Whiteboard Notes | New Federal Student Aid Chief; SXSW EDU; Trump Promises Action on Campus Free Speech

DC District Court Vacates Education Department’s Delay of Significant Disproportionality Rules: On Thursday, the District Court for Washington D.C. vacated a delay regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Education around the “significant disproportionality” rule. The decision stems from a decision by the Trump Administration to delay the implementation of a 2016 rule issued by the Obama Administration that gave guidance on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under IDEA, states are required to identify districts with "significant disproportionality" in special education—that is, when districts identify, place in more restrictive settings, or discipline children from any racial or ethnic group at markedly higher rates than their peers. The 2016 regulation set a common standard for states in identifying significant disproportionality in representation of students within special education, segregated school settings, and in receipt of disciplinary actions and required school districts where disproportionality is found to carefully review their policies and practices to determine root causes and whether changes are needed. The nonprofit civil rights organization, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), challenged this delay in court and the court ruled in their favor by vacating the delay and requiring the 2016 rules to go into effect. [DC District Court]
 
House Appropriations Labor-HHS-ED Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Loan Servicing: On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee held an oversight hearing on student loan servicing. The hearing came after the Department of Education Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report last month that, among other things, said the Federal Student Aid program was inadequately overseeing loan servicers, who violated rules that prevented borrowers from choosing favorable repayment plans or even paying the correct monthly amounts. The report further alleged that the Department had frequently uncovered problems with loan servicers but rarely penalized them. The subcommittee also plans to hold a hearing on for-profit colleges next week. [Roll Call]
 
ED Appoints New Federal Student Aid Chief: On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos,appointed Mark Brown to be the chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) at the Department of Education (ED). The division oversees the Department’s $1.5 trillion loan portfolio. Brown, who spent more than 32 years as a military service member and is a retired major general in the U.S. Air Force, will replace James Manning, who had been serving as the acting head of the unit since last year. Brown’s appointment ends a year-long search to replace Dr. A. Wayne Johnson, the previous head of the FSA who stepped down to focus on the Administration’s Next Generation (Next Gen) financial services platform. [Diverse Education]
 
President Trump Promises Executive Order on Campus Free Speech: Last weekend, President Trump declared he will be issuing an Executive Order on upholding free speech on college campuses. He made the declaration while delivering remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), during which he brought to the stage Hayden Williams, a conservative activist who was recently punched in the face while recruiting on the University of Berkeley campus for the conservative youth group Turning Point USA. A number of universities and higher education associations have issued responses saying that they strongly support freedom of expression on campuses, but that an Executive Order is not the necessary method of achieving that objective. [Inside Higher Education]
California Considers Tightening Regulations on Private Institutions: A series of bills were introduced last week in California that would tighten state regulatory authority over private institutions, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The measures target Trump Administration rollbacks of Obama-era regulations related to postsecondary institutions and would add financial protections for students at for-profit colleges. The bills would place restrictions on college programs if graduates cannot find good-paying jobs, limit aggressive recruiting measures and allow students to recoup more of their costs if their schools shut down. The bills are pending committee referral in the Assembly. [San Francisco Chronicle]
 
Virginia Enacts Requirements on School Counselors Time: Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has signed HB 1729 which requires school counselors to spend at least 80 percent of staff time during normal school hours in the direct counseling of individual students or groups of students. The new requirements go into effect on July 1.
Addition of Mental Health Professionals Improves Teacher Retention: After hiring a complete staff of mental health professionals, teacher retention at Fort Logan Northgate Elementary in Sheridan, Coloradoimproved by more than 50 percent and students have become more comfortable addressing mental health concerns. According to the National Association of Social Workers, all schools should have one social worker for every 250 students. While increases in  Northgate school staffing do not fully meet the recommendation, the addition of two interns, a school psychologist, and a behavioral teacher supplement the support of their two on-campus social workers. [Chalkbeat]
Report Finds Nonprofit Endowments Generate Poor Returns: According to new research from the National Bureau of Economic Research, college and university endowment funds generate significantly lower returns than other nonprofit endowment funds. Further, the researchers found that US nonprofit endowment funds underperformed overall when compared to the market, with nonprofit endowment returns lagging those of equity and bond indexes from 2009 to 2016.
 
Johns Hopkins Police Force Plan Faces Backlash: Johns Hopkins University’s plan to start a private force of armed police officers to improve security on its campuses has faced criticism from local residents and activists. Critics of the plan say that adding police officers that are accountable to the university and not to the public will exacerbate tensions in communities that are already mistrustful of police. Some see the university’s plan to launch a police force over another community action program as another example of the university ignoring local residents’ preferred plan. In contrast, supporters argue that Baltimore should accept every possible resource that might help to reduce violence, including a university police force. [The Chronicle of Higher Education, Subscription required]
 
UMass System Announces New Online College for Adult Learners: During his annual “State of the University” address on Monday, University of Massachusetts System president Martin Meehanannounced that the university system will create a seperate online institution designed for educating working students. Meehan said that the new institution is being launched in response to changing demographics that have had a significant impact on New England colleges and in an effort to compete with other institutions that are targeting working adults. [Inside Higher Ed]
  
Tips to Revamp Talent Recruiting: A piece in Inc. outlines how businesses can minimize employee turnover by revamping talent recruitment strategies. The four tips include: be genuine with job descriptions, consult with all department managers, utilize aptitude and assessment tests to make informed choices, and honestly evaluate what you offer potential employees as an employer. [Inc.]
 
Is the Tech Skills Gap Actually Shrinking? : A study conducted by Indeed reveals that labor shortages in the technology job market may not be as pronounced as employers think. Compared to recruitment in the overall market, it has become easier for employers to identify tech talent. A piece in Forbes suggests that this may indicate the tech skills gap is shrinking. [Bloomberg]
 
Younger Managers Are Redefining Workplace Norms: According to a new study from Inavero and Upwork, Millennials and their Gen Z counterparts are reshaping and shifting the future of the workforce in four major ways. These four shifts include increasing focus on self-development, remote working, freelance roles, and future-proofing strategies. [CNBC Make It]