February 2020 Issue

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February 2020 Issue

“[The President’s] budget puts an end to education earmarks. Instead of Washington politicians and bureaucrats forcing local schools to spend limited resources on D.C.’s priorities, this budget proposes putting state and local leaders, teachers, parents, and students themselves in control of education. Our block grant proposal simply aligns the resources with the law of the land — the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). States will be free to focus on people, not paperwork. Results, not regulations.  We know that states will spend their money differently, and that’s OK. In fact, that’s what we hope they do. They know best how to serve their students.” 

— Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, regarding President Trump’s FY 2021 budget request to Congress

State of the Union Address

On Feb. 5, President Trump delivered his third State of the Union address. He urged Congress to approve federal tax credits for school choice. He also called for an expansion of career and technical education and touted his administration’s support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and religious liberty in schools. 

“The next step forward in building an inclusive society is making sure that every young American gets a great education and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream,” he stated. “Yet, for too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools. To rescue these students, 18 states have created school choice, in the form of Opportunity Scholarships. The programs are so popular that tens of thousands of students remain on a waiting list. …  [I] call on Congress to give one million American children [education freedom. … Pass the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunities Act — because no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing government school.” 

In response to the State of the Union Address, Secretary DeVos, who attended the speech as a member of the President’s Cabinet, issued a statement.

Fiscal Year 2021 Education Budget Request

On February 10, President Trump submitted his Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget request to Congress. This transformative budget prioritizes improving student achievement, reducing the outsized federal role in education, and returning control over education decisions to whom it belongs: state and local leaders, teachers, parents, and students. 

There are several major themes in the president’s FY 2021 budget request for education, including

  • expanding education freedom for students;
  • empowering states to best meet the needs of students;
  • increasing career and technical education opportunities for students; and
  • transforming Federal Student Aid to better serve students.
EFS Budget

CTE Budget

Block Grants Budget

FSA Budget

The FY 2021 budget request supports additional critical investments, such as special education, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, and support for HBCUs and minority-serving institutions, including Hispanic-serving institutions.

There are additional resources on the budget request, including the budget summary, Congressional justifications, and a recording of the in-person briefing for stakeholders

School Safety Clearinghouse

School Safety Clearinghouse

Secretary DeVos and senior officials from the departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Justice met with families from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland, Florida) shooting at the White House to launch the federal school safety clearinghouse SchoolSafety.gov.  A one-stop-shop of resources for K–12 education administrators, educators, parents, and law enforcement officials, this website builds on the recommendations of the 2017 Federal Commission on School Safety.

SchoolSafety.gov features

  • the School Safety Readiness Tool, an assessment that assists users in evaluating their school’s posture across 10 foundational elements of school safety (after completing the assessment, users are presented an action plan with task prioritization, options for consideration, aligned resources, and grant opportunities specific to individual needs);
  • a secure information sharing platform for designated school personnel to share school safety ideas, practices, plans, and tactics in a protected environment; and
  • an array of best practices and resources on key school safety topics to assist with building awareness within the community to promote vigilance and develop capacity to respond to incidents.

Federal Work-Study Pilot

On Feb. 19, Secretary Betsy DeVos announced an experimental site initiative to allow students at 190 institutions to gain on-the-job experience with employers in their field of study as part of their Federal Work-Study program.  This experimental site is designed to assess whether students are better served when they are paid for work-based learning and allowed access to meaningful off-campus employment opportunities that are aligned with their program of study.  The experiment also provides additional Job Location and Development program funds to participating institutions and permits institutions to contract third-party intermediaries to help them build partnerships with businesses.

Investments in Apprenticeships

Apprenticeship Grants

On Feb. 18, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the awarding of grants to 28 public-private apprenticeship partnerships, totaling nearly $100 million, through the Apprenticeship: Closing the Skills Gap grant program. These grants will support large-scale expansions of apprenticeships in such industries as advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and information technology.

President Trump's Executive Order on Expanding Apprenticeship in America called for increasing the number of apprentices in the United States across all industries. There are more than 6.4 million job openings reported in the United States, and expanding apprenticeships will help individuals gain the skills necessary to fill these vacancies.

Seeking Federal Government Internships

Internship Opportunities

If you are a student seeking federal government internship opportunities for the summer, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics’ (WHIEEHs’) Federal Government Internship Opportunity Bank provides a listing of internship opportunities by federal agency.  (For example, a listing for the Federal Aviation Administration Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) internship program is currently posted. The deadline to apply for the summer 2020 session is March 20.) 

In addition, WHIEEH is seeking interns for summer 2020. The WHIEEH internship page has information on how to apply.

Rural Community College Convening

On March 19 and 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education and the American Association of Community Colleges are cohosting another convening to help rural community colleges identify, plan, and design projects for federal grant applications. Activities will include facilitated workshops and information from a variety of federal agencies with upcoming opportunities.

Please register now for an individual or small group from your community to attend this convening, which will be held at the Community College of Denver. Space is limited, and while there is no registration fee to attend, attendees are responsible for their own travel costs.

Pathways to Credentials Project

This week, the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department's) Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education’s Pathways to Credentials project launched its technical assistance phase, offering colleges the opportunity to apply for free customized technical assistance on stackable credential program design. This includes such components as employer engagement, industry certification alignment, and non-credit/credit integration. A cohort of up to 10 community colleges will be selected.

Teams from the colleges will participate in an in-person institute May 28–29, 2020, and work with a technical assistance coach and other subject matter experts over the course of a year to advance their work in embedding stackable industry-recognized credentials within associate degree programs. Participating colleges will develop action plans specific to the workforce needs of their communities while benefiting from the peer learning community of the cohort.

Full details and an application form are available on the project webpage. An informational webinar will be held on March 5, from 2–3 p.m. EST. Applications are due April 2.

Department STEM Newsletter

STEM Newsletter

The Department of Education has a new STEM newsletter. Subscribe now to receive the March edition.

National School Counseling Week

In celebration of National School Counseling Week (Feb. 3–7), two new Department videos (1 and 2) feature award-winning school counselors sharing their joy at providing students with academic, college, and career advice, and social-emotional support.

Better Serving Student Borrowers

This month, the U.S. Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in order to better serve student loan borrowers. The newly signed MOU will allow the two agencies to share complaint information from borrowers and meet quarterly to discuss observations about the nature of complaints received, characteristics of borrowers, and available information about resolution of complaints.