House Hearing Witnesses Stress Privacy Protections for Student Data While Ensuring Researchers Maintain Access
An education subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing June 28 on “Exploring Opportunities to Strengthen Education Research While Protecting Student Privacy.” Throughout the hearing, hosted by the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, witnesses stressed the need to maintain a balance between safeguarding sensitive student data and allowing researchers access to information that evaluates performance and determines best practices.
Anonymizing the data in order to maintain student privacy was a top concern for the panelists, but Nathaniel Schwartz from the Tennessee Education Department noted that guidelines outlining proper procedures for doing so are lacking at the federal level, leaving states and districts to determine how best to handle the data.
UPDATE: The Department has extended the deadline to submit comments on federal regulations. Those who would like to do so now have until September 20.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Regulatory Reform Task Force has released a progress report identifying more than 150 regulations and 1,700 pieces of guidance for review, and now the public is invited to comment on the items by August 21.
The task force, which originated from an executive order signed in February by President Donald J. Trump to reduce regulatory burdens, will now further review the regulations and guidance and develop recommendations on whether to repeal, modify, or keep them.
With the U.S. Congress and the Trump Administration continuing to work in June and July, we also continue to monitor their activity, including the funding of key programs for educator preparation. If you joined us for Day on the Hill earlier this month, you got a sense of what’s unfolding and how you can engage. If you missed Day on the Hill, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with Federal Update webinars to let you know where your advocacy can make an impact.
Registration is now open for the next few Federal Update webinars, available exclusively to AACTE members. Take a moment to mark your calendar and sign up online so you can stay informed and engaged! We will offer these updates twice each in June, July, and September (but like the Congress, we’ll take August off).
On June 7, AACTE honored U.S. Representative Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and U.S. Senator Benjamin E. Sasse (R-NE) for working with AACTE and its partners to rescind the U.S. Department of Education regulations on teacher preparation programs. The lawmakers received the 2017 AACTE Congressional Leadership Award, which is presented during AACTE’s Day on the Hill to recognize members of Congress who have played a strong leadership role in support of the profession.
On May 23, President Trump issued his detailed Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget request, fleshing out the “skinny budget” blueprint released in March. The plan cuts education programs considerably overall while carving out space and funds for new programs focusing on choice opportunities. (See the related statement issued by AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson.)
AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson today issued the following statement regarding President Donald J. Trump’s proposed education budget for Fiscal Year 2018:
“We are deeply disappointed by the proposed elimination of the Teacher Quality Partnership grants and the Title II-A state grant program of the Every Student Succeeds Act in the president’s budget request. Together these funding streams support innovative and evidence-based solutions to state and local needs related to teacher quality, preparation, recruitment and retention, equitable distribution, and more. These investments encourage educator preparation providers to collaborate with PK-12 schools, communities, and states to strengthen and transform their programs, deepen school-university partnerships, and develop targeted approaches to meet state and local education priorities.
On May 10, AACTE was pleased to submit a letter to members of Congress on behalf of 141 organizations and their state affiliates recommending full funding for Title II-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The letter went to leaders of the education subcommittees working on appropriations in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives for Fiscal Year 2018, in light of the recommendation in the president’s request to eliminate this $2.295 billion program (see the “skinny budget” released in March, and I’ll have another article soon about the full proposal being issued today).
AACTE’s Washington Week is just around the corner! From June 4-7, we’re offering a robust series of activities for faculty, students, state chapters, and partners under the theme “Diverse Perspectives, Deep Partnerships, One Profession.” Whether you’ll start the week at the Holmes Summer Policy Institute or the State Leaders Institute or plan to join us midweek, you certainly won’t want to miss the grand finale June 6-7: AACTE’s Day on the Hill, our premier advocacy event.
What can you expect at Day on the Hill? First, you should know that it’s actually 2 days long – one full day of advocacy training and orientation in the hotel, followed by a day of meetings on Capitol Hill. You can download the draft agenda here.
On Friday, April 28, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) extending funding through May 5 to avoid a federal government shutdown. Then working through the weekend, lawmakers reached an agreement on an omnibus appropriations bill (see PDF), which now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate for approval to fund the government through September 30.
The omnibus encompasses 11 of the 12 federal appropriations bills, as the remaining one – for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs – was completed last year. Included in the education section, which begins on page 1010 of the omnibus bill, is direction for the U.S. Department of Education to begin the work of offering year-round Pell grants. The Teacher Quality Partnership grants and the Special Education Personnel Preparation program are flat-funded. Title II-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the School Leader Recruitment and Support Grants, and the overall budget for the Institute of Education Sciences are reduced. Details on these areas can be found here.
Why bother engaging in advocacy?
As we say on AACTE’s Advocacy Center: “It sounds funny, but at least where public policy is concerned, it’s true: If you are not at the table, you are probably on the menu. The educator preparation profession engages in advocacy to help shape policy that will affect the field. While AACTE advocates on behalf of the profession at the federal level, your voice as a constituent is also critical – in Washington, DC, as well as in state and local issues.”