Legislative Update: Perkins V State Plans Approved and Higher Education Emergency Grant Guidance

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) approved 10 more state plans under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Read below to learn about which states are approved, the new interim guidance regarding eligibility requirements for higher education students to receive emergency funding, as well as hearings on remote learning and reopening schools. 

ED Approves 10 More Perkins V State Plans

Today U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that 10 more states’ Perkins V four-year plans were approved. The newly approved states include Arizona, DC, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. Highlights from each plan can be found here. The department has now approved 25 state plans. Advance CTE is tracking approval and links to final plans here

ED Publishes Rule for Emergency Relief Grants to Higher Education Students

Secretary DeVos shared the updated regulations for eligibility of students receiving Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grants from an institution of higher education through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This guidance doubles down on ED’s April position, and states that students must be eligible for Title IV aid under the Higher Education Act (HEA) to receive this emergency funding. Following the initial guidance, Advance CTE in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) sent a letter to ED with concerns about these exclusions. The CARES Act does not specify that students must be Title IV-eligible to receive HEERF grants. 

The department has said that it will not retroactively enforce this rule for grant funding that has already been distributed by colleges. 

This interim final rule is expected to be added to the Federal Register on June 15, 2020 and will then be open for a 30 day comment period. 

Congress Holds Hearing on Returning to School

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on “Going Back to School Safely,” to discuss how to reopen K-12 schools. There was agreement across the Committee that schools should reopen as soon as safely possible, and that attention must be paid to the education gaps that are being exacerbated during the pandemic. Witnesses included: Dr. Penny Schwinn, Tennessee Commissioner of Education; Dr. Matthew Blomstedt, Nebraska Commissioner of Education; Susana Cordova, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools; and the Honorable John B. King, Jr., President and CEO of the Education Trust. The full video and testimonies from this hearing can be found here

This follows a HELP hearing last week that focused on “Going Back to College Safely”- the full video and testimonies of that hearing can be found here. Witnesses included: Mitchell Daniels, President of Purdue University; Dr. Christina Paxson, President of Brown University; Dr.Logan Hampton, President of Lane College; and Georges Benjamin, MD, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association. 

ED Holds Forum on K-12 Remote Learning 

Earlier this week ED hosted a virtual forum with K-12 education leaders to discuss challenges and successes. The educators represented students in Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. They discussed the learning curve that teachers and students simultaneously experienced during the abrupt transition to online learning. Strategies were also shared such as including activities that do not require electronics in a lesson plan.  A full readout of the forum can be found here.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

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