Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap-Up: January 30

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (January 23-27) in Washington.


The Department of Education is expected to announce which States have been approved for ESEA waivers as early as next week.   Approved State applications are likely to differ from the original submissions as the Department has been negotiating with States in order to grant approval for their applications. Late last week, Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Miller sent a letter to Secretary Duncan requesting that the Secretary focus on certain areas in the initial waiver applications.

In the education portions of the State of the Union, the President focused mostly on college costs and job training related initiatives.  On college costs, the White House released a fact sheet early this morning in advance of the President’s trip to Michigan to promote these issues.  In addition to describing the details of the President’s college costs proposals, the fact sheet unveils a new Race to the Top program focused on providing funding to States that work to hold down college costs in State university systems.
On job training, the President called for a revamp of the nation’s job training laws, focusing specifically on streamlining the process of accessing services for dislocated workers.  In addition, the President called for new partnerships between business and community colleges to train 2 million workers.

On other education issues, the President called for States to keep students in school until they are 18 or graduate and announced a new teacher preparation and reform competitive grant program that would focus on revamping teacher preparation, creating teacher evaluation systems, and restructuring teacher tenure.

Last Friday, the Department of Education wrapped up the first session of negotiated rule making related to teacher preparation.  Specifically, the Department is working toward improving data collection and better identifying low-performing schools as part of the current Title II reporting requirements under Title II of HEA.  They are also looking at limiting participation for TEACH Grants to those teacher preparation programs that have demonstrated the greatest success.  Central to both of these initiatives is the idea to judge quality at least in part on the impact teacher preparation program graduates are having on increasing student achievement.  The next session begins February 27, at which time the negotiators will move from discussing broad concepts, to instead reviewing regulatory language currently being drafted by the Department.


Chairman Kline and his staff continue to negotiate with House Committee GOP members in an attempt to have a united front in support of an ESEA bill, which will be based in large part on the draft released by Kline earlier this month, with the goal being to have a bill to be introduced and marked up by the Committee in February.


Senators Durbin and Harkin released the details of legislation early this week which would modify the 90/10 rule for for-profit colleges by lowering 90/10 to 85/15 and counting college aid connected to military benefits as Federal aid.

The Senate HELP committee will hold a hearing next week on college costs, echoing the call that President Obama made on this issue in the SOTU.


The Administration announced last week that the President’s FY13 Budget release will be delayed – it was scheduled to be released February 6, but now will be held until Monday, February 13.