Early Saturday, after a historic five-day, 15 ballot fight- with major concessions made to the so called “never Kevin” holdouts, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) secured his position as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Many analysts and DC insiders believe that the political theatre surrounding the Speaker vote foreshadows just how difficult it could be to govern in an exceedingly narrow Republican majority. However, in speaking with reporters Speaker McCarthy downplayed concerns, saying : “This is the great part…Because it took this long, now we learned how to govern.” I suppose only time will tell if the Speaker’s projection reigns true.
1. Rep. Virginia Foxx to Wield the Gavel on House Education and Workforce Committee
This week, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) secured the necessary waiver and defeated challenger Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) to take the helm at the House Education and Workforce Committee. As you will recall, Rep. Foxx needed to secure a waiver to take on the leadership role due to a GOP term-limit rule. Rep. Walberg had initially supported Dr. Foxx as she was seeking a waiver but ultimately turned to challenger to take on the leadership role on the House Education Committee. The Republican Steering Committee however, voted to designate Rep. Foxx as Chair of the committee following presentations to the panel from both candidates. Chairwoman Foxx is familiar with the leadership role, having already chaired the committee once and serving as ranking Member twice. Chairwoman Foxx has pledged to conduct aggressive oversight on actions taken by the Biden Administration as it relates to education issues. In a statement, Chairwoman Foxx said:
“To officials in the Biden administration: think about investing in a parking space on Capitol Hill — you will be here often… Conducting vigorous and sustained oversight of the federal government, especially the Departments of Education and Labor, will be among my top priorities…Americans should be free to work, build, and educate their children as they see fit,” she added…Under the Biden administration, these fundamental rights are besieged, but I am committed to safeguarding them. It is time to restore Constitutional government in America.”
Rep. Walberg who challenged Rep. Foxx for the leadership position congratulated her in a statement following the vote:
“Congratulations to Chairwoman Foxx on her selection…We have critical policy debates ahead of us on behalf of students, parents, and workers — particularly when it comes to conducting oversight. I look forward to working with her to hold the Biden administration accountable.”
Former Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) will continue his role as the Democratic leader, serving as ranking member of the committee.
2. Department of Education Announces Plans to Overhaul the Income Based Repayment Program for Federal Student Loan Borrowers
This week, the Department of Education announced a plan to overhaul to the current income based repayment program. Under the revised program, borrowers who have only undergraduate loans would cap 5% of their discretionary income toward their loans, while borrowers who have only graduate school loans would continue to pay 10% of their discretionary income toward their federal student loans. Borrowers who have loans for both programs would pay between 5 and 10 percent. Under the new plan, the Department will also stop charging for any unpaid monthly interest. Additionally, any remaining balance for borrowers will be forgiven after 20 years of payments.
During a weekly press call, Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona praised the prospective changes saying: “The bottom line is we’re fixing a broken student loan system…We’re changing the culture that higher education is unaffordable in America, especially for Black and brown and other underserved students.”
3. Administration Releases Regulatory Agenda with a Renewed Focus on Higher Education
This week, the Biden- Harris Administration released its latest regulatory agenda. The agenda suggests that in early spring the Department plans to announce a new round of negotiated-rulemaking focused on a range of higher education policies.
The Administration had previously said it wanted to make changes to the Federal TRIO programs, which help disadvantaged students prepare for and enroll in higher education. But Wednesday’s agenda added a slew of other items to its higher education agenda for the spring. As reported in Politico this week, items on the regulatory agenda include:
- Third-party servicers: The Department plans to change how it regulates the various outside companies, known as third-party servicers, hired by colleges and universities that receive federal student aid. This could include online program management companies hired by universities to manage their online courses.
- Distance education: The Department said it plans to “amend the definition of distance education” in its regulations.
- Student loan forbearances: The Administration said it wants to make changes to the “standards and requirements” that detail when federal student loan borrowers receive forbearances on their debt.
- Accreditation: The Department plans to make changes to the standards that college accreditors must meet to be recognized by the federal government.
- State authorization: The Administration plans to change how colleges must be approved by state regulators in order to receive federal student aid.
- Student withdrawal rules: The Department is eyeing changes to the process for how colleges must calculate and return federal student aid when a student withdraws before completing a term.
- Cash management: The Administration said it wants to write new rules aimed at making sure “students have and maintain timely access to student aid disbursed by their institutions of higher education.”
4. ALEC Introduces Model Legislation on Alternative Teacher Credentialing
Just before the holiday break, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) released model legislation on alternative teacher certification. ALEC summarizes the model legislation saying:
“The Alternative Teacher Credentialing Act addresses teacher workforce shortages by permitting alternative certification programs not offered by an institution of higher education. Individuals completing such programs will receive an initial teaching license, that can later be converted to a standard teaching license in accordance with state code/regulations, provided that they pass a background check and hold a bachelor’s degree. The State Department of Education is responsible for promulgating rules governing the acceptability of alternative teacher certification programs for purposes of this Act.”
While the legislation has not been introduced by a Member, it does signal potential forthcoming policy priorities and legislation that could be pushed forward. An important reminder, that while the greatest issue facing our field right now is the critical shortage of educators, research shows that those prepared through alternate pathways that require less coursework and student teaching experiences are 25% more likely to leave their teaching positionsand the profession than those who are well prepared via comprehensive educator preparation programs.
5. The Department of Education Announces Application for Summer Internship Program with Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
The Department of Education is offering unpaid summer internships for doctoral candidates interested in seeking valuable work experience in government and federal education policy and administration. Interns will have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the Department’s mission to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.
Doctoral students interested in this opportunity within the Research to Practice Division (RTP) of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) should submit a declaration of interest via this form: https://forms.office.com/g/81sk4DmHNY
The deadline for submitting is: 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, January 23rd, 2023.
There will be a limited number of interns selected. You will be notified by email whether or not you are to proceed with the application process. If selected to proceed, you will be notified by 2/1/23 and given information to complete a full application by mid-February.
About the Internship:
The virtual summer internship program with RTP will take place for a minimum of 6 weeks with the expectation of interns being available online at least 20 hours per week. Interns will be expected to complete tasks assigned to them via their mentor, attend program-specific events, and network. Initiating connections is highly encouraged and will be facilitated through mentors.
Eligibility criteria: Interns must…
- meet the definition of a “Student” at the time of appointment and throughout the duration of the appointment. Student means an individual who has been accepted for enrollment or enrolled and seeking a doctoral degree in a qualifying educational institution, on a full or half-time basis (as defined by the institution in which the student is enrolled). OSEP/RTP internship applicants should be doctoral students who will have completed at least two years of their doctoral program prior to starting the internship.
- be a U.S. Citizen.
- be at least 16 years of age.
- be willing to complete background investigation and fingerprint check.
- attend a doctoral program at an accredited educational institution.
- be enrolled on a, at least, half-time basis in a course of study related to the work to be performed.
- be in good academic standing as defined by their accredited educational institution.
Potential interns should include the following when completing the form (Declaration of Interest):
- A letter of support from a doctoral advisor or faculty member from your university program or other written permission from the institution at which you are currently enrolled, acknowledging your declaration of interest in participating in the internship program.
- A cover letter including a description of how an internship with the Office of Special Education Programs would be supportive of and/or connected to your research interests and/or career goals.
- A current resume and or C/V.
If you have technical question about completing the Declaration of Interest form, please email Sydney Ferrell. If you have broader questions about the internship, please email Anita.Vermeer@ed.gov
6. New Resources for Educators
- OSEP released its monthly message from OSEP Director, Valerie Williams. The update is chock-full of great information for educators and advocates alike.
- Learning Policy Institute ‘s President and CEO Linda Darling Hammond, penned an op-ed in Forbes urging policy makers to take action to address the critical shortage of educators facing the nation.