Appointee Violated Trump Ethics Pledge, Second Official Says

by Hassan Kanu

04.26.18   A labor board ethics official agrees with the agency inspector general that member William Emanuel (R) violated the Trump administration's conflict-of-interest rule, according to two memos obtained by Bloomberg Law. "We agree with the IG's determination that, under the totality of the circumstances, Member Emanuel violated the Ethics Pledge," Lori Ketcham, the labor board's designated agency ethics official, and a deputy wrote in a Feb. 21 memo to the board. The memo had previously not been mad… Continue Reading

DeVos Education Dept. Begins Dismissing Civil Rights Cases in Name of Efficiency

by Erica L. Green

04.20.18   WASHINGTON - The Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has begun dismissing hundreds of civil rights complaints under a new protocol that allows investigators to disregard cases that are part of serial filings or that they consider burdensome to the office. Department officials said the new policy targeted advocates who flooded the office with thousands of complaints for similar violations, jamming its investigation pipeline with cases that could be resolved without exhausting staff an… Continue Reading

Betsy DeVos Has Been Scarce on Capitol Hill; Why Is That?

by Alyson Klein

04.13.18   U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos hasn't testified before the House or Senate education committees since becoming secretary more than a year ago-and Democrats aren't happy about that. For one thing, it's a departure from the record of her recent predecessors, each of whom had appeared before the two education committees at least once-and in many cases, more often-by this point in their tenures. And even when you widen the lens to look at other committees on Capitol Hill, DeVos is still be… Continue Reading

Democrats Push to End Trump's Expansion of 'Junk' Healthcare Plans

by Robert King

04.13.18   House and Senate Democrats are pushing the Trump administration to scrap a rule that expands the duration of cheap, short-term plans, and argue the rule will sabotage Obamacare. Democratic committee leaders in the House and Senate wrote to top administration officials on Friday calling for the removal of a proposed rule that expands the duration of short-term plans from 90 days to nearly 12 months. Short-term plans skirt Obamacare's patient protections, such as rules that prevent insurers from … Continue Reading

Opponents Ready to Fight Trump’s Plan to Repeal Obama’s ‘Rethink’ of School Discipline

by Joe Davidson

04.10.18   Educators, civil rights activists and politicians favoring the Obama administration's progressive school discipline policies have a tough fight to protect that effort against the Trump administration's expected repeal. President Trump's marching orders to a commission led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos make it clear that he doesn't think much of President Barack Obama's "rethinking discipline" approach to student behavior. That guidance urged educators to consider how certain practices can … Continue Reading

War at the NLRB

by Ian Kullgren and Andrew Hanna

04.10.18   An obscure federal agency is coming apart at the seams as political appointees, career bureaucrats and its inspector general engage in something close to civil war. The agency is the National Labor Relations Board, created in 1935 to promote collective bargaining and adjudicate disputes between businesses and workers. An independent agency insulated - in theory - from partisan politics, the NLRB under President Donald Trump is consumed to the point of paralysis by fights over personnel policies… Continue Reading

Government Watchdog Finds School Discipline Hits Hardest at Black Students

by Benjamin Wermund

04.04.18   Black students, boys and students with disabilities are all disproportionately disciplined in the nation's public schools, according to a new report Wednesday by the GAO - released as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos mulls a repeal of Obama-era discipline guidance aimed at curbing such disparities. Black students by far bear the brunt of every type of discipline - from in-school suspensions to expulsions and school-related arrests - according to the government watchdog report, which analyzes civ… Continue Reading

Government Watchdog Finds Racial Bias in School Discipline

by Erica L. Green

04.04.18   WASHINGTON - Black students continue to be disciplined at school more often and more harshly than their white peers, often for similar infractions, according to a new report by Congress's nonpartisan watchdog agency, which counters claims fueling the Trump administration's efforts to re-examine discipline policies of the Obama administration. The report, issued by the Government Accountability Office on Wednesday, is the first national governmental analysis of discipline policies since the Obam… Continue Reading

Veterans Blast GOP Bill As Giveaway To For-Profits

by Andrew Kreighbaum

03.21.18   Late last summer, President Trump signed into law a long-awaited update to the GI Bill -- a rare moment of bipartisanship in the first year of the Trump administration and a major victory for veterans' groups. Just half a year later, though, the same organizations are lining up to oppose House legislation to reauthorize the law governing federal student aid, college accountability and many other aspects of higher ed. The bill, they argue, is a giveaway to predatory programs. These groups said t… Continue Reading

Why Are Black Students Punished So Often? Minnesota Confronts a National Quandary

by Erica L. Green

03.18.18   MINNEAPOLIS - When Erin Rathke, the principal at Justice Page Middle School, is called to extract a student from class, she hears the same plea over and over again, most often, she has to admit, from black children: "The teacher only sees me." The plea weighs heavily at Justice Page, where African-American students are 338 percent more likely to be suspended than their white peers. "It's painful sometimes, but I have to say, 'Yes, that's probably true," Ms. Rathke said. It is a reality that di… Continue Reading

Trump School Safety Package Targets Obama School Discipline Policy

by Caitlin Emma

03.13.18   Republicans want to overhaul an Obama-era directive to address racial disparities in school discipline, linking it to the failure to stop 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz before he killed 17 people at his Florida high school last month. The problem is there's no evidence to suggest that those policies had anything to do with the massacre at at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Still, Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are calling into question former President Barack Ob… Continue Reading

Trump Finds Unlikely Culprit in School Shootings: Obama Discipline Policies

by Erica L. Green

03.13.18   After a gunman marauded through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month, conservative commentators - looking for a culprit - seized on an unlikely target: an Obama-era guidance document that sought to rein in the suspensions and expulsions of minority students. Black students have never been the perpetrators of the mass shootings that have shocked the nation's conscience nor have minority schools been the targets. But the argument went that any relaxation of disciplinary efforts could l… Continue Reading

Educators Blast Trump Plan to Help Arm School Staff

by Caitlin Emma

03.12.18   The Trump administration pushed Monday to sell a school safety plan that includes the potential of armed school staff, but it was met with intense criticism from school principals and teachers unions who said it didn't go far enough and could prove harmful. Nonetheless, state legislators in places like Mississippi and Alabama who are trying to pass laws that would ease restrictions on guns on K-12 campuses say their efforts have seen a boost in recent weeks as President Donald Trump has repeate… Continue Reading

Small Employer Health Plan Proposal Ripe for Fraud, Groups Say

by Madison Alder

03.09.18   The Labor Department's proposed expansion of health plans for employer groups would invite scammers back into the insurance market, several groups said in comment letters. Employment lawyers, former DOL officials, insurers, and advocacy groups are among those to voice concerns about past fraud and insolvency problems with similar multiple employer health plans. The groups said consumers will be at risk for the same type of abuse if protections like giving states oversight of the plans and requi… Continue Reading

Scott: DeVos Dropped the Ball on ESSA Guidance

by Caitlin Emma

03.06.18   Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' agency has done little to help states understand the Every Student Succeeds Act and their responsibilities under the law, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said this morning. That's despite her concerns over what she said on Monday is a lack of ambition in state plans developed under the law, Scott, the top Democrat on the House education committee, noted. States "haven't been given adequate guidance from the Education Department," Scott told the National Association of… Continue Reading

Education Inspector General Raises Concerns Over GOP Higher Ed Plan

by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

03.06.18   The U.S. Department of Education's inspector general is cautioning Congress against provisions in the House Republican higher education bill that would repeal regulations holding colleges and universities accountable for the use of federal student aid. "Eliminating various accountability provisions without a proven substitute would increase the risks to students and taxpayers," the inspector general said, in a report released Monday. It "could result in higher costs to offer credit through loan… Continue Reading

Safety Researchers Won’t Enter Fray Over Beryllium Abrasives

by Sam Pearson

03.05.18   Federal researchers are unlikely to step in to resolve a dispute over the beryllium content of glass and coal slag abrasives, a top official with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health said. Abrasives are used by shipbuilders and other manufacturers to prepare surfaces for painting or applying coatings, among other functions. Those derived from coal slag contain beryllium, a toxic metal regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to limit airborne exposure t… Continue Reading

Special-Education Rule Issued by Obama Administration Is Delayed

by Michelle Hackman

02.27.18   WASHINGTON-The Trump administration is delaying the implementation of an Obama-era rule that seeks to address the high proportion of black and Hispanic children in special-education programs. The rule, which the Education Department is reviewing as part of a larger rollback of Obama administration social policy, was set to take effect on July 1. It was designed to ensure that states use a uniform approach to identify school districts with disproportionately high numbers of minority students enr… Continue Reading

School Shooting Leads House Chair to Call for Grant Funding

by Emily Wilkins

02.27.18   The top Republican on the House education committee plans to ask appropriators to fund a federal grant program to bolster school safety, although the Education Department has proposed eliminating the program. The grant, known as Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, was created under the 2015 K-12 education law (Pub. L. 114-95) to allow schools to cover a wide range of expenses, including costs for improving school conditions. While the program is authorized for up to $1.6 billion ann… Continue Reading

NLRB Throws Out Ruling in Conflict-of-Interest Controversy

by Josh Eidelson

02.26.18   The National Labor Relations Board threw out its most important ruling of 2017-a 3-2 victory for major U.S. corporations-following an internal agency report that found that a potential conflict-of-interest had tainted the vote. The December ruling, called Hy-Brand, had reversed a controversial Obama-era "joint employer" decision empowering workers to pursue claims against, or seek collective bargaining with, major corporations that don't sign their paychecks, such as franchisors or clients of c… Continue Reading

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