The Biggest Problem for America’s Schools

by Adam Harris

04.06.21   Brian Woods has seen a lot in his nearly 30 years as an educator in the Northside Independent School District, in San Antonio. Tornadoes and storms have damaged buildings and left area campuses without power for weeks. Hurricanes have sent an unexpected surge of students into the district. In hindsight, each of those disruptions seems temporary-minor, even-compared with what he's seen over the past 12 months. Three times as many students as normal are failing courses. "It's almost impossible to … Continue Reading

Students who got partial loan relief to see full discharge

by Carole Feldman

03.18.21   WASHINGTON (AP) - Thousands of students defrauded by for-profit schools will have their federal loans fully erased, the Biden administration announced Thursday, reversing a Trump administration policy that had given them only partial relief. The change could lead to $1 billion in loans being canceled for 72,000 borrowers, all of whom attended for-profit schools, the Education Department said. "Borrowers deserve a simplified and fair path to relief when they have been harmed by their institutio… Continue Reading

House passes sweeping child abuse prevention bill

by Paul LeBlanc

03.16.21   The House on Tuesday passed a sweeping child abuse prevention bill, setting up deliberations in the Senate as experts and advocates raise alarm about unreported abuse during the coronavirus pandemic. The Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which cleared the House by 345-73, represents a legislative overhaul of the flagship bill addressing child welfare in the US. The new legislation would require the US Department of Health and Human Services to establish national standards for … Continue Reading

The House just passed a sweeping and bipartisan bill to boost unions

by Ella Nilsen

03.09.21   The US House of Representatives has officially passed a sweeping, bipartisan labor bill, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. Cheered by unions and disliked by businesses, the bill likely cannot pass the Senate without filibuster reform. The bill passed the House Tuesday night on a vote of 225-206. The bill gained the support of five House Republicans, and was co-sponsored by three Republicans: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey. … Continue Reading

Democrats’ Relief Bill Shores Up A Million People’s Pensions. That’s A Huge Deal.

by David Jamieson

03.07.21   Democrats in the Senate narrowly passed a mammoth coronavirus aid package Saturday morning that is likely to become a landmark for progressive legislation. The $1.9 trillion deal includes another round of stimulus checks, an extension to federal unemployment benefits, billions in aid for cities and states, and an increased child tax credit. In fact, the legislation includes so many notable, big-ticket provisions that it's gaining almost no attention for another notable feature: rescuing the… Continue Reading

Democratic leaders criticize Biden administration's "outmoded" guidance on aerosol COVID-19 spread

by Bo Erickson and Alexander Tin

03.02.21   A group of House Democratic leaders are questioning the basis for the Biden administration's guidance on aerosol transmission of COVID-19, which they say relies on "outmoded" science. In a four-page letter addressed to White House COVID response chief Jeff Zients, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky and acting Labor Secretary Al Stewart, four House committee chairs say they have "serious questions" about the adequacy of the CDC's guidance on workplace protectio… Continue Reading

Biden Education Department Offers Flexibility in Testing, But Doesn’t Exempt States

by Lauren Camera

02.23.21   The Education Department, in its first major decision under the Biden administration, told states that they will be granted significant flexibility in how and when they administer annual tests, but they will not be exempt from administering them - a blow to teachers unions who had been pushing the White House to release states from the federal standardized testing requirement. "The Department of Education is committed to supporting all states in assessing student learning during the pandem… Continue Reading

Watchdog Finds OSHA Injury Reporting Woes, Limited Enforcement

by Bruce Rolfson

02.22.21   Fewer than half of all employers are complying with OSHA injury and illness reporting requirements because of the agency's outdated notification methods and near-toothless enforcement, a federal watchdog said. The Government Accountability Office said that of the estimated 459,000 employers that should have electronically filed OSHA reports, called Forms 300 and 300A, for 2019, only 46% complied. That's better than 2017, the requirement's first year, when the response rate was 35%. The GAO fin… Continue Reading

In COVID-19 Relief Package, Lawmakers Confident They Can Secure Millions in Funding to Vaccinate Senior Citizens

by Gaby Galvin

02.11.21   Groups that provide health and community-based services to older adults are poised to receive a windfall through the COVID-19 relief package moving through Congress. Amid intense scrutiny of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes and efforts to get residents vaccinated quickly, aging advocates say older adults still living in their communities have been overlooked in the pandemic response so far, despite being at higher risk of severe illness and death. Now, tucked into House Democrats' COVID-19 r… Continue Reading

Democrats’ Coronavirus Relief Plan Could Save The Pensions Of 1 Million People

by Dave Jamieson

02.11.21   Retirement experts have been warning for years that more than 1 million workers and retirees could lose their pensions if Congress doesn't act. Now help from Washington might finally arrive, thanks to an unlikely legislative opening provided by the pandemic. Congressional Democrats are moving a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief planthrough a process known as budget reconciliation, hoping to send it to President Joe Biden's desk this month. A proposal to shore up troubled pension plans and th… Continue Reading

Democrats Move $15 Minimum Wage Forward as Proposal Passes Committee

by James Walker

02.10.21   Democrats have pressed ahead with plans to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour with the House Education and Labor Committee advancing this move along with other stimulus measures. Committee chairman Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) said Democrats had moved the minimum wage increase forward on Wednesday morning, after an overnight meeting-which saw Republican lawmakers contest aspects of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion relief plan. Under the proposed legislation, the minimum wage would … Continue Reading

Dems attempt to push through school funding, wage increase

by Collin Binkley

02.10.21   WASHINGTON (AP) - House Democrats muscled past Republicans on portions of President Joe Biden's pandemic plan, including a proposed $130 billion in additional relief to help the nation's schools reopen and a gradual increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Democrats on the Education and Labor Committee say schools won't be able to reopen safely until they get an infusion of federal funding to repair building ventilation systems, buy protective equipment and take other steps recommen… Continue Reading

Democratic congressman to introduce sweeping child abuse prevention bill Monday

by Paul LeBlanc

01.25.21   Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia will introduce a child abuse prevention bill in the House on Monday, his office told CNN, setting up deliberations for a considerable child welfare investment as experts warn of an increasingly dire situation for at-risk kids. The Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act represents a legislative overhaul of the flagship bill addressing child welfare in the US. The new legislation would require the US Department of Health and Human Services to e… Continue Reading

Democrats eye union pension rescue as part of coronavirus aid

by Doug Sword

01.20.21   House Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. Scott plans to introduce legislation Thursday to provide tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to rescue failing union pension plans. The bill would also allow struggling companies to delay tens of billions of dollars in contributions to their nonunion plans. House and Senate Democrats agree that budget reconciliation is the most viable path for the package, according to a Democratic aide on the committee. The expectation is that the pension measures … Continue Reading

Congressman urges probe of Pasco school data program

by Kathleen McGrory, Neil Bedi and Romy Ellenbogen

01.19.21   Denouncing the program as promoting "racial bias" and further feeding the "school-to-prison pipeline," a U.S. congressman Tuesday called for a federal investigation into the Pasco school district's practice of sharing student data with law enforcement. "This use of student records goes against the letter and the spirit of (the federal student privacy law) and risks subjecting students, especially Black and Latino students, to excessive law enforcement interactions and stigmatization," said U.S.… Continue Reading

Financial Aid Is Restored for Prisoners as Part of the Stimulus Bill

by Erica L. Green

12.21.20   WASHINGTON - Tucked into Congress's voluminous stimulus package are significant changes to higher-education law, including the resumption of federal financial aid to prison inmates that was banned in the 1994 crime bill championed by then-Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. The restoration of Pell grants for incarcerated students is something of a watershed moment for the criminal justice overhaul movement as it unwinds decades of punitive practices in favor of finding avenues to reintegrate incarcerat… Continue Reading

House passes bill to expand apprenticeships but rejects Trump program

by Eleanor Mueller

11.30.20   The House passed a bill Friday that would authorize the investment of nearly $4 billion over five years - $3 billion of it via grants - in the expansion of apprenticeships. H.R. 8294 (116) would aim to build out existing registered apprenticeship programs, create new programs in sectors that traditionally don't employ apprentices like health care and child care, and make programs more accessible for employers. The legislation would also encourage coordination between the secretaries of Labor an… Continue Reading

National Ban on School Use of Seclusion and Restraint of Students Introduced in Congress

by Jodi S. Cohen, Jennifer Smith Richards

11.19.20   Congressional Democrats introduced legislation Thursday that would make it illegal to put students in seclusion and would limit the use of physical restraint in schools that receive federal funds. The bill, called the Keeping All Students Safe Act, would enact a national ban on restraints that can restrict breathing, including prone restraint where students are held face down on the floor and supine where they are held face up. Other restraints in the standing or seated positions could be used … Continue Reading

Federal Watchdog Finds Coal Safety Regulator Not Protecting Miners From Silica Dust

by Sydney Boles

11.16.20   The Mine Safety and Health Administration is not doing enough to protect coal miners from deadly silica dust, according to a new report from the Department of Labor's Office of the Inspector General. The IG found that MSHA's standards for exposure to deadly silica dust were out of date, and MSHA lacked the ability to issue fines when coal companies violate air quality standards. The IG also said the mine safety agency's sampling methods were too infrequent to guarantee that miners were protected… Continue Reading

House committee subpoenas Education Dept. staff over handling of failing for-profit colleges

by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

10.22.20   The House Education Committee issued subpoenas to career staff at the Education Department on Thursday seeking information regarding the federal agency's role in helping Dream Center Education Holdings as the for-profit college operator spiraled into insolvency. The legal request comes after more than a year of attempts by the committee to obtain documents and interviews from department personnel about the demise of Dream Center, owner of the Art Institutes, South University and Argosy Univer… Continue Reading

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