Perkins Reauthorization Top of Mind for House Reps After Hearing on CTE

February 28th, 2017

Earlier this morning, the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education held a hearing on secondary CTE, kicking off renewed efforts to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins). A recording of the hearing is available here.

Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) in his opening remarks shared examples of CTE’s impact in his home district and charged his fellow committee members to complete its work to reauthorize the Perkins Act, which hasn’t been updated in more than ten years. He recognized the committee’s success in the previous session, during which the committee unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that later sailed through the House with a 405-5 vote. That bill was stalled in the Senate, and the Committee is expected to introduce a similar piece of legislation in the coming weeks.

In his opening statement, Ranking Member, Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) stated “ Reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act presents this Committee with an opportunity to ensure that CTE programs are of high quality, emphasize equity, align with academic and labor market demands, and provide opportunities for all students – especially those historically underserved – to receive credentials that lead to high-skill, high-wage, in-demand career opportunities.”

Witnesses representing both workforce and education organizations praised the important role Career Technical Education (CTE) has played in increasing access to opportunity and closing the skills gap and urged the committee to renew support for CTE programs nationwide.

Mr. Glenn Johnson, representing multi-national manufacturing company BASF shared about the educational programs and supports his organization provides in various communities across the states, but expressed alarm about the growing skills gap and challenges recruiting individuals into the manufacturing sector. According to Mr. Johnson, 11,000 baby boomers turn 70 every day, contributing to the growing need to prepare the future workforce to fill critical jobs.

The conversation in the hearing then turned to two core issues: ensuring all students have access to high-quality CTE and addressing the public stigma that a four-year degree is superior to technical training.

To the former point, Mimi Lufkin of the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity urged the committee to focus on underserved students in its reauthorization efforts, specifically to encourage students to pursue nontraditional fields. She shared examples from Douglas County, Oregon and Morgan County, Ohio where efforts to reach nontraditional students led more girls to enroll in a welding program and increased participation of boys in a health science course. Janet Goble, Board member of ACTE and CTE Director in Canyon County, UT, shared a story from her own school district, where a program aimed at introducing middle school girls to non-traditional occupations increased the participation rate of non-traditional high school students from 26 percent to 53 percent.

Finally, Mike Rowe, television personality of “Dirty Jobs” fame and CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, argued that participation in CTE would stagnate without a concerted effort to address the stigma around vocational education. He argued that promotion of four-year postsecondary education programs comes at the expense of two-year, technical and apprenticeship opportunities that may better equip students with relevant skills and connect them to a high-wage job.

In the question period, which was well attended by committee members from both the subcommittee and full committee, many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle spoke to the need to change the image of CTE and applauded the witnesses’ inclusion of data in their testimony.

Today’s event comes at a critical point in time, when the Trump administration has signaled potentially dramatic cuts to domestic programs including education. If there is any takeaway from this morning’s hearing however, it is that CTE enjoys broad support, not only from members of Congress in both parties  but also the education and employer community as well.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

As Dust Settles from Presidential Transition, A Path for Perkins Emerges

February 22nd, 2017

Transition Update from the Trump Administration

After a contentious confirmation hearing and an unprecedented vote requiring Vice President Mike Pence to break a Senate tie, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education on February 7. In her first weeks on the job, Secretary DeVos reassured state education officials they should move forward with implementing the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) as planned, despite moves from the 115th Congress to eliminate Obama-era regulations on ESSA accountability and teacher preparation. Barring further changes from the administration, state ESSA plans are due on either April 3 or September 18 this year.

Meanwhile, the Senate voted by a narrow 51-49 margin to confirm former congressman Mick Mulvaney to head President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget. It is unclear at the moment exactly how Mulvaney will influence the budget and appropriations process moving forward, though he has advocated widespread cuts to federal spending. Mulvaney’s first task will be releasing the administration’s budget priorities for fiscal year 2017 and 2018. While FY18 begins in October this year, the federal government is operating under a continuing resolution (CR) that expires on April 28. Congress will need to either pass a new CR or put together an omnibus budget bill by that date to keep the government running through the fall. Advance CTE has been closely monitoring budget and appropriations efforts and will report back as more information comes available.

Buzz on the Hill around CTE Month

This year’s CTE Month – an annual celebration of Career Technical Education (CTE) – coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the Smith-Hughes Act. On the Hill, there is growing enthusiasm and recognition of the progress CTE has made over the past century. Last week, the Senate passed a resolution praising CTE for helping students develop the skills and abilities they need to be successful in the workforce. The resolution garnered a record 31 co-sponsors before it was passed.

Also, a Valentine’s-Day CTE Caucus event celebrating the past, present and future of CTE drew a crowd. Advance CTE’s very own Kimberly Green spoke on the panel, sharing the history of federal involvement in CTE from Smith-Hughes through today. A video of the event is available here.

Perkins Reauthorization A Top Priority for 115th Congress

Members of the House Education and Workforce Committee are coalescing around a possible springtime reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins). In an op-ed for Real Clear Education, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) wrote that passing an updated Perkins Act was a top priority for her committee, one she aims to “finish … in the coming months.” The Committee has scheduled a hearing on strengthening CTE at the secondary level for February 28 and is rumored to be planning to reintroduce a bill that is in close proximity to last year’s H.R. 5587 shortly thereafter. That bill passed the House in September on a 405-5 margin but stalled in the Senate.

Perkins reauthorization is top of mind for the nascent Trump administration as well. Speaking at the 2017 Community College National Legislative Summit, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos remarked:

I know that there are many items on your legislative agenda, from reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and the Perkins Act, to ways community colleges can help transform the nation’s infrastructure, to allowing Pell Grants to have flexibility in supporting students working to graduate more quickly. And in the days ahead, I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts and working with you as President Trump’s vision continues taking shape.

As always, subscribe to our Legislative Update blog series for the latest updates on Perkins and other federal activities related to CTE.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

THIS WEEK IN CTE: CTE MONTH!

February 3rd, 2017

Happy CTE Month! This month we are celebrating the best of Career Technical Education (CTE). We’ll be taking part in Twitter chats, advocating for CTE on Capitol Hill, exploring model programs, and lifting up fantastic work happening at the national, state and local level throughout the month. If you haven’t already, email Katie at kfitzgerald@careertech.org to let us know how your community is celebrating CTE in February.

RESOURCE(S) OF THE WEEK

Wondering how to get involved in CTE Month? Check out our CTE Month page for some quick ideas on where to start and some state and local examples from last year, then head over to the Association for Career and Technical Education’s CTE Month page and you’ll find the official CTE Month logo, a sample CTE Month proclamation, tips on hosting a school site visit for policymakers, and a number of additional resources.

ARTICLE(S) OF THE WEEK

Wanted: Factory Workers, Degree Required, New York Times

Career and Technical Education Advocates Pushing for Changes Under Trump, Education Week

Why Apprenticeships are Taking Off, City Lab

The Increasing Value of Technical Education in Chicago, Chicago Business Journal

TWEET(S) OF THE WEEK 

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Betsy DeVos’s Narrowing Path to Confirmation

February 3rd, 2017

On Tuesday the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee voted to advance Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education nominee, out of committee. The vote was narrowly decided along party lines with 12 Republicans voting for and 11 Democrats voting against her nomination.

Since then, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) both announced they would not be voting for the nominee, putting Betsy DeVos’s nomination on very shaky ground. That leaves her with just 50 Republican votes, meaning the final decision may fall to Vice President Mike Pence, who casts a vote in the Senate in the event of a tie.

Shortly before the Senate HELP committee vote, DeVos released written responses to 139 questions from Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). Among them was a question related to reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins). DeVos called Perkins reauthorization “an important priority,” and added that she aims to work with the HELP committee to update the law to “provide flexibility at the state and local levels” and “ support transparency of data so parents, students, and other taxpayers can see how well their programs are working.”

Early this morning, the Senate voted 52-48 to end cloture, a procedural hurdle that needed to be cleared before the Senate would be able to conduct the final vote on DeVos’s confirmation. The final vote is now scheduled for Monday, February 6.

Trump Appoints Jerry Falwell, Jr. to Task Force for Higher Education

According to the Chronicle for Higher Education, Jerry Falwell, Jr., President of Liberty University, will be advising the Trump administration on higher education policy. He was appointed this week to lead a task force that will study issues related to accreditation, student loan forgiveness, campus sexual assault and more. While Falwell’s positions on such issues are unclear, he has made statements indicating that he aims to scale back the role of the federal government in postsecondary education.

Meanwhile, Lots of Support for CTE on the Hill

Last week, House and Senate CTE Caucus co-chairs received a letter urging them to resume Perkins reauthorization. The letter, which was signed by 85 organizations and businesses, praised Perkins as a tool for meeting the needs of the 21st century economy and helping employers close critical skills gaps. Advance CTE was a co-signer of the letter.

Additionally, Senate Democrats last week introduced a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that aims to create more than 15 million jobs. The bill is an attempt at bipartisanship in response to President Donald Trump’s comments, both on the campaign trail and during his inauguration, that rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure is a priority in the early months of his administration. Included in the bill is $75 billion for school construction projects, which will be disbursed to schools based on need.

In the House, Republicans introduced a resolution on Thursday under the 1996 Congressional Review Act to revoke Obama-era regulations for accountability and teacher preparation under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). While the regulations were already frozen temporarily under a recent executive order from the White House, this resolution would revoke the regulations entirely. Further, President Trump’s administration would be prohibited from issuing “substantially similar” regulations, casting uncertainty over the future of ESSA implementation. The resolution must be approved by both the House and the Senate before going into effect.  

Finally, to help celebrate CTE month, the Senate CTE Caucus will be hosting an event that examines the role and impact of federal CTE policy.  Once this event is confirmed, we will share a link so you can participate virtually, as the event will be livestreamed.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate and Kimberly Green, Executive Director

President Trump’s First Week in Office

January 29th, 2017

Trump Freezes Pending Regulations, Including those Related to ESSA Accountability

President Donald J. Trump was sworn into office on Friday. During the inauguration ceremony, the President said the U.S. has “an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge,” though he did not provide additional details about his plans for improving the federal education system.

Upon taking office, Trump immediately revoked any regulations not yet submitted to the Federal Register and postponed the effective date of pending regulations by 60 days. This echoes a similar move from the Obama administration in early 2009. Although the most recent round of ESSA regulations, which detail accountability and state plans, were published in November 2016, they were not set to take effect until January 30. As a result, those regulations will now go into effect on March 21, 2017. While this could implicate ESSA plan submissions, state officials and consultants do not anticipate the pause will affect state timelines, according to Education Week.

President Trump has also hinted that he wants to reduce federal regulations by 75 percent, though he has not indicated where these reductions will come from.

Lastly, positions at the White House are starting to be filled. Rob Goad, a former staff with Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) has been selected to fill the position of Education Advisor at the Office of Domestic Policy Council.  The Education Advisor position is not a “required” position, so the fact that the position has been filled early on is a potential signal of the administration’s intent to develop education policy priorities.

DeVos Vote Rescheduled to January 31

Last week we provided an overview of Education Secretary to be Betsy DeVos’s hearing with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. While questions related to Career Technical Education (CTE) or reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act of 2006 were limited, the hearing turned out to be quite contentious, with Democrats protesting the limited time to review the nominee’s ethics report prior to a confirmation vote. Responding to concerns from his committee, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) postponed DeVos’s hearing by one week to Tuesday, January 31 to allow Senators additional time to review the Office of Government Ethics’ report. On Friday, Senator Todd Young (R-IN)  recused himself from voting on the DeVos confirmation, citing a conflict of interest because she donated to his campaign.

Senators Kaine and Portman Reintroduce JOBS Act

On the Hill, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus, reintroduced the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students Act of 2017 (JOBS Act). The bill aims to expand the Federal Pell Grant program to include postsecondary CTE job training programs in in-demand industries. Under the bill, such programs must provide no less than 150 clock hours of instructional time over eight weeks and enable students to obtain a license or credential. Advance CTE has endorsed the proposed legislation.

WIOA Infrastructure Guidance

On January 18, 2017, Former Acting Assistant Secretary John Uvin, put out an extensive memo articulating additional information related to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) infrastructure guidance. While the memo was directed to State Directors of Adult Education, Perkins is mentioned throughout. Advance CTE is in the process of analyzing the memo and will provide a more in depth analysis to members next week. We should note that it is unclear whether any of the non-regulatory guidance put forth by the Obama Administration will hold, given the Trump Administration’s push to reduce federal oversight and burden on states by reducing regulations.  

Austin Estes, Policy Associate and Kimberly Green, Executive Director

Betsy DeVos on CTE: Students Need to Have a Full Menu of Options

January 18th, 2017

On Friday, Donald Trump is scheduled to be sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States. While the Senate has yet to hold a floor vote to confirm any of the President-elect’s cabinet nominees, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) held a hearing Tuesday evening for Mrs. Betsy DeVos, President-Elect Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Department of Education.

While much remains unknown about President-Elect Trump’s education agenda and his priorities for the coming year, during her opening statement DeVos stated that we need to “embrace new pathways of learning,” by “support[ing] all postsecondary avenues, including trade and vocational schools and community colleges.”

Later in the hearing, Sen. Tim Scott (R-NC) pressed her again on increasing flexibility for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. A lifelong advocate for student choice, DeVos responded that “students really need to have a full menu of options,” including “technical schools, community colleges [and] apprenticeships.”

DeVos is not new to CTE. She and her husband Richard “Dick” DeVos Jr., billionaire entrepreneur and heir to the Amway enterprise, co-founded an aviation-themed charter school in Grand Rapids, MI. West Michigan Aviation Academy opened in 2010 and includes a rigorous curriculum that integrates both academic and technical education. According to the school’s website, Aviation Academy also hosts regular job shadowing events, during which industry professionals come to campus to speak with and mentor students.

The hearing was not without disagreements, however. While Republicans on the HELP Committee largely praised DeVos’s philanthropic background and advocacy for school choice, Senate Democrats pressed her on outstanding conflicts of interest (DeVos has yet to disclose all of her financial engagements to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics) and her position on issues such as accountability, campus sexual assault and guns in schools.  

A confirmation vote is tentatively scheduled for next Tuesday, though Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) assured concerned Democrats on the Committee that they will have an opportunity to submit additional questions to DeVos prior to that date. He also said he would delay the vote if DeVos’s ethics review letter is not available from the U.S. Office of Government Ethics by that time.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE: $20M in grants support 10 states in career readiness system transformation

January 13th, 2017

TWEET(S) OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Earlier this week, 10 states received $2 million each to strengthen career-focused education starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with high-skill jobs in their state as part of the New Skills for Youth initiative. All states were selected from a cohort of 24 that received $100,000 grants to plan long-term career readiness education programs in March, and will now put those plans into action. Want to learn more about what the 10 states have accomplished so far? Read our 10 state snapshots.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is spearheading this $75 million effort, and CEO Jamie Dimon discussed the importance of providing career opportunities to youth around the country stating, “It is a moral imperative that we get jobs for kids.” Hear more about why JPMorgan Chase is leading this important work.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

$20 Million Grants Awarded to 10 States to Improve Career Pathways for all Students

January 11th, 2017

JPMorgan Chase & Co. today announced nearly $20 million in grants to ten states to dramatically increase the number of students who graduate from high school prepared for careers. These state grants are one part of the $75 million, five-year New Skills for Youth initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase & Co., in collaboration with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group, aimed at strengthening career-focused education starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with high-skill jobs.

Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Wisconsin will each receive $2 million over three years to expand and improve career pathways for all high school students.

In March 2016, 24 states and the District of Columbia were awarded $100,000 grants for planning and early implementation of long-term career readiness education programs that align with the needs of area employers. The grants awarded today represent the second phase of the New Skills for Youth initiative. All of today’s recipients were selected from the original 25 grantees. These states will now leverage the additional grant funding to execute the career readiness plans they developed during phase one of the initiative.

“Providing opportunities for all students to participate in high-quality career readiness programs is critical to their future success and the future of our country,” said Advance CTE Executive Director Kimberly Green. “I am thrilled at the progress made by these states and excited at the prospects this initiative offers for all learners and all states.”

As part of this work, Advance CTE, CCSSO and Education Strategy Group have released 10 snapshots highlighting each of the grantees’ accomplishments in the first phase of the initiative, which be read here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

This Week in CTE: The State of CTE report is released!

December 16th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Today, in partnership with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at AIR, we published The State of Career Technical Education: Increasing Access to Industry Experts in High School, examining the shortage of industry experts in secondary classrooms and how to address it. Save the date for a webinar on January 9th that will explore major themes from this report.

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

An article by Hechinger Report takes a dive into the recent poll by Gallup-Purdue indicates more than half of college graduates find their alma maters provided inadequate career guidance services, while hailing a notable exception, Wake Forest, which offers college-to-career courses for students to better help them plan for their future.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

American Students Demonstrate Lackluster Performance on International PISA Exam, but Signal Interest in Science-Related Careers

December 9th, 2016

Earlier this week, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) released results from the 2015 international PISA examination. The examination, which is administered every three years by the OECD, is designed to measure science, reading and math literacy for 15-year-olds in 35 OECD member countries in order to identify trends in student achievement and provide recommendations for international education policy. Each administration of the exam focuses on a different content area, and the emphasis for the 2015 exam was science literacy.

Performance in the United States was lackluster at best, with students placing 19th in science, 20th in reading and 31st in math compared to 34 other OECD countries. While there has been relatively no change in performance for science and reading over the past two iterations of the exam, math scores have fallen 11 points since 2012.

In response to this year’s assessment results, the OECD released five recommendations for policymakers in the U.S. to improve teaching and learning and promote equity:

  1. A clear education strategy to improve performance and equity should be implemented.
  2. Rigorous and consistent standards should be applied across all classrooms.
  3. Teacher and school leader capacity should be improved.
  4. Resources should be distributed equitably across schools – preferentially to those schools and students that need them most.
  5. At-risk students and schools should be proactively targeted.

 

These results are sobering, but they also spark a renewed urgency to improve the quality of education and leverage opportunities such as Career Technical Education (CTE) to equip students with academic and workforce-relevant skills and set the national economy on track for future growth.

Student Performance and Economic Growth

Performance on the PISA exam serves not only as a signal of student academic achievement, but also of career readiness. This is a research focus of Eric Hanushek’s, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In a recent panel discussion with the Alliance for Excellent Education, he argued that academic performance is tightly related to a country’s future economic health. Using PISA performance as a proxy for educational quality, Hanushek finds a positive correlation between international performance and future GDP growth. In other words, the more students learn, the stronger the economy is likely to be in the future. He also uses scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a U.S.-administered assessment, to find a similar relationship across individual states.

However, Hanushek makes sure not to conflate educational quality with quantity. He runs the same analysis using years of educational attainment instead of PISA scores and finds almost no relationship with economic growth. He draws the conclusion that “if you have more education without developing the skills, it doesn’t count.” This conclusion echoes a finding from this year’s PISA that, in terms of science literacy performance, how science is taught is a more important factor than investments in equipment and highly-qualified instructional staff. In the intersection between education and economic growth, it is not the inputs that matter as much as the skills, knowledge and abilities students develop along the way.

Students Signal High Interest in Science-Related Careers

In addition to testing subject literacy, the PISA examination surveys student attitudes and career preferences. Interestingly, the 2015 survey found that 38 percent of American 15-year-olds expect to work in a science-related career field by the age of 30, with health and science and engineering the two most prominent industries of interest, demonstrating that high school students are putting consideration into their future career goals. 

One strategy to prepare students for future careers in science is to increase participation in related programs of study. Programs of study guide learners through a sequence of aligned, non-duplicative courses that integrate academic and technical learning, span secondary and postsecondary systems and culminate in a credential of value. Participating in a program of study enables students to focus in a Career ClusterⓇ of interest and develop the skills and experiences they need to be successful in that industry. Rather than sampling a basket of different electives without developing depth of experience in any, program of study concentrators go deep in their learning. And research indicates that this could lead to positive student outcomes. According to a recent study, participating in a program of study increases the likelihood of graduation, overall grade point average and CTE grade point average. At scale, increased participation in programs of study may lead to increased academic performance and career readiness, spurring future economic growth.

With the release of the 2015 international PISA exam scores, there is newfound urgency to improve the quality of learning and increase opportunities for students to learn workforce-relevant skills, particularly in science-related fields. By leveraging high-quality programs of study, education policymakers can prepare students for future careers and spur national economic growth.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

Series

Archives

1