UN Panel Says U.S. Should Address Racial Inequality in Schools

DC Shuttle …

UN Panel Assesses Race in U.S. Schools. The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent recommended several changes to U.S. schools following a 10-day visit to several U.S. cities to assess the African American educational experience. The working group questioned the practice of stationing police officers in schools and called on leaders to reform or repeal laws allowing police to arrest students in schools for minor offenses, such as disturbing the peace. The group also recommended the creation of national guidelines to address racial inequality in schools. Read the working group’s statement here.

House Oversight Committee Investigates Department of Education Official. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing to investigate Danny Harris, the U.S. Department of Education’s chief information officer. Harris has been accused of ethical lapses, as well as failing to properly secure the department’s information systems. The hearing was scheduled after the inspector general reported to the committee late last year that the department’s IT systems, which store the social security numbers of almost 140 million people, were vulnerable to “serious security threats” and had “longstanding weaknesses.” Additionally, the IG found that Harris had been operating a side business using government resources, and had been on a panel that awarded a contract to one of his close friends. Harris was questioned by the committee for more than three hours. He collapsed outside after the hearing, but was stable by the end of the day. Acting Secretary of Education John King testified to the committee that Harris had received ethics counseling, but that he did not see a need for Harris to leave his position. The Chronicle of Higher Education has more on the hearing.

President Unveils Computer Science Education Initiative. President Obama announced his Computer Science for All Initiative, aimed at expanding K-12 computer science education. As part of the initiative, Obama will ask Congress for $4 billion in funding for computer science education in states as part of his budget. He will also ask for $100 million to go directly to school districts to increase access to computer science courses. “In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill—it’s a basic skill, right along with [reading, writing, and arithmetic],'” the president said. NPR has more on the initiative.

Senator Pens Campus Sexual Assault Op-Ed. U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) penned an op-ed for The Huffington Post calling on Congress to take action on campus sexual assault.

This Week in ESSA: Department of Education Releases Testing Guidance. The Department of Education released guidance to states on how to improve testing. The guidance encouraged states and districts to make sure their tests are worth taking, are high quality, and don’t take up too much time. The guidance also made it clear that states and districts can use federal funding to examine and improve testing. Read more in Education Week.

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. 8, 2016. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.



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