Legislative Update: Appropriations Process Continues, House and Senate Pass FUTURE Act

December 12th, 2019

This week, appropriators continued to work on the Fiscal Year 2020 funding agreement. Read below to learn more about next steps, a bill to fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities and simplify the FAFSA, a hearing on borrower defense regulations and resources on employer engagement.  

Appropriators Make Progress on Government Funding Deal 

This afternoon, congressional appropriation leaders came to a “deal in principle” to fund the federal government through the rest of Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20). The announcement was made by House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX), along with Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT). It is possible that a vote on this agreement will take place in the House early next week. Earlier this month appropriators announced that they reached an agreement on each of the total allocations for the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government (referred to as 302(b) levels). These 12 funding levels have not been shared with the public yet. 

Currently, federal funding is operating through a short-term funding bill, or continuing resolution (CR), that is set to expire on December 20, 2019. This is the second CR of FY20

House and Senate Pass Bill on HBCU Funding and FAFSA Simplification

Earlier this week, the House and Senate both passed an amended version of the FUTURE Act (H.R.2486/S.1279) which would permanently fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). The bill was amended to include language from the FAFSA Simplification Act that would simplify the number of questions learners and families need to submit to receive federal student aid. Previously, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) had included both FAFSA simplification and FUTURE Act language as part of a broader “mini” Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization entitled The Student Aid Improvement Act (S.2257). Concerns from HELP Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) that the The Student Aid Improvement Act was not a sufficiently comprehensive HEA reform meant that this funding was in jeopardy. However, in the past week introduction and passage of the FUTURE Act received bipartisan support that allowed the bill to move forward. The legislation now heads to the President to be signed into law.

Secretary DeVos Testifies at Hearing on Borrower Defense Regulations

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos testified to the House Committee on Education & Labor regarding the handling of the nearly 300,000 borrower defense claims submitted by students who were defrauded by some for-profit institutions that have closed, such as Corinthian College. Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) began by sharing his concern and frustration that current regulations were not being followed “in good faith.” This hearing follows a ruling from a federal judge in October that found Secretary Devos was in contempt of court for continuing to collect on debts that were previously ordered by the court to be halted. 

U.S. Department of Labor Shares Resources on Employer Engagement

The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration shared a page on the WorkforceGPS website with resources to support employer engagement. Some of the topics include apprenticeships, the business perspective and strategies for engagement. Check out Advance CTE’s Cheat Sheet: Opportunities for Employer Involvement in CTE to learn about ways that employers can get involved with CTE programs.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Legislative Update: Congress Passes Short-Term Funding Bills, College Scorecard Expands, Advance CTE Supports New Bills

November 21st, 2019

This week, short-term funding bills were passed in the House and Senate. Read below to learn more about the appropriations process, the newly expanded College Scorecard, new bills on career counseling and postsecondary apprenticeships, Advance CTE’s participation in last week’s Data Quality Institute and how Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos voiced support for connecting education and the workforce. 

Congress Passes Stopgap Funding Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown

Today, the Senate passed a short-term funding bill, or continuing resolution, 74-20 to keep the government funded until December 20. This bill, H.R. 3055, was passed by the House earlier in the week, mainly on party lines. Now, President Donald Trump must sign the bill before the currently enacted short-term funding bill expires at midnight. If the stopgap spending plan is not signed, there will be a government shutdown. 

The next four weeks will be used for Congress to come to an agreement on a full Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bill. If this agreement is not reached, there could be another continuing resolution. There is risk of a government shutdown should no agreement on either a short-term or long-term plan be reached by December 20. Appropriators have still not come to an agreement on each of the total allocations for the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government (referred to as 302(b) levels).

Department of Education Releases Expanded College Scorecard

On November 21, the U.S. Department of Education released a long awaited redesign and expansion of the College Scorecard to include program level data and more comprehensive graduation rate data. For the first time, data is now available to parents, learners and researchers that include median debt and median earnings by field of study. In the past, this data was only available at the institutional level. This allows for better evaluation, including rate of return of expected earnings for every dollar spent, of specific programs that learners and their families can use to make informed decisions. For researchers, this data provides a better understanding of specific programs within institutions, as well as a more comprehensive picture of graduation data. Previously, students that were not “first time full-time,” like transfer students, were not represented.

Advance CTE is currently evaluating this new data, check back for updates!

House Introduces Bill to Strengthen Career Counseling

Co-Chairs of the Congressional Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, Congressmen Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), introduced the Counseling for Career Choice Act. This bill would amend the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to provide state grants that would support the implementation of a statewide career counseling framework developed in partnership with community stakeholders such as schools and businesses. 

Advance CTE is pleased to support this bill. The press release can be viewed here and the full bill text can be viewed here

Senate Prepares Postsecondary Apprenticeship Bill 

Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) announced that he is preparing to introduce the Student Apprenticeship Act shortly. This bill would create a new grant program that supports apprenticeships that operate in partnership with institutions of higher education, employers and workforce intermediaries. Participating apprentices would be paid for their work, earn college credit as well as industry credentials. 

Advance CTE is pleased to support this bill. Kimberly Green, Executive Director of Advance CTE, is quoted in the press release for this proposal, which can be viewed here. The full bill text can be viewed here and a summary here

Advance CTE Presents at Data Quality Institute

Advance CTE attended last week’s annual Data Quality Institute, hosted by the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education and RTI International. At the conference, Advance CTE’s Deputy Executive Director Kate Kreamer shared her observations on implementation of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) and urged state leaders to think of their state plans not as a “one and done” but rather “a continuous improvement process.” Participants also shared their definitions and benchmarks for the Perkins V performance indicators and gained insights from other states in attendance. 

Check out resources on Perkins V here

Secretary DeVos Promotes Connecting Education to the Workforce

Last week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called for better connecting education and the workforce, both in K-12 and higher education. The remarks were made in a session with President of Western Governors University Scott Pulsipher during the Committee for Economic Development fall policy conference. Secretary DeVos stated that “We have had way too big of walls between education and business and industry, and those walls have got to come down. So I really encourage you to reach out to educators and see how we can partner with them to really meet your students’ and your community’s needs, and ultimately your own workforce needs.” Secretary DeVos also voiced her support for dual enrollment, apprenticeship programs and expanding Pell grant eligibility to short-term programs. 

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Legislative Update: Regulations on Accreditation and Distance Learning, Title IV-A Coalition Holds Day of Action

November 8th, 2019

In the first week of November, the U.S. Department of Education released final regulations on accreditation and distance education. Read below to learn more about what these regulations mean, the recent Title IV-A day of action, a forum on education in the current presidential race and stories of Second Chance Pell programs. 

Administration Finalizes Regulations on Accreditation and Distance Education 

On October 31, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos published the final regulations on accreditation and distance education as a result of the negotiated rulemaking process that occurred over the past year. In a statement Secretary DeVos said, “These final regulations demonstrate our commitment to working with student, State, employer, and institutional representatives to develop sound policies that serve the best interests of students. These reforms are necessary to bring higher education into the current century, to be more responsive to the needs of students, and to reduce the skyrocketing cost of higher education.

Some of the regulatory changes include: 

  • Accreditors can have separate faculty standards for instructors teaching dual or concurrent enrollment courses, as long as the instructors, “in the agency’s judgment,” have either the education or work experience to be in the instructor role. 
  • Accreditors can propose a three-year grace period to allow programs to come into compliance with the accreditor’s faculty standards for dual or concurrent enrollment. This grace period is able to be extended. 
  • Removal of the seven public disclosures that institutions with distance education or correspondence courses previously were required to provide, such as what the result would be if a student moved to a state where the institution did not meet State authorization requirements. 

The final regulations also include a summary of the almost 200 public comments received and the Department’s response. 

The regulations will go into effect on July 1, 2020. The Department also announced that proposed rules for distance education and innovation, TEACH grants and faith-based institutions will be published soon. 

The full press release can be found here and final regulations can be found here

Title IV-A Coalition Holds Day of Action 

On November 6, the national Title IV-A Coalition held a day of action to advocate for Congress to fully fund Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act. That title authorizes and funds the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grants, which can be used by local education agencies to support student health and safety, the effective use of technology or access to well-rounded education (which includes CTE). In Nebraska, for example, Title IV-A dollars are being used to recruit CTE teachers to curate and develop educational resources aligned with college and career content area standards. The SSAE grants were originally authorized at $1.6 billion a year, but are currently funded at approximately $400 million less than that level. 

CEF Hosts Forum on Education in the 2020 Presidential Race 

On November 4, the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) hosted a Forum on Education in the 2020 Presidential Race. The panelists included Evie Blad and Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week and Michael Stratford of Politico Pro. The group discussed the role of education in the current presidential race, and the most pressing education topics in this campaign. There was agreement that education has been discussed more in this primary than in years past. Overall, the panelists pointed to where federal funding for higher education should be allocated, the question of how to increase salaries and the expansion of charter schools as some of the most discussed education topics by candidates. 

A full recording of the event can be viewed here

DeVos Shares Stories of Second Chance Pell Programs 

Earlier this week, Secretary DeVos again voiced her support of the Second Chance Pell Experimental sites initiative, that was established in 2015 to provide Pell grants to incarcerated individuals. Currently, over 10,000 students across 64 institutions participate in Second Chance Pell programs. Secretary DeVos shared videos that highlighted the Second Chance Pell program at the Dick Conner Correctional Center in Oklahoma, as well as the results of a Corrections Education Scholarship from Tulsa Community College.

Legislative Update: House Markup of College Affordability Act, Education Appropriations Halt in Senate

November 1st, 2019

This week, the House Education and Labor Committee voted on the College Affordability Act. Read below to learn  more about markup of the bill, the appropriations process, this week’s Senate CTE Caucus briefing and a new resource on employer engagement in Perkins V. 

House Education and Labor Committee Moves College Affordability Act 

From October 29-31, the House Education and Labor Committee held a markup on the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674) that had been introduced on October 15. On October 31, the committee voted 28-22 on party lines to approve the bill out of committee. A number of CTE-related amendments passed, including:

  • An amendment by Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL), with a sub-amendment by Representative Andy Levin (D-MI) that would expand access to funds within Title III, including specifically for postsecondary CTE programs; 
  • An amendment by Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA) that allowed language in Title IV to include language from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that would include collaboration with industry or sector partnerships; 
  • An amendment by Representative GT Thompson (R-PA) with a sub-amendment by Representative Haley Stevens (D-MI) that would include CTE and Perkins alignment to specific Title IV funding for tribal schools; and
  • An amendment by Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D-OR) that would emphasize the recruitment of teachers with “significant cultural and community competency.”

Education Appropriations Halt in the Senate

On October 31, the Senate voted on the first procedural motion for the four-bill minibus, H.R. 2740 that includes Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) appropriations for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed). The Senate voted 51-41 to reject the motion and prevent debate on the bill from starting. Overall, Senate Democrats feel that proposed increase for Labor-HHS-Ed of just 1% over FY19 levels is insufficient, and so do not want to move this bill as it is now.

In addition to Labor-HHS-Ed, the minibus also includes funding for Defense, State Foreign-Operations and Energy-Water. 

Currently, federal funding is operating through a continuing resolution that was passed at the end of September and will go until November 21, 2019. 

Senate CTE Caucus Briefing Features Advance CTE

On October 31, the Senate CTE Caucus in partnership with the National Skills Coalition (NSC) hosted a briefing on “Connecting the Dots Between Perkins V and WIOA: How Can These Key Federal Policies Work Together to Drive Economic Success?” The briefing featured Advance CTE’s Director of Strategic Initiatives Meghan Wills, as well as Yvette Chocolaad, Policy Director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), Katrin Klack, Program Officer of the Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation (Rural LISC) and Katie Brown, Senior Federal Policy Analyst at NSC. The group agreed that it’s beneficial for states to find opportunities for coordination between Perkins V and WIOA in order to maximize impact. Wills reminded the group that a combined Perkins V and WIOA state plan is not the only way to align both laws. Although just a handful of states may pursue a combined plan, there is widespread alignment within states in the visioning and planning done for Perkins V and WIOA. 

New Resource on Employer Engagement in Perkins V 

Advance CTE released a new resource, Cheat Sheet: Opportunities for Employer Involvement in CTE, that identifies ways in which employers can get involved with CTE programs. The resources outlines ways the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) offers avenues for employer engagement at the state and local levels.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

FAFSA Simplification Bill Introduced, Executive Order Signed on Federal Agency Guidance

October 25th, 2019

This past week a bill to simplify the FAFSA was introduced in the Senate. Read below to learn more about the proposed bill, the recent executive order on agency guidance documents, additional information about the College Affordability Act and resources on work-based learning. 

Senator Alexander Introduces Bill to Simplify FAFSA

On Tuesday, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a new bill, along with Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)- referred to as the FAFSA Simplification Act. Although FAFSA simplification was included in the Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019 (S. 2557) that Senator Alexander introduced earlier this month, the FAFSA Simplification Act is a separate standalone bill. One of the most significant changes this bill would make is to decrease the number of questions on the form by prepopulating data already collected elsewhere. 

Overhauling the FAFSA to be less of a burden for students has been a longtime goal of Senator Alexander, and a priority for him in reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Trump Signs Executive Order on Agency Guidance Documents 

Earlier this month President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order,“Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents,” which requires that “agencies treat guidance documents as non-binding both in law and in practice.” The executive order states that all federal agency guidance must be clearly publicized as non-binding. Additional measures are put in place such as a required 30-day public comment period before any guidance is finalized. The order enforces that legally-binding requirements will originate only from Congress, and that “agencies may clarify existing obligations through non-binding guidance documents.”

House Plans for College Affordability Act Markup

Last week, House Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Democrat’s HEA reauthorization bill, entitled the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674). Markup of this bill is scheduled for Tuesday, October 29. The legislation is meant as a comprehensive reauthorization and includes a significant number of proposals, including:

  • Allocating an additional $181 million to states for postsecondary Perkins CTE programs; additional funds for tribal and outlying areas.
  • Creating a state-federal partnership to fund students to attend community college without cost. This program would require states to contribute $1 for every $3 the federal government contributes.
  • Removing the student unit record data system (SURD) ban and creating a new streamlined data system. The language included is almost identical to the College Transparency Act which Advance CTE strongly supports. This would streamline data collection, reduce institutional burden and better track student success and institutional quality.
  • Expanding Pell grant eligible dual-enrollment opportunities through a competitive grant program. The bill would also increase the number of Pell eligible semesters from 12 to 14, which is meant to allay concerns about Pell grant exhaustion. 

Advance CTE’s HEA recommendations can be found here

U.S. Department of Labor Shares Resources on Work-Based Learning

The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration shared a page on the WorkforceGPS website with resources to support work-based learning. Some of the topics covered include apprenticeships, career pathways and internships. New resources will continue to be added to this web page.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

College Affordability Act Released

October 16th, 2019

On October 15, the House Committee on Education and Labor introduced the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674), the House Democrats’ long-awaited legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Some of the major initiatives of the bill include:

  • Creating a federal-state funding partnership to incentivize states to make community college tuition-free;
  • Increasing the value and funding of Pell Grants;
  • Simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); 
  • Repealing the ban on Pell Grants for incarcerated students;
  • Codifying restrictions on federal funds used for for-profit institutions that had been put in place by the Obama Administration;
  • Repealing the student unit record data ban and creating a new postsecondary student data system;
  • Expanding Pell Grant eligibility to certain short-term credential programs; and
  • Creating additional funds for postsecondary Perkins CTE programs, including tribally controlled postsecondary CTE institutions.

Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) intends this to be a comprehensive reauthorization, in contrast to the recent “mini” HEA reauthorization proposal, The Student Aid Improvement Act, introduced by Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

Advance CTE staff will continue to monitor changing developments with this proposal and related legislation. Advance CTE’s full recommendations for HEA reauthorization can be found here

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Short-Term Spending Bill Passes, Senator Alexander Introduces HEA Bill

October 2nd, 2019

This past week, a short-term spending bill was finalized to extend government funding through November 21, 2019, and Senator Lamar Alexander introduced new Higher Education Act (HEA) legislation. Read below to learn more about the appropriations process, HEA proposal, new data on Career Technical Education (CTE) and innovation grants from the U.S. Department of Education. 

Short-Term Spending Bill Extends Funding Into November 

On September 27, President Donald Trump signed a short-term spending bill, H.R. 4378, to extend current funding levels-with some exceptions- through November 21, 2019. Since Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) funding was due to expire on September 30, 2019, this continuing resolution postpones a government shutdown and gives appropriators additional time to finalize the long-term FY20 funding bill. The day before the White House signed the continuing resolution, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 82-15, following the House passing of the bill earlier in the month. 

Now, appropriators are working on the full FY20 appropriations bills. So far, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education) proposed FY20 funding bill would allocate under $1.3 billion to CTE State Grants, also known as Perkins Basic State Grants- an amount that is level with the FY19 allocation. The House Labor-HHS-Education FY20 funding bill passed  in June proposed an increase of $47 million for Perkins Basic State Grants. Advance CTE will continue to provide updates as additional information becomes available.

Senator Lamar Alexander Introduces Higher Education Act Legislation

On September 26, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a package of eight bipartisan bills entitled the Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019 (S. 2557). This package includes many of Senator Alexander’s long-held priorities for the Higher Education Act (HEA), including:

    • Permanently extending funding for many Minority Serving Institutions, which expired at the end of September;
    • Simplifying and streamlining FAFSA submissions; 
    • Restoring Pell Grant eligibility for those incarcerated; and
    • Expanding Pell Grants to go to short-term non-degree programs. This is similar to the JOBS Act (S. 239 / H.R. 827) – which Advance CTE supports. However, there are some differences in Senator Alexander’s proposal, such as eliminating the limit to public institutions.   

The proposed package would require that students who repay their student loans under income-driven repayment plans pay a full 10% of their discretionary income.

HELP Committee Ranking Member Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) has expressed concern with Alexander taking a piecemeal approach, and has advocated for a full HEA reauthorization. Many of Murray’s priorities, including comprehensive student loan reform and Title IX issues dealing with campus sexual assault are not included in Alexander’s bill.

New Interactive Data Story on Career Technical Education in High School

The U.S. Department of Education released a new interactive Career Technical Education (CTE) data story, “Bridging the Skills Gap: Career and Technical Education in High School.” Along with the release of the report, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education Scott Stump shared that “CTE opens pathways to success for students whether they choose to pursue postsecondary education or enter the workforce after high school. These data show that students who concentrate in a high-demand CTE field, such as STEM or health sciences, go on to reap benefits from their studies long after graduation.”

The data in this new report examines CTE participation in high schools and student outcomes. Some of the data findings include: 

  • 77% of high school students earn at least one CTE credit;
  • About 75% of public school districts that have CTE programs offer CTE courses that grant dual credit; 
  • High school students who are CTE concentrators have a higher graduate rate than non-CTE concentrators; and
  • High school students who are CTE concentrators participate in postsecondary education within eight years of high school graduation at a higher rate than non-CTE concentrators. 

Check out the full report here for additional information on high school CTE delivery, concentrations and outcomes. 

New Education Innovation and Research Grantees Announced

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced new Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program grantees across 41 school districts, state education agencies and non-profit organizations. A total of $123 million in new grant awards will go to creating or expanding innovative practices that are supported by evidence to increase academic achievement for high-need students. Many of the grantees include rural areas and focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education. 

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

FY2020 Appropriations Work, New CTE Bill Introduced

September 26th, 2019

News this Week

As we get closer to the end of September, when government funding will expire, Congress has been continuing to work on the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bills. In the past week, the importance of CTE was recognized with the House introduction of the Strengthen CTE in Higher Education Act. The U.S. Department of Education also shared a guide on supporting access to dual enrollment for students with disabilities and embarked on its 2019 Back-to-School Tour.  Read below to learn more about each of these updates. 

Senate and House Continues Work on Appropriations Bills

On September 18, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education), Roy Blunt (R-MO), released the text of the Subcommittee’s Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) appropriations bill. 

The bill allocated $71.4 billion for the Department of Education and $12.1 billion to the Department of Labor. The FY20 bill allocates $1.3 billion to CTE State Grants, also known as Perkins Basic State Grants- an amount that is level with the FY19 funding level. 

The full Labor-HHS-Education FY20 bill can be found here and a summary of the bill can be found here. A markup of the Labor-HHS-Education funding bill has not yet been rescheduled after it was cancelled earlier this month

On September 19, the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution funding bill that would continue federal funding through November 21- allowing additional time for appropriators to finalize the long-term FY20 bill. A Senate vote for this measure has not been scheduled. Advance CTE will continue to provide updates as additional information becomes available. 

House Introduces The Strengthen CTE in Higher Education Act 

Last week, Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Kendra Horn (D-OK) and Abby Finkenaur (D-IA) introduced The Strengthen CTE in Higher Education Act (H.R. 4371). This bill would authorize nearly $200 million in funding to strengthen program alignment for postsecondary Perkins Career Technical Education (CTE) programs through collaboration between postsecondary CTE and partners in education and the workforce. 

The full bill can be found here. A press release, including a quote from Advance CTE’s Executive Director Kimberly Green, can be found here

Department of Education Shares Guidance on Dual Enrollment for Students with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education released a guide  last week on “Increasing Postsecondary Opportunities and Success for Students and Youth with Disabilities.” The guide shares information about how federal funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) can be used by states and districts to support access to higher education programs, such as dual enrollment, for students with disabilities.

In a press release accompanying the guide, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos stated the following:

 “All students deserve the freedom to pursue an education that is challenging and allows them to reach their full potential. I hope this information will make clear what the law says and serve as a resource to families, Individualized Education Program (IEP) Teams and State VR agencies as they continue to collaborate and find ways to increase postsecondary opportunities – and success – for students and youth with disabilities.”

Department of Education Participates in Annual Back-to-School Tour

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, carried out her annual Back-to-School Tour to visit schools that are rethinking education. Secretary DeVos spent time at elementary and secondary schools, as well as postsecondary institutions across Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Scott Stump also participated in the 2019 Back-to-School Tour. Assistant Secretary Stump visited:

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

FY2020 Appropriations Process, Secretary DeVos Visits CTE Programs in Alaska

September 12th, 2019

News this Week

Congress returned this week after a six-week recess, and continued with the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations process. Read below to learn more about the appropriations outlook, Secretary DeVos’s recent visit to Career Technical Education programs in Alaska and a new article about collaboration between education and foster care services. 

FY2020 Appropriations Process Continues 

Congress returned from the six-week summer recess this week with the intention of moving forward with the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) appropriations process following the budget deal that was reached right before break. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education) was scheduled to markup their FY20 appropriations bill on Tuesday, September 10. However, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) postponed this markup shortly before it was scheduled to begin due to partisan disagreements about the bill. The disagreements mainly revolved around the funding level, as well as policy amendments attached to the bill. 

Earlier today, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted on the spending levels for each of the 12 appropriations bills, passing on party lines. Although the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill has not been shared with the public, the allocation for Labor-HHS-Education is $187.7 billion- just about a 1% increase over FY19 funding. As a reminder, the House Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill that was passed earlier this summer included about a 6% increase over FY19 funding.  

Federal funding runs out on September 30, and appropriators are now working to come to an agreement before that time. One possible outcome is that Congress will pass a short-term funding bill, or a continuing resolution, to extend current funding levels while continuing to work on the full long-term funding bill. 

Advance CTE will continue to provide updates as additional information becomes available. 

Secretary DeVos Visits Career Technical Education Programs in Alaska 

Recently, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos traveled to Alaska to visit two Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and learn more about existing CTE opportunities in the state. Secretary DeVos first observed students at King Tech High School in Anchorage. King Tech High School offers CTE programs in 25 occupations and provides learners with the skills to be successful in both college and a career. Next, Secretary DeVos visited the Northwestern Alaska Career & Technical Center (NACTEC), located on the Nome-Beltz Jr./Sr. High School campus. NACTEC classes are open to learners across the region.

New Article Shares Recommendations for Supporting Learners in Foster Care

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) pushes local education agencies to collaborate with foster care services and coordinate supports for students. Perkins V also focuses on youth in foster care by adding them to the list of special populations and requiring states to review and report disaggregated performance data. In many states, these requirements will involve new processes and relationships, but they are ultimately designed to support the success of students in foster care. In this article, advocates in California lay out a series of recommendations and opportunities to foster stronger collaboration between education and foster care services at both the state and local level. 

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Congress Reaches Budget Deal, Congressional Briefings on JOBS Act

August 1st, 2019

This week, the Senate passed a $2.7 trillion budget agreement. Read below to learn more about the budget deal, as well as recent briefings on Career Technical Education (CTE) and cybersecurity, agriculture and short-term job-training programs. 

Congress Reaches Budget Deal

Today, the Senate passed a $2.7 trillion budget agreement in a 67-28 vote. Through this agreement, the non-defense discretionary funding cap for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 will increase by $27 billion and defense spending will increase by $22 billion. Each of those levels will go up by $2.5 billion in FY21. 

This follows last week’s budgetary movement, when Congressional and Administration leaders worked together on an agreement to raise spending levels for FY20 and FY21, as well as suspend the debt ceiling. The House then passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (H.R. 3877), a budget deal that raises the caps on defense and non-defense discretionary funding for FY20 and FY21 and  suspends the debt limit through July 31, 2021. 

Now, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) will determine the division of funds between the 12 government funding bills, and the Committee will prepare each of the 12 funding bills to be voted on following August recess before government funding runs out on September 30.

House and Senate Panels Discuss Short-Term Programs and JOBS Act

This week, both the House and Senate held briefings on short-term job-focused college programs. The panel, sponsored by Opportunity America, along with Representatives Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), discussed the ways that high-quality short-term programs open up new opportunities for career growth. The group explained that short-term credentialing programs can prepare individuals for in-demand and high-wage careers, improving career opportunities for the student and filling employer vacancies. A former Virginia Community College System student who took advantage of such program explained that, as a result, he has “a career instead of a job.” 

The panel also discussed the benefits of expanding Pell Grant eligibility to short-term job training programs, as outlined in the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act (S. 839 and H.R. 3497). This legislation would expand Pell Grant eligibility to high-quality short-term postsecondary programs. Eligible short-term programs would have to be at least 150 clock hours over at least eight weeks, meet local or regional labor market needs, articulate to institutional credit and provide students with a recognized postsecondary license, certification or credential.

Senate CTE Caucus Holds Briefings on Cybersecurity and Agriculture

The Congressional Career Technical Education (CTE) and Cybersecurity Caucuses held a joint briefing last week on “Building a Culture of Security: Integrating Cyber into Career and Technical Education.” The event featured a panel of cybersecurity and CTE experts speaking about the importance of integrating cybersecurity education into CTE programs, creating jobs in the cybersecurity field and anticipating future security threats to the country. When asked about public misconceptions regarding the skills needed to enter the field, panelists noted that there are a variety of cybersecurity career opportunities outside of the traditional computer science pathway.

The Senate CTE Caucus also held a briefing last week on “Agricultural Education and the National FFA Organization.” Current and past National Future Farmers of America (FFA) students and educators spoke about the impact of agricultural education on their understanding of food and health. The current students also shared that their CTE and FFA experiences gave them optimism about finding the job of their choice in their area of interest.  Senator Todd Young (R-IN), Co-Chair of the Senate CTE Caucus, spoke about the important role of the agricultural industry, and encouraged today’s students to continue to follow their passions while in school. 

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Jade Richards, Policy Fellow

 

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