• Home
  • General
  •  Washington Update: AI, Appropriations, and Accelerating Academic Success

 Washington Update: AI, Appropriations, and Accelerating Academic Success

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.

As expected, it was another busy week in our nation’s capital with agenda items ranging from appropriations to artificial intelligence. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) held a forum on artificial intelligence (AI) for members of the upper chamber with c-suite tech giants like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates joining to offer insights into the rapidly developing technology.

As you will recall, last week Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), ranking member on the HELP Committee, released a white paper on AI and a request for comment from stakeholders. Expect artificial intelligence to continue to be a topic of conversation on the Hill as members grapple with the role of Congress in regulating this ever-changing technology.

The House Education and Workforce Committee marked-up and approved a slate of bills and resolutions including one that would block the new income-driven repayment plan known as Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE), (H.J. Res. 88). Another measure (H.R. 4259) would require schools or state education agencies to notify a parent who has a child with a disability that they have a right to bring an advocate or personnel to individualized education program meetings. It is a bipartisan bill with Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY) leading the bill and Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) co-sponsoring.

The number of legislative days remaining for Congress to pass a FY2024 budget or a continuing resolution to keep the government open, funded, and avoid a shutdown continues to dwindle.

RSA Announces Funding for Model Demonstration Projects Focused on Improving Economic Self Sufficiency for Children and Youth with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) announced it will fund 20 model demonstration projects focused on improving economic self-sufficiency for children and youth with disabilities by creating systemic approaches to enhance post-school outcomes.

As outlined in a press release from the Department, the nearly $199 million in funding for the Pathways to Partnerships innovative model demonstration project supports collaborative partnerships between state vocational rehabilitation agencies, state and local educational agencies, and federally funded centers for independent living to help individuals with disabilities seamlessly transition to life after high school. Pathways to Partnerships is the largest discretionary grant ever administered by RSA.

“The Department is committed to providing children and youth with disabilities the supports they need to access self-advocacy training, career pathways, and independent living. The Pathways to Partnerships will bridge gaps from school to adult life, independent living, and career success,” said Glenna Wright-Gallo, assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). “This investment will not only require state and local agencies to improve outcomes for individuals with disabilities by finding innovative ways of working together, but it will also look to unlock post school and career success for those individuals.”

More information about the Disability Innovation Fund and the new Pathways to Partnerships projects can be found by accessing any of the links below.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Further Actions to Accelerate Academic Success

The Biden-Harris administration announced that it is building on its record of investment in K-12 public schools and announcing additional actions to improve instruction and accelerate academic success nationwide as students begin the new school year. The announcements include actions to the following:

  • Improve reading and math outcomes for students, including about $50 million in funding to states for literacy interventions and supports;
  • Expand school capacity by building a diverse educator workforce and infusing approximately 187,000 new tutors and mentors into schools;
  • Support evidence-based strategies to reduce chronic absenteeism in schools; and
  • Support states in leveraging funding through President Biden’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to meet the growing mental health and safety needs of students.

“As students across America head back to school, the Biden-Harris administration is building upon our efforts to ensure students’ academic success and meet our collective need, as a country, to Raise the Bar in education,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said. “To address years of decline in core areas like math and literacy, made worse by challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s vital for schools to focus relentlessly on strengthening instruction, providing targeted supports such as extended learning time, and working intentionally with families and caregivers to ensure our children and youth are present and fully engaged in school. From continued investments to strengthen literacy instruction, to exciting progress towards recruiting 250,000 tutors and mentors through the National Partnership for Student Success, to historic support for students’ mental health and wellness, the Department of Education will continue to partner with educators, school leaders, and state and local education officials to increase successful academic outcomes for all students.”

Read more about the administration’s announcement and actions.

New Resources for Educators

  • US Department of Education Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona issued a Dear Colleague letter to chief state school officers affirming school district responsibilities to serve immigrant students.
  • NCES Equity in Education Dashboard compiles key findings and trends on the current state of educational equity in the United States.

Until next time, see you on X (formerly known as Twitter), Kait @brennan_kait.