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Washington Update, December 8, 2023

Dear Colleagues:

The House and Senate were both in session this week but there was no movement on fiscal year (FY) 2024 funding bills and no agreement on topline levels for defense or non-defense funding. As you will recall, government funding has been extended until January 19th for four of the 12 appropriations bills and the remaining 8- including Labor-HHS-Education- through February 2nd. It is unlikely any of the funding bills will be voted on before Congress breaks for the holiday recess, but rest assured, when Congress returns the week of January 8th they will be off to the races.

1. The U.S. Department of Education Celebrates the 48th Anniversary of IDEA

On November 29th, the Department of Education celebrated the 48th anniversary of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services put out a press release recognizing the important work of OSEP and OSERS that support in both upholding and administering IDEA. For example, OSEP awarded more than $110 million to fund new discretionary grants programs, including more than $35 million for 138 personnel preparation and professional development-related grants, during Fiscal Year (FY) 2023.

You can read more about the Department’s efforts surrounding IDEA and the 48th anniversary here.

2. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services Released a Policy Statement on Inclusive Early Childhood Programs

Last week, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) (the Departments) issued a joint policy statement that builds upon an earlier 2015 policy statement with renewed commitment and urgency as children with disabilities continue to face significant barriers accessing and participating in inclusive early childhood programs. As outlined by ED and HHS, this updated joint policy statement for States, LEAs, schools, early intervention (EIS) providers, and early childhood programs advances the Departments’ position by:

• Reiterating the expectation for inclusion in high-quality early childhood programs;

• Setting the expectation that inclusion continues as children transition into elementary school; Continuing to increase public awareness and understanding of the latest science that supports inclusion of children with disabilities in early childhood programs from the earliest ages; Reinforcing the legal foundations supporting inclusion in early childhood;

• Reiterating and updating recommendations for State and local agencies that implement Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) programs, Head Start, child care, home visiting, preschools, and public schools for increasing inclusive early learning opportunities for all children;

• Updating models and exemplars of inclusion; and

• Identifying and sharing resources for States, LEAs, EIS providers, early childhood programs, schools, early childhood personnel, v and families to support high-quality individualized programming and inclusion of children with disabilities in early childhood programs.

3. OSEP Open Grant Opportunities

There are currently two new and open OSEP grant opportunities ; 84.325M and 84.325R. The grants are focused on the preparation of related service providers for students with severe disabilities and personnel development at HBCUs, MSIs, and TSIs. You can read more about the OSEP grant opportunities here.

4. Biden-Harris Administration Announces $4.8 Billion in Debt Relief

This week, the Biden Administration announced that an additional 80,300 borrowers are approved for $4.8 billion in debt relief through fixes the Department has made to income-driven repayment (IDR) and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). This brings the total approved debt cancellation by the Administration to nearly $132 billion for more than 3.6 million Americans

5. New Resources for Educators

The CDC issued an action guide for school leaders on promoting mental health and well-being.

U.S. Department of Education released the new Raise the Bar policy brief which outlines the Department’s current efforts to support and advance educator diversity and address high-need shortage areas.

Program for International Assessment (PISA) , the international comparative study of 15-year-old students' performance in reading, mathematics, and science literacy released their 2022 results. The results provide a global view of U.S. students' performance compared to their peers in the 80 other participating education systems.

Navigator Research released the results of a new poll which shoes a majority of Americans support increases to education funding.

Wishing you all a successful end to your semesters! You’re almost there!

Until next time, see you on X (formerly Twitter)



Posted:  8 December, 2023

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