Reimagining Workforce Preparation
Equitable Services Rule
Spotlight: School Choice
Celebrating ED Honorees
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Reimagining Workforce Preparation
On June 19, Secretary DeVos announced a new higher education discretionary grant program designed to offer students the opportunity to develop new skills, provide innovators and investors the resources to expand existing businesses or build new ones, and encourage institutions of higher education to foster workforce development and modernization as the country begins to recover from COVID-19-related disruptions to education and the economy. The Reimagine Workforce Preparation (RWP) Grants Program is funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act's Education Stabilization Fund.
"America's colleges and universities are a national treasure, but it is time for them to reinvent themselves and to be more responsive to the needs of their students and local communities," the Secretary said. "That includes providing lower-cost options that leverage the expertise of local business leaders and better embrace technological change. Through the Reimagine Workforce Preparation grants, we are empowering them, along with community partners, educators, business leaders, and entrepreneurs, to do just that. Our goal is to help workers and entrepreneurs get back on their feet and get our economy back up and running just as quickly as possible" (see also Secretary's announcement video).
The RWP grants competition is open to all states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico (Federal Register Notice Inviting Applications and Grants.gov application package). To apply, states must demonstrate a burden created by the COVID-19 pandemic and propose a project that will support those living and working in their communities, specifically along one of two tracks:
- Expanding educational opportunities through short-term, career pathways, or sector-based education and training programs. Grantees are invited to propose the development or expansion of short-term education programs, including career pathway programs, to help prepare individuals who are unemployed or under-employed for high-demand jobs in their community or region. Grantees are also invited to propose the development or expansion of industry sector-based education and training that lead to a credential that employers recognize and reward.
- Supporting local entrepreneurship through small business incubators. Grantees are invited to submit applications that help colleges and universities make their faculty, staff, and facilities more accessible to small businesses in their communities. Grantees are also invited to submit applications that ensure institutions can sustain their operations at a time when enrollments are declining and buildings may be under-utilized, including through the creation of small business incubators that are on the campus of, or affiliated with, one or more colleges and universities within the state.
Each state's workforce board may submit one proposal. A panel of independent peer reviewers will evaluate each application on whether it meets the needs of the state and engages the full range of stakeholders. States hardest hit by COVID-19 disruptions and projects that seek to address the needs of distressed communities and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) will be prioritized among the strongest applications. The agency anticipates making 8-9 awards, ranging from $5 million to $20 million each.
Interested states should submit their completed application no later than August 24. The Department intends to make awards no later than October.
The White House, the Department, and other federal agencies continue to release guidance to support schools, educators, and families regarding COVID-19. Many of the latest documents are listed below. Please visit the Department's COVID-19 information and resources web page for the most current information, and any questions for the Department may be directed to COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
- Coronavirus.gov, CDC.gov/Coronavirus, and USA.gov/Coronavirus
- President's Guidelines for Opening Up America Again
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Coronavirus Rumor Control
- Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) June 9 virtual education webinar recording
- Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) June 4 Highlighting Resources for Teachers and Parents to Enhance the Continuity of Learning for Children with Disabilities webinar recording
- OSEP Questions and Answers: Implementation of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Dispute Resolution Procedures for Part B and Part C in the COVID-19 environment
- Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) Guidance for Interruptions of Study Related to Coronavirus (updated June 16, 2020)
- Federal Register notice establishing August 1, 2020, as the deadline for institutions of higher education that did not initially apply to receive Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund allocations to transmit applications
- Supplemental Frequently Asked Questions about the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund
- Federal Register notice of waivers granted under Section 3511 of the CARES Act, within the last 30 days, by the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps and Youth Sports Program FAQs
- Department of Agriculture Provides Flexibilities to Ensure Kids Receive Meals This Fall
Meanwhile, OCTAE Assistant Secretary Scott Stump spoke on this week's White House briefing call for state and local officials about the aforementioned RWP grants competition.
Equitable Services Rule
The Department recently issued a rule for public comment to help ensure all students whose learning was impacted by COVID-19 are served equitably by emergency funding authorized by the CARES Act -- no matter where they attend school. The interim final rule, which is effective immediately, outlines how local education agencies (LEAs) must calculate the emergency funds available for providing equitable services to students and teachers in private schools.
Providing equitable services is long-standing law under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). LEAs allocate no money to private schools under these equitable services provisions but provide secular, neutral, and non-ideological services to private schools after consulting with private school leaders about the needs of students and teachers. Under the CARES Act, LEAs have broad latitude about the uses of funds, but it is expected that most of the emergency funding will go toward services like cleaning, equipment to protect student and staff health, training in remote instruction, and distance education tools. The rule discourages the limited number of financially secure private schools from seeking equitable services.
Under the rule, if an LEA chooses to use CARES Act funding for students in all its public schools, it must calculate the funds for equitable services based on students enrolled in private schools in the district. However, if an LEA chooses to use CARES Act funding only for students in its Title I schools, it has two options:
- calculate the funds for equitable services based on the total number of low-income students within Title I and participating private schools; or
- calculate the funds using the LEA's Title I, Part A share from the 2019-20 school year.
If an LEA uses one of the low-income student options, it must not violate the Title I supplement-not-supplant requirement in Section 1118(b)(2) of the ESEA. That is, LEAs cannot divert state or local funds from its Title I schools because they receive CARES Act funding.
Most private schools serving low- and middle-income communities are under great financial strain due to COVID-19 because they are typically dependent on tuition from families and donations from their communities. Because the economic disruptions are shrinking these revenue sources, more than 100 private schools have already announced they will not be able to reopen following the pandemic, and hundreds more are facing a similar fate.
The interim official rule will be published in the Federal Register and remain open for comment for 30 days.
Spotlight: School Choice
Over the last two weeks, the Trump Administration renewed its push to enact school choice legislation.
President Trump raised the issue on two different occasions. First, he called school choice a "big deal" at a "Transition to Greatness" roundtable discussion in Texas on June 12 (remarks and video). Then, he called school choice the "civil rights statement of the year, of the decade, and probably beyond -- because all children have to have access to quality education" during a Rose Garden ceremony on June 16, where he signed his executive order on "Safe Policing for Safe Communities" (remarks and video).
And, Vice President Pence, Secretary DeVos, and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway held a roundtable discussion on school choice at Waukesha STEM Academy in Wisconsin on June 23 (remarks and video). "Since the first days of our administration, we've worked to expand opportunities for families," the Vice President noted. "We want to make it possible to empower parents to be able to make the choice where their children go to school," referencing the $5 billion Education Freedom Scholarships proposal.
Celebrating ED Honorees
While the Department regrets being unable to recognize students and schools in person, given the current situation regarding COVID-19, it is celebrating honorees in other ways.
This week, across two Facebook pages, two Twitter accounts, Flickr, and YouTube, the Department highlighted this year's cohort of U.S. Presidential Scholars. Scholar profiles, presented in videos by region and state (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5), feature student photos (with many wearing their medallions) and words of inspiration. A final video leads with remarks by the Secretary, followed by all 161 Scholar profiles.
Also, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program released two videos with reflection guides and two audio podcasts detailing successful practices of several 2019 awardees: Day Creek Intermediate School (California), Charter School of Wilmington (Delaware), Lakewood Elementary School (Kansas), and Ladera Del Notre Elementary School (New Mexico).
Finally, the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities announced 44 students from 33 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as 2020 HBCU Competitiveness Scholars. Scholars were chosen based on their academic achievements, campus and civic involvement, and entrepreneurial ethos or "go-getter" spirit. Moreover, each student was nominated and endorsed by his or her institution president. Scholars typically assemble during the annual National HBCU Week Conference (see below). Instead, plans are underway for an online recognition and virtual campaign.
Odds and Ends
- The Secretary marked the 48th anniversary of Title IX becoming law with a statement, emphasizing "Nearly half a century ago, a bipartisan coalition in Congress and a Republican president worked together to enact Title IX to protect all students from discrimination on the basis of sex, because the law's promise of equal access to education is not and should never be a partisan issue. Today, we are committed as ever to keeping that promise. Our new Title IX rule demonstrates that commitment to all students and their safety." (See also the Department's video: "The Truth on Title IX: Cross Examination.")
- On successive Fridays, the Secretary announced the approval of 16 additional career and technical education (CTE) state plans under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Each state -- June 12: Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin, plus the District of Columbia and June 19: Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, New York, South Carolina, and Utah -- crafted a plan to fulfill its promise of offering a robust CTE option for students, following consultation with its key constituents representing education and workforce, business and industry, and parents and community leaders. To date, 31 state plans have been approved.
- On June 22, the Secretary unveiled a new online portal that will make it easier for institutions to report foreign gifts and contracts valued at more than $250,000 -- as required by law (statutory reporting obligation and ongoing investigations into 10 institutions).
- On June 24, the Department's Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) announced it signed contracts with five companies to provide enhanced customer support to its more than 68 million student loan customers.
- The Federal School Safety Clearinghouse announced the State Information Sharing Tool, a new state-focused functionality on SchoolSafety.gov enabling users to search for state information and resources.
- A new Institute of Education Sciences (IES) report, "How States and Districts Support Evidence Use in School Improvement," provides a snapshot of how states promote evidence-based strategies within their lowest-performing schools and how the districts of these schools choose improvement practices.
- Another IES report looks at the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) occupational expectations of high school freshmen in 2009 and how their expectations changed (or did not) by 2012.
- In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, First Lady Melania Trump is encouraging students in grades 3-12 to submit artwork depicting individuals, objects, and events representing the women's suffrage movement. Some will become part of a special White House exhibit. All applicants will receive a note signed by the First Lady.
Quote to Note
"The members of this class have come from every state in our union. You have come from the farms and the cities, from states big and small, and from every race, religion, color, and creed. But, when you entered these grounds, you became part of one team -- one family -- proudly serving one great American nation. You became brothers and sisters pledging allegiance to the same timeliness principles, joined together in a common mission to protect our country, to defend our people, and to carry on the traditions of freedom, equality, and liberty that so many gave their lives to secure. You exemplify the power of shared national purpose to transcend all differences and achieve true unity. Today, you graduate as one class, and you embody one noble creed: duty, honor, country."
|||President Donald Trump (6/13/20), in remarks at the 2020 U.S. Military Academy at West Point Graduation Ceremony|
On June 29, from 2 to 3 p.m. Eastern Time, OSEP is hosting the next in a series of webinars focused on ready-to-use resources, tools, and practices from OSEP-funded grantees to support the educational, developmental, and social-emotional needs of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities through remote and distance learning. (Note: A recording of the initial webinar is available above.)
Also on June 29, from 4 to 5 p.m. ET, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) will convene a virtual meeting to discuss the 2021 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) schedule.
The first-ever virtual National HBCU Week Conference will be held September 20-26.
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