Monday, March 14, 2016


from the Politico Ed Newsletter - by email


March 14, 2016  ::  The Senate will vote on Acting Education Secretary John B. King Jr.'s confirmation today at 5:30 p.m. ET. If things go smoothly, King will get to drop "acting" from his title. The nomination process has been swift in the Senate after Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander pledged his support in getting it through. But King - who testified four times on Capitol Hill in recent weeks - is doubtlessly now aware of lawmakers frustrations with the administration, especially in higher education. Alexander and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) lambasted King on Thursday [] during an appropriations hearing over the Office for Civil Rights' handling of campus sexual assault guidance; the lawmakers say the department leapfrogged the legislative and regulations processes and instead prodded colleges into making big changes in how they handle campus sexual assault through letters. (It's also a big priority for some higher ed lobbyists.)

- Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Patty Murray are concerned [] about the department being too soft on for-profit colleges and loan servicers and mishandling veterans' and servicemembers' interest rates. Warren has even threatened to vote against King's confirmation if she doesn't get answers to some of her questions in time.

- Navient President and CEO Jack Remondi says problems with service members' student loan interest rates are the Education Department's fault, and it was his company that helped craft changes that have made it easier to get the lower rate. But more can be done, he said in a blog post on Medium: "Among other reforms, we have advocated for a streamlined approach to help the military personnel who serve in combat zones and, thus, qualify for a zero percent interest rate on certain student loans. Inter-agency cooperation by the [Education Department, Department of Defense] and the Internal Revenue Service can create easier access to this benefit for troops. Student loan servicers cannot fix this data gap, but we can implement the solution." More:

- Heritage Action is urging senators to vote against King's confirmation and it will include the vote on its annual legislative scorecard for lawmakers. Maggie Severns has more: . And Diane Ravitch's Network for Public Education is also pushing a no vote, saying "King's strong support for Race to the Top reforms was a costly experiment riddled with problems when he led New York. King is an unapologetic proponent of the Common Core, evaluating teachers by student test scores, student data collection, and Common Core testing. He will only bring more of the same to the nation.":

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