A Pitch for Teacher Pay and School Infrastructure

By The New England Council

DC Shuttle …

House Hearing on Education Infrastructure and Teacher Pay. The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing focused on teacher pay and school infrastructure. At the hearing, lawmakers highlighted teacher protests happening across the country. House Democrats also pushed for their school infrastructure bill. Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) called for increasing federal spending on public schools and said that school infrastructure must be included as part of any sweeping infrastructure bill that President Donald Trump has called on Congress to send to his desk.

Ed Dept Opens Comments and Title IX for Extra Day. The U.S. Education Department last Friday extended the Title IX comment period for one more day. The 60-day comment period originally closed last month. The move comes after the website that the public uses to comment on proposed regulations was plagued by glitches during the initial feedback period. The administration wrote in a Federal Register posting that it’s adding another day “in an abundance of caution, to the extent that some users may have experienced technical issues preventing the submission of comments using the Federal Rulemaking Portal.” It’s the second time the administration has extended the comment period. It pushed the original deadline back two days last month, also because of glitches that hit regulations.gov.

IG Report Criticizes Ed Dept’s Student Loan Policies. The Department of Education Inspector General released a report which was critical of the department’s handling of student loan companies. The Education Department’s internal Inspector General determined that the agency frequently uncovered problems with companies that collect student loans, but it rarely held the businesses accountable for failing to meet federal standards. The IG concluded in the report that the department “had not established policies and procedures” to make sure the loan-servicing companies it hires are properly collecting the monthly payments of roughly 37 million borrowers. The review extended back to the Obama administration.

Administration Extends Pell for Prisoners Program. The Education Department announced that it has again extended a pilot program created by the Obama administration that allows prisoners to use Pell Grants to pay for higher education programs. The Trump administration is extending for a fourth year an Obama-era pilot program that provides Pell Grants to a limited number of prisoners. The Education Department says it needs more time to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. Bipartisan support has grown for permanently expanding Pell Grants to incarcerated students. The fourth year of “Second Chance Pell” would start July 1.

Senate Passes HBCU Bill. The U.S. Senate passed a bill to build on Trump’s executive order on historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), less than a week after it was introduced. The House companion may get a vote by the end of the month. The HBCU Partners Act (S. 461) would require federal agencies with relevant grants and programs to create an annual plan of how to better engage and support HBCU participation. The agencies would then measure, track and report their progress to Congress. It would also codify the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs, which is intended to be a direct line from the institutions to the White House.

Government Funding Package Includes Education Spending. The spending package and border security deal agreed to last week includes $100 million for the U.S. Justice Department for the STOP School Violence Act. The bill also includes $110 million for NASA’s STEM education programs, an increase of $10 million above fiscal 2018.

Senators Reintroduce Bill for Graduate Retirement Savings. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Tim Scott (R-SC) re-introduced a bill to allow graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to save a portion of their stipends or fellowship funds in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Saving these funds in IRAs is not permitted under current tax law. Think Adviser reports.

Ivanka Trump Joins FAFSA Simplification Effort. Ivanka Trump joined the effort to simplify the application for federal student aid. In a twitter post, she posed with Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) with the two promising to work together on FAFSA simplification.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of Feb. 19, 2019. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.


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