NASDCTEc Spring Meeting: Perspectives from the Hill

At last week’s Spring Meeting we heard from the following panelists about what is going on inside the Beltway regarding CTE, community colleges, college and career readiness, common standards, the President’s budget and ESEA:

  • Jamie Fasteau, U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education and Labor, Office of Rep. George Miller (CA)
  • Lindsay Hunsicker, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Office of Senator Mike Enzi (WY)
  • Joel Packer, Executive Director, Committee for Education Funding

Regarding the President’s ESEA Blueprint, Congress has concerns about competitive funding, consolidations, and the school turnaround models. They are also likely to look at current law and do what is realistic. There were also many unanswered questions from the Blueprint: How do states define CCR? How does CCSI fit in? When/how to do assessments?

There is an increased focus on high schools because of the emphasis from the Administration and the education community on college and career ready.  CTE has the ability to bring rigor and relevancy to this debate, and it has a track record of meeting students where they are. When asked why the college and career readiness discussion focuses mainly on academics, one panelist stated that Congress stays focused on English Language Arts and Mathematics because that is what is comfortable.

There was also some concern that the government should be funding existing, proven programs, rather than creating new ones.  Later, during the Q&A portion when the panel was asked why Perkins is frozen in the budget if there is so much focus on college and career readiness, one of the panelists pointed out that presidents and Congress prefer to create new programs. For this reason, it is important that there be Congressional champions of CTE who will fight for Perkins funding and make CTE a priority.

While Perkins is frozen in the budget, there is some additional funding for community colleges through the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.  Jill Biden is also hosting a community college summit in the fall, which CTE should make sure they are a part of.

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