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

Legislative Update: Cromnibus Edges Through Congress, Administration Announces New Apprenticeship Grants

December 15th, 2014

CapitolBy narrow margins in both the House and the Senate, Congress managed to pass omnibus appropriations legislation over the weekend to fund most of the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. Totaling $1.1 trillion, the legislation will fund the majority of the federal government until October 1, 2015.

Earlier in the week, House Republicans had introduced the 2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (H.R. 83)— hybrid legislation that combined aspects of a continuing appropriations resolution (CR) and more comprehensive appropriations for all federal departments and agencies with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Known as a cromnibus, this legislation was heatedly debated in the House on Thursday night and passed by a margin of 219 – 206. Following the vote the Chamber adjourned for the rest of the 113th Congress and is not expected to return until the start of the new 114th Congress beginning in early January.

With the December 11th deadline for the most recent CR having come and gone, Congress also passed another short-term CR to avert a government shutdown while the bill worked its way over to the Senate for further debate this past Friday and Saturday. Despite strong opposition from conservatives and liberals alike, the cromnibus was approved in the Senate by a 56 – 40 vote late Saturday night.

On the whole, H.R. 83 largely maintains funding levels from the previous fiscal year for most programs and departments, although it cuts approximately $166 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) discretionary budget. Fortunately the Carl D. Perkins Act’s (Perkins) basic state grant program (BSG) was excluded from these reductions. Instead this legislation level-funds the BSG program at $1.118 billion— the same amount the program received in FY 2014.

Although NASDCTEc and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) recently urged lawmakers to fund the program at slightly higher levels, maintaining current investment levels for the BSG program is a minor victory in the context of the changing political and fiscal dynamics on Capitol Hill— particularly at time when other programs in the discretionary side of the federal budget have been forced to shoulder even larger reductions over the past several years.

H.R. 83 also contained a number of controversial policy riders— provisions unrelated to appropriations— that were the focus of much debate on the legislation. Nearly all of the most contentious riders, such as changes to campaign finance and banking laws, were ultimately included in the legislation. Despite these riders, President Obama has publicly committed to signing the legislation into law sometime this week.

Of particular interest to the CTE community was the partial restoration of the federal Pell Grant program’s “ability-to-benefit” (ATB) provision— something that NASDCTEc has been advocating for in the context of the Higher Education Act’s reauthorization. This change affords students who do not have a high school diploma or its equivalent, access to the federal financial aid program if they are also enrolled in a career pathways program as defined in the new law. An additional $6 million in funding was also set-aside for a competitive grant program under ED to improve data system coordination and quality at the local, state and national levels and is expected to roll-out in the coming year.

Despite the late night passage of the bill in the Senate, the Chamber remains open today and possibly further into the week as lawmakers there work on last-minute legislation and confirmations for many Obama Administration nominees for various government posts.

DOL Unveils Apprenticeship Grants

Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a new $100 million competitive grant program to support the expansion of apprenticeship programs in high-growth and high-skill occupational areas. The American Apprenticeship Grant (AAG) program, is the successor to last year’s Youth CareerConnect grants and are funded through H-1B visa fees. Administration and Department officials hope the program will spur an expansion of apprenticeship programs into sectors of the economy which has not traditionally used them, such as information technology, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing.

Approximately 25 grants will be awarded to public-private partnerships consisting of at least one public and private entity. Eligible entities include employers, industry associations, joint labor-management organizations, labor organizations, training providers, community colleges, local and state governments, the workforce system, non-profits and faith-based organizations. Grant amounts will range from $2.5 million to $5 million each and must make efforts to align and coordinate with other postsecondary education programs and career pathways available in a state or local area.

Applications are due April 30, 2015 and more information on how to apply, including program factsheets and checklists, can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

This Week in CTE

December 12th, 2014

TWEET OF THE WEEKblog-thumbnail-thiswek
@codeorg: Today Obama became the 1st US President to write a computer program #HourOfCode @WhiteHouse http://www.wired.com/2014/12/obama-becomes-first-president-write-computer-program/ …
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
The Year of Career Pathways: Congress Restores the Ability to Benefit
Mary Alice McCarthy, Senior Policy Analyst in the Education Policy Program at New America, discusses the gains congress made in Career Technical Education (CTE) this year, including the reauthorization of Workforce Investment Act of 1998, now the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, as well as moving forward in supporting adult students who may have not completed high school through the Pell grant. “In a time when Democrats and Republicans can agree on precious little, they are finding common ground on the need to help Americans build postsecondary skills and credentials,” said McCarthy.
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INTERNATIONAL ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Why UK Women Miss Out on Science and Technology Careers
Women in the UK are highly underrepresented in STEM careers, especially compared to several countries in Latin America and South Asia who have much higher proportions of women working in STEM professions. Women make up only 13 percent of STEM professionals, even falling behind some developing countries.
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REPORT OF THE WEEK
The Certification Revolution
As part of last week’s Education for Upward Mobility event, Tamar Jacoby prepared a paper and presented on how CTE impacts anti-poverty and education-reform agendas.
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VIDEO OF THE WEEK
ACTE announced the 2015 PSA winners.
You can find the first, second and third place PSA’s on ACTE’s YouTube page.
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WEBINAR OF THE WEEK
WIOA Consultation: Integrated Management Information System
December 16, 2014, 2 – 3 PM ET
A listening session opportunity for stakeholders to provide input and feedback on the provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) regarding guidelines for the states to develop and establish a fiscal and management accountability information system.
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Upcoming Webinar: Strategies for Financing CTE

December 11th, 2014

financewebinarslider

January 15, 2015 from 2 – 3 PM ET, authors of the new report, “State Strategies for Financing CTE,” will unpack the study’s important findings. Co-hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures, this webinar will explore the ways in which states are financing CTE at the secondary and post-secondary levels using state and federal funds, including a closer look at performance-based funding approaches. For an overview of the report, check out our blog post.

Speakers include:

  • Steve Klein — Director, Center for Career & Adult Education and Workforce Development, RTI International/Principal Investigator for the National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education
  • Laura Rasmussen Foster — Program Director, RTI International/National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education

Register Today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

December 5th, 2014

TWEET OF THE WEEK blog-thumbnail-thiswek
Vice President Biden @VP “My wife has an expression, she says community colleges are the best kept secret in America.” — VP Biden at #CollegeOpportunity summit

RESEARCH REPORT OF THE WEEK
The State of Employer Engagement in CTE
We released a new report exploring how employers are partnering with the Career Technical Education (CTE) enterprise to help prepare students for success in careers. The report drew from a survey of 47 State CTE Directors as well as a dozen interviews to understand how and in what ways employers were engaging with CTE across the country and to illuminate the state’s role in fostering employer engagement.
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RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Complete College America Launches Powerful New Data Portal
Click your state to see a snapshot of its progress and student success data in college completion. Then visit in the coming months to see a comprehensive, up-to-date collection of state and campus-level data.
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Importing the German Approach to Career Building
Amy Liu, Co-Director and Senior Fellow at Metropolitan Policy Program discusses her recent trip to Germany and how their dual learning program combines academic and work-based skills. “Rather than limit teenagers’ life choices, the system provides young people with opportunities to attain a college degree or management training alongside paid, practical work experience,” said Liu.
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Congress Considers a Cromnibus, ED Announces Start of P3 Initiative

December 5th, 2014

CapitolA new term is quickly entering the beltway lexicon this holiday season— a hybrid funding approach known as a “cromnibus” is now under consideration by House Republicans which would fund most, but not all of the federal government for the remainder of the 2015 federal Fiscal Year (FY). As we have shared previously, Congress failed to enact the necessary appropriations legislation earlier this summer to fund governmental operations in FY 2015.

To avert another government shutdown, lawmakers passed a Continuing Appropriations Resolution (CR) in late September which temporarily extended FY 2014 funding levels into FY 2015 which began on October 1 of this year. Unfortunately, this extension resulted in a 0.054 percent across-the-board cut to all discretionary programs, including the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins) basic state grant program, because of lower revenue levels and lost savings elsewhere in the federal budget in FY 2015. Since that time, Congress has struggled to come to a longer-term agreement for how to fund the federal government past the current CR’s expiration date on December 11, 2014.

NASDCTEc and its partners in the Career Technical Education (CTE) community have recently called on Congress to pass comprehensive omnibus appropriations legislation in lieu of another temporary funding measure. An omnibus would replace the current CR with a consolidated package of the necessary 12 individual appropriations bills needed to fund the federal government— a move which would give greater certainty to the CTE community regarding future funding levels for the Perkins Act’s basic state grant program.

Despite a number of obstacles over the past several weeks, House Republicans now seem to be coalescing around the legislative strategy of a cromnibus—legislation which fuses an omnibus and a CR into one bill. In this proposal, eleven out of the 12 annual appropriations bills— including the legislation which funds the U.S. Department of Education and relatedly the Perkins Act— would receive funding for the remainder of FY 2015. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the primary federal agency tasked with implementing President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration, would receive another temporary funding bill into the early part of next year.

In pursuing this strategy, House Republicans hope to leverage future concessions on immigration policy from the Obama Administration using a series of CRs to fund DHS moving forward. While a final version of this legislation has yet to be released, Congressional Democrats and President Obama have not said whether they would accept such a deal, although more recently both have signaled they may be open to such an approach. Democratic receptiveness to the cromnibus approach will likely hinge on the inclusion of other “policy riders” in the legislation— something that both parties in Congress are currently negotiating.

Check back here early next week when NASDCTEc expects further Congressional activity on federal funding.

U.S. Department of Education Announces P3 Initiative

As we shared earlier this year, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED), Labor (DOL), and Health & Human Services (HHS) announced a new initiative to more effectively support disconnected youth by granting additional flexibility to existing federally-funded programs to develop innovative solutions and strategies in local communities across the country.

Dubbed Performance Pilot Partnerships, or P3 for short, the agencies will select ten local applications to launch pilot projects using additional flexibility for existing discretionary grant programs administered by the agencies. Local Perkins grant recipients are among the programs eligible to participate in these pilots. An additional $700,000 in funding will be available for successful applicants who the departments hope will “braid” existing funding streams together in new ways to more effectively support disconnected youth.

Applications are due by March 4, 2105 and the winners of the project will be announced further into next year. More information on P3 can be found here and application details can be accessed here.

Senator Harkin Introduces HEA Proposal

Just before Thanksgiving last week, soon-to-be-retired Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, formally introduced the Higher Education and Affordability Act. The bill seeks to reauthorize the Higher Education Act which is set to expire in the coming year.

Although the bill will not move out of the HELP Committee prior to the new 114th Congress set to begin next year, the legislation does contain a number of promising proposals which NASDCTEc has been supportive of including:

  • Restoring the Pell Grant Program’s “Ability-to-Benefit” and “Year-round Pell” provisions
  • Repealing the ban on the creation of student unit record system and enable accurate measurement of postsecondary student outcomes
  • Strengthening support for early college and dual enrollment programs
  • Encouraging employer-community college partnerships

NASDCTEc applauds the Senator’s commitment to affordable high-quality postsecondary education and looks forward to reauthorization process of HEA in the New Year. More information on the bill can be found here and the text of the legislation is located here. The next incoming Chairman for the HELP Committee, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), is widely expected to prioritize the reauthorization of HEA in the next Congress.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

New Report: The State of Employer Engagement in CTE

December 3rd, 2014

Today, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) released a new report exploring how employers are partnering Untitledwith the CTE enterprise to help prepare students for success in careers.

The report drew from a survey of 47 State CTE Directors as well as a dozen interviews to understand how and in what ways employers were engaging with CTE across the country and to illuminate the state’s role in fostering employer engagement.

Overwhelmingly, the State Directors reported that employer engagement has increased over the past decade and they expect this growth to continue in the next five years. As the second installment in the “State of Career Technical Education” series, the report also examined the wide range of levers that states are using through state and federal policy.

At the state level, the most common tools used to foster employer engagement include interagency collaboration and pilot initiatives as well as standards development and credentials selection. Via the federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, states also have the flexibility to levy additional requirements beyond what is detailed in the law for locals seeking Perkins funds. More than 40 states said they require local advisory committees, and another 10 states said they also require locals to incorporate work-based learning, employer-related professional development and/or monetary or in-kind contributions.

In addition to the report, NASDCTEc has created an extensive list of state examples that can be used as a resource. A recording and slides from today’s webinar will be posted in the coming days.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

Experts discuss CCSSO Opportunities and Options Report on the Importance of Career Readiness

December 1st, 2014
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) brought together leaders in K-12, higher education and the business community today to discuss recommendations from CCSSO’s newly released report encouraging states to make career readiness a priority.

The report, Opportunities and Options: Making Career Preparation work for Students, resulted from a year-long taskforce including K-12, higher education and affiliate groups such as NASDCTEc. Opportunities and Options, supported by 43 states and territories to date, presents a clear set of actions states can take to close the skills gap and ensure more students graduate from high school prepared for high-skill, high-demand careers.

These recommendations include:

  • Developing sustainable employee and business partnerships,
  • Creating high-quality career pathways, and
  • Prioritizing accountability systems
Maura Banta, IBM’s Director of Global Citizen Initiatives in Education and task force representative reiterated the necessity of partnering business and education to create career-ready workers if the U.S. is to remain a global competitor. To accomplish this, businesses can take the lead in showcasing their passion for collaborating with education, developing staff-buy in and focusing on both short term and long term outcomes.

Terry Holliday, Kentucky Education Commissioner and Career Readiness Task Force Chairman urged states to develop high-quality pathways that help all students reach successful careers in their communities. To that end, Holliday urged local and national groups representing education, business and stakeholders, to streamline credentials and certifications to help students determine what credentials are necessary in today’s workforce.

Scott Ralls, North Carolina Community College Systems President discussed the interest gap that exists in CTE, and called on states to work with students earlier to showcase the opportunities that exist within CTE, and how it can prepare students for living wage careers.

Lastly, June Atkinson, North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction and incoming President of CCSSO, outlined a series of the ways in which CTE can move forward. She highlighted Opportunities and Options’ capability to serve as a resource for recommendations for Carl D. Perkins Act reauthorization; the opportunity for states to network to share information, challenges and lessons learned; and the necessity to engage State Governors to move the CTE agenda forward.

To learn more about the report, find NASDCTEc’s press release here, and the full report here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

This Week in CTE

November 21st, 2014

TWEET OF THE WEEK blog-thumbnail-thiswek
@IBM How #STEM opens new worlds for women according to @bjbaenaz @amyverno http://bitly.com/ibmpodcasts #womenatibm #womenintech
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK 
STEM vs. STEAM: Do the Arts Belong?
Join in on this discussion over whether the arts belong in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum. “…our children need a well-rounded, quality education that enables them to make informed decisions that will impact the world and the way they live. We need students who are motivated and competent in bringing forth solutions to tomorrow’s problems.”
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WEBINAR OF THE WEEK 
WIOA Consultation Webinar: Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Provisions
The Civil Rights Center (CRC) and the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the U.S. Department of Labor (Department or DOL) invites equal opportunity officers, state and local workforce leaders and practitioners, workforce system partners, customers, and other stakeholders to provide input on the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
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RESEARCH REPORT OF THE WEEK
The National STEM Report
This report reviews the 2014 graduating class in the context of STEM to determine what students are interested in and student readiness in math and science for those interested in STEM careers. You can also see the condition of STEM in your state.
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RESOURCE OF THE WEEK 
New Professional Learning Module Supplements
Designed to complement our full-length module, Introduction to Student Learning Objectives, these supplements provide student learning objectives (SLOs) materials and resources for teachers of career and technical education (CTE) courses and SLO scoring strategies.
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Congress Continues to Struggle on Appropriations Ahead of Presidential Announcement, VP Biden Talks CTE

November 20th, 2014

CapitolFollowing the midterm elections earlier this month, Congress reconvened last week to begin their final “lame duck” session of the 113th Congress. As the Republican Party prepares to take control of the Senate and with it the entire Congress, lawmakers must still grapple with a number of pressing issues before setting to work in the 114th Congress beginning in the New Year. Topping the list of Congressional to-do’s over the next several weeks is the need to pass legislation to fund the government to avert another shutdown of federal operations— something that only too recently happened late last year.

As we have previously shared, Congress failed to pass the necessary appropriations legislation to fund the federal government for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. Instead, lawmakers passed a temporary stopgap funding measure known as a Continuing Appropriations Resolution (CR) which extended FY 2014 spending levels into the current 2015 federal fiscal year that began on October 1, 2014. However due to differences in revenue levels and lost savings elsewhere in the federal budget, this extension resulted in an across-the-board cut of 0.054 percent to all programs, including the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins).

Until recently, it was widely anticipated that a comprehensive omnibus appropriations bill— legislation that combines all of the necessary 12 appropriations bills into one package— would be passed by Congress sometime before the expiration date for the CR on December 11 of this year. Doing so would replace the current CR with a long-term agreement on federal spending until the next fiscal year and could possibly restore some of the funding reductions that were a result of the CR’s passage this past September. Senator Mikulski (D-MD) and Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY), the current Appropriations Committee Chairpersons in both the Senate and the House, have been working to finalize such a bill for the past several weeks and appear to be close to a final agreement.

However, it remains uncertain at this time if lawmakers will be able come to such an agreement before the December 11th deadline. Congressional Republicans and the Obama Administration are currently at odds over a widely expected Executive Action from the President on immigration— an announcement that will likely occur this evening. Many Republican lawmakers are opposed to such a move and have debated a number of responses including passing another short-term CR or possibly passing an Omnibus, but eliminating funding for federal departments or agencies which carry out aspects of the President’s expected action on immigration. Publicly, the Republican Party remains divided on how they will respond— whether through the appropriations process or otherwise.

Nonetheless, as Chairman Rogers recently pointed out, “We need to do an omnibus bill funding the entire government for the rest of the year, and get that whole business behind us, so that come January, [we] will have a clean slate rather than looking backwards to old fights that we could look forward to making positive changes.” NASDCTEc applauds this sentiment and remains hopeful that Congress will pass a comprehensive omnibus bill for the remainder of FY 2015. Along with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), NASDCTEc has recently called on Congress to pass this much needed legislation and restore the remaining cuts to the Perkins Act.

As this process unfolds we urge you, the Career Technical Education community, to do the same. Don’t know who your members of Congress are? Find out here.

AFL-CIO & AFT Host Vice President Biden for CTE & Workforce Development Summit

vpbidenLate last week, the AFL-CIO, along with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), hosted a “Career and Technical Education (CTE) Workforce Development Summit” which explored the ways CTE and workforce development programs can create multiple pathways for student success. “CTE has the promise and potential to help equip a new generation of workers with the skills and knowledge needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and to forge a new path to college and life,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

Vice President Joe Biden delivered the keynote address for the event, emphasizing the importance of education and employer partnerships. “These partnerships provide a seamless transition so folks can go from a classroom to a job, and from job to job within the industry they’re in,” he said, adding, “We have to maintain and enhance our workforce so we have the most sophisticated, best-trained workforce in the world.” Later on in the day, Snap-on Inc. Chairman and CEO, Nicholas Pinchuk couched this in even clearer terms declaring, ““We are in a global competition for jobs and the single best weapon is CTE. We need to out-skill the competition.”

During the all-day summit, several panels explored a number of CTE and workforce development issues, including employer engagement, apprenticeship programs, effectively using labor market information and strategies for scaling up other innovative education and workforce program models. Yet, the most common theme throughout the day centered on CTE’s evolution over the past several decades from vocational education and into today’s modern conception of CTE. Nearly every panelist agreed that today’s CTE has made extraordinary progress and is now very much a viable pathway for any number of postsecondary and career ambitions.

U.S. Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, capped off the day with a rousing address on the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) work on apprenticeships. Perez made a number of references to DOL’s upcoming grant program, the America Apprenticeship Initiative.  Grantees for this $100 million program— the successor to last year’s Youth CareerConnect grants— are expected to be announced by the end of the year.

More information on the summit can be found here.

NASDCTEc Finalizes Higher Education Recommendations

With the next Congress widely expected to take up the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the consideration of the nation’s primary legislation governing the nation’s postsecondary education system presents a unique opportunity for the CTE community to have their voices heard as this process unfolds. To that end, NASDCTEc has recently finalized a set of recommendations for the reauthorization of the legislation which can be viewed here.

Odds & Ends

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) recently released a document outlining the “pillars” of his vision for a new Republican Congressional majority. Although education is part of this platform, the Perkins Act and CTE more generally were notably absent.

Yesterday the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education hosted a town hall listening session on the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to aid in implementation of the new law. More recently, the Department of Education released a short video outlining the various intersection points between WIOA and Perkins IV.

The U.S. Department of Education’s recently finalized regulations defining “gainful employment” have been challenged in court by the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities. Pending action by the court system, these regulations are still set to go into effect next year.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

This Week in CTE

November 14th, 2014

TWEET OF THE WEEK
@AFTunion : Jobs like welding are not jobs “other people’s kids” have. They’re jobs with pride & dignity that’s the American dream -Pinchuk #ctesummit
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
DECA is challenging students from elementary school to college to come up with a unique use for a household item. The challenge, which launched November 12th, will end November 20th. All submissions should be entered through YouTube.
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RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
O*NET Interest Profiler, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, helps individuals identify their CTE interests and provides information on how those interests can be translated into jobs.
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RESEARCH REPORT OF THE WEEK
A variety of institutions, organizations and Foundations convened a committee of experts to learn more about the health, safety and well-being of adults ages 18-26. The resulting report, Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults, provides guidance for policy makers, program leaders, non profits, businesses and communities on developing programs and policies to improve young adult well-being.
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WEBINAR OF THE WEEK
Did you miss the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity webinar, Engage Students to Pursue STEM and Trades Careers: Next Steps after Vermont’s Women Can Do Conference, a Student Event? Not to worry, you can learn more about how to encourage women and girls to pursue STEM education and careers from both national and state perspectives through the archived webinar.
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

 

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