Education Policy Update

February 19, 2019

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Rep. Bobby Scott Discusses Priorities of House Education and Labor Committee at MWC Event

Rep. Scott BreakfastMcGuireWoods Consulting’s National Education team recently hosted an event with Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA-03) in Washington, D.C. Having recently assumed his role as Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, Rep. Scott discussed the committee’s priorities for the 116th Congress. Chairman Scott emphasized that the main focus of the Committee would be on providing all Americans, regardless of their background, the opportunity that comes with a quality education. In early learning and K-12 education, the Committee will take steps to hold the Department of Education accountable for implementing the Every Students Succeeds Act, ensuring that states and school districts are meeting their legal obligation to address achievement gaps. 

Rep. Scott also discussed expanding the use of evidence-based strategies to improve school safety and school climate, while protecting students’ civil rights. He also plans to focus on investing in child care, early learning and K-12 public schools to ensure students and their families have the basic foundation they need to be successful. 

In the higher education realm, the Committee will work to provide every student with a quality education, without the burden of unaffordable debt. Rep. Scott provided details on the Aim Higher Act, which provides every student a path to an affordable, high-quality degree or credential. Other priorities include protecting students and taxpayers from predatory, for-profit institutions and public service loan forgiveness.

Federal Updates

  • The House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing examining educator pay and school infrastructure needs. Committee Chairman Scott said additional hearings will follow that focus on the sufficiency of ESSA, Title I and IDEA funding.
  • The Department of Education is hosting the second negotiated rulemaking session on accreditation and innovation from Tuesday, February 19 to Friday, February 22.
  • New education bills include: 
    • H.R.1168 To advance STEM education, provide for improved worker, training, retention, and advancement, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Ryan, Tim [D-OH-13]
    • H.R.1197 To establish a pilot program to promote public-private partnerships among apprenticeships or other job training programs, local educational agencies, and community colleges, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Larsen, Rick [D-WA-2]
    • H.R.1190 To prohibit an alien who is not in a lawful immigration status in the United States from being eligible for postsecondary education benefits that are not available to all citizens and nationals of the United States. Sponsor: Rep. Gosar, Paul A. [R-AZ-4]
    • H.R.1094 To authorize the Secretary of Defense to make grants to support the study of world languages in elementary schools and secondary schools. Sponsor: Rep. Price, David E. [D-NC-4]

Sara Clements Provides Analysis on What to Expect from New Florida Education Commissioner

McGuireWoods Consulting vice president, Sara Clements, anticipates action on charter schools, choice, career education and more from Florida’s new education commissioner, Richard Corcoran. In a Jan. 18 article, Clements explored Commissioner Corcoran’s history and gave an overview of issues likely to surface in the coming years. Corcoran was Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives for the past two years, and reforming Florida’s K-12 education system was one of his top priorities.

“From recruiting out-of-state charter management organizations to allowing bullied students to attend private school using corporate tax credit funding, his tenure was certainly not without controversy,” Clements wrote. “But for those eager to give parents more options, he was, and is, seen as a champion.”

Corcoran now reports to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who campaigned on increasing educational choice…read more

State Updates

In January and early February 2019, several governors across the U.S. gave State of the State addresses. Many covered education-related proposals for the year, pledging investments, creating task forces to change policy and starting new initiatives to address ongoing issues. Below are highlights from several State of the State addresses:

  • Gov. Grisham of New Mexico and Gov. Justice of West Virginia both pledged to reduce state testing. Gov. Grisham’s first executive orders direct the Department of Education away from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and toward building a new assessment system from the ground up, with stakeholder input.
  • Several governors pledged investments for early education and development, including Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Others, including Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Washington pledged to implement universal pre-K, or expand statewide pre-K enrollment.
  • Governors across several states pledged to expand Internet access to all schools, specifically in rural areas. North Dakota Governor Burgum created a task force to outline a path forward for K-12 innovative education.
  • In higher education, Gov. Burgum of North Dakota dedicated $30M in Legacy Fund earnings for career academies, where students can choose pathways in high-wage, high-demand technical careers and earn scholarships.