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Department of Ed Urges Schools to Protect Muslim Students from Harassment
. The U.S. Department of Education published a “Dear Colleague” letter urging schools to take extra steps to protect Muslim students from harassment and discrimination. Schools are always obligated to address any harassment or bullying students face, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or national origin. However, the letter, signed by Acting Secretary of Education John King and his predecessor Arne Duncan, stated that recent tensions surrounding Muslim immigrants created special circumstances, saying “as we stand by our principles as a nation and continue to welcome refugees to our communities, we also must be vigilant about maintaining safe, respectful, and nondiscriminatory learning environments for all students in our schools and institutions.” They encouraged educators at all levels “to use this moment as an opportunity to take steps that increase tolerance,” by promoting thoughtful and respectful discussion between students. Education Week has more on the letter.
Congresswoman asks Department of Education to Clarify Sexual Harassment Reporting Requirements. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) sent a letter to Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon asking the department to clarify whether or not universities are required to report Title XI violations by faculty or staff to other educational institutions. Speier wrote that the issue came to her attention after learning of an astronomy professor who was hired by the University of Wyoming despite his previous employer, the University of Arizona, finding that he had committed sexual harassment. Speier’s letter was primarily focused on professors in science and engineering disciplines. Read more in Wired.
Department of Defense Lifts Ban on University of Phoenix. The Department of Defense lifted its suspension of the University of Phoenix from a program that provides financial aid to active-duty service members. The school has been on probation since October due to questions about its recruiting methods, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Student Loan Watchdog Joins Department of Education. Former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) education watchdog Rohit Chopra joined the Department of Education as a senior official. While at the CFPB, Chopra was an outspoken critic of student loan servicers and led lawsuits against for-profit education companies. At the Department of Education, he will focus on issues related to “enhanced protections for students, improved borrowers’ service and strong accountability for institutions,” according to Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. Read more in Inside Higher Ed.
ESSA Fuels Growing Opt-Out Movement. Education Week and Education Dive both examine a growing movement encouraging parents to opt their children out of standardized tests. Although the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) does still require standardized testing, opt-out advocates view it as an opportunity to spread their message and build momentum against standardized testing.
ELL Reclassified. ESSA will bring many changes to English Language Learning (ELL) programs in schools around the country, as Education Dive reports. Among the biggest changes is the reclassification of ELL accountability from Title III to Title I, which advocates say will help to mainstream ELL.
Researchers Prepare for ESSA. The Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the government agency that helps to conduct and coordinate education research throughout the U.S., is working to realign its work to ESSA’s priorities and helping states do the same, reports Education Week.
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 Jan. 19, 2016. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.