- The final agreement … would mark a major transfer of power and authority over public schools from the federal government to states and local school districts. It would also mean a significant reduction in the legal authority of the U.S. education secretary. The deal would largely dismantle the federal accountability system created in 2002 by No Child Left Behind … It would also extinguish the system of waivers given by the Obama administration, in which states that wanted to escape the demands of No Child Left Behind agreed to embrace the preferred policies of the administration. — Washington Post
- The compromise sharply reduces the federal role in education, giving the states the authority to determine a school's performance … The Education Department also would be barred from mandating or giving states incentives to adopt or maintain any particular set of standards, such as the college and career-ready curriculum guidelines known as Common Core. — Associated Press
- Notably, the new legislation will go to great lengths to tie the hands of the secretary of the Department of Education by putting strict language where NCLB had left discretion to the department. — Desert News
- This will turn decisions about accountability back to the local level, [school district officials] say. "Some people might try to portray this as a free-for-all, or the wild, wild west, but that's not the case," said David Schuler, the superintendent of High School District 214 in the Chicago suburbs, and the president of the AASA, the School Administrators Association. "This would allow those conversations to move from D.C., in most cases, to our state capitol, and that's where they should be." — Education Week
- There would be less federally mandated testing in schools, and the remaining tests would not be tied to any federal consequences. The bill also prohibits the Department of Education from giving states special positive or negative incentives to adopt specific academic standards, as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been doing with Common Core using waivers from No Child Left Behind. — Washington Examiner
- This new ESEA gives power back to the states, which would now be in charge of fixing their most embattled schools, evaluating their teachers, deciding which tests to administer, determining how to use those tests to rank schools, how to educate dual-language learners, and on and on and on. In other words, we might finally be turning the corner on the era of federal micromanagement of K–12 education and leaving No Child Left Behind behind. — Slate
- It cuts down on the number of education programs in what they see as a bloated department and prevents a future secretary from overstepping his or her bounds the way they say Duncan did. States and districts, they say, will do a better job than Washington responding to the needs of poor and minority kids. – Politico
- Under the new K-12 law, school districts identified by their states as under-performing would be eligible for federal grants to make improvements, but the federal government wouldn't prescribe which reforms are necessary. The deal also would bar the U.S. Education Department from requiring states to adopt Common Core academic standards in exchange for federal grants. — USA Today
- The greatest change in the proposed law is a dismantling of the federal accountability system that defined whether K-12 schools were successful, prescribed actions to improve struggling schools, and imposed penalties on states and schools that failed to make progress. It also prevents the federal government from requiring states to evaluate teachers and principals and adopt specific academic standards. — Washington Post
Conservatives are also recognizing the stark difference between NCLB and the House-Senate proposal. Frederick Hess, director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute, recently wrote in The Hill,
The new bill contains unprecedented language restricting the secretary of Education's discretion and eliminating his or her ability to use the law to shape state policy. It ends the invasive and problematic Race to the Top and School Improvement Grant programs. It contains strong language prohibiting federal officials from seeking to influence state academic standards (think of this as the "no more federal support for the Common Core" provision). It puts an end to the federal government telling states how to improve teacher quality or evaluate teachers.
This AEI scholar has also described the bicameral framework as striking a “ringing blow for the principle of limited government” and “a notable conservative victory.” Congress is expected to review and consider a final bill in the coming weeks. Before the end of the year, the American people should have a new K-12 education law that will help ensure every child receives an excellent education.
For more information on the framework, click here.
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***SBA Environmental Roundtable Meeting***
FRIDAY, December 4, 2015 10 a.m. – noon
TO: Interested Persons
FROM: Kevin Bromberg, Assistant Chief Counsel
David Rostker, Assistant Chief Counsel
Tabby Waqar, Assistant Chief Counsel
I want to thank our colleagues for being here today. It’s not every day that the House and Senate come together in a formal conference committee to address an important issue facing our country. The fact that we are here reflects a commitment to follow regular order where members on both sides of the aisle – and on both sides of the Capitol – can participate in an open legislative process and help make a difference in the lives of the American people.
This week, we have an opportunity to take the next step in a long process to improve K-12 education. We are continuing an effort to replace the old, failed approach to education with a new approach that will help more children receive the excellent education they deserve.
Addressing the problems with federal education policies is something we have neglected for far too long. No Child Left Behind has been the law of the land for nearly 14 years, and it expired eight years ago. The law was based on good intentions, but it was also based on the flawed premise that Washington should decide what students need to excel in school.
Parents, teachers, and superintendents have been telling us for years that this approach isn’t working. Everyone here knows it isn’t working. Children from across the country are trapped in failing schools. The nation’s report card recently revealed achievement in reading and math declined for the first time in 25 years. And in many neighborhoods, students are more likely to drop out than to earn a diploma.
Rather than step up and change the law, Congress stepped back and let the administration set national policy through conditional waivers. Instead of providing states and schools relief from the law, these controversial waivers have led to greater confusion and uncertainty. Parents and state and local leaders are more frustrated than ever with the federal government trying to micromanage schools in their communities.
The American people have waited long enough for Congress to do its job and replace No Child Left Behind. Fortunately, both the House and Senate have finally passed proposals intended to do just that. Now it is up to us to resolve the differences between those two proposals and work to send a final bill to the president’s desk.
Toward that end, staff and members have discussed where we might find areas of common ground and developed a framework I believe will result in a successful conference. I am very pleased that the framework advances the three basic principles House Republicans have long championed.
First, the framework reduces the federal role in K-12 education. One-size-fits-all federal policies dictating accountability and school improvement are eliminated. Dozens of ineffective and duplicative programs are repealed. New and unprecedented restrictions are placed on the secretary’s authority. This proposal will significantly reduce the size of the federal footprint in our nation’s schools.
Second, the framework restores local control by returning to state and local leaders the primary responsibility for accountability and school improvement. The framework protects the right of states to opt out of federal education programs, as well as provides new funding flexibility so federal resources are better spent on priorities set at the local level.
Third and finally, the framework empowers parents. We continue to promote transparency about school performance, so parents have the information they need to do what’s best for their children. We also strengthen the charter school program and magnet school program to offer parents greater school choice.
These are just a few ways the framework advances the principles House Republicans have long supported, and no doubt additional details will be discussed during today’s meeting. We compromised on the details, but we did not compromise our principles.
That is why I urge my colleagues to support this agreement and help us move one step closer to replacing a flawed law. It is time to end the Washington-knows-best-approach to K-12 education. It is time to give parents and state and local leaders the authority and flexibility they need to deliver an excellent education to every student in every school. This agreement will help do just that.
I’d like to end my remarks where they began. We are here because we are committed to regular order where members on both sides of the aisle can share their views and offer ideas. I look forward to hearing from all of our colleagues today and to moving this important process forward.
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On November 18, 2015, the Departments of Treasury, Labor and Health and Human Services published a final regulations in the Federal Register (80 Fed Reg 72192) regarding grandfathered health plans, preexisting condition exclusions, lifetime and annual dollar limits on benefits, rescissions, coverage of dependent children to age 26, internal claims and appeal and external review processes, and patient protections
We all know the current federal financial aid system is broken. National student loan debt is at an all-time high, and a complex patchwork of grant, loan, and repayment programs has become so difficult to navigate that it often discourages individuals from pursuing a higher education. Students, families, and taxpayers deserve better. That’s why simplifying and improving student aid remains a leading priority as Congress continues its work to strengthen higher education.
Addressing the challenges within the federal financial aid system is an important part of that effort – and one we have discussed extensively in our subcommittee – but that’s not why we are here today. Instead, we are here to examine the agency tasked with managing the system: the Office of Federal Student Aid, or FSA. The agency is responsible for administering every federal loan, grant, work-study, and repayment program under Title IV of the Higher Education Act.
In other words, FSA is in charge of delivering billions of taxpayer dollars to millions of eligible students, as well as managing more than a trillion dollars of outstanding student loan debt. Additionally, the agency is expected to provide guidance about financial aid policies to thousands of colleges and universities and has the authority to revoke an institution’s ability to participate in the aid programs should they not comply with that guidance. Needless to say, FSA plays an enormous role in the higher education system and has the ability to help or disrupt the lives of students.
In the 1990s, the Government Accountability Office designated FSA as a “High Risk” agency with “long-standing management problems.” To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of FSA, and to mitigate the mishandling of limited resources moving forward, Congress in 1998 converted the agency to a performance-based organization that would have to meet specific objectives under the Higher Education Act. Nearly two decades and trillions of dollars later, many would argue FSA is not achieving the intended results. It’s our job to find out why and identify opportunities for reform to ensure taxpayer dollars are well spent and students are well served.
Numerous reports reveal FSA is rife with inefficiencies that have led to a lack of communication with students, institutions, and loan servicers; improper payments; inaccurate reporting of data; failure to ensure borrowers are aware of the repayment options available to them; mismanagement of contractors and vendors; and poor customer service.
After the last comprehensive review of the agency in 2008, the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General found FSA has failed to meet its responsibility as a performance-based organization, such as developing a five-year performance plan with external stakeholders and publishing annual performance reviews for the agency’s top executives. Due to these and other failures, the Inspector General noted that FSA “has been unable to realize the expected benefits of the initiatives and has hindered its progress in meeting the requirements of the [Higher Education Act].”
This is about more than checking boxes. When FSA fails to fulfill its responsibilities, it jeopardizes our investment in students. We need to demand better. As Congress works to strengthen higher education, we must ensure the Office of Federal Student Aid is serving the best interests of students, families, and taxpayers. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about how to achieve just that. Thank you for joining us, and thank you, again, Chairman Meadows, for working with us on this important hearing.
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules: Produce rule and Foreign Supplier Verification Procedures
On November 13, 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released two final rules required by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. FSMA aims to ensure the U.S.
On November 6, 2015 the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposed to amend its regulations governing the VA Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) Verification Program. This proposed rule would clarify the eligibility requirements for businesses to obtain "verified'' status, add and revise definitions, reorder requirements, redefine the definition of “control'', and explain examination procedures and review processes. This proposed rule would also implement new changes: references to community property restrictions, ``unconditional'' ownership, and day-to-day requirements.