Coal Miners' Fund Set For Deep Cuts As Black Lung Epidemic Grows

by Howard Berkes

06.04.18   A new government report says that the federal black lung trust fund that helps sick and dying coal miners pay living and medical expenses could incur a $15 billion deficit in the next 30 years. That's if a congressionally mandated funding cut occurs as planned at the end of the year. The cut in the funding formula comes as NPR has reported and government researchers have confirmed an epidemic of the most advanced stages of black lung, along with unprecedented clusters of the disease in the cent… Continue Reading

Did Betsy DeVos Just Suggest that Schools Roll Back Students’ Civil Rights?

by Catherine Lhamon

05.30.18   Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' testimony during Congress' first oversight hearing in nearly a year and a half of her tenure confirmed the crisis moment at which the nation now teeters with respect to civil rights in education. After repeated past failures even to commit that the federal Department of Education would enforce federal civil rights laws in schools, Secretary DeVos inexplicably claimed during this month's oversight testimony that local school administrators retain a choice whether… Continue Reading

Predatory Colleges, Freed to Fleece Students

by The Editorial Board

05.22.18   Try as they might, the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress cannot disguise that they continue to do the bidding of the for-profit college industry, which has saddled working-class students - including veterans - with crushing debt while providing useless degrees, or no degrees at all. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos claimed ignorance when she was asked during a congressional hearing on Tuesday how many of the college students who told her department that they had been ripped off we… Continue Reading

Unions, Allies Blast SCOTUS on Arbitration Ruling

by Andrew Hanna

05.21.18   Unions and their allies blasted the Supreme Court for Monday's decision allowing businesses to bar employees from filing class-action lawsuits. "Five justices on the Supreme Court decided that it is acceptable for working people to have our legal rights taken away by corporations in order to keep our jobs," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a written statement. SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry agreed that the justices "made it more difficult, if not impossible, for working pe… Continue Reading

On 'Brown v. Board of Education' Anniversary, Dems Blast Trump's Civil Rights Record

by Andrew Ujifusa

05.17.18   House Democrats on Thursday vowed to fight back against what they called the Trump administration's moves to roll back progress on civil rights in education, and highlighted research that they said proves ongoing disparties in schools disproportionately harm students of color. In a forum on Capitol Hill hosted by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., the top Democrat on the House education committee, Democratic leaders spoke about the importance of the Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Suprem… Continue Reading

Lawmakers Urge Devos to Rescind Guidance on Student Loan Collectors

by Michael Stratford

05.16.18   A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is calling on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to withdraw her recent guidance that says states don't have the power to regulate some student loan companies. Two Democrats and two Republicans today urged DeVos to rescind the policy, arguing that it tramples on states' rights to police the companies and protect students from predatory practices. The Trump administration's guidance "attempts to create broad new legal standards not intended by Congress under t… Continue Reading

Labor Department Has Health Care Pitch for GOP Candidates

by Madison Alder and Ben Penn

05.15.18   The Trump administration's fast-tracked effort to bolster small business health coverage is poised for release just in time for GOP candidates to tell midterm voters that relief from Obamacare is on the way after all. For the past seven months, Labor Department officials have been rocketing the association health plan rulemaking through the typically plodding regulatory process. Now one bureaucratic step removed from final publication, the rule is on the cusp of helping 11 million people sign u… Continue Reading

Education Department Unwinds Unit Investigating Fraud at For-Profits

by Danielle Ivory, Erica Green, and Steve Eder

05.13.18   WASHINGTON - Members of a special team at the Education Department that had been investigating widespread abuses by for-profit colleges have been marginalized, reassigned or instructed to focus on other matters, according to current and former employees. The unwinding of the team has effectively killed investigations into possibly fraudulent activities at several large for-profit colleges where top hires of Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, had previously worked. During the final months of… Continue Reading

Protest, Reassurance Greet Shift in Student Loan Watchdog Office

by Emily Wilkins

05.09.18   A move by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to reorganize an office that helped student borrowers has triggered protests by Democrats in Congress and student advocates.The Students and Young Consumers Office will become a part of the bureau's Financial Education Office, according to a May 9 memorandum from Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the CFPB. Mulvaney said that and other structural changes will help "make the Bureau more efficient, effective and accountable."The office's responsibi… Continue Reading

Don’t Kill Loan Forgiveness in Higher Ed Bill, Republicans Say

by Emily Wilkins

05.07.18   Don't eliminate the program that discharges student loans for qualified public workers, 13 Republicans urged the House education panel's chairwoman in a letter acquired by Bloomberg Government May 7. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program would be eliminated under a House GOP bill called the PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508) that would update the education law by simplifying the program and cutting regulations. The Republicans' letter comes as lawmakers discuss whether to bring the higher education … Continue Reading

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

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