DC Shuttle ...
Jerry Falwell to Lead Higher Ed Task Force. Liberty University President Jerry Falwell has been asked by President Donald Trump to lead a task force that will identify changes that should be made to the U.S. Department of Education, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Falwell said he sees "overreaching regulation" as a target of his work.
Trump Tweets about Federal Funding. President Trump targeted University of California, Berkeley in a tweet last week after the university canceled the speech of a conservative thinker in response to protests on campus. "If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?" Trump tweeted. Experts weighed in immediately, suggested that the president cannot deny federal funds to the university, the LA Times reports.
Hearing on School Choice. House lawmakers met to talk about federal policies to expand charter schools, homeschooling, scholarship programs and education savings accounts. The House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, held a hearing on school choice. A new report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools on charter school enrollment says that "in 2016-17, there are more than 6,900 charter schools, enrolling an estimated 3.1 million students."
DeVos Nomination Continues to Drive Heated Debate. The Senate voted to limit debate, and Besty DeVos's nomination to be education secretary cleared a key procedural hurdle. The vote will allow the Senate to move toward a final vote, expected early this week. The procedural vote fell along party lines, 52-48. The confirmation process for DeVos to be education secretary has become even more contentious and she is in more peril than any other nominee of not being confirmed after two Republican Senators, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) said they would not vote to confirm the nomination. It remains likely that she will be confirmed as Republicans still have just enough votes, using Vice President Mike Pence as the tie-breaker, to vote for confirmation without Democratic support. The confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be attorney general, which would temporarily reduce the number of Senate Republicans, had to be rescheduled to fall after the vote on DeVos's nomination, in order to preserve that count. The strong resistance could hamper her ability to govern and build support for President Trump's $20 billion school choice plan. There have been tens of thousands of calls and emails in opposition to her confirmation. The Education Department might undergo some restructuring if Betsy DeVos is confirmed with some discussion of eliminating the Office of the Under Secretary. That would concentrate more power with the secretary, chief of staff and deputy secretary.
NLRB Continues to Expand Student Athletes' Rights. According to a new NLRB ruling, football players at private schools with elite teams should be considered employees, Inside Higher Ed reports.
New Owners of University of Phoenix. The for-profit University of Phoenix has been purchased by a group of investors with ties to the Obama administration.
We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council's Weekly Washington Report of Feb. 6, 2017. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.