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Legislative Update: House Appropriators Question Administration’s FY15 Priorities, New Proposals on Perkins Emerge

April 11th, 2014

CapitolOn Tuesday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee regarding the Obama Administration’s FY 2015 budget request for education.  As we shared previously, the Administration requested $1.117 billion for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act’s (Perkins) basic state grant program— a figure that would maintain the same level of funding as in FY 2014, but would keep the program below pre-sequestration levels. The request also proposed to use a portion of these funds for a competitive “innovation fund” similar to what the Administration has previously proposed in its 2012 Blueprint for Career Technical Education (CTE).

During the subcommittee hearing, members from both parties strongly questioned these aspects of the budget request, asked why additional funds were not requested for the Perkins Act and voiced strong opposition to the Administration’s other proposals for new competitively funded programs.

“The concern is that these proposals would be made at the expense of meeting our current obligations,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) said. The ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), echoed these sentiments and emphasized the importance of the overall federal investment in education. The full hearing and testimony transcripts can be found here.

Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) questioned the Secretary further on these issues asking, “Why does the Administration continue to propose competitive grants that only benefit a few students rather than investing in proven programs like CTE that help to further the goal of career readiness for all students?”

Secretary Duncan did point out that 89 percent of the funds from his department actually go to formula programs and that the Administration on the whole has invested heavily in CTE via alternative funding streams such as the Youth CareerConnect program.

However, there was genuine skepticism from many of the members present for how these proposals would negatively impact the ability of students to equitably access CTE programs throughout the country. As Rep. Roby pointed out, “We have yet to fulfill our commitment to fully fund existing formula-driven programs.”

To that end, members of Congress on and off the subcommittee have been hard at work over the past several weeks to push for additional investments for the Perkins Act ahead of the Congressional FY 2015 appropriations process. Two Dear Colleague letters, one in the House and the other in the Senate, were supported on a bipartisan basis by 93 Representatives and 25 Senators respectively, calling for a restoration of the Perkins Act basic state grant program to pre-sequester levels.

NASDCTEc encourages its members and those in the CTE community to reach out to all of the lawmakers who supported these efforts and thank them for their strong support for the Perkins Act and CTE. Special recognition must go to Sens. Blumenthal (D-CT), Kaine (D-VA), Baldwin (D-WI) and also Reps. Thompson (R-PA) and Langevin (D-RI) who lead these efforts in both Chambers.

Don’t know how to get in touch with Congress? Find out here!

Perkins Amendment Introduced in the House

Earlier this week Reps. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the “Perkins Modernization Act of 2014,” which seeks to more closely align CTE programs with labor market needs. Specifically it would substitute all references to “high skill, high wage, or high demand occupations in current or emerging professions,” currently found in the Perkins Act and substitute them with “employment in current or emerging in-demand industry sectors or occupations.” A definition for an “in-demand industry sector or occupation” is also proposed, which would be informed to a greater extent by labor market information culled from various sources at the local, state and national levels.

As the House Committee on Education and the Workforce (HEW) along with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) continue to work to reauthorize the Perkins Act, it is important to note that the above proposal is not a comprehensive reauthorization bill. Instead the Perkins Modernization Act introduces into the reauthorization discussion an issue important to these members of Congress.  NASDCTEc appreciates Reps. Kennedy, Kinzinger, Davis, and Polis’ recognition that CTE programs are crucial components to the nation’s economic competitiveness and agrees that a greater availability and use of labor market information is needed to ensure that CTE programs prepare students for success in the workforce.

NASDCTEc looks forward to working constructively with Congress to thoughtfully reauthorize the Perkins Act and to ensure that programs are empowering students with the necessary skills and knowledge demanded by today’s employers and affording graduates the opportunity to secure family-sustaining wages.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Moves on ESRA

The House Education and the Workforce Committee (HEW) moved forward on the Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366). This bill, introduced by Representatives Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), reauthorizes the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA). Currently, ESRA supports educational research programs such as the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), NAEP exams, and state longitudinal data systems. “Quality education research is critical to successful schools,” Rep. Rokita said upon the Committee’s approval of the bill by voice vote.

A particularly promising aspect of the bill would amend the authorization for state longitudinal data system grants to encourage the alignment of data across K-12, postsecondary and workforce programs. This would greatly support efforts to report on post-program employment outcomes for CTE graduates. Moreover, H.R. 4366 emphasizes the importance of using data effectively and lays out a more thoughtful approach to its use. The Workforce Data Quality Campaign, of which NASDCTEc is a national partner, supported this bill. The text of the bill, fact sheets, and other useful information can be found here.

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Apprenticeship Bill

On Wednesday Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs (LEAP) Act, a bill that incentivizes employers to increase the number of apprenticeships available to young people. Specifically the LEAP Act would grant companies a $1,500 tax credit for hiring new registered apprentices under the age of 25. A $1,000 tax credit would also be offered to employers hiring apprentices older than 25 years of age. The bill would also incent the expansion of existing apprenticeship programs

The Workforce Investment Act

Both Chambers of Congress have continued discussions on the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) this week. According to recent reports, the Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Chairman of the House HEW Committee, John Kline (R-MN), have publicly stated that they have “resolved nearly all differences” and hope to complete the legislation when Congress returns from recess in late April.

“The likelihood is that the staff will be able to hammer out what is left while we are gone,” Chairman Kline said. “Hopefully, by the time we come back, we’ll have it all put together,” Chairman Harkin was reported as saying.

There has also been speculation that the reauthorization of WIA could possibly be attached to Congress’ consideration of extending unemployment insurance benefits. NASDCTEc will monitor this process as it evolves and will continue to work with policymakers to ensure that a thoughtful reauthorization of the law emerges from these negotiations.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Spring Meeting Recap: CTE & STEM— Making the Connection

April 10th, 2014

STEM-CTERepresentatives from the Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) and business communities discussed the ways in which STEM and Career Technical Education (CTE) are linked on Wednesday, April 2nd at NASDCTEc’s annual spring meeting. The panel, moderated by Jay Scott Assistant Director at the Kansas Department of Education, explored the ways in which CTE and STEM are connected and examined issue areas which are of interest to both communities. The panel, spurred in part by NASDCTEc’s Associate Executive Director’s recent publication, CTE is your STEM Strategy, tackled this fundamental linkage and looked for ways to build upon this interconnectedness.

Linda Rosen, CEO of Change the Equation (CTEq), started the session off by outlining what a STEM occupation is and the positive impact STEM skills and knowledge have on one’s ability to find gainful employment. Noting that STEM occupations constitute 11 percent of the U.S. workforce, she pointed out that job postings for those with a strong STEM background generally fared much better than those without similar knowledge and skills. She went on to argue that CTE is an effective method of delivery for STEM education and one way to improve upon existing programs that link the two is through greater alignment of CTE programs with the labor market. “Above all, corporate America expects results,” she said. Among other proposals, Dr. Rosen suggested that employers should be engaged (and vice versa) in more meaningful ways and that accountability provisions within current law should be more closely linked with labor market needs.

June Streckfus, Executive Director of the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education (MBRT), focused her remarks on the work her organization is currently doing in the state of Maryland. She outlined the main points of emphasis for her organization and Maryland’s STEM strategy— accelerating student & teacher growth along with cultivating public support for these initiatives. This last point guided the rest of her presentation where she convincingly demonstrated that employer engagement— something the state of Maryland is ideally situated to leverage given its close proximity to many large national employers— was a key tool for improving employment outcomes for students. To support her argument, she highlighted an article that found a strong positive correlation between the number of employer or professional mentor interactions with students and employment outcomes after program completion.

Ted Wells, Chief Strategy Officer for STEM Connector®, rounded out the discussion with an overview of how his organization seeks to support public-private investment in STEM programs. Throughout his presentation he highlighted the importance of CTE and STEM as strategies to effectively address the nation’s skills gap. He went on to argue that this skills gap is clearly evident and that it has persisted for far too long. Wells recommended that CTE be incorporated more heavily into the standards movement, specifically within the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Common  Core State Standards (CCSS). He also emphasized the importance of involving STEM leaders within the CTE enterprise and stressed the importance of educating policymakers on the importance of these twin issues.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Breaking our Baccalaureate Addiction

April 8th, 2014

It’s not that kids aren’t “college material,” but that the bachelor’s degree is increasingly immaterial

Recently, Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute kicked up a lot of attention with his piece on why we should be telling more kids that they aren’t college material.

Central to his argument was that career technical education (CTE) – or teaching and learning that provides students with the academic, technical and employability skills they need to access the careers of their choice – is a more viable option than a four-year degree for many, and one in which we should be counseling more students.

On this point, I agree with Petrilli 100 percent. CTE is one of the best kept secrets out there. Students taking CTE sequences are more likely to graduate high school (at rates upward of 90%, well above the national average) because they find value in the authenticity and relevance CTE brings to their learning.

CTE students are also more likely to go on to “college,” with 75% of graduates who took at least three CTE courses enrolling in postsecondary education within two years. They have the added advantages of real-world experience from work-based learning and career exploration opportunities, and have unique access to mentors and resources to help them chart their future beyond the traditional college prep counseling.

On top of that, completers of CTE postsecondary programs are more likely to be employed than those completing an academic-focused program. Eighty-six percent of postsecondary students completing an associate’s degree in a CTE field of study, for example, are still employed five years later, compared to 78.6 percent of those completing an associate’s degree in an academic field of study.  They are filling the skills mismatch, and not fast enough for many employers in the health services, manufacturing and IT sectors.

To summarize, CTE keeps students in school and puts them on a pathway to success. Yay CTE! CTE for all!

So, what’s the problem?

My problem is this: While I appreciate positive attention for CTE, I believe Petrilli did CTE a major disservice with his piece. By setting up CTE as the option for students who are not “college material” he ultimately undermined the value CTE has for all students. And, perhaps more importantly, he reinforced the image problem the CTE community has to deal with every day: CTE remains the place you put kids who just can’t make it to college.

As long as CTE is framed as the non-college option, rather than a pathway to a broader set of college options, we are perpetuating CTE as an inferior, rather than an equally viable (and more reliable), choice.

Despite a decade of efforts to raise the rigor and quality of CTE programs by anchoring them in 21st century knowledge and skills and building stronger linkages between secondary and postsecondary programs through dual/concurrent enrollment, early college programs and other mechanisms, CTE is still not something many parents want for their kids. The stigma of old-school “voc-ed” is a hard one to shake.

So allow me to reframe the discussion. Instead of talking about CTE as being solely for those who can’t be successful in four-year programs, let’s talk about how we can break our country’s addiction to (and reverence for) the bachelor’s degree.

As Petrilli clearly lays out, the notion that a four-year degree is the only option is at best outdated and at worst sets up false expectations for too many students (as evidenced by high remediation, low degree completion and increasing debt). It no longer makes sense to put all of our eggs in the four-year basket. There are many other postsecondary pathways that lead to a family-sustaining wage, job security and mobility that are not being presented as a realistic option to enough of today’s students, and therefore, not being taken advantage of enough.

It is incumbent upon us to encourage more students to engage in these opportunities. And when I say more students, I don’t just mean poor or minority students, but also suburban or higher-income students who go on to a four-year degree because that’s just how it’s done in their communities, regardless of their actual career interests. We need to redefine college so technical colleges, community colleges and the other postsecondary institutions don’t continue to get the short shrift in the minds of parents, students and policymakers.

Finally, we need to flip the system so “career” comes before “college.” Students’ career aspirations should dictate their postsecondary pathways rather than the other way around. It’s not easy, it’s not clean – in fact, it’s a paradigm shift – but it’s what it’s going to take to get our economy back on track and all students their shot at the American dream.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

 

The Obama Administration Unveils Youth CareerConnect Grants and a New Apprenticeship Program

April 7th, 2014

Obama Announces YCC AwardsThis morning President Obama visited Bladensburg High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland to announce the winners of the Administration’s Youth CareerConnect (YCC) grant program. This competitive grant initiative, administered jointly by the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Education (ED), seeks to scale up successful collaborative partnership models between school districts, postsecondary institutions, the workforce investment system and employers.

Specifically it aims to improve the high school experience by encouraging the integration of classroom and workplace learning experiences in an effort to better equip students “with the knowledge, skills, and industry-relevant education needed to get on the pathway to a successful career, including post-secondary education or registered apprenticeship,” a White House official said.

Structured similarly to the Administration’s Race to the Top program, the YCC grants are comparable to the “innovation fund” proposed in the President’s 2012 Career Technical Education (CTE) Blueprint. “The idea behind this competition is, how do we start making high school in particular more interesting, more exciting, more relevant to young people?” the President said. “We want to reward the schools that are being most innovative.”

In all, the President announced twenty-four grants totaling $107 million which derive funding from H1-B visa fees collected by the Department of Labor. Bladensburg High School, the venue for today’s announcement, was part of a larger group within Prince George’s County which received a $7 million award. Their portion of the grant will support the school’s efforts to expand its Health and Biosciences Academy which was prominently featured during the announcement.  As President Obama pointed out, these grants support “cooler stuff than when I was in high school.”

More information on the YCC grant program can be found here. The White House has also released an additional fact sheet on the program which includes a full list of awards.

Vice President Biden Announces Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium

The President’s unveiling of these grants also coincided with Vice President Joe Biden’s announcement of a new Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC) initiative. The main objective of this new effort is to ensure students who participate in certain apprenticeships have the opportunity to earn credits that will transfer to a community or technical college of their choice. RACC is aiming to make these types of articulation agreements more common throughout the country by creating a national network of postsecondary institutions, employers, unions and associations which will expedite the process of transferring a student’s work experience within a Registered Apprenticeship into credit for a program at a participating institution.

The RACC is part of the Administration’s larger goal of doubling the number of apprenticeships over the next several years and will be jointly administered by the Department of Labor and Education. “As a result of this exciting new consortium, graduates of a Registered Apprenticeship program will not only have better access to jobs that lead to a sustainable career, but they’ll also have better access to an education – all with little or no debt” Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said at a separate announcement. Consortium participants must be accredited degree granting institutions in order to be eligible. At the moment, specific third-party organizations will evaluate the postsecondary credit value of a particular apprenticeship for the purposes of a completion certificate at the end of a program.

More information on RACC, including how to join the consortium, can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

NASDCTEc and ACTE Release Report on Developments in CTE

March 28th, 2014

NASDCTEc and ACTE wrapped 2013 by conducting an extensive poll to track developments in CTE state by state. The report, “State Policies Impacting CTE: 2013 Year in Review” contains several key findings indicating that CTE Picture6has not only weathered the storm of tight budgets and shifting education policy, it has thrived in most states.

Crucially, 47 states and the District of Columbia were found to have taken action on CTE in 2o13, many with multi-year initiatives to shake up the structure and practice of CTE in their state. 31 states increased funding to CTE programs in the last year, and multiple governors have already conveyed an interest in expanding funding and access further in 2014.

The report features a state-by state breakdown of policy developments, as well as an overall summary. Check the table (right) for more details and read the whole report at the link above!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Legislative Update: House Education & the Workforce Committee Holds CTE Field Hearing

March 21st, 2014

Capitol

On Tuesday the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a field hearing titled “Reviving Our Economy: How Career and Technical Education Can Strengthen the Workforce” which was the first of two similarly themed hearings convened this week in locations outside of Washington, D.C. The purpose of this hearing was to highlight the significant positive impact education— specifically Career Technical Education (CTE)— and workforce training programs have on state and local economies. The hearing took place in Southwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada, a portion of the state represented by Congressman Joseph Heck (R-NV) who was among one of four Committee members who made the trip to the Silver State.

Chairman Kline (R-MN), Rep. Scott (D-VA), and Rep. Hinojosa (D-TX) alongside their colleague Rep. Heck conducted the field hearing where five witnesses provided testimony centering on the positive effects CTE programs have on their state and in particular Clark County, Nevada. For instance, nearly four out of ten students in Nevada— approximately 50,000 total— enroll in at least one CTE course. Witnesses also pointed out that the graduation rate for those students who choose to concentrate in CTE is a full 17.1 percent higher than their peers in the state. The economic gain reaped by Nevada through increased graduation rates and the reduced number of high school drop-outs demonstrates a compelling return on investment which many members of the Committee took special interest in.

Perhaps the most dominant theme throughout the hearing focused on the importance of the federal investment, principally through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins), to Nevada and other states’ ability to equitably deliver high-quality CTE programs to their students. Perkins, like other critical federal investments in education and the nation’s workforce, has not been exempt from various funding cuts over the past several years. Witnesses described how this has negatively impacted CTE’s ability to effectively prepare students for further education and the workforce.

Congressman Heck noted in particular that over the past few years states like Nevada, which have experienced tremendous population growth over the past decade, have received proportionally larger reductions to their Perkins state allocations due to certain provisions contained in the law. To remedy this he touted a proposed amendment he and Rep. Grijalva introduced last August which would ensure states receive at least 90 percent of the funding amount allocated the previous year.

Another theme that resonated throughout the hearing was CTE partnerships with the business community. Chairman Kline questioned how much time school administrators devote to developing relationships with area employers and whether more could be done to support these types of partnerships. Additionally he inquired about a school’s ability to adapt its CTE curriculum to meet the changing needs of businesses and industry.

At the hearing’s conclusion Congressman Heck summed up the discussion nicely saying “I think one of the resounding themes we heard today is partnerships. It’s partnerships amongst the secondary and postsecondary institutions, as well as private partners and employers. These things are all critical. I think we see that there is a very high return on investment for Career Technical Education . . . as well as the follow-on effects for economic development”

An archived webcast of the hearing including Committee statements and witness testimony can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Announcing the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ Public Comment Period

March 17th, 2014

If you haven’t already, click here to shape the future of Career Technical Education (CTE) by contributing to The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ (NBPTS) public comment period for the revised Career and Technical Education Standards, 2nd edition.

Drafted by a committee of CTE educators and other experts in the profession, the standards will be available for review from March 16 to April 13. Once approved, they will serve as the foundation for National Board Certification in CTE.

Public comment is crucial to the process of getting all stakeholders’ perspective on what constitutes high-quality CTE. NASDCTEc/NCTEF’s membership, including State Directors and Associate Members are content experts with a great deal to contribute to the discussion. Visit NBPTS’s website and leave your informed feedback today!

Legislative Update: ED Introduces New Gainful Employment Regulations, The FIRST Act Moves to Full Committee

March 14th, 2014

CapitolAs we have shared previously, last December the Department of Education (ED) concluded a three-part series of negotiated rulemaking sessions regarding the Department’s proposed regulations on “gainful employment.” These proposed rules aim to introduce stricter accountability requirements for vocational programs at for-profit institutions and community colleges across the country in an effort to ensure they are helping their student’s find gainful employment upon graduation. ED assembled a negotiated rulemaking committee, composed of representatives from for-profits institutions, community colleges, and other relevant stakeholders, to establish a consensus on these proposals.

Unfortunately, the committee failed to come to such a consensus on ED’s draft regulations during the last of the negotiated rulemaking sessions this past December. Per the Department’s policies, a lack of consensus among the rulemaking committee allows ED to introduce new regulations on its own. Today, ED released these new regulations and will soon open them up for public comment over the next two months.

The regulations—over eight hundred pages in length— introduce stricter standards for the amount of debt students can accrue while attending institutions offering career-training programs. There are three main criteria a program must pass in order to maintain eligibility to receive federal financial aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. The first two are related to loan payments. Programs which have student loan payments higher than 30 percent of discretionary income or 12 percent of total income would fail under the new rules if those ratios persisted for any two out of three consecutive years. The third criterion is tied to a program’s cohort default rate (pCDR) for both completers and non-completers. If a program’s pCDR exceeds 30 percent for three consecutive years, the program is deemed failing.

Another important feature of these new regulations affords programs the ability to appeal for those that have less than half of their completers take on debt. This is an important change from ED’s last draft proposal in December and will benefit programs at Community Colleges and elsewhere which typically offer two-year programs at a relatively lower cost to students.

Barring any major revisions between now and October 30th of this year, these regulations are set to go into full-effect in 2016. As with previous iterations of ED’s gainful employment regulations, these new rules will likely be challenged in court. As this process unfolds, please check our blog for updates on how these regulations will likely impact those in the Career Technical Education community.

ED’s full gainful employment regulations can be found here and additional information on the process can be found here.

House Subcommittee Passes the FIRST Act

Yesterday, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology passed the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act (H.R. 4186). The bill would reauthorize the America Competes Act of 2010 and has now moved on to the full committee for consideration.

While some Democrats on the Subcommittee voiced concerns over reduced levels of funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Republicans highlighted the bill’s focus on better coordination of existing federal Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives. Among other provisions, the FIRST Act would create a STEM Education Coordinating Office to better manage STEM education activities and programs at the federal level and would be overseen by NSF.

Notably, the legislation would broaden the definition of STEM to include not only the core components laid out in its acronym, but also “other academic subjects that build on these disciplines such as computer science and other academic subjects that a State identifies as important to the workforce of the State.”

NASDCTEc will continue to monitor this legislation as it moves to the full Committee. The full bill can be found here and a statement from the Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) can be found here.

JOBS Tax Credit Act Introduced in the House

This past Tuesday, Representative Maffei introduced the Job and Opportunity Bonus (JOB) Tax Credit Act which seeks to address the nation’s persistent skills gap by creating a temporary tax credit for employers to help pay for the cost of training their employees.

According to the Congressman, “So many of our local businesses want to invest in training for current and new employees, but don’t have the resources to do it. My bill helps address this issue by providing a tax credit for worker training programs.”

Among the provisions contained in the bill, the JOBS Tax Credit Act would pay for 50 percent of the cost to train employees in an approved program which would include apprenticeship programs, training offered by vocation or technical schools or community colleges, and a variety of industry or labor union-sponsored training programs. The tax credit would only be able to be utilized by employers with 500 employees or less and would last between 2015 to 2017.

NASDCTEc applauds Rep. Maffei’s work to better address the nation’s skills gap and urges Congress to take up this important piece of legislation.  His office’s full press release on the JOB Tax Credit Act can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

CTE Month Recap

March 6th, 2014

CTE MONTH

A whirlwind month in the world of CTE came to a close last week with events nationwide marking the power of CTE and its impact on communities across the country.

Programs nationwide seized the opportunity to present new and innovative methods for delivering CTE. We tracked an enormous amount of content via the Twitter hashtag #CTEMonth and were proud to showcase innovative CTE Month content on our Facebook.As we highlighted in a month-long blog series in partnership with the National Technical Honor Society, CTE students across the country are doing fantastic work protecting the environment, serving their communities, getting a head start on their careers, and reinventing their lives.

CTSOs harnessed the power of social media to promote CTE month by activating their membership base, creating student-made video content, and even sending student leaders to Washington to meet with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and speak at a Department of Education briefing.

This CTE Month was also a big month for NASDCTEc/NCTEF events, as we released further information about our upcoming Spring Meeting (March 31-April 3, 2014, in Washington, DC) and officially opened registration for the completely revamped Achieving Excellence in CTE: the Career Clusters Institute (June 16-18, 2014, in Phoenix, AZ).

CTE Month reached its zenith as it closed with recognitions from both Chambers of the US Congress. Senate CTE Caucus Co-Chairs Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) joined CTE champion Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introducing a resolution to confirm February as CTE Month along with ringing endorsements of CTE’s role in developing a career-ready workforce. It proposed four key points for the Senate to acknowledge:

“Therefore, be it Resolved That the Senate–

“(1) designates the month of February as ‘Career and Technical Education Month’ to celebrate career and technical education across the United States;

“(2) supports the goals and ideals of Career and Technical Education Month;

“(3) recognizes the importance of career and technical education in preparing a well-educated and skilled workforce in the United States; and

“(4) encourages educators, counselors, and administrators to promote career and technical education as an option for students.”

Just as Senator Kaine introduced the Senate Resolution, Congressional CTE Caucus Co-Chairs Representative Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (R-PA) and Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI) each took to the House Floor to extoll the benefits of CTE to their colleagues.

“In today’s competitive job market, high-paying, high-demand jobs require
technical skills and training,” said Rep. Thompson. “These programs
are the key to bridging the skills gap.”

“CTE is an investment in the future of our economy, our workforce and
our country,” said Rep. Langevin. “I urge my colleagues on the
Appropriations Committee to fully fund Perkins for the upcoming fiscal
year and make important investments in our career training.”

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Obama Administration Releases FY 2015 Budget Request

March 4th, 2014

Capitol

Earlier today, the Obama Administration released its annual budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. Unveiling the details of this document in a Northwest D.C. public school classroom, President Obama underscored his commitment to education while framing his budget proposals as a choice between two competing visions for America’s future ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

“Our budget is about choices,” the President said before going on to call for “smart investments to create jobs and grow our economy and expand opportunity for every American.”

The Administration’s budget and accompanying press releases repeatedly cited investment in education as the cornerstone of the Administration’s underlying opportunity agenda. Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education echoed these sentiments.

“President Obama’s budget request reflects his strong belief that education is a vital investment in the nation’s economic competitiveness, in its people, and in its communities,” Secretary Duncan affirmed before adding that “too many students lack access to the quality education and supports that make the journey to college and the middle class possible.”

To that end, the Obama Administration’s FY 2015 budget request to Congress calls for $68.6 billion in appropriations for the U.S. Department of Education (ED). That figure represents a 1.9 percent increase over last year’s funding levels and much of the additional proposed funds are targeted to various competitive grant initiatives such as a new iteration of Race to the Top focused on “Equity and Opportunity” (RTT-Opportunity) and similar programs.

Of particular importance to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community is the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act’s basic state grant program. For FY 2015 the Administration requested $1.117 billion — the same amount the program will receive for FY 2014. Additionally, the President’s budget request calls again for a $100 million competitive CTE innovation fund along with $10 million for “Pay-for-Success” projects that would prioritize program development and strategies that target disconnected youth, expand rural access to CTE, and increase technology’s role in the classroom.

At ED’s budget briefing this afternoon, Secretary Duncan highlighted some of the progress ED believes it has made through these and other initiatives, but emphasized that “wide opportunity and achievement gaps continue to hurt many families, which puts our nation’s economy and future at risk.”

One of the most effective and proven strategies for closing this achievement and broader opportunity gap is through greater federal investment in CTE. However, requesting flat level-funding for these important programs, as the Administration has done, will not achieve the important goals the President and Secretary Duncan have laid out for the country.

A greater commitment to the CTE enterprise from the Administration is therefore needed in the coming fiscal year. In an effort to make good on the Administration’s promise, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) and its partners in the CTE community will be actively working in the coming year to advocate for $1.22 billion for the Perkins Act basic state grant program and the vital CTE programs it helps to support.

“Each year, the Administration has talked about the importance of education and its connection to restoring and growing  the American economy, yet the budget proposal does not reflect this priority. Fully funding the Perkins Act would be a tremendous signal that the Administration is serious about closing the skills gap and ensuring all students have access to high-quality Career Technical Education,” said NASDCTEc’s Executive Director Kimberly Green.

“Career Technical Education has a proven track record of closing equity and achievement gaps and helping youth and adults to garner the skills and knowledge to secure good-paying jobs and enter further education. Rather than investing in new initiatives, we believe it would be better to fully fund Perkins – a program with a long, proven history of success.”

The President’s full budget request can be found here and the Department of Education’s portion, along with a number of useful graphs, charts and other supplemental information, can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

 

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