Watchdog blasts Education Department for sloppy oversight of loan-servicing contractors

The Education Department’s Federal Student Aid office has failed to keep watch over the contractors servicing its $1.4 trillion portfolio of student loans, a lapse that may be costing taxpayers, the federal agency’s inspector general said in a scathing audit issued Thursday. Companies such as Navient, Great Lakes and FedLoan Servicing are paid millions of dollars by the federal government to collect student loan payments, guide people through the thicket of repayment options and help borrowers avert default. Critics of these loan servicers say they are not doing enough to stem rising delinquencies and defaults, accusing them of providing inconsistent information and mishandling borrower accounts. (Wash. Post)

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McDaniel College President Casey appointed to serve on boards of two national education organizations

McDaniel College President Roger Casey will soon serve on two national boards for higher education. Casey was elected vice chair of the the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, or NAICU, a higher education advocacy group, at the organization’s annual meeting in early Februrary, according to a McDaniel College media release. Casey was also appointed to serve on the board of directors for the American Council on Education, according to the release. Casey will begin a one-year term as the vice chair of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities board of directors in March, and will then chair the board through the end of 2021, according to the release. (Carroll County Times)

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Kirwan Commission Members Air Misgivings as Interim Report Is Released

The long-awaited interim report of the Commission for Innovation and Excellence in Education was released this week. In 150 pages, the commission spells out its broad hopes for change in Maryland education, recommendations that were crafted during more than 75 meetings and work sessions: raising academic standards to match those in the top-performing countries, creating new policies to attract highly qualified high school graduates into teaching careers, building career and technical education programs, and providing the resources that low-income and special needs children will need to perform far above current levels. (Md. Matters)

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Washington County Public Schools-backed 'reportable offenses' bill advances

Local school officials want to know when students charged with “reportable offenses” in another jurisdiction are transferred to Washington County. Last year, legislation to require notification died in House and Senate committees. This year, the measure has crossed its first hurdle: surviving scrutiny by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Sen. Andrew Serafini, R-Washington, sponsored the bill on behalf of Washington County Public Schools. It now goes to the full Senate for consideration. A companion bill in the House by Del. Paul Corderman, R-Washington, is scheduled for a hearing next week in the Judiciary Committee. (Herald Mail)

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Congress to fund D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant program despite Trump cut

Congress has included $40 million for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant program in its appropriations bills, despite the Trump administration having erased the program in its budget proposal. “I am grateful to our Democratic House and Senate appropriators and leadership, who were able to maintain our D.C. priorities in the bill, even though our members were in the minority when the bill was negotiated last year,” D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting representative in Congress, said Thursday in a press release. (Wash. Times)

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Frederick Douglass High School struggles to return to normality after shooting

It’s been a week since the sound of gunfire punctured an ordinary afternoon at Frederick Douglass High School, but the community there says it will take more time before any sense of normality returns to the sprawling Northwest Baltimore building. Friday is expected to be the first full day back at school for Douglass teachers and students. Many remain shocked at the act of violence that unfolded there: A 25-year-old family member of a student came into the school and shot 56-year-old Michael Marks, a special education assistant, police say. (Balt. Sun)

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Harford County school board to discuss budget request Tuesday

The agenda for Tuesday night’s Harford County Board of Education meeting contains two items: public comment and budget discussion, both of which are likely to draw extensive comment. Harford Superintendent Sean Bulson has proposed the school system submit a $467.7 million operating budget to Harford County Executive Barry Glassman for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. His budget proposal includes a $10 million increase over this year’s budget as well as elimination of 179 instructional and administrative positions across the school system. (Balt. Sun)

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Carroll County Public Schools uses more than allotted snow days, adds 5 days to 2018-2019 school year

With Carroll County Public Schools having already used five inclement weather days this winter, after having allotted only four such days on the 2018-19 school calendar, the Carroll County Board of Education voted to add five days to the academic year to make sure the 180-day school year requirement is met. The decision was made after Assistant Superintendent of Administration Jonathan O’Neal told the board Wednesday night that it had a few options to handle the discrepancy in school days — and needed to make the decision as soon as possible. (Carroll County Times)

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