ED Review (08/04/23)

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August 4, 2023


National Summit 

On July 26, the Department hosted the National Summit on Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, a one-day summit bringing together senior Biden Administration officials and national institutions and leaders to discuss innovative strategies and resources to expand access to higher education in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action (video recording). 

“[F]or many of us, the Supreme Court’s recent decision…feels like a new low point.  This decision, and the many other attacks on higher education these days, may have you wondering if you want to lead now,” Secretary Cardona noted in his keynote address.  “Well, the answer is ‘yes.’  We need your leadership now!  It is going to take the same kind of bold leadership and collaboration at every level of education we saw during the pandemic to address the fallout of this deeply disappointing ruling.  Many of you innovated and persevered during the height of the pandemic.  We are asking you to do the same here.” 

Other participants included White House Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden, White House Office of Public Engagement Director Steve Benjamin, Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke, advocates, student leaders, college and university administrators, researchers, and state, local, and Tribal officials. 

Panels focused on strategies for reimagining admissions, building affordable college pipelines, and creating inclusive campus communities that support student success and completion. 

At the event, the Secretary also announced the start of the Postsecondary Student Success Grant competition -- $45 million in new funding to help institutions implement evidence-based strategies that propel students, especially those from underserved backgrounds, to graduation day. 

Subsequently, the Secretary visited Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut -- which had announced earlier that it was ending legacy admissions -- for a roundtable discussion with first-generation students on the Administration’s efforts to advance diversity and opportunity in higher education. 

The Secretary also spoke at the NAACP Convention in Boston, elevating ways to level the playing field, from uplifting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to offering dual enrollment credits. 

As a next step, the Departments of Education and Justice will provide resources to colleges and universities addressing lawful admissions practices, as institutions prepare for the next application cycle. 


National Guidelines 

Also last week, the Departments of Education and Labor announced a series of new efforts to expand Registered Apprenticeships for educators and invest in teacher preparation programs.  These efforts advance a key focus area of the Education Department’s Raise the Bar: Lead the World priorities to boldly improve learning conditions by eliminating educator shortages.  They also build upon a joint letter sent by the Secretaries of Education and Labor last summer, which called on state education and workforce leaders to take action to address educator shortages (press release). 

Among the announcements:

  • National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards for Registered Apprenticeships for K-12 teachers, developed by the Pathways Alliance and approved by the Labor Department;
  • more than $27 million from the Education Department to support educator preparation programs (under the Teacher Quality Partnerships [TQP] Program and the Supporting Effective Educator Development [SEED] Program);
  • more than $65 million from the Labor Department to develop and scale Registered Apprenticeship programs in critical sectors across 45 states -- with 35 states targeting education;
  • a new industry intermediary to launch, promote, and expand Registered Apprenticeships for teachers; and
  • an Education Department policy brief that highlights how states are taking strategic steps outlined by the Biden Administration to support the effective recruitment, preparation, and retention of teachers, including new data by state on the recovery of local education jobs, increases in teacher compensation, increased enrollment in educator preparation programs, and the expansion of Registered Apprenticeships for K-12 teachers. 

The Administration has helped grow the number of states with Registered Apprenticeship programs for K-12 teachers from two to 21.  The new national guidelines can guide states, school districts, and sponsors to align their apprenticeship programs to quality standards for teachers.  They also provide a framework that partners may use to develop state-specific standards and provide for expedited development and approval of new apprenticeship programs. 


Unlocking Pathways Summit 

Additionally last week, the Department held the first Unlocking Pathways regional summit, a key part of the Raise the Bar: Unlocking Career Success initiative, aimed at helping young Americans access good-paying jobs created through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.  This summit series, co-hosted with Jobs for the Future and supported by the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Labor, and Transportation, consists of four education-workforce convenings to spotlight workforce priorities and opportunities that are growing due to recent federal investments, like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act.  This includes expanding access to high-wage, high-demand pathways and skills-based learning opportunities, such as Registered Apprenticeships and community college programs, within sectors like advanced manufacturing, clean energy, construction, and cybersecurity (press release). 

Many states are sending teams of leaders spanning K-12 and postsecondary education, workforce development, and employers to one of the regional summits. 

The series kicked-off at Renton Technical College in Washington State, featuring construction and infrastructure pathway opportunities.  The series will continue over the summer in Aurora, Colorado, featuring clean energy pathways; Madison, Wisconsin, featuring the CHIPS and Science Act; and Biloxi, Mississippi, featuring technology and cybersecurity pathways.  The summits complement the Biden Administration’s Workforce Hubs, launched earlier this year in an initial set of five cities with a major influx of public and private investment. 


The Department recently announced $130 million in automatic student loan debt relief for 7,400 students who enrolled at Colorado-based locations of CollegeAmerica between January 1, 2006, and July 1, 2020.  The agency found that CollegeAmerica’s parent company, the Center for Excellence in Higher Education (CEHE), made widespread misrepresentations about the employment rates and salaries of its graduates, the programs it offered, and the terms of a private loan product.  The agency used evidence provided by Colorado State Attorney General Phil Weiser, who led a multi-year investigation and lawsuit against CEHE and its leadership. 

To date, the Biden Administration has approved $14.7 billion in relief for 1.1 million borrowers whose institutions took advantage of them or closed abruptly.  This includes giving hundreds of thousands of borrowers a fresh start from loans taken out at Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute.  The Department also issued a new, stronger Borrower Defense to Repayment regulation (President Biden’s statement). 

The agency will begin notifying eligible borrowers this month that they are approved for discharges, regardless of whether they have filed a borrower defense application, and invites more states to provide clear evidence of wrongdoing -- as Colorado did here -- to justify relief for students who were harmed. 

Meanwhile, the Department’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) office launched a beta web site for the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) repayment plan, allowing borrowers to begin submitting applications. 

Also, the agency revised and clarified its position on the legality of state laws and regulations that govern various aspects of the servicing of federal student loans, such as preventing unfair or deceptive practices, correcting misapplied payments, or addressing refusals to communicate with borrowers, to help facilitate close coordination between the Department and its state partners to enhance servicer accountability and borrower protections. 


Last month, the Department’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) released updated guidance to ensure and strengthen the rights and protections guaranteed to infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities and their families under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  The guidance and accompanying Dear Colleague Letter address IDEA’s “general supervision” requirement, which necessitates that states monitor local educational agencies (LEAs), as required under IDEA Part B, and early intervention service (EIS) programs and providers, as required under IDEA Part C. 

OSEP is clarifying or expanding positions in the following areas:

  • a state cannot ignore credible allegations of non-compliance made outside its formal monitoring visit cycle and must conduct proper due diligence in a timely manner;
  • states must monitor all LEAs and EIS programs and providers at least once within the six-year cycle of the state’s plan;
  • states must issue a finding of non-compliance, generally within three months of the state’s identification of the non-compliance; and
  • states must review each individual case (not a sample or subset) of previously non-compliant files, or whatever data source was used to identify the original non-compliance, to properly verify correction by the LEA or EIS program or provider of child-specific non-compliance. 

Through various monitoring activities and information received via state submissions, OSEP had observed the need for updated guidance to ensure states have the information needed to build robust systems of general supervision, with a particular emphasis on educational results, functional outcomes, and compliance with programmatic requirements.  Such systems should be able to quickly identify and correct non-compliance, bolster accountability through the collection of timely and accurate data, and support the full implementation of IDEA. 


  • This week, the Biden Administration unveiled the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy, aimed at addressing both immediate and long-term cyber workforce needs.
  • Secretary Cardona issued a statement on the appointment of Lexi Barrett as the Department’s Chief of Staff.
  • The Secretary defended public education in remarks at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) TEACH Conference.
  • The Secretary commemorated National Parents Day (July 23) in Chicago by joining the #EducateUS Cook Out hosted by Hustle Mommies, and National Parents Union leaders penned a Homeroom blog titled “Standing Shoulder-to-Shoulder.”
  • The Secretary also stopped by a Prince George’s County, Maryland, high school to discuss apprenticeships and career pathways and traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, to meet with HBCU presidents and speak at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention.
  • The Department launched a $50 million grant program to expand research infrastructure at HBCUs, Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), and Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs).
  • The agency also extended the deadline (to August 18) for applications under the new Supporting America’s School Infrastructure Grant Program.
  • A report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) outlines attrition and mobility of public and private school principals during the 2021-22 school year, revealing about 1 in 10 public school principals left the profession during the height of the pandemic. 


“I will tell you there is no roundtable, no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact: there were no redeeming qualities of slavery….  We will not stop calling out and fighting back against extremist so-called leaders who try to prevent our children from learning our true and full history.” 

-- Vice President Kamala Harris (8/1/23), from her remarks at the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church’s Women’s Missionary Society Quadrennial Convention in Jacksonville, Florida 

“Look, I have nothing against the legacy student who did really well at an elite private school.  But I am in awe of the straight-A student from a Title I school who spent hours on a bus every week to take an [Advanced Placement] class that wasn’t offered at her school and still found time to contribute to her community -- all while having to take care of siblings.  Let’s find a way to recognize excellence in all its forms, including the adversity students overcome in their educational journeys.  And we can also invite students to share the ways that their diverse backgrounds have informed and inspired them.” 

-- Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (7/26/23), from his keynote address at the National Summit on Equal Opportunity in Higher Education 


The 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony will be broadcast live on August 8 from 9:30 to 10 a.m. Eastern Time (opening plenary) and 2 to 3:30 p.m. ET (awards presentation) on the agency’s YouTube channel. 

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