Some questions:

How will the Republican tax cut proposal affect education?
What is the status of political appointees at the Department of Education?
Don't miss the Besty DeVos interview: What is her analysis of her performance at her confirmation hearing?

Washington Update, November 3, 2017


Dear Colleagues:

The big news in DC of course is tax reform. A number of education provisions are on the table. With an ambitious timeline, Congress has plunged into a morass that is traditionally one of the most challenging. n.

1. Tax Reform Overhaul Bill Unveiled in the House of Representatives

With a sense of urgency, House Republicans — supported by President Trump--have released their tax reform bill. The Committee on Ways and Means plans to mark up the bill next week with a goal of passing it on the House floor by Thanksgiving. The President has said he would like to sign it by Christmas to give Americans a big beautiful Christmas President. Two significant industries and traditional Republican allies - housing and small business - have come out against the bill. As analysis continues to unfold, education advocates are united in opposing the bill as it looks to drive funds away from both K-12 education and higher education. One association, Ed Reform Now, has called this "the Betsy DeVos Tax Cut bill." The price tag of the bill is $1.51 trillion over a decade. Key costly provisions in the bill are the:

The bill includes the elimination, modification or consolidation of a number of provisions intended to at least partially pay for the increases; however they do not add up to even coming close to covering the price tag. Some of the key education related trouble spots include: The key point to remember is that whenever less money flows into federal coffers, as will surely be the case if this bill is enacted, pressure to cut funding for discretionary programs, including education, grows. Politically, the big question is "Can Congress pull this off?" After the failure of a similarly rushed-through reform bill (health care), the pressure is on for the Republicans to succeed. Hurdles remain, particularly when the bill moves to the Senate, and time will tell.

House summary of the Tax bill:

Center Budget and Policy Priorities Analysis:

Ed Week Analysis:

Ed Reform Now analysis:

2. Status of Trump Appointees to the Department of Education

Kudos to Politico for offering up this summary of the status of Trump Administration political appointees to the Department of Education. After 9 months in office, of the 15 positions which require confirmation by the Senate, President Trump has moved to pursue 8 nominees. Only two nominees have actually been confirmed by the Senate and are in place - Secretary DeVos and Peter Oppenheim, Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs and former senior staffer for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). A third nominee, Carlos G. Muñiz, has been approved by Committee to be General Counsel, and awaits a floor vote.

Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the Senate on Feb. 7 by a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie.

Deputy Secretary of Education
Trump announced on Oct. 3 that he intends to nominate Mick Zais, who most recently served as superintendent of South Carolina schools.

No nominee. The Trump administration has considered scrapping the position, which is optional under the law establishing the organization of the Education Department. James Manning, whom DeVos appointed as a senior adviser to the undersecretary, is currently serving as the acting undersecretary.

Chief Financial Officer
Trump on Oct. 27 announced his intention to nominate Douglas Webster, who is currently the director of risk management at USAID. The duties of the chief financial officer are being performed by Tim Soltis, a career official.

General Counsel
The Senate HELP Committee on Oct. 18 approved, by a 12-11 vote along party lines, the nomination of Carlos G. Muñiz, a Florida attorney and former deputy to Attorney General Pam Bondi. His nomination is awaiting action by the full Senate. Steven Menashi, whom DeVos appointed as a deputy general counsel, has been serving as the acting general counsel.

Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs
Peter Oppenheim, an aide to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), was confirmed to the post through unanimous consent in the Senate on Aug. 3.

Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
Trump announced on Oct. 26 that he intends to nominate Kenneth Marcus, the president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, for the role. Candice Jackson, whom DeVos appointed as the deputy assistant secretary for strategic operations and outreach, has been leading the Office for Civil Rights on an acting basis.

Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education
No nominee. Jason Botel, whom DeVos appointed as deputy assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education has been serving in the role on an acting basis.

Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education
No nominee. Kathleen Smith, whom DeVos appointed as a senior adviser to the assistant secretary for postsecondary education, has been serving in the role on an acting basis.

Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
No nominee. Kimberly Richey, whom DeVos appointed as deputy assistant secretary, has been serving as acting assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services.

Commissioner Rehabilitation Services Administration
No nominee.

Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education
Trump announced on Sept. 9 that he intended to nominate Michigan state Rep. Timothy Kelly and the White House said it sent Kelly's nomination to the Senate on Oct. 3.

Director of the Institute of Education Sciences
No nominee.

Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development
Trump announced on Sept. 28 that he intends to nominate Jim Blew, director of the education advocacy group Student Success California. His nomination has not yet been sent to the Senate.

Assistant Secretary, Office of Communications and Outreach
No nominee. Nathan Bailey, DeVos' communications director, has been delegated the authority to perform the duties of the assistant secretary for communications and outreach.

3. New Education Civil Rights Alliance Created

This week a new alliance intended to protect the civil rights of students was created with funding from the Ford Foundation. Called the Education Civil Rights Alliance, the group will offer an antidote to many of the Trump Administration's proposals, focusing on safeguarding the rights of students with disabilities, immigrant students and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. The Alliance is comprised of over two dozen education and civil rights organizations including the ACLU, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, GLSEN, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the National Disability Rights Network. The Alliance may file lawsuits against the Trump Administration if they determine rights of students are being violated.

4. New Educator Preparation Accreditor Seeks Public Comment on Standards

Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP) is a new accrediting organization for educator preparation programs. Developed by teams of educators, the framework outlines standards for candidate performance and program practice, the accreditation process and means for ensuring capacity for consistent decisions. AAQEP is inviting feedback from educators and others through the end of November. A final framework will be posted in January 2018.

Draft Accreditation framework:

Online feedback form:


For background:

5. Revealing Interview with Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos

An in-depth interview conducted by Politico with Betsy DeVos offers a number of interesting reflections from her. For example, Sec. DeVos thinks she was poorly prepared for her confirmation hearing by the transition team. This is a must read!

6. New Reports of Interest

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