DC Shuttle …
ESEA Reauthorization Passes Senate Committee. Legislation to replace No Child Left Behind (NCLB) passed unanimously out of committee with a vote of 22-0. About a week before the committee considered it, Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee had released their long-anticipated bipartisan rewrite of the Early and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). If signed into law, the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 would replace the expired NCLB as the most recent iteration of ESEA. The bill, summarized here, attempts to find a bipartisan path around certain contentious issues. It would allow states to develop their own accountability systems, maintain current testing requirements, remove federally mandated teacher evaluations, and allow federal ESEA funds to be used for early childhood education programs. Throughout the more than 10-hour-long markup, senators withdrew contentious amendments in the hope of passing the legislation quickly through the committee. The committee considered 87 amendments, 29 of which passed. The Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee held a hearing to go over the FY16 budget request for the Department of Education at which Secretary Arne Duncan testified.
ESEA Turns 50. Education Week took a look at the 50-year history of the Early Childhood and Secondary Education Act. The National Education Association honored the anniversary with a news release, urging Congress to “embrace the law’s original vision and promise” as it looks to reauthorize it.
States Apply for ESEA Waivers. Even as Congress works to replace No Child Left Behind, states are continuing to apply for waivers to be exempt from conditions of the outdated law. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have waivers, all of which are seeking renewals. Education Week reports on specific requests some of these states have made.
Department of Education Hints At Loan Forgiveness. The U.S. Education Department announced a $30 million fine on for-profit Corinthian Colleges after students came forward with complaints about the education company’s job-placement reporting, as well as misrepresentation about the quality and cost of Corinthian’s programs, as Inside Higher Ed reports. In its news release, the department acknowledged that it is working on developing a streamlined process to forgive student loans if colleges have broken the law.
New Loan Standards Have Big Effect on HBCUs. A new report released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences shows that students at historically black colleges and universities were hit especially hard by the department’s October 2011 decision to tighten credit standards for federal Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS). The number of recipients of PLUS loans at HBCUs dropped 45.7% in 2012-13, compared with a drop of 28.7% at other colleges.
Report Shows Effect of Loan Counseling. A recent report questions the effectiveness of mandated student loan counseling. The report was released by TG and the National Association of Student Financial Loan Administrators.
Budget Threatens to Freeze Pell Grants. Representatives from both chambers of Congress will soon meet to finalize the spending blueprint for FY 2016, and Pell Grant funding may be at stake during the process. The recently passed House budget would freeze Pell Grant allocations at the current level for 10 years. If frozen, Pell Grants on average would cover approximately 8% less of tuition costs at New England public institutions in 2025 than in 2015. The Senate budget did not include a Pell Grant freeze, instead calling for other cuts to mandatory Pell Grant funding.
Early Education Report. The U.S. Education Department recently released a report outlining the importance of early childhood education. According to an accompanying press release, the report shows that approximately 4 million 4-year-olds—about 60%—are not enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs.
Report Studies Bright Low-Income Students. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation recently released a report studying how states support academically talented low-income students. Included in the report were recommendations for policymakers on how to better support these students.
Feds Releases Cash Monitoring List. At the end of March, the U.S. Department of Education released the list of colleges whose financial aid it has restricted due to concerns about finances or federal compliance. This is the first time it has released such a list, as Inside Higher Ed reported.
Educators Sentenced for Inflating Standardized Test Scores. Eight Atlanta educators were sentenced to prison terms of up to seven years for their role in a cheating scandal that gained nationwide interest. Prosecutors said the group had agreed to boost students’ scores in an attempt to make failing schools look like they were improving, according to the New York Times.
Survey of Community College Presidents. Inside Higher Ed released a report detailing the views of two year community college presidents. The report shows the results of a survey conducted by Gallup Education which asked presidents about a variety of topics and issues they face. Notably, only 39% of the leaders felt that their state legislatures would back President Obama’s proposed free community college plan.
State of the State Addresses. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities recently published a summary of the higher education priorities mentioned by each governor in his or her 2015 State of the State Address. The organization also broke down which priorities got the most mentions. The topic of “economic and workforce development” took that prize, having been mentioned in 35 addresses.
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 April 20, 2015. 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.