• Advertisement

Senator Hassan Joins Colleagues in Calling on Education Department to Explain Delay of Gainful Employment Rule

Image from Senator Hassan on FLIKR (All Rights Reserved)

Senators Argue Delay Hurts Students and Needlessly Stalls Important Protections for Taxpayers

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a group of her Senate colleagues in calling on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to explain the Department’s decision to delay the implementation of the Gainful Employment rule, which cracks down on for-profit higher education institutions that fail to prepare students for good-paying jobs that allow them to repay their student debt. Last week, the Department of Education announced it would postpone the deadline for failing schools to submit appeals of their debt-to-earnings rates and delay the use of a new disclosure template to provide students better information about their programs. 

“The Gainful Employment rule is a critical protection for both students and taxpayers,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Secretary DeVos. “It will encourage improvement of career education programs that fail to adequately prepare students for good-paying jobs that allow them to repay their student debt, and cut off federal financial aid to programs that continue to fall short of these reasonable expectations. This will help prevent students from amassing debt that they can’t repay and reduce taxpayer dollars being wasted on underperforming programs. Disappointingly, [the Department] has now moved the March and April deadlines back to July 1, 2017, on the grounds that the delay will allow time to ‘further review’ the regulation… [T]his delay needlessly stalls important protections for students and taxpayers and creates more uncertainty for schools.” 

The letter was also signed by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Chris Murphy (D-CT).

Federal law requires career education and certificate programs at for-profit, not-for-profit, and public institutions to prepare students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation” in order to qualify for federal student aid. The Department’s Gainful Employment rule seeks to hold institutions to that statutory responsibility. Final debt-to-earnings data released by the Obama Administration in January revealed that 98 percent of the 800 failing degree programs identified were offered by for-profit colleges. 

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

March 13, 2017
The Honorable Elisabeth DeVos
Secretary
Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20202

 

Dear Secretary DeVos:  

            We write today regarding our serious concerns over the Department of Education’s (ED) announcement delaying implementation of the Gainful Employment (GE) rule. 

            The Gainful Employment rule is a critical protection for both students and taxpayers.  It will encourage improvement of career education programs that fail to adequately prepare students for good paying jobs that allow them to repay their student debt, and cut off federal financial aid to programs that continue to fall short of these reasonable expectations.  This will help prevent students from amassing debt that they can’t repay and reduce taxpayer dollars being wasted on underperforming programs.  

            On January 9, 2017, the Department of Education released final Debt-to-Earnings (D/E) rates for all GE programs at public, non-profit, and for-profit schools.  These rates were generated using earnings data from the Social Security Administration and data on program completers reported by institutions.  GE afforded schools two opportunities to formally challenge ED’s calculations of their data before the January 9 release. 

            The rule, generously, gives schools a third opportunity for appeal after the release of final D/E rates.  Schools can submit alternate earnings data for “failing” or “zone” (near-failing) programs if that data will improve the program’s rate significantly enough to avoid sanctions.  The deadline for colleges to notify ED of their intent to file an alternate earnings appeal was January 23.  Schools then had until March 10 – more than six weeks – to submit their final appeals. 

In addition, schools were required to begin using the new GE Disclosure Template by April 3.  This new and improved template includes a more meaningful completion rate, the typical earnings of graduates, whether a program meets state licensure requirements, and a prominent warning for failing programs that do not have appeals pending.  The GE Disclosure Template will help students be better informed consumers.  

Disappointingly, ED has now moved the March and April deadlines back to July 1, 2017, on the grounds that the delay will allow time to “further review” the regulation.  According to a Department spokesperson, the delay was also due to “a question about whether schools can provide data to a third party.”  It is unclear how this question could not have been solved through follow-up guidance rather than delay.  The Department has already gone through an extensive federal rulemaking process and the Gainful Employment rule has been upheld by federal courts. Therefore, this delay needlessly stalls important protections for students and taxpayers and creates more uncertainty for schools. 

As such, we seek your answers to the following questions: 

  • Why did the Department delay the deadline for schools to file alternate earnings appeals and use the GE Disclosure Template?
  • What is the scope of the Department’s current “review” of the GE regulations and their implementation?
  • Did ED explore alternative options to the delay for resolving any questions about the use of data by third-parties, including issuing guidance?
  • Of the programs for which the Department received notice of an intent to appeal by January 23, 2017, how many alternate earnings appeals have been submitted to the Department as of the date of this letter?
  • What is the timeline for the Department to resolve all of the alternate earnings appeals received by July 1, 2017?
  • Will you commit to swiftly enforce the requirement, which took effect February 8, that institutions provide warnings to current and prospective students for failing programs where no notice of an intent to appeal was received by January 23, 2017?
  • Will you commit to requiring schools to use the new GE Disclosure Template no later than July 1, 2017?
  • Will you commit to no further delays in the Department’s implementation and enforcement of GE? 

Implementation of this rule is an important part of your responsibility as Secretary to protect students and appropriately oversee taxpayer dollars.  In fact, in recent testimony before a House subcommittee, Department of Education Inspector General Kathleen Tighe agreed that “the gainful employment rule is a good rule in terms of protecting kids and protecting taxpayers’ dollars.”  Further delays or other attempts to undermine Gainful Employment implementation are unacceptable.

We look forward to your prompt response to our questions.

Sincerely,

DeVos And Edelblut Nearly Identical Ideologs’, Both Nominated To Head Education Departments

Photograph: Getty Images CC

The New Hampshire Executive Council could learn something from our US Senators when it comes to confirming a nominee to head the Department of Education.

Right now the Republicans in Washington D.C are scrambling to try to get their unfit, unqualified Secretary of Education confirmed. Betsy DeVos has no experience as an educator and has spent millions pushing religious charter schools to the Michigan Legislature.

Both of New Hampshire’s Senators have been outspoken in their opposition to Betsy DeVos.

“Throughout her confirmation process, Ms. DeVos has demonstrated a complete lack of experience in, knowledge of and support for public education. Instead, it is clear that she would pursue policies that would undermine public schools, in my home state of New Hampshire and across our nation,” wrote Senator Maggie Hassan in a New York Times Op-Ed.

Last week, after DeVos got roasted during a particularly grueling nomination hearing, Senator Jeanne Shaheen announced that she would oppose the nomination.

“As a parent, a former public school teacher, a governor and a senator, I’ve always cared deeply about providing equal opportunity for our children,” said Shaheen. “I was dismayed by many of Ms. DeVos’s answers during her confirmation hearing. At a very minimum, our next Secretary of Education should be able to commit to enforcing current law that protects and provides opportunities to students with disabilities. Her answer to Senator Hassan’s questioning on this subject was entirely unacceptable.

Throughout her confirmation hearing, she did not express a real commitment to our nation’s public schools which are the best opportunity for kids from all walks of life to get the education they deserve. I cannot in good conscience support her nomination and will also strongly urge my colleagues to oppose her nomination.”

Both of New Hampshire’s U.S. Senators are adamantly opposed to putting an unfit, unqualified person in charge of the Department of Education.   So why is the New Hampshire Executive Council willing to put a completely unfit, unqualified person in charge of the Department of Education in New Hampshire?

The parallels between Former State Rep Frank Edelblut and Betsy DeVos are uncanny.

Edelblut has no experience as an educator and choose to home-school his seven children. He has never served on a local school board or sat on a PTA board. Why would someone, who did not even entrust his own children to the public school system, be the “best qualified” person to run the state’s Department of Education?

Like DeVos, Edelblut has been an outspoken advocate for “school choice” that would allow taxpayer money to be taken from our public schools and given to for-profit religious schools. The school choice voucher law was ruled unconstitutional by the NH State Supreme Court and is currently being repealed by the NH House.

When asked by reporters from the Union Leader, Edelblut dodged the question over whether he would force schools to teach creationism alongside evolution.

“In science, we should study all theories of human origins, all legitimate or substantive theories of human origins … What I would advocate is for good science, and good science should support all theories of human origins, whatever they might be,” stated Edelblut.

During his confirmation hearing Edelblut once again refused to answer the question over teaching creationism claiming the Commissioner of Education does “not have jurisdiction over that.”

Councilors Pappas and Volinsky took the confirmation hearing of Frank Edelblut as an opportunity to show how unfit and unqualified Edelblut is for Commissioner of Education. The Union Leader decried Volinsky’s “performance” during the confirmation hearing calling it “a high school production of A Few Good Men.” Others applauded him for taking his responsibility as an Executive Councilor seriously and not rubber-stamping the Governor’s nominations.

Just as Betsy DeVos is unfit and unqualified for Secretary of Education, Former State Rep Frank Edelblut is also unfit and unqualified for Commissioner of Education in New Hampshire.

Councilors Pappas and Volinsky have already stated they will oppose Edelblut’s nomination leaving the three Republican Executive Councilors left. Will they do what is best for the 180,000+ children currently in the public school system or will they just ignore the facts and rubber-stamp the Governor’s unfit unqualified nominee.

Contact your Executive Councilor today and tell them to put the children of New Hampshire first and oppose the nomination of Frank Edelblut.

Eliminating The Department Of Education Would Hurt Middle Class Families In NH

(View ad on YouTube)

Raising a family in New Hampshire is very difficult.  Our pay has become stagnant and yet our costs continue to rise.  Thankfully we have some good government programs set up to help middle class families.  One of these programs is the Federal Student Loan program.  Through the Department of Education, millions of young Americans receive loans and grants that allow them to pay the high cost of higher education.

For millions of Americans, higher education would be completely out of reach if it were not for the student loan program.

Today Congresswoman Annie Kuster released a new ad highlighting how Tea Party candidate Marilinda Garcia wants to eliminate the Department of Education.  This would essentially eliminated the student loan program, making a college education completely out of reach for millions of Americans.

The irony is that Marilinda Garcia owes between $15,000-$50,000 dollars to Sallie Mae for her student loans.

I guess what is good for Marilinda, is not good for the rest of us.

 

Tea Party Legislators Push Bill To Shut Down NH Dept of Education

Are Tea Party legislators on a “search and destroy mission” aimed at the NH Department of Education? You decide.

From Bill Duncan and Advancing NH Public Education

In 2012, the O’Brien legislature considered shutting down the New Hampshire Department of Education.  Now in the minority, opponents of public education have taken a different approach.  On January 28, 2014, Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton) presented her bill, HB 1397, to authorize a stacked study committee  to go after DOE.

The thesis is that that DOE has gone rogue, establishing an unauthorized new division to implement the Common Core in a stealth mode.

There can be no doubt about the intention of the bill.  The study committee would be made up of 2 House Republicans, 2 House Democrats and one Republican appointed by the president of the Senate, a guaranteed Republican majority.  The next section, about Duties, sends the committee deep into conspiracy land to ferret out law-breaking within DOE.

The hearing brought Common Core opponents out in force, as you see on this highlight reel:

 

That’s not a recognizable portrait to most who deal with NHDOE.  Long time disability rights advocate Bonnie Dunham testified about how responsive DOE has been to her concerns and characterizes the bill as a “search and destroy mission.”

 

And here is Heather Gage, Director of the Division of Educational Improvement and Chief of Staff, New Hampshire Department of Education, responding to each issue raised by supporters.

 

There is little prospect that this bill will get serious support, but it will serve as an early indicator of where legislators stand on the Common Core.

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 199 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement