Press Room NEWSLETTERS
April 7, 2017

ED Review... a bi-weekly update on U.S. Department of Education activities relevant to the Intergovernmental and Corporate community and other stakeholders

What's inside...
Getting Outside of ED
IRS Data Retrieval Tool
ESSA Update
Funding Opportunities
Opioid Commission
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Getting Outside of ED

Over the last two weeks, Secretary DeVos has spent more time outside of the Department—traveling across town and to several states—to engage with students, parents, educators, and local policymakers.

On March 24, she visited Valencia College in Osceola County, Florida, participating in two roundtable discussions focused on the college's career training and dual enrollment programs. First, she heard from college officials, business leaders, and current and recent students on the importance of job training for construction and manufacturing in today's competitive market. Later, she heard from high school students earning credits from the college. "Community colleges are a tremendous option, a tremendous opportunity, and a tremendous on-ramp for many students," the Secretary asserted (video).

Next, on March 28, she was back in Washington, D.C., for a special Women's History Month STEM event at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum with more than 400 students and teachers from the area. Joined by Ivanka Trump, the Secretary participated in three demonstrations with students and a panel discussion featuring NASA astronaut Kay Hire and other female NASA engineers and leaders. "Every child should have the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential, which is why today's celebration of Women's History Month and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education is so important," she noted. "The students attending today's celebration are a reminder that the next generation of engineers, astronauts, and innovators is among us, and we owe every child the opportunity to choose a school that best meets his or her needs." To cap the event, participants watched the movie "Hidden Figures" (statement and video).

Then, on March 29, the Secretary delivered remarks at the Brookings Institution and joined a panel on women's empowerment at the White House. At Brookings, she spoke at the release of the think tank's Education Choice and Competition Index. "Our nation's commitment is to provide a quality education to every child to serve the public, common good," she stressed. "Accordingly, we must shift the paradigm to think of education funding as investments made in individual children—not in institutions or buildings.... The Index is important and unique because it's very parent-centric. Parents are the first and primary point of accountability. The report makes the distinction that simply having a school choice program is not enough. It must be accessible, transparent, and accountable to those who need it most" (remarks and video). At the White House, President Trump delivered remarks. "From the untamed frontiers of the Western Plains to the skyscrapers of Manhattan, American women in every generation have shown extraordinary grit, courage, and devotion," he emphasized. "Our present generation stands on the shoulders of these titans.... Only by enlisting the full potential of women in our society will we be truly able to make...America great again" (remarks and video).

Also, honoring the Month of the Military Child, the Secretary visited Kimberly Hampton Primary School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on April 3. She observed classrooms, read to students, and met with school officials and parents stationed on the base. "My father was in the U.S. Air Force, and, as a result, he and my mother moved around quite a bit due to his service," she stated. "My mother often taught students who shared the challenge of having a parent or parents serving in the military, deployed abroad or who had given the ultimate sacrifice to our country. It is in the vein of these challenges that we honor the children who have a parent or guardian serving in the military. And we renew our commitment to ensuring these students are afforded the opportunity to receive a world-class education..." (statement).

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IRS Data Retrieval Tool

To protect sensitive taxpayer data, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department's Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) announced the Data Retrieval Tool on FAFSA.gov and StudentLoans.gov will remain unavailable until additional security protections can be implemented. Since the online tool was disabled in early March, the IRS has been working closely with FSA to safely return the tool to service. While the IRS and FSA are working to resolve issues as quickly as possible, students and families should plan for the tool to be offline until the start of the next Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) season in the fall (statement).

Identity thieves may have used personal information obtained outside the tax system to access the FAFSA form in an attempt to secure tax information through the Data Retrieval Tool.

While the tool is unavailable, the IRS and FSA remind applicants that online applications are available and operable. The income information needed to complete the FAFSA and apply for income-driven repayment (IDR) plans may be found on a previously filed tax return. Students and parents completing a 2016-17 and 2017-18 FAFSA should manually enter 2015 (not 2016) tax information. Borrowers applying for an IDR plan should submit alternative documentation of income to their loan servicers after they submit an online application. Borrowers may submit a paper copy of their tax return, copies of pay stubs, or other acceptable forms of documentation explained during the application process.

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ESSA Update

On March 28, the Department released Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan peer review criteria for Title I, Part A; Title III, Part A; and the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Programs under the McKinney-Vento Act. These are the only programs of the consolidated state plan which are required to be peer reviewed; for all other sections of the plan, Department staff will review the state's submission. This document is intended to help ensure that each state submits a complete state plan, as well as guide peer reviewers in making recommendations to the Secretary on whether each state plan meets the requirements in the revised template for those programs subject to peer review.

The document presents each of the requirements in the template in the form of questions, broken down into smaller segments (webinar presentation).

Meanwhile, on April 3—the first of two submission dates; the second is September 18—nine states and the District of Columbia submitted state plans to the agency. Another seven states indicated that they had submitted plans to their governors' office (for the statutorily-required 30-day review period) and will submit plans to the agency no later than May 3. Department staff are checking plans to determine if they are complete and, if so, will post plans online once scrubbed of personally identifiable information.

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Funding Opportunities

The following grant competitions are currently under way:

The Apply for a Grant web page lists all open grant competitions.

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Opioid Commission

On March 29, Secretary DeVos joined President Trump, other Cabinet officials, and law enforcement chiefs for a listening session with drug awareness advocates and recovering drug addicts on opioids and drug abuse. At the session, the President announced the creation of a commission, chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, to combat the nation's opioid addiction. "Drug abuse has become a crippling problem throughout the United States," the President said. "Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in our country. And opioid overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled since 1999. This is a total epidemic, and...it's probably almost untalked about compared to the severity that we're witnessing" (remarks and video).

In a statement on the commission, the Secretary said: "There is an opioid epidemic facing our country, and the impact on our children is very real. In the last 24 hours, it was reported that a man overdosed on opioids and crashed his car into a pole with a toddler in the vehicle. This is but one example of the tens of thousands of opioid overdoses harming communities nationwide. This crisis is real and is tearing families apart. I applaud the President for convening today's listening session and establishing the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, as a productive first step to better serve those suffering from addiction and the victims impacted by this crisis."

The Department's Office of Safe and Healthy Students funds the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, which features a substance abuse page with useful resources on opioid abuse.

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Odds and Ends

  • President Trump has announced his intent to nominate Carlos Muñiz to serve as General Counsel at the Department. His prior experience in government includes serving as Deputy Attorney General of the State of Florida and as Deputy General Counsel to the Governor of Florida.

  • Last week, Secretary DeVos met with Brazil Minister of Education José Mendonça Bezerra Filho to discuss bilateral cooperation and improving education for their nation's students. Among other topics, the Secretary and Minister discussed career and technical education and higher education exchanges.

  • This week, the Secretary, First Lady Melania Trump, and Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan toured Excel Academy in Washington, D.C., the city's first public charter school for girls.

  • The Department is restoring Pell Grant eligibility for students who received such a grant at a now-closed school.

  • The National Center for Education Statistics' (NCES) "The Years Before School: Children's Nonparental Care Arrangements from 2001 to 2012" examines the nonparental care arrangements of children in the U.S., from birth to age 5, who are not yet enrolled in kindergarten.

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Quote to Note

"I am in favor of increased school choice, but I'm not in favor of any one form of choice over another. I'm simply in favor of giving parents more and better options to find an environment that will set their child up for success.... There is no perfect, one-size-fits-all system of education. A magnet school is not inherently better than a traditional school, nor is education at a private school inherently better than education at a charter school. Similarly, there is no one delivery mechanism of education choice: open enrollment, tax credits, home schools, magnets, charters, virtual schools, education savings accounts, and choices not yet developed all have their place, but no single one of these is always the right delivery method for each child."

        Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (3/29/17), from her remarks at the Brookings Institution

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Upcoming Events

Yesterday and today, the Secretary is visiting a number of schools in Miami, Florida, including a traditional public school, a charter school, a private school, a community college, and a four-year university (1 and 2).

Among other observances, April is designated Autism Awareness Month, Child Abuse Prevention Month, Financial Capability Month, and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

On April 11, the fifth annual Jazz Informance, produced by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, will take place at the Department. It will feature student musicians from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and the Baltimore School for the Arts and jazz recording artist and educator Terell Stafford.

On April 25, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) and NCES will release "The Nation's Report Card: 2016 Arts" at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. This report will feature national results at the eighth-grade level from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), measuring students' knowledge of music and visual arts with tasks related to creating and responding to art. To register for either the in-person briefing or the webcast, go here.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

ED Review is a product of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Communications and Outreach, State and Local Engagement

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This newsletter contains hypertext links to information created and maintained by other public and private organizations. These links are provided for the user's convenience. The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this outside information. Furthermore, the inclusion of links is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered, on these sites, or the organizations sponsoring the sites.

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Last Modified: 04/07/2017