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Legislative Update: Secretary Duncan Defends Administration’s FY 15 Budget Priorities before Congress, STEM Equity Bill Introduced in the House

May 2nd, 2014

CapitolOn Tuesday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before the full House Education and the Workforce Committee (HEW) to discuss the Obama Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request for the Department of Education (ED). As we have previously shared, the President’s budget request calls for $1.117 billion for the Carl D. Perkins (Perkins) basic state grant program— the same amount the program is set to receive for FY 2014. It also reiterates the Administration’s request for a $100 million competitive Career Technical Education (CTE) innovation fund to be paid for out of funds already designated for this purpose.

House appropriators on the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee voiced strong concerns about these proposals several weeks ago, and the HEW Committee reinforced many of those concerns this past Tuesday. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), who was recently honored with NASDCTEc’s Star of Education Award, echoed these sentiments.

“[ED] does not propose any additional funding for the Perkins Act,” he said. “The solutions to address [the needs of the economy] are in CTE programs throughout the country funded through the [Perkins Act].” Rep. Thompson also pressed Secretary Duncan on the Administration’s proposal to fund “untested and often duplicative education initiatives when we have a tried and true solution in Perkins.”

Secretary Duncan argued that the Department’s competitive funding proposals were aimed to more effectively use limited resources and to scale-up successful CTE models.  Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) echoed many of Rep. Thompson’s concerns and also questioned aspects of ED’s 2012 CTE Blueprint, particularly its proposal to require mandatory consortia of LEAs, postsecondary institutions, and other partners in order to receive Perkins funding. After acknowledging the importance of collaboration between the secondary and postsecondary CTE learner levels, Rep. Guthrie pointed out that many “rural or smaller schools may not be able to form a consortium.”

On this point Secretary Duncan conceded that, “The consortia idea is one that we want to continue to think through. Anything we can do in that Blueprint — it’s two years out of date now —something we can do better [sic], we’d be happy to update.” While ED has not officially announced plans to update its CTE Blueprint, NASDCTEc is encouraged that a top Administration official has expressed a willingness to rethink aspects of the proposal.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) also raised concerns regarding the impact of competitive grant programs to ensure equitable access for students. “How do you plan to ensure equal opportunity and funding for all students and not just the ones from school districts with the ability to write grants?”

She also highlighted her efforts to expand Pell eligibility for high school students enrolled in early college programs. A similar proposal contained in the Department’s FY 2015 budget request would expand Pell eligibility for students as part of a career pathway and she encouraged the Administration to continue with these efforts. Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), the newest member of HEW, also promoted a similar idea of using early college and dual enrollment as a model for CTE. Secretary Duncan said he was open to this idea and that the Department would look for promising strategies to encourage postsecondary credit and industry certification attainment at the secondary level.

Other members on the committee such as Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) voiced strong opposition to the Department’s new gainful employment and program integrity regulations among other similar topics.

An archived webcast of the hearing, including testimony, can be found here.

STEM Equity Bill Introduced in the House

Also on Tuesday, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) introduced the Getting into Researching, Learning & Studying of STEM (GIRLS-STEM) Act of 2014 (H.R. 4515). The bill would establish a program at the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that more female students participate in STEM education and have access to career and academic counseling. The program would provide grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) to support efforts and initiatives to encourage young women to study STEM subjects, educate parents about the opportunities for their children in STEM fields, provide mentorship opportunities for students, and prepare secondary students for transitions into postsecondary STEM programs.

“I know from personal experience that STEM careers can be personally and professionally rewarding, and we owe it to our young women to make sure they have access to the necessary education,” said Rep. McNerney, who has a Ph.D. in mathematics and worked for many years as an engineer. NASDCTEc applauds the Congressman’s efforts to promote young women in STEM programs and looks forward to working with him to more fully realize this admirable goal. A full press release on the legislation can be found here.

Performance Pilot Partnerships (P3) Update

As we shared last week, the Departments of Education, Labor, Health and Human Services and a number of other federal agencies, announced a new pilot program to better address the needs of disconnected youth in communities, states and tribal areas. The Departments released a consultation paper on this initiative which seeks to give a clearer picture as to the program’s design and purpose.

A webinar on P3 was also held this week, where it was explained that local Perkins grant recipients would be eligible to participate in these programs if an agreement is first reached with the state’s Perkins eligible agency. While funding stream “braiding” seems to be an objective of the pilots, it is still unclear at this time how reporting requirements for Perkins would be reconciled with other programs in a given project. As details on P3 become clearer, NASDCTEc will update the CTE community on the potential for collaboration.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

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 

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 

Legislative Update: College Ratings Proposal Continues to Take Shape, Senators Show Support for CTE

February 14th, 2014

CapitolAs we shared last year, President Obama has made college affordability a priority of his Administration’s education agenda. To better combat the increasingly high costs of higher education, the President has proposed a college ratings system which would link federal financial aid to institutional performance on a variety of measures. Metrics such as average tuition, loan debt, graduation rates, and graduate earnings have all been suggested as possible ways to measure how effectively postsecondary institutions are utilizing federal financial aid.

The Administration’s proposed ratings system, known officially as the Postsecondary Institutional Ratings System (PIRS), has been open to formal comment by the public since last December. Since then many institutions and associations have taken the opportunity to provide valuable feedback and insight for how such a system should be developed, what metrics it should or should not incorporate, and ultimately if such a ratings system is an appropriate responsibility for the Department of Education (ED) to take on. These wide-ranging responses can be found here. Many respondents voiced strong concerns regarding the potential negative consequences such a ratings system could have while others highlighted the transformative possibilities increased transparency could have on the postsecondary education marketplace.

The Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC), of which the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) is a national partner, also issued a set of recommendations for PIRS. These recommendations focused mainly on the importance of disaggregating institutional and program-level data, as well as how best to utilize employment and wage record data to gauge graduate outcomes.

The proposed ratings system is complimentary in nature to the Department of Education’s ongoing efforts to develop stricter regulations regarding “gainful employment” in vocational education programs at community colleges and for-profit institutions. More information on those efforts can be found here. As these dual initiatives continue to take shape, NASDCTEc will continue to track and monitor the progress of these efforts and their potential impact on CTE throughout the country.

Senator Rubio Highlights CTE’s Role in Higher Ed

Earlier this week Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered a speech at Miam-Dade College highlighting his proposals for reforming America’s higher education system. He called for universal income-based repayment for federal student loans and a reshaping of the current postsecondary accreditation system to better utilize competency based education programs and online course offerings. Speaking about a “growing opportunity gap” between those who have access to quality education and those who do not, Senator Rubio argued that “the source of an employee’s education is far less important than many previously thought.” He went on to argue that “those who have the skills and the aptitude to be successful in a job deserve the opportunity to be considered for employment, even if they learned the trade from a non-traditional source.”

Career Technical Education (CTE) was a central component in the Senator’s remarks and he used a CTE program in Miami as a successful example for his proposed reforms. “We should make career and vocational education more widespread and more accessible” he said. “For instance, here in Miami, the local school district has partnered with a car dealership to create an innovative approach to career education. . . When they finish high school, they graduate not just with a high school diploma but with a job-ready industry certification from an automobile manufacturer.” Senator Rubio went on to highlight the importance of apprenticeship programs and business and industry partnerships as strategies for expanding the development and access to high-quality CTE programs. NASDCTEc applauds these encouraging remarks from Senator Rubio and looks forward to working constructively on ways CTE can further promote the shared economic opportunity he has called for in this speech.

A full transcript of the speech can be found here and a video can be found here.

JOBS Act Introduced in the Senate

Yesterday, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) introduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses by supporting Students (JOBS) Act (S. 2033). The proposed legislation would amend the Higher Education Act (HEA) to expand eligibility for the act’s Pell Grant program. Under current law the Pell Grant program— like other federal financial aid— is not available to students taking “noncredit courses.” Postsecondary CTE programs, which typically offer certifications or other postsecondary credentials, often fall under this category. Current program eligibility requirements have a minimum seat-time of 300 instruction hours over the course of at least 16 weeks. This frequently leaves out short-term postsecondary CTE programs which are essential to equipping students with the relevant skills needed for the 21st century economy.

Senator Landrieu’s bill would expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in CTE programs by reducing current time-related eligibility requirements by half (150 hours of instruction over a minimum of 8 weeks). As Senator Landrieu pointed out, “The JOBS Act makes a smart update to expand the eligible uses of Pell Grant funding for short-term job training so we can build a strong and skilled workforce to fill the thousands of jobs that are being created in Louisiana and are currently empty.” NASDCTEc strongly supports this legislation and is encouraged to see a renewed focus on expanding access to postsecondary CTE programs for those who need it most.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

CTE Month Special: What Do the State of the States Mean for CTE? (Part II)

February 13th, 2014

mapYesterday, we released a summary of several state of the state addresses, focusing on their implications for CTE in the year ahead. Below is the second installment in this CTE Month special series, highlighting more governors who took time out of their state of the state address to endorse programs for high-quality CTE in their state.

During the State of the State Address in Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy embraced “hands-on learning,” committing his administration to working with private-sector partners and educators to provide for early college and dual enrollment initiatives. He also commended the P-Tech program, a collaboration between IBM and a number of New York City high schools that guides students through high school and provides for an additional two years of instruction. Graduating students complete the P-Tech program with advanced credentials and Governor Malloy expressed his desire to emulate this in Connecticut by offering a comprehensive, skill-centered pathway for students to credentials above and beyond a high school diploma.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal touted the state’s High Demand Career Initiative, designed to bring together leaders of the University System of Georgia, technical colleges and schools, and state industry leaders to understand labor market needs, as well as a $10M loan program for students attending technical colleges.

In Indiana, Governor Mike Pence outlined his desire to make CTE an option for every Hoosier student. He encouraged not only the development of programs to allow secondary students an easier path into postsecondary CTE programs, but also for adult education that would allow professionals to seek retraining to improve their skills and competencies making them more competitive in today’s labor market.

Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa promoted his Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act, entailing a number of initiatives to increase student access to apprenticeships by tripling funding for apprenticeships under the state’s 260F worker training program.  He also cited his state’s recent success expanding STEM education, anticipating 60,000 or more students will have access to STEM programs in the state as a result of the efforts of the STEM Advisory Council, an initiative led by Vermeer CEO Mary Andringa and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds.

Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas touted a 75 percent increase in enrollment in CTE since the state launched its Career Technical Education Initiative. The sweeping plan from 2012 included $8.75 million for CTE programs, covering tuition for students taking postsecondary CTE courses, $1.5 million to high schools that encourage students to earn industry recognized credentials and allotting funds to spread the word about job opportunities for CTE graduates.

In Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley announced his desire for every high school student in Maryland to graduate with a modern technical skill and a year of college credit already earned.

Governor of New Hampshire Maggie Hassan embraced developing STEM education in the Granite State as a response to the needs of the state’s high-tech industry. Governor Hassan cited restoring previously cut funds to New Hampshire higher education as a strategy to entice business to the state, and indicated that a well-trained and career-ready workforce was key to economic development in the granite state.

In the Oklahoma State of the State Address, Governor Mary Fallin called education beyond high school “the new minimum” for Oklahomans entering the workforce, and expressed her desire to increase the number of graduates seeking qualifications beyond a high school diploma “…either by attending college or a career technology center.” She also cited increasing numbers of Oklahomans seeking degrees or certificates as a result of collaboration with CareerTech in the Complete College America initiative.

In South Dakota, Governor Dennis Daugaard focused heavily on CTE, which he labeled “…the intersection of education and economic development.” In a series of proposals to enhance CTE and draw more students into technical fields the governor advocated for $5 million in Governor’s Grants for CTE to improve collaboration between secondary schools offering CTE courses, along with $3.8 million in Future Fund grants to technical institutes for workplace priority areas and extra funds for scholarships for students in high need fields.  He also touted Building South Dakota, the economic development fund that incorporates infrastructure, housing, and development funds along with CTE funding.

Continuing with his year-old Drive to 55 initiative, (a program to ensuring 55 percent of his state’s citizens possess credentials above a high school diploma by 2022), Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee voiced his support for expanded CTE and career readiness programs. Adding onto Drive to 55’s expanded dual enrollment, workforce readiness and curriculum alignment initiatives, Governor Haslam announced the “Tennessee Promise” program. Tennessee Promise will provide Tennessee secondary graduates with the opportunity to go to two years of community college or college of applied technology education free of charge. Continuing his push for expanded educational opportunity, Governor Haslam included in his address further funding for college expansion and renovation across the state, including $65 million for expanding two of the largest community colleges in Tennessee.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

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

February 12th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

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

January 31st, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

White House Releases SOTU Supplements

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

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

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

Senator Alexander Introduces School Voucher Bill

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

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

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

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

College Affordability and Innovation Act of 2014

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

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

The accompanying press release can be found here.

The GREEN Act

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

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

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

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

January 29th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

Omnibus Spending Bill Passes Congress Amid Retirement Announcements

January 17th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

NGA Sets Out 2014 Agenda

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

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

The full address can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

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

January 10th, 2014

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

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

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

OVAE Continues PIAAC Engagement Process

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

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

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

 

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