ED Review (04/15/22)

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April 15, 2022


Student Loan Pause 

On April 6, the Department announced an extension of the pause on student loan repayment, interest, and collections through August 31, 2022.  While the economy continues to improve, and COVID-19 cases continue to decline, President Biden’s decision to extend the pause is consistent with his call to sensibly respond to the pandemic and its economic consequences, as well as allow for the responsible phase-down of federal emergency relief (President’s video and Department’s Twitter thread). 

This extension provides additional time for borrowers to plan for the resumption of payments, reducing the risk of delinquency and defaults after restart.  During the extension period, the Department will continue to assess the financial impacts of the pandemic on borrowers and prepare to transition them back smoothly into repayment.  This includes allowing all borrowers to receive a “fresh start” on repayment by allowing them to re-enter in good standing, regardless of their pre-pause status.  Also, the agency will continue to provide loan relief, including for borrowers who have been defrauded by their institutions and those who are eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. 

“The Department…is committed to ensuring that student loan borrowers have a smooth transition back to repayment,” emphasized Secretary Cardona.  “This additional extension will allow borrowers to gain more financial security as the economy continues to improve and as the nation continues to recover from the pandemic.  It remains a top priority of the Biden Administration to support students, families, and borrowers -- especially those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.  During the pause, we will continue our preparations to give borrowers a fresh start and ensure that all borrowers have access to repayment plans that meet their financial situations and needs.” 


Building Better Schools 

Also last week, at Neval Thomas Elementary School in Washington, D.C., Vice President Harris released the Administration’s Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure to upgrade public schools with clean, modern, energy-efficient facilities and transportation -- thereby delivering health and learning benefits to children and school communities, saving school districts money, and creating good union jobs.  The plan activates the whole federal government in leveraging investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and American Rescue Plan (ARP) to advance solutions, including resilient design, energy efficiency retrofits, and electric school buses (White House Twitter thread and Secretary Cardona’s tweets 1 and 2). 

Among the highlights:

  • The Department of Energy (DOE) launched a new $500 million grant program under the BIL to make public schools more energy efficient.
  • To improve indoor air quality in schools, the Administration is supporting states, districts, and communities in leveraging ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to repair, replace, or upgrade ventilation systems; purchase air filters and portable air cleaning devices; and fix doors and windows so schools can stay open for in-person learning (see Department resource).
  • The White House released a toolkit to help schools and districts access available funding, as well as planning tools and technical assistance, for addressing school infrastructure needs.  (This toolkit will also support school participation in the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, while the DOE separately announced the inaugural honorees of the Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign.)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with support from the DOE, released online resources to help districts and other eligible recipients prepare for the $5 billion Clean School Bus Program under the BIL -- with the first opportunity to fund electric school buses opening later this spring.
  • The Department of Agriculture (USDA) committed to using its array of rural development grant and loan programs to support electric school bus acquisition, charging station infrastructure, energy- efficient investments at schools, and broadband and distance learning in rural districts. 

Meanwhile, as part of the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget request, the Department of Education proposed a new Office of Infrastructure and Sustainability to support schools in creating safe, healthy, and sustainable 21st century learning environments. 


Knob Noster visit 

Once again, Secretary Cardona criss-crossed the nation over the last two weeks. 

In Weston, Florida, joined by U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, he toured Cypress Bay High School -- learning about the school’s many career development programs, including the FBI Cyber/STEM Academy -- and participated in a conversation with Broward College students about workforce training and support services (tweet and video). 

In Maine, joined by U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree, he met with school bus drivers in Kennebunk -- learning about how the state addressed its driver shortage using ARP funding -- and met with students simultaneously enrolled in high school and postsecondary courses at York County Community College (tweets 1, 2, and 3). 

The President’s budget proposes a new $200 million Career-Connected High Schools program. 

And in honor of the Month of the Military Child, the Secretary joined First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in Missouri, visiting public schools serving students connected with Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster (First Lady’s Twitter thread and Secretary’s Twitter thread). 

In between travel, he discussed the future of education in a Washington Post Live conversation. 

Moreover, he shared a video from Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten’s recent tour of schools in Pennsylvania and New Jersey featuring promising practices using ARP funding. 

Plus, Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal visited California State University, Dominguez Hills and Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina. 


On April 14, the Department and more than 90 federal agencies released inaugural equity action plans (see the Department’s plan and Twitter thread).  These plans align with President Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. 

To deal with ongoing recovery efforts from the pandemic and begin to remedy long-standing disparities that underserved students and communities face in achieving equal opportunity in education, the Department is announcing a series of plans to incorporate equity throughout its mission and operations to meet the needs of every learner.  This includes including prioritizing access to and completion of an education beyond high school; ensuring equitable impact of ARP’s $130 billion in funding for K-12 students; investing in resources to help advance civil rights; advancing equity in contracting and procurement; and advancing equity in grant process strategies. 

These actions build on Department work initiated during the first year of the Administration to deliver on equity and racial justice.  This includes supporting America’s education system through the pandemic; supporting schools with high-poverty rates to address opportunity and achievement gaps; investing in educator recruitment and retention; supporting higher education with relief funding; advancing equity through Title IX; supporting learners with disabilities; supporting student loan borrowers; and focusing on equity as a priority. 


The Department named Jon Long, school architect with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, as the 2022 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) Director’s Award recipient.  This award annually recognizes a State Education Agency (SEA) official who does the most to advance sustainable schools by implementing a robust ED-GRS competition process; connecting more schools to resources in all three recognition pillars; amplifying the stories of honorees; helping schools learn from one another; partnering with a variety of entities to bring more resources and expertise into schools; and exhibiting a dedication to exceptional facilities, health, and environmental education activities outside of administering the ED-GRS.  The Secretary will announce this year’s ED-GRS honorees on Earth Day (April 22). 



“Make no mistake.  [Education] is the best profession.  This pandemic squeezed the profession and really required a lot of our educators and our education leaders -- our principals and our superintendents.  But, this is the best profession.  And it’s time that we match our funding with what we’ve been saying all along.  We need to support our educators, give them the tools that they need to be successful.  They bent over backwards for our kids.  We have to make sure we’re providing them the support that they need to want to stay in the profession and for folks who are not in the profession to consider teaching as a calling.” 

-- Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (4/7/22), from his Washington Post Live conversation 


Reminder!  The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, in conjunction with the Department of Education, will present a Jazz Informance on April 19 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.  Hosted by Secretary Cardona, this event -- a combination of performance with educational information -- will be livestreamed from the Department’s headquarters building on the agency’s YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. 

All are invited to join the “From Recovery to Thriving: How the American Rescue Plan is Supporting America’s Students” virtual summit on April 27, in the late afternoon.  The Department is bringing together education leaders, advocates, and philanthropic partners to discuss how to help students and schools recover from the pandemic.  The opening panel and learning sessions will offer opportunities to support districts and states in using their federal funding to deepen and scale strategies to address learning recovery, mental health support, and labor shortages beyond the three years of ARP funding. 

The 29th Annual Federal Inter-Agency Holocaust Remembrance Program, “Courage Facing Evil,” will be held virtually on April 28, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET. 

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