Unions Spend Big to Push Democrats’ $3.5 Trillion Spending Plan

by Brody Mullins and Ted Mann

10.01.21   Labor unions are lobbying to secure Democratic support for President Biden's $3.5 trillion spending package, which funds long-sought union priorities and provisions intended to strengthen organized labor. Unions representing teachers, service employees, communication workers and others are among those deploying lobbyists to Capitol Hill and bankrolling multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns to pressure undecided Democrats to vote for the measure when congressional leaders bring it up in the … Continue Reading

Improving Closed-College Discharges

by Alexis Gravely

10.01.21   A preliminary report by the Government Accountability Office suggests that students who attended institutions that were subsequently closed should have their loans automatically discharged in order to help the borrowers who are struggling to repay student loans they took out to pay tuition at the now-closed colleges. The discharges would be in line with an Obama-era policy to which the Department of Education is looking to return. Over 80,000 borrowers had their loans forgiven from 2010 to 2020… Continue Reading

What’s happening in Congress right now will have a big impact on the economy and American families

by Heather Long

09.30.21   What's happening right now in Congress has major implications for the fate of the U.S. economy - and many Americans' pocketbooks. There are four big things happening at once, which is what makes this so complicated and consequential. First of all, Congress needed to approve a budget so the federal government can keep operating after Sept. 30. Lawmakers did that Thursday, avoiding a government shutdown by only a few hours. The second issue is the "debt ceiling." If that isn't lifted by O… Continue Reading

One State’s HBCUs Are Seeing More Interest From Adult Students. Here’s How They’re Responding

by Oyun Adedoyin

09.28.21   Deanna Byrum knew she wanted to stay close to home after graduating from high school more than 20 years ago, so she enrolled in community college to get a degree in business. "You really didn't hear a lot about people having to have a bachelor's degree to attain jobs, so I was just satisfied to get my associate degree," she said. But times change. In the spring of 2021 - after raising a daughter, surviving a divorce, and providing care for her ailing parents - Byrum obtained her bachelor's deg… Continue Reading

The Pandemic Prompts More Companies to Offer Paid Sick Time and Leave—but Millions of Workers Still Don’t Get It

by Kathryn Dill

09.27.21   As America confronted the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, a significant workplace divide came into focus: Millions of workers had no paid sick time, and millions more lacked enough paid time off to cover a severe illness. Now, more than 19 months into the pandemic, many large employers have expanded their paid sick-time and leave offerings to better meet employees' needs, according to data from McKinsey & Co. and Mercer LLC. But while many workers who already enjoyed paid leave now have ever gre… Continue Reading

COVID-19 creates dire US shortage of teachers, school staff

by Jocelyn Gecker

09.22.21   One desperate California school district is sending flyers home in students' lunchboxes, telling parents it's "now hiring." Elsewhere, principals are filling in as crossing guards, teachers are being offered signing bonuses and schools are moving back to online learning. Now that schools have welcomed students back to classrooms, they face a new challenge: a shortage of teachers and staff the likes of which some districts say they have never seen. Public schools have struggled for years with t… Continue Reading

‘The pay is absolute crap’: Child-care workers are quitting rapidly, a red flag for the economy

by Heather Long

09.19.21   South Shore Stars' early-childhood program in Weymouth, Mass., received zero applicants this summer for its preschool teacher positions. It was a big change from when Director Jennifer Curtis was superintendent of a local school district and routinely had 200 people apply for elementary school jobs. The problem, Curtis said, is that day care workers typically make about $12 an hour for a demanding job year-round. Public schools and other employers, which are also scrambling to hire workers, are… Continue Reading

Battle over Biden’s massive child-care bill takes new turn with virus

by Megan Cassella

09.18.21   Working women, whose child care duties vastly expanded during the pandemic, are bracing for a new hit to their incomes and careers as the resurgent coronavirus jeopardizes plans to keep kids in school full time. After 18 months of shutdowns, online learning and canceled summer camps, the return to classrooms was supposed to be a turning point for women, whose participation in the labor force plunged to its lowest level in more than three decades during the pandemic. But as Covid-19 cases rose i… Continue Reading

Report: Community Colleges Drive Workforce Education, Training

by Sara Weissman

09.16.21   A new survey found that community colleges, and especially their noncredit programs, play an outsize role in providing job-focused education. Opportunity America, a Washington, D.C., think tank focused on economic mobility, explained the survey findings in an accompanying policy report released Tuesday. The report says community colleges are "poised to come into their own as the nation's premier provider of job-focused education and training." Community and technical colleges educate more peo… Continue Reading

Will the Bus Driver Ever Come? Or the Substitute Teacher or Cafeteria Worker?

by Giulia Heyward

09.16.21   In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker is activating the National Guard to help with the shortage in bus drivers. In North Carolina, legislators are hoping to ease a cafeteria worker shortage by giving districts federal funding to cover signing bonuses for new hires. And some Missouri districts are wiping away some of the requirements to become a substitute teacher to attract more applicants. Across the country, school districts are desperate to fill jobs. Some are struggling to retain counselors… Continue Reading

The Biden administration looks to expanded child care funds to combat labor shortages.

by Alan Rappeport

09.15.21   The Biden administration is trying to build support for proposals to overhaul the nation's rickety child care system as it pushes Congress to embrace a $3.5 trillion plan to expand social safety programs and looks for ways to combat ongoing labor shortages. In a new report released on Wednesday, the Treasury Department painted a dire picture of child care in America, outlining what it called failures by the private sector to provide high-quality care at affordable prices and making the case tha… Continue Reading

U.S. House committees advance ambitious education and climate initiatives

by Ariana Figueroa

09.14.21   Proposals would fund universal pre-K and free community college, hasten shift to renewable energy A trio of important U.S. House committees have advanced ambitious plans to address national education needs and the global climate emergency. On the education front, the House Education & Labor Committee on Friday finished a marathon markup of legislation that would provide universal pre-K education, expand federal Pell Grants for college students and institute two years of free community coll… Continue Reading

HBCU advocates urge Congress to deliver on Biden’s promises

by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

09.10.21   When Congress reached a compromise on the infrastructure bill this summer, historically Black college and university advocates were struck by the absence of President Biden's proposals to support the schools. Gone was any mention of money for research incubators, laboratory upgrades or repairing aging facilities produced by decades of state and federal underfunding. But the White House assured Black colleges that the ambitious agenda Biden set for their schools would be part of a larger legisla… Continue Reading

Data shows only 20 percent of applicants for a student loan forgiveness program will receive relief by 2026

by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

09.09.21   Low approval rates have plagued a popular student loan forgiveness program for public servants, and data from the company overseeing the federal initiative shows not much will change in the coming years. There are about 1.3 million people pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a program that cancels federal student debt after 10 years of on-time payments for people who take public-sector jobs. But just 1 in 5 of those borrowers are on track to secure relief by 2026, according to an analysis … Continue Reading

Calls grow for FDA to speed authorization of kid Covid-19 vaccines

by Lauren Gardner

09.07.21   Pressure is mounting on the Food and Drug Administration to authorize Covid-19 vaccines for children under 12 - even though the data needed to support the move is still being collected. Politicians have joined anxious parents and some public health groups in calling on federal regulators to accelerate their process for authorizing shots for the youngest Americans. They point to a record number of infections among this age group in recent weeks as schools have reopened. These adults want FDA to … Continue Reading

School districts across the country are dealing with severe substitute teacher shortages, despite efforts to recruit and pay them more

by Francis Agustin

09.05.21   School districts across the country have been struggling with dwindling staff numbers after teachers left the profession amid coronavirus lockdowns last year, and now, as Delta infections spike. Those factors, coupled with more full-time teachers testing positive for COVID-19, has led to an increased demand for substitute teachers, which are also now in critically short supply in many districts. Districts in Georgia, California, Florida, Idaho, and other states are struggling to fill their sub… Continue Reading

Education Department to Expand Data Collection on COVID and Schools

by Evie Blad

09.03.21   The U.S. Department of Education will expand the limited data it currently collects on students' experiences in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the door open to add new questions to its representative survey of schools as the public health crisis evolves. The survey will build on the department's existing instrument, which has largely focused on schools' operating status, by asking more questions about how students learn and what precautions schools take. Consistent, comparable… Continue Reading

Roughly 40% of Americans don’t understand 401(k) fees, government watchdog finds

by Carmen Reinicke

08.26.21   Nearly 40% of Americans participating in 401(k) retirement plans do not fully understand the fees associated with the accounts, according to a report released Thursday by the Government Accountability Office, a congressional watchdog. The lack of knowledge around how fees work in the employer-sponsored retirement plans persists, the report found, even though the U.S. Department of Labor has required sponsors to provide participants with fee disclosures for about a decade. The report was … Continue Reading

Student loan forgiveness: Education Department discharges $1.1 billion in debt for 115,000 ITT students

by Aarthi Swaminathan

08.26.21   The Education Department (ED) is discharging $1.1 billion for 115,000 defrauded former students of the for-profit ITT Technical Institute (ITT) after a new review of existing regulations. ITT Technical Institute filed for bankruptcy in 2016 and shut down all campuses, affecting 149 locations and roughly 40,000 students, amid lawsuits and investigations over alleged predatory lending practices. "For years, ITT hid its true financial state from borrowers while luring many of them into taking out… Continue Reading

Roughly 40% of Americans don’t understand 401(k) fees, government watchdog finds

by Carmen Reinicke

08.26.21   Nearly 40% of Americans participating in 401(k) retirement plans do not fully understand the fees associated with the accounts, according to a report released Thursday by the Government Accountability Office, a congressional watchdog. The lack of knowledge around how fees work in the employer-sponsored retirement plans persists, the report found, even though the U.S. Department of Labor has required sponsors to provide participants with fee disclosures for about a decade. The report was initia… Continue Reading

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