What to know about Walberg’s education priorities


PROGRAMMING NOTE: We’ll be off next week for the holidays but back to our normal schedule on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

WALBERG’S PRIORITIES — As head of House Education and Labor, Rep. Tim Walberg would expect to prioritize school choice, address learning loss and bolster the rights of parents in education, according to the Michigan congressman’s office.

— Walberg is challenging Rep. Virginia Foxx for the House Education and Labor gavel despite news that Foxx — the current ranking member — is eligible to enter the race. Contested races won’t be resolved until after the House speaker’s race is settled, likely on Jan. 3. Both Foxx and Walberg will likely give a presentation to the Republican Steering Committee about how they would lead the panel before the chairmanship decision is made.

— Your host has written about Foxx’s priorities before, which includes aggressive oversight of the Biden administration’s student loan relief program and on how K-12 Covid relief dollars have been spent. Here’s what we know about a Walberg-led education committee:

— Walberg’s priorities are similar to Foxx’s. They line up with the GOP’s “Commitment to America” agenda, and also put school choice and parental rights at the top of the list. The congressman’s office said that he would want to ensure there is oversight on the administration’s actions on student loans and Title IX, and pandemic-related school closures and the use of Covid-19 funds. Student privacy protection is also on Walberg’s list.

— The congressman is also known for being a champion of career and technical education, apprenticeship programs and pathways for students beyond a four-year degree.

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TRYING TO CATCH A RIDE ON THE OMNIBUS Leading lawmakers reached a deal on government funding totals across a dozen appropriations bills that will comprise the $1.7 trillion year-end spending package. The goal is to release the massive fiscal 2023 funding measure as early as Monday, POLITICO’s Caitlin Emma reported. Lawmakers have until Dec. 23 to get the omnibus across the finish line.

— The past few weeks, lawmakers and advocacy groups have been pressing for funding for two major things: Getting infrastructure money for minority-serving institutions and fully funding the CHIPS and Science Act that was signed into law over the summer. Here are some talkers:

— The United Negro College Fund and other groups supporting historically Black colleges have been making the case to lawmakers to include funding to shore up their institutions’ infrastructure. Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) also took this on in her opinion piece in The Hill this month, including it in her list of proposals that would “specifically make good on what the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats have promised to Black America.”

“We have no one to blame but ourselves if we miss this opportunity,” she said.

— CHIPS and Science Act authorization is on the minds of lawmakers, and several university research and tech groups who want to ensure the nation stays competitive globally. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) is among them. “Fully funding the CHIPS & Science Act will unlock crucial programs that introduce students to STEM careers, expand early research experiences for all students – including underrepresented and rural students – and help schools recruit and retain high-quality STEM teachers,” she told Morning Education in a statement. “That’s how we will get students to see STEM as more than a job, but as a rewarding lifelong career.”

ICYMI: CHAIR SANDERS, THE REALIST — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who will be leading Senate HELP next Congress, unveiled his short list of goals he’s hoping may have bipartisan support. But he’s also promising to keep pushing on his goals he knows will be out of reach in a divided Congress. “I’m going to be walking a tightrope,” Sanders told POLITICO’s Burgess Everett. “I want to work with Republicans on issues where we can make progress. In other areas, they’re not going to support me. And I’m not gonna give up on those issues.”

— Sanders’ education goals that might have bipartisan appeal: Expanding early childhood education and beefing up the education workforce. But, he’s still thinking about ways to promote free public college tuition and take his committee show on the road to the public — a signature touch from the rally-holding senator.

ON THE LOOKOUT — As December comes to an end, your host is on the lookout for the Education Department’s rule to prevent discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnicity. The department said it “has received complaints of harassment and assaults directed at Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and other students based on their shared ancestry or ethnicity.” (Want to talk about the rule? Email your host!)

— Lawmakers and advocates for Jewish students had urged the Education Department to make combating antisemitism on college campuses a priority after the agency delayed its rulemaking on the issue for nearly a year. “After a year with historic levels of antisemitism, we ask that the administration re-prioritize the rulemaking process for Title VI and ensure it remains a priority as opposed to a long-term action,” nearly 40 lawmakers said at the time.

— Antisemitism has only gotten worse in the past few months, especially with the rhetoric from high-profile people. The Wall Street Journal’s Douglas Belkin reported that on college campuses, “students say anti-Jewish antagonism is on the rise: Antisemitic incidents have increased, and a growing number of campus groups bar students who support Israel from speaking or joining.”

— “It is absolutely critical at this point that the Biden administration send a signal that they care about providing equal opportunities for all students, including Jewish students,” said Ken Marcus, founder of the Brandeis Center and former assistant Education secretary for the Office for Civil Rights under the Trump administration.

“For the last 20 years, every administration has strengthened protections for Jewish students in some important way … we have not yet seen a comparable advance from the Biden administration,” he added. “That’s surprising because the words we’ve been hearing from President Biden and his administration have been so sympathetic, and yet we’re not taking the action.

“I’m hoping that this month, when the administration proposes formal rulemaking on antisemitism in education, we will see actions that live up to their words,” he added.

THE TRANSGENDER ATHLETE CASE THAT COULD HEAD TO SCOTUS The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday agreed with a lower court’s decision to toss a high-profile lawsuit that aims to bar transgender students from competing on women and girls’ sports teams in Connecticut, your host reports. The case could be the first in the nation to allow the Supreme Court to weigh in on transgender students’ rights to play on teams that match their gender identity.

—The case, Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools, Inc., argued that Connecticut’s high school sports authority and five school boards violated Title IX by allowing transgender students to participate on women’s sports teams. Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, Alanna Smith, Ashley Nicoletti and their mothers argued their case at the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in September.

— Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Christiana Kiefer said they are “evaluating all legal options, including appeal.”

“Our clients — like all female athletes — deserve access to fair competition,” Kiefer said, adding that several states have been pushing against the administration’s interpretation of Title IX.

— Wesley Whistle is joining the Education Department’s Office of the Undersecretary to work on higher education issues. Whistle was previously New America’s policy director for the higher education program. Before that, he was the principal adviser on Sen. Bob Casey’s education portfolio.

— The Association for Career and Technical Education announced that Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) will be the next Democratic co-chair of the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus at the start of the 118th Congress. Bonamici is replacing outgoing Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who co-led the caucus for 11 years.

— The Global Student Haven Initiative launched today. The initiative, created in response to the conflict in Ukraine and the crisis in Afghanistan, includes a handful of colleges that are committing to ensure that students who are displaced because of war, natural disasters or other global crises will have access to financial aid and campus services like housing assistance and mental health support. “The initiative seeks to help students overcome barriers to carry on their education and prepare for eventual return to their home nation,” according to a press release.

Colleges participating include: Bowdoin College, Caltech, Dartmouth College, New York University, Pomona College, Smith College, Trinity College and Williams College. Other institutions are also invited to join.

A new report from the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution examines resources for economically disadvantaged students in K-12 schools compared to their economically advantaged counterparts, and the differences vary across districts and communities. The report also looks at financial and teacher resources.

—The student loan company being used to attack Biden’s debt relief plan: POLITICO

— The school that calls the police on students every other day: Chicago Tribune and ProPublica

— The many mentors of Sarah Turner: EdSurge

— Colleges seek growth from grad programs. Will that market ever run dry?: Higher Ed Dive

— Dissension brews among striking UC union members over tentative agreement: Los Angeles Times





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