Post-Election Capital Lurches Back to Ed Work

DC Shuttle …

DOE issues No Child Left Behind waiver renewal guidance. The Education Department released new guidance on waiver renewal for the No Child Left Behind Act. Under these guidelines, states wishing to extend their waivers will be able to, for up to four years, after adequately showing how they plan to identify and intervene in low-performing schools. The Education Department has unveiled a few new requirements to receive a waiver. An emphasis has been made on the achievement of “subgroup students”—children in special education, English-language learners, racial minorities and disadvantaged children. States must now show that they have plans in place to address schools that are missing achievement targets for these subgroups, and schools with big achievement gaps will no longer be able to receive the highest rating in their state system. States must also detail the “rigorous interventions” used to improve low-performing schools and those with large achievement gaps. While many civil rights groups are pleased with the new rules, teacher and education groups are disappointed that the department did not do more to reduce testing, and many congressional Republicans consider the guidance to be federal overreach. Currently, 40 states, along with Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, operate under waivers.

Child care bill moves forward in Senate. Senators took a significant step toward completing work on a child care bill, leading the way to a possible vote on final passage this week. The Senate voted 96-1 to invoke cloture on a bill (S. 1086) that would overhaul the Child Care and Development Block Grant. The bill would require new health, safety and educational standards for the program, which assists low-income families in paying for child care for more than 1.5 million children under the age of 13. The bill was passed by the Senate in March, with an amended version passed in the House in September. The program, which directs about $5.5 billion annually to states, has not been reauthorized since 1996. Final passage has been delayed since September by Sen. Patrick Toomey, (R-PA) who has placed a hold on the bill. Sen. Toomey says he supports the program, but has refused to allow for a unanimous agreement vote until the Senate votes on a proposal that would require background checks for school employees at the elementary and secondary levels as well (H.R. 2083). Read more in The Hill.

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 Nov. 17, 2014.

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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