Department of Education Negotiated Rulemaking Committee Reaches Consensus
As part of the Department of Education’s recent and wide-ranging negotiated rulemaking, negotiators reached consensus on all of the topics discussed during their sessions. With only three minutes remaining in the time allotted for negotiators to do their work, before the entire process would have been for naught, all negotiators agreed on changes to regulatory items like regular and substantive interaction, state authorization, accreditation, TEACH grants, among others. The topics were split amongst three subcommittees to work on and provide recommendations to the full committee to consider. Many of the most controversial topics that the Department had proposed in their initial drafts were rejected. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos applauded the efforts, “(r)ethinking higher education required each person at the negotiating table to challenge assumptions and examine past practice in order to better serve students. I commend them for doing just that.” Some critics seemed to think the changes might go too far, and open up items like accreditation and weaken safeguards on students. Others state that negotiators may have acted to enact the provisions reviewed and weighed in on by negotiators, as imperfect as they might be, to avoid the alternative outcome of allowing the Department to fully write the rules themselves, which would have occurred if consensus was not reached.
Even though consensus was reached, the regulations are not yet complete or going into effect. The Department now must publish the proposed regulations over the next few months, allow for a public comment period, review that feedback, and release their version of the final regulations by November 1st in accordance with the legislative calendar, to be sure that the regulations will have an effective start date of July 1, 2020. If the November deadline is missed, the earliest the regulations could go into effect would be July 1, 2121, which may see a new presidential administration, with changed priorities (thus starting the process over, once again). Ongoing Congressional discussions and actions on items like Higher Education Act reauthorization could also affect these regulations.
UPCEA Policy Committee
Mary Niemec, University of Nebraska, Co-Chair
Dick Senese, Capella University, Co-Chair
Susan Aldridge, Drexel University
Jennifer Blum, Laureate Education
Allison Friederichs, University of Denver
Reed Scull, University of Wyoming
Jim Shaeffer, Old Dominion University
Scott Weimer, Virginia Tech