Federal Legislative Report 117-04

Delivered via email: April 14, 2021

Congressional Update

President Biden Unveils Infrastructure Proposal

On March 31, the Biden administration released a long-awaited legislative proposal to invest roughly $2.3 trillion in infrastructure projects and related efforts over the next eight years. Dubbed the “American Jobs Plan,” the proposal outlines a multitude of areas that the administration would like Congress to prioritize for infrastructure investment as part of a larger push to spur further economic recovery. Of particular note, the proposal envisions a new $100 billion investment specifically dedicated to modernizing existing structures and building new K-12 school facilities.

President Biden Releases “Skinny” Budget Request

On April 9, President Biden released a budget request to Congress, outlining his administration’s desired spending priorities for the upcoming 2022 federal fiscal year (FY 22). For the K-12 community, this request proposes $102.8 billion for the U.S. Department of Education—a 41% increase over current funding levels. Biden’s “skinny” budget also envisions most of these new investments to be devoted to significantly increasing funding levels for Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Specifically, the budget proposes $36.5 billion for this purpose, which would amount to a 121% increase over currently enacted levels. The next federal government budget is set to start on October 1, 2021.


Administration Update

U.S. Department of Education Announces State Waiver Decisions

On April 6, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) waived the accountability, school identification, and related reporting requirements for the 2020-2021 school year, pursuant to the authority in section 8401 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). Also, ISBE was granted waiver of section 1111(b)(2)(D)(i)(I) of the ESEA so that the state may assess with an AA-AAAS more than 1% of the total number of students who are assessed in reading/language arts and mathematics. The waiver for science was declined because it has not met the requirement in 34 CFR § 200.6(c)(4), demonstrating that it has assessed 95% of students with disabilities in science in the most recent year for which data are available. However, the DOE will allow ISBE to revise its waiver submission for science.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Education Release New School Reopening Guidance

On April 9, the U.S. Department of Education released Volume 2 of guidance focused on evidence- and research-based strategies to mitigate the social and emotional/mental health and academic impacts of the pandemic on students, educators, and staff.

U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights Reviews Title IX

Earlier this year, President Biden issued an executive order directing U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to review and potentially replace current Title IX regulations. On April 6, Acting Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Suzanne B. Goldberg, sent a letter to students, educators, and other stakeholders outlining the department’s plans to follow through on President Biden’s directive to review and potentially overhaul these rules. In addition to announcing these efforts, OCR also indicated that the Department of Education plans to provide new guidance for K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions in the coming months to provide further clarity on current Title IX regulations already in effect, as well as stakeholders’ responsibilities under this current regulatory framework.

This Federal Legislative Report was written with assistance from the National School Boards Association.