Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Calls on National Education Association to Drop Lawsuit that Puts Financial Aid for Students in Jeopardy

WASHINGTON—U.S.Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos called on the National Education Association (NEA) today to drop its politically-motivated lawsuit and stop standing in the way of students working to complete their post secondary education program.

The NEA recently sued the department over its delay in implementing Obama-era rules that govern state standards for online education. The rules require, among other things, that all institutions providing distance education to students in another state document that the state has a process for those students to complain against that institution.

Unfortunately, not all states have the required complaint processes or interstate agreements in place. As a result, the 2016 regulation would deny federal aid to a number of students receiving distance education because their institutions cannot meet the complaint process requirement in one or more states.

Full story at ed.gov

DeVos Wants to Prioritize Education Funding for Opportunity Zones

SECRETARY OF EDUCATION Betsy DeVos wants to prioritize federal education funding for areas of the country that qualify as opportunity zones – a move that if finalized, could shift hundreds of millions of dollars away from some communities and to others.

As part of the 2017 tax law, the Trump administration has certified more than 8,700 opportunity zones, which provide tax incentives to attract investment in business or real estate located within certain economically disadvantaged neighborhoods with the goal of revitalizing those areas. But it’s unclear whether policies like opportunity zones actually benefit distressed communities at all, let alone move the needle on education achievement.

DeVos’ proposal, published Monday in the Federal Register, would give priority to applicants who propose projects in those opportunity zones for more than 80 education grant competitions, which collectively total more than $700 million.

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos Builds on “Rethink Higher Education” Agenda, Expands Opportunities for Students Through Innovative Experimental Sites

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today announced the launch of the first new higher education experimental site during her tenure and is inviting new participants to join another experiment already underway.

The new Federal Work-Study (FWS) Experiment will provide institutions with increased flexibilities that will enable students to earn work-study benefits while participating in apprenticeships, internships and work-based learning programs, as well as earn work-study wages while completing required clinical rotations, externships and student teaching.

“For decades, the Federal Work-Study program has allowed students to support themselves while earning a college degree, but for too long, the majority of the work options students have had access to have been irrelevant to their chosen field of study,” said Secretary DeVos. “That will change with this experimental site. We want all students to have access to relevant earn-and-learn experiences that will prepare them for future employment.”

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Warren Pledges to Tap Public School Teacher as Education Secretary

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, the Massachusetts Democrat running for president, pledged that if elected, she would tap a public school teacher to be her secretary of education.

“In my administration, the Secretary of Education will be a former public school teacher who is committed to public education,” Warren, herself a former special education teacher, wrote in a campaign email blasted to supporters Monday.

“Let’s get a person with real teaching experience,” she wrote, taking direct aim at current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “A person who understands how low pay, tattered textbooks, and crumbling classrooms hurt students and educators. A person who understands the crushing burden of student debt on students and young professionals and who is committed to actually doing something about it.”

Full story at US News

The Solution to School Discipline: Undercover School Leaders

AS EDUCATION POLICY experts and politicians continue to clash over whether Obama-era discipline guidance meant to stem the school-to-prison pipeline creates better environments for students of color or makes classrooms more disruptive, one Republican congressman has an idea: school district leaders should go undercover into their schools to see for themselves.

Rep. Phil Roe, a Republican from Tennessee, pitched the idea Tuesday during a hearing at the House Education and Labor Committee, which was supposed to focus on school segregation 65 years after the landmark Supreme Court ruling Brown v Board of Education.

But the issue of the previous administration’s discipline guidance – and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ recent and contentious decision to rescind it – took center stage for most of the hearing. The guidance, which prodded schools to use methods of discipline other than suspensions to keep more kids in the classroom, has become a clarion call for civil rights advocates who see it as essential to address the disproportionate rate at which black students are disciplined. But others see the guidance as a federal overreach that pressures teachers and principals not to report disruptive students to the detriment of others.

Full story at US News

Education Department Memo Says DeVos Can Guide States on Arming Teachers

AN INTERNAL MEMO between high-ranking officials within the Department of Education says Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has the authority to tell states and school districts whether or not they can use federal funds to arm teachers – an authority she has repeatedly denied having.

The memo, presented Wednesday during a House Education and Labor Committee hearing, where the secretary was testifying on the administration’s education agenda, outlines allowable uses of federal funding for school safety measures and specifically assesses the potential use of funds for firearms and firearms training.

“The Department’s Office of the General Counsel has advised that the Secretary has discretion to interpret the broad language of the statute as to its permissiveness regarding the purchase of firearms and training on the use of firearms,” the memo reads.

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos Applauds Consensus on Higher Education Reforms

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos welcomed news today that the committee debating her proposed “Accreditation and Innovation” higher education reforms reached consensus on the text of the draft rules. The package of higher education regulations is aimed at rethinking higher education to improve outcomes and accountability for students, institutions and taxpayers. The draft regulations, which will next be published for public comment, come after months of negotiated rulemaking that engaged a wide variety of higher education stakeholders.

“Today’s historic action proves just how much can be accomplished on behalf of students when we put their needs above all else,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “Rethinking higher education required each person at the negotiating table to challenge assumptions and examine past practice in order to better serve students. I commend them for doing just that.

“The committee recognized that higher education has changed in many ways since the last reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, including in the use of innovative technologies. These changes will allow students to work at their own pace to earn a college degree, obtain credit for proving what they already know and earn a credential aligned with employers’ job requirements.  The new policies and procedures will also work against unnecessary credential inflation that drives up cost and reduces the opportunity for low-income students to prepare for certain jobs.

Full story at ed.gov

Secretary DeVos Issues Statement on President Trump’s Higher Education Executive Order

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement today on President Trump’s Executive Order on “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities”:

“All students should have access to relevant, accurate, and transparent data when making decisions about their education. President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on ‘Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities’ once again demonstrates this Administration’s commitment to supporting and empowering students with meaningful resources as they pursue their life-long learning journeys and future careers.

“Per the Executive Order, the Department will continue its efforts to update the College Scorecard so that it includes clear information on the cost of college, expected earnings after graduation, and student loan repayment rates. We will also continue our Federal Student Aid modernization efforts that began with the launch of our first ever mobile app.  Right now, students can use the app to complete the FAFSA. And, building on the President’s directive, the app’s capabilities will expand to give students access to information about loan balances, payments, and repayment options right at their fingertips. We believe that these important reforms, along with the Department’s ambitious negotiated rule making agenda, will make college more affordable, break down barriers to innovation in higher education, and encourage new approaches and new partnerships for the benefit of students.

Full story at ed.gov

Secretary DeVos Issues Statement on Higher Education Act Reform Principles Introduced During National Council for the American Worker Meeting

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement on the Administration’s Higher Education Act reform principles released during today’s meeting of the National Council for the American Worker:

“To meet the needs of our nation’s students and our growing economy, we must rethink higher education. Right now, there are 7.3 million unfilled jobs in the United States, yet too many Americans remain out of the workforce because they lack the skills necessary to seize these opportunities. We must do better for our students and workers. There should be multiple educational pathways to a successful career, and the federal government shouldn’t pick winners and losers amongst them. At the same time, higher education should be more affordable, nimble and relevant. Institutions of higher education need to be freed-up to implement new ideas that could fill the many gaps between education and the economy. The Department of Education is currently leading that effort through ambitious negotiated rule making which seeks to break down the barriers to innovation in higher education and encourage new approaches and new partnerships.

Full story at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Finds ESEA Restriction on Religious Organizations Unconstitutional, Will No Longer Enforce

WASHINGTON—U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today at the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) State Directors Annual Meeting that the Department will no longer enforce a restriction barring religious organizations from serving as contract providers of equitable services solely due to their religious affiliation.

The U.S. Department of Education, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Justice, determined the statutory provisions in Section 1117(d)(2)(B) and 8501(d)(2)(B) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that require an equitable services provider to “be independent of … any religious organization” are unconstitutional because they categorically exclude religious organizations based solely on their religious identity.

These provisions run counter to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 137 S. Ct. 2012 (2017) that, under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, otherwise eligible recipients cannot be disqualified from a public benefit solely because of their religious character.

Full story at ed.gov