State Policy Update: Virginia, Idaho pass major CTE legislation

April 27th, 2016

Back in January, we shared highlights from this year’s State of the State addresses, particularly in Virginia and Idaho where the states’ governors made Career Technical Education (CTE) a key part of their 2016 legislative agendas. Three months later, some of those proposals have made their way through the legislative process to be signed into law earlier this month.

Virginia

In his State of the Commonwealth address earlier this year, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe outlined a new vision for the state’s education and workforce development systems to equip students with the skills needed to be successful in today’s labor market, and called for increased collaboration among government, business and education. To do this, McAuliffe pointed to industry-recognized credentials and competency-based education, saying, “you cannot build an economy for 2050 with a 1950s approach to education.”

Since then, Mcauliffe has signed a host of education and workforce bills, which will strengthen articulation agreements and establish a grant fund to help students cover two-thirds of the cost for a noncredit workforce training program. Of particular relevance is SB336, which intends to restructure the high school experience for Virginia students starting in the 2018-19 school year to be based on mastery rather than seat-time and includes work-based learning opportunities for all students, regardless of their graduation pathway. The final plan will be determined by the State Board of Education, but broadly, the bill instructs the state board to:

  • Collaborate with K-12, higher education, and private industry stakeholders to identify the skills that students need upon graduation;
  • Shift high school instruction to teach core competencies during the first two years of high school;
  • Establish graduation pathways of a student’s choosing that provide opportunities for internships, externships, and credentialing; and
  • Allow districts to substitute industry certification and state licensure exams for the state’s end-of-course assessments.

Idaho

For its part, Idaho has also been hard at work to expand CTE since Gov. Butch Otter made CTE a priority in his State of the State address in January. Among other things, Otter proposed to increase funding for technical colleges, career counseling and STEM education.

Since then, the Idaho legislature passed SCR134, which supported Lt. Gov. Brad Little’s postsecondary attainment goal for 60 percent of residents age 25-34 to have a postsecondary degree or certificate by 2020. The resolution also urged public and private sectors to collaborate on programs to support postsecondary pathways for young Idahoans. Separately, the legislature also allocated $3.8 million to expand capacity for CTE programs at Idaho’s six technical colleges and graduate more students into high-demand fields such as health care, information technology, mechatronics and transportation.

Other highlights from Idaho (we know, there are a lot!) include:

  • A language amendment in SB1210 that changes “professional-technical education” to “career technical education”;
  • Increased funding for CTE instructors that hold a specialist certificate (HB630);
  • A budget increase of 10.4 percent for the state’s Division of Career Technical Education (HB625); and
  • An additional $5 million to improve college and career counseling for high school students.

While the Virginia and Idaho legislatures have both adjourned for the year, 25 states remain in session. We will continue to keep a close eye on these remaining states in the coming months and share major CTE policy changes as they happen. Stay tuned.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

State Policy Update: Sharing State Resources

March 30th, 2016

This month’s State Policy Update is focusing less on legislative activity and more on sharing some of the interesting things happening in the states around CTE:

New State Resources

  • The California Career Resource Network, supported by the state Department of Education, has released new “Career & College Readiness Lesson Plans.” There, you can find 45 lessons geared toward 5th-12th grade students, with around five lessons per grade. Though organized by grade level, the lessons could be used for any grade. Additionally, the Network has developed an Educator Guide, a bi-lingual career readiness glossary, and Spanish-language student handouts.
  • A new partnership between ArkansasDepartment of Career Education and the Arkansas Research Center has helped the department save time and money. In a blog post from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, the department partnered with the research center to develop new technical solutions for Perkins reporting. The center, which has two software developers on staff, created software that reduces the burden of Perkins reporting as well as save the department an estimated $500,000 over the next 10 years.
  • In somewhat state-related news, LinkedIn, Burning Glass Technologies and the Markle Foundation have launched a new kind of job website – Skillful.com. The site is specifically designed for middle-skills job seekers with job ads, career exploration tools, and more. The site launched in Colorado in March focusing on information technology, advanced manufacturing and health care. The site plans to expand to the Phoenix area in April.

News of Note

  • In a blog post in Education Week, the Council of Chief State School Officers illustrates how states can use their accountability systems to affect student learning. The post leans heavily on contextualized and personalized learning, a hallmark of CTE.
  • Also in Education Week, an article highlighting that while K-12 spending is expected increase for most states this year, the budgets of the state education agency are getting cut in favor of directing money to local school districts. This squeeze is coming at a time when many state departments are gearing up to consider how best to fully leverage the flexibility provided for in the new federal Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA). As a special resource for only for Advance CTE members, be sure to check out our ESSA cheat sheet about the opportunities and intersections for CTE in the new law.

And finally, because we couldn’t resist some legislative, state board and gubernatorial news:

  • Earlier this month, the Michigan Board of Education adopted energy as its 17th Career Cluster®. Michigan industry leaders led this effort in order to develop a skilled energy utility workforce to combat the state’s skills gap, which is expected to grow retirements over the next 10 years. The Energy Career Cluster will use energy industry content standards developed by the Center for Workforce Development, a non-profit consortium of energy utilities.
  • The National Skills Coalition has a round-up of the workforce development initiatives proposed by governors in their budget and State of the State addresses this year.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Advance CTE Legislative Update: President Obama Unveils Final Budget Request to Congress as Senate Honors CTE Month

February 17th, 2016

United States CapitalLast Tuesday, President Obama released his final budget request to Congress for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. This document formally kicks off the federal budget and appropriations process for the coming year. As has been the case for much of the President’s time in office, this process is again shaping up to be rather contentious as both parties debate issues of spending and taxation in the context of the looming Presidential and Congressional elections this November.

Overall, the President’s budget outlines an extremely ambitious set of spending priorities for the coming year, totaling $4.1 trillion overall. The budget proposes significant new investments in a number of new and existing education and workforce development programs, but disappointingly does not propose any additional funding for states via the Carl D. Perkins Act’s (Perkins) basic state formula grant program.

Instead the President has renewed his proposal for the creation of an “American Technical Training Fund” (ATFF) that, if created, would constitute a new competitive grant program outside the scope of this foundational support for CTE. ATTF can best be understood as a successor program to the Admisntration’s 2013 Youth Career Connect Initiative, but so far Congress has not acted to formalize this proposal which was also included in the President’s budget last year for $100 million at that time.

As Kimberly Green, Advance CTE Executive Director and others noted on the day of the release, the President’s request for level-funding for Perkins state grants is concerning at a time when demand for high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) programs is rising— a fact even the Administration has recently highlighted. While the Obama Administration does request an additional $2 million for CTE national activities under Perkins, this increase would also be used for the purposes of evaluating the effectiveness of the proposed ATTF.

Despite these concerning elements, the President’s budget does put forth a set of somewhat more encouraging spending proposals as part of a wider skills development agenda that could compliment much of the work already underway in the CTE field:

  • $500 million in mandatory funding for the creation of a “Workforce Data Science and Innovation Fund” along with a doubling of funding for state longitudinal data systems. Read more on these data investments at the Workforce Data Quality Campaign’s blog.
  • $2 billion to expand apprenticeship programs, and $200 million specifically for youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.
  • Increases for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s youth, adult, and dislocated formula grant programs that are each consistent with the funding levels proposed in the law.
  • $60.8 billion in mandatory funding for the President’s proposed “America’s College Promise” program that would provide two years of postsecondary education tuition-free for eligible students in qualifying programs.
  • $500 million for business tax credits (up to $5,000 each) for employers to partner with community colleges in high-demand industry areas and incentivize the hiring of graduates. The grants would be available from 2017-2021 and more information can be found here and here.

The President’s budget can be viewed in its entirety here. The U.S. Department of Labor and Education’s (USDOL / USDE) budgets can be accessed here and here respectively. Of particular note is USDE’s budget justification for CTE and Adult Education which can be accessed here. This document provides further insight into the administration’s thinking behind their Perkins proposals contained in the budget and outlined above.

It is important to note that this budget request is simply that— it does not constitute formal policy and Congress must still pass a budget and respective spending bills to enact any of these proposals. Given Congressional Republican’s continued concerns on federal spending, deficits, and the national debt, there is little chance that most of what is being proposed by the President will become law. In fact, the Congressional budget committees have gone so far as to “snub” the administration and have not asked the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to testify on this proposal—a key indicator on how far this proposal is likely to get in Congress this year.

As the Congressional budget and appropriations process continues to take shape, be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis.

Senate Passes CTE Month Resolution and Hosts Employers to Talk About the Value of CTE

As many are aware, every year February is informally known as “CTE Month”—a time to celebrate and lift up all of the great work underway in the CTE community. Last week, the Senate voted unanimously in support of a resolution—sponsored by Senate CTE Caucus co-chairs Sens. Kaine (D-VA), Portman (R-OH), Baldwin (D-WI), and Isakson (R-GA)— that formally recognizes and honors February as CTE month. The resolution can be viewed in its entirety here.

The resolution was co-sponsored by 17 other Senators from both parties and the Senate’s unanimous recognition and support of this resolution underscores the chamber’s continued commitment to the CTE enterprise. Advance CTE applauds this move by the Senate and looks forward to celebrating the rest of CTE month in the coming days and weeks.

In addition to this effort, the Senate CTE Caucus also played host to a briefing on employer engagement with CTE programs last week. The briefing, co-hosted by the Industry Workforce Needs Coalition and Opportunity America, gave employers—ranging in size and location from a small manufacturing firm in Wisconsin to a large engineering firm in Texas— a chance to speak about the importance of CTE to their respective enterprises and industries. Each of the panelists emphasized the importance of employers having a “seat at the table” during program development and implementation and underscored that there are many ways for employers of all shapes and sizes to engage with states’ CTE systems and with local CTE programs.

Three of the four Senate CTE Caucus co-chairs provided remarks during this event, each speaking about their unique interests in CTE and how they view CTE meeting the needs of students and employers alike in the coming years. The full video of the event can be accessed here—we encourage you take a look!

Odds and Ends

  • USDOL has announced another delay for the forthcoming final regulations for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Significantly, state WIOA plans will now be due April 1 of this year. The final WIOA rules will now be published sometime in “June 2016”. Moreover, USDOL has also clarified that requirements related to the sharing of One-Stop infrastructure costs will not go into effect until the next program year rather than the one set to begin this summer. More recently, Congress has begun to express disappointment with this announcement.
  • USDE has continued to provide the field with more information about the ongoing implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Department has created a website to house all of these updates and plans to regularly update it the coming years. Early this month USDE formally began the negotiated rulemaking process which is set to begin later this spring.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

This Week in CTE

January 8th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

REPORT OF THE WEEK

Using Dual Enrollment to Improve the Educational Outcomes of High School Students
ACT released a report delving into the benefits of providing dual enrollment opportunities for high school students, with a list of recommendations to expand dual enrollment programs including creating funding structures for programming and exploring online technology to increase accessibility. Read More.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

Connecting Credentials is hosting a series of webinars focused on improving credentialing, the first of which is today, highlighting employer engagement in credentialing. Learn more about the series here.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

350 employers, industry and education organizations from ACT, Inc. to Xerox signed a letter urging Congress to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career Technical Education Act. Learn More.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Congress Renews ESEA and Passes an FY 2016 Funding Bill

December 23rd, 2015

United States CapitalJust before the first session of the 114th Congress was set to conclude, lawmakers passed two key pieces of legislation before heading back home for the holiday season. The first among these was a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act— the primary federal K-12 education law which has been due for reauthorization since 2007.

The “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) substantially rolls back federal authority and responsibilities within the context of the new law by providing states and local communities significant flexibility for how to implement the various components of ESSA. Earlier this month the House passed ESSA by a margin of 359 to 64, which was then taken up and passed by the Senate on a similar bipartisan margin of 85 to 12 shortly after, and was signed by the President last week formally enacting ESSA into law.

ESSA contains many promising Career Technical Education (CTE)-related provisions such as a strengthened requirement that state academic standards be aligned with state CTE standards, expanded college and career guidance programs, and an increased focus on CTE student performance data. Notably, a “well-rounded education”—a key concept that the law seeks to promote— now includes CTE as part of the statutory definition.

Implementation of ESSA is already underway, with some of the law’s new provisions going into effect within the next year. The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has already started to unpack the new law, recently sending a Dear Colleague Letter to state education agencies, and soliciting input from the public for how best to implement some of ESSA’s key provisions. Comments on this solicitation are due no later than January 21, 2016. USDE has also created a dedicated email for stakeholders to ask questions regarding ESSA implementation as the Department begins to develop guidance for the law’s implementation: essa.questions@ed.gov

Earlier this week ESSA was officially enrolled and is now available to view in its entirety here. NASDCTEc applauds the passage of this landmark legislation and is looking forward to the upcoming implementation process where states and local school districts will have several key opportunities to coordinate, align, and strengthen supports for CTE.

Congress Approves Massive $1.1t Spending Bill

Throughout most of 2015, Congress has struggled to come to consensus on how to fund the federal government for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. After missing the initial FY 2016 funding deadline on October 1, Congress passed a series of stop-gap measures— known as continuing appropriations resolutions (CR)— that temporarily extended previous FY 2015 funding levels in an effort to avert a government shutdown this past autumn. These CRs also served the dual purpose of providing additional time for lawmakers to negotiate a broader agreement on federal spending for the remainder of FY 2016.

This negotiation process unfolded in two interrelated stages. Following the passage of the first CR in October, Congress and the Obama Administration announced and later ratified a two-year budget deal that provided much-needed relief from the Budget Control Act’s sequester caps— current legislative requirements that constrain federal spending on domestic programs, such as the Perkins Act’s basic state grant (BSG) program, into the next decade. This agreement increased these caps for FY 2016 and FY 2017, but left the important task of designating specific funding amounts for programs to separate appropriations legislation.

Last week, this type of agreement— known as an omnibus that combines several appropriations bills into one comprehensive spending package—was unveiled by Congressional negotiators last week and quickly passed by both Chambers before the President signed the measure into law.

The omnibus provides level funding for the Perkins Act BSG program for FY 2016 and restores earlier proposed cuts to the law’s national programs section, which supports CTE research and technical assistance projects. While other education and workforce development programs received modest funding increases from this legislation, those programs are largely authorized by laws that were recently renewed by Congress such as ESSA and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)— a fact that underscores the importance of Congress taking up Perkins reauthorization in the second session of the 114th Congress.

Odds & Ends

  • New Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King visited Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh, PA last week to tour the school’s CTE programs. More on the visit here.
  • The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and IBM called for the reauthorization of the Perkins Act in a U.S. News and World Report Op-Ed this week. Read the piece here.
  • The Technical Education and Career Help (TEACH) Act was introduced last week in the House— a companion bill to the Creating Quality Technical Educators Act introduced earlier this year in the Senate. The bill aims to strengthen the CTE teacher pipeline by supporting partnerships between LEAs and teacher preparation programs among other positive provisions. Read the bill here.
  • USDE recently announced that they will host a webinar on their ongoing “Experimental Site” initiative for dual and concurrent enrollment programs on January 13, 2016. Letters of interest are due no later than February 1, 2016 and additional information on this particular Ex-Site effort is located here. Register for the webinar here.
  • The Workforce Data Quality Campaign recently released its second annual “Mastering the Blueprint” report which assesses state progress towards strengthening and expanding their workforce data infrastructure. Read the report here.

 Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Congress Aims to Move Past No Child Left Behind as Funding Deadline Edges Closer Once More

November 24th, 2015

United States CapitalCongressional negotiators have announced an agreement on the long overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)— the law formerly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Due for reauthorization since 2007, lawmakers have struggled to find consensus for how to address NCLB’s most readily apparent flaws while honoring its long legislative legacy rooted in the civil rights movement.

As we shared earlier this summer, both the House  and the Senate passed respective bills to reauthorize ESEA. Since that time both Chambers have been working on a bipartisan and bicameral basis to develop a framework agreement that would serve as the basis for a compromise between the two proposals. Last week that framework was announced along with the creation of a formal conference committee— a move that has been exceptionally rare over the past decade.

ESEA conferees were announced last week and met twice before approving this framework (along with a few amendments) last Thursday by a margin of 39-1. A summary of this framework agreement— now known as the “Every Child Succeeds Act” or ESSA— can be found here.

It is important to note that this agreed upon framework must now be turned into a final bill and Congressional staff are now busy translating the aspects of this agreement into formal legislative text. That text must then be approved by both Chambers of Congress and signed into law by the President. The conference report and final text of ESSA is expected to be available on November 30th. The House is expected to consider the legislation shortly after this followed by the Senate. Lawmakers are aiming for final passage before the end of this December.

While the official legislative text has not been finalized, ESSA seeks to significantly roll-back the federal role in K-12 education by providing states broad authority (and flexibility) for how to implement the law. A broad overview of the agreement’s main contours can be found here.

NASDCTEc will provide a detailed analysis of ESSA’s CTE-related provisions of interest once it has been finalized and will continue to keep the CTE community abreast of this ongoing reauthorization effort.

Congress Passes Budget Agreement Providing Temporary Relief from Sequester Caps

As we shared previously, Congress passed and the President signed into law the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015” (BBA) which provides $80 billion in sequester relief over the next two fiscal years by temporarily raising current limits on federal spending (known as sequester caps) through FY 2017 for both defense and non-defense discretionary programs.

The deal also suspends, but does not raise the nation’s “debt ceiling” through March 15, 2017 putting the twin issues of federal spending and the nation’s debt limit off until after the upcoming 2016 presidential election.

Currently the federal government is operating on a “continuing appropriations resolution” (CR) which temporarily extended FY 2015 funding levels into the current 2016 federal fiscal year which began on October 1st of this year. This CR expires on December 11th, 2015 and Congress must act before that time to pass funding legislation to avert another government shutdown.

Although the BBA agreement provides an overall increase for how much funding is available to Congressional appropriators for federal Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017, those same lawmakers must still pass separate legislation designating specific dollar amounts for individual agencies and departments which administer federal programs such as the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins).

That process is currently underway and ahead of it NASDCTEc and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees urging them to restore Perkins funding to at least pre-sequestration levels or $1.123 billion for the law’s basic state grant program.

As a reminder Perkins derives its funding from the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill whose subcommittee has been given an overall allocation of $161.69 billion—a $5 billion increase over the FY 2015 level. That extra $5 billion in the FY 2016 Labor-HHS-ED 302(b) allocation must now be divided up among many programs, including Perkins, that are all competing for a portion of these newly available funds.

In an effort to ensure that Perkins funding is restored through this process, please be sure to contact your member of Congress to remind them about the importance of investing in CTE.  As the federal appropriations process continues and the December 11th deadline draws closer, be sure to check back here for more updates on Perkins funding.

Postsecondary CTE Bills Introduced in the House

Earlier this month two separate proposals to boost federal financial aid support for postsecondary CTE programs were introduced in the House.

The first of these, known as the Jumpstarting our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, was introduced by Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Brenda Lawrence (D-MI). The JOBS Act is a companion bill to an earlier Senate proposal sponsored by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). The legislation aims to change current program edibility requirements for the federal Pell grant program to serve more students who are enrolled in qualifying shorter-term postsecondary CTE programs.

The CTE Opportunity Act, another companion bill to an earlier Senate proposal, was recently introduced by Reps. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Ryan Costello (R-PA). House CTE Caucus co-Chairs Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) also cosponsored this bill which would increase access to federal financial aid available under Title IV of the Higher Education Act for qualifying shorter-term postsecondary CTE programs. Read more about the legislation here.

NASDCTEc supported both of these proposals and looks forward to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act where this policy recommendation and many more can be fully realized.

Odds & Ends

  • The Obama Administration recently announced a new experimental site program (made available under HEA) that will expand eligibility for the federal Pell grant program to students who are concurrently or dually enrolled in postsecondary coursework. The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) is currently inviting applications from qualifying programs for the 2016-17 academic year and hopes to support up to 10,000 students. More here.
  • USDE’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) recently announced a new initiative titled “Potential Role of Secondary Career and Technical Education Programs in Preparing Students for Apprenticeship Programs”. The National Career Technical Education Foundation (NCTEF) has been selected to provide support to this project and more on this announcement can be found here.
  • USDE has also recently unveiled a new transparency agenda aimed at improving the postsecondary accreditation system. Read more about the effort here.
  • The Obama Administration announced more than $375 million in public and private funding to support “Next-Generation” high schools—an effort to fundamentally redesign the high school experience by focusing on many of the elements contained in a high-quality CTE program of study. More on the announcement here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

This Week in CTE: ESEA Edition

November 19th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE(S) OF THE WEEK

House, Senate Conferees Endorse Deal to Replace No Child Left Behind
Lawmakers from the House and Senate met Thursday and by a vote of 39 to 1 endorsed legislation to replace No Child Left Behind. Next up is a vote by the House on December 2 before it heads to the Senate. The new legislation is all about the states, shifting accountability systems away from the Federal level, creating a grant program to help serve low-income children, and allowing states to cap standardized testing.
Read More

The New ESEA, in a Single Table
Though the full text won’t be released until November 30, Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute charts what provisions may have been eliminated or survived the new ESEA bill.
Take a Look

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Want to know where NASDCTEc stands on ESEA? Check out our ESEA recommendations and follow our Legislative Updates on the Learning that Works Blog.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

October 30th, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

National Apprenticeships week begins Monday! The U.S. Department of Labor has a variety of resources available including fact sheets, a list of events in your community and webinars.
Learn more

NEWS OF THE WEEK

The Manufacturing Skills Standards Council and Grduation Alliance have joined forces to address the skills gap in the manufacturing sector by focusing on creating pathways to graduation for former high school dropouts along with providing students with professional training and industry certification.
Learn More

BLOG OF THE WEEK

We’re closing out the month with a lot of activity around the Carl D. Perkins Act reauthorization. Learn more about the recent hearing in the House, Senate reauthorization priorities, and what is slated to happen next. Make sure to sign up for our Learning that Works blog and follow the Legislative Update series for more information.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Senate Begins Consideration of Perkins Reauthorization as House Elects a new Speaker and Congress Inches Closer to Budget Deal

October 30th, 2015

United States CapitalLast week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee formally began to consider the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins). As has been the case since the 113th Congress, Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Bob Casey (D-PA) have been designated by the committee to lead efforts to renew this important law.

These two Senators, along with HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), have all recently agreed to a set of eight bipartisan principles that will be used to guide their efforts to reauthorize the Perkins Act:

  1. Make it easier for States and locals to run their CTE programs to serve all students who desire to gain access to CTE coursework, including students with disabilities;
  2. Increase access to, and support of, career counseling for all CTE students;
  3. Maintain Perkins as a formula program;
  4. Align with ESEA and WIOA (where applicable) to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the education and workforce development programs;
  5. Support the expansion of public/private collaborations with secondary and post-secondary programs, including alignment with State or locally-determined in-demand industries and occupations;
  6. Support efforts to integrate into and strengthen career pathways at the state and local levels;
  7. Address unfunded programs; and
  8. Improve evaluation and research to support innovation and best practices.

 

This week groups were asked to submit specific recommendations to the committee for the law’s renewal. NASDCTEc, in conjunction with the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), submitted substantial legislative recommendations to the committee earlier this week based on our board-approved Perkins recommendations. A crosswalk of this submission with the above principles is available here, information related to Title I & II recommendations can be found here and here, and a document highlighting points of intersection between this proposal and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act can be accessed here.

So far no firm timeline has been set for a formal bill to renew Perkins. As with the Perkins-related hearing in the House this past Tuesday, these are just the first steps in what will likely be a much longer reauthorization process.

As things continue to evolve, be sure to check back here for more Perkins updates and analysis.

House Resolves Leadership Impasse and Passes a Bipartisan Budget Deal

As we’ve been sharing, the House of Representatives has been struggling to find a replacement for Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) following his surprise resignation announcement in September.

Last week the House GOP began to coalesce around House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as their preferred replacement for Speaker Boehner. Yesterday morning, the full chamber moved to elect Rep. Paul “D.” Ryan, elevating him to the Speaker of the House.

Competing for attention during the month-long melodrama of the House leadership race has been continued partisan disagreements on how to fund the federal government past December 11th and avert a catastrophic national debt default. Both of these issues, and many more, seem set to be resolved with the announcement earlier this week that Republican Congressional leaders and President Obama had reached a wide ranging agreement on federal spending and the nation’s borrowing limit.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA) would provide approximately $80 billion in sequester relief over the next two fiscal years by temporarily raising current limits on federal spending (known as sequester caps) through FY 2017. These increases would be split between defense and non-defense discretionary programs, potentially providing additional funding for programs—such as the Perkins Act basic state grant— over the next two years. The deal also suspends, but does not raise the nation’s “debt ceiling” through March 15, 2017. Both aspects of the BBA would push ongoing partisan disagreements over federal spending and the nation’s debt limit until well after the upcoming Presidential election.

This Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to pass the BBA on a margin of 266-167—a move made possible by Speaker Boehner’s imminent departure (a substantial portion of the House Republican Caucus did not support the measure which is at odds with an informal Republican Caucus rule that no legislation be considered unless a majority of the majority supports a bill).

The BBA now moves to the Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has filed a cloture motion that will allow the full chamber to vote on the legislation sometime this Sunday or late on Monday.

While the BBA is an extremely positive step in the right direction, the legislation simply creates a broad framework for federal spending. Once passed, Congressional appropriators will need to establish new 302(b) allocations— the amount of money made available for each portion of the federal budget— for each of the necessary individual spending bills. This includes the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill where the Perkins Act draws its funding.

Put another way, the BBA will make more money available for federal discretionary programs like Perkins, but Congress must pass separate appropriations legislation to make that a reality. The new availability of funds should make it easier for appropriators to restore the massive cuts to education that were proposed by both the House and the Senate earlier in the year. However, the discussions over specific funding levels for programs like Perkins will only get started once Congress passes the BBA, so full restoration is by no means assured. These pieces of legislation, or a larger package including all or some of them, would replace the current “continuing resolution” that is funding federal programs through December 11th.

As the Congressional appropriations process continues, be sure to check back here for the likely impact on Perkins funding and much more.

Odds & Ends

  • Last week, the Senate CTE Caucus hosted a briefing with CNA Education who presented findings from a comparative case study on CTE programs in Tennessee and Florida. An executive summary of the report can be accessed here.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative recently announced a campaign to encourage more 14-19 year olds to pursue some form of education beyond high school. More can be found at bettermakeroom.org.
  • The Obama Administration is facilitating a national conversation on transforming high schools to better serve all students. Additional information can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Focus Shifts to Higher Ed as ESEA Work Continues Amid Duncan Retirement

October 16th, 2015

United States CapitalA lot has happened over the past few weeks on Capitol Hill, particularly with regards to Congressional efforts to reauthorize key pieces of legislation for K-12 and postsecondary education. With fall in full swing, we wanted to take a moment to re-cap all of the activity over the past few weeks as we look ahead for what the rest of the year has in store for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. Below is Part II in a two-part series of autumnal legislative updates.

Senate CTE Caucus Highlights Importance of CTE within HEA

Late last month, the Senate Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus hosted a briefing for congressional staff titled “Postsecondary Pathways to Success: Strengthening Career and Technical Education in the Higher Education Act.” John Cech, Deputy Commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs for the Montana University System who is also a NASDCTEc member and State CTE Director for Montana, participated in this briefing.

John’s remarks grounded the panel’s discussion with a sense of relevancy and urgency saying, in part, “. . . the basic infrastructure of our society depends largely on our nation’s ability to produce new graduates at the two-year college level, in addition to the university degrees that are the traditional focus of the national postsecondary dialogue.”

The panel had four overarching recommendations for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) which would infuse the law with a much-needed focus on CTE:

  • Expand Title IV financial aid access to support shorter-term CTE programs that lead to high-growth, high-demand industries and careers
  • Reinstate year-round Pell and introduce other provisions that expand student access to federal financial aid to accelerate student learning and increase rates of completion
  • Ensure that the next iteration of HEA supports innovative practices in postsecondary education such as competency-based education
  • And finally, give strong consideration to dedicated funding opportunities within HEA for two-year colleges similar to the now expired Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program

Duncan Makes for the Exit as ESEA Work Continues

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that he will resign from his post at the end of the year. Duncan is the longest serving cabinet member in the Obama Administration and came into the position after serving as CEO of Chicago Public Schools for seven years.

John B. King Jr., who has been Deputy Secretary of Education since January of this year, will replace Duncan as the next Secretary of Education pending Senate approval.

Duncan’s tenure as the head of the U.S. Department of Education (ED), particularly the ESEA flexibility system granting waivers to states from many provisions contained in No Child Left Behind (NCLB), has been one of the main motivations behind Congressional activity to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) this year.

As we have shared previously, both Chambers of Congress were successful in passing rewrites of the law earlier this summer. Currently, lawmakers from the Senate and House Education Committees have been engaged in conference negotiations to reconcile the differences between the two bills. These discussions are still ongoing.

More recently, Democratic Senators Murphy (D-CT), Warren (D-MA), and Booker (D-NJ) hosted a roundtable discussion with Secretary Duncan and Deputy Secretary King focused on accountability issues within ESEA reauthorization. Holding states and local communities accountable for student achievement has been one of the most polarizing issues during the reauthorization process for ESEA and many Congressional Democrats, along with the White House, hope to strengthen such accountability provisions in a final bill when conference negotiations wrap-up.

Despite the progress being made in ESEA conference negotiations, a pathway forward for a bill containing stronger accountability requirements than what is currently in either the Senate or the House rewrites— something the Obama Administration and many Democrats would like to see— remains an uphill battle. As with much of the Congressional agenda this fall, the outcome of the race to replace Speaker Boehner will likely have a significant impact on ESEA’s chances of passage in the 114th Congress. As the Thomas B. Fordham Institute points out, ESEA’s chances are a hard “maybe” at this point.

Obama Administration Pushes Forward on a Number of Higher Ed Initiatives

Congressional efforts to reauthorize HEA are still ongoing and in lieu of a comprehensive proposal from Congress, the Obama Administration has continued to prioritize higher education issues. For instance the Office of Management and Budget, recently released the Admisntration’s final set of ‘Agency Priority Goals’ which outlines ED’s objective to increase the percentage of adults aged 25-34 who have an associate’s degree or higher to nearly 50 percent by 2017.

Late in September, ED also released much anticipated guidance for experimental sites who are pursuing innovative models of awarding federal financial aid for competency-based education (CBE) programs. These sites were first announced in 2014 as part of the experimental sites initiative authorized under HEA. The new “CBE Experiment Reference Guide” can be used both for the institutions and accrediting bodies participating in the initiative, as well as for institutions who might like to pursue CBE programs in the future. More information on the guidance can be found here. U.S. Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell has also announced that ED intends to expand this initiative by the end of the year.

Another round the experimental sites initiative was announced earlier this week. Named the “Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships” (EQUIP) experiment, ED is currently soliciting applications to support partnerships between colleges and universities and “non-traditional” providers of education, such as shorter-term job training programs or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Eligible programs would need to lead to a degree or certificate, articulate to academic credit, and be aligned to high-demand, high-growth economic sectors. More information on the announcement here.

Earlier this summer, the White House celebrated innovation within CTE and First Lady Michelle Obama announced that ED and her office’s “Reach Higher Initiative” would work together to launch a mobile app development challenge to create a user friendly tool for students to learn more about career pathways and other educational opportunities available to them. This month the First Lady officially launched the competition, making available $225,000. Applications are due no later than December 6, 2015—more information on the challenge can be found here and here.

Odds & Ends

  • More than eighty colleges and universities announced their collective commitment to a new, more holistic, college application process that focuses more on student portfolios of work and less on entrance exams. More on the effort here.
  • Senators Bennet (D-CO) and Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Higher Education Innovation Act, a bill that would create a five-year pilot program that offers an alternative pathway, focused on student outcomes, for institutional accreditation and related access to federal financial aid. Read the press release here.
  • Senate CTE Caucus co-chairs, Kaine (D-VA), Portman (R-OH), and Baldwin (D-WI), along with Senator Capito (R-WV), introduced the “Creating Quality Technical Educators Act”. The bill would expand HEA’s teacher residency grant program to support more schools in recruiting and preparing CTE teachers by strengthening partnerships between secondary and postsecondary institutions. NASDCTEc endorsed and supported this legislation and more on the bill can be found here.
  • The STEM Education Act was signed into law by President Obama late last week. The legislation formalizes computer science within the statutory definition for “STEM education” which is used for grant making opportunities through many federal agencies. More on the bill can be found here.
  • The Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), and Higher Ed for Higher Standards (HEHS) announced yesterday that they will partner together to implement higher academic standards in secondary school to more effectively prepare students for college and career success. More information is available here and here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

 

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