ED Review (05/28/21)

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May 28, 2021


END OF SCHOOL YEAR

End of School Year 

As the 2020-21 school year comes to a close, the Administration is celebrating high school graduates and providing further guidance for states and school districts to promote summer programs and prepare for the safe reopening of all schools in the fall. 

This week, Vice President Harris addressed the Class of 2021 as part of a CNN special event.  She told graduates that “you know that you have what it takes to get through pretty much anything” and “you will help determine what our world will look like on the other side [of the pandemic].”  Before the event, she spoke with four students from across the country about their accomplishments and shared with them sage advice from her mother. 

Also this week, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Kansas City, Missouri, to greet Americans receiving shots at community college-based vaccinations clinics. 

Secretary Cardona recorded a video last week urging Americans to get vaccinated, as part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) #WeCanDoThis campaign. 

The Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued “Questions and Answers on Civil Rights and School Reopening in the COVID-19 Environment,” to help students, families, schools, and the public support all students’ rights in educational environments during the pandemic. 

The Department’s Office for Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) released FAQs about how funding from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund may be used in response to the impact of the pandemic on students in pre-K-12 education. 

OESE and partners also held another Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative virtual session.  This session featured updates on federal priorities and safety guidelines for this summer, as well as tactical discussions highlighting evidence-based practices for state and local plans for learning recovery. 

Furthermore, OESE hosted the latest in its “Lessons from the Field” webinar series -- “Returning to In-Person Learning: Supporting Students, Especially Those with Disabilities, through Intensive Instruction, Effective Learning Environments, and Family Engagement.” 

TITLE IX PUBLIC HEARING

Title IX hearing 

OCR announced a virtual public hearing June 7-11 to gather information for improving enforcement of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.  This hearing is part of OCR’s comprehensive review of the Department’s existing regulations and other actions related to implementing the President’s March 8 Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.  The hearing is also a critical step toward fulfilling the President’s January 20 Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identify or Sexual Orientation. 

OCR looks forward to hearing from the public on steps to be taken to ensure students who experience sexual harassment, including sexual violence, receive appropriate supports; schools provide fair processes for resolving complaints of sexual harassment, including sexual violence; and students who have experienced discrimination based on gender identify and sexual orientation have their legal rights fully met.  Input from the hearing will also support the Department’s commitment to ensuring equal and non-discriminatory access to education for all students -- including in extracurricular activities and other educational settings. 

Members of the public may register to make live comments during the hearing.  They may also send written comments to T9PublicHearing@ed.gov, following guidelines in the hearing notice.

HIGHER EDUCATION PUBLIC HEARINGS 

The Department’s Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) announced it will hold virtual public hearings on June 21, 23, and 24 to receive feedback on potential issues for future rulemaking sessions.  These issues include borrower defense to repayment for students harmed by institutions’ misleading practices and gainful employment requirements to protect students and taxpayers from poor-performing programs.  They also include loan repayment and improving the rules governing targeted student loan cancellation authorities for borrowers engaged in public service, with disabilities, or whose institutions close. 

The hearings are the first step in the process of issuing new regulations.  Following the hearings, OPE will solicit nominations for non-federal individuals who can serve on the negotiated rulemaking committees, which will convene in late summer 2021. 

Those who would like to comment must register by sending a message to negreghearing@ed.gov no later than 12 noon Eastern Time on the business day prior to the hearing at which they wish to speak.  The message should include the name and email address of the speaker, the general topic(s) to be addressed, and at least two dates and times during which the individual would be available to speak.  The agency will attempt to accommodate each speaker’s scheduling preferences, but, if necessary, determinations will be made on a first-come, first-served basis.  All speakers will be limited to 3-5 minutes.  (Note: Written comments may also be submitted, following guidelines in the hearings notice). 

RISE AWARD

Melito Ramirez

On May 18, Secretary Cardona announced the selection of Melito Ramirez, an intervention specialist at Walla Walla High School in Washington State, as the nation’s first Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award honoree.  This new recognition, established by Congress in 2019, spotlights classified school employees’ outstanding contributions to quality K-12 education.  Such employees include paraprofessionals and those in administrative and clerical services, custodial and maintenance services, food and nutrition services, health and student services, skilled trades, technical services, and transportation services (press release, Secretary’s video, and Homeroom blog). 

Over his 40-year career, Ramirez has worked for multiple districts in more than a dozen different roles, such as migrant home visitor, summer school coordinator, special education secretary, and bus driver.  He currently conducts home visits, bridges the gap between home and school for Spanish-speaking families, and works to secure the mental health and technological resources students need.  He has helped organize a bilingual night school for adults in the community, supported students as they apply for and participate in youth leadership programs, and diminished tensions among rival gang members in the 1990s by coordinating supervised evening and weekend activities (video montage of surprise announcement). 

For this inaugural year, the Department received 32 nominations from 20 states.  Governors’ offices determined state-specific processes for selecting up to two nominees, documenting excellence in five areas: work performance, school and community involvement, leadership and commitment, local support (from co-workers, school administrators, community members, etc.), and enhancement of school employees’ image in schools and the community. 

NEW FROM NCES 

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), has been busy! 

First, it released the 2019 National Indian Education Study, describing the condition of education for American Indian students in the U.S.  This study provides information on the academic performance of fourth- and eighth-grade American Indian students in reading and math and on educational experiences. 

Second, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) and NCES held a virtual event with discussion and analysis of the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science results for grades 4, 8, and 12.  Only a third of fourth- and eighth-graders and fewer than one in four high school seniors performed proficiently (blog post). 

Third, it released “The Condition of Education 2021,” a report on education in America today.  The report presents 86 indicators in five areas -- pre-primary, elementary, and secondary education; postsecondary education; population characteristics and economic outcomes; international comparisons; and school crime and safety -- and two spotlighted indicators that use experimental data to examine preliminary educational impacts of the pandemic at both the K-12 and postsecondary levels (blog post). 

Meanwhile, in a new blog post, IES Director Mark Schneider shares some of the themes explored when staff from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and IES convened an initial public panel meeting on the future of NCES. 

ODDS AND ENDS 

  • President Biden announced his intent to nominate Lisa Brown as the Department’s General Counsel (see Secretary Cardona’s statement of support).
  • The Secretary traveled to Cary, North Carolina, to visit an early learning center and promote the President’s proposal to provide free preschool to all three- and four-year-old children.
  • A new ED.gov is coming!  The transformation is already underway and features a new look-and-feel and critical rethinking of how to effectively communicate online.  The goal: a digital experience where one can find what they need, discover things they did not know, and leave feeling satisfied.
  • In a letter to State Directors of Career and Technical Education, Acting Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Amy Loyd provides an update on the accountability and reporting requirements for the 2020-21 school year under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.
  • The Department’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) office added a number of new and improved features on StudentAid.gov and its mobile application.
  • Secretary Cardona congratulated San Antonio College in Texas on being awarded the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
  • The Secretary also marked the 67th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case.
  • And, the Secretary held a virtual roundtable to showcase the importance of providing Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals, speaking with students who took college courses while in prison (tweet). 

QUOTE TO NOTE 

“The Class of 2021, you have it all.  You really do.  And we need you badly….  The press always asks me why I’m so optimistic about America’s chances in the world.  And I’ve said from the time I decided to run, ‘Because of this generation.’  You’re the most progressive, best-educated, least-prejudiced, most open generation in American history….  You’re ready, [and] it’s time to get underway.” 

-- President Joseph Biden (5/19/21), from his Coast Guard Academy commencement address 

UPCOMING EVENTS 

Today, the President will submit to Congress his full Fiscal Year 2022 budget request.  Materials regarding the request for the Department will be posted on the budget page. 

Among other observations, June is designated as National Safety Month. 

Reminder: Because of the ongoing pandemic, the ED Games Expo (June 1-6) has moved online.  Attendees will have the opportunity to demo learning games and technology and interact with developers virtually.  The agenda presents the schedule and information on how to access 35 online events occurring during the week. 


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