The American Rescue Act —
The big news from Washington, D.C. is a very big COVID-19 relief package, called the American Rescue Act, which provides $1.9 trillion in aid. Of that $40 billion is slotted for higher education. To put that number in perspective, the CARES Act included $14 billion for higher education and the CRRSA Act that passed in December provided $22 billion.
As with the other aid packages, half of what a campus receives must be directed to students for emergency financial aid.
The new Department of Education team —
Earlier this month the Senate confirmed Dr. Miguel Cardona, Connecticut’s education commissioner, to be the next Secretary of Education. Cardona was sworn in as the 12th Secretary of Education on March 2.
Title IX Turnabout?
Just last summer, colleges and universities scrambled to comply with new regulations providing guidance as to how they investigate and address claims of sexual harassment under federal law Title IX, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex. These regulations, approved by Trump administration Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, largely reversed the guidance campuses had received during the Obama administration.
Now, President Biden has signed an executive order directing new Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to review within the next 100 days all existing regulation pertaining to Title IX.
The order requires Cardona to review all agency actions for consistency with its policy guaranteeing “an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including discrimination in the form of sexual harassment, which encompasses sexual violence, and including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Reviewing is easy. The order also directs Cardona to issue new guidance wherever the review results deem fit, but the regulatory process required to change Title IX regulations would take, based on recent experience, two or more years.