National Association of State Directors of Career
Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

Legislative Update: Drop in Per Pupil Spending for Public Elementary and Secondary Systems

May 24th, 2013

Duncan Testifies on FY14 Budget at House Education and the Workforce Committee Hearing

This week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before the House Education and the Workforce Committee on the FY14 budget. Members of Congress focused their questions mostly on student loans but also discussed topics such as the No Child Left Behind waivers, early childhood education, and the Common Core State Standards.

Though Career Technical Education (CTE) was not a primary point of discussion, Representative Joe Heck (R-NV) pressed Secretary Duncan on the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed Blueprint. He expressed concerns about the hold harmless provision and asked Duncan if CTE funds would be reallocated if the proposed Blueprint is passed. Secretary Duncan did not provide a detailed response but welcomed conversation on the issue. Staff is connecting with Representative Heck’s office and encourages State Directors to make outreach to their Representatives on CTE issues.

FY14 Appropriations: House 302(b) Allocations Update

As reported last week, the House Appropriations Committee released their draft FY14 302(b) allocations which suggest devastating cuts for programs with funding allocated under the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education) including CTE.

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee held a markup and approved the allocations with acknowledgement that changes are needed. Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) stated that, “Sequestration is taking a huge toll on discretionary spending, leaving us with this very low topline number. Yet our hands are tied, and we must try and make do with the level we have right now. It is my sincere hope that there will soon be a budget compromise that will undo the damaging sequestration law and give us a single, common top-line allocation with the Senate.”

Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) offered amendments to the FY14 budget that were each rejected on a party line vote.

Sequestration Update

Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, introduced an updated sequestration replacement bill on behalf of House Democrats – the same plan offered by Representative DeLauro at the House Appropriations Committee markup. The bill would replace all sequestration cuts through FY14 with a balanced plan containing $181 billion in deficit reduction through half revenue and half spending cuts.

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mark Udall (D-CO) continue to promote S.465, a bill that would allow agency heads to propose how sequester cuts would be divided for programs in their agency and submit to the Senate Appropriations Committee for approval. Without approval from the Committee, the current sequestration cuts would remain in effect for the agency. This approach would not eliminate the cuts but reshuffle them and could result in education programs competing with one another for funding. Senate Appropriations Chairman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has disagreed with this approach and is instead calling for the elimination or replacement of sequester cuts.

Drop in Per Pupil Spending for Public Elementary and Secondary SystemsU.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau this week released an analysis on public education finances. As noted in the report and indicated in the chart, FY11 saw the first drop in per pupil expenditures for public elementary and secondary school students – down 1.1 percent from $595.1 billion between 2010 and 2011 -  since 1997.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

Legislative Update: Global Economy Act; Workforce Data Quality Campaign; CAREER Act

May 6th, 2013

STEM Education for the Global Economy Act

Last week, Senator Merkley (D-OR) announced details for his STEM Education for the Global Economy Act. The bill would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and would help improve instruction in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects by:

  • Improving student engagement in and increasing student access to courses in STEM subjects.
  • Recruiting, training and supporting highly effective teachers in STEM subjects and providing robust tools and supports for students and teachers.
  • Closing student achievement gaps, and preparing more students to be on track for college and career readiness.

Many of the provisions in the bill link to our vision for CTE, especially in regard to our aim to ensure that the United States leads in global competitiveness. The bill would direct more money towards STEM, strives to prepare more students to be career ready, and increases professional development opportunities for teachers.

Inaugural Workforce Data Quality Campaign Meeting

Last week, NASDCTEc took part in the inaugural meeting of the Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC).  NASDCTEc is an inaugural partner in the WDQC, in addition to the Association for Career and Technical Education, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Data Quality Campaign, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, the National Skills Coalition, and the New America Foundation. The WDQC promotes inclusive, aligned and market-relevant education and workforce data systems supported by state and federal policies. Some of the issues being examined by the WDQC include:

  • Promoting data systems that capture individual achievement in postsecondary degrees and industry-recognized credentials.
  • Expanding the use of information on individual participant outcomes and ensuring it is linked with the changing structure of the labor market.
  • Making data expectations clear and consistent across the pending reauthorizations of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins), the Workforce Investment Act, the Higher Education Act, and ESEA.

This exciting initiative will shape the future of CTE data and accountability, and regular updates on progress will be shared with members. The aims of the WDQC initiative link very closely with our vision, through our support of federal policies that make the collection of nationally comparable, valid and reliable data possible and efficient; and our support of aligning data requirements and accountability measures among federal education and workforce preparation programs.


Senators Bennet (D-CO) and Portman (R-OH) last week reintroduced the Career Through Responsive, Efficient, and Effective Retraining (CAREER) Act S.804. According to the bill summary, S. 804 aims to make federal job training programs more responsive to the needs of employers, more efficient with taxpayer dollars, and more effective in connecting the unemployed with highly paid jobs by:

1.      Reorganizing the Federal Government’s training programs to make them more efficient, by working with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to produce a report detailing how to decrease the number of federal job training programs without decreasing services or accessibility, using a 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report as a template.The GAO report lists Perkins as one of the funds that could be consolidated.

2.      Giving community colleges, CTE institutions, and other key educators priority access for funding that equips workers with the credentials that are in demand by industry.

3.      Introducing accountability to job training through a pay-for-performance pilot program.

4.      Providing states and local stakeholders with access to the data they need to track the impact of their programs.

The bill would amend the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). A reauthorized version of WIA was recently passed in the House, and the Senate is currently working on their proposal to reauthorize the Act. As such, it is not clear how the CAREER Act will fit into this reauthorization process. Watch for more updates on the NASDCTEc blog as the CAREER Act progresses to Committee and more details are available.

David Beckett, Advocacy Manager

Legislative Update: Democratic Summit; FAA Funding Flexibility; Conference Committee Blocked

April 29th, 2013

Senate Democratic Rural Summit

NASDCTEc was invited to attend an April 25, 2013 convening of the U.S. Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, led by Senator Mark Begich (D-AK), focused on issues affecting rural communities. Though the event primarily focused on agriculture and nutrition issues, rural schools and districts were also part of the discussion. Topics relevant to Career Technical Education (CTE) included increased flexibility in rural school districts and issues with rural areas qualifying for competitive grant funding. These issues are reflected in our Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) recommendations for reauthorization.

Given Senator Begich’s support of rural education, which we covered in a previous blog post we plan to meet with his staff to share our Perkins recommendations and to discuss how CTE can fit into the priorities of the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee.

Congressional Action to End FY13 Sequester for FAA Thwarted in Favor of Funding Flexibility

At the end of last week, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives both passed legislation, S. 788 and H.R. 1765 respectively, that provides the Secretary of Transportation with the flexibility to redirect funds within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) so that air traffic controllers furloughed due to sequestration could return to work. The measure is on its way to the President, who is expected to sign it.

Originally this measure was expected to be a repeal of the FAA sequester, which provided a hopeful moment that Congress might begin to eliminate the impact of sequester on targeted programs. However, the compromise simply provides the FAA the authority move funds under its jurisdiction from one account to another.

Providing Cabinet Secretaries the flexibility to move funds within their agency to achieve sequestration targets is how sequestration will be implemented in future years. This is in contrast to the first year of sequestration, FY13, which required across-the-board cuts to all programs within an agency. It is important for our members to contact their Congressional offices to let them know that the entire sequester should be replaced or repealed. CTE is just as important as delays at the airport.

FY14 Budget Conference Committee Blocked

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called last week for the creation of a budget conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate budgets. As reported in previous blog posts, the House budget would lead to an 11.7 percent reduction in nondefense discretionary spending for FY14, which would result in significant reductions to Perkins funding. The Senate budget would repeal the sequester and restore funding to Perkins and other nondefense programs.

Last Tuesday, Senate Republicans rejected Senator Reid’s call to appoint conference committee members. NASDCTEc will continue to share any updates on the FY14 budget negotiations.

David Beckett, Advocacy Manager

NASDCTEc Recognizes All Stars

April 24th, 2013

Last week, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) held a luncheon at its annual Spring meeting to honor the organization’s All-Star sponsors.

NASDCTEc is fortunate to have a group of dedicated sponsor partners who provide critical and ongoing support to the organization and its work. The NASDCTEc All Stars include:

  • Cisco
  • CORD
  • Home Builders Institute
  • Career Communications
  • Oracle
  • Kuder
  • Realityworks
  • Today’s Class
  • Adobe

Representatives from seven All Stars attended the luncheon and received a certificate of appreciation, presented by NASDCTEc’s current Board President, Marie Barry, and the past Board President, Patrick Ainsworth.


John Foster & Amie Bloomfield of NOCTI

Debbie Mills & Hope Cotner of CORD

Barb Orwig & Jim Dick of Career Communications


Scott Vandever of Kuder

Tim Withee & Ken Potthoff of CTECS

Timmothy Boettcher of Realityworks

Peggy Albano of Today’s Class

All photos were taken by Bob Witchger, Director of Career and Technical Education for North Carolina Community Colleges

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director


Spring Meeting Recap: What is Career Readiness?

April 19th, 2013

Earlier this week, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) held its annual Spring Meeting, where the notion of ‘career readiness’ was front and center. One session squarely focused on the work of the Career Readiness Partnership Council (CRPC) in convening a broad group of partners to develop a common definition of Career Readiness (which can be found at and potential next steps for the partnership and the definition itself.

The urgency behind the CRPC and the development of a common understanding of what career readiness was driven by a number of factors, and Patrick Ainsworth, who coordinated much of the work of the CRPC pointed out a few: the ongoing development of the Common Core Technical Core, the widespread adoption of the college- and career-ready Common Core State Standards (which cover only the academic foundation of career readiness), and the lack of understanding of what career readiness means and looks like across the nation. The CRPC, therefore, aimed to create a “north star” for each of the participating organizations around career readiness to help guide and drive policy and practice.

The other two panelists, representing partnership organizations, each discussed what compelled them to join the CRPC and what the definition will mean for them moving ahead. Martin Simon of the National Governors’ Association described how governors are concerned not only about the skills gap but also the coordination gap between educators and workforce investment boards. He discussed the need for a more comprehensive system to better link education, training and workforce needs that will build career pathways, not just training for jobs. About half of all governors discussed career pathways or Career and Technical Education (CTE) in their 2013 state of the state addresses, demonstrating they not only care about these issues but consider them to be priorities.

Andrew Moore from the National League of Cities described the unique role mayors can play in connecting and convening the education and business communities. Mayors are deeply concerned about the skills gap and the extremely high unemployment rates among teenagers.

After the panelists’ remarks, the participants were asked how they might use the career readiness definition moving forward. Some responses included:

  • Identify ways to apply the definition to key audiences, included, but not limited to: policymakers, business and industry, high school educators, higher education, parents, students, and community-based organizations and service providers.
  • Formalize the definition and identify how it can be embedded in state policy.
  • Engage governors to embrace the definition as a framework for coordinating CTE, workforce development and economic development initiatives.
  • Embed the definition in Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act reauthorization.
  • Provide the definition as a model for districts to use in whole or as a starting point when developing their own definitions of career readiness.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

Legislative Update: Obama FY14 Budget Proposal: More Details Regarding CTE – New Updates

April 12th, 2013

Obama FY14 Budget Proposal: More Details Regarding CTE – New Updates

As we shared earlier this week, President Obama released his budget for FY14. As we have had more time to analyze the budget documents, we wanted to share with you a few more details:

  • $300 million for high school redesign: The budget documents share that the high school redesign competitive grant program was modeled after the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in New York. P-TECH works in partnership with New York Public Schools, the City University of New York and IBM to ensure their students graduate with both a high school diploma and an associates degree in computing or engineering. This model is also being replicated at five high schools in Chicago.
  • President’s proposal highlights two CTE schools: In addition to P-TECH, the President’s high school redesign proposal highlights Loving High School, located in rural New Mexico. Loving High School, an early adopter of the Arts, Audio Video Communications Career Cluster® was featured in NASDCTEc’s Redesigning the High School Experience for College and Career Readiness series.  This series, funded by Microsoft’s Partners in Learning, documents Loving High School’s adoption, struggles and successful implementation of the Career Clusters®. Leaders from Loving have presented at the National Career Clusters® Institute and are a great example of innovation, community engagement and high quality CTE.
  • Clarification on the $42 million for dual enrollment: In a previous blog post, we reported that $42m of funding was being provided to establish or expand dual enrollment programs aligned to career pathways and local workforce needs. As more details have become available, we learned that the proposed $10m increase in Perkins National Programs would be used to, in part, offset this new investment in dual enrollment.

NASDCTEc’s Spring Meeting features an array of policy panels, sharing information about the budget, sequestration, appropriations, pending reauthorizations (Perkins, WIA and ESEA), as well as other Congressional proposals related to CTE. Look for blogs at the end of next week sharing this just-in-time news!

David Beckett, Advocacy Manager

Business-Higher Education Forum Summit

April 8th, 2013

In March, the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) and representatives from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation hosted a summit in Washington, D.C., to discuss how to incorporate 21st Century competencies into K-16 education, and how business can influence internal and external stakeholders to align education and the workforce.  The event was attended by leaders from government agencies, industry, and associations like NASDCTEc.

BHEF is the nation’s oldest organization of senior business and higher education executives dedicated to advancing innovative solutions to U.S. education and workforce challenges. Composed of Fortune 500 CEOs, prominent college and university presidents, and other leaders, BHEF addresses issues fundamental to our global competitiveness.

The summit included the launch of a report which talked of the importance of alignment between student outcomes and workforce demand, closer collaboration between the corporations recruiting employees and the institutions educating them, and deeper learning, which is defined as a mix of content knowledge and 21st Century competencies such as team work, communication skills and the ability to think critically.

As stated in a press release for the summit, BHEF’s research suggests that:

  • Rapid technological change, the increasing complexity of the challenges companies face, and the pace solutions must be brought to market have forced recent college graduates to enter the workforce with a wide combination of high-order competencies that go beyond content knowledge.
  • Leaner companies are doing more with fewer employees, moving staff across divisions to give them a cross-functional work experience that deepens the company’s bench strength and fills gaps in the workforce. This means employees, to be viewed as an asset to the organization, must emerge as “T-shaped professionals,” flexible and able to adapt their deep content knowledge across work environments.
  • Companies are developing their own assessments to screen the competencies of applicants and current employees and investing less in internal training programs to increase workplace competencies. Developing those workplace competencies at the K-16 levels will realize considerable cost savings and, concomitantly, strengthen students’ competitiveness in the job market. However, developing the necessary 21st century workforce competencies in graduates will require closer collaboration between the corporations recruiting employees and the institutions educating them.
  • Business-led partnerships that engage industry and educational institutions in strategic rather than transactional relationships can help address the ineffective signaling between business and higher education on the need for 21st century workforce skills.

“Our workforce is at a critical juncture,” stated Brian Fitzgerald, CEO of BHEF. “Our members’ collaboration has revealed not only key insights, but also a unique opportunity for business and higher education to communicate in a new way and create fresh pathways for graduates to the innovation workforce.”

BHEF was a member of the Career Readiness Partner Council. Career Technical Education has an important part to play in all of the issues featured in the report, through implementing our vision, and our participation in events like these ensure a strong voice for state directors in the education and business world, by ensuring that the work we do is well known and appreciated.

David Beckett, Advocacy Manager

Legislative Update: White House Meeting; Obama Calls For Delay In Sequestration; Reminder – State of the Union Address on Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February 8th, 2013
White House Meeting

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of representing NASDCTEc at a meeting with Jeff Zients (Director of the Office of Management and Budget), Gene Sperling (Director of the National Economic Council), and Alan Krueger (Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers). The meeting was set up to allow organizations, such as NASDCTEc, the chance to explain to the President’s staff how sequestration would impact our programs. Those in attendance agreed that sequestration would have a negative impact on domestic programs, including the Career Technical Education (CTE) community.  NASDCTEc is collaborating with the Committee for Education Funding and the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce to fight any additional cuts to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

Obama Calls For Delay In Sequestration

On Tuesday, President Obama called for a delay in the sequestration process, currently scheduled for March 1, 2013. Should sequestration occur, all discretionary federal programs, including Perkins would be reduced by an estimated 5.9%. This cut would be harmful, resulting in the loss of CTE programs and negatively impacted the availability of programs to students. A delay in the sequestration process would mean a holding pattern in federal funding, which might be cautiously welcomed.  Congress would have to approve the President’s suggestion, so in the coming weeks, more details should be forthcoming.

Reminder – State of the Union Address on Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A short reminder that President Obama will be giving his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on the evening of Tuesday, February 12, 2013. This address is important for the CTE community because the President will use it to outline his legislative agenda and national priorities for the coming year. Giving the response to the State of the Union will be Senator Marco Rubio, who spoke on the benefits of CTE at a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce event and at the Opportunity Nation event last year.

David Beckett, Advocacy Manager

CTE in the News: Graduation Rates Increase Among North Carolina CTE Concentrators

January 4th, 2013

North Carolina’s statewide graduation rate for seniors concentrating in CTE courses increased to 94 percent, jumping from 80.4 percent in the 2010-2011school year. Notably, three of the state’s county school systems surpassed that state graduation rate, according to a Wilkes Journal-Patriot article.

Seniors concentrating in CTE graduated at a rate of 99.3 percent in Ashe County, 98.8 in Alleghany County, 98.1 percent in Wilkes County. A CTE concentrator is a student that takes at least four technical credits from among courses listed in one of 16 Career Clusters; at least one of the courses must be a second-level sequenced class, according to the Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

Just one of North Carolina’s school systems did not meet the 85 percent state target of concentrators in the cohort graduating on schedule in 2011-12.

The growing success in graduation rates among CTE concentrators in North Carolina suggests that CTE programs may play a role in engaging students with the real-world experiences they offer to students.

Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager

CTE in the news: Skills gap hinders unemployed, business and industry

November 30th, 2012

More than 20 million Americans have been unemployed or underemployed since January 2009, so why is it that there are more than 3 million job openings in the United States? Experts point to the skills gap as part of what is hindering the recovery of our nation’s economy, according to experts in a recent  60 Minutes news special.

The skills gap is a frustrating problem among out-of-work individuals, business and industries that need positions filled, and the rest of the nation that wants to see the health of the economy revitalized. The skills gap issue raises the question as to whether the nation is investing in and supporting programs such as Career Technical Education that will help educate and train workers.

Ryan Costella, head of Strategic Initiatives at Click Bond, a Nevada-based manufacturing company, is aiming to address the skills-gap issue among the company’s entry-level positions. Because applicants are lacking basic skills, Click Bond is collaborating with nearby community college to offer free training programs for select unemployed individuals.

“I think far too long we’ve had our heads in the sand, you know. We make our parts. We just hoped that the education system would produce what we need,” Costella said. “And I think the recession, I think a lot of things have taught us, ‘no, you have to engage.’”

Click Bond’s workers are expected to operate, program and fix computer-controlled machines that make precision parts, “accurate to a thousandth of an inch; the thickness of a piece of paper.”

“I can’t tell you how many people even coming out of higher ed with degrees who can’t put a sentence together without a major grammatical error. It’s a problem,” Costella said. “…We’re in the business of making fasteners that hold systems together that protect people in the air when they’re flying. We’re in the business of perfection.”

The experiences are not limited to the company, he noted. And the problem will only grow worse as a wave of baby boomers who work in these skill-focused jobs retire. Education and training are much needed to prepare the next generation of workers.

At Alcoa, a large aluminum company, executives are working on the challenge of retraining individuals so they keep up with advances in technology. Avoiding the widening of the skills gap is critical to the nation’s economic recovery. According to the report, Alcoa is one of the largest and oldest companies in the nation and has been hiring skilled workers since 1888.

“The environment is changing all the time. And if you don’t stay on top of things, you know, somebody will eat your lunch,” noted Klaus Kleinfield, Alcoa CEO.

“[Employees] also need to understand that their incomes over time are a direct function of their education and not just education, their skills, [and] what they can bring to the table.”

Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager