Whiteboard Notes | Perkins Reauthorization Awaits Trump’s Signature; Democrats Introduce Higher Ed Bill; California Considers ISA Pilot

Democrats Introduce Higher Ed Bill Introduced in House: A bill aimed to make college moreaffordable by streamlining financial aid and reducing debt was introduced by Democratic representatives this week. The bill is viewed as Committee Democrats’ wish list for higher education reform including measures that increase Pell Grants, hold for-profit institutions to more stringent oversight, and allow Americans access to free two-year community colleges. The text clearly rebuts the PROSPER Act, which seeks to reduce the federal government’s role in the financing of higher education and was reported out of Committee to the full House on a party-line vote in December 2017.
Reauthorization of Perkins Act Awaits Trump’s Signature: Congress has approved the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and sent the bill to be signed by President Trump, who applauded the passage of the bipartisan bill. Last updated in 2006, the bill is the largest source of federal funding for public high schools with grants totalling more than $1 billion to build and support CTE in high schools. One of the key updates is a requirement for schools to make such programs fit with the needs of the local communities.  Additionally, the Education Secretary and states will no longer need to negotiate individual states’ goals; rather, the secretary will simply be responsible for approving plans that meet the law’s standards. This change was made to appease Senators on both sides who had expressed concern over agency power.
Proposed Rewrite of Borrower Defense Regulations Published: The Trump Administration’s proposed rewrite of Obama Administration rules that established requirements for students seeking federal loan forgiveness. Among other shifts, which are anticipated to increase the burden of proof for student borrowers, the proposed rules require that  students demonstrate that a school knowingly deceived them. The rules also require students to prove such claims as individuals rather than as a group, a measure opponents argue disproportionately affects vulnerable students.
Office of Federal Student Aid Releases Mobile-Friendly FAFSA: Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of Education upgraded to a mobile-friendly website for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications.  The Office of Federal Student Aid, an office within the Department of Education, also released a beta version of an app they plan to unroll in October in preparation for 2019-2020 applications.
Department of Education Investigating Temple University: Temple University’s online MBA program has come under scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Education after reports revealed that the public university recruitment strategy involved deceptive marketing strategies. This comes as a blow to the program which has been rated the best online MBA program by U.S. News and World Report for the past four years. In January, it became public that employees had inflated students’ test scores for the sake of rankings.


California Considers Income Share Agreement Pilot Program: bill that would require the California State University and the University of California to establish an income share agreement (ISA) pilot program is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 6. Under the program, students could commit to pay a specified percentage of their future annual income to a participating campus in place of paying the cost of attendance upon enrollment. According to the legislation, the CSU and UC systems must select one campus each to participate in the pilot, which would start in the 2020–21 academic year. Implementation of the program is contingent on appropriated funding.
FY 2019 Budget Bill Delivered to Massachusetts Governor: Massachusetts lawmakers have agreed on a FY 2019 appropriations bill, which now awaits action from Governor Charlie Baker (R). Governor Baker, who has line-item veto power, must act on the bill by July 28 or it becomes law without signature. The conference committee budget added $340 million in proposed appropriations based on increased tax revenue, bringing the total budget to $41.88 billion.
KentuckyMontanaNevadaNorth Dakota, and Utah are currently posting 2019 bill drafts, prefiles and interim studies.

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Anti-Test Fervor Lessens in the Face of ESSA: Push back against national standardized tests is on thedecline since the implementation of ESSA. According to an article by Education Week, the lull in the conversation is due in part to the fact that federal regulations around ESSA are unlikely to change anytime soon and that ESSA has allowed states to define school accountability beyond standardized test scores.
Social Skills in Kindergarten Linked to Future Success:  The results of a new longitudinal study, conducted over 20 years, revealed that kindergarteners who were observed as being more helpful and generous were more likely to be successful by the age of 25, in comparison to their peers who lacked social skills in kindergarten. This study is sure to bolster calls for increased high-quality early education and social-emotional learning.
States Look to Expand Civics Education: In the last legislative session, 27 states considered bills to increase teacher training and curriculum standards around civics education. Washington, for example, approved a new high school civics course, expanded teacher training, and added lessons covering all levels of government into the K-12 curriculum. Other states, including Florida and Missouri, have added civics requirements to state higher education guidelines.


Koch Foundation Agrees to Publish University Grants: The Charles Koch Foundation has agreed topublish all future university grants, along with its internal statement of giving principles and a framework for how it accepts grant request, determines awards, and measures the impact of gifts. This decision was put in place after public criticism from faculty and students attending grant-receiving universities and colleges around the country.
New Study Says That Passions Are Made, Not Found: Psychologists from Stanford University and Yale-NUS College have completed research suggesting that passions are not inherent, but are cultivated through experience. Those who focus too narrowly on one specific topic may not develop knowledge in other potential areas of interest.
Private Colleges Under Stress: Private college campus closures have risen to a rate of 11 per-year, according to findings from a new report published by Moody’s Investors Service. Additionally, the rate is expected to increase due to falling tuition revenue and rising expenses. To avoid these pitfalls, several struggling private colleges are weighing the options to either merge or significantly cut programs.