U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee proposes 13% increase for K-12 in FY 2023 (July 31, 2022)

On July 28, 2022, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee proposed a 13% increase for K-12 in fiscal year (FY) 2023. The proposed spending plan includes $20.1 billion for Title I grants and $15.3 billion for special education grants. Also included in the FY 2023 bill is $12 billion for Head Start. As per the plan, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) would receive $49 billion for federal K-12 education programs, which is an increase of about $5.5 billion, or 13%, over FY 2022.

All proposed amounts are at lower levels than a House Appropriations Committee plan and President Biden’s request

For more information, click here.

USDE Answers Call for ARP Funds Use Strategies (July 10, 2022)

In answer to President Biden’s call for more schools to invest in strategies to accelerate academic recovery using American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds and to galvanize more Americans to serve their communities by becoming tutors and mentors to help address the impact of missed instruction on our nation’s students, the USDE announced that it will build on the progress school communities made this year in helping students and families recover from the pandemic. Those actions include: 

Launching the National Partnership for Student Success and recruiting 250,000 new tutors and mentors – USDE is joining forces with leading education, youth, and service organizations to launch the National Partnership for Student Success (NPSS), a new coalition that will support the expansion, launch and improvement of high-impact tutoring, mentoring and other programs to make up for lost instructional time, and support student mental health and overall wellbeing. The NPSS is run through collaboration between USDE, AmeriCorps, and the Johns Hopkins Everyone Graduates Center. 

Expanding the USDE’s Best Practices Clearinghouse to share best practices around academic and mental health recovery efforts – The Best Practices Clearinghouse will highlight and celebrate evidence-based and promising practices implemented by states, schools, and school districts using ARP funds to support learning recovery, increased academic opportunities, and student mental health. The updated Best Practices Clearinghouse is the next phase of the Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse that was launched in Spring 2021.

Empowering parents and school communities with knowledge about how their school is using and can use federal funds to provide the necessary academic and mental health supports – In June, the USDE launched the National Parents and Families Engagement Council to facilitate strong and effective relationships between schools and parents, families, and caregivers and has now put out a call to states and school communities to contribute to the revamped Best Practices Clearinghouse. USDE has also updated an interactive map to make state and local plans for ARP funds more accessible to families.   

To view the USDE announcement in its entirety, click here.
For additional information on the USDE’s announcements click here

Keep Kids Fed Act Extends Some School Meal Waivers (June 27, 2022)

On June 25, 2002, President Joe Biden signed the Keep Kids Fed Act, extending partial school meal flexibilities through the next school year five days before they were set to expire. The Act continues some of the federal pandemic school nutrition waivers set to expire June 30. The $3 billion package is budget neutral, meaning it would not increase net federal spending. 
Before the pandemic, meals were either free, reduced price, or full price to students. During the pandemic, the waivers allowed for all meals to be free. Now, the Act includes only free and full-price options.

The Act fully extends all waivers through the summer to allow meal deliveries and grab-and-go options for students. It also extends supply chain flexibilities and higher than pre-pandemic federal reimbursement rates through the 2022-2023 school year.

However, the Act excludes the flexibilities that had suspended eligibility requirements for free and reduced-price meal applications, thus ending the universal free meals that were available during the first two pandemic years.

Sources: NPR and K-12 Dive.

Bipartisan Safer Communities Act Signed into Law (June 26, 2022)

On June 25, 2022,  the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (S. 2938)was signed into law. The act  broke a nearly 30-year stalemate on Capitol Hill, becoming the first major piece of federal gun reform to clear both chambers since the Brady bill.

A bipartisan group of senators worked out the details of the new law in the aftermath of the mass shooting of students and teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two teachers.

According to ABC News. the Act includes $750 million to help states implement “red flag” laws to remove firearms from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, as well as other violence prevention programs. It also provides funding for a variety of programs aimed at shoring up the nation’s mental health apparatus and securing schools.

The Act will also enhance background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21 by giving authorities up to 10 business days to review the juvenile and mental health records of young gun purchasers, and makes it unlawful for someone to purchase a gun for someone who would fail a background check. Another key provision is closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole” so individuals in “serious” “dating relationships” who are convicted of domestic abuse will be prevented from purchasing a gun.

USDE Releases Proposed Changes to Title IX Regulations, Invites Public Comment (June 23, 2022)

On June 23, 2022, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX – the landmark civil rights law that has opened doors for generations of women and girls – the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) released for public comment proposed changes to the regulations that help elementary and secondary schools and colleges and universities implement this vital legislation. The proposed amendments will restore crucial protections for students who are victims of sexual harassment, assault, and sex-based discrimination – a critical safety net for survivors that was weakened under previous regulations. The proposed regulations will advance educational equity and opportunity for women and girls across the country to ensure that every student in America, from kindergarten through a doctorate degree, can achieve her dreams. In addition, LGBTQ and pregnant students, as well as pregnant employees, would for the first time be protected under Title IX regulations, the USDE announced in releasing its much-awaited Title IX proposed rules. 

“Over the last 50 years, Title IX has paved the way for millions of girls and women to access equal opportunity in our nation’s schools and has been instrumental in combating sexual assault and sexual violence in educational settings,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.  “As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this landmark law, our proposed changes will allow us to continue that progress and ensure all our nation’s students – no matter where they live, who they are, or whom they love – can learn, grow, and thrive in school.  We welcome public comment on these critical regulations so we can further the Biden-Harris Administration’s mission of creating educational environments free from sex discrimination and sexual violence.”

According to the USDE’s press release, the proposed regulations will advance Title IX’s goal of ensuring that no person experiences sex discrimination, sex-based harassment, or sexual violence in education. As the Supreme Court wrote in Bostock v. Clayton County, 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020), it is “impossible to discriminate against a person” on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity without “discriminating against that individual based on sex.” The regulations will require that all students receive appropriate supports in accessing all aspects of education. They will strengthen protections for LGBTQI+ students who face discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. And they will require that school procedures for complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual violence and other sex-based harassment, are fair to all involved.  The proposed regulations also reaffirm the Department’s core commitment to fundamental fairness for all parties, respect for freedom of speech and academic freedom, respect for complainants’ autonomy, and clear legal obligations that enable robust enforcement of Title IX.

The proposed regulations would:
-Clearly protect students and employees from all forms of sex discrimination.
-Provide full protection from sex-based harassment.
-Protect the right of parents and guardians to support their elementary and secondary school children.
-Require schools to take prompt and effective action to end any sex discrimination in their education programs or activities – and to prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects.
-Protect students and employees who are pregnant or have pregnancy-related conditions.
-Require schools to respond promptly to all complaints of sex discrimination with a fair and reliable process that includes trained, unbiased decisionmakers to evaluate the evidence.
-Require schools to provide supportive measures to students and employees affected by conduct that may constitute sex discrimination, including students who have brought complaints or been accused of sex-based harassment.
-Protect LGBTQI+ students from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics.
-Clarify and confirm protection from retaliation for students, employees, and others who exercise their Title IX rights.
-Improve the adaptability of the regulations’ grievance procedure requirements so that all recipients can implement Title IX’s promise of nondiscrimination fully and fairly in their educational environments.
-Ensure that schools share their nondiscrimination policies with all students, employees, and other participants in their education programs or activities.

The USDE will engage in a separate rulemaking to address Title IX’s application to athletics.

The USDE’s comprehensive review of its Title IX regulations began in March 2021, as directed by Executive Order 14021 – Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free From Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity. The USDE has sought public input throughout that process.  Over the last year, the USDE has heard from a wide variety of stakeholders, including students, parents, and educators in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools, state government representatives, advocates, lawyers, researchers, and other stakeholders through the Title IX nationwide virtual public hearing in June 2021 convened by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and in numerous listening sessions and meetings.  This input, together with careful review of federal case law and OCR’s enforcement work under Title IX, highlighted the need to revise the current regulations to protect more fully against sex discrimination in all education programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

“The proposed regulations reflect the USDE’s commitment to give full effect to Title IX, ensuring that no person experiences sex discrimination in education, and that school procedures for addressing complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual violence and other forms of sex-based harassment, are clear, effective, and fair to all involved,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.

The USDE’s proposed Title IX regulations will be open for public comment for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

Additional information on the proposed rule, including a summary with background information and a fact sheet, is available here.

The unofficial version of the proposed rule is available here.