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: 


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.”


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.