DC Shuttle …
Executive Order Extends Presidential Commissions on Education. President Trump signed an executive order extending three presidential advisory commissions on education until Sept. 30, 2019. All three had been set to expire over the weekend. Trump’s order extends the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
Bill Signed to Help Schools After Hurricanes. Trump signed into law a bill (S. 1866) aimed at helping colleges and schools that were harmed by the recent hurricanes. The U.S. Education Department will now be permitted to waive a requirement that colleges contribute matching funds in the Federal Work Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant programs. The bill also requires the department to re-allocate remaining funds in those programs to colleges located in areas damaged by the hurricanes. It also allows private schools to access grants under the Project School Emergency Response to Violence program, which assists school districts or colleges affected by traumatic events.
Revised FAFSA Tool Becomes Available. The Education Department launched a revised version of the form for applying for federal student aid after it was taken off line due to security concerns. The New York Times reports. The department says an online tool for retrieving IRS data for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is now available again.
North Carolina Joins Partnership with Western Governors University. North Carolina will partner with Western Governors University (WGU), a Utah-based online nonprofit provider of competency-based education, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest announced last week. The state appropriated $2 million and the university raised $5 million to get the partnership going. WGU North Carolina is expected to be self-sustaining on tuition, however, and not require ongoing state funding. The announcement comes just weeks after the Education Department’s inspector general concluded, after several years of investigation, that WGU’s academic model did not qualify for federal student aid.
Career and Technical Education. Trump nominated Michigan state Rep. Timothy Kelly to be assistant secretary of the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education at the Education Department. There’s little information available on the effectiveness of career and technical training, Brian Jacob writes in a new Brookings report. He found just two experimental studies aimed at understanding the causal impact of career technical education (CTE) programs, although 39 states passed 125 new laws, policies or regulations relating to CTE in 2015 alone. Jacob highlights one recent study of programs in Massachusetts that found that low-income students are 32% more likely to graduate if they attend a regional vocational and technical high school.
Ivanka Trump Encourages Early STEM. Ivanka Trump wrote a piece in the New York Post arguing that students need to begin learning about technology as early as kindergarten. In the piece, the president’s daughter emphasized the administration’s support for STEM fields, including a memorandum the president signed last month directing at least $200 million a year toward science and technology grants through the Education Department
Student Debt Default Data. New data from the National Center for Education Statistics suggests students with the lowest student loan debt tend to default more than students who carry more debt.
Senate HELP Hearing on ESSA. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing and heard from three state education leaders on how they’re adjusting their perspectives under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA plans for Louisiana, Tennessee and New Mexico have been praised and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has approved all three plans. While HELP Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) praised the three state education officials, Democrats said details in those states’ plans could lead to groups of students, such as low-income students or students with disabilities, being overlooked.
NH and AZ ESSA Testing Under Spotlight. Former U.S. Rep. John Kline says he’d like to meet with DeVos about implementation of the ESSA in Arizona and New Hampshire. The former Republican chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce helped pass the ESSA in 2015, and in a letter to DeVos, said testing laws in the two states are not in accordance with the federal law. The law requires that states administer annual, uniform, statewide tests for students in grades 3-8, with some flexibility in high school.
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. 10, 2017. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.