Legislative Update: Congressional Hearings and Updates from ED

June 17th, 2021

This week, the House held its final hearing on Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) reauthorization. Read below to learn more about this hearing, as well as a hearing on the federal education budget and movement in the appropriations process, newly shared state plans for stimulus K-12 funds, a new statement on Title IX and more education appointees. 

House Subcommittee Holds WIOA Hearing

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment held a hearing on “WIOA Reauthorization: Examining Successful Models of Employment for Justice-Involved Individuals.” The following witnesses provided testimony and then answered questions from committee members: 

  • Ms. Traci Scott, Vice President of the Workforce Development Division, National Urban League;
  • Mr. Gregg Keesling, President of DBA RecycleForce Workforce, Inc., Indianapolis, IN; 
  • Dr. Pamela Lattimore, Senior Director for Research Development for the Division for Applied Justice Research, RTI International; and 
  • Ms. Wendi Safstrom, Executive Director, SHRM Foundation.

Safstrom is also a member of the Advance CTE Board. Common themes that came up throughout the hearing were the need to look at the full workforce ecosystem and engage all stakeholders, the importance of wraparound supports for reentry into the workforce and understanding the full background of justice-involved individuals to learn about the scope of resources that best suits their needs.

Advance CTE’s recommendations for reauthorization of WIOA can be found here. A recording of the full hearing as well as member statements and witness testimonies can be found here

Cardona Testifies to Senate on FY22 Budget Proposal
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) on the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget request for the U.S. Department of Education (ED). In her opening statement, Subcommittee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) emphasized the need for the federal education budget to increase not only because of the needs pre-pandemic, but because of the inequities that were increased because of the pandemic. Subcommittee Ranking Member Roy Blunt (R-MO) spent time in his opening remarks to say that he is a proud supporter of the Career Technical Education (CTE) Perkins Basic State Grant. 

You can follow this link to advocate for CTE funding in FY22 by asking your Senator to sign the “Dear Colleague letter” supporting robust CTE funding. A recording of the full hearing as well as Secretary Cardona’s testimony can be found here

ED Posts State Plans for Use of K-12 Stimulus Funds 

On Monday ED announced that the 28 plans submitted by State Education Agencies (SEAs) describing use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to support schools, students and educators have been posted to the ED website while awaiting approval from the department. The ARP ESSER Fund provides nearly $122 billion to states to support the nation’s schools in safely reopening and sustaining safe in-person operations while meeting the social, emotional, mental health and academic needs of students impacted by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

ED shared that plans highlight the following strategies:

  • Accelerating and sustaining the safe return to in-person instruction; 
  • Implementing coronavirus prevention and mitigation strategies, including expanding access to vaccinations for school staff and students; 
  • Offering summer learning and enrichment programs; 
  • Providing social, emotional and mental health support to students; and
  • Addressing the academic impact of lost instructional time. 

ARP ESSER state plans were submitted by Arkansas, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. ED is also working with states that were unable to submit plans by the June 7 deadline. 

House Approves Total Spending Level for FY22 

Written by Michael Matthews, Government Relations Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Full post can be found here.  

On Monday, the House approved a resolution, along party lines, that would set the topline discretionary spending level for House appropriators for fiscal year (FY) 2022 to $1.506 trillion. The “deeming resolution,” however, does not specify the 302(a) allocations, which are the topline funding levels for both defense and nondefense discretionary spending. Once those are set, House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) can begin to establish the 302(b) allocations for each of the twelve spending bills prior to the beginning of subcommittee mark-ups, which are slated to begin June 24.

Under normal circumstances, the budget resolution is an agreement between the House and Senate on a budgetary plan for the upcoming fiscal year. Once agreed to by both chambers, the budget resolution creates parameters that may be enforced by points of order and using the budget reconciliation process. When the House and Senate do not reach an agreement on this plan, Congress may employ alternative legislative tools to serve as a substitute for a budget resolution, which are usually called “deeming resolutions.” It is important to note that deeming resolutions do not include reconciliation instructions to authorizing committees, so in order for House Democrats to implement the Administration’s infrastructure and other spending plans, they will still need to introduce and pass a budget resolution for FY 2022.

The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee is expected to mark-up their proposal on July 12, according to a recent announcement from the chairwoman. Typically, the committee does not announce programmatic funding levels prior to the mark-up, so this should provide the first look at the committee’s funding priorities for FY 2022.  

ED Confirms Title IX Protects Students from Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

ED’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced a new Notice of Interpretation stating that it will enforce Title IX’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity offered by a recipient of federal financial assistance. This follows the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County that it is impossible to discriminate against a person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity without discriminating against that person based on sex. 

Last week a report from OCR found that the vulnerability of LGBTQ+ students has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving them without access to school-based mental health services and other supports. One survey found that 78 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth reported that their mental health was “poor” either all or most of the time during the pandemic , compared with 61 percent of cisgender youth.

ED Announces More Biden-Harris Appointees

More political appointees for ED were announced, including two positions within the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE): Emily Lamont and Elias Romans, both Special Assistants. The full list of most recent ED appointees includes: 

  • Alice Abrokwa, Senior Counsel, Office for Civil Rights
  • Elizabeth Baer, Deputy Director of Scheduling, Office of the Secretary
  • Larry Bowden, Special Assistant, Office of the Secretary
  • Miriam Calderon, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Policy and Early Learning, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Cristina Flores, Director of Scheduling, Office of the Secretary
  • Anna Hartge, Special Assistant, Office of the Secretary
  • Rachel Hegarty, Confidential Assistant, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development
  • Emily Lamont, Special Assistant, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
  • Kevin Lima, Special Assistant, Office of Communications and Outreach
  • Ben Martel, Confidential Assistant, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs
  • Clare McCann, Special Assistant, Office of the Under Secretary
  • Gypsy Moore, Senior Counsel, Office of the General Counsel
  • Keigo O’Haru, Confidential Assistant, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Elias Romanos, Special Assistant, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
  • Sebastian Rozo, Confidential Assistant, Office of the Under Secretary
  • Marco Sanchez, Special Assistant, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs
  • Tiffany Taber, Managing Writer, Office of Communications and Outreach
  • Kalila Winters, Special Assistant, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs
  • Addie Zinsner, Confidential Assistant, Office for Civil Rights

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Getting to Know Advance CTE and Early Postsecondary Opportunities

June 17th, 2021

The “Getting to Know” blog series will feature the work of State CTE Directors, state and federal policies, innovative programs and new initiatives from the Advance CTE staff. Learn more about each one of these topics and the unique contributions to advancing Career Technical Education (CTE) that Advance CTE’s members work on every day.

Meet Christina Koch! Christina serves in the role of Policy Associate for Advance CTE. Christina works on projects related to state policy, including the New Skills ready network, initiatives related to Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) and supports Advance CTE’s equity initiatives, which currently includes the learner voice shared solutions workgroup.

Q: This month, we are sharing resources and best practices for states engaging in Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSOs) for learners. How do you define EPSOs? 

A: EPSOs include dual enrollment, dual credit, concurrent enrollment and other related opportunities. I would define them as opportunities designed to give each learner a head start on college courses while still in high school to make postsecondary credential and degree attainment easier and more affordable.

Q: How does call for states to create opportunities for each learner to have access to equitable EPSOs?

A: Many aspects of CTE Without Limits touch on ways to remove barriers to increase access to opportunities for each learner. For example, Principle 2: Each learner feels welcome in, is supported by and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem, calls for all learners to have equitable access to opportunities so that they can be successful in their career pathways. Increasing equitable access for learners to be able to participate in EPSOs means reducing barriers, which could include making postsecondary credit free to learners and removing grade point average requirements. On the local level, it also means doing targeted outreach to learners from special populations to ensure they are made aware of these opportunities and understand the potential benefits of getting a head start on college courses.

Principle 4 of CTE Without Limits: Each learner’s skills are counted, valued and portable also touches on an important part of ideal ESPOs, in that the credit earned by learners is portable and counted toward their chosen career pathway. It is important that states ensure there are EPSOs available for learners within every career pathway so that they translate into meaningful credits and ideally, that credit is easily transferable among public postsecondary institutions. 

Q: How are sites that make up the New Skills ready network leading in providing EPSOs? 

A: Ensuring that EPSOs are available within every career pathway is definitely a topic of interest among the New Skills ready network sites and some already have really strong initiatives in their states. For example, Nashville, Tennessee is one of the sites in the New Skills ready network and has been expanding their EPSO program for nearly a decade. The state identified EPSOs as one of the most significant ways in which high schools across the state could help prepare learners for postsecondary success and began developing a portfolio of EPSOs. As part of the portfolio approach, all high schools must offer two or more types of EPSOs to ensure that the opportunities are accessible to all high school learners. 

Q: Are learners interested in EPSOs? How can states communicate the benefits of EPSOs to increase learner interest? 

A: Recent communications research revealed that more than 80 percent of families involved in CTE were satisfied with opportunities to earn college credit and take advanced classes compared to 60 percent or less of families not involved in CTE. 

Learners are interested in EPSOs but the challenge is that many do not know that these opportunities are available to them or how to navigate the process of earning postsecondary credit that would be useful to them in their education and career pathway. 

New tools and messaging resources are available to help states and local CTE leaders communicate the benefits of EPSOs for secondary learners and recruit families.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media 

New Skills ready network Year 1 Reports Highlight Early Innovations and State Support to Advance Quality and Equity in Career Pathways

June 15th, 2021

Today, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group (ESG) released an annual report and site snapshots for the first year of the New Skills ready network initiative.  The five-year initiative, part of JPMorgan Chase and Co.’s $350 million global New Skills at Work program and $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity, aims to improve student completion of high-quality, equitable career pathways to gain skills needed for the future of work, particularly among learners of color and other historically marginalized learners. 

The New Skills ready network focuses on six domestic sites as illustrated in the graphic below. As a partner in this initiative, Advance CTE strives to elevate the role of state capacity and resources in advancing project priorities and gain a unique perspective on promising practices to strengthen state-local partnerships across the country. 

One key step highlighted across the snapshots is each site’s approach to connecting systems and creating a common vision and definitions. Boston, Massachusetts, centered on a shared definition of cultural wealth as a framework to discuss equitable practices in career pathway design. Denver, Colorado created the Pathways Data Framework, a shared process for defining, collecting and analyzing data across partners to fully measure progress in achieving equitable career pathways. 

Dallas, Texas, is leveraging their Dallas Thrives initiative to draw on capacity from across their region to work towards a common vision. As an early step, Nashville, Tennessee’s leadership team agreed upon common definitions of systemic racism, implicit bias, educational equity and more and has provided racial equity training to over 300 stakeholders to ground their work in a foundational understanding in what racial equity really means in their community and institutions. 

The report and snapshots also explore how sites are utilizing state leadership, capacity, and existing initiatives to guide the focus of their first year and to map future work. For example, several schools in Indianapolis, Indiana will serve as pilots for the state’s Next Level Program of Study initiative, which aims to improve quality and consistency of CTE program instruction as part of Indiana’s Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) implementation strategy. 

Columbus, Ohio will leverage statewide articulation and transfer agreements as well pre-existing statewide programs to advance equity and access to postsecondary opportunities in career pathways, including the College Credit Plus program, Career-Technical Assurance Guides, the Choose Ohio First scholarship program. The Ohio Department of Higher Education has also established an internal project team to provide state support to the larger cross-sector project team. Nashville, Tennessee’s local efforts are tapping into the state’s Tennessee Pathways’ Designation Process 

Visit Advance CTE’s New Skills ready network series page to read the full annual report and a snapshot of each site’s innovative partnerships and early accomplishments across the four project priorities. Our New Skills ready network collection page provides additional resources for strengthening career pathways.  For more information about the New Skills ready network initiative, read the Getting to Know interview with Senior Policy Associate Jeran Culina. 

Legislative Update: ED Releases Actions to Advance Equity and COVID-19 Handbook Volume 3

June 11th, 2021

This week the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced new actions that will be taken to advance equity in education. Read below to learn more about the initiative, including an Equity Summit Series launching on June 22nd, as well as the third COVID-19 (coronavirus) handbook from ED and a status update on the expansion of Pell Grant eligibility to short-term programs. 

ED Announces Actions to Advance Equity in Education 

On Thursday ED announced new actions that will be taken to advance equity in education to ensure each learner is served. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said the following regarding this announcement: “This is our moment as educators and as leaders to transform our education systems so they are truly serving all of our nation’s students. While COVID-19 has worsened many inequities in our schools and communities, we know that even before the pandemic, a high-quality education was out of reach for too many of our nation’s students and families. Our mission at the Department is to safely reopen schools for in-person learning, dramatically increase investments in communities that for too long have been furthest from opportunity, and reimagine our schools so that all students have their needs met. We must take bold action together to ensure our nation’s schools are defined not by disparities, but by equity and opportunity for all.”

Below are the actions that are part of this initiative.

  • The Department will launch an Equity Summit Series starting on June 22nd.
    The Educational Equity Summit Series will launch virtually on June 22nd with a focus on how schools and campuses can make positive changes as they continue to reopen for in-person instruction, instead of returning to the status quo. The first session of the series will explore how schools and communities can reimagine school systems so that each learner has a voice- particularly those from underserved communities, including communities of color, students with disabilities and multilingual students. The session will also include discussions on how each learner can access a high-quality education that is responsive to their needs, and how schools can be responsive and inclusive of all learning environments. 
  • The Department released a new report highlighting the disparate impacts the coronavirus has had on underserved communities.
    ED’s Office of Civil Rights released a new report that highlights how the pandemic threatens to deepen the divides in educational opportunities across the country if the impacts are not fully addressed. It discusses how learners who already had the fewest educational opportunities, and are often from marginalized and underserved communities, are disproportionately affected. The report shows how the coronavirus furthered disparities in access and opportunities facing learners of color, multilingual learners, learners with disabilities and LBGTQ+ learners- at the K-12 and postsecondary levels. There is also data showing an increased risk of harassment, discrimination and harm for Asian American and Pacific Islander learners. 
  • The Department released new guidance to support states as they invest American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds in communities and schools with the least access to educational opportunity.
    ED released its Maintenance of Equity guidance regarding a provision of the ARP. These requirements will ensure that districts and schools that serve a large number of students from low-income families will not experience disproportionate budget cuts, and that districts with the highest poverty levels do not receive any decrease in state per-pupil funding below the pre-pandemic level. These schools will also be protected from disproportionate cuts to staffing. This follows last month’s guidance on how states and districts can use ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to advance educational equity in pandemic response.  
  • President Biden’s budget proposes historic investments in Title I to address entrenched disparities in the education systems.
    The Administration’s Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget proposes $36.5 billion in formula grants for Title I schools, which is a $20 billion increase from the 2021 enacted level. The point of this investment is to enable states and communities to reinvest in historically under-resourced schools and reimagine their education systems so all students can access high-quality education and have the support they need to succeed. 

ED Releases COVID-19 Handbook Volume 3

ED announced the release of the COVID-19 Handbook Volume 3: Strategies for Safe Operation and Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education Students, Faculty and Staff. This handbook provides additional strategies for institutions of higher education (IHEs) and communities to equitably reopen for in-person instruction. It also provides strategies on how postsecondary institutions can use funds from the ARP and previous relief bills to meet the needs of each learner, increase vaccination rates on campus, address inequities exacerbated by the pandemic, etc. 

This third volume addresses some priority areas for the postsecondary level, with an emphasis on response and recovery that will position IHEs  and students to be stronger than before the pandemic. This includes: 

  • Providing practices to aid IHEs in implementing CDC guidance, such as ways to offer and promote the coronavirus vaccine, and mitigation strategies to pursue for campuses where everyone is fully vaccinated, as well as campuses where not everyone is fully vaccinated. The Handbook also identifies common prevention strategies and provides examples of actions IHEs can take with Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEERF) grant funding from the three relief bills to pursue these efforts;
  • Describing the ways in which IHEs have responded to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic—particularly challenges faced by underserved student populations—by supporting students’ transition to online learning and addressing basic needs such as broadband access, financial assistance, housing and childcare;
  • Noting ways in which IHEs have already been and can continue to be sources of support to their communities’ ongoing response and recovery from the pandemic— including in vaccination efforts; and
  • Providing a catalog of the resources and administrative flexibilities offered to IHEs as they address rapidly changing conditions and needs on the ground, including resources that support both learners and IHEs under the ARP.

This handbook includes feedback from IHEs and over 40 organizations representing stakeholders and institutions across 15 listening sessions. 

Senate Passes China Competitiveness Bill Without Short-Term Pell Provision

Written by Michael Matthews, Government Relations Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Full post can be found here

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a sweeping proposal that would provide more than $200 billion to aid American manufacturing, technology, research and development, in an effort to quell China’s growing economic influence worldwide. Last week an amendment introduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) that would expand Pell Grants to short-term Career Technical Education (CTE) programs was accepted into a larger package of amendments that was closely negotiated between party leadership. The goal was to have them included into the larger manager’s amendment offered by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), by making a simple unanimous consent (UC) procedural request, then passing everything in the final bill. Unfortunately, the package that included the short-term Pell amendment was defeated when Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) objected to the UC request offered by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and the bill moved on to final passage without the amendment package.

Although the short-term Pell amendment was not ultimately included, there was another provision that was included in the bill related to dual enrollment. The provision would create a new grant program that would provide states with grants to expand Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) pathways for high school students into postsecondary education through expanding advanced coursework like dual enrollment and early college. The program is a rewrite of the state grant component of the Fast Track to and Through College Act introduced by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Todd Young (R-IN). The original bill has been changed by focusing the funding on expanding STEM pathways and removing the provisions around expanding Pell eligibility for high school students taking dual enrollment. ACTE and Advance CTE endorsed this bill when it was originally introduced. 

The House is expected to take up the proposal in late June or July and it is likely to be split into smaller pieces rather than as one package. Past that, it is unclear whether House leadership will write their own version of the legislation or take the more traditional route of trying to negotiate the differences between the chambers through a conference committee. As for the short-term Pell amendment, there is no indication as of now if the House plans on trying to include it in their version of the legislation, or if the Senate tries to revive it in conference or pursue another vehicle. ACTE and Advance CTE support the expansion of Pell Grant eligibility to high-quality short term programs.

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

5 Steps to Refresh Career Technical Education Program Recruitment Plans This Summer 

June 10th, 2021

The impending summer season is a great time for state and local Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders to take a step back and evaluate how existing recruitment plans and practices reach each learner and family to achieve an effective and equitable recruitment process.

As conversations continue about potential national investments in the career preparation ecosystem, it is essential that communications about CTE align with what matters most to families in their education, and address in detail the opportunities provided through CTE to meet those needs. Recruitment processes and communications must also address lingering stigmas, lack of knowledge and systemic barriers that have prevented learners of color, learners experiencing low income and other historically marginalized populations from participating in and fully benefiting from the potential of CTE programs. 

Today, Advance CTE released a second round of tools to help state and local CTE leaders implement updated communications research released in April 2021 on tested messages and messengers for CTE that resonate with learners and families. The research also details equity considerations and message tailoring for Black and Latinx families and families experiencing low income so that each learner feels welcomed, supported and has the means to succeed in CTE programs. 

Developing and  executing a recruitment plan can seem like a big undertaking, but Advance CTE is here with simple steps to help you get started. 

Here are five easy ways to put this research into action this summer using messages and tools from Advance CTE: 

  1. Learn the key messages that resonate with families and learners about CTE, and message tailoring considerations to reach Black and Latinx families and families experiencing low income. Our core messages resource provides three top messages for all audiences and additional messages for historically  marginalized populations. 
  2. Evaluate your current communications tools, including newsletters, digital media, website and printed materials. Do the materials include these tested messages? Have steps been taken to remove barriers to each family accessing and fully understanding information about CTE programs? Our messaging card provides a starting point for effective use of messages. 
  3. Inform your colleagues about key messages, and develop a plan of action to share these messages with stakeholders to ensure consistent communication both during and after CTE recruitment season. Our newly updated communications advocacy guide provides five keys to success and a step-by-step process to develop a plan.  Advance CTE has created a ready-made slide deck and talking points that make it easy to share these findings in a 20 minute presentation.
  4. Engage your ambassadors and trusted sources to receive feedback about current recruitment practices and communications materials.  Advance CTE’s newly updated parent engagement tool provides seven steps and assessments to evaluate current practices and fully leverage your team and ambassadors in the recruitment process.
  5. Reintroduce the value and impact of CTE to families through digital media this summer as you make plans to align messaging and equitable outreach across all communication channels. Advance CTE’s social media guide and ready-to-use graphics assist leaders in navigating the differences among digital platforms and keep messages about the impact of CTE front-of-mind for families this summer.

 

Visit our Engaging Families and Learners web page for the full research report and list of communication and implementation resources. Visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center for additional resources on communication, career advisement and access and equity. 

Advance CTE is here to help leaders fully realize and leverage this research and their state and community. Email info@careertech.org with questions or to receive assistance in putting this research into action.

CTE Without Limits Summer Lunch and Learn #1 Recap: Building Foundational Relationships and Infrastructure Key Areas of Focus for First Vision Principle

June 7th, 2021

On June 1, Advance CTE hosted the first session of a five-part summer lunch and learn series delving into each of the five principles of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). Each session features a panel of leading voices from organizations across learning and work followed by interactive group discussions on the information shared and next steps. 

This session discussed the first principle of CTE Without Limits, featuring perspectives from organizations representing state elected officials, state and local education administrators and workforce leaders:  Amanda Winters, Program Director for Postsecondary Education at the National Governors Association (NGA); Najmah Ahmad, Program Director for the Career Readiness Initiative at the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO); and Yvette Chocolaad, Workforce Policy and Research Director at the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA). 

Themes

Throughout the panel and breakout sessions, several key themes emerged on the most urgent areas of action and foundational steps to be taken at the local, state and organizational level: 

  • State Leaders as Visionaries: Both Amanda Winters (NGA) and Najmah Ahmad (CCSSO) emphasized the role of governors and state education administrators as the visionaries and drivers for organizational change needed to realize this principle, from providing flexibility in funding and funding models to connecting state initiatives for economic growth, postsecondary attainment, racial equity and more into a larger vision for systemic change.  Ahmad also highlighted the role of organizations supporting state leaders in providing tools and guidance for that leader’s vision to reach local education agencies and translate into tangible, meaningful action.
  • Yvette Chocolaad (NASWA) emphasized the importance of designing infrastructure with flexible capacity to support collaboration across sectors, integrated services and innovative funding models. In doing so, systems can be truly responsive to the changing and flexible paths taken by learners to education and employment. This infrastructure can span informational technology and administrative and business service to physical building design and upgrades.          
  • All partners emphasized that investment in career advising, coaching and job search professionals who are often “overloaded and undervalued” as critical to build a cohesive career preparation ecosystem with seamless transitions among education and work experiences.                  
  • Promising potential of federal stimulus funding: All panelists elevated federal stimulus funding as a historic opportunity to reimagine infrastructure and state initiative investment in the lens of CTE Without Limits and not just make upgrades to existing systems. 

During the breakout sessions, attendees elevated the importance of involving learner voice in the design of career preparation ecosystems and prioritizing the needs of learners with those of other stakeholders such as government and industry. Attendees also highlighted the need for manageable, tangible steps from both the top down and the bottom up to enact lasting change, and the acknowledgement that true cohesion between systems of learning and work is extremely complex and all partners will be learning during the execution of this principle. 

First Steps 

The foundational steps offered by the panelists may seem obvious at first glance, but are often skipped in favor of pursuing project-based work and are critical to establishing a shared understanding of success. 

  • Shared Vision and Definitions: Chocolaad elevated the importance of cultivating a shared vision, metrics and data infrastructure among all stakeholders at the outset of this work. The need for comprehensive, informed and accurate data was termed a “shining light” for executing both this first step and the principle at large. 
  • Leadership Buy-in: Winters emphasized the importance of governors and other top leaders specifically communicating their commitment to making systemic change and collaboration a priority when current systems are designed to encourage siloed progress. 
  • Equity at the Center: Ahmad elevated the importance of centering equity, a foundational commitment within CTE Without Limits, in all aspects of implementation but particularly in determining the “who and the why” of systemic change. The prior two recommendations are strongly connected to this step, as a shared understanding and equity is critical to measuring progress towards equitable career preparation ecosystems. 

Visit the CTE Without Limits web page to read the full vision and access resources to communicate  the vision to stakeholders, including a promotional video, slide deck and five sector-focused fact sheets. 

Register for Advance CTE’s second lunch and learn scheduled for June 22 at 4:00PM ET featuring Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Senior Fellow at the National Skills Coalition; Mimi Lufkin, CEO Emerita at the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity; and Stephanie McGencey, Executive Director at the American Youth Policy Forum

Legislative Update: President’s Budget Request and ED Roundtable

June 4th, 2021

Last week the White House released its full Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget request. Read below for information about what this means for Career Technical Education (CTE) and additional details on education and labor programs, as well as a readout from a U.S. Department of Education (ED) virtual roundtable and an upcoming labor hearing in the House.  

White House Shares Full Budget Proposal- Additional Details  

Last week, the White House released its $6 trillion budget proposal for FY22. This request calls for a $20 million increase ( approximately 1.5%) to the Perkins Basic State Grant, as well as a $108 million increase for National Programs- of which $100 million would fund competitive awards for middle and high school CTE innovation projects aimed at advancing equity and $8 million would fund technical assistance and grant evaluations. The request also includes a new $1 billion annually for 10 years to support middle and high school career pathways that would occur through the passage of the American Jobs Plan. Advance CTE in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released a statement on this proposal, which can be viewed here.

Of the record 41% increase ($29.8 billion) for education programs, much of that funding is dedicated to new programs. For example, the $20 billion increase for Title I is designated for a new Equity Grants program with the purpose of addressing inequities in education systems. Some additional changes to existing programs include an increase of $200.8 million for Federal TRIO Programs and an increase of $5 million for rural school districts through the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP).  

Some notable requests for labor programs include: 

  • Increase of $37.3 million for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Adult programs; 
  • Increase of $42.7 million for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Youth program that provide services to prepare low-income youth for academic and career success; 
  • Increase of $51.9 million for the Reentry Employment Opportunities (REO) program that prepares justice-involved adult and youth for the job market; and
  • Increase of $48.4 million for YouthBuild. 

Please find additional information on the budget at the below links: 

ED Holds Virtual Roundtable on Providing Pell Grants for Incarcerated Individuals 

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona held a virtual roundtable to discuss the importance of providing Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals. This conversation included students and former students who took college classes while incarcerated. Secretary Cardona shared that he is “committed to ensuring that the Department works to serve currently- and formerly incarcerated students well, and to increasing access to high-quality post-secondary education for these students.” During this roundtable, formerly incarcerated students talked about the successes and challenges they faced while working to achieve their educational goals. Readouts of these experiences can be found here. Advance CTE has advocated for expanding Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated individuals, and is pleased by the support of the Administration. ED is currently implementing the Second Chance Pell Experiment that enables approximately 100 colleges to offer Pell Grants to incarcerated individuals. In the coming years, ED will be implementing a change Congress made in December 2020 that removes a legislative ban. 

House Schedules Hearing with Secretary Walsh

The House Committee on Education and Labor scheduled a hearing with U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. During the hearing Secretary Walsh will be asked questions and speak about the policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The hearing will take place Wednesday, June 9 at 12:00pm EST, and you can watch it here

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

New Resource Strives to Strengthen Collaborative Partnerships Between State and Local Partners

June 2nd, 2021

Intentional and early collaboration between state and local leaders is vital to ensuring success in high-quality career pathways for all learners. Strengthening partnerships between local entities and state agencies helps each partner achieve its mission and amplify its reach. 

Given the state’s vital role in creating aligned systems, leaders in education, workforce and public policy must commit to breaking down silos and building up trusting, collaborative relationships. This means that leaders at both the state and local level must work together to create shared visions and mindsets and align their work to better support all learners. 

Strengthening state and local partnerships is a critical strategy to advance mutual interests that benefit learners and the entire career pathways system as a whole.  Advance CTE’s latest publication, Strengthening Career Pathways through the Power of State and Local Partnerships, suggests five strategies states can take to build, refine and sustain partnerships across state and local parties — with a specific focus on the challenges that exist in beginning and sustaining those partnerships. Each section of the report describes what the strategy looks like in practice and provides state and local examples of promising practices across the country.

Those strategies include:

Leveraging federal and state funds to fuel local innovation, using state criteria as guidelines for quality

For example, Tennessee leveraged Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) reserve funds and provided technical assistance to help Wilson County build and scale a special program for biotechnology that would meet the state’s criteria for approval. After initially approving the program in 2018 as a “special program of study,” the Tennessee Department of Education worked to scale the biotechnology program into the now statewide BioSTEM program of study in the 2019-2020 school year.

Providing meaningful technical assistance to help local administrators define roles and establish shared definitions, goals and strategies.

For example, the Nebraska Department of Education’s reVISION process lays the foundation for strong state and local partnerships through direct technical assistance and support for local education agencies through the use of a state-level reVISION coordinator to collaborate with on the work.

Sharing knowledge, ideas and best practices by extending expertise and leveraging convening power. 

This approach helps local leaders identify proven strategies to overcome challenging barriers. For example, the Colorado Community College System recognized the importance of flexibility, relationship development and collaboration when working on the strategic planning process for Perkins V. This included sharing information on the CTE visioning and strategic planning process, collecting feedback on how to improve the state CTE system as a component of Colorado’s talent strategy, and establishing mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders for feedback.

Strong state and local partnerships are a key component of any high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program. As state leaders begin implementing their Perkins V plans, they have a responsibility to build partnerships with local leaders across their state. States can do this by building trusting and collaborative relationships with local leaders and leveraging economies of scale to provide innovation funding, offer technical assistance and share best practices. This report, and the strategies included, is one tool designed to support state leaders in this endeavor. 

Visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center for more resources on systems alignment and access and equity to CTE. Visit the New Skills ready network series page to read all three policy briefs with promising practices to strengthen career pathways. 

 

Legislative Update: FY22 Budget Request and Updates from ED

May 28th, 2021

Today, the White House released its full budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). Read below to learn more about what this means for Career Technical Education (CTE) funding, as well as information on a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) hearing and new resources from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). 

White House Shares Full Budget Proposal 

Today the White House released its $6 trillion budget proposal for FY22. This request calls for a $20 million increase (only approximately 1.5%) to the Perkins Basic State Grant, as well as a $108 million increase for National Programs- of which $100 million would fund competitive awards for middle and high school CTE innovation projects aimed at advancing equity and $8 million would fund technical assistance and grant evaluations. The request also includes a new $1 billion annually for 10 years to support middle and high school career pathways- this funding would happen through the passing of the American Jobs Plan.

Advance CTE in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released a statement on this proposal, which can be viewed here

Some of the additional funding requests for education and labor programs include: 

  • $20 billion increase to Title I; 
  • $400 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award; 
  • $100 million increase to expand registered apprenticeship opportunities while increasing access for historically underrepresented groups;
  • $100 billion over 10 years for broadband; 
  • Level funding for federal work study;
  • Level funding for Adult Education State Grants; and
  • Level funding for ESSA Title IV-A. 

Please find additional information on the budget at the below links: 

Advance CTE will continue to analyze the implications of the budget request, check back for more information!

House Subcommittee Holds WIOA Hearing
On Thursday the House Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment held a hearing on “WIOA Reauthorization: Creating Employment Pathways for Dislocated Workers.” The following witnesses provided testimony and then answered questions from committee members: 

  • Joseph M. Barela, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment; 
  • PJ McGrew, Executive Director, Indiana Governor’s Workforce Cabinet;
  • Matt Sigelman, Chief Executive Officer, Burning Glass Technologies; and
  • Portia Wu, Managing Director, U.S. Public Policy, Microsoft Corporation, U.S. Government Affairs.

McGrew is also a member of Advance CTE in his capacity as State CTE Director for Indiana. In his testimony, McGrew spoke about how Indiana has expanded access to training, improved employer engagement and better connected the workforce and education systems. Some of the common themes throughout the hearing were the need to be responsive to workforce demands and the importance of addressing the increase, and inequities, in dislocated workers during the pandemic. 

Advance CTE’s recommendations for reauthorization of WIOA can be found here. A recording of the full hearing as well as member statements and witness testimonies can be found here

ED Releases New Information on Stimulus Funds

This week ED released a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) resource about how funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund- including the American Rescue Plan (ARP) ESSER Fund- and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund can be used to support students in per-K-12 education. This includes how funds can align the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). 

ED Releases Regulatory Agenda 

ED’s Office of Postsecondary Education announced this week that virtual public hearings will take place on June 21, June 23 and June 24 from 10:00am – 12:00pm EST and 2:00pm EST on each day to take in stakeholder feedback on proposed issues for rulemaking sessions. After these three hearings, ED will look for nominations of non-federal negotiators to serve on the negotiated rulemaking committees, set to convene in late summer 2021. Suggested topics from the Department include:

  • Ability to benefit;
  • Borrower defense to repayment;
  • Certification procedures for participation in federal financial aid programs;
  • Change of ownership and change in control of institutions of higher education;
  • Closed school discharges;
  • Discharges for borrowers with a total and permanent disability;
  • Discharges for false certification of student eligibility;
  • Financial responsibility for participating institutions of higher education, such as events that indicate heightened financial risk;
  • Gainful employment;
  • Income-contingent loan repayment plans;
  • Mandatory pre-dispute arbitration and prohibition of class action lawsuits provisions in institutions’ enrollment agreements;
  • Pell Grant eligibility for prison education programs;
  • Public service loan forgiveness; and
  • Standards of administrative capability.

Additional information on the upcoming hearings can be found here and details on the negotiated rulemaking process can be found hereMeredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Stakeholder Engagement: Using Lessons from Perkins V for the Stimulus Application

May 24th, 2021

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) released the state plan application for a portion of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund last month. In March, states were given access to two-thirds of the ARP ESSER funds, and the remaining third will be made available once state plans are approved by ED. The plan must include how states will:

  • Ensure the state and districts are demonstrating transparency in their planning; 
  • Identify and meet the needs of students most impacted by the pandemic; 
  • Choose effective evidence-based interventions; and 
  • Prioritize educational equity, inclusive stakeholder engagement and strong fiscal safeguards. 

A significant component of this application is the requirement for state-level stakeholder engagement. The following groups are named as ones that must be included and have an opportunity to provide input: students; families; Tribal Nations; civil rights and/or disability rights organizations; teachers, principals, school leaders, other educators, school staff and their unions, school and district administrators; superintendents; charter school leaders; and other stakeholders representing the interests of children with disabilities, English learners, children experiencing homelessness, children and youth in foster care, migratory students, children who are incarcerated and other underserved students.

State and local Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders have just recently undergone widespread stakeholder engagement during the development of each state plan under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). The stakeholder engagement and ongoing consultation has led to a more holistic approach to implementing high-quality and equitable CTE in many states. Just like with Perkins V, the required stakeholder engagement at the onset should be viewed as a floor and not a ceiling and an opportunity, not a burden. Continued consultation during the use of these stimulus resources will ensure that there is statewide alignment on how to meet the unique needs of all learners. 

Stakeholder input also supports successful implementation of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education, particularly “Principle 2: Each Learner Feels Welcome in, Is Supported by and Has the Means to Succeed in the Career Preparation Ecosystem.” A career preparation ecosystem must be designed with an equity lens in order to meet the unique needs of each learner. Involvement from a large range of stakeholders is instrumental in ensuring that each learner’s voice is represented in program development.

In April 2021 Advance CTE published two resources on stakeholder engagement and Perkins V, one on “Engaging Representatives of Learners with Special Population Status” and the other on “Opportunities to Advance Statewide Collaboration and Engagement in CTE.” Though these resources are geared towards Perkins V, they provide lessons learned and state promising practices that can be applied in this situation. Not only will the applications provide information about how this funding will be used, but it will also inform ED’s technical assistance to states and districts and its approach to monitoring implementation of funds. Plans must be submitted by June 7, 2021 and additional information can be found here.

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

 

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