Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

Congressional Update

Secretary DeVos Testifies before Senate Appropriations Subcommittee

This week, Education Secretary Betsy Devos testified before the Senate Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee about the president’s fiscal year 2021 budget request. In her opening remarks, Secretary Devos said, “[o]verall, the President’s fiscal year 2021 Budget Request includes $66.56 billion in new discretionary budget authority for the Department of Education, an 8.4 percent reduction below the fiscal year 2020 appropriation. This is consistent with the Administration’s belief that we cannot continue to increase Federal spending for K-12 education and simultaneously expect to shift power and control back to local educators.” During his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chairman Blunt (R-MO) challenged the president’s proposal to consolidate 29 ESSA programs, which he described as a policy matter to be determined by the HELP Committee, and sharply criticized the Department of Education’s decision to alter the REAP program, which serves rural schools. Archived video of Secretary DeVos’s testimony and the full hearing is available here..

House Education Subcommittee Holds Apprenticeship Hearing

The House Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee held a hearing this week titled “Reauthorizing the National Apprenticeship Act: Strengthening and Growing Apprenticeships for the 21st Century.”  In her opening remarks, Subcommittee Chairwoman Davis (D-CA) reiterated the importance of alternate pathways and registered apprenticeship programs saying that the National Apprenticeship Act is unquestionably among the nation’s most successful programs. Subcommittee Ranking Member Smucker (R-PA) summed the hearing in his closing remarks by echoing witness testimony that it is important to keep the apprenticeship program flexible enough to work for small and medium sized businesses and to break down barriers to participation by creating a system that is not too difficult to navigate. He also expressed support for competency-based learning. The committee is planning to consider a bipartisan apprenticeship bill in the coming weeks, which may include an emphasis on cultivating apprenticeship programs focused on early childhood educators. Archived video of the hearing is available here..

Congress Approves Coronavirus Emergency Funding Bill

This week, Congress quickly approved an $8.3 billion emergency funding bill (H.R.6074) to combat the spread of Coronavirus. The measure includes $6.5 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly $1.3 billion for the State Department, and $20 million to the Small Business Administration.Under the bill, more than $400 million would be provided to state and local governments within 30 days after the bill’s enactment, with each state receiving no less than $4 million.  

Department of Education News

 Department of Education Invites Applications for Special Education Competitive Grant

This week, the Department invited applications for the “Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities” program. The program promotes academic achievement and seeks to improve results for children with disabilities by “providing technical assistance, supporting model demonstration projects, disseminating useful information, and implementing activities that are supported by scientifically based research. The estimated available funds for this grant total $1,200,000, contingent upon the availability of funds and the quality of applications. Applications are due May 4, 2020, and further information is available here.

Notable New K-12 Bills


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