May 2020 Issue

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May 2020 Issue

“Thanks to the President's leadership, the new career and technical education law gives local leaders the flexibility to make investments in the highest impact areas of local need. We know many well-paying, in-demand jobs require CTE training but not necessarily a college degree and the associated debt. The coronavirus pandemic has certainly highlighted the need for all education to be tailored to meet each student’s unique needs, more nimble, and relevant to 21st-century realities. High-quality CTE programs are a critical way to help learners of all ages and get our economy back up and running at full speed.”

— Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (5/22/20), in an announcement regarding the approval of the first wave of career and technical education (CTE) state plans.

Department Approves First Wave of Perkins Career and Technical Education State Plans

On May 22, Secretary DeVos announced that the U.S. Department of Education (Department) has approved six career and technical education (CTE) state plans. Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire are the first six states to have their CTE plans approved under the new, bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on July 31, 2018.

Perkins V encourages states to expand opportunities for every student to access educational opportunities that will put them on the path to success. Each state crafted a plan to fulfill its promise of offering a robust CTE option for students following consultation with its key constituents, representing education and the workforce, business and industry, and parents and community partners.

Title IX Regulations

On May 6, Secretary DeVos took action to strengthen Title IX protections for survivors of sexual misconduct and to restore due process in campus proceedings to ensure that all students can pursue an education free from sex discrimination. For the first time ever, the Department’s Title IX regulation defines sexual harassment, including sexual assault, as unlawful sex discrimination. The regulation also holds schools accountable for failure to respond equitably and promptly to sexual misconduct incidents and ensures a more reliable adjudication process that is fair to all students. The regulation comes after years of research, careful deliberation, and critical inputs from survivors, advocates, students, school administrators, Title IX coordinators, and the American people, including more than 124,000 public comments. The regulation is effective August 14, 2020.

To learn more, see the White House fact sheet, Secretary’s video announcement, final rule overview, summary of major provisions, comparison to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and OCR webinar.

COVID-19 Resources and CARES Act Information

The White House, the Department, and other federal agencies continue to release and update a significant amount of guidance to support schools, educators, and families regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The Department maintains and updates its page with information for students, families, educators, schools, and institutions of higher education. The federal government provides information on,, and The President has released his Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, the Environmental Protection Agency offers Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools and Homes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidance for school settings.

On March 27, the President signed The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. The CARES Act establishes the $30 billion Education Stabilization Fund (ESF). Secretary DeVos has released the ESF funding in several tranches to distribute emergency cash grants to college students whose lives and educations have been disrupted; support continued education at America’s colleges and universities; provide emergency education block grants for governors to ensure education continues for student of all ages; support continued education for K-12 students; launch a new grant competition to spark student-centered, agile learning opportunities; and deliver funds to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), minority-serving institutions, and colleges and universities serving low-income students.

Please direct education-related questions to

Honoring Teachers

In recognition of National Teacher Day (May 5) and Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4--8), especially during this period of national emergency, senior officers across government saluted the nation’s educators.

President Trump issued a Presidential Message on National Teacher Day. “The classroom is a unique place for each student, providing them a sanctuary to learn and grow,” he said. “The past months, however, have tested our traditional educational models, as the Coronavirus outbreak has required our nation’s teachers to adapt and provide instruction to their students through increasingly innovative means. America’s teachers have risen to the challenge by developing and implementing imaginative, creative, and resourceful strategies to bring their classrooms and lesson plans into the homes of their students. These adaptations to implement distance education are a reminder of the phenomenal work educators perform every day to ensure that our nation’s young people have ample access to valuable learning opportunities.”

Secretary DeVos recorded a special video. “While great teachers deserve our gratitude every week, I want to take a few moments to especially celebrate and thank you this week,” she stated. “Thank you for all you do to keep your students learning, engaged, and connected. You’re doing so right now under different and challenging circumstances. We know great teachers are rising to the occasion in unique and creative ways, and many of you are working hard to help your students … while juggling the needs of your own families. You are heroes.”

CARES Act Funding for Minority Serving Institutions


On April 30, Secretary DeVos announced that nearly $1.4 billion in CARES Act funding would be directed to Minority Serving Institutions, including HBCUs, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities, as well as institutions serving low-income students, to help ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 national emergency. This funding is part of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the CARES Act.

“This administration is committed to the success of HBCUs, minority-serving institutions, and the students they serve. Each institution is unique and is an important part of this country’s educational fabric,” said Secretary DeVos. “Institutions may spend this funding for multiple allowable uses, including covering the cost of technology associated with a transition to distance education, grants to cover the costs of attendance for eligible students, and faculty and staff trainings.”

2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Announced

On May 21, Secretary DeVos acknowledged the 56th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations, and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals. See the complete list of the 161 presidential scholars.

New Grant Competition for School Districts to Launch Student-Centered Funding Program

On May 11, Secretary DeVos announced a $3 million grant competition that will give school districts the opportunity to launch student-centered funding programs. The competition, authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), will allow school districts to combine eligible federal funds with state and local funds in order to allocate resources based on students’ individual needs.

School districts that receive the grants will apply for and, if approved, implement the associated funding flexibility under Section 1501 of ESSA, which must include using weights that allocate substantially more funding to students from low-income families, English learners, and any other educationally disadvantaged student group identified by the school district. School districts must also consult parents, teachers, school leaders, and other relevant stakeholders as they develop and implement the student-centered funding system. For more information about these grant competitions, pre-application technical assistance webinar opportunities, or opportunities to be a peer reviewer, please email

Introducing the New OELA Director

In April 2020, Secretary DeVos appointed Lorena Orozco McElwain as the Deputy Assistant Secretary and Director of the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA). Learn more about her background in her video introduction (Spanish).

Class of 2020

Class of 2020

On May 1, President Trump issued a Presidential Message to the Class of 2020:

“Though this season of celebration has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, our country and communities need you now more than ever. Your leadership will be essential in the days and weeks to come in helping your fellow Americans recover from this hardship. I remain confident that the future of our Nation will be brighter than ever before.”

In addition, the White House hosted a graduation ceremony for 2020 graduates on May 23.

Services for English Learners During COVID-19 Fact Sheet

Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award Recipients Announced

Secretary DeVos announced that Donna Woods and Kara Four Bear have been selected as the inaugural Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award recipients. Ms. Woods, of Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, California, and Ms. Four Bear, of New Town Middle School in New Town, North Dakota, are recognized for instilling in their students the skills, knowledge, and passion for cybersecurity.

Distance Learning Resources from IES and Education Technology Developers

The Department’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) took an innovative approach in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past weeks, IES and education technology developers hosted a series of free day-long “unconferences” for educators, parents, and students. These events highlighted state-of-the-art approaches to teaching and learning, and sessions focused on innovative approaches to implementing the interventions in low-resource settings in mathematics, early learning, social studies, special education and science. 

Parent Training and Information Centers

The Department issued a notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year 2020 for Training and Information for Parents of Children with Disabilities—Parent Training and Information Centers and the Parent Information and Training Program. According to the notice, grant funds promote the effective education of children with disabilities by “strengthening the role and responsibility of parents and ensuring that families of such children have meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children at school and at home.” Applications are due by June 22, 2020.

National Charter Schools Week

Bridging the Gap in Connectivity

The Department's Office of Educational Technology has outlined four strategies school district leaders can implement to bridge gaps in connectivity for low-income families. As internet service providers offer low-cost internet service, districts can highlight free or low-cost internet programs for low-income families, identify locally-available low-cost internet programs, cover the cost of low-cost internet programs for eligible families, and set up a hotline for the community.

New Federal Student Aid Tool for Student Borrowers

On April 26, Federal Student Aid released the Annual Student Loan Acknowledgment tool. This tool can help student borrowers understand fundamental loan concepts, such as interest accrual and capitalization. For new borrowers, the tool gives a sense of a borrower's loan balance, monthly payment, and expected salary based on the school and the program in which a borrower plans to be enrolled.