DC Shuttle …
Administration announces grants for aligning education with jobs. The Obama administration announced a new initiative to encourage academic credit for apprenticeships, Inside Higher Ed reported. President Obama announced that 24 awards, totaling $107 million, will be given across the country to partnerships of education agencies, workforce investment boards, universities and corporations to align education with employment. One grant, worth $4.9 million, will be given to Boston-based Jobs for the Future, CBS reported.
School employee background check bill rejected in Senate. An effort to pass legislation regarding background checks for school employees was suggested and rejected in the Senate. Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) sought unanimous consent to pass the bill (S. 1596) which would require states to conduct background checks on school employees in order to receive federal funding. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, objected, saying the bill should go through the committee process. The House passed a similar bill (H.R. 2083) by voice vote in October.
House committee reports research and charter school bills. The House Education and the Workforce Committee passed two bills with bipartisan support. The Education Sciences Reform Act (H.R. 4366) reauthorizes and updates federal education research programs. The committee passed the legislation by voice vote which would direct the Institute of Education Sciences to streamline the efforts of their four research centers and increase privacy protections for education data. The committee also approved 36-3 a bill (H.R. 10) that would combine two existing federal charter school programs and allow states to use the funding to expand and replicate high-quality charter schools. Under the bill, the Education Department would combine the Charter Schools Program, which gives grants to states to open charter schools, and the Charter School Credit Enhancement Program, which assists schools in acquiring better credit terms for facilities. Both bills are expected to get a vote in the House after the mid-April recess.
Secretary Duncan testifies on education budget proposal. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS and Education held a hearing on the administration’s proposed education budget, hearing testimony from Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Lawmakers questioned the department’s proposals to increase funding for competitive grant programs at the expense of longstanding formula education grants. The Department of Education’s budget would increase competitive grants by 6.9% but cut formula grants by 4.9%, said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).
Senate HELP committee debates pre-K. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing on the Strong Start for America’s Children Act (S. 1697). Committee Chair Harkin said he is willing to work with senators to improve the bill he introduced in November and hopes to get Republican support ahead of a markup next month. The bill would create new competitive and formula grants to help states create and expand preschool programs for 4-year-olds from families at up to 200% of the federal poverty line. A House companion bill (H.R. 3461) has two Republican co-sponsors.
House budget proposes education changes. Government Executive reports that the budget passed by the House of Representatives would eliminate funding for the federal student loan repayment program, which permits agencies to repay the federally insured student loans of their employees. The Republican proposal would eliminate mandatory funding for the Pell Grant program, maintain the maximum grant award of $5,730 for the duration of the 10-year proposal, call for the consideration of an income cap for Pell eligibility and eliminate eligibility for students attending school less than half-time. It also would eliminate the existing subsidy for undergraduates’ student loan interest while they are in school. The budget House Democrats released would call for increased funding for preschool and higher education. The Democrats’ proposal calls for increased spending on college affordability and competition initiatives, full funding for Pell Grants and expanded refinance and repayment options for student loans.
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 April 14, 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.