FY 2021 Budget
School Safety Clearinghouse
On the Road Again
Federal Work-Study Pilot
Foreign Gifts Reporting
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
FY 2021 Budget
On February 10, President Trump submitted his Fiscal Year 2021 budget request to Congress. This transformative budget prioritizes improving student achievement, reducing the outsized federal role in education, and returning control over education decisions to whom it belongs: state and local leaders, teachers, parents, and students.
The budget calls for consolidating nearly all existing K-12 education grant programs into one block grant to states. Funds would be allocated using the same formulas as Title I grants to local educational agencies. The budget also builds on the multi-year Federal Student Aid (FSA) reform project that Secretary DeVos launched in 2018 to improve administration, management, and oversight of student aid programs. To that end, it proposes an answer to the question the Secretary asked at last year's FSA training conference: Why isn't FSA a stand-alone government corporation, run by a professional and apolitical Board of Governors?
There are several major themes in the President's FY 2021 budget request for education:
Expanding Education Freedom for Students
- Education Freedom Scholarships (EFS) would provide up to $5 billion in federal tax credits for voluntary contributions by taxpayers to state-identified, non-profit scholarship granting organizations to help more than one million students access the education that is right for them.
- States, not the federal government, will design their own programs aimed at serving their students.
- Funded by private, voluntary donations, EFS does not change any funding amount already allocated to public school students or teachers.
Empowering States to Best Meet the Needs of Students
- The Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged (ESED) Block Grant consolidates most K-12 education formula and competitive grant programs administered by the Department into one $19.4 billion formula grant program.
- Funds would be allocated using the same formulas as Title I grants to local educational agencies.
- States and school districts could use the funds for any authorized purposes of the consolidated programs, while continuing to meet accountability and reporting requirements aimed at protecting students, supporting school improvement, and providing parents the information they need to make education decisions for their children.
Increasing Career and Technical Education Opportunities for Students
- The budget dramatically increases funding for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs by $900 million.
- The request includes $2 billion — an increase of $680 million — for CTE State Grants to support high-quality CTE programs in high school and postsecondary institutions and $90 million — an increase of $83 million — for CTE National Programs to support CTE initiatives in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), including computer science.
- The request also renews the President's proposal to double the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act fee for the H-1B visa program, which could generate an additional $117 million for CTE State Grants.
Transforming Federal Student Aid to Better Serve Students
- The budget proposes continued modernization of all aspects of FSA in order to better serve customers, including a call for an evaluation of FSA as a separate organization with reformed governance.
- The budget also proposes to simplify federal student loan programs and student loan repayment by reducing the numerous and complicated loan types, establishing reasonable annual and lifetime limits on those loans, providing postsecondary institutions more flexibility to help students avoid over-borrowing, and streamlining income-based repayment plans.
- The request continues to fund the Next Generation (Next Gen) student aid platform improvements, including the development and implementation of a new mobile-first, singular loan servicing platform that consolidates all customer-facing web sites and provides customers a seamless experience from application through repayment.
Additional critical investments include: a $100 million increase over FY 2020 enacted levels for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants to states; a $137.4 million increase for the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP) supporting STEM work at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) in Opportunity Zones; and increases for both HBCUs (+$44 million) and MSIs (+$87.4 million).
Among the many resources online are a press release with supportive quotes from state and local leaders, the budget summary, Congressional justifications, the Secretary's video and Twitter thread, and a video of the in-person briefing for stakeholders.
School Safety Clearinghouse
Also on February 10, Secretary DeVos and senior officials from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Justice met with families from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting at the White House and launched the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse at SchoolSafety.gov. This web site is a one-stop-shop of resources for K-12 education administrators, educators, parents, and law enforcement to prepare for and address various threats related to safety, security, and support in schools. President Trump established the Federal Commission on School Safety in 2018 to review safety practices and make meaningful and actionable recommendations to keep students safe.
- the School Safety Readiness Tool, an assessment that assists users in evaluating their school's posture across 10 foundational elements of school safety (after completing the assessment, users are presented an action plan with task prioritization, options for consideration, aligned resources, and grant opportunities specific to individual needs);
- a secure information sharing platform for designated school personnel to share school safety ideas, practices, plans, and tactics in a protected environment; and
- an array of best practices and resources on key school safety topics to assist with building awareness within the community to promote vigilance and develop capacity to respond to incidents.
This launch represents the first phase of SchoolSafety.gov, and the Administration looks forward to expanding and refining materials in coordination with partners and stakeholders.
On the Road Again
Meanwhile, following President Trump's recent State of the Union address, Vice President Pence, Secretary DeVos, and other Department senior officers traveled across the country to promote EFS and celebrate CTE Month.
The Vice President and Secretary visited St. Francis de Sales School in West Philadelphia to learn first-hand how education freedom has impacted students and families. The Vice President gave remarks and penned an op-ed published in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Secretary shared photos.
Separately, Deputy Secretary Mitchell Zais joined the Vice President's visit to The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.
While in the Palmetto State, Zais also participated in a state-level CTE conference and toured CTE-rich schools in West Columbia and Conway.
Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan was in Florida, visiting schools in Orlando and the Tampa/St. Petersburg area.
Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Mark Schultz traveled to Nevada for a conference and toured schools in the Las Vegas area.
Office of Special Education Programs Director Laurie VanderPloeg visited schools in Nebraska and Louisiana.
Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Scott Stump was in Indianapolis for a Future Farmers of America (FFA) conference and toured rural Whiteland Community High School, observing agriculture, computer-aided design (CAD), and culinary classes.
Stump also stopped by Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois.
Next week, Department senior officers will make additional school visits during Public Schools Week (February 24-28).
Federal Work-Study Pilot
Secretary DeVos announced this week the creation of a new Experimental Site that allows more students to gain on-the-job experience with employers in their field of study as part of the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program. This pilot expands FWS opportunities for students at 190 institutions. Participating schools will be granted waivers, encouraging them to expand the use of FWS funds to support more students working in the private sector and, for the first time, allow them to pay low-income students for work required by their academic programs, such as student teaching and clinical rotations. The pilot also provides additional Job Location and Development funds to institutions and expands the allowable uses of those funds, including permitting schools to contract third-party intermediaries to build partnerships with businesses. These latter activities can benefit students regardless of whether they participate in FWS.
Foreign Gifts Reporting
The Department launched investigations after two Ivy League institutions failed to report hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign gifts and contracts.
Section 117 of the Higher Education Act (HEA) requires American Title IV-eligible colleges and universities to report gifts from, and contracts with, any foreign source that exceed $250,000 in value and to disclose any foreign ownership or control, twice each year. The Department's records since about 1990 show that U.S. institutions have reported donations from China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates in excess of $6.6 billion, but this sum may be significantly underestimated. According to investigations by Congress, the General Accountability Office (GAO), and the agency, colleges and universities significantly underreport their foreign gifts and contracts.
The Department has opened eight civil compliance investigations since June 28, 2019, and subsequent enforcement efforts have triggered the reporting of approximately $6.5 billion in previously undisclosed foreign money.
Odds and Ends
- The President hosted the nation's governors on February 11 for a White House business session. Secretary DeVos co-led with fellow Cabinet officials two breakouts, focused on strengthening America's workforce by expanding STEM education, apprenticeships, and CTE and re-skilling America's workers for the growing industries of the future.
- The Secretary spoke at the Bellwether Awards, highlighting cutting-edge community college programs that are putting students' needs first.
- She also spoke at the National Congress of American Indians' Executive Council Winter Session, emphasizing the Administration's commitment to freedom and flexibility in meeting students' needs.
- A Department fact sheet spotlights English Learners' demographic trends.
- A National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Data Point describes the average start time for public high schools during the 2017-18 school year.
- The Department of Labor announced awards to 28 public-private apprenticeship partnerships totaling some $100 million through the Apprenticeship: Closing the Skills Gap grant program.
- Guidelines are now available for two funding programs offered through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA): Research Grants in the Arts and NEA Research Labs.
- According to the College Board's annual "Advanced Placement (AP) Report to the Nation," 23.9% of the graduating class of 2019 demonstrated mastery (at least a 3 on a 5-point scale) on one or more AP exams, a 60% jump over the last 10 years.
Quote to Note
"[The President’s] budget puts an end to education earmarks. Instead of Washington politicians and bureaucrats forcing local schools to spend limited resources on D.C.’s priorities, this budget proposes putting state and local leaders, teachers, parents, and students themselves in control of education. Our block grant proposal simply aligns the resources with the law of the land — the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). States will be free to focus on people, not paperwork. Results, not regulations. We know that states will spend their money differently, and that’s OK. In fact, that’s what we hope they do. They know best how to serve their students."
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (2/10/20), regarding President Trump’s FY 2021 budget request to Congress
Throughout this week, the Department has been promoting #LoveTeaching Week (February 14-21).
On February 25, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time, Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Mark Schultz will moderate a panel discussion of transition services experiences. Panel members include an individual with disabilities, a teacher, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, and an employer. The event will be livestreamed and archived for later viewing.
The National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), meets four times a year. The next meeting is March 5-7 in El Paso, Texas. Interested parties may access the briefing materials for the general session and committee meetings online.
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