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DeVos doles out $13.2B to states for K-12 students


With help from Nicole Gaudiano, Juan Perez Jr. and Michael Stratford

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rolled out another round of coronavirus stimulus cash. The more than $13.2 billion pot of money is designated for states to help their K-12 students whose schools were closed due to the coronavirus.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that education is a “fundamental right” in a civil rights case brought by Detroit students against former Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan State Board of Education.

Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania won’t be accepting the money designated for them by the stimulus bill. They follow a list of wealthy elite colleges that announced Wednesday they would forgo their share of the rescue cash.

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DEVOS ANNOUNCES MORE THAN $13.2B TO HELP K-12 SCHOOLS: DeVos said in a statement that the K-12 emergency cash has “very few bureaucratic strings attached.” She encouraged education leaders to invest in technology, distance learning resources, training and long-term planning that will help education continue, “no matter where learning takes place.” The money comes from last month’s CARES Act, H.R. 748 (116), which provided nearly $31 billion for education stabilization.

— State education agencies must distribute 90 percent of the funding to local education agencies, including public charter schools. And it must be allocated in proportion to the amount of fiscal 2019 funds the local education agencies received under Title I law for students from low-income families.

— State education agencies may keep up to 10 percent of the award for their coronavirus responses. They have until July 1 to apply for the funds by submitting a signed Certification and Agreement form to [email protected] After a year, they must return funds that haven’t been awarded, and the department will reallocate those funds to states. Read more from Nicole Gaudiano.

EXCLUSIVE: HOUSE DEMOCRATS URGE DEVOS TO GIVE FAFSA GUIDANCE: In a letter led by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and sent to DeVos Thursday night, more than two dozen Democratic lawmakers asked the Education Department for more guidance for students, parents and schools on the FAFSA. They cited students’ shifting financial situations due to the coronavirus, and declining FAFSA completion rates.

— “Because the effects of this disease have also rendered previous financial information submitted in the FAFSA inaccurate for many, we seek an opportunity for a student update,” Doggett said in a statement. “By providing more information to students and higher education institutions, we can ensure that students who need financial aid don’t fall between ever widening pandemic cracks.”

— Some of the lawmakers’ requests include providing more information on the professional judgment process for students on the Education Department’s Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions page and additional communication to students reminding them of FAFSA filing deadlines.

— Additionally, lawmakers are urging DeVos to employ a strategy used following the 2008 recession in which “the Department of Education and the Department of Labor partnered to ensure that recently unemployed individuals were made aware of their potential to access additional federal financial aid.”

— The letter comes with May 1, National College Decision Day just around the corner, and follows a POLITICO story that found that as parents lose jobs and family economic situations shifts, more students will need help to adjust their FAFSA to afford college.

6TH CIRCUIT SAYS EDUCATION IS A ‘FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT,’ RULES IN FAVOR OF DETROIT STUDENTS: Children have a fundamental right to a minimum education that offers “foundational” literacy skills, a split federal appeals court ruled on Thursday. The landmark decision could now go to the Supreme Court.

— The decision comes after seven Detroit students filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in 2016 against Michigan state officials claiming they neglected students’ constitutional right to literacy skills. They also sued over poor learning conditions in Detroit schools due to underfunding.

— “While the Supreme Court has repeatedly discussed this issue, it has never decided it, and the question of whether such a right exists remains open today,” the majority opinion from appeals court Judges Eric Clay and Jane Stranch said. “After employing the reasoning of these Supreme Court cases and applying the Court’s substantive due process framework, we recognize that the Constitution provides a fundamental right to a basic minimum education.” Read more from Juan Perez Jr.

DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS TO RECEIVE TABLETS, FREE INTERNET: All 51,000 students who go to public schools in Detroit will get free tablets, and free high-speed internet for six months, by the end of the school year. The initiative, a $23 million program called Connected Futures, was unveiled Thursday by city officials, business leaders and philanthropic organizations.

— The city’s effort comes as many school districts across the country are grappling with how to continue teaching during the pandemic, when many of their students don’t have access to the technology they need to connect with school online. Read more from Michael Stratford.

MORE COLLEGES REFUSE CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CASH: Duke and Penn joined a growing list of wealthy elite colleges that are forgoing their slice of emergency stimulus cash after political pressure from the Trump administration pushed Harvard University to bow out on its share on Wednesday.

The nation’s five wealthiest private schools with the largest endowments have all decided to forgo their stimulus cash. First came Stanford University, which withdrew its application for federal emergency funding. Then came Harvard, Yale University and Princeton University. Penn and Duke followed a day later.

Penn, Trump’s alma mater, said despite the pandemic’s “serious financial impact,” it opted against accepting stimulus money after “analyzing the full scope of the regulations involved.”

Duke said: “After careful review, we believe that accepting the funds, even as a pass-through entirely to students, would impose unacceptable legal and regulatory liabilities on Duke that could have a significant negative impact in the future.”

Trump reaffirmed his stance that wealthy universities shouldn’t be receiving stimulus cash at Thursday’s coronavirus task force briefing. More from your education team.

THE COLLEGE BOARD ANNOUNCES SEPTEMBER SAT DATE: The new September SAT administration date for students in the U.S. and internationally will be Saturday, Sept. 26. Registration for the 2020-21 SAT administrations opens to students in May.

— Last week, the test maker announced that the standardized college admissions exam will be offered every month this fall starting in August. If public health officials keep social distancing protocols in place and schools remain shuttered through the fall, The College Board will also provide a digital SAT that can be taken at home.

POLITICO Pro is here to help you navigate these unprecedented times. Check out our new Covid-19 Coverage Roundup, which provides a daily summary of top Covid-19 news coverage from across all 16 federal policy verticals as well as premium content, such as DataPoint graphics. Please sign up at our settings page to receive this unique roundup sent directly to your inbox every weekday afternoon.

— A national survey of more than 2,000 college students found that nearly 1 in 5 are uncertain about their plans for re-enrolling in the fall, or will not be going at all, according to the American Council on Education and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. The survey, which was conducted during March and April, also found that 82 percent of students say they will be able to complete all or most of their spring coursework as planned.

A new 50-state analysis from the Center for American Progress finds that many child care programs will be unable to reopen without significant federal support. The country could lose about 4.5 million licensed child care slots, causing existing shortages in child care to skyrocket and leaving the millions who rely on it to work in a bind.

— The National Association for College Admission Counseling updated its resource that catalogs changes in college admission procedures due to the coronavirus pandemic at nearly 1,100 colleges and universities around the world. It now includes plans and policies regarding high school transcripts and standardized test scores, summer and fall semester instruction; and admission and enrollment of international students.

A new “Pulse Point” survey from the American Council on Education found that college and university presidents are most concerned of the coronavirus’ impact on their institution’s finances, enrollment, remote learning and student mental health. About 86 percent of presidents surveyed said the most pressing issue was fall or summer enrollment numbers.

— A new report from the Albert Shanker Institute describes the effects of previous recessions on K-12 education finances and analyzes federal, state, and local policies and trends used to mediate the impact of the economic downturns on public school budgets. It also offers recommendations for short- and long-term responses to the coronavirus impact.

— Why students are seeking refunds during Covid-19: U.S. News and World Report

— SJSU, Cal State East Bay considering ‘hybrid’ of online and in-person classes for fall: The Mercury News

— Let Michelle Obama be your substitute at-home teacher with her new reading program: Travel and Leisure

— 9th Circuit amends Title IX liability considerations: Inside Higher Ed

— Why is Zoom so exhausting? The Chronicle of Higher Education



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