Whiteboard Notes | Department of Ed Rolls Back Gainful Regs; Trump and Workforce Development; Texas Budget Increases Financial Aid

Congress & Administration

Education Department Requests Additional Information on State ESSA Plans: The U.S. Department of Education has requested additional information from Delaware, Nevada, and New Mexico before approving the states’ Every Student Succeeds Act plans. In the letter to Delaware, the Department suggested that the state rethinks the ambitiousness of its proposed student achievement goals. Officials also questioned whether states’ plans to use Advanced Placement tests as a measure of college and career readiness because the tests aren’t offered at every school. The three states have 15 days to respond to the Department’s requests.
 
Department of Education Announces Plans to Delay, Renegotiate Regulations: On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education announced plans to delay and renegotiate the borrow “defense to repayment” rule and the gainful employment rule. Under the gainful employment rule, which was introduced in 2011 and made final in 2014, programs ‘pass’ if the annual loan payments of graduates are not greater than 20 percent of discretionary income or 8 percent of total earnings. Any program that exceeds these is considered to be ‘at risk’ of losing the ability to participate in federal student aid programs. The defense to repayment regulation, originally set to take effect July 1, allows borrowers who say they have been defrauded by their colleges a simpler process for having their loans forgiven by the federal government.
 
Trump Administration Hosts Workforce Development Week: The Trump administration dubbed this week “Workforce Development Week,” with events planned throughout the week to encourage schools and companies to partner on apprenticeship and workforce training programs. On Tuesday, President Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump traveled to Waukesha Technical College in Wisconsin to tour classrooms and the college’s manufacturing center. They also hosted a roundtable with students and local businesses during the visit. Ivanka Trump led a roundtable on workforce development with 15 CEOs -- including leaders of Siemens, Cigna, CVS, Accenture, and an SVP from Amazon on Wednesday. The president was also planned to give a speech at the Department of Labor and sign an executive order that would eliminate federal oversight of federally supported apprenticeship programs and propose to double the amount of funding for apprenticeship grants. However, the event was canceled due to the shooting in Virginia earlier that day. Today, President Trump and Ivanka Trump hosted a roundtable on workforce development with Vice President Mike Pence and eight governors.
 
House Passes Energy and Manufacturing Workforce Training Bill: On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. R. 338, “A Bill to Promote a 21st Century Energy and Manufacturing Workforce.” The bill directs the Department of Energy to prioritize grants that promote the training workers in the energy and manufacturing industries. H. R. 338 also instructs the Department of Energy to prioritize programs that serve underrepresented groups, such as minorities, women, or veterans, and to establish a clearinghouse for information about new programs and job training opportunities. However, this bill does not authorize any new funding for grants, but rather only directs how grants should be allocated.
 

States, Districts, & Colleges

Kentucky Considers New State Accountability System: The Kentucky Board of Education is consideringa new proposed state accountability system that would rate the state’s schools and districts on performance from one to five stars. The proposed system would assess indicators including student proficiency, academic growth, and readiness, as well as whether schools are eliminating achievement gaps and ensuring equal access for all students to programming. The latest proposal, which the board read for the first time last week, includes goals around increasing student proficiency and decreasing the achievement gap by 2030. 
 
Districts Sue the State of New Mexico, State Dept. of Ed Reduces Time Spent on Testing: Seven school districts and a group of parents are suing the state of New Mexico, arguing that the state’s public education system fails to provide sufficient funding and enrichment opportunities to all students. The trial for the lawsuit began on Monday, and arguments from the plaintiffs have focused on unmet needs of Native American students, low-income students, and English language learners. The start of the trial follows the New Mexico Department of Education’s recent decision to reduce time spent on annual standardized tests.
 
NYC Charter Network Launches Portal to Share Curriculum and PD Resources: New York City’s largest charter school network, Success Academy, has launched a portal to provide free access to the network’s curriculum and teacher development resources. The online platform, called the Success Academy Education Institute, is designed to share the lessons learned and best practices of Success Academy with educators outside the charter network. Through the platform, educators can access the network’s literacy curriculum for students in grades K-4, as well as receive invitations to workshops, conferences, and training sessions hosted by Success Academy.
 
Pennsylvania Legislature Considers Long-Term Study of State Higher Ed Institutions: Pennsylvania lawmakers have introduced legislation calling for a study of the long-term viability and sustainability of the state’s institutions of higher education. The resolution calls for the legislature’s Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to assess a variety of metrics -- including revenue, expenses, debt, affordability, and potential for improved efficiencies, among others -- at each of the state’s public institutions of higher education. The resolution is currently pending in the House Education Committee.
 
Texas Budget Increases Funding for Financial Aid: Texas’ current state budget awaiting Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature would increase funding for financial aid to help students attend four-year colleges by 10 percent. This year, about 15 percent of students who qualified for the Toward Excellence, Access and Success Grant (TEXAS Grant) did not receive financial aid due to a lack of state funding. Legislators hope the budget increase will cut the share of students not receiving aid by half next year.