Press Room NEWSLETTERS
January 11, 2019
(Happy New Year!)


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...
Rethinking Higher Education
Preschool Development Grants
ESSA Update
Environmental Youth Award
Impact Of Shutdown On FSA
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Rethinking Higher Education

In a meeting last month with college presidents and association officials at the American Council of Education, during which she shared her vision for higher education, Secretary DeVos also released two white papers describing the Administration's priorities on rethinking higher education generally and on accreditation reform specifically. The former features principles for reform under three categories: empowering students, empowering institutions, and empowering innovators. The latter features nine proposals—some of which can be accomplished administratively, others of which will require statutory or regulatory changes.

Regarding proposed changes, the Department has named 15 individuals to serve on the Accreditation and Innovation negotiated rulemaking committee—as well as additional, non-voting alternates and subcommittee members—and will host the first committee meeting January 14-16, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time daily, at its Lyndon Baines Johnson headquarters building. The session will be live-streamed (Days 1, 2, and 3). Materials distributed to committee members, including the agenda, protocols, and proposed language and summaries, are posted on the negotiated rulemaking web page.

The three subcommittees—Distance Learning and Educational Innovation, Faith-Based Entities, and TEACH Grants—will hold their first meetings January 17-18, all which will also be live-streamed.

The committee will subsequently meet February 19-22 and March 25-28, while the subcommittees will subsequently meet February 12-13 and March 11-12.

For the latest information, visit the negotiated rulemaking web page, which will be updated regularly.

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Preschool Development Grants

The Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the Department of Education, has announced initial grants to 45 states and territories under the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) Program. These grants, which differ significantly from the previous Preschool Development Grants, are designed to fund states to conduct a comprehensive, statewide, birth-through-kindergarten needs assessment, followed by in-depth strategic planning, while enhancing parent choice and expanding the current mixed delivery system (consisting of a range of provider types and settings, including child care centers and home-based child care providers, Head Start and Early Head Start, state pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, and home visiting service providers across the public, private, and faith-based sectors). Awards ranged between $538,000 and $10.6 million, based on the proposed plan.

States were invited to be innovative in planning, designing, enhancing, and evaluating their mixed delivery systems. They were also encouraged to develop their plans with the full array of early childhood stakeholders, including parents and community partners. The goal was to ensure a system design and development that best meets the needs of children and their families, particularly low-income and disadvantaged children.

The grant performance period runs from December 31, 2018, through December 30, 2019, and states and territories will be given the opportunity to apply for renewal grants prior to the end of 2019.

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ESSA Update

Two more states—Georgia and North Carolina—applied during the second round of the Every Student Succeeds Act's (ESSA) Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority pilot. The ESSA authorizes up to seven states to test new, innovative assessments in select school districts before taking them statewide. To date, Secretary DeVos has approved two states—Louisiana and New Hampshire—for the flexibility. Meanwhile, in a message sent to Georgia Department of Education officials, the Department made clear that states do not have to pick a single test for the pilot (Georgia created three different consortia that are working on formative assessments) but do have to end up with a single test in the end.

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Environmental Youth Award

The application period is now open for the 2018 President's Environmental Youth Award Program. This program recognizes outstanding environmental stewardship projects by K-12 students, promoting awareness of the nation's natural resources and encouraging positive community involvement. Winners of this year's awards will be invited to a ceremony in Washington, D.C., and have their project highlighted on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) web site. EPA will select up to two winners in each of its 10 regions—one winner for grades K-5, and one winner for grades 6-12. Applications are due by February 1.

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Impact Of Shutdown On FSA

The Department's Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) is not directly impacted by the current lapse in appropriations and the resulting partial government shutdown. Some of FSA's systems and processes depend on information from—and actions taken by—other federal agencies, a number of which are currently closed. FSA is evaluating what impact these closures may have on the office, including the impact on database matches conducted by the Central Processing System, and is working to limit the impact on its partners. FSA will issue guidance, as needed, as soon as possible (updates: here and here). In the meantime, offices are open, and all of FSA's processors, contract centers, and web sites remain operational.

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Odds and Ends

  • On December 21, President Trump signed into law the Juvenile Justice Reform Act and the First Step Act (remarks and fact sheet), two criminal justice reform bills.

  • On December 31, the President signed into law the Innovations in Mentoring, Training, and Apprenticeships Act, directing the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide grants for research about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and the STEM-related workforce.

  • This week, the Department announced new hires, rounding out its senior political team in support of the Administration's education priorities. Among them is Daniela Garcia, named Director of Outreach. Prior to joining the agency, she served as a Michigan state representative, working on the House Education Reform Committee.

  • Applications for new grant awards are available under the Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Program (CSP)—Grants to State Entities.

  • A new National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Data Point highlights parents' and students' expectations of highest educational level. Nearly a third of parents over time (30% in 2009 and 31% in 2012) expected their child's highest level of education to be a bachelor's degree. At the same time, the percentage of students who expected their highest level of education to be a bachelor's degree increased throughout high school (from 18% in 2009 to 28% in 2012).

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Quote to Note

"Every student has the right to attend school free from discrimination. They also have the right to be respected as individuals and not treated as statistics. In too many instances, though, I've heard from teachers and advocates that the previous administration's discipline guidance often led to school environments where discipline decisions were based on a student's race and where statistics became more important than the safety of students and teachers. Our decision to rescind that guidance today makes it clear that discipline is a matter on which classroom teachers and local school leaders deserve and need autonomy. I would encourage them to continue to implement discipline reforms that they believe will foster improved outcomes for their students."

        Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (12/21/18), in a statement regarding updates (Dear Colleague Letter and Q&A on racial discrimination and school discipline) to the Department of Education's and Department of Justice's guidance on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

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Upcoming Events

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the celebration of National Freedom Day (February 1). Trafficking can involve school-age youth, particularly those made vulnerable by challenging family situations, and can take a wide variety of forms, including forced labor, domestic servitude, and commercial sexual exploitation. Seeking guidance? "Human Trafficking in America's Schools" is a guide for school staff with information on risk factors, recruitment, and how to identify trafficking; what to do if one suspects trafficking, including sample protocols and policies; and other useful resources and potential partnership opportunities. Also, watch the webinar: "Integrating Human Trafficking with Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs) for K-12 Schools." (Note: This week, the President signed into law the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Act, authorizing the Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Department of Education, to make grants to districts to educate school staff and provide age-appropriate information to students on human trafficking—see remarks.)

January is also National Mentoring Month and contains National School Choice Week (January 20-26) and National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (January 22-27).

The Corporation for National and Community Service is asking Americans to appropriately honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy on January 21 by making the holiday a day ON—versus a day off. MLK Day became a national day of service in 1994, when Congress passed legislation to give the holiday even greater significance. A dedicated web site offers up a toolkit to plan for the day of service, enables organizers to register projects nationwide, and provides free lesson plans on Dr. King's legacy of service.

On January 22 at 11:00 a.m. ET, the Department will host the opening of the National PTA's 50th anniversary Reflections Student Arts Showcase, titled "Within Reach." The opening will feature remarks by Secretary DeVos and National PTA leadership and performances by students in many mediums, including dance choreography, film production, literature, and music composition. A ribbon-cutting ceremony, reception, and exhibit viewing will conclude the event to celebrate the award-winning student works and their educators. "Within Reach" will stay on display through February. To RSVP to attend the opening or learn more about the agency's year-round exhibit program, please contact Juliette.Rizzo@ed.gov.

President Trump will deliver his second State of the Union address on January 29.

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Last Modified: 01/31/2019