Whiteboard Notes | ESSA Title IV, Part A; Senate Passes LHHS-ED Funding Bill; CA Community Colleges Request an Extra $488 Million

Senate Passes LHHS-ED Funding Bill: On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed, in a 93-7 vote, a “minibus” spending bill for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education for fiscal year 2019. The bill, which still needs to be passed by the House of Representatives and signed by the President, would increase the budget of the U.S. Department of Education by $581 million over current levels. W/A’s David DeSchryver prepared an update on how various federal education spending programs would be affected. [Senate Appropriations Committee]
Judge Gives ED Chance to Justify Delay of Borrower’s Defense to Repayment: On Monday, a U.S. District Judge formally struck down a decision by the U.S. Department of Education to delay “Borrowers Defense to Repayment,” a policy implemented by the Obama Administration designed to help defrauded students discharge their loans. The Department of Education has until October 12 to show justification for their delay, at which point the Obama-era rules will go into effect until this Department finalizes a new set of rules. [Inside Higher Education]
ESSA To Be Spotlighted in Senate Hearing Next Week: On Tuesday, September 25, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The hearing will highlight how states are utilizing the flexibility afforded by the law to improve student outcomes and close achievement gaps. Witnesses include state education officials from Nebraska, Delaware, and South Carolina, along with the President of Education Reform Now. [HELP Committee]


Grade Inflation Rises Among Affluent Students: A new study released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found that grade inflation occurs more often at schools attended by more affluent students, widening the GPA gap. Seth Gershensen, associate professor at American University, who conducted the research attributes the results to affluent parents who have the social advantage and confidence to push back on their children’s grades as well as assertive students. [US News]
Universal Free Lunch Linked to Reduction in Multiple Suspensions: The National Bureau of Economic Research found that the number of students receiving multiple suspensions reduced over time in schools that adopted free and reduced lunch for the entire student body. The researchers believe the reduction in suspensions could be due to the fact that all children are well nourished, or also because the social stigma associated with free meals is removed when all children receive free lunch. [Chalkbeat]


California Community Colleges Request an Extra $488 Million: According to EdSource, the California Community College system is requesting an extra $488 million in funding. The extra funding would support the system’s “Vision for Success” plan to ’improve student graduation, transfer rates, and certificate completion. . Budget negotiations between the college system, the Legislature, and Governor’s office are currently in the beginning phases. [EdSource]
Rice University Eliminates Tuition for Low-Income and Middle-Class Students: In hopes of reducing student debt, Rice University is providing free tuition to undergraduate students whose families have incomes between $65,000 and $130,000. If a students' family income is below $65,000 Rice will not only cover tuition, but also provide grants to cover room and board, along with other fees. The financial aid offering is  part of a new plan called the Rice Investment, which will begin in the fall of 2019. [NPR]