DC Shuttle ...
Senate Overturns Teacher-Preparation Regulation Under CRA. In a 59-40 vote, the Senate passed a resolution (HJ Res 58) to repeal a rule requiring states to report and evaluate teacher-training programs. The Senate vote will halt the new requirements for teacher-training programs, finalized by the Obama administration in October, before they would go into effect in the summer. The resolution to ban the regulation is the latest one to repeal an Obama-era rule under the Congressional Review Act. It would also prevent the Education Department from creating a substantially similar rule or regulation in the future. The regulation would have required states to annually evaluate and publicly report the effectiveness of teacher-preparation programs at higher education institutions with the end goal of producing quality instructors. The regulation was opposed by Republicans and teachers unions, which said it did not fairly evaluate programs and was an example of federal overreach. They also expressed concern that training programs would lose some federal grant funding under the regulation if they are found to be "low-performing" or "at risk." The disapproval resolution passed the House earlier last month with the support of all Republicans and five Democrats. The Washington Post reports.
Senate Overturns ESSA Accountability Rule. The Senate voted 50 to 49 to rescind a regulation under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on how to evaluate school performance. The regulation for holding schools accountable was approved by the Obama administration in November. The House passed a similar measure last month to overturn the regulation (HJ Res 57). The rule gives guidance on how states should keep schools accountable and rate them to ensure that they provide high-quality education. The Education Department is expected to release a new guide this week to help state officials draft their ESSA plans. It will tell states what's "absolutely necessary" for them to consider in developing their plans, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a letter sent to state officials last month. Officials said state officials will be able to work off this new template or continue to use the standards issued by the Obama administration. Politico reports.
Student Loan Assistance Bill. U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) introduced a bipartisan bill, the Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act (H.R.795), which would give companies a tax break for providing employees up to $5,250 a year to repay education debt. It would also allow employees not to be taxed on the money. The deduction is comparable to the existing tax benefits for tuition reimbursement, Davis said in a statement. He said the repayment incentive could help the government save money on student loan defaults.
IRS Data Retrieval Tool Will be Down for Weeks. The Department of Education and the IRS said in a press release that the IRS Data Retrieval Tool used to import information to the FAFSA was shut down and would likely be unavailable for weeks. The department attributed the shutdown to a concern regarding the security of student data. Forbes reports.
House Committee Votes to Reauthorize DC Voucher Program. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted to reauthorize a school voucher program for Washington, D.C, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Program. The legislation (H.R. 1387) was approved by voice vote and would renew for another five years a 2004 program offering scholarships to low-income students that can be used at private or parochial schools. More than 1,200 students participated in the program in the 2015-16 school year. This school year, the program received 2,349 new applications but was only able to award 234 new scholarships. Read more in The Portland Press Herald.
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 March 13, 2017. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.