Improved Borrower Defense Discharge Process Will Aid Defrauded Borrowers, Protect Taxpayers

WASHINGTON – After careful review to ensure a fair and efficient process, the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) today unveiled an improved discharge process for borrower defense to repayment (BDR) claims.

“We have been working to get this right for students since day one,” said Secretary Betsy DeVos. “No fraud is acceptable, and students deserve relief if the school they attended acted dishonestly. This improved process will allow claims to be adjudicated quickly and harmed students to be treated fairly. It also protects taxpayers from being forced to shoulder massive costs that may be unjustified.”

For pending claims, no changes were made to the existing approval criteria. Claims that previously would have been approved will still be approved today. However, rather than taking an “all or nothing” approach to discharge, the improved process will provide tiers of relief to compensate former Corinthian students based on damages incurred.

Full story at ed.gov

#MeToo Goes to School

When Hollywood’s glitterati walked the red carpet for the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday evening, it was the #MeToo movement that took center stage, not the directors, actors or actresses there to fête and be fêted – many of whom donned black clothing to draw attention to reports of sexual harassment that have rocked Tinsel Town, sent politicians packing and exposed chronic abuses in higher education, finance and other societal spheres.

One area that’s remained insulated, however, is K-12 education. Yet that’s not because instances of sexual harassment, abuse, misconduct and assault aren’t happening to students in elementary, middle and high school.

In fact, nearly half of students in grades seven to 12 – and more than half of girls overall at that level – reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment in the 2010-2011 school year, according to research from the American Association of University Women.

Full story at US News

Concerns Mount Over K-12 Education Plans

As states cement education plans for their schools under the federal K-12 law, the Department of Education is working furiously to assess them amid mounting concerns about states’ commitment to following the law, their proposals to ensure historically disadvantaged students have access to quality education, and the department’s capacity – and in some cases, lack of desire – to police it all.

The Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, gives states new flexibility to create accountability systems that suit their unique needs. Those plans must be vetted and cleared by the Department of Education before states begin implementing them in the near future.

The process has been somewhat tumultuous, triggering concern from across the education spectrum about how Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and department officials would review each submission.

Full story at US News

Trump, Congress, and Education in 2018: Eight Big Questions

There’s plenty of suspense heading into President Donald Trump’s second year in office when it comes to education, and some big issues on the horizon for the GOP-controlled Congress as well.

What will be the fate of the U.S. Department of Education’s budget? Will U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos get to applaud any new school choice initiative? And will Congress prevent hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” from being deported?

Here’s a rundown of what to watch for in Washington over the next 12 months when it comes to K-12:

Will the Education Department get a $9.2 billion cut?

Way back in the spring, Trump proposed slashing the Education Department’s roughly $68 billion budget by $9.2 billion. He put some key programs on the chopping block, including Title II, a $2 billion program that helps states train teachers and reduce class size, as well as the 21stCentury Community Learning Centers program, a $1.1 billion after-school and summer learning program.

Full story at edweek.org

For-Profit And Online Education: What’s Going On?

It’s been quite a year for for-profit education. “Continued collapse,” is how Bryan Alexander, an educational futurist, describes it.

Here’s a quick look back:

  • In February, Apollo Group, which operates University of Phoenix, one of the biggest names in the business, was taken private by a group of investors.
  • In March, EDMC, which held three struggling for-profit chains with a total of 65,000 students, was sold to a Christian missionary group.
  • In May, the flagship public Purdue University acquired Kaplan’s online students for $1.

Full story at NPR.org

How Much Do Teachers Spend On Classroom Supplies?

It’s inevitable. Each year, teachers dip into their own pockets to buy things like notebooks, tissues and pencils for their students.

This inevitability is even enshrined in the tax code, which gives educators a $250 deduction for their trouble. Late last week, in hammering out their big tax overhaul, Republicans decided to preserve that deduction. So we thought we would ask teachers how much of their own money they spend each year.

The answer: more than $250.

Full story at npr.org

Do Teachers Political Views Align With Their Unions?

Last summer, Laurie Villani picked up her monthly issue of the National Education Association’s magazine, NEA Today—which she likes to skim for teaching tips—and was disturbed by what she saw.

On the cover: an article referring to the heartache that President Donald Trump’s moves on immigration has created for the children of undocumented immigrants.

Full story at edweek.org

Does Preschool Pay Off? Tulsa Says Yes

In 2001, not long after Oklahoma had adopted one of the nation’s first universal pre-K programs, researchers from Georgetown University began tracking kids who came out of the program in Tulsa, documenting their academic progress over time.

In a new report published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management today, researchers were able to show that Tulsa’s pre-K program has significant, positive effects on students’ outcomes and well-being through middle school.

The program, which serves seven out of 10 4-year-olds in Tulsa, has attracted lots of national attention over the years because of the on-going debate over the benefits of preschool and whether those benefits are long-lasting. William Gormley, a professor of public policy at Georgetown and one of the lead researchers, says the Tulsa findings offer convincing and compelling evidence that they are.

Full story at NPR

Teacher Professional Development: Many Choices, Few Quality Checks

Ask teachers what they actually do to renew their licenses every five years, and you are likely to get an elaborate description of their decision process, not a simple answer.

“For me, and this is being bluntly honest, I try to pick something that’s going to work easiest with the time constraints that I have,” said Chris Woods, a math teacher in Calumet, Mich., who, among his other commitments, sits on a state panel looking at teacher recruitment and retention.

Full story at edweek.org

Global Reading Scores Are Rising, But Not for U.S. Students

The good news from the latest Progress in International Reading Literacy Study is that basic literacy is at an all-time high worldwide and a majority of countries have seen rising reading achievement in the last decade.

The bad news is that students in the United States are bucking the trend.

While U.S. 4th graders performed at an average score of 549, above the average of the 58 education systems participating in PIRLS in 2016, that score was 7 scale points lower than the last test in 2011—basically the same as they did in 2006.

Full story at edweek.org