Below is a summary of key events from the 2018 School Leaders Summit and Hill Day which concluded with 107 individuals from all facets of our community sharing their personal stories and experiences, highlighting key legislative priorities important to their students and schools, and urging the 115th Congress to complete reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA).
2018 AACS Capitol Hill Day Recap
Over 100 participants helped spread AAC’ message requesting Congress to move forward – and enact – legislation reauthorizing HEA!
TUESDAY, APRIL 10
During his introduction of Chairwoman Foxx, AACS President Frank Trieu reminded those in attendance of the close family connection to the beauty and wellness community within the Foxx family. Chairwoman Foxx’s father graduated from a cosmetology school after leaving the military, earned his license, and opened his own salon before transitioning into other lines of vocational education. And, if that was not enough, the Chairwoman’s granddaughter, Rana, is a licensed cosmetologist in NC, and both she and her mother, Chairwoman Foxx’s daughter, are currently attending an esthetician program!
Chairwoman Foxx thanked Frank for such a warm introduction and began to talk about the House HEA reauthorization bill (H.R. 4508 – The Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act) the Committee voted to send to the House floor last December.
Chairwoman Foxx made it clear, “The PROSPER Act is not a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. It’s true reform, and it’s reform with institutions like yours in mind. I believe, with every fiber of my being, that this is reform we desperately need.”
Continuing, the Chairwoman noted the six million unfilled jobs in our nation and said that this legislation is designed to help address this shortage by promoting workforce education and she requested our help in securing the support necessary to bring the bill to the House floor for consideration and passage.
The Chairwoman then proceeded to review with the AACS membership a brief one page synopsis she provided detailing the four pillars of the PROSPER Act concluding her remarks with the assurance that she would continue to work with AACS on refinement to the legislation as the process continued and thanking us for coming to Washington to promote the needs of our students, schools, and the future workforce
Continuing our efforts to support first term Representatives serving on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, AACS extended an invitation to Rep. Karen Handel representing Georgia’s 6th Congressional District to join us for a late afternoon event.
Representative Handel, one of just five women ever to be elected to statewide office in Georgia served as the 26th Secretary of State – whose duties included the management and oversight of the Georgia State Board of Cosmetology and Barbers and the first woman to represent Georgia in the United States Congress, was greeted by constituent Marcum Stacy, School Owner of The Elaine Sterling Institute, AACS Government Relations Committee Chairman Neal Heller, and almost the entire AACS Board
Representative Handel was extremely knowledgeable and supportive of H.R. 4508 – The PROSPER Act, the leadership of Chairwoman Foxx in developing the bill, and the inclusion of many key provisions supporting the interests of our students, schools, and broader community. She was also equally knowledgeable on AACS’ legislative priorities as well!
Congresswoman Handel offered her support for the regulatory repeals contained within The PROSPER Act, highlighted several key provisions she felt would support education leading to jobs, and when she learned of the statistics contained in the National Beauty & Wellness Education Day Resolution, she said that she supported the Resolution.
Concluding her remarks, Representative Handel said that she welcomed the opportunity to continue to work with our community and the Chairwoman to seek House floor consideration of The PROSPER Act as soon as possible, and would continue to work with our community on the legislation going forward.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11
Wednesday morning’s presentation from former proprietary school owner turned U.S. Representative offered the membership in attendance with even more detail on the areas within the bill that are favorable to students, institutions, and the taxpayer. However, while offering his support for much of The PROSPER Act, Representative Mitchell also noted strong concerns and frustration with portions of the bill he finds troubling, stating clearly, “We can do better!”
His concerns included in his view a lack of inclusion of access to personally identifiable information on students, the lack of reforms in accreditation, and the proposed revisions to the Federal Return of Title IV Funds policy (one of AACS’ primary concerns with PROSPER).
Representative Mitchell said that, as a member of the House Education Committee, he supported the bill’s passage in Committee, but was then, and still is now, hoping for additional modifications as the legislation moves to the House floor, is taken up by the Senate, and conferenced between the House and Senate versions of the legislation.
While expressing his concerns, he said that he has been and continues to look forward to working with AACS, its membership, and the sector on many of the needed revisions providing equity to all institutions of higher education and their programs. But he concluded with the same mantra that he hopes that additional changes would come as the process continued, and that ultimately, “we do better”
Later in the day, along with a considerable number of other very important and informative sessions, Greg Martin and Rhonda Puffer from the U.S. Department of Education provided those in attendance with a presentation reiterating the latest guidance in the September 2016 Audit Guidebook published by the Office of the Inspector General.
Mr. Martin and Ms. Puffer provided examples relating to how institutions are to comply with the new changes in the regulations related to institutional calculation of the 90/10 requirements on a student-by-student basis, as well as other revisions.
Following their presentation, AACS then invited several auditors in attendance to come share their views with the Summit and Hill Day participants, reinforcing the inclusion of one of AACS’ priority request for Hill Day – transmittal of letters or calls of concern by Congress to Secretary DeVos and the Department for a delay in enforcement and modification to the new Audit Guide.
Following several GRC presentations providing a detailed summary of the status of both State and Federal activities impacting our community, and a briefing on the Talking Point and leave-behind materials the Hill Day participants were given in support of our requests, Former House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller addressed our community, providing candid insights on how best to speak to elected officials, deliver our message effectively, and follow up after the meetings.
Chairman Miller’s comments, and his ability to share real-world experiences on the do’s and don’ts, assisted greatly in having both seasoned veterans and a very large contingent of first-time AACS member advocates feeling confident and prepared to make the most of their meetings the following day!
The AACS Board and GRC would like to extend a special thank you to Cengage Learning Inc., Milady, and Sandra Bruce, General Manager of Milady and AACS Board Member for sponsoring Chairman Miller’s presentation.
A full day of Hill Day preparation and key presentations culminated with the first of two back-to-back fundraising events seeking additional resources to help finance AACS’ Government Relations Committee’s efforts on behalf of the membership.
First, the AACS Board and PAC Committee shared with invited participants the latest information on the continued development and formulation of the American Association of Cosmetology Schools Political Action Committee (AACS PAC).
Through the support and generosity of the invited guests, AACS raised a sizeable amount of funds to help our community participate in targeted events with influential lawmakers, providing the Board, GRC, and membership with another advocacy tool to help promote the interests of our students and schools.
The evening concluded with a GRC dinner in which the Board and GRC recognized the considerable support for the association and the GRC by our vendors, the hard work of the GRC under the leadership of Chairman Neal Heller, Co-chairman Chris DeLuca and all of the volunteers within the membership who work to develop, refine, and revise our community’s Legislative and Regulatory Agenda.
The evening provided the GRC with an opportunity to also recognize and show our appreciation for Representative Lee Zeldin and Matthew “Matt” Scott, a member of the Congressman’s staff who helped spearhead the development of the “National Beauty & Wellness Education Day” resolution.
Once again the AACS membership stepped up, providing additional individual donations in addition to those of our vendors.
THURSDAY, APRIL 12
Hill Day officially began with an open invitation for the Education Legislative Assistants from both the House and Senate Education Committees to attend a briefing on AACS’ HEA Reauthorization priorities.
AACS was pleased to share time during the event with:
- Robert Moran, Senate HELP Committee Education Policy Director for Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN);
- Mary Nguyen Barry, Policy Advisor for Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA);
- Remarks on H.R. 4508 – The PROPSPER Act offered by Emmanual Guillory, Professional Staff Member with the House Committee on Education and the Workforce; and
- Participation by several other House and Senate Education LAs.
Following the forty-five minute briefing, and even before for some who had early meetings scheduled during the briefing, 107 AACS representatives began a busy day walking the halls of Congress and meeting with their elected officials and staff.
While AACS is still in the process of debriefing with all of the participants on all of the very important meetings that we already are aware took place, here is just a very brief summary of meeting with key offices that the AACS Board conducted last week.
- Mary Nguyen Barry, Policy Advisor Senate HELP Committee – Minority Office
- Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairman Brett Guthrie (R-KY)
- Emmanual Guillory, Professional Staff, House E&W Committee – Majority Office
- Paul Hallett, Senior Staff, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI)
- Barrett Karr, Chief of Staff, U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
- Robert Moran, Education Policy Director, Senate HELP Committee – Majority Office
We know that many, many of our attendees also met directly with their Representatives and Senators – stay tuned for more photos and updates to come from all of these meetings!