House Starts Overturning Obama Regs, Targets Ed Dept as New Secretary Begins Work

DC Shuttle …

House Approves Bills to Limit Role of Ed Dept. and ESSA. Under the Congressional Review Act, the House voted to overturn to Obama administration regulations. The House passed two resolutions to end department regulations dealing with state assessments (H.J. Res. 57) and teacher-preparation programs (H.J. Res. 58). H.J. Res. 57, which passed 234-190, would nullify an Education Department rule that requires states to define, subsequently monitor and intervene with schools deemed to be low-performing schools. H.J. Res. 58, which passed 240-181, would nullify an Education Department rule that requires states to annually evaluate the effectiveness of teacher-preparation programs at higher education institutions. Both measures now head to the Senate, and the White House announced that President Donald Trump would sign them. A separate bill (H.R. 899) was introduced in the House to completely eliminate the Education Department, the Hill reports.

DeVos Confirmed, Starts Work as Education Secretary. The Senate approved the nomination of Betsy DeVos to serve as education secretary. The Senate vote was tied 50-50, with Republicans Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) joining Democrats in voting against DeVos. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in support of DeVos, the first time that has been done to confirm a cabinet official. DeVos arrived at the Education Department on Wednesday for her first day on the job and addressed employees. In her comments, DeVos called for unity and cooperation, focusing on her willingness to learn from the long-time employees of the department and do anything to help students. “I will challenge all on how and why we’ve done things a certain way, but I will listen to each of you on your ideas for how we can do better for students,” DeVos said during her 10-minute address. Referenced criticism she got for suggesting schools could use guns to protect against grizzles, she said: “For me personally, this confirmation process and the drama it has engendered has been a bit of a bear.” DeVos then visited Howard University with Omarosa Manigault, the reality TV personality and director of communications for Trump’s Office of Public Liason Office of Public Liaison in the Trump White Hous  to meet with University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick. She also visited a D.C. public middle school, Jefferson Academy, in Southwest Washington, where she was confronted by protesters who temporarily barred her from entering the building. The Washington Post ran a story about how she might impact higher education.

HBCU Executive Order Imminent. The Trump administration is set to issue an executive order on historically black colleges and universities, reported Manigault, who is spearheading the effort. Congressional Republicans are scheduled to meet with leaders from the nation’s 100-plus HBCUs at the end of the month to discuss how the colleges and universities can work with the federal government and corporations, the Associated Press reports.

House Committee Holds Higher Education Hearing. The House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing on challenges and opportunities in higher education. The hearing focused on ways to strengthen the nation’s system of higher education as lawmakers gear up to begin working on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Sanders Gives Higher Ed Interview. Former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) discussed free college and higher education under a Trump presidency with The New York Times.

State Funding to Higher Ed Increases.  The annual study by the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association found that state spending on higher education increased for the 2016-17 fiscal year in most states.

School Funding in New Hampshire Under New Governor. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu proposed a budget that includes more money for full-day kindergarten, according to the Union Leader and the Associated Press. The Concord Monitor reports on the governor’s possible approach to school choice.

School Funding in Connecticut. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy proposed reworking the education funding formula in the state. The plan would change the way poverty is determined, and separate out special education funding, the Connecticut Post reports.

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. 13, 2017. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.

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