Trump Admin Wrestles With Its HBCU Positions

DC Shuttle …

DeVos Visits HBCU, Trump Questions HBCU Funding. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited Bethune-Cookman University to deliver its commencement address. She was met with controversy as hundreds of graduating seniors booed and turned their backs on her, the NY Times reports. The Trump administration has had a rocky start with HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities). Last week, President Trump seemed to question the constitutionality of a federal financing program for HBCUs in his signing statement on the budget, the Washington Post reports. Presidents have used this approach to identify provisions they might disregard. On Sunday, Trump walked back that challenge and restated his “unwavering support” for the colleges.

Trump Says Year-Round Pell to Be in White House Budget Proposal. The Trump administration reportedly promised HBCU leaders that funding for year-round Pell Grants will be in the president’s 2018 budget proposal, which is expected in two weeks. The 2017 omnibus passed this month includes such funding through the end of September, but Trump’s “skinny budget” for 2018 had called for millions in cuts from the grant program’s surplus. It’s unclear how adding year-round Pell would alter pans for the surplus.

DeVos Questions HEA Reauthorization. Speaking at an education technology conference in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, DeVos called for big changes to the government’s approach to education. She said congressional lawmakers should “start afresh” on higher education, rather than reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA). The HEA is the federal law governing federal support for colleges and universities and sends roughly $150 billion to federal student loan and Pell Grant programs. Reauthorizing the HEA, which is a priority of both Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the chairs of the Congressional education committees. DeVos asked, “Why would we reauthorize an act that’s like fifty or sixty years old and that has continued to be amended?” Education Dive reports.

Trump Administration to Consolidate Federal Student Loan Servicing. The Trump administration has reported that it will move ahead with an Obama-era plan to select a loan-servicing company to build a new streamlined platform to collect all federal direct student loans. Education Department attorneys wrote last month in a document filed with the Government Accountability Office that the Trump administration plans to move forward to hire new loan-servicing companies. The document added that substantially different criteria would be used than what had been proposed under the Obama Administration. Navient, GreatNet Solutions LLC, and Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, the finalists selected for the contract last summer by the Obama administration “will be given an opportunity to revise and resubmit their proposals.”

Education and the Workforce Committee to Mark Up Perkins CTE Bill. The House Education and the Workforce Committee announced the Wednesday mark up of a bill that would update the federal law that provides support to state and local career and technical education programs, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The bill makes changes such as simplifying the form education providers fill out to apply for federal funds. It also increases from 10% to 15% the amount of federal funds states would be able to set aside to assist eligible students in rural areas or areas with a significant number of career and technical education students. Last summer, the House passed a similar bill by a vote of 405 to 8. That bill failed to pass the Senate, as Senate Democrats and Republicans disagreed over provisions that would have curtailed the education secretary’s authority. The bill to be marked up is similar to last year’s, but it makes changes such as extending the deadline for the education secretary to review state plans from 90 to 120 days. It also clarifies that states are to set their performance targets based on the process described in their state education plan.

Study on Teaching Teachers. The National Council on Teacher Quality says in a new study that three out of five undergraduate programs preparing high school teachers fail to teach certain subjects and methods for teaching those subjects. DeVos formally repealed controversial Obama-era regulations governing teacher-preparation programs. Trump in March signed into law a Congressional Review Act resolution that repeals the rules and blocks the Education Department from pursuing substantially similar ones in the future without action from Congress.

Campus Financial Products Rule. The administration is seeking public comment on the disclosure notices that providers of financial products marketed on college campuses will have to provide to prospective customers. The rules restrict the fees that such products may charge students, as well as their marketing on college campuses.

Trump Gives Commencement Address at Liberty University.

Trump was at Liberty University to deliver his first commencement address as president, the Liberty News reports.

Charter Schools Under ESSA. The Education Commission of the States released a report on how states are addressing charter schools in their ESSA plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

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 May 15, 2017. For more information, please visit:




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