Washington Update, June 29, 2018
What does the new Senate Committee bill reveal about education funding for next year?
Could it be that bipartisanship can still move bills in the Senate?
Will you be visiting with your Members of Congress over the July 4 recess period?
1. Senate Education Funding Bill Increases Education Spending from Last Year; Rejects Trump Budget Proposal
With the stunning trifecta of Supreme Court announcements this week - decision on Trump's immigration policy, decision on union dues/membership and announcement of Justice Kennedy's imminent retirement - Congressional Republicans left for the July recess energized for the upcoming election as Democrats left scrambling to regain balance and election optimism. With Senate Leader Mitch McConnell promising a vote on a new Supreme Court nominee before the November election, the congressional agenda for the rest of the year promises to be hyper partisan. Ironically, however, 2 bouts of bipartisanship broke out in the Senate this week. First came the HELP Committee's unanimous adoption of the Career and Technical Education reauthorization bill and then the Appropriations Committee's bipartisan adoption of the last of its 12 spending bills - the one including education funding
Like the House Subcommittee on Appropriations for Labor/HHS/Education, the Senate subcommittee and full committee rejected President Trump's education budget proposal and increased overall spending for the Department of Education. Neither the House nor Senate bills include the President's proposed new choice/voucher programs. Both bills increase overall education spending - the House subcommittee bill by $43 million and the Senate Committee bill by $541 million. President Trump called for a cut to the Department of Education of almost $8 billion.
The chart below features funding levels for some key education programs in both bills:
||Current level 2018
|Title I ESSA
|IDEA Part B
|Title IIA, ESSA
|Special Ed Research (Under IES)
|Office of Civil Rights
|Personnel Prep IDEA
|State Personnel Dev. IDEA
|Teacher Quality Partnership Grants
Committee reports for both bills include significant directives to the Department of Education. Among them:
- From the House Committee report: The Committee "is concerned about reports of expulsions and suspensions occurring in preschool settings and K-12 classrooms." The office of civil rights should include in next year's budget justification "information on expulsions and suspensions in preschool and elementary and secondary school settings, disaggregated to the extent possible by race/ethnicity, sex, disability status and English Learner status" as well as "specific recommendations on evidence-based interventions" to reduce the rates of expulsion and suspensions.
- From the Senate Committee report: "The Committee is aware that earlier this year the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) requested public input regarding options for the use of IDEA part B program funds for technical assistance to states to which respondents overwhelmingly favored continuing to fund national technical assistance centers from funds reserved under section 616(i). The Committee believes the approach favored by States should be given significant weight as OSERS reviews these investments and any change must be supported by evidence that would be justify overruling State preferences for maintaining the current approach to funding national technical assistance centers that are improving the capacity of states to meet their IDEA data collection requirements."
- From the Senate Committee report: Language directing the Department of Education to improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
In addition, both the House and Senate bills include language preventing Sec. DeVos from dismantling the Department of Education's central budget office as she had proceeded to do.
The next step in the process is for the House Committee on Appropriations to move its bill, the last of the 12 bills to go through Committee. That markup was postponed last week in the midst of concern over it becoming a lightning rod for the immigration policy of separating children from their families. That markup has not yet been rescheduled. Both chambers are pursuing the goal of finalizing all 12 appropriations bills before the September 30 deadline. The Labor/HHS/Education bill is always the most controversial, and one of the largest, so stay tuned for further developments this summer. If indeed this bill passes both bodies and goes through conference to the President's desk, it will be a truly remarkable victory for bipartisanship and regular order.
Senate Committee bill: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/
House Committee report: https://docs.house.gov/
2. Senate HELP Committee Approves Career and Technical Education Bill
With first daughter Ivanka Trump sitting in the front row of the HELP Committee markup, the long delayed reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act sailed through Committee. The bill was backed by the White House, the National Governor's Association and several education organizations, with AASA, the School Superintendents Association, opposing it as too prescriptive and calling it "a relic of the No Child Left Behind era." Both Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA) praised the bill. The House passed its companion bill last year - HR 2353- with bipartisan support; the Senate HELP Committee had been stymied for months trying to come to a compromise on their version of the bill.
The Senate HELP Committee bill features the following new provisions:
- States would build their plans around core indicators (e.g. high school graduation rates) and be required to make "meaningful progress toward improving the performance of all career and technical education students";
- States would track performance of students by subgroups: race, gender, economic background, students with disabilities, English learners;
- States would have to meet their goals within two years or possibly face the loss of federal funding.
3. New Resources for Educators
- The Council for Higher Education Accreditation is out with a new report, "New Approaches to Judging Quality in Higher Education." https://docs.google.com/
- The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley is out with The Early Childhood Workforce Index 2018 which finds that child care workers make a median yearly wage of just over $22,000, rendering them the second lowest-paid occupation in the country.
Congress returns the week of July 9. Try to find an opportunity to meet with your Senators and Representatives while they are back home next week. It's an election year and they are seeking your vote. Don't forget: "you hire 'em and you fire 'em!"
Happy July 4!
Have a great weekend,and see you at
Jane E. West Ph.D.
Education Policy Consultant