Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: May 19

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (May 12 – May 16):


The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, by a partisan vote of 12-10. The bill is Chairman Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) version of the President’s proposed state Pre-K proposal.

Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) released a legislative discussion draft of the “Protecting Student Privacy Act of 2014,” that amends the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The draft addresses the use of personally identifiable student information for advertising and marketing, adds new access and complaint procedures for parents regarding services provided to schools by third parties, and requires security measures for education records held by third parties to be as stringent as a school district or state would employ.

The Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday, May 22 on “Examining Access and Supports for Servicemembers and Veterans in Higher Education.”


The U.S. Department of Education announced the start of the First in the World competition. There is $75 million available for institutions of higher education (including $20 million for minority-serving institutions) to fund the development and testing of strategies to improve college attainment and affordability.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced that it has reached a $60 million settlement with Sallie Mae in a lawsuit that alleges that Sallie Mae charged servicemembers excessive rates on student loans in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

The U.S. Department of Education released guidance that states that charter schools must follow the same federal civil rights laws that apply to all other public schools, including provisions related to discrimination in admissions and the administration of discipline, serving students with disabilities and providing support to English learners.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted last week to take up the FCC Chairman’s “net neutrality” proposal by a vote of 3-2. The proposal would, among other things, allow Internet providers to charge websites for faster service. The proposal is available for public comment for four months.


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