Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — June 27, 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, July 5.

The House Education and Workforce Committee passed the following bills by voice vote: H.R. 5529, Accessing Higher Education Opportunities Act; H.R. 5530, HBCU Capital Financing Improvement Act; H.R. 5528, Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act; H.R. 3179, Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act; and H.R. 3178, Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act. These bills now await consideration by the full House or Representatives.

SENATE

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a committee hearing on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) with an update from the U.S. Secretary of Education John King on proposed regulations on Wednesday, June 29.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Transportation will markup S. 3084, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act on Wednesday, June 29.

ADMINISTRATION

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released joint guidance for States, school districts and child welfare agencies on provisions in ESSA for supporting children in foster care.

ED released a Dear Colleague letter on the importance and utility of stakeholder engagement as States and local educational agencies (LEAs) implement ESSA. ED included guidance, resources and examples of stakeholder engagement for States and LEAs to consider.

ED announced ten winners of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Makeover Challenge. The challenge entailed high schools creating models for transforming classrooms and other available spaces into places where students have access to tools to design, build and innovate.

ED’s Office of Federal Student Aid updated its data center to include data on district-level Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates and the total fiscal year-to-date dollar amount recovered in defaulted student loans by guaranty agency and collection type.

ED announced the 16 States that won School Improvement Grants to continue their work to turn around the persistently lowest-achieving schools in their States.

JUDICIARY

The Supreme Court upheld the University of Texas at Austin’s consideration of race and ethnicity in their college admissions process in a 4–3 ruling on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — June 20, 2016

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

HOUSE and SENATE

The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a committee hearing on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on Thursday, June 23. U.S. Department of Education (ED) Secretary John King, as well as additional witnesses, will testify.

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) wrote Secretary King and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell urging strong collaboration between ED and HHS in implementing the preschool program authorized in ESSA.

ADMINISTRATION

ED released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on borrower defense and related matters. Related to borrower defense, the NPRM would establish a new process for borrowers to assert a defense to repayment in situations where misrepresentation, breach of contract or a favorable State or Federal court judgement against a school has taken place. In addition, the rule would establish new financial responsibility requirements, require the issuance of warnings by for-profit institutions that have low loan repayment rates and prohibit the use of mandatory arbitration in certain circumstances.

A staff report from ED has recommended the termination of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). This recommendation will be considered by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) next week and, as reported by Inside Higher Ed, NACIQI will have ten days to pass its decision back to Emma Vadehra, the Secretary’s Chief of Staff. Vadehra will then have 90 days to make a final decision. If a termination decision is made, ACICS will have 30 days to appeal this decision and schools that ACICS has accredited will have 18 months to gain accreditation from a different recognized accreditor in order to remain eligible for Federal student aid.

ED’s Offices for Civil Rights and Career and Technical Education released a Dear Colleague letter stating that all students, regardless of their sex, must have equal access to the full range of career and technical education (CTE) programs offered at a school or institution.

The White House announced over $20 million in new commitments from the private and non-profit sectors to the Let Girls Learn Initiative, an initiative to support adolescent girls in attaining a quality education worldwide.

ED and HHS released a report on the pay gap for early education teachers, High-Quality Early Learning Settings Depend on a High-Quality Workforce. The report indicated that on average, preschool teachers earn 55 percent of wages earned by kindergarten teachers and 52 percent of wages warned by elementary school teachers.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — June 13, 2016

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

HOUSE

House Republicans released a new set of proposals focused on poverty, opportunity and upward mobility, the first piece of their policy agenda, A Better Way. This included recommendations for strengthening early childhood development, supporting at-risk youth, improving career and technical education, strengthening America’s higher education system and improving nutrition for students and working families.

SENATE

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hold a committee hearing on implementation of the Child Care Development Block Grant on Wednesday, June 15. Linda Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary For Early Childhood Development, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Sheila Hoyle, Executive Director, Southwestern Child Development Commission; Le’Vaughn Johnson Westbrook, Parent; Margaret Williams, Executive Director, Maryland Family Network; and Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, Commissioner, Connecticut Office of Early Childhood will testify.

BUDGET

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee passed their Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill by a vote of 29 to 1. The bill provides $12.04 billion for the U.S. Department of Labor, cutting the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) State formula programs by $74 million; $76.9 billion for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health; and $ 67.8 billion for the U.S. Department of Education (ED), a $220 million decrease compared to FY2016. The ED portion of the bill restored a version of the Summer Pell program and rescinded $1.2 billion in unobligated Pell Grant funding from the current near $8 billion projected surplus.

ADMINISTRATION

ED’s Office of Civil Rights released new data from the 2013–2014 school year that indicates continued gaps in educational equity and opportunity for students, including disparities around incidents of discipline, restraint and seclusion, access to courses and programs that lead to college and career readiness, teacher equity, rates of retention and access to early learning.

The White House and ED announced 20 new communities that have joined the My Brother’s Keeper Success Mentors Initiative, an initiative focused on chronic student absenteeism.

The White House will host the United State of Women Summit on Tuesday, June 14. The summit will focus on economic empowerment, health and wellness, educational opportunity, violence against women, entrepreneurship and innovation and leadership and civic engagement.

The U.S. Census Bureau released a report, Public Education Finances: 2014, which indicates that per pupil spending in K-12 education rose 2.7 percent from 2013 to 2014 — the largest rate increase since 2008.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — June 6, 2016

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

HOUSE and SENATE

The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a committee hearing on the Obama Administration’s overtime rule on Thursday, June 9. Witnesses have yet to be announced.

House Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Ranking Member Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) sent a letter to Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies urging for any Pell surplus funds to be used to increase the maximum Pell Grant award and to be used within the Pell Grant program generally, not diverted to other programs or agencies.

BUDGET

The Senate Appropriations Committee announced both a subcommittee markup on June 7 and a full committee markup on June 9 of the Fiscal Year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

ADMINISTRATION

The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced a Federal policy statement and electronic toolkit for supporting dual language learners in early childhood programs.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — May 31, 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 June 7 and the Senate will return on June 6.

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) wrote Education Secretary John King calling for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to issue strong Title I accountability regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

ADMINISTRATION

ED released proposed regulations around implementing provisions of ESSA related to accountability, data reporting and State plans. House and Senate Committee Chairmen John Kline (R-MN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) called for a close review of these regulations, while Ranking Members Murray and Scott expressed general support. Comments on the proposed regulations are due by August 1, 2016.

ED released a Foster Care Transition Toolkit to provide guidance for foster youth transitioning to adulthood around accessing postsecondary education and employment.

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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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