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Legislative Update: Congress Finalizes Funding Proposals for Perkins as the Obama Administration Makes CTE Scholars Announcement and Adjusts Higher Ed Agenda

June 29th, 2015

CapitolFor the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (Labor-HHS-ED) communities, last week was busy to say the least. Congressional appropriators in both the House and the Senate marked up and ultimately approved two separate appropriations bills for the Labor-HHS-ED portion of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 federal budget—an accomplishment not seen in several years despite intense partisan disagreement over the funding levels constraining each proposal. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins) both derive funding from these funding bills which would need to be reconciled and ultimately signed into law by the President before becoming law. However, both bills propose to stay within the Budget Control Act’s (BCA) sequester caps— self-imposed overall limits on how much Congress can spend on the programs falling under this and other portions of the budget.

These sequester caps have been at the center of much partisan disagreement since 2013 when they were first triggered. Democrats would like to see these caps raised in order to make much needed investments in education and related programs while Republicans largely want to stay within the caps or offset additional investments with related cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. Without changes to the underlying BCA legislation— something that the 2014 Ryan-Murray budget agreement achieved for FY’s 2014 and 2015— funding levels for the majority of programs will stagnate and be at risk of further cuts for FY 2016 and many years to come.

In light of this, the House Appropriations Committee approved their FY 2016 Labor-HHS-ED bill on a vote of 30-21. As we shared earlier, the bill would reduce ED’s discretionary budget by $2.8 billion dollars—a cut that would bring the Department’s overall discretionary budget back to FY 2004 funding levels. Final approval of this bill also gave further clarity to what lawmakers intend for the Perkins Act. While Perkins basic state grants would remain level-funded at the same amounts the program received in FY 2015, the bill would reduce Perkins’ national activities funding by $3.6 million dollars. The bill also contains a number of policy riders (both education related and otherwise) such as prohibiting ED from enforcing its recently upheld “gainful employment” regulations and its proposed college ratings system, a move that when taken together with the bill’s overall proposed funding levels virtually guarantees that the proposal will not be signed by the President.

In the Senate, the Appropriations committee moved quickly throughout the week to get a Labor-HHS-ED bill through subcommittee and to a final vote by its full membership. Approving the bill on a 16-14 vote along party lines, the Senate Appropriations Committee’s bill would cut ED’s discretionary budget by $1.36 billion. Like the House, the Senate would cut Perkins national activities by $3 million and level-fund Perkins state grants at $1.117 billion—the same amounts the program has received in FY 2014 and 2015. While these figures reflect a nearly 96 percent restoration of the FY 2013 sequester cuts imposed on Perkins, the program on the whole remains well below what it received in FY 2010 and approximately $5.4 million below pre-sequester levels.

Despite the gloomy outlook for most of the education community, the central issue in the ongoing funding debate in Congress centers on the BCA sequester caps. As lawmakers struggle to meet the needs of students and families across the country, more will need to be done to raise or eliminate these caps. Until that happens, federal investments in education, and in particular CTE, will continue to stagnate until Congress decides to act. With Congress poised to pass the necessary 12 spending bills needed to fund the government before the August recess, and with Congressional Democrats and the President making clear that they will not support the funding levels contained in these proposals, it remains unclear how this appropriations fight will play out as the end of FY 2015 on September 30th looms ever closer.

Be sure to check back here for more updates on the Congressional appropriations process and what that means for the wider CTE community.

Obama Administration Changes Direction with College Ratings Framework

Late last week the Obama Administration announced a major revision to their proposed accountability-based college ratings system originally due for release later this summer. When first announced, ED solicited public comments on the proposal and NASDCTEc, along with the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), provided feedback on the feasibility of the initiative. Many stakeholder groups within the higher education community shared substantial concerns regarding the viability of the effort and questioned the appropriate role and responsibilities Ed should have in ensuring access to and affordability of postsecondary education.

In light of these comments Jamienne Studley, ED’s Deputy Under Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education, announced that the Department’s original proposal—which would have “rated” postsecondary institutions into three wide-ranging categories of low, medium, and high performing and tied federal financial aid decisions to that determination— would now be revised to be a public-facing consumer information tool, providing prospective students and their families with a information regarding postsecondary institutions in order for them to make more informed decisions when making choices about their postsecondary education.

This proposal has been a source of much partisan discomfort in Congress, particularly in the House where the most recent Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill included additional provisions that would have prevented the Administration from implementing the system. Read the House Education and Workforce Committee’s response to the announcement here.

ED plans to have the newly reimagined system available for public use by the end of the summer. Learn more about the effort here.

This announcement comes on the heels of another major development for the Administration’s higher education agenda. Last Tuesday, the U.S. District Court of D.C. ruled that ED’s “gainful employment” regulations can be implemented as scheduled on July 1st, 2015 after several lawsuits from for-profit and private institution trade groups challenged the premise of the new rules. The regulations will require career education programs to meet specific debt-to-income ratios for graduates based on their annual and discretionary income following program exit.

This is ED’s second attempt at implementing these regulations and this latest ruling paves the way for the rules ultimate adoption later this week. Read Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s formal response applauding the court’s ruling here.

President Obama Expands Presidential Scholars Program

As we shared last week, President Obama signed Executive Order 11155—a decree that will expand the existing Presidential Scholars program to include up to 20 CTE students each year moving forward. While the details of the CTE component to the program are still being determined, beginning in the 2015-16 school year, the Chief State School Officers will nominate CTE scholars who will then be selected by the Commission on Presidential Scholars. Tomorrow, the White House will play host to another CTE-related event where additional details regarding the announcement are expected. Learn more about this exciting development here.

Odds & Ends

  • Following the July 4th Congressional recess, the Senate has announced that on July 7th the Chamber will take up its consideration of the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177)— legislation to reauthorization the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
  • Last Wednesday, the Senate CTE Caucus hosted a briefing on CTE’s role in middle school. The event explored issues impacting CTE in the middle grades and provided a platform for Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) to speak about his recent reintroduction of the Middle STEP Act—legislation that NASDCTEc has supported and endorsed for the past two years. Learn more about the bill here.
  • The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) is out with a useful factsheet on recently introduced House and Senate legislation for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The document focuses on each of the bills’ provisions regarding the collection of student unit record data— a feature NASDCTEc has advocated in future HEA legislation. Read the factsheet here.
  • ED’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) is out with a new report titled the “Evolution and Potential of Career Pathways”. The report is part of OCATE’s wider ‘CTE within career pathways’ initiative in conjunction with Jobs for the Future (JFF). Read the report here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

This Week in CTE

June 26th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Kaine’s CTE Push Wins a White House Nod
Earlier this week President Barack Obama expanded the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program to include up to 20 CTE students per year, a big win for Senator Tim Kaine who led the charge.
More

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Reflect, Transform & Lead
Five-Year Progress Reports

This week, NASDCTEc released five progress reports looking back at five years of the CTE Vision. Learn what successes and achievements we’ve accomplished, and what work still needs to be done.
More

INTERNATIONAL ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
The Government Confirms that it has Smashed its Target of Supporting 20,000 Higher Apprenticeship Starts
For the past two years, The United Kingdom has not only increased the number of people participating in apprenticeships, but also improved the quality of those apprenticeships. The government will support another three million apprenticeships by 2020.
More

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

NASDCTEc Goes to SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference

June 26th, 2015

This past week, NASDCTEc had the privilege of attending SkillsUSA’s 51st annual National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC). The conference is the group’s largest annual convening of its national and state membership and is one of the premier opportunities for Career Technical Education (CTE) students to showcase the impressive technical and employability skills they’ve acquired through participation in the Career Technical Student Organization (CTSO) and theirInline image 1 respective CTE programs.

More than 16,000 people, including students, their families, teachers, advisors, and business partners from across the country took part in the weeklong event which began last weekend with intensive leadership training for national SkillsUSA student officers and advisors. On Tuesday, the Opening Ceremony took place where Snap-On CEO, Nick Pinchuk, who delivered a powerful keynote address on the importance of CTE and the significant contributions SkillsUSA has made to the CTE enterprise over the past fifty years.

However, the most impressive component of NLSC took place on Wednesday and Thursday where more than 6,000 exceptional CTE students competed in the national SkillsUSA Championships. These students, all qualifying from related statewide contests, competed in over 100 different technical, trade, and leadership fields ranging from the culinary arts, robotics competitions all the way to public speaking and performance in mock interviews with real employers. These timed and judged competitions provide a hands-on way for these CTE students to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and competencies that they’ve acquired throughout their CTE careers which were put on full display for families, friends, and even prospective employers.

In addition to this national contest, members of the SkillsUSA World Team participated in the the event— a select few of the best students from across the nation who will be competing on behalf of the United States later this year in Brazil at the annual WorldSkills competition. NASDCTEc applauds the incredible work that SkillsUSA, and especially its students, have done and continue to do.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

A look back at five years of the NASDCTEc Vision

June 25th, 2015

Five years ago, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) with support from all 50 states released Reflect, Transform & Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Education. This bold document laid out key principles and actions the community needed to take for CTE to reach its full promise in the years ahead.

Since 2010, the landscape has changed dramatically, and CTE has advanced in many significant ways. To take stock of what has – and hasn’t – been accomplished since 2010, NASDCTEc today is releasing a series of Five-Year Progress Reports on each of the five principles:

  • CTE is critical to ensuring that the United States leads in global competitiveness;
  • CTE actively partners with employers to design and provide high-quality, dynamic programs;
  • CTE prepares students to succeed in further education and careers;
  • CTE is delivered through comprehensive programs of study aligned to The National Career Clusters® Framework; and
  • CTE is a results-driven system that demonstrates a positive return on investment.

These briefs celebrate our collective accomplishments but also aim to motivate us on where more work is needed for CTE to fully meet the needs of students employers and our economy.

Read the Progress Reports here

 

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

New State CTE Director: Curtis Clough, Alaska

June 23rd, 2015

Curtis Clough
State Administrator—Career and Technical Education
Department of Education and Early Development
Alaska

How did you come to be the State CTE Director in your state?

I am new to the state of Alaska as of October 2014 coming from the state of Ohio as superintendent of Strasburg Franklin Local Schools. Over the last eight years I have experienced Career Technical Education (CTE) through both secondary and postsecondary settings, as a superintendent and in my role as Academic Chair for Mohave Community College-Neal Campus in Kingman, Arizona where I oversaw both academic and CTE programs. With over 25 years of experience in education, I have progressed to the state level to assist in advancing educational opportunities for all students and engaging our partners in a process that prepares individuals at all levels for career readiness so people can be active members of the workforce and society.

What are your major goals for CTE in your state?

The state of Alaska has several goals for the upcoming years for CTE. First, the state is engaging in a dialogue on the “level of expectations” for all students in exemplar programs and courses that align to industry needs and standards. A cross-pathway approach is being discussed that establishes some minimal level of performance in reading, writing and math as well as in technical and employability skills, such as technology and problem solving, that prepares students beyond high school graduation and can be addressed through curriculum and work-based learning.
In addition, the state is exploring ways to deliver programming to our rural districts so all students have access to quality CTE programs that are aligned to industry standards and credentials. This is being done by looking at professional development models for our teachers and administrators as well as content delivery models including online instruction so students have access to a blended model of coursework and real-work experiences.

Finally, aligning pathways across secondary and postsecondary systems is another major goal of ours, with the inclusion of apprenticeships, internships and other work-based learning opportunities. We want to create a multi-entry system across all levels of education so that future employees are meeting the workforce development needs of Alaska and our priority industries and occupations.

What do you think your biggest challenges are in your new role as State CTE Director?

Incorporating CTE into the school day is quite a struggle for our districts because of the costs and associated graduation requirements that hinder flexibility in schedules for students. This made more challenging because of our current budget crunch that is occurring because of the decline in oil prices. Districts have limited resources for CTE programming in this tight financial climate and are being asked to do more with less funding.

Also, creating standardized expectations for academic and technical skills across pathways is going to be a challenge because of the geography of Alaska. With unique local needs as well as the needs of the state, expectations can be very different. For example, welding is a growing need in our state, but many regions choose to focus their programs on local industries like maritime, construction or oil and gas processes. Setting that minimum level of expectation for students is difficult due to the distinct regional and local needs.

Finally, teacher recruitment and sustaining a professional development model for our teachers and administrators are other potential issues as the staff turnover and attrition in our rural districts is high. If an educator or administrator has received the proper training and opportunity for advancement in CTE, he or she may move on to bigger opportunities in our urban areas or move to another district that offers more options career-wise. This is a continuous issue for the state and developing strategies to address this problem are being considered at this time.

What do you think the future of CTE looks like in your state?

The opportunity for CTE in our state is bright. The “We3” partners – the Department of Education and Early Development, Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the University of Alaska – have been working collaboratively on addressing the points of the State CTE Plan and many of the issues stated above. Currently, these partners have been working together to establish “levels of expectations” for students for workforce readiness, as we implement the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA). As part of this process, the partners engage in bi-weekly meetings to review various aspects of the WIOA requirements and how to best align WIOA and the State CTE Plan, which is currently in progress, so CTE can continue to expand and grow the Alaska workforce at all levels.

Also, due to the aging workforce and there is a catalyst for industry and postsecondary partners to work together to meet the needs of our future workforce. Active discussions are taking place outside the normal channels in cross-sector strategy meetings, with representation from the “We3” partners so all avenues and opportunities are explored and strategies developed with partner input that can be sustained for the years to come in Alaska.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

June 19th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
CTE and STEM Education: Two Sides of the Same Vital Coin
Career Technical Education is key to improving STEM literacy and interest among students for a variety of reasons. This includes providing access to underrepresented students, adding relevance to STEM subjects through hand-on and work based learning and integrating the business community.
Read More

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
Transforming Career Counseling: Bridging School to Career in the Workforce of the Future
The Manufacturing Skills Standards Council, SME and Bray Strategies released a paper outlining recommendations to improve the career guidance counseling system in middle and high schools.
Read More 

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK
In partnership with the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center, NASDCTEc is conducting a webinar exploring the highly successful Simulated Workplace system in West Virginia.
Register Today

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Legislative Update: Reauthorization Efforts Push Ahead for ESEA, WIOA NPRM Comment Period Ends as Funding Battles in and HEA Reauthorization Continue in Congress

June 18th, 2015

CapitolAfter a flurry of legislative activity in the Senate early last month, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee successfully reported out the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) from the committee—legislation aimed at reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Read our earlier coverage of the legislation here and the text of the bill, as reported out of committee, here. ECAA is the product of bipartisan negotiations between HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and marks the closest either Congressional chamber has come towards reauthorizing ESEA in several years.

Since clearing the HELP committee last month, lawmakers on and off the committee have been gearing up for the Chamber’s full consideration of the legislation, finalizing a series of amendments that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle hope will improve the largest annual federal investment in K-12 education. As currently written and amended, ECAA has a number of notable Career Technical Education-related provisions:

  • A requirement that state academic standards be aligned with relevant state-identified CTE standards
  • Provisions requiring at least one metric in the state’s accountability system that is indicative of student postsecondary or workforce readiness
  • The elimination of the harmful “highly-qualified teacher” provision
  • Explicit support of elementary and secondary school counseling in Title IV of the bill
  • A new provision that requires the inclusion of student attainment rates of CTE proficiencies, as currently defined by the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins), in state and local report card systems

NASDCTEc expects ECAA to most likely be brought up for full Senate consideration shortly after the July 4th Congressional recess, but the possibility of the bill being brought to the floor sooner still remains a goal of many in the Chamber. However, with defense-related legislation currently up for debate, the window for consideration is quickly closing. Lawmakers will have to decide between ECAA and additional trade legislation later today which will ultimately determine the timeline for ECAA’s consideration. Nevertheless, NASDCTEc is continuing to work and support a number of promising CTE-related amendments in the upcoming debate, whenever that may be.

Shifting over to the House, H.R. 5 or the Student Success Act still remains on hold after the Chamber pulled the bill from floor consideration earlier this year. In May, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) released a memo outlining his caucus’ June agenda which included the possibility of further consideration of the bill. However, no formal action has been taken since that time. Nevertheless, there has been new talk about the legislation being brought to the floor under a new rule relatively soon that will allow members of the House to vote on several amendments before final passage. If both Chambers pass their respective ESEA proposals, the next hurdle will be reconciling the two bills—a challenging feat considering the large differences between ECAA and the Student Success Act.

As both of these processes unfold, be sure to check back here for updates on ESEA activity and what that means for the wider CTE community.

NASDCTEc & ACTE Weigh-In on WIOA NPRM

Late last year, Congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)—legislation that reauthorized the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities, the bill’s passage was only the first step in what will be an extensive implementation process. Since that time, the U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL), Education (USDE), and Health and Human Services (HHS) have been hard at work drafting proposed rules for carrying out WIOA’s new provisions. After missing their statutory deadline earlier this year, the Departments finally released these proposed rules in what is known as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The regulations, which can be viewed here, were released in five separate releases, each focused on different aspects of WIOA and were opened up to the public for comment and further discussion.

NASDCTEc, along the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), participated in this comment period and issued a joint response that can be viewed here. It is important to note that the NPRM’s remain simply a proposal until the Departments finalize these rules by January 2016. So long as the Departments adhere to this statutory deadline, the CTE community can expect much more clarity regarding the law’s implementation at that time.

Nevertheless, throughout the NPRMs, the Departments make many references to “future joint planning guidance” as it relates to WIOA’s combined state planning provisions—a state plan option available under the new law that could allow Perkins programs to be included in a state’s overall plan for its WIOA activities. While a specific release date for that guidance remains uncertain, NASDCTEc remains hopeful that the Departments will expedite its release to support further state planning and a greater degree of cross systems collaboration.

Postsecondary Education Updates

In addition to prioritizing the reauthorization of ESEA, the education committees in both the House and the Senate have also set to work to renew the Higher Education Act (HEA)— legislation that governs the nation’s largest investment in postsecondary education among many other important features. As the reauthorization process for ESEA continues, lawmakers from both Chambers have reiterated their desire to pursue HEA reauthorization later this autumn.

Since that time, HEA activity has primarily centered in the Senate where HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) recently solicited public input on a series of white papers focused on three broad issues the committee would like to tackle in a newly reauthorized HEA:

NASDCTEc and ACTE provided formal comments on the accreditation and consumer information pieces as a supplement to the comments both organizations endorsed and supported from the Postsecondary Data Collaborative. Following the comment period, the HELP Committee has hosted two hearings on issues related to the topics covered in these papers. A helpful overview of the hearing on consumer information can be found here and more information related to yesterday’s hearing on accreditation can be found here. In between these hearings, both the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the HELP Committee announced staff working groups to address four major issues related to the reauthorization process on accountability, accreditation, financial aid, and campus safety.

One of the most critical issues for NASDCTEc during the HEA reauthorization process has been repealing the ban on the creation of a postsecondary student unit record system (read NASDCTEc’s full HEA priorities here). In May, Senators Rubio (R-FL), Wyden (D-OR), and Warner (D-VA) reintroduced the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act (S. 1195) which would do just that. By amending HEA, the bill would require postsecondary institutions who are Title IV eligible to submit student-level data to USDE. This data would then be matched with tax data from the Social Security Administration to produce aggregated information on median student earnings for programs at two, six, and 15 years after completion. The information would be disaggregated by various student groups with the aim of sharing this information with the broader public who could then make more informed choices about postsecondary education. NASDCTEc was strongly supportive of this legislation and it is important to note that elements of this bill have begun to gain some traction in the wider HEA reauthorization process.

In the postsecondary regulatory arena, USDE’s final “Gainful Employment” regulations have cleared a significant legal obstacle, with a U.S. District Court judge tossing out the Association of Proprietary Colleges’ lawsuit over the new rules. A separate lawsuit, from the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, is still ongoing and barring any further judicial interventions stemming from that case, the new regulations will go into effect starting July 1, 2015.

USDE also recently released important institutional guidance on student eligibility for Pell Grants and other federal financial aid programs authorized under Title IV of HEA. The letter provides further clarification regarding the recent restoration of HEA’s “ability-to-benefit” (ATB) provision which allows students who do not have a high school diploma to receive financial aid if enrolled in an eligible career pathway program. The letter clarifies what a career pathway program must do to be eligible under this provision and clarifies the dates of eligibility for students enrolling before or after July 1, 2015. NASDCTEc has continued to advocate for ATB provisions in the next iteration of HEA and remains hopeful that this option will be strengthened for students moving forward.

House Marks Up Perkins Funding Bill

Following up on what we shared Tuesday, the House appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-ED) successfully reported out an appropriations bill yesterday after a two hour hearing on the draft bill. USDE, along with the Perkins Act, both derive funding from this legislation. Although it still remains unclear how much funding the drafters of the bill intend to designate to CTE and the Perkins Act, the bill would dramatically reduce funding for USDE’s discretionary budget.

It is important to note that this cut is the result of Congress’ self-imposed sequester caps for this fiscal year and fiscal years into the next decade, as mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). One of the main themes throughout the hearing was the need to change the underlying BCA legislation to increase these caps in order to design an appropriations bill that can adequately fund much needed investments in education and workforce development programs— a desire expressed by members of both parties.

Nevertheless, all Democratic amendments that were put forward to increase funding for various portions of the bill were voted down along party lines, ostensibly because such proposals would violate the sequester caps. The bill is now moving on to the full House appropriations committee where it is expected to be marked up sometime next week. A draft report and table for the bill— which will include more specific information related to Perkins funding— will be released 24 hours prior to this markup.

NASDCTEc is also expecting similar appropriations activity in the Senate, beginning as early as next week. Be sure to check back here for further updates and analysis of the Congressional appropriations process and what that means for the CTE community.

Odds and Ends

  • USDE has recently announced the next round of its Investing in Innovation (I3) grants for high school redesign. The Department has expanded the types of schools applicants can propose to implement redesign strategies. More information on the application process can be found here.
  • DOL recently announced the states eligible to apply for a portion of $9 million in WIA incentive grant awards. The funds are available for use through June 30, 2017 are intended to support innovative workforce development and education initiatives. More information can be found here.
  • Recently a group of regional accreditors announced a common framework for defining and approving competency-based education programs. Find more information about the effort here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

New State CTE Director: Guy Jackson, Wyoming

June 17th, 2015

Guy Jackson, State CTE Director
Wyoming Department of Education

Over the past year we have had a number of new State CTE Directors join NASDCTEc. Over the next few months, we will take a look into each new State CTE Director’s challenges, opportunities and goals for his or her tenure. For our first in the series, we spoke to Guy Jackson, State CTE Director in Wyoming.

  1. How did you come to be the State CTE Director in your state?

In high school I was very interested in anything mechanical (cars, aircraft, etc.) but went on to college and earned a B.S.Ed. from the University of Memphis.  I started flying during college and decided to get my aircraft maintenance technician certificate and FAA Aircraft Mechanic’s License and worked in aviation for several years.  My career in Career Technical Education (CTE) began when I moved to Wyoming to teach at an aviation maintenance technician school.  After 26 years of teaching and education administration, I took a consultant position with the Wyoming Department of Education and administration at postsecondary technical schools.  From there, I was promoted to the Wyoming State CTE Director in March of this year.

  1. What are your major goals for CTE in your state? And what do you think your biggest challenges are in your new role as State CTE Director?

My first priority is to provide professional development to existing educators in building effective CTE programs that result in graduates that are college and career ready.

There are a multitude of challenges to this. This includes:

  • Educators and administrators occasionally view Wyoming Department of Education-provided professional development opportunities as having no value to their classroom and instructional needs.
  • Ensuring career advising is a shared effort among educators, as school counselors do not currently have the capacity to provide all students with the necessary information and resources to make good decisions about school programs, colleges and careers.
  • Educating teachers in academic and technical-based skills. CTE teachers are more likely to have experience in project-based learning and lack advanced academic subject knowledge or formal training in the integration of academics into their technical coursework.

Though the challenges are there, it opens opportunities to work with the community to advance this priority. We will achieve this by working with Perkins secondary and postsecondary coordinators, CTE curriculum coordinators, and district instructional/training coordinators to develop and deliver effective, meaningful teacher professional development. We also hope to provide ‘academy’ offerings that help teachers implement best practices and innovative curriculum and encourage academic core and career technical teachers to integrate their subject areas.

Additionally, we plan to develop a state web-based career development and exploration platform that will available to every student, parent and educator in Wyoming, as well as work to encourage and facilitate teacher summer externship opportunities across the career pathways.

My second priority is to encourage districts to adopt regional strategies that promote collaboration among districts and institutions.

The largest challenge to achieving this priority is that most high schools are unable to offer more than four or five comprehensive career pathways with a full complement of academic and technical courses.  Rural districts and high schools with less than 200 students find it difficult to offer more than two career pathways.

Despite this barrier, we can encourage districts to collaborate with neighboring districts to organize complementary career cluster and career pathway offerings as well as create inter-district transfer opportunities for students and teachers. Critical to accomplishing this will be regional CTE strategy meetings and trainings.

My third priority is to facilitate business/industry and education partnerships. This has its challenges in that two-way communication between business/industry and education is not always consistent due to time, budget and other resource constraints. Also, formal apprenticeship programs often do not want to include high school CTE students due to liability issues.

We are looking to overcome this is by convening regional and statewide teams of academic and CTE secondary and postsecondary instructors along with industry representatives to develop competencies and CTE assessments in career pathways that are most important to the state economy. Also, we want to encourage local business and industry investment and support through funding, in-kind gifts, and externship opportunities for educators. Finally, we need to find solutions to liability issues so that we can connect high school students with formal apprenticeship programs.

My last priority is to strengthen teacher preparation programs and remove obstacles to hiring effective CTE teachers, particularly critical as many of our state CTE teachers are close to retirement.  Districts and administrators are finding it difficult to hire effective and qualified CTE teachers, which often results in the discontinuation of a CTE program.

We have identified some possible solutions to these obstacles. We will identify instructional activities that can be used in teacher preparation programs to prepare new teachers using innovative delivery systems. Along with identifying activities, we want to support the expansion of CTE teacher preparation programs at the University of Wyoming by encouraging teacher candidates to pursue dual certification in academic and technical subject areas and validate that Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board CTE teacher endorsement is meeting the state’s needs.

  1. What do you think the future of CTE looks like in your state?

The future of CTE in Wyoming is dependent on the state’s ability to support innovation in CTE to meet its education, workforce and economic needs.  That support is based on our state’s CTE funding in addition to Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education funding.  Though we are a small, rural state with limited funding, the Governor Matt Mead and Jillian Balow, Superintendent of Public Instruction recognize and support CTE in our state.

We look forward to working with our state school districts and community colleges to advance best practices in Wyoming Career Technical Education.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Legislative Update: House Subcommittee Considers Perkins Funding Bill

June 16th, 2015

2014-11-Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-washington-dc-back-Marko-BerndtTomorrow morning the House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-ED) will mark-up an appropriations bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016— the portion of the federal budget that funds the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and, relatedly, the Carl D. Perkins Act’s (Perkins) basic state grant program. While still a long way off from the House’s full consideration, reconciliation with a forthcoming Senate proposal, and ultimate enactment, the subcommittee’s mark-up of this bill is still a significant step in the federal budget and appropriations process that has not occurred successfully in several years. The mark-up process, where the bill will be further amended by members of the subcommittee, will provide insight into the committee’s funding priorities for education and workforce development programs as the Congressional appropriations process continues.

As we have shared previously, both the House and the Senate have agreed to and passed a budget framework that stays within the bounds of the Budget Control Act’s (BCA) statutorily required budget caps (also known as sequester caps) which limit the overall size the federal budget well into the next decade. Early this morning, the House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor-HHS-ED released its draft of the FY 2016 Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill which adheres to these caps and would cut USDE’s budget by $2.8 billion—a figure that is larger than the reduction to USDE’s budget as a result of BCA-mandated sequestration in FY 2013.

At present, it remains unclear what the subcommittee is proposing with regards to the Perkins basic state grant program. The bill as currently written combines funding for adult education and Career Technical Education (CTE) into a single lump sum which is approximately $7 million below FY 2015 levels. What is uncertain is how this $7 million reduction will be distributed between adult education and CTE— something tomorrow’s mark-up process should make clearer.

As a reminder, the Perkins basic state grant program has been funded at $1.117 billion since FY 2014 where the program restored 96 percent of its sequestration cuts from FY 2013. Nevertheless, the state grant program remains $5.4 million below pre-sequester levels. More information on Perkins funding levels can be found here. NASDCTEc and the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) have been urging Congress to fund Perkins at pre-sequester levels in FY 2016 and we encourage you to contact your members of Congress to remind them about the importance of Perkins funding. Be sure to voice your support through ACTE’s action center here!

In addition to the above implications for Perkins state grants specifically, the draft bill also proposes to eliminate 19 existing education programs of interest to the CTE community including School Improvement grants, funding for elementary and secondary school counseling, and Investing in Innovation (I3) grants among others. It contains a few USDE-related policy riders too—provisions unrelated to funding— that would prohibit the Department from enforcing its imminent “Gainful Employment” regulations, block USDE from implementing its forthcoming college ratings system later this summer, prevent the Department from using 21st Century Community Learning Centers funds to expand learning time, and would create limitations for how USDE defines “credit hour” for the purposes of federal financial aid as well as changing program integrity rules related to how distance learning programs are authorized by states.

It is important to note that both Democrats and Republicans remain extremely divided over how to fund federal programs in FY 2016 and in particular how to grapple with the self-imposed sequester caps that are anathema to both party’s distinct funding priorities. This partisan disagreement will continue to deepen as the year continues and it remains highly unlikely that lawmakers will reach agreement on the 12 independent funding bills, including Labor-HHS-ED, that are needed to fund the totality of the federal government. While CTE and the Perkins Act remain solid, bipartisan issues, the larger debate around federal appropriations will continue to take center stage as the end of the 2015 fiscal year draws to a close on September 30th.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for additional updates on this process, along with a host other CTE-related information from the past few weeks.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

This Week in CTE

June 12th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
I Got a Good Job Right Out of High School Thanks to CTE
Joseph Neyhart entered his freshman year in college with 26 credits under his belt, is studying engineering and has a full year internship at General Motors, which he credits to his high school experience at Toledo Technology Academy.
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MEDIA OF THE WEEK
Earlier this week National Journal hosted a forum of experts on the Higher Education Act, looking back at the last 50 years, and discussing what needs to happen to move forward.
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RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
New America has developed an interactive map that provides insight into what policies states have adopted in college and career readiness.
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Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

 

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