On December 12 the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act was approved by the Committee on Education and the Workforce. As previously reported in the Policy Insider, the PROSPER Act, H.R. 4508, was introduced on December 1 as a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965. A total of 63 amendments and motions were offered during the markup, although only a handful of mostly minor amendments were adopted. Some amendments that were adopted include: provisions aimed at shrinking the U.S. Department of Education, speeding up processing applications for debt forgiveness, and combating opioid use on college campuses. Amendments to save grant programs were introduced by Democrats and failed. The bill was approved primarily on partisan party lines with a 23 yeas to 17 nays vote. According to Congress.gov, the purpose of this bill is “to support students in completing an affordable postsecondary education that will prepare them to enter the workforce with the skills they need for lifelong success.” To view the archived webcast of the H.R. 4508 markup, click here.
H.R. 4508 is expected to be voted on by the full U.S. House of Representatives next year. The U.S. Senate is also expected to reveal their proposed version of the law next year.
Last week CEC sent a letter to Education and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) voicing concern that the PROSPER Act will undermine the preparation of highly effective special educators and access to higher education opportunities for youth with disabilities. In the letter CEC summarizes the successful provisions of the current HEA that are changed or repealed in the PROSPER Act, including the elimination of: Title II, the TEACH Grant Program, three teacher loan forgiveness programs and grants that increase accessibility for students with disabilities on college campuses. The letter also addresses how the PROSPER Act fails to include an essential component of the RISE Act that requires colleges or universities to accept a student’s IEP or 504 plan as evidence of their disability.
CEC at this time, is not supporting H.R. 4508. The final reauthorization bill must address the serious and persistent issues in higher education associated with access, affordability, accountability and quality in postsecondary education. CEC looks forward to working with Congress to ensure the provision of the identification, cultivation and continued support of highly effective workforce.