Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap-Up: March 5

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (February 27 – March 2) in Washington.

The second round of Negotiated Rule making around teacher education programs was completed last week.  The regulations focus on defining high quality teacher preparation programs for purposes of eligibility to participate in the TEACH Grant program. The regulations would also require states to rate schools in different categories, based on four factors including student outcomes (of students of teacher graduates); employment outcomes; follow up surveys of teacher candidates and their employers; and whether the program has specialized accreditation or meets several “input” criteria related to issues such as clinical experience.

26 States and D.C.
  submitted ESEA waiver applications to the Department of Education for Round Two, and peer reviewers were announced.

Vice President Biden, Dr. Jill Biden and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced the Solicitation for Grant Applications for the second year of the TAACCCT (Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants) program last week. The Administration is making $500 million available to create and expand innovative partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train workers with the skills employers need.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee marked up the final component bills of their effort to reauthorize ESEA: the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act on Tuesday, February 28.  The final vote was 23-16 with all Republicans voting in favor of the bill and all Democrats opposed. A few key changes to their bill dealt with issues such as setting aside funding for State assessments, public school choice and tutoring, and providing for the possibility of State funding for “charter schools for teacher education,” among other things.

Also on February 28, the House passed HR 2117, “Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education” by a vote of 303 to 114, with 69 Democrats voting with the Republicans. The bill repeals regulations recently put in place by the U.S. Department of Education which set in place new requirements for the state authorization of institutions of higher education and established federal definitions of credit hour/clock hour.

The Senate HELP Committee announced they will hold a hearing on “The Key to America’s Global Competitiveness: A Quality Education” on March 8.  Witnesses have not been announced.

Hearings on the FY13 Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations bill will begin later this month with Secretary Duncan testifying on March 22 before the House Subcommittee.