U.S. Dept. of Education Issues Hurricane Flexibility Guidance

    As part of continued efforts to provide relief for hurricane-affected regions, the U.S. Department of Education this week issued guidance to outline flexibility in reporting deadlines, grant-funded activities, continuity planning for disrupted programs, and fiscal management efforts. This guidance applies to state and local education agencies, Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools, postsecondary institutions, and other Department grantees.

    Institutions affected by the recent hurricanes are highly encouraged to review the guidance, particularly if your program receives funding from a federal grant, receives federal student financial aid, or if you have other general questions regarding postsecondary education relief.

    Comment by Oct. 2 on IES Requirements for Efficacy, Replication Studies

    By October 2, the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) is seeking input from the field on its requirements related to efficacy, replication, and effectiveness studies.

    The impetus of the feedback request follows recommendations provided from a technical working group that was assembled in October 2016. IES seeks to understand whether the current Goals 3 and 4 (out of its full list of five) are meeting the needs of the field or whether modifications would be beneficial to replication and effectiveness studies. Goal 3 addresses efficacy and replication studies, and Goal 4 supports independent evaluation of prior efficacy studies.

    Congress Hits the Ground Running With Appropriations Work

    House and Senate Move on Education Funding Bills

    Congress returned from August recess and hit the ground running on its work funding the federal government as the September 30 deadline looms.

    U.S. House of Representatives Action

    You might recall that the House passed four appropriations bills as a single package at the end of July. The House determined it would move the eight remaining appropriations bills to the floor as a single package – including the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) bill – immediately after August recess. A call for amendments went out in early August.

    Congress Returns – Stay Current With AACTE’s Federal Update Webinar

    As classes resume at your institution, so too does the work of Congress, which returns to Washington today following its August recess. The disaster relief for Hurricane Harvey may upend the Congressional agenda, potentially shuffling a laundry list of items Congress needs to address, including funding for FY18 and where the federal dollars will flow.

    With all of this going on, it has never been more important to remain informed and engaged – and AACTE’s members-only Federal Update webinars help you do just that. You can sign up now for this month’s webinars, September 19 or 20 (see below); you can also view archived webinars and presentation slides through this link.

    U.S. Dept. of Education Activates Emergency Contact Center for Hurricane-Affected Areas

    In order to support the communities affected by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, the U.S. Department of Education has activated its emergency response contact center for school districts and institutions of higher education in the Gulf Coast region. The Department is also coordinating efforts with the Texas Education Agency, the Louisiana Department of Education, and the institutions and districts in impacted areas.

    New Advocacy Guide Facilitates Creation of ‘Leave-Behind’ Documents

    A new advocacy guide is now available for download in AACTE’s Advocacy Center. This guide, “Creating Leave-Behind Documents for Meetings With Elected Officials,” is part of our ongoing effort to provide opportunities to advance your advocacy capacity.

    Through this AACTE members-only resource, you will learn of some best practices for developing materials to take to meetings with elected officials and other important stakeholders. As participants in AACTE’s Day on the Hill can attest, developing one-page “leave-behinds” for these meetings is important when time is short and you have much to share about your programs and their impact on your community and state. Leave-behind documents allow you to focus your meeting time on key talking points while supplying more in-depth information as a reference for elected officials or their staff. To learn more, check out the new guide!

    July Federal Update Webinar Recording Available; Register Now for September’s Webinar

    In case you missed July’s Federal Update webinar – available exclusively to AACTE members – it is now available on demand in AACTE’s Resource Library. Just log in to view the video recording or download the slides from July or any webinar from the past year!

    The Federal Update webinars are AACTE members’ go-to source to catch up on all the developments in Washington, DC. For July, AACTE Government Relations Director Deborah Koolbeck highlighted the latest action on the Fiscal Year 2018 federal appropriations process, the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, ways you can engage your members of Congress during the August recess, and more.

    Applying for Federal Research Funding? View On-Demand Webinars From IES for FY18

    The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences (IES) has released a series of on-demand webinars to assist prospective grantees in completing applications for the Fiscal Year 2018 grant cycle.

    Some webinars provide viewers with general guidance on the grant application process, while others are more specific to particular grant programs. After viewing a webinar, potential applicants can e-mail IES with any questions they might have that weren’t addressed during the webinar.

    In addition to the general-topic webinars, the IES archive currently contains information on five grant opportunities; another five are said to be coming soon. Each webinar’s archive includes a video recording, PowerPoint slides, and a transcript.

    Advocacy Group Releases Budget Response Opposing Trump Proposal

    Last week, the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) released its annual “Budget Book” analysis of the president’s federal spending proposal and its impact on education programs. This year’s report presents detailed narrative, charts, and tables illustrating concerns about President Donald J. Trump’s proposed cuts to education funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. CEF highlighted the findings at a Capitol Hill briefing featuring practitioners from several states and various education sectors.

    At the briefing, panelists from Missouri, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and New Jersey all urged for education spending to be increased. Several speakers noted that even “level-funding” a program amounts to a cut when factors such as cost-of-living and other inflation-related expenses are considered, and they advocated for funding increases to permit at least the continuation of current programming.

    CEF Deputy Executive Director Sarah Abernathy pointed out that education-related expenses account for only 2% of all federal spending – far short of the 5% called for in CEF’s “Five Cents Makes Sense” campaign. She highlighted components of the report, which called the president’s education cuts “devastating” and noted that the budget is more than $6 billion below FY 2010 education spending levels, proposing cuts that are far deeper than in any of the previous five administrations.

    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.

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