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Legislative Update: ESEA, Higher Education Regs, i3 Grants, Bills Introduced

House Passes Two ESEA Bills with CTE Elements

This week the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a markup of two recently introduced ESEA bills, H.R. 3989, the Student Success Act and H.R. 3990, the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act. The Committee approved both pieces of legislation by party-line votes of 23 to 16.

The Student Success Act included elements of the Education for Tomorrows Jobs Act, a bill introduced by Rep. Glenn Thompson (PA) last year. The bill allows school districts to use ESEA funds to integrate academic and technical education, and encourages the creation of partnerships between school districts, institutes of higher education, business and industry, and other stakeholders.

The markup was largely partisan with Democrats opposing the bills and offering substitute bills as their only amendments. There were several Republican amendments to note. Rep. Todd Rokita’s (IN) amendment to reduce the number of U.S. Department of Education staffers was accepted along a party-line vote. However, an amendment from Rep. Thompson to change the Title I funding formula to help smaller population districts was defeated by a vote of 22-16. Such a change would have benefited rural areas, such as Mr. Thompson’s district. Ranking Member George Miller (CA) argued that a change to the formula like the one proposed would not be fair to high population districts that would lose money.

Chairman Kline (MN) intends to move the bills to the floor for a vote in the near future. We will keep you posted on the progress of these two pieces of legislation.

House Passes Bill to Repeal Two Higher Education Regulations

The House this week passed H.R. 2117, the Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act by a vote of 303 to 114. This bill would permanently repeal the credit hour and state authorization regulations (which went into effect July 1, 2011), with the goal of reducing college costs and increasing student choice. More specifically, the legislation would prohibit the Secretary of Education from promulgating or enforcing any rule that defines “credit hour,” and would ease the burden on distance education programs from meet any state requirements in the state where the student is located. The Senate has not indicated whether they will vote on similar legislation.

Next Round of i3 Grants Available

The Department of Education is now accepting pre-applications for the next round of Investing in Innovation (i3) Development grants. The i3 development grants provide up to $3 million to support “new projects or programs with high potential for success but which have been implemented previously in only limited contexts.” The deadline to submit a pre-application is April 9, 2012.

Bills Introduced

Student Right to Know Before You Go Act

Sen. Ron Wyden (OR) introduced S. 2098, the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, which intends to give students and their families the information they need to make better informed decisions about pursuing higher education. In its simplest terms, the bill would make it easier for students to find information about how long it would take get their degree, how much debt they could expect to owe after graduation, and how much they can expect to earn in a given field.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

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