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This Week in CTE

January 30th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK blog-thumbnail-thiswek
@CCRSCenter Join us Feb. 12 for our #CTEMonth #CCRSchat with @CTEWorks, we’ll be asking them questions about #CTE and #careerreadiness.
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
How Tech Ed Has Transformed with the Times
In Vermont, 16 regional career and technical education centers provide stellar CTE to students, with a focus on employer partnerships in terms of internships and apprenticeships, as well as aligning courses with industry-recognized credentials. “I have half academic classes, so half high school classes, then I have three hours a day here. It’s really nice to have that split up, so you have the best of both worlds. I have my math classes at school and I have all the creative learning here with the designing,” said Jake Maurer, Essex High School junior.
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VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Connecting the Classroom to Promising Health Careers
This PBS special dives into Oakland’s Life Academy highly successful academic and work-based learning approach, making it clear to students what opportunities awaits them in the healthcare field.
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RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC)
The RACC is a network of colleges and apprenticeship programs, created by the US Department of Labor, dedicated to ensuring students are provided with opportunities to move from college to career.
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ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK
CTE Month kicks off February! Keep an eye out for Twitter chats, articles, videos, onsite events and more. If you’re doing anything for CTE Month, let us know by emailing [email protected]

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

CTE in Spotlight During Governors’ State of State Speeches

January 29th, 2015

There are a lot of issues competing for attention in a governor’s State of the State address from pensions to health care to infrastructure to education. So it’s notable of the 31 speeches given this month, Career Technical Education (CTE) has found its way into roughly 40 percent of them, particularly because governors use this speech as a way to outline their priorities for the year and highlight successes.

In some instances, CTE was only mentioned in passing such as in Alaska, where the governor called for increasing educational opportunities for CTE. However, states such as in Indiana, California, and Nevada among others, governors proposed major investments in CTE as a means to prepare a skilled workforce to compete for tomorrow’s jobs and position the state for economic prosperity.

Here is a quick recap of the highlights as of January 26. We’ll continue tracking the remaining speeches and budget proposals, and bring you an update in the coming weeks.

California

Although CTE didn’t make it into Gov. Jerry Brown’s speech in California, it received a major boost in the governor’s proposed budget, which was released shortly after. Brown proposed the CTE Incentive Fund, which calls for $750 million over three years in one-time funding. The grant program would require a dollar-for-dollar match by the participating K-12 schools and encourages collaboration with other local agencies to form regional partnerships.

The budget also proposes nearly $30 million to grow and expand apprenticeships.

Indiana

Declaring his budget the “education budget,” Gov. Mike Pence proposed increasing CTE funding by $20 million a year. The money would be directed through the state’s Indiana Works Councils.

“By providing $20 million a year to create more career and vocational opportunities and improving the way we fund those courses, we will dramatically increase the number of students who graduate career-ready, and increase—by fivefold—the number of students who graduate with an industry-recognized credential by 2020,” Pence said.

Kentucky

Gov. Steve Beshear praised the state’s CTE system in his State of the Commonwealth.

“Recognizing that the four-year university path isn’t the best route for everyone, we’ve made our career and technical programs more rigorous and applicable to real-life jobs that demand high-level technical knowledge. These aren’t the so-called ‘shop classes’ of yesterday but modern training with a touch academic foundation,” Beshear said.

Beshear also called on the state to implement the recommendations of the Dual Credit Task Force to improve the quality of these courses and help students cut the time and cost of their postsecondary education.

Nevada

Gov. Brian Sandoval used his speech as a bully pulpit for increased education spending. Citing Nevada’s worst-in-the-nation high school graduation rate as “our most troubling education statistic,” Sandoval called for $1.1 billion in additional funds for education. Specific to CTE, Sandoval proposed new grant programs to ensure students are college- and career-ready, including an expansion of CTE, Jobs for America’s Graduates and STEM education.

West Virginia

Unlike his fellow governors who focused more on funding and programs, Gov. Ray Tomblin highlighted the state’s need for high-quality teachers. Tomblin said he plans to introduce legislation that expands opportunities for career professionals to enter the teaching field. He called on lawmaker to streamline the teacher certification process to “encourage those who have a passion to teacher so they can share their knowledge with our kids.”

“We must give local school systems better flexibility to train and hire subject-matter experts to fill long-term vacancies in critical subject areas.

——

For more CTE and workforce coverage, check out proposals and praise from Delaware, Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Vermont.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

January 23rd, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEKblog-thumbnail-thiswek
US Labor Department @USDOL • Jan 20 #Apprenticeship is an earn-while-you-learn training model that works. Find opportunities http://www.dol.gov/apprenticehsip #SOTU
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Top 5 Issues for 2015 Expanded: Education
Learn about the top five issues states will likely address this year, including school readiness for all, academic success for at-risk populations and innovative state accountability systems.
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RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Consortia Formation and Characteristics under Perkins IV
The National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education released the first two units of a five-unit training that shares data and findings from a recent study of consortia formation under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006.
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VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Federal Flash Weekly Video Series
A new video series from the Alliance for Excellent Education, features Bob Wise and Phillip Lovell providing a five minute roundup on this week’s State of the Union address, including reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
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PARTNER UPDATE OF THE WEEK
2014 State CTE Policy Review Webinar and Paper
In partnership with Association for Career Technical Education (ACTE), we are hosting a webinar discussing the major state policy trends affecting CTE from 2014. This includes new laws, executive actions and regulatory activity. This webinar will coincide with the release of the second annual “2014 State CTE Policy Review,” a joint publication from ACTE and NASDCTEc.
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Legislative Update: Senate CTE Caucus Examines Rural CTE, Senators Re-introduce CTE Legislation as ESEA Continues to Dominate Congressional Education Debate

January 23rd, 2015

CapitolYesterday afternoon, the Senate Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus held its first event of the year which explored a variety of issues facing CTE in rural communities. Titled “Investing in America’s Heartland: The Role of Career Technical Education in Rural Communities,” the event consisted of a panel discussion between four experts in the fields of CTE and rural issues:

  • Dr. Alice Davis, Executive Director, Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center
  • Lucy Johnson, U.S. Department of Education Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach
  • Johan Uvin, U.S. Department of Education Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE)
  • Matt Lohr, Director, Farm Credit Knowledge Center

Caucus co-Chair Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) kicked things off, sharing his personal experiences with CTE and describing his time as Governor of Virginia where the state incorporated CTE into its Governor’s Academies initiative. The Senator also highlighted the recent re-introduction of the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act of 2015— legislation that was co-sponsored by fellow Caucus co-Chair Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). NASDCTEc was supportive of this bill last year and has applauded the renewed effort in this Congress to ensure students have access to high-quality CTE programs of study throughout the country. Read the full bill and press release here.

Following these remarks, the panelists discussed core issues facing rural communities within the context of CTE including challenges in teacher recruitment and retention, technical infrastructure, adequate funding, and rural employer capacity. Nearly a quarter of all U.S. students live in an area defined as rural making these issues all the more pressing. As panelist Lucy Johnson, former Mayor of Kyle, Texas pointed out, “CTE meant progress and prosperity for my constituents.”

Throughout the event, the importance of the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act (Perkins) to rural CTE was highlighted. In particular, panelists emphasized specific provisions in the law that have helped to support CTE in rural communities and underscored the significance of this critically important federal investment.

Kline Talks Perkins Reauthorization, Outlines Priorities

Early yesterday morning, Chairman Kline addressed the American Enterprise Institute outlining his priorities for education reform in the 114th Congress and his plans for the House Education and the Workforce Committee (HEW).

Although the majority of the hour long event focused on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Kline devoted a portion of his formal remarks to call for the reauthorization of the Perkins Act. Calling CTE programs supported by the law “valuable” and “important” the Chairman declared that, “The jobs are there, people need the skills, CTE education will help, but the law needs reform— my colleagues are passionate about improving this law.” He outlined three areas of priority for the Committee in reauthorization:

  • Strengthening the connection between CTE coursework and industry needs and labor market demands
  • Supporting secondary to postsecondary transitions for CTE students
  • Enhancing the Perkins accountability framework to hold programs accountable for taxpayer dollars

Although the Chairman did not elaborate further on these priorities, it is encouraging to see that CTE remains a central issue for the 114th Congress, particularly at a time when lawmakers are predominately engrossed with reauthorizing ESEA. No formal timeline for the reauthorization of the Perkins Act was offered during his remarks, although the Chairman did lay out an ambitious plan for ESEA reauthorization which mirrors that of the Senate’s.

Video of the event can be accessed here.

Senate HELP Committee Holds ESEA Hearing

On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held its first hearing of the 114th Congress. Titled “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability,” the hearing focused on the annual testing provisions contained in current law which mandates 17 tests— one in math and reading in grades 3 through 8, and once for each subject in high school, along with semi-regular  assessments in science in elementary, middle and high school.

Six witnesses provided expert testimony regarding this issue and a majority (four out of the six) overwhelming supported maintaining these provisions. HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) came out in support of the provisions as well saying, “Assessments help parents and communities hold schools accountable. . . If a school is failing students year after year, parents and communities deserve to have that information and be assured the school will get the resources it needs to improve.” Yet, fellow Democrats and even some Republicans on the Committee remained divided or somewhere in the middle on the contentious issue.

For the time being, HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has sided with the latter camp, saying after the hearing that, “I think it’s OK to have an open mind on some questions, and mine is still open.” Nevertheless, the Chairman’s recently released discussion draft seeking to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) would give states two options when it comes to testing: either maintain the current assessment scheme in current law with the ability to slightly modify the types of assessments, or allow states to come up with any testing scheme of their choosing.

A recording of the hearing can be found here along with witness information, testimony, and other useful information. The HELP Committee is planning another ESEA hearing next week, on teachers and school leaders and has an ambitious timeline for reauthorization— a bill out of committee by the end of February and up to two weeks of floor time following that. Both Chairman Alexander and Chairman Kline, his counterpart in the House, have publicly stated they hope to have full ESEA reauthorization bills done by the end of March.

HEW Holds Organizational Meeting

The House Education and the Workforce (HEW) Committee held its organizational meeting on Wednesday where Chairman John Kline (R-MN) announced chairs of the various Subcommittees. Both Representatives Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Todd Rokita (R-IN) will remain chairs of the Higher Education and Workforce Training and the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittees respectively. Both have oversight responsibilities of interest to the CTE community, including the reauthorization of the Perkins Act.

Committee Democrats, now led by Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), have yet to announce their assignments, although they did lay out some of their priorities in Scott’s prepared remarks.

The Committee also adopted its Oversight Plan which, among other things, outlines areas of particular interest for oversight and investigation in the new Congress, including the U.S. Department of Education’s ESEA waiver authority, various federally funded K-12 programs, regulations pertaining to costs and transparency in higher education as well as the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

Odds & Ends

As we shared earlier this week, President Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address to Congress. The White House recently released a supplemental document outlining and expanding on several aspects of the speech. The document can be found here.

The Senate HELP Committee has announced it will mark-up the Educational Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) on January 28. The legislation funds SLDS grants and helps build state and local data capacity among other positive aspects of the law.

House Democrats have released a useful Frequently-Asked-Questions document on sequestration. As the Fiscal Year 2016 budget and appropriations process begins, sequestration will be a central feature of the debate. Find more information here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

This Week in CTE

January 16th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEKblog-thumbnail-thiswek
@PearsonNorthAm “The gender gap in tech is nothing short of a crisis.” Empowering Girls for Computer Science Majors and Careers: http://pear.sn/Hfa3x

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
District study: Students in career and technical education programs do well
The School District of Philadelphia Office of Research and Evaluation found that students who take CTE courses are more likely to graduate than their peers who do not.
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RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Lesson Planning Checklist
Teachers can use this employability skills checklist to determine how they are addressing employability skills in their lessons, as well as identify further opportunities to include them in their teaching.
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WEBINAR OF THE WEEK
Strategies for Financing CTE
Yesterday, in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures, we hosted a webinar on strategies for financing CTE, including state examples. You can find a recording and a copy of the PowerPoint on our website.
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ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK
Dr. Charisse Childers was announced as the new Director of the Arkansas Department of Career Education. Learn  more about Dr. Childer’s background.
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Flurry of ESEA Activity Ahead of Congressional Reauthorization Push

January 14th, 2015

CapitolAlthough it’s only Wednesday, it has been quite a busy week already as lawmakers from both political parties begin to work in earnest on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Due for an update since 2007, the law more commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) oversees most federal K-12 education programs and provides supplemental funding for schools and districts throughout the country.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan kicked things off on Monday— the 50th anniversary of the law no less— with an address outlining the Obama Administration’s priorities for reauthorizing the nation’s primary K-12 education legislation. “I believe we can work together – Democrats and Republicans – to move beyond the tired, prescriptive No Child Left Behind law. I believe we can replace it with a law that recognizes that schools need more support – more money – than they receive today,” Duncan said. Further into his remarks, he revealed that the Obama Administration plans to request an additional $1 billion in Title I funding in its annual budget request expected to be released in early February.

After calling NCLB “out-of-date”, “tired”, and “prescriptive”, the Secretary went on to call for a strong federal role in annual testing and accountability— main elements of the current law and core principles undergirding the Administration’s ESEA state flexibility waivers to date. “Having accurate information about student performance, maintaining high standards, supporting teachers and school leaders, preventing students from dropping out and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline must be our top priorities” he said during his appearance.

Video and text of his remarks can be found here and here.

Congress Sets Its Sights on ESEA

A newly empowered Republican Congress has already begun to draft proposals to renew ESEA. Late last night, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee released a discussion draft for the reauthorization of the law. The proposal would significantly reduce the federal role in K-12 education and increase state and local flexibility for using funds derived from the legislation.

“No Child Left Behind has become unworkable—and fixing this law, which expired over seven years ago, will be the first item on the agenda for the Senate education committee,” Alexander said. “I look forward to input from all sides on this proposal as we move forward with a bipartisan process that will keep the best portions of the law, while restoring responsibility to states and local communities and ensuring that all 50 million students in our nation’s 100,000 public schools can succeed.” The Chairman has asked for input from the public on this discussion draft by Monday, February 2nd which should be sent to: [email protected]

In addition to the draft’s release, the Chairman also announced the first ESEA hearing of the year which is set to take place on Wednesday, January 21st titled “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability.”

The Chairman’s full remarks can be found here and the discussion draft is located here.

Ranking Member of the HELP Committee, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) also laid out her principles for reauthorization in a floor speech this week in response to the draft proposal. Those remarks can be viewed here.

Over in the House, the Chairman of the Education and the Workforce (HEW) Committee, John Kline (R-MN), is also expected to release a draft proposal relatively soon. Next week he will be outlining his priorities for education reform at the American Enterprise Institute. Find more information on that here.

Where To From Here? 

As we look to the rest of 2015, one thing remains clear— both Chambers of Congress, as well as the Administration, appear willing to reauthorize ESEA. The law’s renewal will be a central issue in the coming months and will likely be the primary topic for both Committees for many more to come. As that process unfolds, both parties will continue to stake out areas of priority while seeking common ground elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the key ingredient to the passage of a new ESEA will be President Obama’s signature. As lawmakers in Congress haggle over the finer details of a future ESEA bill, the issues of greatest importance to the Administration— access to quality performance data, rigorous standards, and adequate resources for schools and districts among many others— will continue to be recurring elements in the coming debate.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

Legislative Update: Obama Administration Announces Two New Training and Education Initiatives as the 114th Congress Begins

January 9th, 2015

IMG_3003 (1)Today, President Obama announced two new initiatives aimed at boosting access to high-quality postsecondary education and training. Joined by Vice President Biden in Knoxville, Tennessee this afternoon, the Administration unveiled the first of these proposals which seeks to make the first two years of a student’s community college experience tuition free for those who meet and maintain certain eligibility requirements.

This proposal— known as America’s College Promise— would create individual partnerships between the federal government and states interested in participating. Inspired by Governor Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise Program, federal funding would cover 75 percent of a student’s first two years in a qualifying program and would require each state to cover the remaining quarter— a cost savings the Administration estimates could save the average full-time community college student $3,800 a year. The total costs of the program— as well as how it would be funded— are still yet to be determined.

To qualify, students would be required to attend classes on at least on a half-time basis, maintain a 2.5 GPA while enrolled, and continue to make progress toward the completion of their program. The Administration expects these students to be able to earn at least half the credit needed for a four-year degree, or successfully complete a certificate or two-year degree leading to a career.

Under the proposal, community colleges will be required to offer programs that fully articulate to local public universities and colleges or are training programs with an occupational focus that lead to a postsecondary credential that is in-demand from employers in order to qualify for funding.

The second proposal in the President’s announcement today is even more encouraging for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. Known as the American Technical Training fund, the President has proposed to create a new $200 million discretionary grant program to support programs that have strong employer partnerships, incorporate work-based learning opportunities, provide options for accelerated training and are capable of accommodating the scheduling needs of part-time work.

The new proposal will would cover the start-up costs of creating approximately 100 accelerated training partnerships with the intent to bring these efforts to scale over subsequent years. Grant amounts would vary in size and scope and would be used to either bring stakeholders together to create a new program or to supplement and expand an existing program with a proven record of success.

Best understood through the lens of Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program, the American Technical Training Fund, “creates a unique opportunity to promote, catalyze and scale high-quality CTE programs of study that engage in strong partnerships with employers and prepare learners of all levels for the careers of their choice” as NASDCTEc Executive Director Kimberly Green pointed out in a statement of support ahead of today’s announcement.

It is important to note that formal Congressional action will be required to put these initiatives formally into effect. In the meantime, President Obama will make this a central feature of his upcoming State of the Union Address and will likely call on Congress to enact these proposals. ”Opening the doors of higher education shouldn’t be a Democrat or Republican issue. This is an American issue” he said this afternoon. More information on these announcements can be found here.

Congress Comes Back to the Hill

Meanwhile, the 114th Congress officially commenced Tuesday, marking the first week of business for a newly empowered Republican Party. In total, 13 new Senators and 58 new House members joined the nation’s premier deliberative body that is widely expected to pursue an ambitious legislative agenda over the next two years.

While formal legislative activity this week has centered on issues such as healthcare and energy, key lawmakers in both chambers have made clear that the reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) and the Higher Education Act (HEA) will be a priority in the weeks and months to come. In fact, Chairman Kline of the House Education and the Workforce Committee hopes to have a draft bill completed by the end of March.

Similar news for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) has not been as forthcoming, but NASDCTEc and its partners remain hopeful that Congress will be able to consider the legislation during the same period.

A new Congress also brings changes to the composition of the key committees overseeing the reauthorization of these laws. In the Senate, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will be chaired by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) serving as its ranking member. In the House, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) will remain chairman of the House Education and the Workforce (HEW) Committee as Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) takes over the ranking member position from now-retired Rep. George Miller (D-CA).

Be sure to check back here for more updates as Congress sets to work on new and exciting legislation this year.

Odds and Ends

  • On Monday, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that they will be delaying the release of guidance and regulations for the recently passed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The department intends to release additional information later this spring despite the January 18th, 2015 deadline outlined in WIOA.  More information on the delay can be found here.
  • The U.S. Department of Education recently released updated state and program budget tables for Fiscal Year 2015. State-by-state tables are located here and program tables can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

Governors call on Congress to Act on Perkins, ESEA

January 7th, 2015

As the 114th Congress officially starts this week, the nation’s governors called on lawmakers to reauthorize long overdue federal education laws, IMG_0771including the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Higher Education Act.

The National Governors Association (NGA) held its third annual State of the States address on Tuesday in Washington, DC. NGA Chair and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper used the speech as a platform elevate important state issues regarding education, veterans, workforce development and more.

“Forty-three states are operating under waivers from No Child Left Behind,” said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who serves as NGA’s vice chair. “… government by waiver is a sign that underlying laws do not work and are in need of reform.”

Education was a focus of remarks from both Herbert and Hickenlooper as they both recognized that the key to a better skilled workforce starts with better education.

Read the full remarks from both governors here.

2015 State Legislative Sessions Get Under Way

Just as Congress gets back to work, so are many state legislatures across the country. By the week’s end, nearly 20 state legislatures will have reconvened to tackle pressing issues affecting education, workforce development, and more.

With much turnover at all levels following the November elections and many states still funding K-12 and higher education below pre-recession levels, NASDCTEc will be tracking CTE-related legislation across the country and keep you informed as it develops.

Later this month, NASDCTEc and the Association for Career and Technical Education will publish our second annual “State CTE Policy Review”, covering major state CTE activity from 2014. Be sure to check out our Feb. 5 webinar – register now! In case you missed our 2013 brief, you can get caught up here.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

December 19th, 2014

TWEET OF THE WEEKblog-thumbnail-thiswek
Opportunity Nation @oppnation Almost 98% of CEOs said the #SkillsGap threatens their businesses. Enter, #STEM #CTE #wkdev. #justsaying http://bit.ly/1yjgGAv

VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Success in the New Economy: How Prospective College Students Can Gain a Competitive Advantage
This great new video highlights the skills gap and workforce needs, making the case for CTE.
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ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Governor Enacts Career and Technical Education Legislation
Governor Chris Christie signed into law five bills that will advance career and technical education and address the workforce needs of New Jersey employers.
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ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK
National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation opens scholarship application process for both students and educators for 2015 
The application deadline for scholarships is May 2015. Scholarships for students are primarily focused on high school students pursuing post-secondary studies involving the hospitality/restaurant/food service sector. Scholarships for educators are for those who teach in culinary programs.
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INTERNATIONAL RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
The OECD LEED Forum on Partnerships and Local Development (FPLD) new website is now live
The new website includes a new, comprehensive database of Forum materials, including country fact-sheets on partnership models, examples of local development projects, thematic handbooks, publications and events proceedings.
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PARTNER UPDATE OF THE WEEK
Show us your STEM
Change the Equation launched a new crowdsourcing effort bringing together individuals, STEM programs and business to showcase how STEM impacts students across the country. You can share a story, engage online, make a video or a Vine.
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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 

 

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