DC Shuttle: All Shut Down? Not Quite

Shutdown’s limited initial effects of education. The U.S. Department of Education is on partial shutdown, with many employees furloughed, but school districts are functioning in full. The effects of the government shutdown would be harder felt in the education sector if the shutdown were to continue for a prolonged period. Pell grants and federal direct student loans will largely be unaffected by the shutdown. The department’s Grants Management system called G5 will remain up and running throughout the shutdown. The department has roughly $22 billion in key K-12 formula funding through state Title I, special education and career and technical education grants to give out during the first week of October and it appears that those dollars still went out. Race to the Top, Investing and Innovation, and Promise Neighborhoods still have FY 2013 money left that needs to be allocated by Dec. 31. Head Start centers, which were expecting a round of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services funding this month, saw that funding delayed and some had to close their doors. Impact Aid funding has also been delayed. See the Department of Education plan for functioning during the shutdown.

House passes funding for Impact Aid and Head Start, unlikely in Senate. The partial funding measures passed by the House last week included legislation authorizing funding for Impact Aid to school districts with a large federal presence (H J Res 83). The bill provides funding for Impact Aid for Local Schools through Dec. 15, 2013, at the sequester-reduced funding levels effective at the end of FY 2013. The Education Department’s Impact Aid program provides direct funding to school districts to make up for the loss of property taxes because the federal government owns large amounts of nearby land. Another funding measure would allocate funding for the Head Start program (H J Res 84). The bill provides funding for the Head Start program through Dec. 15, 2013, at the sequester-reduced funding levels effective at the end of FY 2013. The Head Start program provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.

Title I funding guidance. New guidance, which provides further clarification about how Title I funds should be distributed to new and expanding charter schools, is intended to clarify federal laws that charter advocates say conflict with each other and prevent charter schools from receiving some funds. Education Week obtained a copy of the letter sent to Title I directors around the country on Sept. 23.

Supreme Court to consider race in admissions case. The new Supreme Court term opens today, and due to be considered early in the term is a case about a 2006 Michigan ballot measure that prohibited racial preferences in education and other areas of state and local government. Last year, a federal appeals court struck down the measure as it applies to admissions policies at state colleges and universities. The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, said in an 8-7 ruling that the measure violated the 14th Amendment equal-protection rights of racial minorities in the state by making it harder for them to achieve a political goal, in this case, a race-conscious admissions policy. The case follows a ruling in May in which the Supreme Court avoided a decisive ruling on affirmative action and race-based admissions.

New Hampshire joins group for common core implementation. The National Governors Association (NGA) announced that New Hampshire, Arizona, California, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming will participate in the “Improving Student Learning at Scale Collaborative” to support effective implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The NGA and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the two groups that oversaw the development of common core, and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) will provide a grant to the states as part of the project, and their staff will provide technical assistance as well. In other elementary education news, on Monday, Texas was granted a waiver from No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Upcoming hearing on college costs. On Wednesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee will hold the first in a series of hearings titled “Keeping College Within Reach.”

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 Oct. 7, 2013.

Founded in 1925, the New England Council is a nonpartisan alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations throughout New England formed to promote economic growth and a high quality of life in the New England region. The Council’s mission is to identify and support federal public policies and articulate the voice of its membership regionally and nationally on important issues facing New England. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.

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