ED Review (09/01/23)

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September 1, 2023


POTUS and FLOTUS at Eliot-Hine 

This week, President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden marked the start of the new school year by visiting students at Eliot-Hine Middle School in Washington, D.C.  They stopped by the cafeteria and an eighth-grade math classroom, where they shook every child’s hand.  The school is implementing a high-impact tutoring program and providing training for math teachers as part of its learning recovery efforts. 

Dr. Biden also traveled to the Midwest for back to school events.  Outside of Indianapolis, she and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy visited Westfield High School to discuss the importance of mental health resources for schools.  In Wisconsin, she delivered remarks at an educator appreciation event at Glacier Edge Elementary School in Verona. 

And, in Connecticut, Secretary Cardona participated in the New Haven Public Schools’ convocation and joined with Governor Ned Lamont to welcome students back to class at Hubbard Elementary School and Berlin High School in Berlin. 

A new White House fact sheet highlights the Biden Administration’s efforts to support K-12 education as students go back to school, from securing the largest investment in public education in history to help students get back to school and recover academically, expanding access to mental health supports, and expanding community schools to expanding teacher and staff capacity by bringing in tutors and mentors, growing an effective teacher and school leader workforce, and directing resources to historically under-served schools and students. 

Next week (September 5-8), Secretary Cardona will participate in his annual Back to School Bus Tour.  This week-long, multi-state road trip will showcase the many ways schools, families, and communities are doubling down on accelerating student learning and raising the bar in education.  The tour will feature stops in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota -- don’t miss the Secretary’s kick-off video! 

“This year’s Back to School Bus Tour will demonstrate how states, districts, schools, and higher education institutions, with strong support and investment from the Biden Administration, are already working boldly and creatively to Raise the Bar for education in our country -- from fostering academic recovery to investing in mental health supports, strengthening and supporting the educator workforce to expanding out-of-school time programs, and building new career pathways to efforts to increase college access and affordability,” outlined the Secretary.  “To serve our nation’s students well for years to come, we need to see pockets of excellence in some places become systems of success in all places.  I’m looking forward to lifting up great models in education and spotlighting how our country benefits when we work together to invest in our children and young people -- the future of our nation.” 

The Secretary will be joined on the road by Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten, Under Secretary James Kvaal, other federal officials, and national leaders.  Additional information and exact timing for each site will be released the day prior.  Many of the events will include a press availability with the Secretary and state and local leaders. 



On August 22, the Department announced it had fully launched its new income-driven repayment (IDR) application tool on StudentAid.gov, and student loan borrowers can officially enroll in the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan -- the most affordable repayment plan ever created!  The plan is part of President Biden’s broader efforts to make college more affordable and support students and borrowers.  Already, the Administration has approved the cancellation of more than $116 billion in student loan debt for 3.4 million borrowers, and the SAVE plan will help millions of borrowers save on monthly payments. 

Under the SAVE plan, a single borrower who makes less than $15 an hour will not have to make any payments, and borrowers earning above that amount would save more than $1,000 a year on their payments compared to other IDR plans.  Borrowers would also never see their balance grow due to unpaid interest, as long as they keep up with their required payments.  Furthermore, borrowers whose original principal balances were $12,000 or less will receive forgiveness after 120 payments (or 10 years in repayment), with 12 payments added for each additional $1,000 borrowed above that level, up to a maximum 20 or 25 years. 

Notably, the SAVE plan application takes only 10 minutes to complete, and it allows borrowers to choose to have their income accessed securely from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and automatically recertified every year. 

Borrowers should apply as soon as possible to set their new monthly payment amount. 

The Department has already been in touch with 43 million borrowers and will continue to coordinate with servicers.  Moreover, the agency announced a nationwide outreach campaign, “SAVE on Student Debt,” leveraging strategic partnerships across the public, private, and non-profit sectors to support borrowers by ensuring that they take full advantage of the benefits provided by the SAVE plan.  The Department and partners will hold a Week of Action this month (President’s video, Vice President Harris’ statement, and White House fact sheet). 


In related news, as the next step in its work to open a new pathway to student debt relief, the Administration is seeking nominations for negotiators who will participate in public rulemaking sessions this fall.  More specifically, the Department is soliciting nominations under 14 different constituency groups for the Student Loan Relief committee, which will meet for three virtual sessions beginning in October.  Negotiated rulemaking is required under the Higher Education Act (HEA) for any regulations related to federal student financial aid programs (press release). 

This process started with a public hearing held by the agency in July and a request for public comments.  Next, the negotiators selected by the Department will meet virtually October 10-11, November 6-7, and December 11-12 to discuss ideas for regulatory reform.  Sessions will be open to the public and include opportunities for public comment. 

The following categories need to be filled (each with a primary and alternate representative):

  • four spots for current students and student loan borrowers based on the level of program attended (particularly seeking a variety of experiences with federal loans and postsecondary education, including attending different types of institutions, receiving a Pell Grant, and having a Parent PLUS loan);
  • four spots for varying types of institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs);
  • two spots for state-level officials and Attorneys General;
  • two spots for civil rights and legal assistance organizations;
  • one spot for a U.S. military servicemember or veteran; and
  • one spot for a representative from the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program. 

Nominations may be sent to negregnominations@ed.gov and must have information about the nominee, their constituency group, resume and experience, and contact information.  All nominations must be received by September 14. 

The Department will publish proposed rules in the months following the conclusion of negotiations, consider public comments, and issue final regulations next year. 


Green Strides Tour

The Department’s Infrastructure and Sustainability initiative shares innovative practices and resources in the areas of sustainable schools, whole child health, and environmental education, through the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.  And each fall, agency staff visit the communities of past honorees and underline their efforts once more via the annual Green Strides Tour.  This year’s tour -- September 19-21, theme: “Schools for Climate Solutions” -- will travel across northern and central California. 

To address climate change, schools must work to both mitigate the impacts and adapt to changes.  While climate change presents a risk to learning, there is an opportunity to connect environmental education to all subject areas, prepare students for college and career pathways in the growing green economy, and promote youth civic engagement.  And, by adopting climate solutions, schools can inspire others to take action. 

Host sites are planning engaging activities, ranging from tours led by students, featuring local officials and community members, to meals prepared using food grown on campus.  Email infrastructureandsustainability@ed.gov to register to attend, providing name, contact information, and site(s) of interest. 


Last month, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a Dear Colleague Letter clarifying the circumstances under which schools may -- consistent with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations -- develop curricula and programs or engage in activities that promote racially inclusive schools.  This resource includes hypothetical examples to help schools assess their legal obligations and protections concerning school-sponsored curricula and programming.  It also outlines situations under which schools may be in violation of Title VI, such as when they separate students based on race, treat individuals or groups differently based on race, or create, encourage, accept, tolerate, or fail to correct a racially hostile educational environment.  Additionally, it underscores that Title VI generally does not restrict schools from holding assemblies, meetings, focus groups, or listening sessions relating to students’ experiences with race in their school or community or recognizing or sponsoring groups or programs with a special emphasis on race that are open to all students.  The letter follows the release of a January 2023 OCR fact sheet confirming that diversity, equity, and inclusion training and similar activities are consistent with Title VI (press release). 



“The SAVE Plan is a game-changer.  Take a nurse earning $77,000 a year, married with two kids.  With SAVE, her payment will drop from $267 a month to $40 a month.  That’s over $2,700 a year in savings.  This is real money President Biden is putting back into the pockets of working families.  And when borrowers struggle to make ends meet, we’re not going to kick them while they’re down.  SAVE is the first true student loan safety net in this country.  Anyone who makes under $32,000, or $67,000 for a family of four, will have $0 due in monthly payments.  No one should have to choose between affording food or housing and paying a student loan.” 

-- Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (8/22/23), on a press call for the Administration’s SAVE Plan 


The next “Lessons from the Field” session -- on September 6, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. ET -- will focus on supporting newcomer students, defined as students born outside the U.S. who have arrived in the country in the last three years and are still learning English. 

Reminder: the 9/11 National Day of Service is one of just two federal days of service on the U.S. calendar, along with Martin Luther King, Jr., Day in January.  To honor those lost and the heroes who helped us persevere, join AmeriCorps and 911Day.org in service on 9/11.  Americans, of all ages and backgrounds, are invited to join and inspire a new generation of civic-minded leaders.  (Note: To download the 9/11 Day Teachers Guide and access a full suite of educator tools, visit 9/11 Day’s Teachers resource page). 

Calling all educators!  Interested in expanding postsecondary opportunities for your students?  Please join the AmeriCorps recruitment team for a virtual information session on September 27, from 4 to 5 p.m. ET, detailing how a term of national service is a pathway for postsecondary success. 

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