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New House Education Committee Holds First Meeting. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce met for the first time in the 115th Congress under the new leadership of Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC). Lawmakers voted on rules for the committee, and considered and adopted an "oversight and investigation" plan for the next two years. Republicans targeted the Every Student Succeeds Act, federal student loans, higher education regulations and executive actions taken by the Obama administration as in need of oversight.
DeVos Confirmation Debate Continues. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Betsy DeVos at a hearing on Jan. 31. President Donald Trump's nominee for education secretary is continuing to draw opposition. Republicans have suggested that DeVos, along with the White House, can help push through school choice and voucher legislation that was previously stalled. While Democrats are promising to fight the nomination, Republicans can likely approve her nomination without Democratic support. Senate Democrats are continuing to press for a second confirmation hearing for DeVos, arguing they need more time to question her about her qualifications and potential conflicts of interest. HELP Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) rejected a formal request for an additional hearing from the committee's ranking member, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). Democrats have targeted DeVos's nomination and her responses during her confirmation hearing, including misunderstanding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). DeVos wrote a letter last week to Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) in which she said that she will enforce IDEA. During last week's hearing, she said the issue "is a matter better left to the states." The law is a federal law and she later said she might be confusing it.
States Join For-Profit College Lawsuit. The attorneys general from Massachusetts, Illinois, Maine, New York, Maryland and the District of Columbia filed to intervene in a for-profit college accreditor's legal battle with the U.S. Education Department. The group of attorneys general asked a federal judge to let them join in the defense of the Obama administration's decision last year to terminate the federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Universities. That would likely mean the end of the accrediting organization. The motion was filed by Democratic attorneys general who last year called on the Obama administration to terminate recognition of ACICS. The move could prove significant if the Trump administration decides not to continue defending the Obama administration's decision in court. It's not yet clear how Trump's Education Department plans to proceed on the matter. The Washington Post and ProPublica have more.
Ed Dept. Releases List of Open Title IX Cases, After Delay. The U.S. Department of Education released its latest list of colleges facing sexual-violence investigations under the gender-equity law known as Title IX, after it had come under criticism for failing to do so as usual. The department usually releases the list every two weeks, but failed to do that the first week of the Trump administration. The lapse drew immediate criticism, and a response from the department that it was only a delay during transition. The department released the updated list, though it is unclear if the practice will continue. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.
Yale Graduate Students Can Unionize, NLRB Rules. The National Labor Relations Board ruled that graduate students at Yale University may unionize, the New Haven Register reports. A regional director approved nine separate petitions from graduate students at Yale to hold union elections. The board ruled in August last year that graduate students at Columbia University could be both employees and students. Shortly afterwards, graduate students at Yale filed petitions department-by-department to hold elections on whether to affiliate with UNITE HERE Local 33. The Yale Daily News has more.
Report on Entering the Teaching Profession. The Center for American Progress released a report on improving teachers' entry into the teaching profession.
NH Legislature Considers School Funding Bill. New Hampshire lawmakers considered a bill in committee last week that would allow school districts that don't offer certain grade levels to assign students in those grades to public or private schools in another districts. It would essentially allow public school funding to support private education. Supporters point out that a number of New Hampshire school districts don't have their own high schools. A similar bill was approved by state lawmakers last year but was vetoed by then-Gov. Maggie Hassan. The Associated Press reports and the Union Leader has more.
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 Jan. 30, 2017. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.