ED Review (07/22/22)

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July 22, 2022


ED Review is taking a summer hiatus.  Publication will resume on August 19.  As always, please visit ED.gov for the latest federal education news and information. 


Engage Every Student 

Last week, coinciding with National Summer Learning Week, the Department announced the Engage Every Student Initiative at an event with students, leaders, and exemplary programs from school districts, cities, and afterschool and summer learning programs.  This initiative will help communities utilize American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds, alongside other state and local funding, to ensure that every child has a spot in a high-quality out-of-school time (OST) program.  Five coordinating organizations will work with more than 20 allied organizations to provide critical learning and development opportunities year-round (press release and video recap). 

“Quality [OST] programs have always supported students’ academic, social, and emotional growth, but as we recover from the pandemic, these opportunities have never matter more,” stressed Secretary Cardona.  “We need bold action, especially for low-income students and students of color who have historically struggled to access quality afterschool programs and rich summer learning experiences.  This new partnership cements the Department’s commitment to ensuring that more students have access to meaningful, enriching [OST] programming, not just some of the day, but all day, all year round.” 

The announcement builds on the more than two decades of work to build and grow the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.  Now, with ARP funds, schools and districts are able to expand access to high-quality OST programs that support student learning and have lasting, positive impacts on youth development.  Relatedly, the Department’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) issued a new tool to support states, districts, and programs in using evidence to implement afterschool and summer learning programs, as part of its Evidence-Based Practices for Renewal and Recovery, which cultivates materials from a wide range of sources. 

Meanwhile, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary Cardona participated in a summer learning tour, visiting three cities and states to highlight how ARP funds are supporting students getting caught up through summer learning (see photos from New Haven, Connecticut and Detroit, Michigan, and Athens, Georgia). 

Furthermore, the Department released a Notice of Final Priorities (NFP) and Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) for the Full-Service Community Schools program (Secretary’s tweet). 


Supplemental Postsecondary Aid 

Also last week, the Department awarded the final $198 million in ARP Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund grants.  These grants will assist students who attend 244 postsecondary institutions and provide resources to help these institutions recover from the impacts of the pandemic.  They are going to public and private non-profit institutions that have the greatest unmet needs, including community colleges and rural institutions that serve a high percentage of diverse and low-income student populations and that have experienced enrollment declines during the pandemic (press release and Twitter thread). 

“The institutions that serve our highest-need students were not only hit hard by the pandemic but, in many cases, have also struggled with chronic underinvestment and funding inequities,” noted Secretary Cardona.  “This funding from the ARP will help Historically Black Colleges and Universities [HBCUs], Minority-Serving Institutions [MSIs], community colleges, and other inclusive institutions better support their students, from investing in campus mental health, to providing financial relief, to meeting housing, transportation, and child care needs.  When we invest in strong supports for our students, we help remove barriers to their success so that they can stay on track with their studies, complete their degrees, and, ultimately, build rewarding careers.” 

As part of the announcement, the Secretary, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and White House ARP Coordinator Gene Sperling joined leadership from three community college grant recipients for a press call spotlighting the positive impacts of ARP grants on students.  These institutions have reduced or eliminated tuition, eliminated outstanding student balances, addressed food insecurity with food pantries, created zero-cost textbook programs, and covered costs of evidence-based practices to monitor and suppress the spread of COVID-19. 

Separately, Secretary Cardona addressed the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) Association Annual Meeting in Boston (photos). 

Additionally, the Federal Student Aid (FSA) office emailed approximately 22 million borrowers regarding the limited Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) waiver (Secretary’s video). 


This week, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released new guidance to help public elementary and secondary schools fulfill their responsibilities to meet the needs of students with disabilities and avoid the discriminatory use of student discipline.  These resources reflect the concern, particularly in light of the prevalence of student mental health issues associated with the pandemic, that some students with disabilities are not receiving the supports and services necessary to address their educational needs, including their disability-based behavior.  The guidance makes abundantly clear that schools do not need to choose between complying with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and keeping their school community safe (press release and landing page). 

Among the new resources:

In developing the guidance and resources, the Department drew from experience with administering and enforcing federal laws related to students with disabilities and considered information shared by the public in response to a June 2021 Request for Information (RFI) regarding non-discriminatory administration of school discipline. 


Strategic Plan

On July 8, the Department released its Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2022-26, describing the policy and operational priorities for the agency.  The plan details the Department’s strategic goals and objectives over the next four years, from promoting equity in student access to educational resources, opportunities, and inclusive environments to enhancing the agency’s internal capacity to optimize the delivery of its mission.  The plan also specifies the Department’s Fiscal Year 2022-23 Agency Priority Goals: address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students, educators, and faculty; effectively manage federal student loans; and reduce disparities in attainment of high-quality degrees and credentials. 


On July 12, the White House COVID-19 Team outlined its strategy to manage BA.5 -- a subvariant of the Omicron variant -- which now accounts for the majority of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.  The team’s strategy relies on ensuring that Americans continue to have easy and convenient access to vaccines, treatments, tests, and other tools that protect against and treat the virus.  These tools work to prevent serious illness, keep people out of the hospital, and save lives (President Biden’s tweet). 

During a press briefing on the strategy, Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, singled out ventilation as a key mitigation strategy.  “We know that improving indoor air quality by improving ventilation, putting in indoor air purifiers -- they can make an enormous difference in reducing infections and spread,” he said.  “So, if you are a business or a school or any kind of institution that brings people together indoors, please work to improve the quality of that indoor air.” 

Earlier this month, Secretary Cardona hosted Dr. Jha and subject matter experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a webinar on the importance of improving air quality in schools. 



“I deeply believe that the Department is -- and must function as -- a service agency.  To fulfill this mission, we must work each day to meet the needs of every learner, and we must establish an inclusive and actionable agenda by hearing directly from those we serve: students, including student loan borrowers, teachers, parents and families, and their communities.  That is one reason I have prioritized traveling across the country to listen to and learn from Americans in small, rural towns, suburban centers, and our largest cities.  It is also why I will continue to ensure that our Department builds policy that centers the voices and experiences of our constituents.  This FY 2022-26 Strategic Plan reflects this commitment to service, equity, community building, and high-quality service standards for all our internal and external activities as well as President Biden’s vision -- which I share -- of an excellent education system for all.” 

-- Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (7/8/22), from his message on the FY 2022-26 Strategic Plan 


Today, at 12 noon Eastern Time, AmeriCorps will host a webinar for partners honoring 9/11 through service. 

Don’t miss the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony broadcast live on July 26 at 2 p.m. ET. 

The Smithsonian Institution is hosting a free, two-day (July 27 and 28) National Education Summit (with virtual option) to celebrate teachers and share instructional strategies and resources. 

Join the Student Privacy Policy Office through its Privacy Technical Assistance Center for a special three-day webinar series (August 17, 21, and 31) on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and data security. 

The Department’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) will host its Smart Beginnings webinar August 9-11.  This three-day event will feature helpful resources for those working with infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities, including parents and families, teachers, service providers, administrators, districts, and agencies.  Follow OSEP on Twitter for more information. 

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