Bills, the Budget, and More from the Hill

March 23rd, 2017

News is coming fast out of the new Administration, from President Trumps ‘skinny budget,’ to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos making the rounds at a series of education-focused conferences.  This week we’ll dig into the President’s 2018 Fiscal Year budget, explore a few bills that have been recently introduced, and get a sense of Secretary Betsy DeVos’ policy priorities.

Secretary Betsy DeVos maintains messages:

Secretary DeVos spoke to two groups of state leaders this week, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). In her March 20 remarks in front of both groups, she emphasized the benefits of expanding school choice and the flexibility provided to state leaders under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Both speeches featured examples of best practices in states, and her NASBE remarks highlighted Career Technical Education (CTE) efforts in California, specifically the state’s CTE courses that satisfy admission requirements for the University of California system and programs that incorporate industry-based learning.

This follows last week’s letter to chief state school officers on ESSA, including new guidance and an updated plan template. Notably, states planning to submit their plans by the first deadline will have until May 3 to allow governors sufficient time to review the updated template. Find more information and resources here.

Budget Update:

The President’s FY18 budget lays out cuts to the U.S. Department of Education totaling $9 billion. However, just $4.9 billion in cuts are outlined at this time (see this table for additional details), meaning that there is a strong likelihood that another $4.1 billion in cuts will be outlined at a later date. We do not yet know the proposed level of funding that Perkins will receive (though we do appreciate that Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) sent this letter to President Trump encouraging him to invest in Perkins). While we are unsure of the exact timeline for Perkins  reauthorization (though we continue to urge Congress to reauthorize soon), discussions are underway and it is likely that a bill will first move through the House, likely building off the version passed in the fall (H.R. 5587). While the administration has its sights set on the FY18 budget, the ongoing Continuing Resolution (CR) that Congress passed late last year is scheduled to expire on April 28. At that time, Congress will need to pass an omnibus budget bill or another CR to continue funding for the remainder of FY17.

In case you missed it:

  • Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Todd Young (R-IN) – co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus – reintroduced the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act on March 14. This bill would amend Perkins, with a focus on raising the quality of CTE programs (see this factsheet for additional details).
  • Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) reintroduced the Community College to Career Fund Act, which would create a competitive grant program through the Department of Labor to “create and expand partnerships between two-year community and technical colleges and employers to train millions of Americans for jobs in high-demand industries” according to this one-pager released by the bill’s sponsors.
  • While budget cuts may be ahead, it seems there is at least general support for CTE from this new administration. In her March 15 remarks to the National Lieutenant Governors Association, Secretary DeVos said, “We should break the stigma that career education options are not valid paths to learning and success.” Just two days later in a discussion with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German business leaders about workforce development issues President Trump said, “Germany has been a model for highly successful apprenticeship — that’s a name I like, “apprentice” — apprenticeship programs.” Major employers who have been supportive of CTE also contributed to the discussion, including IBM and Siemens.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

Perkins Reauthorization Top of Mind for House Reps After Hearing on CTE

February 28th, 2017

Earlier this morning, the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education held a hearing on secondary CTE, kicking off renewed efforts to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins). A recording of the hearing is available here.

Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) in his opening remarks shared examples of CTE’s impact in his home district and charged his fellow committee members to complete its work to reauthorize the Perkins Act, which hasn’t been updated in more than ten years. He recognized the committee’s success in the previous session, during which the committee unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that later sailed through the House with a 405-5 vote. That bill was stalled in the Senate, and the Committee is expected to introduce a similar piece of legislation in the coming weeks.

In his opening statement, Ranking Member, Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) stated “ Reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act presents this Committee with an opportunity to ensure that CTE programs are of high quality, emphasize equity, align with academic and labor market demands, and provide opportunities for all students – especially those historically underserved – to receive credentials that lead to high-skill, high-wage, in-demand career opportunities.”

Witnesses representing both workforce and education organizations praised the important role Career Technical Education (CTE) has played in increasing access to opportunity and closing the skills gap and urged the committee to renew support for CTE programs nationwide.

Mr. Glenn Johnson, representing multi-national manufacturing company BASF shared about the educational programs and supports his organization provides in various communities across the states, but expressed alarm about the growing skills gap and challenges recruiting individuals into the manufacturing sector. According to Mr. Johnson, 11,000 baby boomers turn 70 every day, contributing to the growing need to prepare the future workforce to fill critical jobs.

The conversation in the hearing then turned to two core issues: ensuring all students have access to high-quality CTE and addressing the public stigma that a four-year degree is superior to technical training.

To the former point, Mimi Lufkin of the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity urged the committee to focus on underserved students in its reauthorization efforts, specifically to encourage students to pursue nontraditional fields. She shared examples from Douglas County, Oregon and Morgan County, Ohio where efforts to reach nontraditional students led more girls to enroll in a welding program and increased participation of boys in a health science course. Janet Goble, Board member of ACTE and CTE Director in Canyon County, UT, shared a story from her own school district, where a program aimed at introducing middle school girls to non-traditional occupations increased the participation rate of non-traditional high school students from 26 percent to 53 percent.

Finally, Mike Rowe, television personality of “Dirty Jobs” fame and CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, argued that participation in CTE would stagnate without a concerted effort to address the stigma around vocational education. He argued that promotion of four-year postsecondary education programs comes at the expense of two-year, technical and apprenticeship opportunities that may better equip students with relevant skills and connect them to a high-wage job.

In the question period, which was well attended by committee members from both the subcommittee and full committee, many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle spoke to the need to change the image of CTE and applauded the witnesses’ inclusion of data in their testimony.

Today’s event comes at a critical point in time, when the Trump administration has signaled potentially dramatic cuts to domestic programs including education. If there is any takeaway from this morning’s hearing however, it is that CTE enjoys broad support, not only from members of Congress in both parties  but also the education and employer community as well.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

As Dust Settles from Presidential Transition, A Path for Perkins Emerges

February 22nd, 2017

Transition Update from the Trump Administration

After a contentious confirmation hearing and an unprecedented vote requiring Vice President Mike Pence to break a Senate tie, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education on February 7. In her first weeks on the job, Secretary DeVos reassured state education officials they should move forward with implementing the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) as planned, despite moves from the 115th Congress to eliminate Obama-era regulations on ESSA accountability and teacher preparation. Barring further changes from the administration, state ESSA plans are due on either April 3 or September 18 this year.

Meanwhile, the Senate voted by a narrow 51-49 margin to confirm former congressman Mick Mulvaney to head President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget. It is unclear at the moment exactly how Mulvaney will influence the budget and appropriations process moving forward, though he has advocated widespread cuts to federal spending. Mulvaney’s first task will be releasing the administration’s budget priorities for fiscal year 2017 and 2018. While FY18 begins in October this year, the federal government is operating under a continuing resolution (CR) that expires on April 28. Congress will need to either pass a new CR or put together an omnibus budget bill by that date to keep the government running through the fall. Advance CTE has been closely monitoring budget and appropriations efforts and will report back as more information comes available.

Buzz on the Hill around CTE Month

This year’s CTE Month – an annual celebration of Career Technical Education (CTE) – coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the Smith-Hughes Act. On the Hill, there is growing enthusiasm and recognition of the progress CTE has made over the past century. Last week, the Senate passed a resolution praising CTE for helping students develop the skills and abilities they need to be successful in the workforce. The resolution garnered a record 31 co-sponsors before it was passed.

Also, a Valentine’s-Day CTE Caucus event celebrating the past, present and future of CTE drew a crowd. Advance CTE’s very own Kimberly Green spoke on the panel, sharing the history of federal involvement in CTE from Smith-Hughes through today. A video of the event is available here.

Perkins Reauthorization A Top Priority for 115th Congress

Members of the House Education and Workforce Committee are coalescing around a possible springtime reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins). In an op-ed for Real Clear Education, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) wrote that passing an updated Perkins Act was a top priority for her committee, one she aims to “finish … in the coming months.” The Committee has scheduled a hearing on strengthening CTE at the secondary level for February 28 and is rumored to be planning to reintroduce a bill that is in close proximity to last year’s H.R. 5587 shortly thereafter. That bill passed the House in September on a 405-5 margin but stalled in the Senate.

Perkins reauthorization is top of mind for the nascent Trump administration as well. Speaking at the 2017 Community College National Legislative Summit, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos remarked:

I know that there are many items on your legislative agenda, from reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and the Perkins Act, to ways community colleges can help transform the nation’s infrastructure, to allowing Pell Grants to have flexibility in supporting students working to graduate more quickly. And in the days ahead, I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts and working with you as President Trump’s vision continues taking shape.

As always, subscribe to our Legislative Update blog series for the latest updates on Perkins and other federal activities related to CTE.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Betsy DeVos’s Narrowing Path to Confirmation

February 3rd, 2017

On Tuesday the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee voted to advance Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education nominee, out of committee. The vote was narrowly decided along party lines with 12 Republicans voting for and 11 Democrats voting against her nomination.

Since then, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) both announced they would not be voting for the nominee, putting Betsy DeVos’s nomination on very shaky ground. That leaves her with just 50 Republican votes, meaning the final decision may fall to Vice President Mike Pence, who casts a vote in the Senate in the event of a tie.

Shortly before the Senate HELP committee vote, DeVos released written responses to 139 questions from Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). Among them was a question related to reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins). DeVos called Perkins reauthorization “an important priority,” and added that she aims to work with the HELP committee to update the law to “provide flexibility at the state and local levels” and “ support transparency of data so parents, students, and other taxpayers can see how well their programs are working.”

Early this morning, the Senate voted 52-48 to end cloture, a procedural hurdle that needed to be cleared before the Senate would be able to conduct the final vote on DeVos’s confirmation. The final vote is now scheduled for Monday, February 6.

Trump Appoints Jerry Falwell, Jr. to Task Force for Higher Education

According to the Chronicle for Higher Education, Jerry Falwell, Jr., President of Liberty University, will be advising the Trump administration on higher education policy. He was appointed this week to lead a task force that will study issues related to accreditation, student loan forgiveness, campus sexual assault and more. While Falwell’s positions on such issues are unclear, he has made statements indicating that he aims to scale back the role of the federal government in postsecondary education.

Meanwhile, Lots of Support for CTE on the Hill

Last week, House and Senate CTE Caucus co-chairs received a letter urging them to resume Perkins reauthorization. The letter, which was signed by 85 organizations and businesses, praised Perkins as a tool for meeting the needs of the 21st century economy and helping employers close critical skills gaps. Advance CTE was a co-signer of the letter.

Additionally, Senate Democrats last week introduced a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that aims to create more than 15 million jobs. The bill is an attempt at bipartisanship in response to President Donald Trump’s comments, both on the campaign trail and during his inauguration, that rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure is a priority in the early months of his administration. Included in the bill is $75 billion for school construction projects, which will be disbursed to schools based on need.

In the House, Republicans introduced a resolution on Thursday under the 1996 Congressional Review Act to revoke Obama-era regulations for accountability and teacher preparation under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). While the regulations were already frozen temporarily under a recent executive order from the White House, this resolution would revoke the regulations entirely. Further, President Trump’s administration would be prohibited from issuing “substantially similar” regulations, casting uncertainty over the future of ESSA implementation. The resolution must be approved by both the House and the Senate before going into effect.  

Finally, to help celebrate CTE month, the Senate CTE Caucus will be hosting an event that examines the role and impact of federal CTE policy.  Once this event is confirmed, we will share a link so you can participate virtually, as the event will be livestreamed.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate and Kimberly Green, Executive Director

President Trump’s First Week in Office

January 29th, 2017

Trump Freezes Pending Regulations, Including those Related to ESSA Accountability

President Donald J. Trump was sworn into office on Friday. During the inauguration ceremony, the President said the U.S. has “an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge,” though he did not provide additional details about his plans for improving the federal education system.

Upon taking office, Trump immediately revoked any regulations not yet submitted to the Federal Register and postponed the effective date of pending regulations by 60 days. This echoes a similar move from the Obama administration in early 2009. Although the most recent round of ESSA regulations, which detail accountability and state plans, were published in November 2016, they were not set to take effect until January 30. As a result, those regulations will now go into effect on March 21, 2017. While this could implicate ESSA plan submissions, state officials and consultants do not anticipate the pause will affect state timelines, according to Education Week.

President Trump has also hinted that he wants to reduce federal regulations by 75 percent, though he has not indicated where these reductions will come from.

Lastly, positions at the White House are starting to be filled. Rob Goad, a former staff with Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) has been selected to fill the position of Education Advisor at the Office of Domestic Policy Council.  The Education Advisor position is not a “required” position, so the fact that the position has been filled early on is a potential signal of the administration’s intent to develop education policy priorities.

DeVos Vote Rescheduled to January 31

Last week we provided an overview of Education Secretary to be Betsy DeVos’s hearing with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. While questions related to Career Technical Education (CTE) or reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act of 2006 were limited, the hearing turned out to be quite contentious, with Democrats protesting the limited time to review the nominee’s ethics report prior to a confirmation vote. Responding to concerns from his committee, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) postponed DeVos’s hearing by one week to Tuesday, January 31 to allow Senators additional time to review the Office of Government Ethics’ report. On Friday, Senator Todd Young (R-IN)  recused himself from voting on the DeVos confirmation, citing a conflict of interest because she donated to his campaign.

Senators Kaine and Portman Reintroduce JOBS Act

On the Hill, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus, reintroduced the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students Act of 2017 (JOBS Act). The bill aims to expand the Federal Pell Grant program to include postsecondary CTE job training programs in in-demand industries. Under the bill, such programs must provide no less than 150 clock hours of instructional time over eight weeks and enable students to obtain a license or credential. Advance CTE has endorsed the proposed legislation.

WIOA Infrastructure Guidance

On January 18, 2017, Former Acting Assistant Secretary John Uvin, put out an extensive memo articulating additional information related to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) infrastructure guidance. While the memo was directed to State Directors of Adult Education, Perkins is mentioned throughout. Advance CTE is in the process of analyzing the memo and will provide a more in depth analysis to members next week. We should note that it is unclear whether any of the non-regulatory guidance put forth by the Obama Administration will hold, given the Trump Administration’s push to reduce federal oversight and burden on states by reducing regulations.  

Austin Estes, Policy Associate and Kimberly Green, Executive Director

114th Congressional Wrap-Up and Perkins Outlook

December 13th, 2016

United States CapitalFollowing the November elections, lawmakers have been on Capitol Hill for the final phase of the 114th Congress. This lame duck session was formally scheduled to come to an end this upcoming Friday, but the last-minute passage of a continuing resolution (CR) last week allowed lawmakers to adjourn the 114th Congress a week early after the bill cleared the Senate.

With policymakers digesting the results of the elections and planning ahead for 2017, there were not too many education or workforce-related highlights from this final session of Congress to speak of. The dearth of legislative activity did make room for the composition of the respective House (HEW) and Senate (HELP) education committees to become clearer.

In the Senate, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will retain his leadership role of the HELP Committee. Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) will also keep her slot going into next year. This year this duo, along with Senators Enzi (R-WY) and Casey (D-PA), came close to passing a comprehensive reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act, but unfortunately these efforts stalled as the year wore on. The root cause of this delay were continued disagreements related to the oversight authority of the U.S. Department of Education (USDE).

With the retirement of Chairman John Kline (R-MN), the House education committee recently named a new Chairwoman—Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)— to lead HEW in the 115th Congress. Rep. Foxx recently won her seventh term in Congress, and has been the Chairwoman for HEW’s subcommittee on higher education since 2010. Prior to her tenure in Congress, she was a professor and administrator at several postsecondary institutions in North Carolina. On the Democratic side of the aisle Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) will retain his leadership position on the committee.

Earlier this year the full House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 5587—comprehensive legislation that would reauthorize the Perkins Act. While there were some remaining items that needed to be addressed as the bill made its way over to the Senate (primarily a fix for the proposed definition for a secondary CTE concentrator), Advance CTE endorsed and supported this legislation’s passage. Unfortunately due to the reasons cited above, the bill lost momentum when it arrived in the Senate.

As we look ahead to the next Congress, lawmakers in both chambers have expressed interest in taking up Perkins reauthorization. However, a specific timeline for the law’s consideration is still unclear and it will be competing with other education priorities such as a renewal of the Higher Education Act (HEA). In the coming year, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for a thoughtful reauthorization process for Perkins in this new environment and will urge lawmakers to build upon the strong foundation laid with H.R. 5587 to support high-quality CTE for years to come.

Be sure to check back here for an in-depth look at what else is in store in the 115th Congress in coming week.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Congress Averts Government Shutdown with Stopgap Funding Legislation

December 12th, 2016

United States CapitalOn Friday the House and Senate successfully passed a second “continuing resolution” (CR)— short-term stopgap funding legislation that temporarily extends current Federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 spending levels through April 28th, 2017. The legislation provides funding for the federal government until this date or until a separate full-year appropriations bill is enacted into law. The current 2016 fiscal year began this past October and the federal government has been operating under the auspices of an earlier CR passed by Congress just before this deadline.

While it had seemed likely that Congress would pass comprehensive spending legislation for the full fiscal year during the current lame duck session of Congress, as they have several times in years past, incoming President-Elect Donald Trump requested that these critical funding decisions be further delayed until next spring.

This decision leaves the outlook for funding for important federal programs, like the Carl D. Perkins Act, uncertain in the interim. This year’s earlier CR required a 0.496 percent across-the-board cut to all discretionary federal programs, including the Perkins Act’s basic state grant program. Due to the Budget Control Act’s (BCA) sequester caps, which significantly restrict the amount of funding available for programs like Perkins each year through the next decade, this reduction translated into $5.5 million in fewer funding for Perkins, students, and the CTE programs the law supports.

At that time, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) revised states’ Perkins allocations in October and 30 states received reduced grants amounts due to the passage of this temporary legislation.

This most recent CR re-adjusts this half percent reduction somewhat to 0.19 percent to stay within the BCA caps. However, USDE is not likely to reimburse states for the difference between these two spending cuts until a full-year spending bill is successfully enacted.

The ongoing uncertainty caused by the current series of stopgap funding measures from Congress is already creating uncertainty for states and local school districts who need to prepare budgets for the upcoming academic year. Moreover, the budget process for the next federal fiscal year (2018) will begin in late winter of 2017 further complicating matters as efforts to fund federal programs like Perkins increasingly overlap.

Advance CTE encourages the CTE community to let their members of Congress know how important it is to restore cuts to Perkins in the coming months and pass comprehensive legislation that replaces these counterproductive CRs moving forward. To do so click here. Be sure to check back as the outlook for Perkins funding continues to evolve.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Road to ESSA Implementation: USDE Publishes Final Regs and Provides more Guidance

December 1st, 2016

United States CapitalEarlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) released a new batch of final regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—bipartisan legislation that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). These rules cover the law’s accountability, reporting, and state planning provisions of ESSA and come on the heels of an earlier— and highly controversial— set of proposed regulations for the law’s so-called “supplement-not-supplant” provisions.

While final rules for ESSA’s supplement-not-supplant provisions are still being worked out, this week’s set of final regulations make a number of important changes to the draft version released earlier this summer.

In many respects these final rules stipulate a more realistic timeline for the law’s implementation. For instance, states now have until the 2018-19 academic year to identify the lowest 5 percent of schools— schools that would then be eligible for comprehensive improvement under ESSA— whereas before that requirement would have gone into effect in the 2017-18 school year under the earlier proposal. Similarly, state ESSA plans are now due by April 3 or September 18, 2017 in order to give state education agencies more time to meaningfully engage stakeholders ahead of the law’s accountability system going into effect (another aspect of ESSA that will not be fully implemented until the 2018-19 school year).

Of particular note for the CTE community are other rule changes governing the law’s accountability system, specifically the new ESSA requirement that state accountability systems include at least one non-academic measure of school quality or student success which, under ESSA, may include measures of career readiness. Under the earlier draft version these additional indicators would have needed to be supported by research finding that “performance or progress” on the measure increases student academic achievement or graduation rates. Advance CTE, along with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) urged USDE to broaden this standard slightly to ensure that a greater number of high-quality career readiness indicators could be incorporated into states’ new ESSA accountability systems.

Encouragingly USDE heeded this suggestion and the final rule now requires that such measures, “increase student learning, such as grade point average, credit accumulation, or performance in advanced coursework, or for high schools, graduation rates, postsecondary enrollment, persistence, or completion, or career success.” A summary of these final rules are available here and the full document can be found here.

On Capitol Hill, the new ESSA regulations were met with mixed reactions.  Referencing the powers at his disposal via the Congressional Review Act—a law that would allow the Republican controlled Congress next year to throw out the proposal entirely— Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said he, “will carefully review this final version before deciding what action is appropriate.” Ranking Members of the Senate and House Education Committees, Patty Murray (D-WA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) issued a more supportive statement saying, in part, “While we are disappointed that this final rule doesn’t go as far as we would have hoped, we commend the Department of Education for listening to stakeholders . . . This rule will provide states and school districts with much needed stability and clarity as they work to submit state plans and implement statewide accountability systems.”

In other ESSA-related news, USDE recently released new non-regulatory guidance for states and local districts to support the law’s ongoing roll-out. These releases covered topics ranging from meeting the law’s new English Language Learner requirements under Title III, guidance for how to effectively use ESSA Title II funding to support teachers and high-quality instruction, and additional guidance aimed at helping states and districts provide a “well-rounded education” under Title IV of the new law.

Be sure to check back here next week for another update on states’ efforts to implement ESSA.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Betsy DeVos Nominated to Head U.S. Department of Education

November 30th, 2016

B99468301Z.1_20161123141018_000_GOR18773B.1-0President-Elect Donald Trump has been busy the past few weeks identifying individuals to fill key cabinet-level positions in his new administration. Just before Thanksgiving Day Trump announced that Betsy DeVos would be his nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). Her nomination will need to be considered by the Senate Education Committee (HELP) next year and is subject to confirmation by the full chamber.

Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who heads the Senate HELP Committee, applauded DeVos’ nomination saying, “Betsy DeVos is an excellent choice. The Senate’s education committee will move swiftly in January to consider her nomination.” The chairman also noted that he looked forward to working with her on the ongoing implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and on the forthcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) in the next Congress. While much is known about DeVos’ positions on secondary education, particularly her steadfast support charter school policies and school choice, her views on many postsecondary issues remain somewhat less understood at this time.

Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), the lead Democrat on the Senate HELP Committee, issued a more measured statement regarding the nomination saying, in part, “I look forward to meeting with Betsy DeVos and talking to her about her vision for the Department of Education and whether and how it includes expanding access to educational opportunities for students across the country.”

Mrs. DeVos is best known for her political advocacy in the state of Michigan promoting pro-charter school policies. She also is the Chairwoman for the American Federation for Children—an advocacy organization focused on promoting school choice policies at the federal, state, and local level among other endeavors.

DeVos and her husband Dick are also ardent financial supporters of the Republican Party, particularly in their home state of Michigan where Dick ran an unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in 2006. Through this work, the couple has been extremely successful in enacting pro-school choice policies in the state of Michigan to promote charter schools via voucher programs and tax credits among other policy prescriptions. Mrs. DeVos’ husband also founded and runs the West Michigan Aviation Academy— a theme-based charter school in Grand Rapids, MI focused on the aviation and engineering fields.

While Mrs. DeVos’ views on CTE are unknown, her upcoming nomination process in the 115th Congress will shed more light on this critical topic and more. With Senators Murray and Alexander set to lead the HELP Committee next year for their respective parties, and further changes to the committee composition likely, Advance CTE will continue to monitor and engage with this process to ensure CTE and related federal legislation are prioritized by the incoming USDE leadership team.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Election 2016 Update

November 10th, 2016

United States CapitalAmerica went to the polls on Tuesday and, in what was a surprise turn of events for many, Donald Trump won the race for President of the United States. The Senate, which many were closely watching to see if it would flip towards Democratic control, will retain a slim (51 votes) GOP majority. Republicans also defended their majority in the House of Representatives, retaining 239 seats in total (218 are needed for control of the chamber). Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, is expected to return to the Senate and continue on in his current role as co-chair of the Senate CTE Caucus.

At present, it is still difficult to predict a Trump Administration’s education priorities, as it was not a primary focus of the candidates on the campaign trail. The President-elect recently created a transition page, which can be viewed here, articulating some of the broader education policy goals of his new administration. Trump has also expressed enthusiasm for returning more control over education to state and local entities while calling  for the elimination or dramatic downsizing of the U.S. Department of Education. Along with these wider policy pronouncements Trump has also voiced support for “vocational training” while on the campaign trail. The Vice President Elect, Mike Pence, also has had a track record of support for Career Technical Education (CTE) in his home state of Indiana (read more on that here).

In addition to these revelations at the federal level, there was also quite a lot of state-level CTE policy of note on this year’s ballot:

  • In California, voters approved a $9 billion bond to create the 2016 State School Facilities Fund, directing money to fund school construction and modernization projects across the state. A sum of $500 million from the fund will be appropriated for updating CTE program facilities. The measure passed despite criticism from California Governor Jerry Brown, who called the investment large and inefficient.
  • A measure in Oklahoma that would have levied a one-cent sales tax to increase revenue for public education and teacher salaries was rejected. The proposal included a 3.25 percent allocation to the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, which amounted to approximately $20 million.
  • Oregon voters passed Measure 98 to establish a College and Career Readiness fund. The measure calls on the state legislature to allocate $800 per pupil, which can be used to establish and expand CTE programs, college-level educational opportunities (including dual credit programs), and dropout prevention programs in high schools.
  • And South Dakota voted to amend the state constitution and allow the state technical college system to be governed separately from the Board of Regents. Under Constitutional Amendment R, the legislature will now determine a new governance structure for the state’s four technical institutes.

As things continue to evolve in the capitol, Advance CTE will continue to educate new policymakers regarding the value of supporting high-quality CTE. Be sure to check back here as events continue to take shape.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager & Austin Estes, Policy Associate 

 

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