Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — May 16, 2016

A quick look back at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group: 

HOUSE and SENATE

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a committee hearing on the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act on Tuesday, May 17. Witnesses have not yet been announced.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a hearing on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the perspectives of education stakeholders on Wednesday, May 18. Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President, National Education Association; Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO; Dr. Tony Evers, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction; Dr. Thomas Ahart, Superintendent, Des Moines Public Schools; Dr. Nora Gordon, Associate Professor, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University; Denise Marshall, Executive Director, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates; and Janet Murguia, President and CEO, National Council of La Raza will testify.

House and Senate Committee Chairmen John Kline (R-MN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) released a Congressional Research Service memorandum on the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) negotiated rulemaking regulatory proposal on the supplement, not supplant provision of ESSA. The memorandum states that “ED’s interpretation (of supplement, not supplant) appears to go beyond what would be required under a plain-language reading of the statute.”

ADMINISTRATION

The recent auction of ten-year notes by the U.S. Department of Treasury means student loan interest rates will decrease for the 2016–2017 school year. The auction in May of each year establishes the baseline for student loan interest rates for the coming school year. For new undergraduate student loans, the interest rate will decrease to 3.76 percent, from the current 4.29 percent. The rate on direct loans for graduate students will decrease from 5.84 percent this year to 5.31 percent. PLUS loans interest rates will be 6.31 percent, in comparison to the current 6.84 percent.

ED released a new resource guide, “Beyond the Box: Increasing Access to Higher Education for Justice-Involved Individuals,” which encourages college admissions to consider alternatives to questions around criminal backgrounds in applications.

ED released a report titled “The State of Racial Diversity in the Educator Workforce.” The report indicates that less than one in five U.S. public school teachers—18 percent—are individuals of color, while approximately half—49 percent—of public elementary and secondary school students are individuals of color.

The U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated a class-action lawsuit against ED by former students of the now defunct Wilfred American Education Corp. The plaintiffs argue that ED knew of the institution’s fraudulent practices, and therefore their loans should be forgiven.

ED and the U.S. Department of Justice issued a Dear Colleague letter to school districts regarding access to restrooms and locker rooms for transgender students under Title IX.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — May 9, 2016

A quick look back at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group:

HOUSE and SENATE

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a hearing on dyslexia research and education on Tuesday, May 10. Witnesses have not yet been announced.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a hearing on leveraging science and technology on Wednesday, May 11. Witnesses include: Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, Vice Chair, National Science Board; Dr. Jeannette Wing, Corporate Vice President for Research, Microsoft; Dr. Robert Atkinson, President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; Dr. David Munson, Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Michigan.

ADMINISTRATION

The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released its annual report on protecting students’ civil rights and increasing educational equity, Delivering Justice. In 2015, OCR processed 10,392 civil rights complaints, opened over 3,000 investigations and reached over 1,000 resolutions with institutions.

ED updated their “Transitioning to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): Frequently Asked Questions” document, which addresses queries states and local educational agencies may have around ED’s expectations during the transition to full implementation of ESSA.

ED and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a joint policy statement on family engagement related to a child’s development and early childhood education.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, ED released the names of 21 colleges whose student-loan cohort default rates were adjusted by ED to The Wall Street Journal. ED stated that they released this information in error.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) wrote to the University of North Carolina System (UNC) expressing concern over UNC’s compliance with Title IX in light of North Carolina House Bill 2 (H.B. 2). The DOJ asserted that by enforcing H.B. 2, UNC is in violation of Federal law by discriminating against transgender individuals. The DOJ asked UNC to reply by Monday, May 9, regarding how it may remedy this violation.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking comments on proposed rules that would prohibit banks and other companies offering financial products from using mandatory arbitration clauses that prevent borrowers from joining class-action suits.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to approve a proposed exception to its restrictions on the use of autodialers by collectors of government backed debt (including Federal student loans) to call cellular phones of borrowers with such debt. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that these calls would be limited to three-calls-per-month, and callers will be required to inform consumers of their right to stop the calls.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — April 25, 2016

A quick look back at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group:

SENATE

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) thanked the negotiators for their work during the negotiated rulemaking (neg-reg) process on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). He also reiterated that he planned to use every tool at his disposal regarding supplement, not supplant to ensure ESSA is implemented the way Congress intended.

ADMINISTRATION

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) held its third and final neg-reg session on the implementation of ESSA. The neg-reg committee reached consensus on assessment issues, but failed to do so on supplement, not supplant. ED said that it will attempt to produce “clean” regulatory language on the assessment issues by the end of the week. While the consensus language on assessments will be used as the basis of ED’s proposed rules in that area, ED may now go forward with its own supplement, not supplant regulations. However, because consensus was not reached on supplement, not supplant, ED must send its proposed regulations to Congress for review before publishing them for comment in the Federal Register.

The White House, ED and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced new grants, resources, learning activities, research and a policy statement around science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in early learning.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced plans to invest $90 million in additional funds to expand apprenticeship through ApprenticeshipUSA.

As a part of President Obama’s Testing Action Plan, ED released a series of case studies of states and districts that are working to ensure students take fewer, better and fairer tests.

A federal judge ruled that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools did not have to comply with a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau civil investigative demand issued in August, 2015.

ED released a letter providing clarification for accreditors on the flexibility that they have in differentiating their reviews. The letter encourages use of that flexibility in order to focus on student achievement and problematic institutions or programs.

The Brookings Institution announced that Former Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has joined the Brookings Institution as a nonresident senior fellow in the Governance Studies program’s Brown Center on Education Policy.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — April 18, 2016

A quick look back at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group:  

SENATE

In response to testimony this week by U.S. Education Secretary John King on Elementary and Secondary Education Act regulations pertaining to Supplement/Not Supplant, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander stated he would consider using the appropriations process and other means to overturn these regulations, should the U.S. Department of Education (ED) not make changes to its proposal.

BUDGET

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved subcommittee allocations for fiscal year (FY) 2017 by a vote of 29–1. The subcommittee allocation for the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill is $161.9 billion. This is slightly less than $300 million below the FY2016 allocation for this subcommittee. The House Appropriations Committee has not approved 302b allocations for all subcommittees yet, having only set an interim 302b level for the Military Construction Subcommittee.

ADMINISTRATION

ED will hold its third negotiated rulemaking session on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) from April 18–19. Title I Assessments and Supplement/Not Supplant will be addressed. Materials for this session can be found here. Today’s meeting will be held at ED’s Potomac Center offices, 555 12th Street, SW.

Secretary King said that draft regulations related to accountability are currently with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and that ED expects to publish them later this spring or this summer for comment. He said ED is also planning to develop regulations on state plans and the innovative assessment pilot; he said he expects those regulations to be out for public comment by the fall. He said ED’s goal is to have all ESSA regulations finalized by the end of the year so that states are in the position to submit plans in the spring and summer of 2017 and implement them in September 2017.

ED announced a new process to proactively identify and assist federal student loan borrowers with disabilities who may be eligible for Total and Permanent Disability loan discharge through a data match with the Social Security Administration.

ED issued a Dear Colleague letter to states, districts, schools and education partners regarding maximizing federal funds to support and enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
 

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — April 11, 2016

A quick look back at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group:  

HOUSE

The House is in recess and will return on Tuesday, April 12.

SENATE

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a committee hearing on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act in states and school districts on Tuesday, April 12. Secretary of Education, John King, will testify.

ADMINISTRATION

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) completed its second negotiated rulemaking session. Consensus was not reached on Title I Assessments and Supplement/Not Supplant. The negotiated rulemaking committee will hold a third session on April 18 and 19.

ED has transmitted other Title I regulations on state plans and accountability requirements to the Office of Management and Budget for review. This likely means a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) will be out in the next few months.

ED’s Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Michael Yudin, has announced he will be leaving ED on April 30. Deputy Assistant Secretary Sue Swenson will lead the office.

The White House sent three nominations for ED positions to the Senate for confirmation. These nominations include: Matthew Lehrich to be Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach; Amy McIntosh to be Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development; and Antonia Whalen to be Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.

ED proposed new standards around how and when college accreditors have to alert ED about troubled institutions. ED is soliciting public comments on a letter it plans to send to accreditors that outlines these new standards and a spreadsheet that accreditors will use to report this information. Comments are due June 6, 2016.

ED announced plans to implement a new student loan servicing system that includes: standard, ED-branded communication to borrowers; a single web portal; reduced instances of loan transfers; enhanced oversight and accountability; and a single platform for all federal student loans.

ED published two Federal Register notices this week on Title IV student aid program integrity issues. First, ED has made technical corrections to the final cash management regulation that was published in October of last year. ED made a number of corrections that would have otherwise limited institutions in disbursing non-Title IV aid (i.e. private scholarships, etc.) along with Title IV aid. These corrections will take effect on July 1, 2016. Second, ED is using its ability to expedite the effective dates of regulations for two provisions of the program integrity rules regarding repeat coursework and a depository requirement under the cash management rules. The repeat coursework rules allow Title IV aid to be used to pay the costs of a course previously taken, up to one retaking of a course, for the purposes of determining a student’s full-time status. The cash management requirement pertains to institutions maintaining Title IV aid in an interest-bearing depository account and rules for foreign institutions in selecting such an account. These provisions became effective April 7, 2016.
 

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — April 4, 2016

A quick look back at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group:  

HOUSE and SENATE

The House is in recess and will return on Tuesday, April 12. The Senate returns from recess today.

BUDGET

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its analysis of the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Budget. CBO projects that from FY2017–FY2026, the President’s budget would result in deficits averaging 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and totaling $6.9 trillion, $2.4 trillion less than CBO’s baseline. In addition, the CBO analysis scored the cost of specific education proposals from the President’s request, including America’s College Promise ($70.1 billion over 10 years), Preschool for All ($66 billion over 10 years), permanently indexing Pell awards to inflation ($38.4 billion over 10 years), and income-based repayment reforms (saving $23.2 billion over 10 years).

ADMINISTRATION

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) will hold its second negotiated rulemaking session on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) from April 6–8. Title I Assessments and Supplement/Not Supplant will be addressed.

Education Week reported that ED will begin the process of regulating on other areas of ESSA, and specified accountability, state plans and the innovative assessment pilot as the only areas in which ED would issue regulations this year.

ED sent letters to two student debt relief companies, Abuv Media and MC Business Group, requesting that they stop misrepresenting their affiliation with ED, by means such as using ED’s logo on their materials, and that they include disclaimers on their websites that they are “not affiliated with or endorsed by” ED.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) ordered Student Aid Institute, Inc. and its Chief Executive Officer, Steven Lamont, to permanently exit the debt relief industry, pay a $50,000 civil penalty and stop charging affected costumers. CFPB has accused the company of charging illegal advance fees, failing to provide privacy notices and implying an affiliation with ED to get borrowers to pay fees for federal benefits.

ED launched the ED School Climate Surveys tool that allows schools to administer surveys on school climate to middle and high school students, teachers, staff, parents and guardians for free.

ED has named Kim Hunter Reed as a Deputy Under Secretary. Reed will be replacing Jamienne Studley, who left ED at the end of 2015.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3–2 to expand the Lifeline Program, a federal low-income phone subsidy program, to support internet service. In addition, FCC advanced a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that expands privacy requirements on providers of broadband internet.

ED published a notice for an updated NPRM on issues related to distance education for Higher Education Act Title II teacher preparation and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant requirements.  Comments on this updated NPRM are due May 2. The original NPRM was issued in December 2014. This supplemental notice comes after the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent the teacher preparation regulatory package back to ED.

Under Secretary Ted Mitchell released a blog outlining work ED has done to “strengthen the accreditation system.” He said ED will soon publish guidance to encourage accreditors to target their resources to problematic and poorly performing institutions and programs, and he discussed ED’s efforts to focus on outcomes through its process of recognizing accreditors.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – March 28, 2016

A quick look back at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group:

HOUSE and SENATE 

The House and Senate are in recess. The House will return on Tuesday, April 12, and the Senate will return on Monday, April 4.   

BUDGET 

The House Budget Committee filed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget resolution and the accompanying committee report.  

The Congressional Budget Office released its new Pell Grant Baseline projections. The Pell Grant Program is projected to have a $7.754 billion surplus going into FY2017. Based on these projections, the Pell Grant Program is expected to start running a shortfall in FY2025. 

ADMINISTRATION  

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) released a report, Fulfilling the Promise, Serving the Need: Advancing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students, highlighting higher education institutions that promote access, opportunity and success for Pell-eligible students.  

ED announced a determination that between 2010–2014, former Corinthian Colleges’ Everest Institute, Everest College, Everest University and WyoTech misrepresented job placement rates for many of their programs of study. This determination has lead ED to create a attestation form that allows borrowers who enrolled in those institutions during that time period to apply for a discharge of their student loans without having to show specifically how their institution violated state law (as is normally required).   

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – March 21, 2016

A quick look back at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group: 

HOUSE

The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a committee hearing on education research and student privacy on Tuesday, March 22. Witnesses have not yet been announced.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will hold a subcommittee hearing on the U.S Department of Education’s (ED’s) Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget request on Tuesday, March 22. Secretary John King will testify.

The House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology will hold a subcommittee hearing on the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) FY2017 budget request on Tuesday, March 22. NSF Director France Cordova and National Science Board Vice Chair Kelvin Droegemeier will testify.

SENATE

Dr. John King was confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Secretary of Education by a vote of 49–40.

The Senate is in recess and will return on Monday, April 4.

BUDGET

The House Budget Committee passed its FY2017 budget proposal by a vote of 20–16. The budget resolution upholds the non-defense discretionary spending caps for FY2017, but calls for reductions in mandatory and discretionary spending for the FY2018–FY2026 period. The proposed budget also includes reconciliation instructions for the Education and Workforce Committee to produce legislation that cuts $1 billion from the Committee’s jurisdiction over the FY2017–FY2026 period. Finally, the proposed budget calls for Congress to limit the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,815 (the FY2016 level) for the next ten years.

ADMINISTRATION

ED is holding its first negotiated rulemaking session on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act from March 21–23. Title I Assessments and Supplement/Not Supplant will be addressed.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) requested that a federal district court enter a final judgment that would ban Student Loan Processing.US and its owner, James Krause, from any future involvement in debt relief and student loan services. CFPB asserts that the company and Krause charged borrowers millions of dollars in illegal upfront fees for federal student loan services.

 

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – March 14, 2016

A quick look back at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group: 

HOUSE

The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a committee hearing on the policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday, March 15. HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell will testify.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a committee hearing on the policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on Wednesday, March 16. DOL Secretary Thomas Perez will testify.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will hold a subcommittee hearing on DOL’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget request on Tuesday, March 15. Secretary Perez will testify.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies will hold a subcommittee hearing on the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) FY2017 budget request on Wednesday, March 16. NSF Director France Cordova will testify.

SENATE

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted 16–6 to advance Dr. John King’s nomination to be U.S. Secretary of Education. The full Senate is scheduled to vote on King’s nomination on Monday, March 14, at 5:30 pm.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will hold a subcommittee hearing on DOL’s FY2017 budget request on Thursday, March 17. Secretary Perez will testify.

Thirty-five Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Obama urging the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to adopt changes to draft regulations on defense of repayment. House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) also sent a letter. The negotiated rulemaking panel developing regulations on this issue reconvenes this Wednesday, March 16, for its third and final session.

ADMINISTRATION

The White House announced James Kvaal, Deputy Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC), is departing after nearly seven years of serving the Administration at DPC and ED. DPC’s Chief of Staff, Katherine Kochman, will replace him.

President Obama announced the ConnectALL Initiative, an effort to connect 20 million more Americans to broadband by 2020.

Following the Inspector General’s report of student loan servicers’ compliance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, ED announced it would refund money to all military borrowers who were charged more than six percent interest on their federal student loans between 2009 and July 2014.

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PHG Principal Danica Petroshius Participates in Association of Public Television Stations 2016 Public Media Summit

Penn Hill Group Principal Danica Petroshius served on a panel during the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) 2016 Public Media Summit with J. Keith Kennedy, former staff director of the Senate Appropriations Committee; former Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH); and Dom Ruscio, appropriations consultant.

The APTS Public Media Summit is the largest annual gathering of public broadcasting general managers and community leaders who come together to explore issues that are vital to the future and mission of public service media. Petroshius and other panelists discussed the current political environment in Washington, the 2016 presidential election and how it will affect federal funding for public media.

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