Legislative Activity

Title IX Exemption Transparency

This week, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) introduced the Transparency in Taxpayer-Funded Discrimination Act, which would require the Department of Education to make publicly available a list of institutions that have applied for, or received exemptions from, the law.  It would also require institutions that have applied for exemptions to clearly list this information on their websites. After increasing pressure from lawmakers, the Department did publish this list, which can be found here.

Career and Technical Education Equity Act

On Tuesday, Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) introduced the Career and Technical Education Equity Act in the House of Representatives. The legislation would  update the Perkins Act funding formula to provide additional funding to states like Rep. Heck’s home state of Nevada, that have experienced rapid population growth. The funds, which support career and technical education, are allocated to states under a years-old formula.  Updating the Perkins formula, Rep. Heck believes, would better align the amount of money each state receives with the population of students who will benefit. In the U.S. Senate, lawmakers are also working on a bill to reauthorize Perkins this year, which is highlighted below.

Perkins CTE Act

Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Bob Casey (D-PA) are working on a bill to rewrite the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The Perkins Act, which hasn’t been updated since 2006, sets policy on career and technical education. Lawmakers have for years discussed rewriting Perkins but it has often been pushed to the sidelines while the education committees worked on other priorities such as The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (P.L. 114-95), which was signed into law last December. “No. 1, our employers want to see progress on it. And it is bipartisan,” Senator Casey said. “I have some hope we can make progress this year.” Some advocates are hoping the local control trend, as seen in the passage of ESSA, will prevail if Congress moves on Perkins.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, May 10: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing titled “Understanding Dyslexia: The Intersection of Scientific Research & Education.”

Regulatory Activity

Teacher Impact Grants

The Department of Education is collaborating with the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) to provide funding to teachers through Teacher Impact Grants (TIG). Through the TIG program, teachers will be able to develop, expand and evaluate promising practices and programs that can transform the academic trajectory of students. The grants, financially supported by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Foundation Charitable Trust and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, will be awarded directly to teachers for research-based initiatives they believe will accelerate learning and improve student outcomes. Grant amounts will range from $5,000 ˗ $15,000 and will fund teacher projects across the country that will be implemented during the 2016 ˗ 2017 school year.

Department of Labor Overtime Rule

The Department of Labor (DOL) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on July 6, 2015, announcing its intent to update regulations that govern which “white collar workers” are entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). These rules follow a memorandum issued by President Barack Obama in March 2014, instructing DOL to reexamine the regulations. DOL’s proposed rule would raise the salary threshold for overtime pay protections from $455 a week (the equivalent of $23,660 a year) to about $970 a week ($50,440 a year) in 2016.

The Administration is poised to lower the salary threshold in the final rule from $50,000 a year to $47,000 for salaried workers.  In Congress, lawmakers have introduced the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act (S. 2707/ H.R. 4773) to combat the rule. This legislation would ensure the DOL pursues a balanced and responsible approach to updating federal overtime rules. It is expected that DOL will release the final rule by May 16.

New War over Transgender Students’ Rights 

The Department of Justice sent a May 4 letter to North Carolina warning that a law requiring transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth violates the Civil Rights Act. The State has until Monday to respond, but Governor Pat McCrory has said he will respond while also accusing the Obama Administration of overreaching and violating students’ expectation of privacy.  The letter was also sent to Margaret Spellings, president of the University of North Carolina system, for her attempts to enforce the law. About $2 billion in federal funding for K-12 and higher education could be at stake if North Carolina continues to enforce the law.