023. Previously, the FAFSA typically became available on October 1, with institutions receiving FAFSA applicant information shortly thereafter. The USED had previously committed to providing FAFSA applicant information to IHEs by the end of January 2024. In response, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and the National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), among others, issued statements expressing concerns with the announcement. Angel Perez, the CEO of NACAC, emphasized, “If the announced timeline remains in place, students may not receive letters with aid offers until the middle of April, or even later. This will upend the typical enrollment timeline and create significant disruption and anxiety in an already tumultuous year.” Additionally, as a result of the further delay, NASFAA, NACAC, and several other organizations urged colleges and universities to provide flexibility to students and families as they consider their offers of admission and financial aid beyond the traditional May 1 commitment deadlines.

The announcement follows a January 24 request from Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the Biden Administration’s implementation of the new FAFSA. The Committee Chairs were joined by 26 Republican members on a letter to the GAO seeking information as to how the Department is addressing recent delays in the FAFSA rollout “to prevent future complications and ensure students can access and submit [the] FAFSA to their prospective colleges in a timely manner.” Additionally, on February 2, Ranking Member Cassidy held a press conference to discuss the delays in the rollout of the FAFSA form. At the press conference, Ranking Member Cassidy announced that the GAO has begun an investigation into USED’s implementation of the FAFSA following the bicameral Republican request.

USED announces $4.9 billion in additional student loan relief following fixes to income-driven repayment forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs: On January 19, the USED announced the approval of $4.9 billion in student loan debt relief as a result of fixes to income-driven repayment (IDR) and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) programs. Specifically, $1.7 billion in forgiveness will be issued to 29,700 borrowers through administrative adjustments to IDR payment counts, and $3.2 billion in forgiveness will be issued to 43,900 borrowers through the Administration’s limited PSLF waiver. Announcing the forgiveness, President Biden said, “Of the 74,000 borrowers approved for relief today, nearly 44,000 of them are teachers, nurses, firefighters and other individuals who earned forgiveness after 10 years of public service, and close to 30,000 of them are people who have been in repayment for at least 20 years but never got the relief they earned through income-driven repayment plans.”

USED Secretary Cardona announces $25 million in new Career Connected High School Grants: On January 24, USED Secretary Miguel Cardona visited an Advanced Technical Center in Washington, D.C., to announce $25 million in new Career Connected High Schools (CCHS) grants. The grants are authorized through the Perkins Innovation and Modernization Grant program, under the federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins V), and are designed to build the capacity of education and workforce systems to partner with business and industry to develop new high-quality career-connected high school programs for students. During his visit to the Advanced Technical Center, which is one of the 19 recipients of a new CCHS grant, Secretary Cardona participated in a roundtable discussion with students on the importance of access to CTE programs. Each CHHS grantee is tasked with leveraging four evidence-based strategies to help students in developing skills for career success, including providing postsecondary education and career guidance, increasing access to dual or concurrent enrollment programs, increasing work-based learning opportunities, and providing industry-recognized credentials.

National Science Foundation (NSF) announces 10 inaugural Regional Innovation Engines: On January 29, the NSF announced the establishment of 10 inaugural Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines) across 18 states. The NSF Engines will begin with an initial investment of $15 million over two years with additional investments from other government entities and philanthropy being matched nearly two-to-one. Additionally, the teams that demonstrate progress toward well-defined milestones could potentially receive up to $160 million each from NSF over 10 years. These investments are authorized through the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. Announcing the awards, NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said, “Through these NSF Engines, NSF aims to expand the frontiers of technology and innovation and spur economic growth across the nation through unprecedented investments in people and partnerships.”

Government Accountability Office (GAO) issues report recommending that the USED update its monitoring protocols to independently select school improvement plans: On January 30, GAO issued a new report titled, “Education Could Enhance Oversight of School Improvement Activities.” Schools are identified for comprehensive support and improvement (CSI) under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) if they are in the bottom 5% of Title I schools for all students or have a graduation rate of 67% or lower. The report examined CSI school characteristics, how school CSI plans address ESEA requirements, and how the USED monitors states’ oversight of the school improvement plans. The analysis found wide variation in CSI plans and that only 42% of plans met three significant ESEA requirements, including that the plans be based on a needs assessment, identify resource inequities, and include evidence-based interventions. Additionally, the GAO found that five of the nine states that the USED monitored from February 2020 through July 2023 failed to enforce ESEA requirements and that the USED does not independently select the CSI plans it reviews. As a result, the GAO recommended that the USED update monitoring protocols to ensure that staff independently select CSI plans for review, to which the USED responded that the Department plans to implement this change as part of the Spring 2024 monitoring process.


House and Senate Republican and Democratic education leaders weigh in on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Head Start: On January 19, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) NPRM regarding proposed changes to Head Start Program Performance Standards. Specifically, the proposed rulemaking would add new provisions to Head Start Program Performance Standards aimed at increasing pay and support the Head Start workforce, making improvements to the overall quality of Head Start program services, and strengthening mental health supports. Chairman Sanders and Ranking Member Scott were joined by 13 Senate and 31 House Democrats in offering support for the proposed rules, stating, “We can no longer stand by as dedicated and qualified early childhood educators leave Head Start programs due to unacceptably low wages, while families struggle to find quality, affordable child care and early education options.” The comments from Congressional Democrats also included a “call for additional investments in Head Start,” but short of that, urged, “the Department to thoughtfully implement this proposal to ensure that the final rule yields the full benefit for children, families, and Head Start staff.”

Separately, Republican House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee Chairman Aaron Bean (R-FL) submitted comments noting that the proposed rule does not prioritize low-income families’ access to education. The comments state, “Unfortunately, this proposed rule is less about retaining and ensuring ‘consistent quality programming,’ as its title states, and reads more like a collective bargaining agreement.”

Congressional Republicans mark 14th annual National School Choice Week with statements and resolutions: From January 21 to 27, Congressional Republicans marked the 14th annual National School Choice Week with statements and the introduction of resolutions in both the House and Senate. On January 22, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Senator Tim Scott introduced, S.Res. 531, a resolution designating the week of January 21 through January 27, 2024, as "National School Choice Week.” A similar resolution was introduced in the House as H.R. 974. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) also showed her support in a speech on the House floor, stating, “Education is the cornerstone of opportunity in America, and we must spare no effort in laying the foundation for our students to prosper. Educational freedom is essential in these efforts and begets success for America’s children while offering parents the recourse to support their child’s future.”


House advances bipartisan legislation to enhance the Child Tax Credit: On January 31, the House passed H.R. 7024, the “Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act,” by a bipartisan vote of 357-70, which would enhance the Child Tax Credit (CTC), among other economic and business tax credit provisions. The bill passed the House with the support of 169 Republicans and 188 Democrats. The bipartisan bill, which is authored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO), would expand access to the CTC by: (1) creating a phased increase to the refundable portion of the CTC for 2023, 2024, and 2025; (2) ensuring the CTC phase-in is applied fairly to families with multiple children; (3) creating flexibility for taxpayers to use either current- or prior-year income to calculate the CTC in 2024 or 2025; and (4) adjusting the tax credit for inflation starting in 2024. A summary of the bill also describes how the bill would expand innovation through research & development (R&D) expensing, expand the small business expensing cap, and increase the supply of low-income housing by enhancing the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. The bill now advances to the Senate for further consideration. According to Punchbowl News, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) “is looking for changes to a bipartisan tax deal before throwing his support behind the measure.” Additionally, Punchbowl News reported that Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said of the bill, “there are things in the deal that the GOP wants, but also things ‘that shouldn’t be in there’ — pointing to concerns about keeping child tax credit eligibility tied to work.” If the bill should move through regular order, the bill could be amended during consideration by the Senate Finance Committee or on the Senate floor, requiring a future conference with the House or additional votes in the House.

House Education and the Workforce Committee advances legislation to address the cost of college: On January 31, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a markup and advanced H.R. 6951, the “College Cost Reduction Act,” by a vote of 22-19 along party lines. According to a fact sheet and summary released by the bill’s author, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the legislation would create a new quality assurance model by ending the regional accreditation process, limit certain executive actions by the USED, remove barriers to completion by making it easier for students to transfer credits, increase transparency by streamlining and enhancing data collection and reporting on college outcomes, require colleges to offer degree programs at an up-front, guaranteed price in order to receive additional Pell Grant funds and performance-based funding, and institute flexible loan limits that vary by fields of study and allow students to borrow up to the median cost of college, among other provisions.

The only amendment adopted during the markup was a Republican amendment in the nature of a substitute, which eliminated the Pell Plus program from the underlying bill. Th Pell Plus program would have provided enhanced Pell Grants to students enrolled in eligible bachelor’s degree programs during their junior and senior years, provided they are on track for on-time completion. The Committee did not adopt any Democratic amendments that were offered during markup. Democratic amendments addressed a range of issues, including, but not limited to, reinstating certain regulations eliminated through the underlying bill (such as, Gainful Employment, Borrower Defense to Repayment, 90/10, and income-driven repayment regulations, among others); increasing investments in and expanding eligibility for Pell Grants, modifying and reinstating provisions related to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, capping student loan interest rates, increasing student loan limits in the underlying bill, modifying accreditation provisions in the underlying bill, and prohibiting preferential treatment in the admissions process for legacy students and donors, among others.

The timing for the full House to consider H.R. 6951 could be in the coming weeks or months; however, should the bill pass the House, the Senate is not expected to consider the bill further.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Democrats introduce a package of six higher education bills: On January 30, the House Education and the Workforce Committee Democrats, led by Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) announced the Roadmap to College Student Success, a package of six bills aimed at lowering the cost of college, helping students access a quality degree, and providing students with the support they need to graduate. The bills include:

  • H.R. 1731, the “Lowering Obstacles to Achievement Now (LOAN) Act,” which would double the federal Pell Grant by increasing the maximum award over five years to $14,000, improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program by shortening the time to forgiveness, and lower interest rates.
  • H.R. 5998, the “America's College Promise Act,” which is bicameral legislation to make community college and two-year Tribal Colleges and Universities more accessible by waiving tuition fees for eligible students.
  • H.R. 961, the “Pell to Grad Act,” which would increase lifetime Pell Grant eligibility from 12 semesters to 16 semesters and expand Pell Grant eligibility to graduate students.
  • H.R. 2957, the “College Transparency Act,” which is a bipartisan, bicameral bill to provide students and families with improved information on enrollment, completion, and post-college earnings.
  • H.R. 2401, the “Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act,” which is bipartisan legislation to make the transition from high school to college easier for students with disabilities and their families by allowing them to use a variety of existing documentation as proof of a disability when seeking accommodations on campus.
  • H.R. 309, the “Opportunity To Address College Hunger Act,” which would support college students experiencing hunger by requiring institutions of higher education to inform students in the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program that they may qualify for SNAP benefits.

According to the press statement from House Education and the Workforce Committee Democrats, the package “stands in stark contrast to House Republicans’ College Cost Reduction Act, which does nothing to meaningfully lower the cost of higher education for students and families, eliminates protections against low-quality institutions and programs for students and taxpayers, and cuts critical support for students’ wellbeing and success.” The legislation was introduced one day prior to the markup of H.R. 6951, the “College Cost Reduction Act,” on January 31. 

House Oversight Committee holds hearing on oversight of K-12 education, with a focus on COVID-19 school closures and recovery: On January 30, the House Oversight Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services held a hearing titled, “America’s Report Card: Oversight of K-12 Public Education.” The hearing featured three witnesses: Ginny Gentles, Director of the Education Freedom Center at the Independent Women’s Forum; Dr. Nat Malkus, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of Education Policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI); and Denise Forte, President at the Education Trust.

Subcommittee Chairwoman Lisa McClain (R-IL), in her opening statement, argued that, “During the pandemic, children’s education was put on the back burner, teachers were put on the back burner. The Left chose to keep schools shuttered and put politics over students. It has only gotten worse since.” Chairwoman McClain, raising the issue of chronic absenteeism, asserted, “Chronic absenteeism – missing at least 10%of the school year – was 74%higher last school year than prior to the pandemic.” Chairwoman McClain, in discussing the use of federal COVID-19 recovery funds, also argued that, “Instead of investing in additional tutoring and class time states and local governments are dividing students by race, pushing antisemitic tropes, teaching students that American institutions perpetuate white supremacy, and promoting sexually explicit gender ideology.”

In her opening remarks, Subcommittee Ranking Member Katie Porter (D-CA), stated, “I am concerned that my colleagues will be more interested in pointing fingers than fixing problems. Nobody wants to go back - school closures were terrible for parents and kids. The reality is that even before COVID-19, K-12 achievement was less than outstanding. In 2019, our average NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] score was a “C. If we are serious about solutions, [let’s] start with the facts and look at the real reasons why kids are struggling - inequity in funding.”

Throughout the hearing, member questions and comments largely fell along partisan lines, with Republican members focused on school closures, “woke” policies, and the need for competition. Democratic members highlighted the importance of federal COVID-19 funding in addressing learning loss and called attention to larger, systemic issues predating the pandemic that impacted achievement.

Chairwoman McClain, on the use of American Rescue Plan and Elementary and Secondary School Relief (ESSER) funds, asked, “Did it do what we intended it to do? Should we reauthorize these funds?” Gentles claimed that “only 5%” of ESSR funds were used to extend the school day or add learning time. Ranking Member Porter noted that “high intensity tutoring and extended learn[ing] time” have been effective and gave some examples from Virginia and Colorado, and asked, “Do we have enough resources pointed towards addressing learning loss?” Witness Denise Forte cited several examples, including a program in Tennessee with small tutoring groups, meeting 3-4 times a week that has been successful. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), asked about antisemitism in K-12 schools. Chairwoman Foxx also highlighted the lack of focus, in her view, from the Department of Education on addressing learning loss and instead on “radical loan forgiveness policies…that should be called a transfer of debt from one person to another.”

In her closing remarks, Subcommittee Chairwoman McClain noted a “general agreement on [the effectiveness of] tutoring and extended learning,” but that “ESSER funds were implemented without proper guardrails and reporting requirements,” and that “learning how these funds were spent will help in the future.”

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Foxx continues actions following testimony on the response to antisemitism on college campuses: On January 24, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to University of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees Chairman Ramanan Raghavendran and Interim President Dr. Larry Jameson requesting information regarding the University of Pennsylvania’s (Penn) response to antisemitism on its campus. Chairwoman Foxx referenced the December 5 testimony of Penn’s then-President, Elizabeth Magill before the Committee, writing that the testimony, “further called into question the university’s willingness to address antisemitism seriously.” The letter requests information on all reports of antisemitic acts or incidents since January 1, 2021, as well as documents sufficient to show the findings and results of any disciplinary processes and/or changes in academic or personnel status, among other information. Chairwoman Foxx sent a similar letter to leaders at Harvard University on January 9, after which the institution provided an initial production of documents. In response to the documents submitted by Harvard University, Chairwoman Foxx issued a statement on January 23, stating, “Upon initial review, Harvard’s production to the Committee in response to its antisemitism investigation is woefully inadequate. Rather than answering the Committee’s request in a substantive manner, Harvard has chosen to provide letters from nonprofits and student handbooks, many of which are already publicly available. This is unacceptable.”

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Foxx and other leading House Republicans request USED briefing regarding Clery Act investigations into religious institutions: On January 26, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY), and House Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Bob Good (R-VA) sent a letter to the USED with concerns regarding “potential unequal application” of punitive action to religious institutions. Specifically, the lawmakers bring attention to the ongoing investigation of Liberty University’s compliance with the “Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act” (Clery Act) and the proposed fine of $37.5 million. The letter expresses concern that due process has been undermined, adding, “It is imperative that we understand the Department’s justification for the recent unilateral changes to Clery Act proceedings as they apply both to the case of Liberty University, and to future cases involving other institutions.”

Supreme Court:

Supreme Court rules that West Point can use race in admissions: On February 2, the Supreme Court denied an emergency application from Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) to bar the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from using race and ethnicity of applicants in admissions. SFFA first filed a lawsuit against West Point in September, claiming that, “Instead of admitting future cadets based on objective metrics and leadership potential, West Point focuses on race.” The Supreme Court decision on Friday will allow West Point to continue to use its current admissions policies, while the case continues through the process. The decision follows a January 30 response to the emergency application from U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar urging the Supreme Court to “deny SFFA’s request for an extraordinary injunction overriding longstanding military judgments based on a scant factual record, limited development of the legal issues, and a manufactured emergency grounded in an artificial deadline.” The response defended West Point’s admissions practices, writing, “The Army has a compelling interest in the diversity of its cadets because they serve as a pipeline for future senior Army Officers.”

On January 3, Judge Philip Halpern denied a request to temporarily bar West Point from using race in its admission process. In Judge Halpern’s opinion, he wrote that, “It is possible that Harvard’s equal protection conclusions with respect to the civilian universities apply to West Point. Contrariwise, the reasons given by Defendants may all be compelling governmental interests which are narrowly tailored: what was not compelling to the Supreme Court as regards civilian universities may in fact be compelling when raised in the context of West Point and national security interests.” Judge Halpern is referring to the SFFA v. Harvard/UNC opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, where a footnote stated, “The United States as amicus curiae contends that race-based admissions programs further compelling interests at our Nation’s military academies. No military academy is a party to these cases, however, and none of the courts below addressed the propriety of race-based admissions systems in that context. This opinion also does not address the issue, in light of the potentially distinct interests that military academies may present.”

 Upcoming Events (Congress & Administration):

  • From February 5 to 8, the USED held a negotiated rulemaking committee session on Institutional Quality and Program Integrity. The rulemaking committee considered the following topics: cash management, return of Title IV funds, accreditation, state authorization, distance education. On February 9, a negotiated rulemaking subcommittee session will also be held to discuss eligibility for TRIO programs. This is the second of three meetings of the committee. The final committee meeting will be held from March 4-7. Members of the public who wish to register to view the sessions or provide public testimony can find more information here.
  • From February 22 to 23, the USED will hold a negotiated rulemaking committee session on Title IV Federal Student Aid Programs focused on the process to provide student debt relief. The session is a continuation from three prior sessions held from October through December 2023, and will focus on the issue of providing relief for borrowers experiencing hardship. Supplemental information on the session can be found here and information on higher education negotiated rulemaking sessions can be found here.
  • From February 27 to 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the USED will host a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI). The meeting open to the public to participate virtually. The meeting will include an administration policy update from USED’s Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education Nasser H. Paydar. Additionally, the meeting will include a review of certain applications for renewal of recognition, compliance reports, and requests for expansion of scope. The meeting notice is here and more information is here. The link to register for the meeting is here.
  • On February 29, the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities will conduct a virtual meeting. The purpose of the Board is to advise the President on all matters pertaining to strengthening the educational capacity of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The meeting will include an update from the Board Chairperson; an update from USED staff; an update from the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities; a status report from each of the Board's subcommittees; and a discussion regarding the status of the Board's report to the President. The meeting notice, including a full agenda, is here. A livestream of the meeting will be here.
  • From April 12 to 14, the USED will host the Spring Teach to Lead Summit, titled, “Leading for the Future: Improving the Educator Experience and Expanding Opportunities to Elevate the Profession.” The Spring summit will convene teams of PK-12 educators from across the country to engage in focused planning and thought partnership around innovative ideas to improve the educator experience and strengthen the education profession. Sessions at the summit will provide teams with collaboration time, skills development, and professional consultation to help teams plan for implementation and seek additional partners and support for their work. Applications are due February 23. More information is here.

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):

  • On February 8 at 2:00 p.m., New America and Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) will host a webinar titled, “Aligning Science of Reading Policies with the Needs of English Learners.” Two panels will consider the relationship between the Science of Reading and English Learners (ELs), including the misconceptions about this much debated topic and its impact on students identified as ELs and dual language programs. The first panel of experts will discuss the policy implications of the Science of Reading for ELs, and the second panel will feature state, district and instructional leaders at the forefront of Science of Reading implementation. Speakers include: Anya Hurwitz, Executive Director, SEAL; Martha Martinez, Senior Director of Research and Evaluation at SEAL; Ester De Jong, Professor of Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Education at the University of Colorado-Denver and Co-Editor of the Bilingual Research Journal; and Kari Kurto, National Science of Reading Project Director at The Reading League, among others. More information and registration are here.
  • On February 14 at 4:00 p.m., the American Enterprise Institute will hold an event titled, “What Can We Do About Chronic Absenteeism?” Panelists will discuss chronic absenteeism and their strategies to combat chronic absenteeism. The event will be moderated by Robert Pondiscio, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute. Panelists will include: Nat Malkus, Deputy Director of Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute; Tim Daly, CEO, EdNavigator; Aaris Johnson, Director of Home Visits, Concentric Educational Solutions; and Sonja Brookins Santelises, CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools. More information and registration are here.
  • On February 29 at 6:00 p.m., the American Enterprise Institute will host an event titled, “Education Policy Debate: Should Democrats Support Education Savings Accounts?” Republicans have led the rapid expansion of private school choice programs over the past several years, primarily through the creation of education savings accounts (ESAs), and this event will feature a debate on whether Democrats should support ESAs. Nat Malkus, Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, will moderate the debate. Panelists will include: Bethany Little, Managing Principal at EducationCounsel; Marcus Brandon, Executive Director at North Carolina Campaign for Achievement Now; Ravi Gupta, Founder at Branch; and Graig Meyer, State Senator in North Carolina. More information and registration are here.

Publications (Outside Organizations):

  • On January 26, the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University and the Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University published a new report titled, “The First Year of Pandemic Recovery: A District-Level Analysis.” Using test score data from 8,000 school districts in 30 states, researchers studied the extent of academic recovery for each of the 30 states, the extent to which the 2019-2022 losses and 2022-2023 improvements varied across school districts, and how these patterns varied by district poverty rates and by student racial and economic background. The data indicated that students did experience learning recovery in the 2022-2023 school year with students recovering approximately one-third of the original loss in math and one quarter of the loss in reading. Data showed that Black and Hispanic students experienced more learning loss than White students. Additionally, Black students’ test scores increased more than White students’ scores, while Hispanic students’ scores showed little to no change. The report makes several recommendations for state and district policymakers to make, including informing parents if their child is below grade level so that they can attend summer programming, expanding summer learning seats this summer, and increasing community support to reduce student chronic absenteeism.
  • On February 1, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) published a new report titled, “Grapevine Report on State Fiscal Support for Higher Education 2024.” The annual report provides initial data on state tax support for higher education, including general fund appropriations for universities, colleges, community colleges, and state higher education agencies. The data for fiscal year (FY) 2024 shows a 10.2% increase during 2023, reaching $126.5 billion, which also reflects a 36.5% increase during the past five years.


Introduced in the House of Representatives:

H.R. 7097
A bill to authorize the Secretary of Defense to conduct outreach and provide assistance to institutions of higher education to support training and internships for members of the Armed Forces and veterans, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ)

H.R. 7108
A bill to support States and high-need local educational agencies in increasing the number of mental health services providers in schools.
Sponsor: Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)

H.R. 7114
A bill to establish a grant program to assist States to establish or expand universal prekindergarten in public schools and public charter schools.
Sponsor: Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)

H.R. 7139
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to change certain eligibility provisions for loan forgiveness for teachers, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT)

H.R. 7144
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to modify the application and review process for changes of control, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT)

H.Res. 977
A resolution recognizing the importance and contributions of National Board Certified Teachers.
Sponsor: Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA)

H.Res. 978
A resolution encouraging all schools in the United States to teach students digital literacy and history related to the Holocaust, World War II, and antisemitism.
Sponsor: Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA)

H.Res. 983
A resolution recognizing January 2024 as "National Mentoring Month.”
Sponsor: Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA)

H.Res. 990
A resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that paraprofessionals and education support staff should have fair compensation, benefits, and working conditions.
Sponsor: Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT)

H.Res. 993
A resolution supporting the goals and ideals of "Career and Technical Education Month.”
Sponsor: Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA)

Introduced in the Senate:

S. 3675
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to create an innovation zone initiative, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen. Todd Young (R-IN)

S. 3681
A bill to direct the Secretary of Education to carry out a grant program to support the recruitment and retention of paraprofessionals in public elementary schools, secondary schools, and preschool programs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)

S. 3695
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to change certain eligibility provisions for loan forgiveness for teachers, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

S. 3701

A bill to establish education partnership programs between public schools and public health agencies to prevent the misuse and overdose of synthetic opioids by youth, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH)

S. 3727

A bill to establish the Proprietary Education Interagency Oversight Committee and to facilitate the disclosure and reporting of information regarding complaints and investigations related to proprietary institutions of higher education eligible to receive Federal education assistance.
Sponsor: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)

S.Res. 531

A resolution designating the week of January 21 through January 27, 2024, as "National School Choice Week.”
Sponsor: Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)