Dear Colleagues,

Congress is one step closer to passing an FY22 appropriations bill which includes historic increases for education funding. Now is the time to urge your Members of Congress to maintain the proposed levels in the House passed education funding bill in the final appropriations package. Voices from the field are imperative to garnering the momentum to get this historic legislation across the finish line. 

1. The House Passes a Short Term Spending Patch and Congressional Leadership Reaches Agreement on Funding Levels

This week Congress made significant strides towards passing an FY22 appropriations bill that will fund the government through the fall. On Tuesday evening the House voted 272-162 to pass a stopgap funding stopgap funding bill that will keep the government running when the Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on February 18th.  The Senate is expected to take up the measure that will keep the government funded through March 11th  in the coming week.

On Wednesday, Congressional leaders reached an agreement to boost military and non-defense budgets paving the way to an FY22 appropriations bill. “This is a good bipartisan breakthrough. I think we can get us an omnibus now,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said Wednesday afternoon about the prospects of passing a catch-all package to fund the government into the fall, known as an “omnibus.” House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said appropriators will “now proceed with great intensity” to wrap up the sweeping funding package.

Now is the time to urge your Members of Congress to maintain the historic education funding levels that were proposed in the House passed education funding bill. You can write your Members by simply entering your contact information here.

2. The House Passes the America Competes Act with Higher Education Provisions

On Friday, the House passed a sweeping bill  that looks to boost economic competitiveness with China -and includes key higher education provisions. The America Competes Act, H.R. 4521, passed with a 222 to 210 vote, largely on party lines. The measure is a counter to the bipartisan legislation — the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, S. 1260 — that cleared the Senate last year.

Key Higher Education provisions in the bill include:

  • Foreign funding disclosure: The House bill sets the threshold for university disclosures of foreign funding to gifts or contracts valued at $100,000 or more in a single year or $250,000 or more over a three-year-period.
  • Tracking faculty funding: The bill limits the disclosure policy for faculty and staff to schools that take in more than $50 million in federal science funding each year.
  • Community college workforce: The bill includes $9 billion over seven years for job training at community colleges.
  • Apprenticeships: House Democrats included the National Apprenticeship Act, H.R. 447 (117), which would expand registered apprenticeship programs and create nearly 1 million additional apprenticeship opportunities over the next five years.
  • Short-term Pell: The bill includes language similar to the Jobs Act, and would allow students enrolled in career training programs as short as eight-weeks long to be eligible for Pell Grants.
  • College Transparency Act: The House’s legislation would overturn the ban on student-level data collection in the Higher Education Act and create a student-level data network within the National Center for Education Statistics.

3. The Senate HELP Committee Advances Nomination for Assistant Secretary of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services

On Thursday, the Senate HELP committee voted 14-8 to advance the nomination  of Glenna Wright-Gallo as Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitation services at the US Department of Education. Three Republican Senators crossed the aisle voting in favor of the nomination—Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Wright-Gallo has over 25 years of public education experience supporting students with disabilities and teachers. She is a former assistant superintendent of special education in the and has overseen millions of dollars for public school special education funding across multiple states. The advancement of Wright-Gallo’s nomination moves the Department one step closer to filling a critical position that has remained vacant since 2017.

“This nomination shows a deep commitment from this administration to ensure our nation’s students with disabilities receive the services and supports they need to reach their potential,” Secretary of Education Dr.  Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

Wright-Gallo now awaits a full Senate vote as the final stage in the confirmation process before assuming her role with the Department.

4. US Department of Education Releases Updates to the College Scorecard

This week the US Department of Education released updates  to the College Scorecard that aims to make the tool more useful for students and families as they weigh college options. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona highlighted the updates to the Scorecard at the 2022 Community College National Legislative Summit.

“For so many students and families, the college search process can be overwhelming. But easily accessible, high-quality information about higher education institutions can help students determine which college or university is the best fit for them,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “The updated and enhanced College Scorecard shines a spotlight on affordability, inclusivity, and outcomes, over exclusivity and colleges that leave students without good jobs and with mountains of debt. This update reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to ensuring students remain at the heart of the Department’s work.”

The College Scorecard builds on efforts by the Biden-Harris Administration to address barriers to college completion, particularly for students from low-income backgrounds and students of color, and increase accountability for institutions of higher education.

5. New Resources for Educators

  • National Disability Rights Networkis out with a new report that details how schools are illegally removing students with disabilities.
  • Student Borrower Protection Center and Data for Progressreleased results from a recent survey of voters with a focus on the federal governments role in addressing student loan debt.
  • The Hechinger Reportexamines trends in the increasing number of students dropping out of college throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The report notes that he share of students returning for their second year of college fell in 2020 to the lowest level since 2012, and the omicron surge and lingering uncertainty around the virus could deepen the dropout crisis in the coming months.

Wishing you all a wonderful week.

See you on Twitter,