October 2019 Government Update by Catherine Miller, UNI

1 Oct 2019 12:00 AM | Wendy Weber (Administrator)

The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) process is underway in Washington, DC. It appears that many of the accountability measures not included, but discussed last year will be included. For example, teacher education programs could be required to collect job placement and retention data for their alumni to use in reports regarding the efficacy of their programs. I wrote about this last year and encouraged people to let their federal representatives know that not only would this be burdensome and costly to colleges and universities, but that it is not a good measure of educator preparation program effectiveness. The bill to reauthorize HEA is likely to be filed this week.

You might have heard in various media outlets about the federal loan forgiveness and grant programs not functioning nicely. For example, some teachers fulfilled the requirements that should result in all their student loans being forgiven have found that their loans were not paid. Additionally, TEACH have been converted to high interest loans for trivial reasons, like not entering the January date with 01, but 1. UNI is working with several professional organizations and a consortium of institutions to educate members of Congress, and get noticed in a way that results in change. This work is in its initial stages, I will let you know how it proceeds. 

Work in Des Moines is just beginning to ramp up in anticipation of the next legislative session. It appears that increasing the number of charter schools and allowing state tax money to be used to fund private schools will be pursued once again. One of the first cases heard in the nation’s Supreme Court will be Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, where state tax credits were used to fund scholarships for students to attend private schools in Montana. This is considered one of the most important cases for K-12 education in years. 

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