tv Education Secretary Nominee John King Confirmation Hearing CSPAN February 29, 2016 8:00am-10:19am EST
i worry that there are institutions that are bad actors, where there's need for more enforcement. you know, we just added a new enforcement unit to focus on that, so i'm very committed to continue to work with you and the committee to strengthen our efforts in this area. >> i appreciate that and i'm glad to hear it, because i want to put in the record just a few of the problems about how the department's student loan bank has been falling down on the job. first, the department of justice found that the student loan servicer naviant had been cheating the women and men in our military on their student loans and fined the company $60 million. but the department of education's bank took no action. instead, the department's bank let them off the hook after conducting its own separate and
deeply misleading review. the bank then rewarded the company that cheated our members of the military by renewing another $100 million contract. second, the cfpb identified widespread failures in student loan servicing, servicers routinely mistreat borrowers and break the rules but the department of education's bank consistently renews their contracts. and in 2014, the bank even gave these companies a raise. third, over the last decade the department of education's inspector general has criticized the bank's failure to police debt collectors who casualty break consumer protection laws. the department of education's bank is still paying those same debt collectors that break the law. fourth, the student loan bank won't share data about the student loan program with anyone, not even the rest of the
department of education. this means that nobody -- nobody -- has any insight into how this trillion dollar bank is being run. and fifth, last one i'll mention here, despite these massive and ongoing problems, the department's bank thinks that it is doing such a great job that in 2014 they gave dozens of their own senior officers -- those are your department's employees -- bonuses. and some of those bonuses were as high as $75,000. so, there are five examples. and i understand, dr. king, these problems existed long before you ever set foot in the department of education. but if you are confirmed as the next secretary of education, you will be responsible for how the department's trillion dollar bank runs. will you commit yourself to cleaning up this bank's operation and making sure that it works for the students that
it is supposed to serve? >> i am deeply committed to ensuring that federal student aid serves students well, serves borrowers well and protects the taxpayer interest. let me tell you four things that i think are promising. one is the department's work on the gainful employment regulations which i think will help to ensure at the outset that institutions provide good information to students and ensure we act when there are bad actors. two, on the servicing issues around service members, we have now in place a system where there is automatic notification between the department of defense and fsa when service members go into active duty and that automatic notification then protects service members. we also have tried to make whole any service members who did not have the proper interest rate prior to that system going into place. third, we've created this new enforcement unit that i
mentioned, robert kaye who has been an enforcement litigator at the ftc has joined us to lead that unit. and we are committed to taking action with bad actor institutions. and then fourth, we will shortly recompete the servicing contract. as we do that, we will integrate into that servicing contract many of the suggestions that you have made, that other advocates have made regarding how we protect student borrower interest and feedback honestly that we've gotten from higher ed institutions as well that worry about their students and borrowers and want to make sure they are well served. i think there are promising indicators, but you're right, there's a lot of work to do to ensure that we protect our students and borrowers and we intend to do that. >> well, i very much appreciate it. i appreciate the steps that you are already taking. i just want to say, it is the department of education's job to stand up for students. not for the student loan companies that are making money
off these loans or the for-profit colleges that want to suck down more taxpayer dollars. the department's student loan bank is failing massively at this critical task, dr. king. and the american people need to know that if you are confirmed you will make it a priority to fix these problems. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator warren. senator scott. >> thank you, mr. chairman. dr. king, good to see you again. thank you for coming by the office yesterday and spending some quality time on the issue of education and certainly my friend and your friend mo cowan's opinion of you is very high, and thankfully so. it has an impact and he needs to come back from massachusetts to d.c. a little more often. question for you on charter schools. i know that you were intimately involved in roxbury prep and it had a lot of success there and we saw is a similar program that has been very successful. what can we expect from you in
terms of charter schools and how will your approach be different from the approach of secretary duncan? >> appreciate the question. so, we think charters can play a key role in fostering innovation in education and providing better outcomes for high-need students. certainly that's what we tried to do at roxbury prep and at uncommon. we have two programs that are supporting programs. our charter school program which is designed to spur the creation of new, high quality charters and strengthen charter school authorizing and we have a program that's focused on scaling high performing charter management organizations. and the president has proposed increased funding for charter efforts. we are very focused on how we grow the number of high performing schools that students can choose whether it's district or charter schools. as we do that one of the things we have to be vigilant about is authorizer quality. as we talked briefly about, you know, i do worry that there are places where authorizers aren't
doing good enough job. we've got to make sure authorizers act when schools aren't delivering on the promises of their charter. i think that will help lift the sector. but as states move forward with every student succeeds act and think about what interventions they will put in place in high-need schools, growing the number of innovative high-need schools whether that's innovative district schools or innovative charter schools should be a part of that discussion. >> one area that we may have to disagree to disagree with is on the d.c. opportunity scholarship. i know that there are some parents and students in the audience who have a very passionate position as i do on the importance of this scholarship, especially when you look at your commitment to equity and excellence and the fact that we have a classic example here in washington, d.c., of a -- of a process and a program that has produced numbers in success in a way that's inconsistent with other schools. i believe the number is that the graduation rate of those students attending a d.c. opportunity scholarship program
is around 90%. other schools in the d.c. area's it's around 62% with some going as low as 38%. the cost per pupil is somewhere around 9,000 to 12,000 and 88% -- and the other schools is $18,000. 88% go on to a two-year or four-year college experience. it seems to me that the administration and you as secretary should take a second look at that program and look for ways to integrate it and to use it to carry over money $35 million to fund more scholarships. and frankly, this is not just my perspective this is a bipartisan perspective when you look at th support of senators like republican senator ron johnson as well as senators feinstein and cory booker all have the same opinion that d.c. opportunity scholarship. what can we do to move the administration and you as perhaps the new secretary in the direction of using that $35 million of carryover funds to
fund more scholarships? when you take into consideration the fact that in the d.c. area there are basically three approaches to education. the d.c. public schools get about $20 million a year. the opportunity scholarship program's around $20 million. so, the funds that are necessary to continue the scholarships is apparently already there and what we have an opportunity to do is take the $35 million to use for more scholarships so that we see more kids, 97% of these kids are either african-american or latinos, we can see more kids succeeding at high levels especially when you think about the fact that 60% of these kids are receiving tanif or s.n.a.p. benefits and they are outperforming their peers in the d.c. area and perhaps throughout the country. >> as we talked about and i very much respect your position. i think our view is that the number of slots in the d.c. voucher program should be based on annual appropriations.
to the extent that there are open slots within the annual appropriation, those would be filled. we think the carryover funds should be maintained to ensure that the currently enrolled students, if new appropriations are not made, have the opportunity to complete their education in the schools they are now enrolled. you know, again, i respect we have a difference of opinion on that. i think -- i think we share an urgency around equity and excellence. i do not personally believe that vouchers are a scaleable solution to the equity and excellence challenge and prefer the route of public school choice, but respect -- certainly respect your position on this. >> i'll just close with this, mr. chairman, i certainly think your success on charter schools is undeniable and thank goodness you've taken that, it's been successful. when we look at the d.c. opportunity scholarship and in a ten-year period we've seen 6,000 students come across and 95%, 93% of those kids graduate, it
would be a shame not to take advantage of a system or a program that is working so well, that we have so many kid that would have been denied access to higher education now being involved -- involved in higher education, succeeding in higher education and it changes their entire family system. so, for us not to take a second look at this would be a shame. thank you. >> thank you, senator scott. senator murphy. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. good afternoon. congratulations. i have to pass on to you a compliment paid to you by a friend shortly after you were named to the interim position. this individual said to me, it's wonderful that a person like john king could become the secretary of education, and i asked him what he meant by that. he said, you know, it's not just his background, to have somebody there who has done everything within the educational system, someone who wasn't a creature of washington but a creature of local school districts, but just
someone of the temperament and the disposition that john has. you have a lot of fans out there. not because of the work you've done, but just because of the person you are and that's come through in every post you've had. and a real tribute to you. dr. king, i wanted to talk to you a little bit about one of the particular provisions that i care most about. i and others on this committee, senator warren, senator murray amongst others fought very hard for requirements in the new elementary and secondary education law that would ensure that states must step in with evidence-based interventions for the lowest-performing schools, bottom 5% of schools. dropout factories that fail to graduate a third of their students. and schools with consistently under performing subgroups. the requirements are essential to maintain the core purpose of esea originally as a civil rights law. it's not really any good to have a federal education law if it's not also a civil rights law. but it's really going to be up
to the department to ensure that states have meaningful definitions of things like consistently underperforming and that states and districts are monitoring schools with consistently underperforming subgroups. so, my question is a general one. the law, it does appropriately turn over a lot of flexibility to states in the design of these accountability systems, but it also includes some really important federal guide rails. so, as secretary, how are you going to ensure that states implement accountability systems that protect these subgroups of vulnerable students? >> thanks. i appreciate the question. you know, the civil rights legacy of the elementary and secondary education act is crucial to preserve and advance. and i think states have an opportunity to use their flexibility around interventions to increase equity. in order to do that, i think you're exactly right, we will need to ensure that there are good guardrails, and we're gathering comment and feedback from schools and civil rights organizations and community leaders and educators to
understand how we can, through regulations and guidance, support the implementation of interventions that actually move us closer to closing the achievement gap. i think it's a good thing that every student succeed act moves us away from the "one size fits all" solution of no child left behind. if you have a school struggling with a population of english learners, you should be able to bring in evidence-based professional development and teaching practices and help teachers support those english learners, you shouldn't have to go to a "one size fits all" solution that has nothing to do with english language learners because it's in a federal law. i think there's an opportunity for states to have smarter interventions and districts have smarter interventions. but it will also be important for the department to be vigilant after that first set of interventions is put in place. if they aren't working, if they aren't closing achievement gaps, if they aren't raising graduation rates, there's going to need to be demonstrated effort on the part of states to
intensify the interventions to act on the evidence and change strategies and we'll be careful to regulate the work and provide guidance and technical assistance and we'll be guided in that on the feedback that we get from stakeholders. >> i appreciate your focus on this. i want to ask one additional question following up on senator warren's questions, another one of these for-profit schools went out of business earlier this month leaving about 460 students in my state suddenly with unfinished degrees and massive student debt. they are piling up, the headlines, by the month. you've got the ability in the department of education to cut off aid for schools only when they hit a fairly ridiculous tripwire, which is 30% of their students effectively achieving the status of financial ruin, that they have gotten so badly behind on their debt that they are defaulting. a lot of the conversation around higher ed re-authorization here is whether there's a better way
to give you power, give you the ability, to intercede earlier than that moment when one-third of all students graduating from an institution have gotten degrees that are so worthless and meaningless that they can't pay back their student loans, this concept of shared responsibility. what do you think about the need to give the department of education some new ability to intervene a little bit earlier? >> we're -- we would love to work with you on that. i will say i do think gainful employment regulations will help with respect so some of the institutions. our new enforcement unit will help. but strengthening the accountability within the higher education act will be very valuable including strengthening the accountability for creditors. if you look at corinthian it was accredited throughout. ensuring that accreditors are paying attention to whether or not students are getting what they pay for is a critical step we can take in the re-authorization. >> as the chairman will remember, we had the accreditor
of corinthian before us who defended the a creditor's total and complete inaction in the wake of federal government intervention, which to many of us was a little hard to swallow. thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you, dr. king. >> senator collins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome, dr. king, and congratulations, again, on your nomination. essa includes some innovation that is an assessment pilot program which i co-authored with senator sanders which ought to tell you something about the breadth of support that the program has. this is a pilot program that would allow seven states to develop alternative models for assessment. one such model could be proficiency based, which
northern new england is particularly interested in. and the law allows seven states, as i mentioned, to participate in the demonstration project. what are your plans for implementing this pilot program? >> thank you for the question and thank you for your leadership on this issue. i think we are still in the early stages of gathering feedback and comment from stakeholders on areas where regulations or guidance will be helpful. as we work on the innovative assessment pilot, i think we have a good example to look towards as we discussed briefly in new hampshire. new hampshire i think is doing very good work on building a performance based assessment system led by teachers that then will transition into, they hope, their statewide assessment system. so, we'll certainly look to their example and leadership, but we want to make sure we support states as they think about taking advantage of this opportunity.
>> turning to another topic, when i talk to school administrators in maine, they tell me that they're very concerned that the maintenance of efforts requirements under i.d.e.a. are producing the unintended effect of hindering the ability of school districts to provide the most effective and cost efficient services to children with special needs. and let me give you an example that one gave to me. a school district in maine wanted to hire an in-house school pathologist to -- school pathologist. sorry, speech pathologist to provide services to children with special needs instead of using a much more expensive outside contractor.
unfortunately, they found they could not do so because it would be considered reducing the maintenance of effort because it would be less expensive. yet clearly from this school district's perspective, having an in-house speech pathologist is far more responsive to the needs of these students than contracting out that function. a gao report last october also commented on this lack of flexibility and said that it discouraged school districts from changing spending decisions even when doing so would benefit their special needs children. the limited regulatory exceptions for adjusting the maintenance of effort
requirement do not appear to allow for those kinds of changes. as secretary, would you consider refining the maintenance of effort regulations so that if a school district is actually trying to produce better outcomes for special needs students, they can do so even if it ends up lowering the cost? >> yeah, appreciate that. you know, certainly the principle -- i think we'd agree the principle of maintenance of effort as a way of protecting the services that students with disabilities are receiving and ensuring school districts meet those needs is clearly the right principle. i certainly would like our team to talk with yours about these specific cases and to look at how they evolved. as we talked about, i think particularly in some of our rural areas around the country, these issues are particularly pertinent, and it's particularly challenging.
and one of the things that we tried to do in new york was to leverage shared regional service providers to try to ensure that districts were able to get the students the services they needed in a sustainable way. but certainly i want to make sure our teams connect on that and talk through that. because we certainly want to be in the position of supporting districts and serving students with disabilities as well as possible. >> thank you. and my final comment is that i hope you will have a listening session in a rural area. we talked about that in my office as opposed to just large urban areas like l.a. and d.c. >> yes. absolutely. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator collins. senator casey. >> thank you, mr. chairman. dr. king, welcome. thank you for your testimony and your willingness to serve, and we appreciate that commitment.
we want to commend and salute your family as well, because when you serve, they serve with you, in one way or another. we appreciate the commitment your family's made to this high level of public service. i wanted to start with an issue we've discussed and about which we have a disagreement, and that's the student loan servicing reallocation question, where i have a disagreement with the department. and i think it could have an adverse impact on borrowers and we don't agree, but i hope we can continue to engage on that and come to a resolution that's satisfactory. so, i hope you'll be open to further engagement on that. i wanted to start, though, with an issue we don't hear an awful lot about. it has as you know a very technical name, significant disproportionality which i guess the simplest way to describe it
is children of color overrepresented in special education for a whole variety of reasons. i'm pleased that the department has released a draft rule to address this issue. we know that this is a huge problem across the country. data that i know you're aware of that covers about a 12-year time frame, data gathered by the office of special education programs. indicated among other things that, for example, african-american students were 50% more likely and hispanic students were 40% more likely to be identified as a student with a learning disability. similarly, african-american students were 70% more likely than american indian and alaska native children were 120% more likely to be identified as a student with an emotional disturbance. all of that, of course, results
in those students being suspended at much higher rates than other students. so, we know that this issue of so-called overrepresentation is a widespread problem. we know that in 2013 the gao found that only 2% to 3% of districts nationwide were reporting overidentifying stew dpents of color special education. so, that's obviously a failure of our system when only 2% or 3% of districts are tracking this and identifying the problem. so, we know that hundreds, literally hundreds, of districts across the country with these disparities go unidentified. the children don't get the help they need and are misidentified early on in life. in essence among other horrific problems, feeds -- the problem, i should say, feeds the school-to-prison pipeline.
all of that by way of backdrop. every bit of it i think you know. can you walk us through some of the recommendations of the gao report? >> yeah, so one of the things that the gao report asks us to do is to look at the methodology that states were using to make these determinations around disproportionality. and so what we've done in the proposed rule is suggested that states develop a risk ratio methodology that will help them figure out which are the districts where there is this disproportionality. as a first step to a process of then evaluating why that disproportionality is happening and then addressing resources to intervene. and one of the things that we've tried to stress about this proposed rule is it's not intended to necessarily reduce the number of students identified as having disabilities. it's about ensuring that students are getting the right services. and if -- in some cases it's that students, african-american
students, latino students, particularly african-american and latino male students are in some places disproportionately assigned to more time outside of the regular classroom even for the same disability issue that other students aren't assigned out of the classroom. or we see students disproportionately suspended from school or assigned to an alternative placement. and so we want to see this as an opportunity to get states and districts to take a second look at why that is happening, and that's the goal of this rule. we think it's an important step. we're certainly eager to get public comment on it and to ensure that the final rule addresses the public comment. >> we appreciate that. because i know -- i say this as a former state auditor general, where we would have audit findings and make a long series of recommendations, then you wonder if the state agency would be responsive. in this case you're taking a gao report, addressing a serious problem, and actually putting
into place rules to improve it and to help our kids, so we appreciate your work on this, and we appreciate the department's work. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thanks, senator casey. senator roberts. >> mr. chairman, thank you. dr. king, welcome to the committee, and congratulations on your confirmation. it's good to see your family. and i just happen to notice that your two daughters, i have two daughters about that age, some years ago, i want to thank them for their patience, number one. and number two, i happened to observe, like my daughters, their countenance. i would urge you, sir, to get up at 5:00 in the morning so you can get home at 6:00. you have no idea how many young men are going to be knocking on your door. i also have a big stick that i could loan you. so, come to my office on that courtesy call we missed, and i'll give you that stick.
>> absolutely. >> i know that we have differences on common core. i don't want to get into that. but it is part of existing legislation and law. and i want to be absolutely clear the language says, no officer or employee of the federal government, including the secretary, shall attempt to influence, condition, incentivize or coerce state adoption of the common core state standards or any other academic standards common to a significant number of states or assessments tied to such standards. i know that we, again, may have differences, but nevertheless will you give us your commitment that you will respect the intent as well as the explicit and binding letter of that prohibition? >> absolutely. >> thank you. that's all i need. >> okay. >> you were going to come into my office last week, and then it didn't work out. i want to let you know that i held a roundtable discussion in
kansas at washington university. 12 college presidents, 12 college and university, and 12 business stakeholders to discuss higher education and workforce development. we heard from the higher education leaders about the impact of federal programs, policies and regulations. and since the chairman and senator whitehouse and senator enzi and others and senator collins here just a moment ago mentioned regulations. i want to share this handy chart from one of the participants, johnson county community college who have the most students of any university and/or college in the state of kansas, even ku, k-state or wichita state. 34 topic areas of federal regulation. they have it in bubbles here. i would hope we could burst the bubbles. i'm not going -- well, yeah, i am, too. taxes, academic programs, environment, admissions,
auxiliary services, financial aid. international programs, insurance, health care, governance, immigration, privacy, athletics, sexual misconduct, research, accreditation, unions, wages, program integrity, i'm running out of breath. copyright, trademarks, contracts and procurement, diversity, accounting, ethics and lobby. here's the deal. every one of these regulations have to be adhered to and every reg -- with the cost/benefit here. the cost is exceeding the benefit, and we have an awful lot of people here now that are in charge of these regs and trying to fill these regs out. this is not unique just to this community college, but it is the same i suspect nationwide, but i know in kansas as well. my -- my plea to you is that all of these people have jobs to do. you can't hire 34 people to do all of this that have expertise
in this area to keep up with the paperwork and the regs. just like sheldon whitehouse said, teachers want to be free to teach. and they want to be able to teach with regards to the time. as opposed to filling out paperwork. and so my question to you is, can you help us and be a partner in this effort? all of us have obligations with this. we know that, in the education community. but, my goodness, if you total all this up and the money spent and the hours spent, like the chairman has indicated, we have to do a better job. my -- i just urge you to be a partner in this effort so we can adhere to what we want to accomplish, but, quite frankly, i think a lot of this could be done on the local level. now you have 32 seconds, sorry. >> committed to working with you on this issue and certainly committed to working with the committee and committee staff to try to identify places where we can make smart improvements, to make the system more efficient
for higher ed institutions. i will say, we are making some progress on recommendations at higher ed institutions made in the past. for example, one recommendation was around prior prior, use of tax information from the prior prior year as part of the fasfa process. that will be implemented starting next -- next fall on october 1. we've also been asked to move the fasfa date up. fasfa will be available on october 1, so we are making some progress and certainly willing to work with you to identify other places. >> i appreciate that. my time has expired. i'm from dodge city, kansas, senator collins underscored the need to look at rural areas. we think we have some very fine higher institutions of learning and so we have some special problems there as well. and please get in touch with my office, and we'll look forward to a good visit. thank you. >> absolutely. >> thank you, senator roberts. senator murray has to leave, so
i'm going to ask her to make her closing comments. then we'll go to senator murkowski, senator warren i think has additional questions, so you can be first in the second round, and then i will close -- >> okay. >> -- close the hearing. senator murray? >> i just simply wanted to thank dr. king for being here today. this is such an important time for students of all ages and with all the challenges and opportunities and you've heard them across the board here, it's really important that we have strong leadership at the department of education. and, mr. chairman, i'm really confident that dr. king is a strong nominee to transition from acting secretary to taking the position of secretary of education. i look forward to supporting him, and i want to submit for the record statements from 18 groups in support of his nomination and thank him very much for all he is doing. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator murray. senator murkowski. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
and, dr. king, welcome, congratulations on your nomination. i'm sorry that our schedules didn't work so that we could visit. hopefully we'll still have that opportunity to do so at some point in time. both my colleague from maine and my colleague from kansas have mentioned the rural component of education. and as you know, coming from a state that's one-fifth the size of the country with about 732,000 people, we got a lot of rural. we got a lot of spaces and we have a lot of very small schools. i had an opportunity just last week to take five of my senate colleagues to a place in southwest alaska, bethel, large regional community, primarily alaska natives, but we went further beyond bethel to the community of oscarville, 80 people, 17 kids in the school, 2 teachers. challenges in delivering education in a very rural, very remote area, where broadband is an issue.
quite honestly, basic water and sanitation is an issue. so, the question to you here this afternoon is, is actually pretty general in terms of how we -- how we address those in our very rural communities. how we ensure that these children in your words are -- there are children who stand too far behind their peers. and these are rural students and these are native american students. so, again, alaska really fills that bill. you've also indicated as one of your priorities to do more to ensure a diverse pipeline of future educators. one of the things we're struggling with in alaska is how we get more alaska native children to believe that being a teacher can be a noble calling for them. can you give me a little assurance about how you view some of these challenges in educating our rural children and
native american children alaska native. >> absolutely. you know, i was state chief in new york, and even though when folks hear new york, they think of new york city. we have 700 districts spread all throughout the state and many of the districts are small, rural districts up in the north country near the canadian border or out in western new york. and i spent a lot of time on rural issues. could see how districts were struggling with declining enrollment, the difficulty of providing art, music, a.p. classes, finding a physics teacher. districts that were struggling to try and preserve the sense of community around school in the face of declining opportunity. so, i think it's very important that we focus on rural education. i'm proud that we have competitive priority in many of our grant programs focus on rural areas. we've got about 20% of our current innovation grants that are focused in rural
communities, and we're seeing some very good results for many of those projects. one of the things i worked on in new york was a virtual a.p. initiative to try to ensure that maybe folks couldn't hire an a.p. teacher but they could share one across a set of districts and a region. and through blended learning make those classes available to students, so we want to make sure that rural educators are very much a part of the conversations at the federal level, at the state level and at the local level in implementation of every student succeeds act. we're trying to get resources and opportunity, president's connect ed initiative has really focused on trying to improve issues of bandwidth in rural communities. we want to continue that work, together with the fcc. on the issue of native students, i'm very worried about the stagnant performance of native students. if you look at our high school graduation rate, which just reached a record high, and we saw increases for every
subgroup, except for native american students, which was flat. i think there's more that we can do to support native communities in trying to infuse native language and native culture into the school program to raise students' aspirations. we've got a native youth community projects program, the president's proposed an increase in funding for that. we're seeing some promising results from those grantees, and i would love to work together with you to do more on native issues. >> i'd like to do that, and i particularly appreciate the fact that you've mentioned the native languages. that's something senator franken and i have worked on and have included within essa. very quickly, this relates to data and privacy of data. i think we all understand that we want to be making data informed decisions about effectiveness of programs, but many parents are coming to me with very sincere concerns about
the privacy of the data that is collected, especially given the department's inability to maintain the security of the post secondary student aid databases. what's your message to those parents, and the students and legislators that are concerned about the data collection and thus the privacy associated with it? >> data privacy, data security are our top priorities for the department. as i mentioned earlier, we're doing a lot of work to strengthen our cybersecurity posture so we can continue to keep higher education data in particular, but all of the personal identifiable information that we have at the department safe and secure. states need to be focused on the same thing as do districts. the president has made proposals around additional data security measures we think that we could take together, focus on ensuring that students are not subjected to marketing through the tools
that they may be using in school. i think as a country we've got to continue to work to make sure that we protect data privacy and oftentimes as you know, parents and teachers may be unaware of how much information is being collected by an application that they've downloaded from the web. so we've got to make sure that we put in place strong legal protections but also provide good guidance. we've got a frpa office that tries to give good guidance to districts and states around issues of data privacy and security. >> that's an issue i would like to work with you on. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator warren? >> thank you, mr. chairman, i appreciate you giving me a chance to have a second round of questions here. i appreciate, dr. king, that you're going to deal with at the department of education. but i want to raise one more issue before we quit for the day, and that is another ongoing problem at the department of education. the students who were cheated by corinthian college. you know, before corinthian
college collapsed this for-profit college sucked down billions and billions of dollars in federal student loan aid. by roping in students with false and misleading information, and then saddling them with debt that was just going to be impossible to repay. it was outright fraud. and in response, the department made a lot of promises to corinthians' victims. last april the department promised to give, and i'm quoting here, give corinthian students the relief they are entitled to under federal law. two months later, the department announced that it would, quote, find ways to fast track relief based on legal findings for large groups of students and that there would be, quote, no need for students to make any individual showing that they were affected by the school's fraud. the department also estimated last summer that about 40,000 former corinthian students would
be eligible for this so-called fast-track relief. now, that's out of hundreds of thousands of total corinthian students that the department acknowledged could be eligible for relief. it is now eight months later and just 1,300 of those 40,000 fast-track students have received relief. and i want to know what the plan is here to actually deliver on the promises the department has made. it seems to me, dr. king, that the department is moving painfully slowly, while students who got cheated are struggling under debts that they were conned into taking on. time is running out for these students. so, what i'd like to know is how do you plan to live up to the department's promises and actually ensure that each and every student who was defrauded receives debt relief now not
years from now but now? >> yeah. i appreciate the question. so, a few things to know. the special master, joe smith, is working diligently with a team and we're adding capacity to that team to try to respond to the existing claims. >> but can i stop you right there, though, dr. king, because this is part of what's bothering me. i don't understand why this takes so long. this isn't hard what we're trying to do here. you know, students are waiting. their credit is getting worse and worse. the interest is accumulating on these loans. the process needs to move faster. and i don't get why it doesn't move faster. you know they've been defrauded. >> we're trying to make it move faster. i can say a promising note is that $115 million has gone to students either through borrowed defense or through close school discharge. we are trying to group claims so that we can respond to them as quickly as possible.
we are in the process of negotiated rule making on new borrowed defense rules going forward that will make it easier for the department to efficiently group claims. >> that's going to be 2017. >> so, the challenge has been that the legal requirement, as you know, is for a demonstration that there was a clear violation of state law. we have students who are in a variety of states, and so we are working through those. on campuses where we have a clear finding, and this has been true in the healed and everest cases, where we have a clear finding of state level state law violation we've been able to group claims or in the process of grouping claims. but you're right, we need to make the process move faster and we intend to. >> i just really want to push on this. we potentially have hundreds of thousands of students who have been cheated here. you've promised fast track to 40,000. that was three-quarters of a
years ago nearly, two-thirds of a year ago and we've only gotten about 1,300 people through it. you know, i just want to remind us that congress gave the secretary of education broad authority to cancel the loans of students who attend colleges that broke the law. and so i hope if you are confirmed that you will use that authority to ensure that the students get every dime of relief that they deserve, without making them jump through a bunch of unnecessary hoops. they've already been hit hard enough. and this is the time for the department of education to step up and be on their side. >> yes. i'm committed to try to protect the interest of borrowers and also to do what we can through the enforcement unit and gainful employment regulations to make sure we do not have a repeat of corinthians to the extent we can avoid that. >> and thank you very much for your willingness to serve and sitting through two round of questions on this stuff. these are important issues.
>> absolutely. >> thanks, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator warren. dr. king, i just have a few questions and then we'll wrap up the -- wrap up the hearing. senator roberts asked you questions about academic standards, and you gave an answer so i don't think i need to ask that. but there's a pattern in this legislation which is pretty unusual, which -- and it comes from the fact that those of us who voted for it and in the senate 85-15, in the house the president signed it. felt like the department was overreaching, and so there are some literal specific prohibitions in the law about what you -- the secretary should not do to re-emphasize our
i asked dr. evers, the superintendent of instruction for wisconsin on tuesday, i said do you read the new law to say that if wisconsin wants to have common core, that it may. if it does not want to have common core, that it may not, that it wants part of common core or more than common core it can do that, it simply has to have challenging academic standards that are related to the -- to the entrance requirements for the public -- for the public institutions. that's the way he read that. let me ask you about teacher evaluation. under the wavers that the
department granted to 42 states, the department took the position that if you want a waiver from the provisions of no child left behind, which -- and if you didn't get a waiver it in effect meant that almost all of your schools were labeled as failing, in order to get a waiver the department said we'd like to you do a few other things, sort of a mother may i process i described it. one of those was teacher evaluations. now i'm a big fan of teacher evaluation. in fact, i earned -- if the national education association had given at a rate of lower than f, i would have earned it 30 years ago when tennessee became the first state to pay teachers more for teaching well. i actually think that fighting fair wages for a grade of zero of education. but when i came to washington i did not think that we should be
telling states how to evaluate teachers, yet to get a waiver there were some very specific definitions about what a teacher was one, washington was another, california was another had their wavers either rejected or revoked because the secretary didn't believe their teacher evaluation system met the standards. now the new law allows but does not require states and districts to use funds, mostly title two funds, to support teacher and principal evaluations based on multiple measures but it prohibits the second or any officer of the federal government from mandating, directing, controlling any school evaluation system or specific measure of educator effectiveness or quality.
now to simplify, do you agree that that means that the secretary of education does not now need to approve the teacher evaluation system in a state? >> yes. and i think the law is clear that teacher evaluation systems are to be designed by states and districts. >> do you agree, however, that finding fair ways to evaluate teachers is immensely important to the future of our system of public education and that it would be a good idea for the secretary to look for ways to encourage it and honor those that do it well and to make states aware that they could use the $2.5 billion or so that's in the title 2 money for that purpose and that we have the teacher incentive fund which has about $230 million in it to help local school districts who wish to find new ways to do that to do it? >> absolutely.
i think that teacher and school leader incentive fund creates an opportunity for important local innovation and evidence gathering around effective models of evaluation. i also think the equity plans that states are working on to ensure equitable access to effective teaching is going to foster a set of innovations and evidence that states can share. we have an opportunity to lift up best practice. >> one of the things we heard most about was testing, and when we started out writing the new law i suggested that maybe we get rid of the 17 federal test requirements because we had such a blow back on the testing, but the more i listened and the more we heard from teachers and principals and states, the more it became clear to us, those of us on the committee, that it wasn't the 17 federal tests that were the problem, it was the state tests and that, in fact, the 17 federal tests, which
aren't really federal tests, they're required by the federal government but they're state-designed tests from years 3 through 12. they probably don't take more than two hours or so per test over that period of time to be done were important and that those results needed to be -- those tests needed to be given, we need to know the results, they needed to be disaggregated so people would know what was happening. so the solution we came to and the problem we found was that it was the federal test based accountability system, which is fancy language for saying because the federal government decided what to do about the results of the test and attached so many consequences to just those tests, that that was incentivizing states to give a lot of tests to prepare for those 17 federally required tests. so the thrust of this legislation is to say keep the tests, report it so we know how the children are doing, but restore the states and
communities and classroom teachers the decisions for what to do about the tests. and in that -- in other words, the states would come up with the accountability system. now there are some requirements about what the accountability system should have in it, state tests, graduation rates, a few other things, but it also says the secretary is prohibited from prescribing the weight of any measure or indicator used to identify or meaningfully differentiate schools in the accountability system. do you intend to follow that provision and the intent behind it? >> certainly as we move forward we intend to follow the letter of the law. i think you're right over the last ten years because of the narrow focus on no child left behind we have seen a proliferation of tests both at the state level and the test level.
the law gives us an opportunity for a reset and for state and local conversations about right sizing the amount of assessment. >> if i'm not mistaken you've already issued a guidance to suggest to states what might amount to over testing but it's not a mandate, it's a suggestion. am i correct on that? >> we've given them guidance on how they can use the assessments and figure out if they're unnecessary, redundant, low quality. should be replaced by performance-based assessments. >> the spirit is, here's how you might do that, not how you must do that. >> that's right. >> i applaud that, which is why i bring it up, because i think that's the spirit of the law as well as the letter of the law. same with identifying and fixing low performing schools. this was important to a lot of people. senator murphy mentioned that. it was important to the president, that there be a l%[ provision in the bill, and so it's there, but what's also
there is that the secretary's prohibited from telling states how to fix so-called low performing schools. beforehand with the wavers there were six different ways to do that. i remember putting in the legislation a few years ago that a seventh way would be that the state could come up with its own version of how to fix the low performing school. next thing i knew within about a year the department had issued a regulation defining how the state could do it, which was contrary to the purpose, but in the same spirit do you agree that while it's important that states identify and -- schools that are in need of improvement and that there are a number of steps to take and that's -- that's just quite a long -- there are a number of things to do, that in the end the secretary is prohibited from prescribing the specific methodology used by states to differentiate or identify
schools and any specific school supporter of group and strategies, that the state or local education agencies establish and implement to intervene, support, improve schools, improve student outcomes? >> we certainly -- as we move forward with state flexibility around design of their accountability systems and design of their interventions, we'll adhere to the letter of the law. we think that states and local flexibility is a good thing. again, i do think it is important that there are parameters around inequity focus and where those interventions are not helping to close achievement gaps, we all have to remain vigilant that states intensify or change those interventions to make sure they get to closing achievement gaps. >> yeah, there will probably be some gray areas as they come up, but we had a spirited debate on that both in the committee and on the floor of the senate. senator murphy, for example, offered an amendment that would have had, you know, more
stricter guardrails i think would be one way to say it, more federal supervision of what the states were doing in a variety of areas in the accountability system. that amendment lost. it only got 43 votes. it didn't past. just as i offered an amendment to give states the ability to take all the federal money and let it follow the children to the school of their choice called scholarships for kids. that got about 43 votes. that didn't pass. i don't expect you to implement a school choice or voucher program because it didn't take the law. we hope you will respect the consensus we came to. let me move on and conclude with a couple of questions about higher education. this is really an area as we discussed when you and i visited earlier this week, you and the administration have an opportunity. as you know, my attitude towards you or any of the other president's cabinet members in
our jurisdiction is that once you're confirmed, i want to do my best to create an environment in which you can succeed because if you succeed, then our country and our children and our schools succeed. that also applies to our colleges and universities and this committee's done a lot of important work on two areas. one is making it simpler and easier to apply for student aid and to pay back student loans. that's one. and another is to cut through the jungle of red tape that interferes with the way that -- to senator robert's point, the way the schools and our 6,000 universities are managed. we have lots of bipartisan agreement on that and one area is the so-called fast act that senator bennett and i and booker and king and isaacson and burr
all support. we want to reduce the number of questions on the federal student aid application form. the president thinks that's a good idea and has said so. you have -- your department has already begun to identify some questions that are superfluous. we, senator bennett and i, wanted to take 108 questions that families fill out down to 2. then you've already taken steps to allow the common sense proposal of students who fill out the form to use the tax forms they've already filled out rather than the ones they haven't filled out and to do it at an earlier time. that's also a bipartisan proposal. we have bipartisan proposals and the president has talked about this. the stream lined proposal. there are nine ways to do that now.
we think more will take advantage of that. we have bipartisan support for a year round pell grant even though we have some disagreement over how to pay for it, and in addition to that, we have a report, which i like to call the mcculsky report but we'll call it the kerwin/zeppos report that the chancellor of maryland and the chancellor of vanderbilt put together over the last three years to identify 59 specific burdensome regulations or requirements, a couple of which i've already mentioned. chancellor kerwin and chancellor zeppos met with secretary duncan and talked with him about a dozen of those 59 the department itself could do, and you're already taking steps in a couple of cases. the four senators i just mentioned are working. we probably have 27 more, we may
get up to 35 or 6 that we agree on that we can pass which would reduce the onerous paperwork that has built up over eight reauthorizations of higher education. so my question is will you work with us over the next ten months if confirmed to take those specific proposals from the kerwin/zeppos higher education report, the jungle of red tape report, and if you can implement them, try to implement them, and will you work with us on the bipartisan legislation i just described on student aid simplification for both applications and the repayment to see if the department itself can do some of that or if not to let us know what sort of legislation we need to pass this year so students can take advantage of that? >> yes. i'd like to work with you on both things. certainly to try and identify
places where the department can reduce burdensome regulations that aren't working for students. we should do that. certainly would love to work together on a bipartisan reauthorization of the higher education act. the one thing i would like to add to the list that you shared and know this is a view we share, some way to shift the incentives in the higher education sector towards a focus on completion. i do worry that we know that many of the students who are struggling to pay back their debt are students who start but don't finish. they have some courses, they don't have a degree, they can't get the good job that would come with the good degree, therefore they can't pay back the debt. if we can get institutions paying more attention to completion rather than enrollment, that's another opportunity for progress on higher education. >> you're exactly right on that. the default rates are especially high for students who don't complete their degree so i -- that's an excellent suggestion.
i'll be glad to work with you on that. there are other good ideas that we have from both sides of the aisle here to discourage over borrowing. there are some provisions, and these may be an area where you can take executive action that's already authorized that seemed to limit what colleges are able to do to counsel students to say, well, if you go into the theater instead of biomedical engineering you might have a little more -- a little harder time getting a job and paying it back over a period of time. and i would just make the observation, i heard senator warren's comments on the corinthian tragic situation for those students. my general philosophical attitude is a little different. you know, if i would buy a car that's a lemon, i'd sue the car company, not the bank. and i know that the federal law
does have a provision about forgiving loans where there's a fraud. it hadn't been used much until recently, and i think it needs to be used carefully because we have from the taxpayer's point of view 35 or so billion dollars of pell grants every year to low income students that do not have to be paid back. we make $100 billion of loans every year to students that we expect to be paid back and we have a very generous provision that says for many students in public service that you don't have to pay it while you're in those jobs or you don't have to pay more than your 10 or 15% of your disposable income and if it's not all paid back after 20 years it's forgiven, so i would counsel you to follow the law carefully on those claims of fraud that require forgiveness and i'd like to continue discussion with you about any expansion of that authority when the time comes.
dr. king, those are all the questions i have. there may be some questions that members of the committee submit to you. i would encourage you to answer them as promptly as you can. the hearing record will remain open until march the 1st. members may submit additional information for the record within that time if they would like. thanks to everyone, especially dr. king's family and him for being here today. the next meeting of the committee will occur at 10:00 a.m. on wednesday, march the 9th, to consider the second in a markup of bipartisan innovation legislation, that's biomedical innovation legislation, and to consider the markup of dr. king's nomination to be the united states secretary of education. committee will stand adjourned.
former secretary of state and democratic presidential candidate hillary clinton holds a rally today at george mason university in fairfax, virginia. that's live on c-span3 at 4:15 p.m. eastern. it's a different campaign now. we have basically moved beyond the early primary and caucus states. now we're in super tuesday. so if you think about it, 12 states, voters in each of the 12 states will have an impact on who the democrats and republicans nominate. it's a different phase. we have moved from retail campaigning that one on one we saw in iowa, new hampshire, even in south carolina, and now we're campaigning in 12 states where the candidates are literally going from airport to airport, trying to appeal to as many voters as possible. and make their last-minute pitches. advertising is key. organization is key. but it really has moved to a
different level in this campaign where the candidates hope that voters know who they are. in most cases, the name i.d. is out there. so what the candidates have do is con vivince the voters that' the person they should vote for. since the late 1970s, one of the hallmarks has been the abill for peop people to call in, ask questions, provide opinions. a lot of polls. there's nothing better than talking to voters, especially if you talk to voters in the states where primaries or caucuses were held. what were the lines like? why were you supporting candidate x? how solid is your support? you get a sense of the pulse of america which you don't get anywhere else. the other networks have the pundits and analysts. we will have the ability for people to question some leading reporters on super tuesday. but the best pundits are viewers, our listeners tuning in on radio or watching on television. the national defense university h