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Sixth Yarmuth Provision Included in Higher Education Act Reauthorization


Landmark reauthorization expected pass the House today

(Washington, D.C.)  The College Opportunity and Affordability Act, which will further address the soaring price of higher education and remove obstacles that make it difficult for qualified students to go to college, came to the floor today with five provisions authored by Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3).  A sixth provision, which would provide grants to train educators to effectively teach students with disabilities, was offered on the floor by Yarmuth today and approved by the House.

Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Sheldon Berman Lauded Yarmuth’s provision, saying ““The effort to integrate students with disabilities into classrooms and give them access to general curriculum is very important, and there is no better way than to support general education teachers in improving their abilities to teach students with disabilities.”

His program is also endorsed by the National Education Association, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, and many organizations that advocate for the education of students with disabilities.

“The last few years have seen significant advances in diagnosis and understanding of students with Autism, ADD, dyslexia, Downs Syndrome and a dozen other common and treatable disabilities.  Where people once thought these students were unmanageable and unteachable, we know now that more often than not, the majority of them are bright, creative students who are capable of success when given the opportunity to learn,” Yarmuth said.  “The Teach to Reach Grants will give our teachers the training to engage students with disabilities so they can succeed in the classroom and excel in life.”

The College Opportunity and Affordability Act is a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the primary law aimed at expanding college access for low- and middle-income students.  Yarmuth’s six amendments are detailed below:

Teach to Reach Grants

  • Creates grants to train general education teachers at the primary and secondary levels to more effectively teach students with disabilities, such as autism, ADD, and dyslexia.
  • Give teachers the tools required to meet the needs of all their students.

$10,000 Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants – Introduced 6/25/07

  • Provides $2,000 of annual loan forgiveness for five years for teachers, nurses, librarians, national service participants, school counselors, medical, mental health, and nutrition professionals, and others.

Revolutionizing Education through Digital Investment Act – Introduced 9/20/07

  • Improves and modernizes the way technology is used in the classroom. 
  • Establishes a non-profit National Center for Learning Science and Technology that will focus on research and development in education and training.  
  • Transform America’s education, workplace training, and lifelong learning through the development of technologies, in the same way that comparable technologies have already transformed the nation’s economy, communications and financial systems, national defense, and people’s everyday lives.
“Despite the multitude of new technologies that are available to us, we have yet to scratch the surface of what we can do in the classroom to ensure that America’s children stay ahead of the curve.  This measure creates a system that will not only implement the technology we have, but also a framework to keep pace as new technologies are developed,” Yarmuth said.

Partnership Grants for Literacy Coach Training

  • Enables universities to seek partnership grants for literacy training.
  • Addresses the demand for high quality literacy coaches in our schools and lays the professional development groundwork for the Striving Readers Act (which Yarmuth introduced in April). 

Student Success Grants  – Introduced 8/3/07

  • Provides students with mentoring and guidance to help attain college degree.
  • Begins to fix 55 to 1 ratio of college access aid to college success aid.
  • Schools where at least 50 percent of students test into remedial education will be eligible for $1,500 grants for every Pell recipient.
  • Funding will be provided to Success Coordinators, college and career success courses, work-study opportunities in students’ fields of study, better instructional support, and learning communities that cluster students to create a more constructive learning environment.

Centers of Excellence in Veteran Student Success
(introduced with Higher Education Subcommittee Chairman Ruben Hinojosa)

  • Develops a new grant program to establish support centers for veterans.
  • Centers will provide academic guidance and mental health support to ensure that veterans make a smooth transition from the battlefield to the classroom.

The bill will also clean up corrupt practices in student loan programs, protect students from aggressive lender marketing practices, and require better consumer disclosures and protections on private student loans.  In addition, the bill will streamline the federal financial aid application process, make textbook costs more manageable by helping students plan for those expenses in advance of each semester, allow students to receive year-round Pell Grant scholarships, strengthen college readiness programs, and increase college aid and support programs for veterans and military families. 

The legislation continues Yarmuth’s commitment to increasing accessibility and affordability of college following the College Cost Reduction Act, which increased student financial aid by $20 billion and was signed into law in September.