September 3rd, 2021

August 2021 Policy News Round-Up

The infrastructure bill and budget resolution moved forward in Congress,  ED announced the automatic discharge of student loans for certain people with disabilities, the Office of Special Education Programs released data on disability and race, CRDC to collect data for two consecutive years, and ED reiterates IDEA implementation. See how NCLD worked on behalf of students with disabilities this month.

Congress Approves Budget Resolution That Calls for Huge Education Investments

The Senate approved a $3.5 trillion budget resolution on August 11th, followed by the House on August 24th. The budget resolution contains reconciliation instructions for Committees. NCLD was pleased that the budget resolution passed by the Senate prioritized education funding: the Senate HELP ($726.38 billion over 10 years) and House Education and Labor Committees ($779.5 billion over 10 years) received the largest instructions for spending. 

The Congressional budget resolution the responsibility of how to allocate funds to the discretion of each Committee. However, Senators have shared that the final reconciliation bill could include:

  • Universal Pre-K for 3 and 4-year olds  
  • Child care for working families  
  • Tuition-free community college  
  • Investments in HBCUs, MSIs, HSIs, TCUs, and ANNHIs  
  • Increase the maximum Pell grant award  
  • School infrastructure, student success grants, and educator investments   
  • Workforce development and job training
  • And more. See this memorandum

Nonetheless, we know that Members of Congress will face difficult decisions on how to spend these funds. NCLD sent a letter to Members of Congress to urge investments in comprehensive educator preparation and postsecondary education student supports. 

Senate Passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

On August 10th, the Senate passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which grants $550 billion for the improvements of roads, highways, bridges, and broadband. The bill is bipartisan and awaits approval from the House. Provisions for education include supporting energy improvements at public school facilities, increasing transportation efficiency for school buses, and increasing access to broadband. 

For more information, see here.

Federal Student Loan Discharge for Borrowers with Total and Permanent Disabilities

On August 19th, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that they will automatically discharge $5.8 billion of student loans for over 323,000 borrowers with total and permanent disabilities. This new policy allows ED to identify these borrowers by matching data with the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

See here for more information on this updated policy.

Office of Special Education Programs Release New Data on Disability and Race

The Office of Special Education Programs released an OSEP Fast Facts and supplemental tool focused on race and ethnicity of children with disabilities served under IDEA served under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. A few key highlights include: 

  • Hispanic students with disabilities are more likely to be identified with hearing impairment or specific learning disability than their peers with disabilities.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native students with disabilities are more likely to drop out than their peers with disabilities and less likely to be inside a general education class less than 40% of the day than all students with disabilities.
  • White students with disabilities are more likely to be served inside a regular class 80% or more of the day than all students with disabilities and less likely to be identified with specific learning disability or intellectual disability than their peers with disabilities. 

More data can be found here

Office of Civil Rights To Collect Civil Rights Data for Two Consecutive Years

In an unprecedented move, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced their decision to collect data via the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) from all public-school districts and schools, two years in a row, for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years. This effort will enhance the accuracy and timeliness of this critical tool for tracking potential civil rights violations and responding to discrimination and inequity in communities.

See ED’s press release here.

ED’s New Guidance Reaffirms Importance of Full Implementation of IDEA Amidst Pandemic

ED’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) sent a letter to its state and local partners reiterating its commitment to ensuring children with disabilities and their families have successful early intervention and educational experiences in the 2021-2022 school year. Guidance on Child Find Under IDEA Part B was released with the letter, reaffirming the importance of identification, location, and evaluation of all children with disabilities. 

See NCLD’s statement here

In Case You Missed It:

  • NCLD and Understood released research findings from surveys and focus groups with educators and across the country to understand their experience during the pandemic and identify trends for how they are supporting students with learning and attention issues. This work includes four new resources to help educators and policymakers use evidence-based strategies to meet the growing needs of students with learning and attention issues during COVID-19 and as schools prepare for a full return to in-person learning. 
  • NCLD and 14 partner civil rights, business, and education advocacy organizations wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona asking for clarity on how ED will provide guidance and oversight to states in fulfilling ESSA’s testing requirements for the 2021-2022 school year.

Join the NCLD movement