Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: November 18

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (November 11 – 15). 

Bipartisan legislation to expand access to early childhood education was introduced in both the Senate and House last week, led by Senator Harkin (D-IA) in the Senate, and Rep. Miller (D-CA) and Rep. Hanna (R-NY) in the House. The “Strong Start for America’s Children Act” provides funding on a matching basis to states to offer prekindergarten to low- and moderate-income children age four and below, and is similar to President Obama’s early childhood education proposal outlined in his State of the Union address this year.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a full committee hearing on Tuesday, November 19 titled “Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Jobs: Improving the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.”

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a full committee field hearing on Friday, November 22 in North Carolina, titled, “Educating for the 21st Century: Bringing Today’s Classrooms into the Digital Age.”

The House/Senate Budget Conference Committee held their second public meeting last Wednesday. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said there is a possibility that the committee may not reach their goal of an agreement by December 13. They are not scheduled to meet until after Thanksgiving.

The U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to chief state school officers reversing course on its previous waiver renewal guidance outlined for states in August of this year. States will be allowed to apply for a one-year extension of their waiver, and address their monitoring findings. States will not be required to address the equitable distribution of effective teachers or to use Title II funds for evidence-based professional development as laid out in the August notice. The department has signaled their interest in acting in this area through policy that would impact all states but that would be outside the waiver renewal process.

The U.S. Department of Education held public forums on the President’s proposed college ratings system last week in Virginia and Iowa, and an additional forum will be held in Louisiana.

The U.S. Department of Education released additional materials for the November 18-20 Negotiated Rulemaking Committee session on Gainful Employmentdraft regulatory language, and a session 2 overview that summarizes the changes the Department made, many of which were significant.

First Lady Michelle Obama signaled an expansion in her agenda as First Lady to include higher education issues by giving a speech last week to students at a Washington, DC high school, encouraging low-income students to attend college.  

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