Congress Considers Bills Focused on STEM Equity, Privacy, Transfer Credits, Anti-Harassment, Cyber Workforce and School Security
Lawmakers considered six bills this week that could impact the lives of teachers and students in significant ways.
Lawmakers in the Senate and House have introduced five bills over the last week that are designed to radically change how the federal government oversees the U.S. educational system by restoring student information privacy, creating reverse transfer opportunities, banning harassment on college campuses, creating a cyber-ready workforce and promoting school security. One committee also passed legislation to create parity in STEM education, moving it to the Senate floor.
Here are the six bills that are being considered in the House and Senate:
- The Senate Science, Commerce and Transportation Committee passed the Building Blocks of STEM Act in a voice vote on May 15. The bill directs the National Science Foundation to award research grants to increase the understanding of factors that contribute to the participation of young girls in STEM activities and to more equitably distribute funding for early childhood education in its Discovery Research PreK-12 program. The bill now heads to full consideration on the Senate floor.
- Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) introduced the Protecting Education Privacy Act. The legislation would reestablish protections maintained under the Federal Education Privacy Act (FERPA) for nearly 40 years, and it would create a prohibition on the use of students' personally identifiable information for commercial purposes. The legislation is supported by the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO).
- Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) introduced the Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act of 2019. The bill would ensure that students who have transferred from a community college to a four-year institution can obtain an associate degree with the reverse transfer of class credits, by amending FERPA to make the transfer process more efficient. The legislation is supported by AACRAO, the Institute for Higher Education Policy and the Colorado Department of Education.
- Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2019, which would require higher education institutions to establish polices that prohibit harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or religion. The bill is supported by the Human Rights Campaign, the American Association of University Women and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
- Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.) introduced the Cyber Ready Workforce Act. The bill would direct the U.S. Department of Labor to award grants to workforce intermediaries such as businesses, higher education institutions and nonprofits to support the creation, implementation and expansion of registered apprenticeship programs in cybersecurity.
- Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.) introduced the School Security Enhancement Act. The legislation would make funding available to local communities through School Support and Academic Enrichment grants, to be used for evidence-based safety technology and infrastructure.
Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.
Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.
Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.
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