Federal Policy & Reform
When Arizona State University transitioned to online-only classes in March, Ja’Mya Williams’s grades began to fall.
Without a laptop, the campus library, and her after-class tutoring, the freshman biological-sciences major was forced to complete her assignments on her cellphone or at her friend’s house, and struggled to keep up with her honors-level courses.
During most of the Trump administration’s tenure, the U.S. Department of Education, led by Betsy DeVos, has worked to limit student debt cancellation for borrowers who say they were scammed by their schools.
The agency scored a win in that effort Friday, when Democrats failed to muster enough votes to override President Trump’s veto of a bill that would have overturned the Department’s approach to student debt cancellation under what’s known as the “borrower defense” rule.
The U.S. Department of Education is making it harder for colleges to reconsider — and potentially increase — financial aid for students who have lost jobs or family income in the current economic crisis.
Topics on the table: The issue of liability waivers, an at-risk faculty, the costs of implementing social distancing measures, and the necessity and economic pressure to have in-person classes.
EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat.
This multi-day conference is designed to give participants the skills, understanding, and inspiration to improve their coverage of education at all levels. It also will deliver a lengthy list of story ideas. We will offer numerous sessions on important education issues, as well as on journalism skills.
After $14 billion was set aside for higher education in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, Houston Community College and the Paul Mitchell Schools both got financial relief.
The Houston college, a public institution with nearly 60,000 students, received $28.3 million. The for-profit hair and cosmetology schools received $30.5 million, despite serving only 20,000 students.
The CARES Act money was meant to help low-income students and the schools that serve them.
College dorms are closed. Athletic events are canceled. Classes have moved online. Like so many sectors of the U.S. economy, higher education is taking a hit from the coronavirus pandemic. In March, Congress set aside more than $14 billion to help colleges and universities weather the outbreak. Here’s where most of that money has gone and why many colleges are holding out for more:
Live Hearings And Cross Examinations: How Texas Universities Will Adjust to New Sexual Misconduct Policies
A new set of regulations from the U.S. Department of Education will change how colleges and universities handle sexual misconduct. For some Texas schools, the changes will be harder to adjust to than others.
The federal regulations, released May 6, are the result of about three years of efforts by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to rescind Obama-era practices and implement new standards for addressing sexual misconduct on college campuses under Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination.
When the novel coronavirus forced colleges and universities to abruptly send students and faculty home for the semester, vulnerable students scrambled to continue their studies amid financial stress, and schools reeled from housing refunds and other lost revenue.
Enter Congress with a $14 billion lifeline.
Schools, anticipating a deepening economic crisis, had lobbied for more, but they still welcomed the support. And they hoped for swift and clear guidance from the Education Department, which Congress tasked with dispensing funding as quickly as possible.
While emergency grants for colleges and their students from the CARES Act have gotten much attention in the past few weeks, that funding isn’t the only stream of new federal money headed for higher education.
The U.S. Department of Education also is planning to distribute $127.5 million as part of its Reimagining Workforce Preparation grant program. But the department so far has released scant information about what sort of programs the grants should be used to fund, and through what sort of institutions.
Higher Education in 2020
Looming Supreme Court decision on DACA, new rules for college admissions, lead Associated Press’ reporter’s list
(EWA Radio: Episode 226)
While it’s a new calendar year, plenty of familiar issues are carrying over from 2019 on the higher education beat, says reporter Collin Binkley of The Associated Press. Many of the biggest headline-grabbers this year are likely to center on admissions – the process of deciding who gets into what college. To settle a federal anti-trust case, colleges recently scrapped old rules that limited what they could do to compete for applicants. Now, a potential admissions marketing free-for-all will create new winners and losers. The Trump Administration’s policies against immigration, and tensions with countries such as Iran can’t help but impact foreign students interested in studying in the U.S. And the growing trend by colleges to drop application requirements for ACT and SAT test scores could also mean big changes to college access.
Teachers Fight for Student Loan Debt Relief
NPR investigation finds thousands of borrowers wrongly denied federal forgiveness
(EWA Radio: Episode 217)
Two federal programs intended to steer college students toward public service jobs like teaching in high-poverty schools instead became mired in missteps, as recipients found their grants wrongly converted into high-interest loans. Cory Turner of NPR’s education team spent 18 months looking at problems with the TEACH Grant program.
The push for free college is a recognition that the most well-traveled economic path to good jobs and the middle class requires at least some college for the vast majority of young Americans. It is also a response to the reality that many students and their families are taking on large amounts of debt to finance increasingly pricey postsecondary educations.
If DACA Ends, What Happens to Students and Schools?
Final decision pending after U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on program for undocumented children
(EWA Radio: Episode 138)
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). The program has temporarily protected some 800,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children from being deported. While a key focus is college-age students who fear deportation, ending DACA has significant repercussions for the K-12 school community as well. In this 2017 episode of EWA Radio, soon after Trump announced his plans to unwind DACA, Corey Mitchell of Education Week and Katie Mangan of The Chronicle of Higher Education discussed the potential implications.
Many Political Battles Over Higher Education Boil Down to Money
Partisans dispute how, how much, or even whether, taxpayers should support colleges
The political fault lines of higher education extend far beyond headline-grabbing student protests and furor over controversial speakers.
In fact, that sound and fury often distracts from a more practical political issue facing higher education today: How should Americans pay for college? Should students themselves bear the full costs of their education or should taxpayers help keep costs low? And if so, how should the burden be apportioned between state and federal taxes?
Colleges Struggle to Adapt to Changing Demographics
More diverse student body poses challenges in admissions, teaching and counseling
Quick: Picture a “typical” college student. Are you envisioning a young person wearing a college sweatshirt, living in a dorm and attending school full time?
Try again: Full-time students who live on campus account for less than 15 percent of all undergraduates, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
At a recent Education Writers Association seminar, three experts on student demographics suggested that investigations into changes to the makeup of the nation’s undergraduate student body can spark fresh and impactful stories.
No Forgiveness: Teachers Struggle With Unfair Student Loan Debt
Two federal programs under scrutiny, as thousands of borrowers caught in administrative missteps
(EWA Radio: Episode 217)
Two federal programs that were supposed to steer college students to public service jobs like teaching in high-poverty schools instead became mired in missteps, as the recipients unexpectedly found their grants wrongly converted into high-interest loans. Cory Turner of NPR’s education team spent 18 months looking at problems with the TEACH Grant program, and his findings helped spur the U.S. Department of Education to reverse course.
The Trump administration’s new plan to make it harder for immigrants receiving public benefits to receive green cards could have sweeping implications for students and schools.
The Education Writers Association presented this webinar to help reporters with story ideas and provide resources for covering the educational impact of the recently announced ”public charge” rule.
Word on the Beat: Busing
What reporters need to know about school desegregation efforts -- past and present
School segregation is a hot-button issue on the education beat. One strategy to address it, busing, has drawn widespread attention since a recent debate among Democratic presidential candidates.
In the latest installment of Word on the Beat, we explore what reporters need to know about campus reassignments to diversify schools — whether voluntary or mandatory – and how those efforts might impact students and communities.
Summer Story Ideas on the Education Beat
Tips for tapping national issues to fuel localized reporting
(EWA Radio: Episode 209)
School might be out, but that doesn’t mean education issues take a vacation: Two experienced education journalists offer compelling story ideas to beat the summertime blues. Delece Smith-Barrow of The Hechinger Report and Lauren Camera of U.S. News & World Report join this week’s podcast to discuss a wide range of national topics ripe for localized summer coverage.