ED Review (11/26/21)

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November 26, 2021


CRDC Package 

Last week, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) submitted to the Federal Register for public comment a proposed Civil Rights Data Collection (CRC) information collection request package for the 2021-22 school year.  The package describes key civil rights data that OCR intends to collect from the country’s public schools and school districts.  OCR plans to introduce some new data categories -- including some relating to students’ educational experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic -- and restore categories from previous collections (press release, blog post, and Twitter thread). 

Among the highlights:

  • the addition of COVID-19 data elements to learn the extent to which schools are offering remote instruction to students during the 2021-22 school year;
  • restoration and expansion of data about preschool students and teachers; and
  • the addition of a nonbinary option to male/female data categories for those schools and districts that already collect the data, for inclusion of accurate information about student identities and experiences. 

The Department has collected civil rights data since 1968.  The CRDC collects data and information about student access to educational courses and school staff, as well as school climate factors such as the use of student discipline and incidents of student harassment, from public schools serving students in preschool to twelfth-grade.  In August 2021, OCR announced the administration of a 2021-22 CRDC -- the first time it has conducted a civil rights data collection two years in a row.  This additional collection will allow OCR to identify and address inequities in educational opportunities as the nation continues to grapple with the pandemic and its effects on students’ academic, social, and emotional development. 


Student Vaccine Clinic

Secretary Cardona visited Capitol Heights Elementary School in suburban Maryland on November 17, where he toured a COVID-19 student vaccine clinic and learned about Prince George’s County Public Schools’ commitment to inoculating students ages 5-11 (video). 

A few days later, the Secretary traveled to Burlington, Vermont, visiting two elementary schools.  First, he observed a preschool program at Sustainability Academy, underscoring the importance of early childhood education.  Then, he met with teachers involved in after-school programming and toured another COVID-19 student vaccine clinic at Champlain Elementary School (video). 

Meanwhile, also last week, Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten and Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal testified before a joint session of the House of Representatives’ Subcommittees on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and Higher Education and Workforce Investment on implementation of federal COVID-19 education funding.  Over the course of 3.5 hours, they addressed academic learning loss, resources for underserved students, mask mandates, and other issues that have affected classrooms since the pandemic began. 


On November 18, with a federal assistance team on the ground, the Department announced approval of Puerto Rico’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund State Plan and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funding to the Commonwealth.  The plan details how Puerto Rico is using and intends to use ARP ESSER funds to safely reopen and sustain operations of schools and classrooms and address the essential needs of students, including by equitably expanding educational opportunities for students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.  To date, 47 plans have been approved (see state-by-state press releases and highlights online). 

Moreover, over the past two weeks, the Department approved ARP Homeless Children and Youth (HCY) State Plans for 27 states and Puerto Rico.  These plans represent commitments to using $800 million in ARP funding designated to identify and support students experiencing homelessness and connecting them to wrap-around services.  Many states and districts have already begun to utilize ARP HCY funds, following the Department’s disbursement of funding earlier this year (blog post -- with a few examples). 

Furthermore, the Department announced about $20 million in grants to Tribal Educational Agencies (TEAs) under the ARP American Indian Resilience in Education (AIRE) program.  These grants fund culturally relevant projects designed to assist and encourage Native American children and youth to enter, remain in, or re-enter school at any grade level.  Activities include a range of direct education, health, and workforce preparation services for Native students, their teachers, and their families (press release -- with a few examples). 

Separately, the Department issued guidance on using ARP funding for student transportation, including to address current regional challenges with hiring and retaining a sufficient number of school bus drivers. 


Return to Repayment

This summer, the Department announced a final extension of the student loan payment pause until January 31, 2022.  That means repayments on federally owned federal student loans with restart as early as February 1, 2022.  Although it is unclear just how long the current COVID-19 emergency will continue to impact borrowers, they can expect the agency to proactively support them during this transitional period. 

The Department’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) office has begun communicating important information and providing online tools and other resources to help borrowers confidently manage their student loans.  FSA is committed to supporting all borrowers with continuous communications about repayment and key resources to help them learn more about their loan servicer, the right repayment plan, and avoiding student loan scams. 

Federal student loan borrowers may find the most up-to-date information at StudentAid.gov/coronavirus.  Additionally, FSA created a “Return to Repayment Toolkit” for partners, with a fact sheet, video, and sample social media posts.  Any questions may be directed to FederalStudentAid@ed.gov. 


As part of this year’s White House Tribal Nations Summit, the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and the Interior launched a new interagency initiative to preserve, protect, and promote the rights and freedom of Native Americans to use, practice, and develop Native languages.  The agencies, joined by five entities, signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to further the Native American Languages Act of 1990 by establishing new goals and programs that support preservation and protection of Native languages spoken by federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes, Native Hawaiians, and other Native American groups in the U.S.  This MOA also affirms holding an annual National Summit on Native Languages (which was held this year on November 18 and 19). 

The MOA features specific interagency goals, including, but not limited to, identifying statutory or regulatory barriers that impede federal implementation of Native language activities; identifying research that explores educational attainment and Native language retention and/or revitalization; simplifying the process to integrate Native language instruction and other cultural activities into educational settings, such as libraries, museums, cultural and historic preservation programs, and in the arts; and strengthening Tribal consultations on the issue of Native languages. 

The Native Language Workgroup, comprised of senior officials from the three primary agencies, will be chaired by the executive director of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities (based at Education), the commissioner of the Administration for Native Americans (based at Health and Human Services), and the director of the Bureau of Indian Education (based at Interior). 


  • In support of Operation Allies Welcome, the Department curated a broad collection of educational, student and family engagement, and general cultural and linguistic documents to help guide states and districts, postsecondary institutions, and community-based providers in supporting Afghan refugees.
  • During National Apprenticeship Week, Secretary Cardona, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Commerce Deputy Secretary Don Graves, and Switzerland President Guy Parmelin signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to expand apprenticeships among Swiss companies and Swiss-invested companies in the U.S. and promote job creation in both countries (photos).
  • President Biden announced his intent to nominate Glenna Gallo as the Department’s Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and the Secretary issued a supportive statement.
  • New school-level data (collected before the pandemic) describes how schools are utilizing technology in the education process.
  • A new What Works Clearinghouse practice guide focuses on effective advising for postsecondary students.
  • The latest blog entry from Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Director Mark Schneider spotlights SEERNet, the digital learning network.
  • The Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education released their annual “Open Doors report, underscoring the continued commitment of students and scholars, U.S. higher education, governmental partners, and industry stakeholders to international educational exchange amid the ongoing pandemic.
  • The Census Bureau’s Thanksgiving Day Fun Facts resource offers students and educators a variety of interesting facts -- from the number of turkey towns and cranberry counties nationwide to the states forecasted to raise the most turkeys! 


Today’s passage by the House [of Representatives] of the Build Back Better framework represents a resounding vote of confidence in America’s future and an unprecedented investment in our democracy.  The impact of this proposal on education equity, excellence, and opportunity -- from cradle to college and career -- will be nothing short of transformative.  Free universal pre-K and dramatically improved access to child care, so all our children can start their learning journeys from the same starting line.  Increased resources for HBCUs, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, and other institutions that unlock opportunities for students of color and unleash their potential in our communities.  Expanded access to affordable college with increased Pell grants for anyone who dreams of getting a degree.  A stronger workforce pipeline with workforce development resources, for better pathways to the middle class.  This worthy complement to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal recognizes what we all know -- that, beyond the bridges, roads, broadband, or anything else we can build -- our real strength lies in our communities, in our families, and in the dreams and talents of our people.” 

-- Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (11/19/21), in a statement on House passage of the Build Back Better Act 


There is still time to register for the virtual 2021 FSA Training Conference for Financial Aid Professionals (November 30-December 2). 

On November 30, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time, please join the Department’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) for a panel discussion and Q&A with award-winning authors whose works feature the diversity of heroes and heroines within the Native American community. 

Then, on December 10, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET, the Department and the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) will host the #GoOpen 2021 Virtual Convening.  This event supports educators and leaders working to expand access to high-quality open educational resources (OER).  It will feature keynote presentations, breakout sessions, and collaborative conversations covering OER implementation and scaling. 

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