ED Review (10/14/22)

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October 14, 2022


Biden at FEMA 

On October 3, President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden traveled to Ponce, Puerto Rico, to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Fiona and announce $60 million in federal funding to help the island “rebuild it all, and rebuild it in a resilient way” (President’s remarks and White House fact sheet). 

Then, on October 5, the President and First Lady traveled to Fort Myers, Florida, where they met with local residents and small business owners, received an operational briefing on recovery efforts, and thanked federal, state, and local officials working around the clock to provide life-saving assistance and support recovery in the wake of Hurricane Ian (President’s remarks and White House fact sheet). 

The Department closely follows the impacts of natural disasters on students, educators, staff, families, and others.  Schools are a critical aspect of whole community recovery and provide education, nutrition, physical fitness, mental health counseling, and other resources to students and their families during day-to-day operations.  When schools close following a natural disaster, it is crucial that these resources remain available to the community and that schools are reopened and operating as soon as possible.  In 2018, to better assist K-12 schools, the agency’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) formed a Disaster Recovery Unit (DRU).  (Indeed, a DRU staff member is on the ground in Florida this week to better understand the needs of schools and coordinate with other federal agencies on recovery efforts.)  The agency’s Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) and Federal Student Aid (FSA) office support postsecondary institutions. 

In a new Homeroom blog (English and Spanish), the Department curated resources, including those developed by other federal agencies and organizations, for restoring the teaching and learning environment. 

Find additional resources for students, schools, and grantees on the Natural Disaster Resources web page. 


Mental Health Supports 

The Department is soliciting applications for two grant programs, totaling $280 million, to increase access to mental health services for students and young adults funded through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) and Fiscal Year 2022 omnibus appropriations.  The BSCA provides historic funding to help meet President Biden’s goal of doubling the number of school-based mental health professionals and addressing the nation’s mental health crisis.  This is the first of $1 billion in BSCA funding that the agency will award over the next five years for this purpose (press release). 

The first program, School-Based Mental Health Services, awards grants to states and school districts to increase the number of credentialed school-based mental health professionals.  There is $144 million available each year for five years, with an average award size of $1.75 million.  The agency estimates making up to 150 awards. 

The second program, Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration grants, supports innovative partnerships in high-need districts to boost the mental health profession pipeline.  There is $143 million available each year for five years, with an average award size of $800,000.  The agency expects to make 250 awards. 

Coinciding with this announcement, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded nearly $27 million to expand and improve mental health care for children and adolescents (press release). 


Student Loan Debt Relief Application 

On October 11, the Department previewed the student debt relief application web site.  As promised, the form is short and simple, requires no supporting documentation or FSA identification, and will be available in English and Spanish and on both desktop and mobile devices.  The application period will open later this month and run through December 31, 2023.  Once submitted, FSA will review the application, determine eligibility for relief, and work with loan servicers to process the relief.  The best source of information during this process is @usedgov and @FAFSA, and the Department will notify borrowers once the application becomes available.  (Note: To be among the first to be notified, sign up for updates at StudentAid.gov/DebtRelief.) 

Earlier, the Department shared “Student Loan Debt Relief Do’s and Don’ts” with millions who signed up for key updates and across communications channels to help borrowers protect themselves against scammers and ensure they know to report all scams to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.  Also, at a White House meeting on student debt relief scam prevention, Secretary Cardona discussed actions his Department is taking to provide complaint reports regularly to states to facilitate prompt enforcement actions -- such as cease and desist letters from state attorneys general -- while Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Jessica Rosenworcel shared her agency’s plans to identify originators of student loan scam calls and order phone companies to block those calls (White House fact sheet). 

In related news, President Biden signed into law the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act, which allows borrowers who previously jointly consolidated their student loans to separate those consolidated loans. 


Secretary Cardona joined the President and Vice President for the second meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access (President’s and Vice President’s remarks). 

He also joined Vice President Harris for a conversation on reproductive rights with students and leaders at Central Connecticut State University.  “Let’s say it loud and clear: students need access to health care -- including reproductive health care -- to succeed in college and achieve their dreams,” he noted in a tweet.  “An honor to join @VP at my alma mater, @CCSU, yesterday….” (Vice President’s remarks). 

In parallel with these events, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a resource to remind school communities, including students, staff, and families, that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects students and employees from discrimination based on pregnancy and related conditions, including childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery therefrom. 


On October 12, at the STEMconnector and Million Women Mentors Summit, Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten launched the Department’s “YOU Belong in STEM” initiative, a commitment to galvanize and support the broad science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education eco-system to implement and scale excellent and equitable STEM education for all young people -- from pre-K to higher education -- while promoting positive conditions for STEM learning and development that improve student outcomes.  The agency is also committed to supporting states, districts, and schools in diversifying and retaining high-quality STEM educators over the next 20 years.  “With the YOU Belong in STEM initiative, we will work not only to redesign systems and learning spaces so students get the well-rounded education they need, we will also rewrite the long-standing narratives about who belongs in STEM learning and careers,” the Deputy Secretary asserted.  “These narratives have, over generations, left out millions of girls and young women, students of color, students living in poverty, students with disabilities, Native American and Alaska Native students, and other marginalized students.  Every student, no matter their background or zip code, has a right to meet and exceed their potential for learning and thriving in the classroom.” 


  • President Biden signed into law a Continuing Resolution (CR), extending funding for education programs and other parts of the federal budget at Fiscal Year 2022 levels through December 16, 2022.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DCD) Director Rochelle Walensky approved expanding the use of updated (bivalent) COVID-19 vaccines to children ages 5-11.
  • In honor of World Teachers’ Day, the White House released a fact sheet on concrete actions taken to recruit, respect, and retain teachers and other school staff.
  • Also, school staff are encouraged to apply for the Department’s School Ambassador Fellowship Program.  (Note: A live application webinar is planned for October 20 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time.)
  • Moreover, the Department hosted the 2022 National Distinguished Principals on October 7 and the 2023 National Principal of the Year finalists on October 13.
  • This month, the Department announced 19 Magnet Schools Assistance Program awards (totaling $110 million) and four new Equity Assistance Center Program awards (totaling over $6.5 million) (press release), plus 44 National Professional Development Program awards (totaling $140 million) to support educators of English language learners (press release).
  • Also this month, Secretary Cardona hosted a big Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at the Department.
  • For #ThrowbackThursday, the Department issued a fun Back to School bus tour recap video.
  • A detailed Homeroom blog highlights the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in North Carolina.
  • In response to a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) report, the Department released a Dear Colleague Letter reminding postsecondary institutions of their regulatory obligations to protect students’ best financial interests (blog post).
  • See the readout of the White House roundtable with youth survivors of online harassment and abuse, alongside educators, advocates, and health experts, on International Day of the Girl.
  • “All students deserve inclusive, welcoming schools that support their individuality,” Secretary Cardona declared on National Coming Out Day.  (Note: OCR offers resources for LGBTQI+ students.)
  • The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services released new documents (1 and 2) encouraging collaboration between states, districts, and Head Start programs to effectively meet Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirements.
  • On October 4, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released a “blueprint” for a bill of rights to help guide the design, development, and deployment of artificial intelligence and other automated systems (White House fact sheet).
  • On October 6, the Administration announced new actions by more than 20 federal agencies to bolster the federal government’s resilience to the impacts of climate change (White House fact sheet).
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would nearly double the funding awarded for clean school buses this year.
  • See also the readout of the White House Summit on Improving Indoor Air Quality.
  • In his proclamation designating October as National Arts and Humanities Month, President Biden issued a new executive order advancing a whole-of-government policy for the arts, humanities, and museum and library services and re-establishing the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
  • The latest Data Matters blog post, titled “Data Skills: Empowering a Culture of Data and Learning at the U.S. Department of Education,” spotlights the accomplishments and outcomes of Data Skills portfolio projects, including the Data Literacy Program, Data Professionals Community of Practice, and Data Science Training Program.
  • Visit Vote.gov to register to vote or check your registration status -- registration deadlines are nearing in many states! 


“Unfortunately, I’ve been to a lot of disaster areas in the last couple months -- last six months.  You know, more fires have burned in the West and in the Southwest, burned [an area] right to the ground [the size of] the entire state of New Jersey.  And the reservoirs out west are down to almost zero….  But, folks…we’re here today because [Jill and I] wanted to tell you in person that we’re thinking of you and we’re not leaving….  [W]e’re the only nation that comes out of [a disaster] better than we went into it.  And that’s what we’re going to do this time around: come out of it better.  Because this is the United States of America, and I emphasize ‘united.’” 

-- President Joseph Biden (10/5/22), from remarks on Hurricane Ian response and recovery efforts 


Among other education-related observations, October is National Principals MonthLearning Disabilities Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Awareness MonthNational Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month and National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month, and Cybersecurity Awareness Month. 

The Department’s three-part Mental Health Learning Series will conclude on October 25, 4-5:15 p.m. ET, with a focus on “Reducing Stigma and Improving Access to Mental Health Services.” 

FSA will host a free Federal Financial Aid Virtual Bootcamp on October 18 and 20 -- ideal for students, parents, school counselors, college access professionals, college and career coaches, and other members of the financial aid community. 

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