Federal Policy & Reform
Educators have been wading through a sea of conflicting messages from President Trump’s administration about undocumented immigrants, trying to figure out how best to serve these students without breaking the law.
Alyson Klein of Education Week and Andrew Kreighbaum of Inside Higher Ed discuss recent developments on the federal policy front, and what’s been a busy month for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The Education Department has hit the “pause button” on regulations aimed at reining in for-profit colleges, announced plans to scale back civil rights investigations, and suggested federal scrutiny of state accountability plans for K-12 education could be more forceful than some people — particularly Republicans — were expecting.
In recent months, millions of dollars in donations have rained down upon journalism organizations, prompted by President Trump’s verbal attacks on the news media and citizen support for the press’s role in America’s democracy. That’s been great news for worthy recipients such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, ProPublica and others. But one tiny outfit, working out of a windowless Washington office, has not benefited.
Cory Turner discusses the NPR education team’s deep dive into school vouchers, with a focus on Indiana, home to the largest voucher program in the nation. Among NPR’s findings: less than 1 percent of participating students transferred out of public schools that had been labeled by the state as low performers, and many students using vouchers were already attending private schools. With school choice as a centerpiece to President Trump’s education policy agenda, what does the evidence show when it comes to academic outcomes for students using vouchers?
Confusion and uncertainty. Gridlock and disagreement.
No, we’re not just talking about the political machinations on Capitol Hill. It’s also a pretty good characterization of the discussion on “The Changing Politics of Higher Education” at the 2017 Education Writers Association seminar at Georgetown University.
Jennifer Pignolet of the Commercial Appeal checks on the closure of an AmeriCorps program called City Year in Memphis, which is wrapping up a pilot year at Brownsville and Westside Achievement Middle, a state-run school in Frayser.
The Trump administration released a 2018 budget proposal Tuesday that delivered on expectations for drastic cuts to student aid programs and university-based research while substantially reshaping federal student loan programs.
Emma Brown of The Washington Post discusses President Trump’s budget proposal for education, with fresh analysis of the priorities and politics behind the line items. She also explains the prospects in the GOP-led Congress for the Trump plan. Overall, the president’s budget envisions deep cuts to the U.S. Department of Education budget, even as he wants to step up federal aid for school choice. Which education programs are up for major cuts or outright elimination and why? How do some of the largest programs, like Title I aid for disadvantaged students and Pell grants, fare?
The semester is winding down and summer is coming, but don’t get too excited about that recently passed summer Pell budget – it looks like it won’t become a reality for most students until summer of 2018.
Educators cheered a budget extension passed by Congress last month, which restored “year-round” Pell. The change is huge for low-income students, who can now get summer college courses covered by the needs-based federal financial aid program. That can make it more likely that they’ll graduate.
Millions of U.S. parents have taken out loans from the government to help their children pay for college. Now a crushing bill is coming due. Hundreds of thousands have tumbled into delinquency and default. In the process, many have delayed retirement, put off health expenses and lost portions of Social Security checks and tax refunds to their lender, the federal government.
The U.S. Senate education committee has been able to work together on bipartisan legislation in the past. But will early disputes jeopardize lawmakers’ ability to come to the table?
Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen said Thursday the information of up to 100,000 taxpayers may have been stolen in a security breach of an online tool used to apply for federal student aid.
Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, Koskinen said the IRS identified suspicious activity in the files of people who were using a “data retrieval tool” as they filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. FAFSA is the form the government and colleges use to determine financial aid for millions of students.
Year-Round Pell’s Likely Return
Congress and White House Appear to Back Return of Year-Round Pell in Upcoming Budget Bill
Many more college students soon may be able to use Pell Grants to pay for summer courses, with the likely return of so-called year-round Pell.
Republican leaders in the U.S. Congress and the Trump White House back the reinstatement of year-round Pell eligibility, according to a wide range of sources. However, increased spending on the grants, which experts have estimated at $2 billion per year, likely would be offset by a cut of at least $1.2 billion to Pell’s current surplus of $10.6 billion.
This week, a school district in Fort Worth, Texas passed a resolution declaring their school district “welcoming and safe” for all undocumented students in response to calls from parents and students who feared being deported.
President Donald Trump’s first budget blueprint begins to flesh out the areas in which he sees an important federal role in education — most notably expanding school choice — and those he doesn’t. At the same time, it raises questions about the fate of big-ticket items, including aid to improve teacher quality and support after-school programs.
A recent analysis by Lauren Fitzpatrick and Andrea Salcedo of the Chicago Sun-Times found that of $46 million in budget cuts, on average, Hispanic schools lost 1.8 percent, African-American schools 1.6 percent and white schools only 0.8 percent of their funding.
The presidential election pushed grassroots proposals to make public college free into the mainstream. But should these plans stay there? And if so, in what form, now that the most prominent supporters of those proposals lost the race for the White House?
Kimberly Hefling of Politico discusses the new U.S. secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, who was confirmed Tuesday after Vice President Mike Pence was called in to break a 50-50 tie in the Senate. What will be her top priorities moving forward? How aggressively will the new secretary push school choice, and how likely is President Trump’s $20 billion school choice plan to gain traction? Has DeVos lost political capital during the bruising confirmation process? Was she held to a higher standard than other nominees for President Trump’s cabinet? And how much power will the Republican mega-donor have to roll back the Obama administration’s education policies and initiatives?
During his time in office, President Obama substantially altered the landscape of postsecondary education, from making the federal government the direct lender of student loans to changing the climate for how colleges address allegations of sexual assault. Journalists who cover federal policy on higher education offer insights and story ideas about issues to track, from the regulation of for-profit colleges to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.