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Washington Update, January 22, 2024

Dear Colleagues:

It has been a snowy and action packed week in DC as lawmakers hustled to pass a short term funding package before a portion of federal funding was set to expire on Friday at midnight. Let’s get right to it.

1. Congress Passes Stopgap Spending Bill- Averting a Shutdown....Again

On Thursday, The Senate and House cleared a stopgap spending bill that officially keeps the federal government funded and operating through early March. The measure passed relatively quickly as lawmakers were hoping to avoid any possible travel delays caused by one of the first major snowstorms in DC this year. The measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), passed by a 77-18 vote in the Senate and a 314-108 vote in the House . The CR again takes a laddered approach to federal spending with portions of federal funding set to expire on March 1st and the remaining, including education funding, set to expire on Marth 8th. If lawmakers fail to clear those bills over the next six weeks, appropriators warn that Congress might have to fall back on yet another CR, this time through the rest of the fiscal year. A full year CR could leave federal agencies with flat budgets at best or, worse, with steep funding cuts. This most recent CR is the third since the start of the fiscal year on October 1st and the second under Speaker Johnson’s leadership.

2. The Administration Announces Additional Student Debt Relief

Last week, the Biden Administration announced that, in February, it will start providing forgiveness after as few as 10 years of payments for federal student loan borrowers on the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan who originally took out $12,000 or less for higher education. Borrowers enrolled in SAVE who are eligible for early forgiveness will have their debts cancelled immediately starting next month -- with no action on their part.

Additionally, The Administration announced the approval of $4.9 billion in additional student loan debt relief for 73,600 borrowers. These discharges are the result of fixes made by the Administration to income-driven repayment (IDR) forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). This brings the total loan forgiveness approved by the Biden-Harris Administration to $136.6 billion for more than 3.7 million Americans.

3. North Carolina Releases Guidebook on use of Generative Artificial Intelligence in Public Schools

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) recently released a guidebook for the use of generative artificial intelligence in public schools. NCDPI is the fourth state education department in the nation to issue guidance to its schools on the use of this cutting-edge technology.

“Generative artificial intelligence is playing a growing and significant role in our society. At NCDPI, we’re committed to preparing our students both to meet the challenges of this rapidly changing technology and become innovators in the field of computer science,” said State Superintendent Catherine Truitt. “We also believe that, when implemented thoughtfully and responsibly, generative AI has the power to revolutionize student learning and better prepare North Carolina’s students for the jobs of tomorrow.”

The guidebook includes an initial set of recommendations that will be expanded in the coming months. Districts are encouraged to create accompanying guidelines that are specific to their schools.

4. New Resources for Education

• A National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released their First Look report, “Crime, Violence, Discipline, and Safety in U.S. Public Schools: Findings from the School Survey on Crime and Safety: 2021-22.” The report examines a range of issues dealing with school crime and safety, including the frequency of school crime and violence, disciplinary actions, the presence and activities of school security staff, and school practices related to maintaining a safe school environment. NCES also released new findings from the School Pulse Panel, on attendance and absenteeism, school lunch programs, and school improvement plans during the 2023-24 school year.

• In a new video, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon shares information on how to file an OCR complaint if you or someone you know is facing discrimination in a classroom or on a school campus.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend- stay warm!

Until next time, see you on X (formerly Twitter—is there another platform I should be using?)



Posted:  22 January, 2024
dr kaitlyn brennan
Author: Dr. Kaitlyn Brennan

Dr. Kaitlyn Brennan serves as education policy advisor to TED, providing strategic support to activate TED members in support of federal policy which best meets the needs of students with disabilities...

Read more from Dr. Kaitlyn Brennan

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