Legislative Activity

House Subcommittee Changes

House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) announced new subcommittee assignments last week. As such, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) will join the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. Additionally, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) is moving from that subcommittee to the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, while Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) moves to the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions.

Higher Education Act Reauthorization

Both education committees held hearings last week related to simplifying federal student aid as part of reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA). As we have previously noted, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee is planning a series of hearings focused on issues related to the HEA reauthorization. Due to the government shutdown in October and a number of other pressing policy matters, the Committee is behind schedule and likely will hold only one more hearing in the series before the new year.

Upcoming Hearings:

  • Tuesday, November 19: The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing titled “Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Jobs: Improving the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.”
  • Friday, November 22: The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a field hearing titled “Educating for the 21st Century: Bringing Today’s Classrooms into the Digital Age.”

Regulatory Activity

Gainful Employment Regulations

The negotiated rulemaking committee on gainful employment will hold its second and final meeting on November 18-20. The meeting was originally scheduled to occur in October but was delayed due to the federal government shutdown. The committee is expected to continue its discussions on the proposed regulations to establish standards for programs that prepare students to be gainfully employed after completing their postsecondary education.

College Affordability Proposal

This week, the Department of Education will host its fourth public meeting to receive comments on the proposed college ratings system that President Obama outlined in his college affordability plan earlier this year. The public meeting will take place on Thursday, November 21 at Louisiana State University.

Last week, the department held its second and third public meetings at George Mason University and the University of Northern Iowa, respectively. At both forums, many stakeholders, once again, expressed concern with the proposed college ratings system, although there were many more stakeholders who voiced support for the proposals than at the first public meeting.  Many of the concerns, including those of some historically black colleges and universities, once again focused on unintended consequences that could result from the ratings system and the need for a ratings system to take into account the broad range of student populations at schools. Stakeholders in support of the proposal suggested that the department look closely at metrics, including graduation, transfer, and completion rates. The department is expected to focus on low-income students’ access to higher education in more depth as part of this process in December.

Stakeholders may submit written comments on the college rating system to collegefeedback@ed.gov.

Education Leadership Departures

Department of Education Under Secretary Martha Kanter will be leaving the department on December 13.

NCLB Waiver Guidance

In its final guidance on No Child Left Behind waivers, the Department of Education is likely to makes states eligible for a one-year waiver renewal instead of a two-year renewal, which was originally included in the department’s draft guidance issued in August.  Final guidance should be released soon.