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Senate Does Away With Obama Teacher-Prep Regulations

Congress, in an effort to limit federal involvement in higher education, has voted to eliminate Obama-era regulations on teacher-preparation programs.

The legislation, passed on Wednesday by the Senate on a 59-to-40 vote, is expected to be signed by President Trump. The House of Representatives approved the bill last month.

The accountability system that would be affected by the legislation was put into effect in October by the Department of Education. It requires states to report on the success rate of teacher-training programs, partly on the basis of graduates’ employment and evaluations of their work. Approved programs are authorized to award up to $4,000 in federal Teach Grants to prospective teachers.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, praised Wednesday’s vote in a statement. “Overturning this regulation says that states — not a distant department in Washington, D.C. — are responsible for evaluating whether a college’s program gives teachers the skills they need to help their students learn,” he said.

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities said it planned to work with Congress and the Trump administration to reset federal involvement in higher education, including reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. “We are pleased Congress heeded existing widespread and overwhelming concern around the Department of Education’s teacher-preparation regulation and rescinded it before it could inflict actual damage,” the association said.

The National Council on Teacher Quality, however, said it had hoped that the regulations would remain for the sake of transparency and accountability. “The Department of Education spent years developing and finalizing these regulations as a compromise among educators and local, state, and federal officials,” Kate Walsh, president of the council, said in a written statement. “Although imperfect, these regulations require states and institutions training teachers to collect and report key information about teacher-preparation programs.”

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