Clay Long, Achieving His Dream Job

January 28th, 2020

Clay Long is about to hit his two-month mark on the job as the State CTE Director in Idaho but he is no newbie to Career Technical Education (CTE). Serving in this role has been Clay’s dream job for 15 years, since he first held an internship in the state CTE office while he was an undergraduate.

Most recently, Clay served as the chief of staff for the mayor of the City of Nampa, ID, and as a CTE administrator in the Nampa school district, the third-largest school district in the state. As a CTE administrator, Clay pursued answers to the questions, “What does CTE provide as a unique competitive advantage?” and “How can we best connect industry to learners?” Clay focused on CTE branding, marketing and outreach to industry, parents and students. This area of communications is of continued interest to Clay as he settles into the State Director role.

Clay has held a variety of leadership roles, from serving on CTSO boards (Idaho Business Professionals of America (BPA), SkillsUSA Idaho and National BPA), and was the president of Career & Technical Educators of Idaho. Notably, Clay’s passion for CTE is long held, as he taught firefighting at Idaho’s first high school firefighting program, stepping up to lead the program after a struggling first-year.

Looking ahead, Clay is interested in exploring models of virtual education that provides increased access to rural and remote learners – a challenge for Idaho – and collaborating with staff and stakeholders to inform an upcoming five-year strategic plan focusing on the ability to meet the demands and needs of industry. He is excited that CTE is top of mind and frequently mentioned by legislators in his state, and was even mentioned in the Governor’s State of the State address, demonstrating the importance of CTE in Idaho.

Fun Facts about Clay:

Favorite weekend activities: traveling and spending time with family and friends

If he could only eat one type of food for the rest of his life: Italian food


Putting Afterschool to Work: Impactful Work-based Learning in New Orleans

January 24th, 2020

The destruction of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 transformed New Orleans into a place where construction is not just a high demand, high-wage career, but an act of service to the community. unCommon Construction (UCC)—a non-profit organization in New Orleans that delivers afterschool programming and weekend on-site apprenticeships—engages high school students in career pathways within the construction industry, while also building and selling essential market rate homes for residents and families in the students’ home town.

UnCommon Construction provides high school students with the opportunities to gain over 100 paid internship hours per semester in on-site, hands-on work based learning in the construction trades, through partnerships with area schools and the Louisiana statewide CTE program known as Jump Start. UCC student apprentices engage in trainings after school and spend the weekends building a home in their community alongside construction industry experts including architects, engineers, carpenters, electricians, realtors, title attorneys and more. As UCC Founder Aaron Frumin puts is, “the need in this industry is so broad and widespread, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.”

UCC programming utilizes the flexibility of the afterschool hours to emphasize the development of communication and teamwork skills, also known as employability skills, to compliment the work-based learning opportunities students receive on the job site.  During afterschool hours, students participate in a leadership development series called “Framing Character,” and are evaluated using a third-party evaluation tool known as a Hirability Scorecard, developed by A student who progresses well through the rubric receives an end-of-program endorsement shared with industry partners upon graduation.

The program prides itself on the success of its completers. Eighty percent of students who enroll in the rigorous program complete their semester. Of those who complete their term, 100 percent have remained on track for high school graduation and gone on to either further their education or acquired a job within three months of graduating high school. Remarkably, UCC has been incredibly successful in engaging nontraditional student populations. While the construction industry is 8 percent female about 40 percent of program participants are female or non-gender conforming.

UCC’s model requires a close collaboration with the schools it partners with, often working directly through a college and career counselor or internship coordinator. The school will inform students about the availability of the UCC program, then assist students with writing their applications, acquiring work permits, soliciting letters of recommendation and preparing for their in-person interviews. Once a student is enrolled as a participant, the UCC program reports attendance and progress back to the school so that the school may assign internship credit. UCC also recognizes that students benefit from individual relationships with the mentors in their program, and has established partnerships with schools to provide students with wrap-around support during the school day during identified intervention times to help the student stay on track for high school graduation and career success.

How Louisiana Supports Programs Like unCommon Construction

Afterschool programming and work-based learning in Louisiana is strengthened by state policy and funding. Louisiana’s statewide Jump Start initiative ensures the high school accountability system credits schools equally for work preparing students on quality pathways to college or career. Through Jump Start, students can earn a career diploma by completing industry-based credentials, and career experiences/internships are considered a core element of a high-quality secondary CTE program. As UCC director Aaron Frumin puts it, “college and workforce pathways are equally prestigious.”

Additionally, schools can draw down state dollars through the Career Development Fund to support students with unCommon Construction’s year-long programming. The fund provides financial resources to schools to support career development activities, including transportation to work-based learning sites, insurance, tools and gear, training by career professionals and the 100-120 hours of work based learning. UCC’s non-profit program then leverages funding from the houses it sells back into the community along with funding from philanthropic partners to provide every participating student with hourly pay above the minimum wage for their work and training.

Leveraging Perkins V to Strengthen Afterschool Work-based Learning

State leaders have a number of levers to strengthen and expand work-based learning through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), the new federal law for Career Technical Education (CTE). States can use Perkins V to foster meaningful partnerships with afterschool programs and other intermediaries to ensure all students can access meaningful work-based learning opportunities, especially when paired with programs that support student employability skills and wraparound supports to see students through a successful graduation and onto the next step in their college or career path.

For one, Perkins V gives states the opportunity to hold local recipients accountable for delivering work-based learning through the secondary CTE program quality indicator. States can choose between three different measures for the accountability indicator, and many are choosing to prioritize work-based learning. As a result of this shift, work-based learning—during and after school hours—is expected to become a more integral part of the CTE experience.

Second, Perkins V funds can be used at the state and local level to support the establishment and expansion of work-based learning opportunities for students. Local funding decisions will be driven by a new Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment, which can surface gaps in work-based learning opportunities and give local leaders direction to help expand offerings for students.

Finally, the law’s emphasis on systems alignment encourages CTE leaders to coordinate with other state agencies to support career development and workforce training for learners. This opens the door for meaningful collaboration with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) coordinators, who can align afterschool, youth workforce and career pathways programs.

This blog post is the second in a series on the intersection of CTE and afterschool programs, exploring strategies and opportunities to bridge learning both in and out of the classroom. It was written by Jillian Luchner from the Afterschool Alliance, Christopher Neitzey from the Afterschool Alliance and Austin Estes from Advance CTE.

Aligning to Opportunity: State Approaches to Setting High Skill, High Wage and In Demand

January 23rd, 2020

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) places a strong emphasis on the alignment of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study with state, regional and local economies. The legislation requires Perkins-funded programs to prepare students for “high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand occupations.” These terms — high skill, high wage and in demand — are foundational to Perkins V, appearing in both the purpose of the law and the definition of CTE.

As with many Perkins V requirements, the responsibility of defining these terms rests solely with states, providing them with a major opportunity to set a meaningful bar for determining which career opportunities anchor their CTE programs. The stronger focus on labor market alignment compels state CTE leaders to ensure that all program offerings are relevant to today’s economy and that learners will participate in CTE programs with data-driven and validated labor market value.

Advance CTE newest paper, Aligning to Opportunity: State Approaches to Setting High Skill, High Wage and In Demand, describes some approaches that states are taking to partner across agencies to access and review labor market information; develop definitions for high skill, high wage and in demand; provide local flexibility, while maintaining guardrails; and disseminate the information widely to key audiences.

For example:

  • District of Columbia’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education led a collaborative process, engaging the Workforce Investment Council, Department of Employment Services, industry partners and other key stakeholders to identify data sources and set their definitions for high skill, high wage and in demand.
  • Nebraska’s H3 site provides the state definitions of high wage, high skill, and high (in) demand, as well as a search tool for identifying those occupations at the state or regional level.
  • Texas allows for local flexibility through a regional program of study application process that enables locals to present regional LMI to justify a program of study, which, once approved, can then be offered by any district within the region.
  • OhioMeansJobs is an initiative developed through the state’s Office of Workforce Transformation. In addition to the state’s identified in-demand jobs, the site also offers a great deal more for students and job-seekers, such as a career interest inventory, job and company search engines and other career exploration tools.

For more, including specific definitions used by the states mentioned above and others, read Aligning to Opportunity: State Approaches to Setting High Skill, High Wage and In Demand.

The report was made possible by the generous support of the Joyce Foundation.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand?: Pete Buttigieg

January 22nd, 2020

Advance CTE is posting a series of blogs on each 2020 presidential candidate who has released an education or workforce development platform and is polling above one percent. Check back for the next blog in this series, and catch up on previous posts!

Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign platform supports Career Technical Education (CTE) by calling for doubling the annual investments in CTE programs in high schools and colleges. His plan for supporting and expanding CTE opportunities are listed out in “The American Opportunity Agenda: Affordable College, Stronger Workforce Development, & Lifelong Learning.” This agenda is comprised of three parts that would support access to training and education with the intention of ensuring success for individuals and the greater economy.

  • Improve College Affordability and Completion
    Buttigieg plans to make college free for low-income students by providing free tuition and financial support for living expenses. This would be done through partnerships between states and the federal government and would make public tuition free for students who are Pell Grant eligible and for all families earning up to $100,000. Buttigieg would also invest $120 billion into the Pell Grant program to in order to cover the cost of tuition and basic living expenses. He plans to increase the size of the maximum Pell Grant allotment as well, and connect it to inflation. Buttigieg also commits to supporting college completion in ways such as creating a $1 billion community college fund to invest in local communities and respond to barriers that college students face, as well as reforming the Federal Work-Study Program to make sure that funding is allocated to models that allow students to work in fields aligned with their career-goals. Buttigieg also supports removing the ban on Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals and expanding the Second Chance Pell program. 
  • Invest in the American Workforce
    Buttigieg makes the campaign promise that he would invest $50 billion into the skills of the country’s workforce. This would include doubling annual investments in high school and college CTE programs. Funding would also go to state and industry partnerships that would give all high school students in CTE programs free college credit, the opportunity to earn industry credentials and participate in work-based learning. In addition, he would implement a tax deduction for employers that offer paid work experience in ways such as internships and youth apprenticeships.

    Another component of the skills investment would be a $10 billion investment in registered apprenticeships. Buttigieg outlines that he would build upon the Registered Apprenticeship system through the National Apprenticeship Act and invest $1 billion annually to double the number of apprentices- with a focus on nontraditional industry sectors. In particular, Buttigieg plans to do the following: develop a challenge grant program for states; create industry-specific centers of excellence to work with employers and intermediary organizations; incentivize employers to participate and invest in apprenticeship programs and build a federal apprenticeship service.

    Buttigieg would also form a presidential “Skills Cabinet” tasked with creating and investing in a skills strategy for the country based on best practices across states. The Secretaries of Commerce, Education and Labor would need to work with industry and labor leaders to create a five-year skills strategy. There would be about a $2 billion annual investment in workforce programs and partnerships, based on the Skills Cabinet strategy, that support collaboration between the economic development and lifelong learning efforts.

    This campaign also outlines a $100 million annual investment in scaling local public-private workforce partnerships with the intention of building “talent ecosystems” that connect education, economic development and workforce development. This funding would be allocated through performance grants in regional workforce partnerships based on successful practices.  
  • Strengthening College Transparency, Safety, and Oversight
    One way that Buttigieg plans to increase transparency is by providing important outcomes information to students about colleges that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education. This data would be available to the public in a user-friendly manner. 

You can read Buttigieg’s full proposals for the above three strategies in “The American Opportunity Agenda: Affordable College, Stronger Workforce Development, & Lifelong Learning.”

To learn more about Buttigieg’s education and workforce development plans you can check out his campaign platform.  

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Learning from CTE Research Partnerships: How Michigan Built Trust with Researchers to Better Understand State Data

January 21st, 2020

As part of our ongoing blog series aimed at increasing state research on career and technical education (CTE), Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate at Advance CTE, and Corinne Alfeld, Research Analyst at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), are conducting interviews with individuals who are part of successful CTE State Director research partnerships. The first interview was with Jill Kroll of the Michigan Department of Education and Dan Kreisman of Georgia State University (and Director of CTEx). [Note: this interview has been edited for length; you can find the full interview transcript here].

The first question we have is about the projects that you work on together: what were some of the research questions you came up with, and how did you come to settle on those research questions?

Jill – I first connected with Dan and with Brian Jacob at University of Michigan when I saw Brian present to our P-20 council about some research that he was doing connecting the wage record data for five community colleges. I was like “Gee, is there any way you can do something similar with the statewide secondary student data?” And he said it was possible. So I worked within our department procedures to find out how we could go about establishing a relationship that would allow this opportunity.

Dan – That led to a whole bunch of other discussions of things that we thought were interesting. So, to say that there is a set of research questions is not the way I view our relationship. We talk with folks in Jill’s office regularly to hear what questions are pressing for them, and then we try to help facilitate answering those and then see where those lead us. I think one of the important things is we try to think about where there are policy levers, so we want to say “If we answer this question, how can the state or the districts use that information to further their mission of providing CTE programming to students in Michigan?”

Jill – I’ve been really happy with the extent to which Dan and the research team have consistently focused on the “so what?” Rather than focusing on vague research questions of interest only to other researchers, they have emphasized their interest in doing research that has practical application, that can be used by educators in the field.

Could you share an example of how you’ve been able to use some of this evidence and research to change policy, or at least to shape your understanding on some decisions that you’re making at the state level?

Jill – When we were starting to work on our Perkins V [the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act] state plan, we had a short time to determine what we wanted to consider for our secondary indicator of program quality. Because Brian, Dan, and their students had been working with this data for so many years, they had the capacity to very quickly do the matching and come up with an approximation for us about what postsecondary credit attainment would look like, and what strengths and weaknesses they saw in the data. It would have been really difficult for our office, or even multiple state agencies, to have been able to work that quickly and give it the critical analysis that they did.

The other thing they did when we were making the decision for that indicator is look at the data that we had for work-based learning and tell us what could be done with it. What came out of that was that the data was not in any form that could be analyzed (text and PDFs). This was really revealing to our State Director Brian Pyles, and it led him to set a policy that we are going to build a consistent way of collecting data on work-based learning. So that is another piece where it influenced practice and policy. One of the most exciting and valuable things that I find about the partnership is that Dan and the other researchers have a lot more capacity to analyze the data in a way that we just don’t have the time to do. Sometimes we don’t have the expertise, and sometimes we just don’t look at the data in the same way.

Dan –And there’s a flip side that without their input, we often are looking at data and can’t make heads or tails of something. And we can get on the phone or write an email to someone over there and say “Hey we’re seeing this thing. Can you tell me what that means?” And they will come back with “Oh, the system changed” or “There was this one policy,” and “Here’s what you have to do to make it fit everything else.” And this happens all the time. We would be completely lost without this open channel that we have to their office.

I think it’s important not to dismiss the power of good descriptive work. Lots of times, the questions that states are grappling with can often be illuminated with some really careful and good descriptive work. You can say, “This is what we’re seeing, this is the big picture,” if you step back for a minute, and that information lots of times has been as valuable as the stuff we try to do that is more causally oriented in our research.

Jill – I agree, and I want to follow up on the whole issue of how important trust is. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to me that Dan and the other researchers come to us with those questions, that they check in with us. That’s absolutely critical. Anyone who works with any kind of data knows that it’s just so complex. If you link tables wrong, or misunderstand a data field, you can come to a completely wrong decision. So that communication and that interaction and trust are key to accurate outcomes.

As you’re both looking ahead, what’s next on the agenda? What are some of the research questions and priorities you have for this partnership?

Dan – Number one is tracking students into the labor market. That’s our biggest and most outstanding question. And the degree to which CTE programs are preparing students for college and the labor market and careers. In terms of other projects, one of the things we’re interested in is technical assessments. We’re also part of a consortium of several states – that’s the CTEx group. We meet annually together, and that allows us to harmonize things across states to see how trends are similar, how enrollment rates work, all sorts of different questions across multiple states.

Jill – One of the things we’re talking about right now is that we don’t have, in an accessible form, data on access to a particular program. We know that career centers serve certain districts, but if someone asked, “If student A is going to Central High School, what programs do they have access to? we don’t have a good way of answering that at the moment. We’ve had a couple of discussions about how we can work together to build basically a dataset that clarifies that. That would be mutually beneficial and would take resources from both in order to do something like that.

Thinking back on this partnership, is there any advice you would give to other State Directors or CTE researchers?

Dan – Building a strong relationship is the first thing you have to do. And part of that is spending time face to face talking about questions, moving around ideas, looking at data together. We had the benefit of a long windup period. We spent at least a year just talking about questions and putting together data before we even started doing any analyses. We also had buy-in from Jill’s office up and down the line from folks who were doing the research to people who were in policymaking roles. And without all of that, none of this would even have been possible.

And the second part is to not downplay the value of just providing good information. A lot of us on the research side don’t realize how little time folks in the state offices have to take a step back and say, “What’s going on with our data? Let’s look at the big picture.” And one of the things we can provide them is just giving them that big picture and handing it to them in a digestible way. And doing that is the first step, is a really good way to start building that trust. They really see the value of what you can do early on. And then you can start to get into more difficult or longer-term questions.

Jill – The first advice I would give is: Do it! Partner with researchers. I can’t say enough positive about it. The second is: Follow department procedures and be transparent with department leadership. You know that windup might be really, really slow while you jog through the channels that you need to in your department to do things by the book, but I think it pays off in the long run.

My third one is: Be transparent and open with school districts. Share what you’re doing and invite their input. Anybody who works with state data would probably know, you’re always a little hesitant about what the public would think about this use of data. The way that Dan and the postdocs and graduate students have openly shared the work that they’ve done with our CTE administrators has really helped, in that I have not gotten any doubt from districts.

The full transcript can be accessed on Advance CTE’s website. Other blog posts in this series can be viewed here.

Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand?: Michael Bloomberg

January 16th, 2020

Advance CTE is posting a series of blogs on each 2020 presidential candidate who has released an education or workforce development platform and is polling above one percent. Check back for the next blog in this series, and catch up on previous posts!

Former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg calls out Career Technical Education (CTE) as its own specific piece of his campaign positioning. He names CTE as a way to provide individuals with the skills they need to find career success. Bloomberg makes the campaign promise that he will “invest in pathways that create new opportunities and access to well-paying jobs for all Americans.”

Bloomberg goes into more detail about his “All-In Economy” agenda that would support individuals in getting higher paying and higher quality jobs, as well as modernize education and training practices to provide adults with the skills and credentials needed for careers that offer upward mobility and income growth. This strategy is comprised of five pillars: “Make education and training a national priority; create the jobs of the future in communities today; make work pay; tap into the job-creating energy of entrepreneurs; and connect rural communities.”

In particular, the modernizing education and training piece of the agenda would be the highest priority assigned to the administration’s Vice President. The Vice President would be tasked with working with states, employers, community and technical colleges and other relevant parties to provide millions of people with the skills needed for a career. This would be achieved through: 

  • Training and Retraining
    Bloomberg intends to provide every state with grants to improve career-training systems and programs that are specific to the skills and credentials identified by employers as necessary for in-demand jobs and careers. Bloomberg’s plan requires significant new investments in community and technical colleges and partnerships with employers. In addition, employers, industry groups and educators would collaborate regionally and nationally to define credentials and develop impactful curricula. Part of the grant funding would be competitive and allocated to innovation and scaling up successful and inclusive programs that end with credential attainment.
  • Apprenticeships
    Bloomberg set the goal that “by 2030, one million students annually will enroll in apprenticeship degrees and quality credential programs.” This would mean that youth and adult learners would participate in paid on-the-job learning that is related to classroom and results in both academic credit and employer-valued credentials. This plan includes grants for partnerships that include educational and training institutions as well as employers to create and scale programs. Bloomberg would also provide funding for state and local intermediaries.
  • Helping Working Adults Transition into Different Jobs and Careers
    This component of Bloomberg’s platform addresses the modernization of education and training systems that he plans to undertake. To achieve this Bloomberg would provide innovation grants to education providers and employers to meet the needs of both full and part-time adult learners. Included in this strategy is Pell Grant eligibility for short-term programs.
  • Expanding and Extending Access
    The way that Bloomberg plans to expand and extend access is by making programs more affordable. One way this would be done is by expanding Pell Grant eligibility to short-term programs. In addition, Bloomberg shares that he will open Pell Grant funds to incarcerated individuals.

Bloomberg’s campaign platform also prioritizes Education & College Access by “improving schools and student achievement.” For example, Bloomberg states that increasing student achievement, college preparedness and career readiness would be a national priority if he wins the election. He supports this by sharing his current work leading efforts nationally to increase college enrollment for low-income students. 

To read more about Bloomberg’s education and workforce development platforms you can check out his campaign website

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

The Global Imperative for CTE Programs at Community and Technical Colleges

January 13th, 2020

Learners today are no longer preparing solely for careers in their communities, states or even country, but rather within the global economy. At the same time, when individuals enter the workforce, they increasingly are called upon to engage with a diverse set of colleagues, work with international supply chains, hold multiple perspectives and develop products and services for a more diverse and culturally conscious group of consumers.

Within this context, it is clear there is a greater need to ensure all learners are entering the workforce global competent and prepared for the ever-changing world. Yet global competency is not often an explicit focus of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs.

To elevate this critical issue, Advance CTE partnered with Asia Society, Longview Foundation, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Association of Career & Technical Education (ACTE) on Preparing Tomorrow’s Workforce: The Global Learning Imperative for Career and Technical Education Programs at Community and Technical Colleges. This paper builds on the foundation from a paper released in 2015, which focused on how global competency can and should be integrated into secondary CTE programs of study, and explores the role postsecondary institutions can play in advancing global competency.

This paper provides data and evidence on why and how community and technical colleges can lean in on “internationalizing” their programs and embed global competency in curriculum and instruction, along with specific examples from leading institutions like Ivy Technical Community College of Indiana, Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.   The examples in this paper aim to support community and technical colleges and their faculty as they work to integrate global competence into existing CTE courses and advance their missions of graduating career-ready learners.

In the coming months, Asia Society will work to create new tools and resources to assist postsecondary CTE faculty in integrating global issues and perspectives into their courses. If you are interested in participating in this project, please contact Heather Singmaster, Director of CTE, Center for Global Education, Asia Society: To view current tools and resources for middle and high school educators, click here.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand: Joe Biden

January 9th, 2020

Advance CTE is posting a series of blogs on each 2020 presidential candidate who has released an education or workforce development platform and is polling above one percent. Check back for the next blog in this series!

In his campaign platform, former Vice President Joe Biden includes proposals related to Career Technical Education (CTE) and workforce development. He calls out “guaranteeing every American the skills and education they need to get ahead” as a pillar of his vision for the country. The husband of an educator, Biden makes the campaign promise that as president he would provide each middle and high school learner with a path to a career. Specifically, there are two avenues that he focuses on to build CTE opportunities and set learners up for success in higher education and the workforce: 

  • Ensure middle and high schools prepare students for good jobs.
    Biden notes that “students who participate in high-quality career and technical education are more likely to graduate, earn industry credentials, enroll in college, and have higher rates of employment and higher earnings.” He shares that he would support CTE by investing in partnerships between high schools, community colleges and employers. Through these partnerships, learners would have the opportunity to earn an industry credential at the time of high school graduation. Biden also stipulates that these credentials would lead to a good-paying career. In addition, Biden calls out how CTE programs can provide middle and high school learners access to computer science classes that are needed for emerging fields such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
  • Create more opportunities for high school students to take practical classes that lead to credentials.
    Biden states that he would invest in and expand Pell Grant eligibility to include dual- enrollment programs. These programs would allow for learners to take classes at a community college and would result in college credits or a credential ahead of high school graduation.

Biden also prioritizes “investing in all children from birth, so that regardless of their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability, they are prepared to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.” He calls out the reality that about six out of ten jobs in this country require some education beyond high school, and that each learner must have access to an education system that begins at birth and continues past high school. There are a number of strategies that Biden would implement to achieve this goal. For one, Biden would work to improve teacher diversity in ways such as supporting dual enrollment courses that lead into teacher preparation programs, provide paraprofessionals with the opportunity to work toward a teaching certificate and working with historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions to recruit and train teachers. He also would take measures to ensure innovative schools are located in traditionally underserved areas by creating a new competitive program for communities to rethink how high school can prepare learners for the skills needed in today’s workforce.

Biden’s full education priorities cover how to: 

  • “Support our educators by giving them the pay and dignity they deserve.
  • Invest in resources for our schools so students grow into physically and emotionally healthy adults, and educators can focus on teaching. 
  • Ensure that no child’s future is determined by their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability.
  • Provide every middle and high school student a path to a successful career. 
  • Start investing in our children at birth.”

To read more about Biden’s education platform you can check out his campaign website.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate 

100 Years of Advancing CTE: Marie Barry Reflects on CTE’s Past and Future

January 7th, 2020

We are celebrating 100 years of Advance CTE! Throughout the year, we’ll feature interviews with past State CTE Directors, Board of Directors members, partners, CTE leaders and more. This month, learn more about how Marie Barry, former State CTE Director in New Jersey, former Board of Directors President and a consultant with Advance CTE, views CTE’s past and future. 

Why Career Technical Education? 
My background is in vocational rehabilitation counseling and career development. Prior to becoming New Jersey’s State CTE Director, I spent time at the postsecondary level helping students and adults develop their career options and interests. I entered the policy arena after because I was consistently recognizing gaps that students were falling through and wanted to take a proactive stance in addressing those gaps.

At the core, I’ve been committed to uplifting students and guiding them to a career that brings meaning and purpose to what they do.

How has the CTE field evolved since you began working in it, and similarly, how has the public understanding of CTE kept pace with this change?
CTE was certainly more anecdotal back then. Educators and professionals in the field largely relied on examples and success stories to communicate the impact of CTE. But with guidance from Advance CTE, there was a push for state leaders across the country to begin doing more than tell stories and to use data to drive conversations around CTE.

Also in the past, the CTE field was very much situated around the vocational model. This allowed classes like home economics and woodwork to develop into the cornerstone of the field’s identity and the public’s understanding of what CTE offered. Now, of course, CTE provides students opportunities to develop in-demand skills, like advanced manufacturing, and obtain high-paying jobs.

Although I still think we have some ways to go to detach from the field’s early stigma, I believe that the public is really beginning to understand the immense capacity of CTE.

With changes in the field, how has Advance CTE’s role shifted as well?
Advance CTE has absolutely grown in terms of its values and its reputation. Most notably, there has been a shift in the organization’s pasture and approach. A decade ago, Advance CTE was mostly in a defensive position, having to really explain to everyone why the field even existed. Now, the organization’s role has morphed and transcended to driving changes in the field through data and best practices.

Also, because the organization has never settled for the status quo, there has always been a mindset around continuous improvement and incorporating more partners to collaborate across education systems.

What do you envision the future of CTE to look like?
When I think about the future of CTE, I think that we will continue to move to a place where we honor all careers and pathways that provide a high-quality standard of living for students. I think more schools and students will also begin to take advantage of its benefits and there really won’t be a difference between the traditional academic experience and the CTE experience — it’ll just be blended in with the education experience.

CTE won’t just be a terminal pathway, but one that supports the life-long learning process and continuously provides students and adults meaningful opportunities to succeed.

Do you have any advice for future CTE leaders?
My advice in this space is that we need to be innovative, open and aware that change in the context of our work is constant. As the world around us changes, future leaders in CTE are going to be as nimble and flexible to keep pace and be proactive. Deep mindset around continuous improvements.

Also, something that helped my development in the CTE space was a focus around being an effective communicator as well as an effective connector. Given the breadth of CTE’s impact on the student experience, leaders in this space cannot operate in silos and distinct from other interconnected systems across the education continuum. As such, CTE leaders need to make connections and actively be apart of those connections.

Legislative Update: Appropriations Bills Finalized and Passed in House

December 18th, 2019

This week the final bill text and report language was released for all 12 Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bills. Read below to learn more about what this means for education and labor funding, and what comes next.  

Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations Process Moves Forward

This week, there was movement forward for the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) appropriations process. On Monday, appropriators shared final language for all 12 appropriations bills that fund the government, including the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) bill. The 12 bills, totalling $1.4 trillion, were combined together into two spending bill packages, each referred to as a “minibus.” H.R. 1865 includes eight domestic and international appropriations bills: Labor-HHS-Ed, Agriculture, Energy and Water Development, Interior-Environment, Legislative Branch, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, State-Foreign Operations and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development. The other, H.R. 1158, has four national security appropriations bills: Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce-Justice-Science and Financial Services. 

H.R. 1865 allocates $12.4 billion in discretionary appropriations to the U.S. Department of Labor, a $291 million increase over the FY19 level. The bill allocates $72.8 billion in discretionary appropriations to the U.S. Department of Education, a $1.3 billion increase over the FY19 level.

It also adds an increase of $20 million for CTE State Grants, also known as Perkins Basic State grants, for a total of $1.28 billion for FY20. Separately, $10 million for Career Pathways is included, with the intention of providing multiple pathways for learners to postsecondary and career success beginning in high school. 

The Labor-HHS-Ed bill include some notable increases for key education and workforce programs, such as: 

  • $40 million increase for Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Grants under Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
  • $30 million increase for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Grants. 
  • $15 million increase for registered apprenticeship programs.
  • $6,345 for the maximum Pell Grant award, an increase of $150 over current award levels.
  • $50 million increase for Federal Work Study. 
  • $163 million increase for higher education programs, including:
    • $93 million increase for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) including Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities. 
    • $30 million increase for Federal TRIO programs and a $5 million increase for GEAR UP.

A press release from House appropriators can be found here and press release from Senate appropriators can be found here. The full Labor-HHS-Ed appropriations bill can be found here, and the Labor-HHS-Ed report including explanations here

On Tuesday, the House passed the bills, sending them to the Senate for debate and votes. 

Currently, federal funding is operating through a short-term funding bill, or continuing resolution (CR), that is set to expire this Friday, December 20, 2019. This is the second CR of FY20.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate