Education Week - July 18, 2018 - 19
GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Rules involve job paths for those with disabilities
By Christina A. Samuels
The Trump administration, which has already shown its willingness to cut red tape,
has its eyes on a new target: regulations
meant to steer youths and adults with disabilities to jobs where they work alongside
people who do not have disabilities.
The regulations come from the Workforce
Innovation and Opportunity Act, which
passed with bipartisan support in 2014. The
law is overseen by the Rehabilitation Services Administration, which is a part of the
U.S. Department of Education.
The Education Department has taken the
first step needed to change the regulations:
In May, it posted a notice alerting the public
that a "notice of proposed rulemaking" was
coming by September. A department spokeswoman said the department is considering
"all options" for addressing stakeholder concerns.
Among the changes in the workforce law
is a requirement that state vocational-reha-
bilitation agencies take a more active role in
supporting youths with disabilities who are
making the transition from school to work.
The law also states that those agencies should maximize the opportunity that
youths and adults with disabilities have to
engage in what the law calls "competitive
Such jobs are meant to be "typically found
in the community," in the words of the statute's regulations, and should allow the person
with a disability to interact with colleagues or
clients who do not have disabilities.
The regulations do not forbid people with
disabilities from choosing jobs that don't
meet those standards. But many employers
of people with disabilities say that workers
are being steered away from good jobs because those positions are not considered to
meet those standards.
When a client of a vocational-rehabilitation agency takes a job that is not considered
to be competitive, integrated employment,
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE
WORKFORCE INNOVATION AND OPPORTUNITY ACT
Passed in 2014 by Congress with bipartisan support, the WIOA may be a new focus of a Trump
administration open to taking a new look at regulations approved in prior years. While the
current concerns center on the settings where people with disabilities can work, the WIOA has
several other provisions, many of which directly affect youth with disabilities. They include:
Money for transition programs: State vocational rehabilitation agencies,
which help people with disabilities meet their employment goals, must now spend
15 percent of their total job search and training money on programs aimed at
youth transitioning from school into postsecondary education or employment.
That total funding amounts to $3.2 billion in federal money in fiscal 2018, plus
a required 21 percent state match. Vocational rehabiliation agencies also must
coordinate with local school districts to provide those services.
Trump Team Set to Revisit
'Voc Rehab' Regulations
Additional focus on youth with the most severe disabilities: Money from the
federal government-about $27 million in fiscal 2018-flows to states through
"state supported employment grants," aimed at helping people with the most severe
disabilities. The new law says half of that money must be spent on youth up to age 24.
Restrictions on pay below minimum wage: Before
a person under 24 can be placed by an agency in a job paying less than the
minimum wage, that person must go through transition services and career
counseling, and must be provided career counseling on a yearly basis to be
informed of other job options.
SOURCES. U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Labor
PAGE 24 >
Trump Rescinds Obama-Era Guidance on Diversity at Schools
the three most recent presidential adminisIn 2011, President Barack Obama's administrations have sought to put their gloss on the tration issued guidance documents for both K-12
President Donald Trump's administration legal landscape for the consideration of race and higher education that offered its own interhas rescinded several guidance documents in education.
pretation, one that was more open to the use of
issued under President Barack Obama that
race than the Bush administration's view.
emphasized permissible ways for schools and Interpreting Supreme Court Rulings
The K-12 document expanded on areas Kencolleges to take race into account to promote
nedy had cited in his Parents Involved concurstudent diversity.
It should be kept in mind that the U.S. Su- rence as ones where schools could continue to
The U.S. Departments of Justice and Edu- preme Court has had much to say about the take race into account if it were narrowly taication issued a "Dear Colleague" letter July 3 permissible uses of race in K-12 and higher ed- lored. These included school siting decisions,
that said they "have reviewed the documents ucation, and courts examining a race-conscious feeder patterns, and admission to competitive
and have concluded that they advocate policy program would be bound by those rulings more K-12 schools and programs.
preferences and positions beyond the require- than by guidance documents issued by the deThe Trump administration has signaled its
ments of the Constitution," as well as provi- partments of Education and Justice.
position against the use of race in college admissions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that proThe Supreme Court spoke most recently on sions by supporting a lawsuit by a private group
mote desegregation and bar discrimination diversity in higher education in 2016, when that challenges Harvard University's admisbased on race (and other factors) in federally the justices ruled 4-3 in Fisher v. University of sions program, which takes race into account.
Texas at Austin to uphold the race-conscious
The retirement of Kennedy from the high
The action rescinds Obama administration admissions plan at the flagship campus. Jus- court has sparked abundant speculation that
guidance documents issued in 2011, 2013, 2014, tice Anthony M. Kennedy, who retired from the a likely more conservative replacement by
and 2016, several of which were interpretations court, wrote the majority opinion.
Trump would eventually lead to a reversal on
of then-recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions
In the K-12 arena, the court in 2007 sharply race-conscious admissions plans.
about the use of race in college admissions.
limited the use of race in assigning students
"The Supreme Court has determined what af- to schools in districts that were no longer, or Advocates React
firmative action policies are constitutional, and never had been, under court supervision.
the court's written decisions are the best guide
Kennedy joined the judgment in Parents InGroups on both sides of the question of using
for navigating this complex issue," Secretary volved in Community Schools v. Seattle School race in education responded quickly to the
of Education Betsy DeVos said in a statement. District that invalidated voluntary race-con- news of the Trump administration's move.
"Schools should continue to offer equal opportu- scious assignment plans in the Seattle and
Roger Clegg, the president of the Center for
nities for all students while abiding by the law." Jefferson County, Ky., school districts. But he Equal Opportunity, a Washington-based group
Beyond advocating policy positions that go wrote a significant concurrence that said it that has long opposed race-conscious programs,
beyond legal requirements, the "Dear Col- could still be a compelling interest for a school said in a statement: "The Obama guidance in
league" letter says, the Obama-era documents district to seek a diverse student population.
this area was bad law and bad policy, and it's
"prematurely decide, or appear to decide,
"Race may be one component of that diver- good news if it is indeed being withdrawn. ...
whether particular actions violate the Consti- sity, but other demographic factors, plus spe- The federal government should not be going
tution or federal law."
cial talents and needs, should also be consid- out of its way to encourage such discrimination,
"By suggesting to public schools, as well as ered," Kennedy wrote.
which is what the Obama guidance did."
recipients of federal funding, that they take acIn 2008, President George W. Bush's adAdvocates for educators, though, were wortion or refrain from taking action beyond plain ministration released guidance building on ried the move could undermine efforts nationlegal requirements, the documents are incon- the Parents Involved decision that said, "The wide to ensure that school districts reflect the
sistent with governing principles for agency Department of Education strongly encourages diverse populations they serve.
guidance documents," the letter states.
the use of race-neutral methods for assigning
"It is imperative that the nation's school sysWith the Trump administration's action, students to elementary and secondary schools." tem leaders have the flexibility they need in
By Mark Walsh
addressing the racial and economic diversity of
their schools and students," said Noelle Ellerson Ng, the associate executive director for policy and advocacy at AASA, the School Superintendents Association, in an email. "Given that
guidance is non-binding and does not have the
power of the law, AASA errs on the side of equity, diversity and flexibility, and opposes the
Trump administration's latest proposal."
Schools should continue
to offer equal opportunities
for all students while
abiding by the law."
U.S. Secretary of Education
Meanwhile, John B. King Jr., who served as
Obama's second education secretary and now
leads the Education Trust, a civil rights organization, said rescinding the guidance sends
the wrong message at a moment when schools
and colleges are becoming increasingly diverse.
"More than 60 years later, our nation still
has not fulfilled the promise of Brown v. Board
of Education," King said. "Research shows the
benefits of diversity for all students; and innovative practices in schools, on campuses, and
in communities to advance diversity can help
protect the future prosperity of our nation and
the long-term health of our economy."
Senior Contributing Writer Catherine Gewertz and
Assistant Editor Alyson Klein contributed to this
EDUCATION WEEK | July 18, 2018 | www.edweek.org | 19