DC Shuttle …
Gainful Employment On Hold? U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss issued a ruling striking down the Trump administration’s delay of implementation of gainful employment rules. He ruled that the U.S. Department of Education had no argument not to implement the rules as scheduled. He put this ruling on hold for 30 days and said the extra time would give the Education Department a second chance to come up with a justification for delaying the rules that passes legal muster. That 30-day hold ends on Oct. 12.
House Passes, President Signs Education Funding Bill. The House passed a spending package that includes funding for the Education Department. The legislation, which the Senate passed the previous week, includes several increases for programs such as Title I, special education, a big block grant that districts can use for creating safer schools and education technology, and charter schools grants, among others. President Donald Trump signed the bill, H.R. 6157. The Department of Education would get a $581 million increase in total funding, and programs for special education, career and technical education, and charter schools would also get more money. Education Department spending is set at nearly $71.5 billion for the upcoming fiscal year 2019 budget. The bill includes some restrictions on the Education Department’s overhaul of how the federal government collects student loans, thought the department says it will not affect their current plans for the overhaul.
Hearing on Campus Free Speech. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on policies on college campuses that could restrict free speech. Lawmakers were asked to support a proposal from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), introduced in February, called the Free Right to Expression in Education Act, S. 2394. The bill would ban the use of free speech zones. Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed to continue fighting campus policies that limit speech, the NY Times reports. “We must put an end to this nonsense. It is time to put a stake in its heart,” he said. The issue was also discussed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who said: “Too many administrators have been complicit in creating or facilitating a culture that makes it easier for the ‘heckler’ to win,” the Washington Post reported.
Department Selects Loan System Finalists. The Department of Education selected more than a dozen companies as finalists to develop key parts of the Trump administration’s planned overhaul of how the government collects student loans. The companies are moving ahead in the competitive bidding process that the agency is using to select contractors to build and operate the new system. The finalists include many of the existing federal student loan servicers: Nelnet; Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, which operates as FedLoan Servicing; Edfinancial Services; the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority; the Oklahoma Student Loan Authority; and the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority, which operates as CornerStone. Other finalists include: General Dynamics Information Technology Inc.; Infosys Public Services Inc.; Accenture Federal Services; IBM Corporation; Teleperformance; and Trellis Company, which was previously known as the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation.The department announced that in the most recent data, the 2015 national federal student loan cohort default rate decreased by 6.1% from the 2014 national rate.
ESSA Plans and State Report Card Design. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing on states implementation of their plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Education Department’s Office of Educational Technology and the nonprofit Data Quality Campaign (DQC) are teaming up for a “challenge” centered on designing new state report cards under ESSA. The Department writes in a blog post that “A key challenge is ensuring these digital report cards are user-friendly, engaging, and incorporate best practices for data visualization and human-centered design–a new approach for many states.” The Education Department and DQC are calling on experts to “design tools, templates, and other innovative solutions that will support states in tackling the ESSA data reporting requirements.” The challenge will be held Nov. 8 and 9. The department approved the ESSA plan proposed by the state of Florida. All 50 States, D.C .and Puerto Rico plans have now been approved.
Ed Reinstates For-Profit Accrediting Agency. The Department of Education wrote a letter to the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools letting them know that they would maintain status as an approved crediting agency, the Chronicle of Higher Education 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 Oct. 1, 2018. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.