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CTE Month Special: What Do the State of the States Mean for CTE?

February 12th, 2014

Over the last month, governors around the country have gone before their state legislatures and constituents to deliver a state of the state address. A great number of this year’s state of the state addresses included proposals to expand CTE, career-readiness and expanded choices in postsecondary education. Below is the first installment of our special CTE Month roundup of state of the states as they impact CTE.

In Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced his support for the plans laid by the Governor’s Career Ready Task Force, emphasizing the need for business and industry leaders to contribute to the conversation about what constitutes career-readiness. He advocated expanding Alabama’s dual enrollment programs and providing for more career coaches.

Governor Sean Parnell of Alaska also endorsed CTE, including proposals to expand dual enrollment programs and more CTE pathways. He commended CTE as a strategy to raise graduation rates, noting that in the Northwest Arctic Borough, introducing CTE programs led to an 11 percent increase in graduation rates.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell proposed an expansive strategy to expand CTE, beginning with a two-year comprehensive manufacturing CTE program for juniors and seniors that focuses on engineering and would lead to nationally recognized manufacturing certificates. Linked to that program, he also announced his desire to promote public-private partnerships to offer students real-world experience as part of a career-ready curriculum, and partnerships between schools and private industry to identify the programs that will best serve graduates as they enter the workforce. He touted Delaware’s JobLink program, a database designed to help employers search for jobseekers by their skills. Like Governors Bentley and Parnell, Markell also pushed for expanded dual-enrollment programs for secondary students, enabling them to earn post-secondary credit over the course of their studies.

Neil Abercrombie, Governor of Hawaii, touted his state’s investment in STEM initiatives, singling out the Thirty Meter Telescope, which features a STEM training partnership with the Institute for Astronomy’s Akamai Workforce Initiative to train postsecondary students in STEM and robotics.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear lauded the state’s progress in CTE. He cited “…a new model of secondary career and technical education to make it more accessible to students at an earlier age, more rigorous academically and better aligned with both postsecondary requirements and employer needs…We are fitting the pieces together to create a seamless, cradle-to-career education system that is better preparing our students for this complex world.”

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory outlined the importance of ensuring that secondary and postsecondary pathways for success include all types of postsecondary credential—certificates, associates degrees and professional certification—as well as four-year degrees. Governor McRory also conveyed his support for helping private sector professionals transition into teaching, opening the door for experts in technical fields to begin careers as CTE teachers.

In his State of the State Address, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia expressed his belief that CTE can be a critical tool for students who wish to pursue STEM at the postsecondary level. He cited West Virginia’s work to bring math and language arts teachers into career and technical schools, thereby minimizing the need to bus students to and from CTE and comprehensive schools. Governor Tomblin also highlighted the Advanced Careers Program (ACP), pointing out five CTE sites that have instituted career courses as a result of the ACP program, and stated that the program would help 32 sites to implement high quality CTE programs by 2016.

These governors proposed action to unlock CTE’s potential to help students, improve workforce quality and boost economic development. Be sure to visit the links above for the full text of each governor’s address. Don’t see your state? Keep an eye on the CTE Blog for part two of our state of the states roundup!

- Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

CTE Caucus Comes to the Senate, White House Releases Additional Information on SOTU

January 31st, 2014

CapitolYesterday morning Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) announced the creation of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, a bipartisan endeavor focused on promoting CTE inside the Chamber and throughout the country. The Senate CTE Caucus, much like its counterpart in the House of Representatives, seeks to “support efforts to ensure all students have access to high-quality, rigorous career and technical education to prepare them for college and for their future careers.”

During yesterday’s announcement, Senator Kaine explained that his interest in CTE stemmed from one of his defining achievements as Governor of Virginia through the creation of CTE Academies in his home state. Expressing his passion for CTE, Senator Kaine described how CTE programs “strengthen the links between the classroom and the workplace, helping students acquire the education and skills that will help them find employment and enjoy productive, successful lives after graduation.”

Senator Portman tied his interest in the creation of the caucus to some of the priorities highlighted in President Obama’s State of the Union address earlier this week. “We must close this skills gap to get Americans working again,” he said.  “One way we can do that is by focusing on Career and Technical Education that equips workers with credentials, certificates, and other training that will match them with open jobs.”

The caucus’s formation coincides with the arrival of CTE month in February and Congress’s consideration of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act— the sole piece of federal legislation which supports CTE programs throughout the country and represents the largest investment in America’s high schools. The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium welcomes the strengthened interest in CTE within the Senate and looks forward to working with the newly formed caucus as they begin a drive for membership within the Chamber.

Senators Kaine and Portman have created a great new opportunity for CTE advocates to have their voices represented in Congress. You can help by contacting your Senator or Representative and urging them to join either of these CTE Caucuses. Remember, the CTE community— that is YOU— are the experts, so please share your knowledge and passion for CTE with Congress as these initiatives and much more get underway.

Don’t know who represents you in Congress? Find out here!

White House Releases SOTU Supplements

Yesterday, the White House released a supplemental fact sheet to more fully outline the proposals contained in President Obama’s State of the Union speech. The fact sheet goes into greater detail about Vice President Joe Biden’s across-the-board review of existing federal workforce training and education programs and lays out actionable next-steps for how to achieve some of the overarching objectives set by the President in Tuesday’s address.

Of particular note to the CTE community is the Administration’s refocused goals for the Trade Adjustment Assistance & Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program. The President has directed the Labor Department’s Secretary Perez to focus the selection criteria for the program on “job-driven training strategies” which seek to replicate nationally “job-driven training partnerships between regional employers and national industry associations that advance the best practices identified throughout the immediate stakeholder consultations.” TAACCCT, in its final round of funding totaling more than $500 million, is available to community colleges and other eligible postsecondary institutions throughout the country and will likely be a core element to accomplishing the President’s “Opportunity for All” agenda in the coming year.

More information on the TAACCCT grant program can be found here.

Senator Alexander Introduces School Voucher Bill

Earlier this week Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ranking Member of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced the Scholarships for Kids Act. This legislation proposes to consolidate a number of existing education programs to fund $2,100 scholarships for 11 million low-income students across the country in an effort to afford greater access to any public or private accredited school of their parent’s choice.

To pay for these scholarships Senator Alexander has proposed repealing Titles II through VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and a great many other programs under Title I of that Act. For instance, it proposes repealing programs that support magnet and charter schools, a move which would oddly limit the options available to many students and their families— something the bill is aiming to promote not diminish.

Most importantly for the CTE community, the entire Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) has also been included in this proposed consolidation. Unlike ESEA, Senator Alexander’s proposal would repeal the entire Perkins Act, eliminating the sole federal support for CTE programs throughout the country, undermining its global competitiveness, and hampering student access to high quality CTE programs. It is important to note, that this legislation is not likely to move out of the Democrat-controlled Senate Chamber and HELP Committee. NASDCTEc will continue to monitor this and similar pieces of legislation that impact the Perkins Act and the larger CTE community as legislation continues to be introduce this year.

The full bill’s text can be found here and a press release on the legislation can be found here.

College Affordability and Innovation Act of 2014

On Wednesday, Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the College Affordability and Innovation Act of 2014. The proposed legislation seeks to make higher education more affordable for students and promote innovative practices in the postsecondary space that help limit the cost of college.

Among the proposals, the bill would create a pilot program that would incentivize colleges and universities to implement programs that offer high-quality education at lower costs, and reduce the overall time for degree completion. Programs such as competency-based degrees, dual-enrollment, and other accelerated degrees were among examples specifically cited in the legislation.

The accompanying press release can be found here.

The GREEN Act

Last week, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation (GREEN) Act. The legislation would provide $100 million for a competitive grant program for the development of CTE programs of study which focus on the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. The bill would also promote increased energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy practices in CTE facilities and buildings.

The press release and full text of the law can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

CTE Research Review

January 30th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013The U.S. Census Bureau released its long anticipated Measuring Alternative Educational Credentials: 2012, a study designed to measure the impact that non-academic or “alternative educational credentials” —including professional certifications, educational certificates and licenses— have on job placement, earnings and career advancement. Designed to establish the labor market value of alternative educational credentials, the study offers unique insight into the importance of educational achievement outside of and in conjunction with traditional measures such as high school diplomas, associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and advanced degrees.

The survey reveals that about one in four adults holds some form of alternative credential, and that these individuals represent a broad cross-section of the American workforce. Notably, the study revealed that an individual possessing an alternative credential was significantly more likely to be employed during the course of the study than an individual without one, and that among individuals with some college (but without a degree) or less, the possession of an alternative credential carried a significant earnings premium. A similar pattern also exists among those with professional degrees.

The report concludes that “while traditional educational attainment provides one route to a productive career, it is not the only path.” As the education system evolves and the market demands greater flexibility and expertise from job seekers, these data make a strong case for reexamining the definition of educational attainment, the value of professional certifications and the importance of Career Technical Education (CTE).

The Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC) published Making Workforce Data Work on January 23, 2014. Along with a series of policy proposals, the report makes the case for accurate workforce data, revealing critical contributions workforce data can make to decision making among students, educators, policymakers and industry leaders.

WDQC’s proposals for improving current data collection practices are myriad, but are coherently distilled into a clear set of proposals. By adopting five key reforms, WDQC’s report lays out a pathway to significant improvement in workforce data management. In brief, they are:

1.     Including all students and pathways in charting student progress, not only those in K-12.

2.     Counting industry recognized credentials alongside traditional high school and college degrees in measuring academic achievement.

3.     Assessing employment outcomes for all participants, matching student records to wage records for all participants, allowing analysis of the impact education and training programs have on participants’ careers.

4.     Expanding use of labor market information so that stakeholders can assess the value of educational and training programs against the backdrop employer needs.

5.     Ensuring data access and appropriate use to enable stakeholders to identify programs that lead to individual success after completion.

The report continues with a series of policy proposals for federal and state reform, identifying actionable items to make the five goals outlined above a reality. Taken as a guidepost for future workforce data collection and analysis, the report’s proposals could change significantly how education and training decisions are made, and is worthy of consideration.

Earlier this month, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) unveiled Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2014, its prospectus on the year ahead in higher education. In the report, AASCU identifies 10 key issues —including career technical education, STEM initiatives and promoting college readiness— likely to confront education policymakers over the next year.

The report identifies Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce’s projection that  nearly two-thirds of the occupations projected to grow the fastest by 2022 will require some form of postsecondary education as the main impetus for expanding the role of CTE in the year ahead.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Legislative Update: President Obama Delivers the State of the Union Address

January 29th, 2014

CapitolLast night, President Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address which centered on a broad-based agenda to improve the level of opportunity available to most Americans. The President emphasized education as one of the core components to achieving this commendable goal. Although there were no new educational initiatives announced during his speech, he stressed the important role education has in preparing students for entry into the 21st century workforce and highlighted some of his Administration’s initiatives already underway.

One of the most encouraging aspects of last night’s address was the President’s announcement that Vice President Biden would lead reform efforts aimed at improving existing training programs. According to President Obama these efforts are designed to “train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.” Closing this skills gap was an overarching goal for the President as he highlighted the successes manufacturers have had in Detroit and elsewhere in using some of these services. In particular he stressed the need for “more on-the-job training, and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life” while urging businesses and postsecondary institutions to “design training to fill their specific needs.”

The President urged Congress to “concentrate funding on proven programs that connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs” and also highlighted his Administration’s ongoing work to “redesign high schools and partner them with colleges and employers that offer the real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career.”

Taken together, these statements are encouraging for Career Technical Education (CTE). Through the combination of experiential learning opportunities and rigorous technical and academic instruction, CTE programs are providing students at all levels with relevant, real-world opportunities in and out of the classroom to better prepare them for both college and careers. As Congress considers the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act— the sole piece of federal legislation which supports CTE programs in the United States—   it will be important to build on this success in order to ensure students have the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful in today’s global economy.

Following the State of the Union speech, President Obama has announced travel plans to highlight many of the priorities outlined in his remarks. Among the many sites and cities on his itinerary, the President will speak next week at McGavock High School in Nashville, Tennessee— a school which has received honors for its CTE programs. This selection only further demonstrates the central role CTE will have in achieving much of the President’s 2014 agenda. The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium applauds this planned event and looks forward to further engagement with both the Administration and Congress to further support and improve CTE programs throughout the country.

The full transcript for last night’s State of the Union can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Omnibus Spending Bill Passes Congress Amid Retirement Announcements

January 17th, 2014

CapitolAs we shared previously, last month Congress successfully came to an agreement known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. The deal set overall spending levels for the next two years and provided $63 billion of relief from the harmful spending reductions known as sequestration, split evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending through FY14 and FY15. However, this agreement merely set the framework for the federal budget— it was still up to Congressional appropriators to determine the level of funding each of the departments, agencies, and programs would receive under the new $1.012 trillion overall spending level established under the deal.

For the past month appropriators have been in negotiations to craft 12 individual spending bills as part of a larger omnibus spending package which incorporates each into a single piece of legislation. Earlier this week, details of the omnibus appropriations bill were announced and an additional $53 million was appropriated for the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins). This increase, best understood in comparison to the previously lower levels mandated by sequestration, will provide additional funding for the basic state grant program under Perkins which will help alleviate some of the fiscal pressures placed on states over the past few years due to austerity measures at the national level.

The bill also proposes a change to the name of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) to the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) among other general provisions included in the legislation. Both the House and the Senate have passed the omnibus bill by wide margins and it has been sent to President Obama for final passage which is expected shortly. As Congress considers the reauthorization of Perkins in 2014, this increase in appropriations is a vote of confidence for the CTE community and the opportunities they provide for students across the country. NASDCTEc and its partners applaud these positive developments and look forward to working constructively in the coming year to renew this important law.

Changes to the House Education and Workforce Committee as Miller, McKeon Make Exits

Representatives George Miller (D-CA) and Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) have each announced this week that they will not be seeking reelection. Both members currently serve on the House Education and Workforce Committee (HEW) and have had long distinguished careers in the House of Representatives.  Interestingly both have also served as former Chairmen of the HEW and have been champions of education issues throughout their long service. These announcements come at a time when Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) is also set to retire next year, leaving his post as Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee. These announcements will have larger implications for the composition and leadership of each committee in the next Congress, likely impacting the legislative priorities for each. NASDCTEc would like to thank each of these members for their many years of service and for their dedication to education issues throughout their long tenures in Congress.

NGA Sets Out 2014 Agenda

On Wednesday the National Governors Association (NGA) held its annual State of the States Address. NGA Chair and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin along with NGA’s Vice Chair and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper both offered remarks which laid out the association’s agenda for the coming year. Although the association expressed frustration with recent Congressional gridlock, they outlined the contours of a partnership between the federal government and the states which they termed “flexible federalism”— something that they argued would give states greater flexibility in determining how best to implement and administer programs and policies to better fit their unique needs.

Among the many priority areas outlined in the address, NGA urged Congressional action on a number of education and workforce development legislation including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and certain provisions of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Governor Fallin stressed the importance of aligning education and workforce programs to the needs of businesses and labor markets, while also calling for wider adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Although there was no direct mention of the Carl D. Perkins Act in the address, many of the themes contained in the Governors’ remarks touched on the importance of Career Technical Education and highlighted the need for some form postsecondary education as a “new minimum” for entry into “America’s 21st Century workforce.”

The full address can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Spending Bills Continue to Take Shape, OVAE Continues PIAAC Engagement Process

January 10th, 2014

CapitolAs we shared in our last update, Congressional budget negotiators successfully came to a two year agreement on federal spending levels in late December. The agreement, known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA), sets overall discretionary spending levels at $1.012 trillion and reduces sequester cuts by approximately one-third— $63 billion in sequester relief split evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending over the next two years. Education programs— such as the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) — fall under the NDD section of the budget and are set to receive an additional $24 billion in funding for fiscal year 2014.

However, this agreement was only the first step in the larger federal budget and appropriations process. Congressional appropriators must now craft the 12 individual appropriations bills— one for each of the appropriations subcommittees in both the House and Senate—  to fund the various departments, agencies, and programs which account for the entire discretionary side of the federal budget. These 12 spending bills will then be put into a larger omnibus bill, which will then need to be passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. It is important to note that the most current Continuing Resolution (CR), which at present is funding the federal government, expires on January 15th. With this deadline fast approaching, House Republican leaders have announced a short-term three day extension of this CR to provide adequate time for passage of the larger omnibus spending bill next week.

Of these twelve spending bills, the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, from which the Perkins Act draws its funding, is still being negotiated. Appropriators are still deciding how to best to distribute their portion of the $24 billion in discretionary sequester relief among the many programs under their jurisdiction and a final agreement is expected soon. NASDCTEc and ACTE recently sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the appropriations subcommittees, urging them to restore funding for the Perkins Act to pre-sequestration levels. As this process continues, please check back here for updates and analysis on how the Perkins Act and the CTE community will be impacted by this process.

OVAE Continues PIAAC Engagement Process

Last November, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released results from its Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) which found that one in six American adults lack basic skills in literacy and numeracy. In a report titled “Time for the U.S. to Reskill? What the Survey of Adult Skills Says,” the OECD found that the U.S. lags behind the international average for basic skills in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving.

To combat these troubling findings, the Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) launched an engagement process to better understand these challenges and to help develop a national strategy to reverse these trends. On Wednesday Brenda Dann-Messier, Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education, hosted the third of a planned total of five regional engagement sessions, the latest taking place in Redwood City, California. Dann-Messier and her office hope to gather feedback from communities across the country to develop a response to the OECD report and have planned two additional visits to Cleveland, MS and Boston, MA in the coming months.

Additional information regarding OVAE’s engagement process can be found here.

Call for Presentations NOW OPEN for Achieving Excellence in Career Technical Education: The National Career Clusters Institute

December 23rd, 2013

CTE_Logo

The Call for Presentations is NOW OPEN for Achieving Excellence in Career Technical Education: The National Career Clusters® Institute.

We are looking for sessions that feature high-quality programs of study, with proven track records of success; offer strategies for successful collaboration, implementation and innovation at the classroom, district or system level; and/or provide opportunities for participants to engage in interactive and hands-on learning activities.

MORE DETAILS
  • Where: Point Hilton Tapatio Cliffs, Phoenix, AZ
  • When: June 16-18, 2014
  • Registration is slated to go live mid-February.
  • Watch for details on our website at www.careertech.org.
Proposal Deadlines
Proposals will be accepted through February 21, 2014. Speakers will be notified of status early March, 2014.
Submit your proposal now!
Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

Senate Passes Budget Deal, BLS Releases New Employment Projections

December 20th, 2013

CapitolOn Wednesday, the Senate passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA) by a vote of 64-36 sending the measure to President Obama who is expected to sign the bill into law sometime this week. This is the first budget bill successfully passed by both chambers of Congress since 2009 and establishes overall spending levels for the next two years. As we shared last week, the deal reduces FY14 and FY15 sequester cuts by approximately $63 billion. These reductions are paid in part by increased airline fees, pension benefit cuts for federal workers, and a two-year extension of parts of the current sequester past the original 2021 expiration date.

It is important to note that the BBA only sets a top line budget number, or 302(a) allocation, which puts into place a FY14 funding cap of $1.012 trillion for all discretionary spending. Congressional appropriators must still craft 12 individual spending bills— known as 302(b) allocations— to fund the various agencies, departments, and programs that compose much of the federal government, including the U.S. Department of Education and the appropriations bill that funds the Perkins Act. It is hoped that House and Senate Appropriations Committees can incorporate the individual spending measures into a larger omnibus bill before the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on January 15, 2014.

As the appropriations process continues, NASDCTEc and its partners in the Career Technical Education (CTE) community are actively seeking a restoration of the $58 million sequester reduction sustained by Perkins. Please check our blog in the coming weeks as this process continues.

BLS Releases New Employment Projections

Yesterday, The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released updated employment projections for 2012 to 2022. Total employment over the next decade is projected to increase by 10.8 percent or 15.6 million with occupations in the Health Science and Human Services Career Clusters® accounting for much of that growth. When taking into account replacement needs— the need to replace workers who permanently leave their occupation or retire— total job openings are projected to be 50.6 million during this period with replacement needs accounting for over two-thirds of that figure.

These projections are essential to planning one’s future educational and career goals. For instance, in 2012 approximately one-third of all jobs in the U.S. required some form of postsecondary education. Yet between 2012 and 2022, close to two-thirds of the occupations projected to grow the fastest will require some form of postsecondary education. Moreover, occupations typically requiring apprenticeships are expected to grow by over 22 percent. The full press release from BLS can be found here.

As these trends continue, the need for some form of postsecondary education or additional training beyond a high school diploma will become even more pronounced. CTE programs are vital to preparing students for these rapidly changing requirements for entry into the workforce. Through rigorous coursework and experiential learning opportunities, CTE programs across the country are preparing students to meet the needs of the 21st century economy.

OMB Releases Super Circular

Yesterday the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the Uniform Guidance: Cost Principles, Audit, and Administrative Requirements for Federal Awards or “Super Circular” as it is more commonly known for public inspection on the Federal Register. The Super Circular marks OMB’s latest attempt to streamline the administration of grants and awards by the federal government through the consolidation of eight other OMB circulars into one. The full text can be found here. The finalized guidelines and rules are expected to be published on December 26, 2013.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Gainful Employment Negotiators Meet, Budget Deal Moves to the Senate

December 13th, 2013

CapitolToday the Department of Education’s (ED) negotiated rulemaking committee wraps up the third round of negotiations on newly proposed regulations and stricter standards regarding “gainful employment” for vocational education programs at community colleges and for-profit institutions. As we shared last year, an earlier effort by ED to establish rules concerning debt repayment and “gainful employment in a recognized occupation” were struck down by a D.C. district court. The ruling, a victory for many for-profits, preserved ED’s authority to make such rules, but made clear that any new regulations must have clearer justification. These regulations impact postsecondary students’ ability to use federal financial aid at an institution considered to be failing under the proposed guidelines.

Negotiations between representatives of for-profits institutions, community colleges, and other relevant stakeholders are discussing ED’s most recent set of regulations which are somewhat different than its much stricter proposal sent out last month. This latest set of rules no longer evaluates programs on loan portfolio repayment rates and also drops the 40 percent cohort default rate detailed in our update last month. Instead graduates of programs whose loan payments comprise 30 percent or more of discretionary income or 12 percent of total income would fail. A program default rate of 30 percent or more for three consecutive years would also fail under these new proposed regulations. In addition to these changes, programs which fall within ranges close to failure would be required to send students, prior to enrollment, a written warning informing students that their ability to use federal financial aid at their institution is in jeopardy and that their program may not fully prepare them to pay off the amount of debt they are likely to incur.

These more stringent regulations would affect 11,735 programs and 13 percent of that figure would fail under these new rules. ED has released a summary of how many programs would be impacted under this proposal which can be found here. It is important to note that the committee’s final guidance is non-binding and ED can still move forward on new gainful employment rules with or without consensus from the committee. An overview of the rules can be found here and the draft can be found here. Please check our blog for more updates as this process continues.

Budget Deal Update

Yesterday, the House passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA) the details of which we shared on Wednesday. The bill sets total discretionary spending levels to $1.012 trillion for FY14 and substitutes $63 billion of sequester cuts over the next two years. The House overwhelming supported the two-year budget agreement on a 332-94 vote and it has now moved on to the Senate where it is pending consideration. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill Tuesday next week and President Obama has indicated that he will sign it into law.

NASDCTEc applauds this initial first step by Congress to inject much needed certainty into the budget process and to partially reverse a portion of the highly damaging sequester cuts. However, further Congressional action is still needed to more fully address the federal disinvestment in education programs over the past several years. At a time when the American economy is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, restoring funding to Career Technical Education (CTE) programs is critically important to safeguarding the economic vitality of the United States for years to come.

JPMorgan Chase Announces New Job Skills Program

Yesterday, JPMorgan Chase unveiled a five-year $250 million initiative that seeks to address the United States’ skills gap— a problem the IMF says accounts for approximately one-third of the current unemployment rate. The New Skills at Work initiative was announced in D.C. in conjunction with the Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel and hosted by the Aspen Institute. “Addressing the skills gap can be one of our most powerful tools for reducing unemployment and creating more broadly shared prosperity” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told those in attendance. The initiative will invest $50 million annually over the next five years in metropolitan areas across the United States and Europe and will fund research and training programs to improve upon existing workforce development and educational efforts in these areas.

One such proposal, “Workforce Readiness Gap Reports”, would help facilitate data-driven investments by producing detailed reports on regional labor markets and identify areas where there are skill shortages. It is hoped that eventually these reports will help guide workforce investment decisions and allow employers to better communicate the specific skills they are currently seeking. New Skills at Work will also support successful training programs already in existence such as Chicago’s College to Careers program (among other such programs) and seek to improve upon those accomplishments. A list of specific grants and partnerships to be funded under New Skills at Work is expected in early 2014. More information on this new initiative can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Congressional Budget Conference Committee Reaches a Deal

December 11th, 2013

CapitolLate yesterday evening, the budget conference committee came to an agreement on the federal budget for the next two years. Co-chaired by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), the committee successfully crafted the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 which amends by way of substitution the Continuing Appropriations Resolution 2014 (H.J.Res. 59) the stalled continuing resolution (CR) or short-term spending measure which failed in Congress earlier this fall. As we shared last week, the proposed deal would raise the allowable 2014 spending level to $1.012 trillion— a figure that falls directly between the $967 billion level supported by many Republicans and the $1.058 trillion level supported by many Democrats.

The agreement, which still needs to be approved by both chambers of Congress, replaces $63 billion of sequester cuts over the next two years. The deal provides $45 billion in sequester relief for FY14, split evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending. This means that NDD programs will receive $22.5 billion this year above the existing sequester caps mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) accounting for an 87 percent restoration of total spending on domestic discretionary programs including education. In FY15, $9 billion will be allocated to NDD programs in much the same way, although aggregate spending caps for discretionary spending will not rise to the same degree as the previous year.

If passed, it is important to note that this budget deal only sets a top-line spending level known as a 302(a) allocation and would still require additional bicameral negotiations for the 12 necessary individual spending bills— or 302(b) allocations— to fully fund the federal government.  This gives House and Senate Appropriations Committees a little over a month to figure out how to divide up appropriations according to this new total.

While this agreement would provide significant relief from sequestration for FY14, it still does not address these mandated cuts to the same degree for FY15 and beyond. Nonetheless the deal, while far from perfect, is a good initial step from Congress to begin addressing the harmful effects sequestration has had on the CTE community and other NDD programs as a whole. A summary of the proposal can be found here and the full text of the agreement can be found here. Please check our blog for updates as this process continues.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

 

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