Press Room NEWSLETTERS
April 21, 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...
In and Out of ED
Hiring ED Staff
Renewing the State-Federal Partnership
ESSA Update
Student Loan Servicer Recompete
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

In and Out of ED

Secretary DeVos continues to spend a significant amount of time—in Washington, D.C., and on travel—engaging with students, parents, educators, and business leaders.

On April 7, the Secretary wrapped up two days of events in Miami, visiting a traditional public school, a charter school, a private school, a community college, and a four-year university. On Day 1, she visited Christian Academy for Reading Excellence (CARE) Elementary School, Florida International University's (FIU) Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM) Charter School. On Day 2, she visited Royal Palm Elementary School and Miami Dade College's Wolfson Campus.

"I want to thank Superintendent Alberto Carvalho for inviting me to visit Miami-Dade Public Schools and Royal Palm Elementary [School] for hosting us," she said in a statement. "I was impressed and inspired by the dedication shown by these teachers and was able to see first-hand the positive impact they are having on their students. I also thank President Eduardo Padrón and the students and faculty of Miami Dade College for facilitating a productive and informative visit. [The college's] combination of two- and four-year programs is but one of the many ways in which they provide flexibility to students and give them the skills to succeed in and out of the classroom. [The county's] schools do a fantastic job of providing parents with a wide range of options to meet the diverse needs of individual students. This student-centric approach is one that should be applauded, and I hope school districts across the country look to them as an example."

Next, on April 11, the Secretary joined a meeting of the President's Strategy and Policy Forum, featuring breakout sessions with top-level business leaders and remarks by President Trump (video).

"In a rapidly changing economy, it is imperative that we give our students the skills they need to succeed outside of the classroom," she said in a statement. "This starts by returning decision-making powers back to state and local governments and giving them the flexibility they need to meet the unique challenges they face. When the federal government gets out of the way, we remove a major obstacle blocking states from implementing common sense reforms. The best workforce is an educated workforce, and this Administration is committed to increasing access to career and technical education for college students and adults alike. By encouraging public-private partnerships, we can help connect students with prospective employers and provide those students with the necessary skills to find a good-paying job in their communities. Today's event was an opportunity to listen and learn from some of America's best innovators and job creators. I look forward to collaborating with them on how we can maintain our nation's global competitiveness."

Also last week, the Secretary met with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for a discussion about the city's education system (readout), University of Georgia System Chancellor Steve Wrigley and State Representative Earl Ehrhart (readout) and leaders of national higher education groups (readout) on a range of postsecondary education issues, Success Academy Charter Schools Founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz on education reform and school choice, and Michigan First Lady Sue Snyder on ending sexual assault on college campuses (readout).

Then, this week, she traveled with President Trump to Snap-on Tools in Kenosha, Wisconsin. "Snap-on's partnership with Gateway Technical College is a great example of what can be achieved when business and education collaborate," she said in a statement. "Together, they provide employees with the skills necessary for good-paying jobs, in turn benefitting the entire community's economy. This type of partnership can be replicated across the country, and the President's Buy American and Hire American Executive Order puts us on that path. I applaud the President for his commitment to our nation's students and workers and his efforts to ensure we have a workforce equipped to fill American jobs that are open and readily available today."

Furthermore, the Secretary accepted the invitation of American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten to visit the public schools in Van Wert, Ohio (statement). In advance of the visit, she expressed her support for all schools that "put students first" in an op-ed published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. After the visit, she noted the "very productive conversation" and "identified several areas of collaboration," adding she looks forward to "continuing the conversation around how we can best give all students an equal opportunity to a great education that serves their needs" (statement).

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Hiring ED Staff

Secretary DeVos announced the hiring of nine senior officials:

  • Josh Venable, Chief of Staff
  • Dougie Simmons, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations
  • Ebony Lee, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy
  • Robert Eitel, Senior Counselor to the Secretary
  • James Manning, Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary/Acting Under Secretary
  • Jana Toner, White House Liaison
  • Candice Jackson, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office for Civil Rights/Acting Assistant Secretary
  • Jason Botel, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education/Acting Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Jose Viana, Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director for the Office of English Language Acquisition

This was the first official staff announcement, with additional hiring announcements expected to be made in the coming weeks.

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Renewing the State-Federal Partnership

In a recent press briefing, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short highlighted the Administration's efforts to reduce regulatory burden and renew the state-federal partnership through a number of actions, including use of the Congressional Review Act. As a reminder, on March 27, President Trump signed H.J. Res. 57, nullifying the Department's rule relating to accountability requirements, data reporting, and consolidated state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and H.J. Res. 58, nullifying the Department's rule relating to assessing the quality of teacher preparation programs. "Parents, teachers, communities, and state leaders know the needs of their students better than anyone in Washington, by far," the President emphasized. "So, we're removing these additional layers of bureaucracy to encourage more freedom and innovation in our schools. I will keep working with Congress, with every agency, and, most importantly, with the American people, until we eliminate every unnecessary, harmful, and job-killing regulation that we can find" (remarks and video).

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ESSA Update

In an April 10 letter to Chief State School Officers, Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Monique Chism provided an update on two matters concerning implementation of ESSA: (1) school support and improvement activities in the 2017-18 school year and (2) stakeholder consultation requirements.

In the absence of the regulations that extended the ESSA implementation timeline, but consistent with provisions of the ESSA that authorize the Department to ensure an orderly transition to the new law, a state may delay, until the 2018-19 school year, identification of schools for "comprehensive" or "targeted" support and intervention. Each state without an approved ESSA state plan must continue to provide supports and interventions in its lowest-performing schools in the 2017-18 school year in the same manner as in the 2016-17 school year. However, a state has options with respect to how it identifies the lowest-performing schools it will support in the 2017-18 school year, including continuing to support and intervene in existing "priority" and "focus" schools or schools identified "in need of improvement," "corrective action," or "restructuring;" refreshing its list using the methodology in place prior to the 2017-18 school year; or refreshing its list using a methodology the state determines is consistent with the state's ESSA state plan, even if the Department has not yet approved that plan. As for stakeholder consultation, a state is not required to include in its consolidated state plan a description of how it met the law's consultation requirements. Nevertheless, it may include supplemental information, such as its efforts to consult with and engage stakeholders in compliance with the requirements of the law, when developing its plan.

Meanwhile, in an earlier letter to Chief State School Officers, Chism and Director of the Office of Non-Public Education Maureen Dowling seek to establish relationships with State Education Agency (SEA) ombudsmen to help ensure that eligible private school children, teachers, other educational personnel, and, as applicable, families receive services equitable to those provided to their counterparts in public schools, as affirmed in ESSA.

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Student Loan Servicer Recompete

In an April 11 letter to Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer James Runcie, Secretary DeVos withdrew several policy memoranda from former Secretary John King and former Under Secretary Ted Mitchell regarding the student loan servicing procurement process. "[This] procurement affords us a significant opportunity to improve outcomes and experiences for federal student loan borrowers, as well as demonstrate sound fiscal stewardship of public dollars," the Secretary said. "We must create a student loan servicing environment that provides the highest quality customer service and increases accountability and transparency for all borrowers, while also limiting the cost to taxpayers."

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Odds and Ends

  • Secretary DeVos congratulated Sydney Chaffee, a ninth-grade humanities teacher at Codman Academy Charter School in Dorchester, Massachusetts, as the 2017 National Teacher of the Year (statement).

  • The Department published the list of semifinalists for the 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, which honors some of the nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors.

  • A new infographic illustrates key statistics and core drivers of National Blue Ribbon School success, identified through application response analysis.

  • The public is invited to review the proposed federal student aid application materials for the 2018-19 school year and submit comments on or before June 16.

  • "A Quarter Century of Changes in the Elementary and Secondary Teaching Force" looks at changes in several key characteristics of the teaching force between the 1987-88 and 2011-12 school years, including the number of teachers, the level of teaching experience, and the racial/ethnic diversity of the teaching force, as well as how such demographic changes varied by types of teachers and schools.

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Quote to Note

"My heart and prayers go out to the victims of this horrible act and to all students and members of the North Park Elementary School community. I want to thank the first responders, teachers, and school administrators who were there to protect the students in harm's way. As a mother and grandmother, today's senseless violence is a tragedy no parents should ever have to face. I ask everyone to join me in keeping all the victims and those impacted in your prayers."

        Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (4/10/17), in a statement concerning the shooting at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, California

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Upcoming Events

On April 24, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will make a special Earth-to-space call from the Oval Office to personally congratulate NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson for her record-breaking stay aboard the International Space Station. This 20-minute call will air live on NASA Television and stream on NASA's web site and Facebook page.

The Department and NASA are working together to encourage classrooms throughout the nation to tune-in to this historic event. They also are making available for voluntary use STEM on Station educational materials that may be helpful to further engage students in the classroom, demonstrating STEM concepts such as Newton's Laws of Motion, surface tension, and advances in technology.

Commander of the station's Expedition 51 crew, Whitson will officially set the U.S. record Monday for most cumulative days in space, surpassing NASA astronaut Jeff Williams' record of 534 days. Moreover, she is the first woman to command the station twice and has the record for most spacewalks conducted by a female astronaut.

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Last Modified: 04/21/2017