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Will Congress Find Time to Move on Education and Higher Education Bills?

The United States Capitol building with the dome lit up at night.

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide update information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

November 21 Deadline Looming to Fund the Government:  Will Congress Act?

Just before Congress left town for their 2-week recess, they passed a short-term funding bill to keep the government open, but only until November 21.  As that deadline comes closer, the pressure to act increases. The ball is in the Senate’s court, as the House has passed 10 of its 12 funding bills. 

The Senate is planning to move bills next week, but hot-button issues related to the border wall, homeland security, and abortion will likely crop up, as well as significant funding level differences between the House and the Senate that will likely hold things up. 

Possible outcomes include another short-term spending extension (perhaps through December), a long-term extension through September 30, 2020, or a government shutdown for the agencies left unfunded. 

House Democrats Introduce Higher Education Act Reauthorization Bill

House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced his bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act this week. The College Affordability Act, H.R. 4674, is the first comprehensive reauthorization bill offered this Congress.

Below are a few key provisions related to teacher preparation:

  • Reauthorization of Title II, the teacher preparation title, including the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants with a $500 million authorization level, a new “Grown Your Own” program, and additional institution and state-wide data collection about teacher preparation programs;
  • A new “Elevation of the Teaching Profession Study,” which would authorize the Secretary of Education to establish an advisory committee to conduct a feasibility study “on the elevation of the education profession by examining state policies related to teacher and school leader education and certification, produce a comprehensive set of expectations that sets a high bar for entry into the profession, and ensure that all entering teachers and school leaders are profession-ready, and develop recommendations to Congress on best practices with respect to elevating the education profession that are evidence-based, reliable and verified by the field;”
  • Reauthorization of new programs in Title II B, including programs that would support dual certification for teachers in general education and special education and address the shortage of higher education faculty in teacher preparation, such as special education;
  • Inclusion of three loan forgiveness programs used by teachers, including the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program;
  • Inclusion of the TEACH grants with the following changes: Eligibility for freshmen and sophomores in four-year institutions is eliminated (though the amount for juniors and seniors is increased to $8,000 per year) and allowing eligibility for students in two-year terminal AA programs in early childhood;
  • Authorization of Teach for America at $30 million.

Learn more.

Assistant Secretary Johnny Collett Suddenly Leaving Department of Education

In a move that seemed to take everyone by surprise, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) Johnny Collett announced his resignation as of today.  He has indicated that he is returning to Kentucky to spend more time with his family. Collett has served as the head of the agency since his 2017 nomination to the post.  Mark Shultz, who has been commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration since August, will take on the role as Assistant Secretary in an acting capacity.

Collett is known for his initiative to “rethink special education.”

Learn more.

Continue reading the full Washington Update on my website for more information.

Here’s wishing you a gloriously colorful fall!

See you on twitter @janewestdc.


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Jane E. West

AACTE Education Policy Consultant

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