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Legislative Update: House Ed Committee Passes ESEA Reauthorization Bill

CapitolHouse Education Committee Passes ESEA Reauthorization Bill

The House Education and the Workforce Committee passed this week the Student Success Act, or H.R. 5, as amended by a substitute from Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN). The Republican ESEA reauthorization measure passed on a party line vote of 24-15. Overall, the bill aims to eliminate more than 70 federal education programs and consolidate funding into a larger stream with more flexible uses. The bill would also eliminate the federal maintenance of effort requirement to give states more funding flexibility.

The Student Success Act would also keep current testing requirements in place but would allow states to make decisions on school improvement. Some opponents are concerned that the bill’s allowance of alternative assessments for many students in special education would result in an inequitable system.

Representative Rokita’s substitute, which was accepted as part of the overall bill this week, prohibits the Secretary of Education from requiring that states adopt the Common Core State Standards.

Read more about the ESEA reauthorization proposal on the Senate side. Due to stark differences between the House and Senate bills, conference on a final bill is unlikely to occur until the end of this year.

Senate Holds WIA Hearing

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing this week to begin its long overdue reauthorization process for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and the rest of the committee heard testimonies from local and state workforce leaders on how federal policy can better support the workforce through WIA.

One panelist, a CEO from a company that connects employers with workforce talent, spoke about the importance of counselors and how the stigma around jobs requiring technical skills is inaccurate and needs to change. Overall, the panelists encouraged greater collaboration between workforce development agencies and businesses, and updated federal legislation to support the increasingly diverse individuals needing workforce services.

Senate Budget Committee Hearing on President’s FY 14 Budget for Education

Secretary Duncan testified this week in front of the Senate Budget Committee on the President’s FY14 budget request for education. The request proposed funding the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) at its pre-sequestration level of $1.1 billion.

During the hearing, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) discussed her disapproval of the House budget proposal and the need to replace sequestration cuts, which have resulted in a $58 million decrease to Perkins. Secretary Duncan also indicated that the House FY 14 proposal would reduce total federal education funding by 18 percent in addition to the sequestration cuts.

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), a proponent of Career Technical Education (CTE), expressed concern to Duncan over the lack of focus on CTE and the exclusion of certificates and apprenticeships from college completion statistics.

U.S. Department of Education Announces Flexibility Waivers

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced this week two flexibility waivers for which states can apply. The first waives a component of the current Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waivers, permitting states to delay until the 2016-2017 school year the use of student growth data in making personnel decisions. This change impacts the 34 states and the District of Columbia that had approved waivers before the summer of 2012 by delaying implementation for one year. States without ESEA waivers will not be impacted.

The second flexibility waiver announced by the Department is focused on “double-testing flexibility.” The testing consortia PARCC and Smarter Balanced will begin field testing their assessments next school year. To avoid administering two similar tests to some students in the same year – the field test and the state’s current assessment – the Department is accepting requests from states that would like to administer a single assessment (either assessment is permitted) to students in the 2013 – 2014 school year. Accountability expectations would remain the same for the school year.

FY14 Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee this week approved its FY 2014 302(b) allocations by a party line vote of 15-14. The overall funding level was set at $1.058 trillion, $91 billion higher than the House’s $967 billion level. The allocation for the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) is $164.33 billion compared to the $121.8 billion Labor-HHS-ED allocation proposed by the House.

The Senate Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill is scheduled for markup on July 9, 2013 in subcommittee and on July 11, 2013 in full committee.

Wyden Amendment on Occupational Coding of UI Wage Records

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced this week an amendment to improve the collection and use of labor market information by amending the new immigration bill being considered by the Senate. The amendment would require employers to add occupational codes to the employee reports they send to their state UI agency. Part of the amendments intent is to create a public record of the number of people employed in technical jobs to assess the availability of qualified applicants from the U.S. before hiring individuals on an H1-B visa.

The CTE community would benefit from this information because it would allow us to observe whether or not individuals are employed in their area of study and to see how individuals move along a career path.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

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