Leaders Urge White House to Extend Moratorium on Student Loan Repayment
This weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
We are now hearing that the President’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2023 will likely be sent to Congress the last week of March or first week of April. The release of the budget signals the official “kick-off” for the FY 2023 appropriations cycle. Advocates will continue to work diligently to secure meaningful investments to support rebuilding and diversifying the special educator and specialized instructional support personnel.
Top Democratic Leaders Urge Biden Administration to Extend Student Loan Repayment Pause
Top Democratic leaders, including Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) who chairs the Senate education committee, are urging the Biden Administration to extend the moratorium on federal student loan repayments until at least the start of 2023. In a statement, Senator Murray noted the importance of fixing the “broken student loan system” and that borrowers are “struggling with rising costs, struggling to get their feet back under them after public health and economic crises, and struggling with a broken student loan system — and all this is felt especially hard by borrowers of color.”
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), chair of the House education committee echoed the sentiment of his counterpart in the Senate stating:
“Unfortunately, many Americans are struggling to make ends meet as a result of worldwide inflation and ongoing global supply chain issues,” Scott said in a statement. “By extending relief for student loan borrowers, the Biden-Harris administration would strengthen our economic recovery and provide student loan borrowers more time to prepare for loan repayment.”
The request comes as 41 million Americans are set to resume their student loan payments in May. Last week, White House officials signaled that the Administration would consider an extension if meaningful student loan reform was not in place before the pause expires. In a statement, agency officials from the Department of Education stated that the Department is “committed to finding additional ways to continue and expand relief and meet our ultimate goal of permanent change that reduces indebtedness and makes college more affordable.”
HBCUs Are Now Eligible for Emergency Grants
On Wednesday, the Biden Administration announced that historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are now eligible to apply for emergency grants following a series of bomb threats made across campuses earlier this year. The grant awards range from $50,000 to $150,000 per institution are part of the Project School Emergency Response to Violence cash intended to fund education-related services to help schools recover from a violent or traumatic event.
In a statement , Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona said that HBCUs will be able to use the funds to “address students’ mental health needs, shore up campus security and restore learning environments so that they can get back to doing what they do best — educating the next generation of great leaders,”
The Department announced that they will also provide HBCUs with a compendium of the resources that are available across the Federal government. These additional resources can help with long-term improvements to campus mental health programs, campus safety and emergency management planning and response.
An HBCU that experienced a recent bomb threat may receive more information about the opportunity for support under Project SERV by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disability Rights Groups Respond to Relaxed Masking Guidance
Last month, the CDC announced an easing of indoor masking guidance saying it would rely on hospitalization numbers to measure the virus’ impact rather than infection rates. Based on the new policies, on Thursday, the CDC announced that 98 percent of Americans no longer need to mask indoors because they live in communities with low to medium risk of overwhelming hospitals. Additional reports then surfaced that the Administration is considering when to remove mask requirements for rail and air travel.
But millions of Americans, many of whom have chronic conditions or disabilities that make them especially vulnerable to COVID-19, say the pandemic is far from over.
“The pandemic is not over,” said Elena Hung, co-founder of Little Lobbyists, an advocacy group for chronically ill and disabled children. “What the CDC is doing is leaving out immunocompromised and disabled people” “What’s so harmful about what the CDC is doing is their messaging: If you tell people you don’t have to wear masks, you can if you want to, no one is going to do it,” Hung said.
Matthew Cortland, a disability rights advocate who takes immunosuppressant drugs, said they aren’t letting down their guard anytime soon. They’re also upset by the administration’s relaxing of pandemic mitigation efforts that would protect people like them. “Their guidance devalues the lives of chronically ill, immunocompromised and disabled people,” they said.
In the States: Alabama Educators and Officials Urge State to Suspend Passage of Praxis Exam as a Certification Requirement
A group of educators and officials from teacher preparation programs in the state of Alabama are urging the Alabama board of Education to suspend the passage of the Praxis exam as a certification requirement. The passage of the Praxis exam is one of the last steps before prospective teacher candidates can earn state certification. The group suggests that removing the passage of the standardized assessment would help boost the pool of available K-12 teachers and in turn help alleviate their teacher shortage.
“Praxis has been a big barrier,” Carolyn Corliss, a Huntingdon College dean, told Alabama state board members at a meeting last week. “I’ve talked to several deans [of education] across the state. We know of two to three hundred students that could now be in the teacher pool if it had not been for Praxis holding them back.”
Alabama Board of Education member Stephanie Bell said she is concerned about maintaining the quality of teachers. “We don’t want just anyone in the classroom,” Bell said. “The quality, to me, is so crucial.”
New Resources for Educators
- The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) released new data showing a decrease in Hispanic Serving Institutions for the first time in 20 years.
- AP-NORC released results from a recent survey evaluating progress for racial equality in America. Nearly 70% of Black adults say more must be done before African Americans get equal access to a good education.
- Education Week is out with an examination of federal data surrounding child well-being. The data reflects increases in the number of children diagnosed with depression between 2016-2020 but, no statistically significant uptick in the portion of children who received mental health treatment over the last five years.
See you on twitter @brennan_kait.
Do you have a question about Washington Update? Want additional information? Email me at email@example.com.