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

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.
  • 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 

Advance CTE Legislative Update: Senate Efforts on Perkins Reauthorization Stall

September 21st, 2016

United States CapitalLast week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (405-5) in favor of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 5587)— comprehensive legislation that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

Upon last week’s passage, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) applauded the vast showing of bipartisan support in the House, while still noting that the legislation’s proposed definition for a secondary CTE concentrator must still be fixed as the process moved forward.

With attention turning to the Senate, the leaders of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee scheduled a markup of their forthcoming Perkins reauthorization bill for September 21st. Unfortunately as committee members worked towards a final draft, bipartisan negotiations stalled and the markup was postponed.

The main reason cited for this delay was attributed to continued disagreements over “secretarial authority” and proposed prohibitions language that would limit the U.S. Secretary of Education’s oversight of Perkins.

This week HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) issued a statement saying, in part, that he believes “Congress should be able to finish its work on Perkins this year,” while reiterating his concerns related to secretarial authority. A spokesperson for Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released a similar statement saying that, “Senator Murray has been working with Democrats and Republicans toward a bipartisan bill to reauthorize Perkins CTE, and she is hopeful that this can continue and get done as quickly as possible.”

Yesterday, Advance CTE and ACTE issued a statement of their own encouraging the Senate to move forward with Perkins reauthorization in a bipartisan manner. As Congressional consideration of Perkins continues, Advance CTE will continue to work with staff on the Hill to ensure the best possible bill is produced from this process.

Be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Education, Business and Workforce Groups Call on the House to Pass Perkins Reauthorization

September 12th, 2016

Congress is back in session, and chatter on Capitol Hill returns to reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins), with a chamber-wide vote on comprehensive reauthorization legislation scheduled for tomorrow in the House. The bill, H.R. 5587, would reauthorize Perkins for six years and make a number of changes within the existing structure of the law, encouraging alignment with other federal legislation and streamlining the law’s requirements. You can read our analysis of the bill here.

Before lawmakers in the House vote on H.R. 5587, it is worth revisiting statements of support from members of the education, workforce development and business communities. By and large, there is cross-sector, bipartisan support for Perkins reauthorization. Yet as the 114th Congress heads into its final months, many organizations – Advance CTE included – have urged Congress to complete their work on Perkins this year. Here is a sample of statements of support from a cross-section of organizations and businesses, primarily related to the House Perkins bill as well as the reauthorization effort more generally.

Words of Support from the Education Community

“The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act builds on current law by emphasizing the importance of CTE programs of study, while maintaining the flexibility of states and local recipients to develop and implement program models that best suit their needs and available resources.” – Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education

“As states work to align education programs with current workforce needs, this legislation to update the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act will provide critical supports to state and local educators preparing students to succeed in 21st century careers.” – Council of Chief State School Officers

“H.R. 5587 reflects many of our recommendations for reauthorization. It incorporates a commitment to meaningful professional development for educators, encourages supportive partnerships that link school districts and teachers with industry partners, and promotes industry-recognized credentials and certificates for specific occupational areas.” – American Federation of Teachers

“There is much to like in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Act… The House bill addresses the paperwork burden by allowing districts to fill out a simple, easy-to-complete local application.” – AASA, The School Superintendents Association

“We are pleased that H.R. 5587 [supports programs closely aligned with the needs of business and industry] by encouraging states and local recipients to better coordinate activities supported by the Perkins Act with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and by requiring needs assessments to guide the expenditure of Perkins funding at the local level.” – American Association of Community Colleges and Association of Community College Trustees

“H.R. 5587 recognizes and includes educators in CTE planning and decision-making. This approach strengthens collaboration among the education, business, labor, employment, and economic sectors; improves program effectiveness; and helps ensure that the needs of both students and employers are met.” – National Education Association

Business and Industry Leaders Weigh in on Perkins Reauthorization

“H.R. 5587 would be an improvement over current law. In particular, the Chamber supports the provisions of this bill that would … authorize innovation grants to improve CTE and align workforce skills with labor market needs … integrate industry-recognized credentials; and increase support for work-based learning activities through innovation grants and state leadership activities.” – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce

“There is no issue more connected to U.S. competitiveness than equipping our nation’s youth with the academic and workplace skills needed for 21st century jobs. By updating and reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, Congress has an opportunity to ensure our students achieve strong academic and career preparation in the nation’s fastest growing industries.” – IBM

“We know more can be done to help educational institutions better prepare young people for today’s jobs. A modernized career and technical education (CTE) system, designed with input from employers and responsive to the needs identified by labor market data, is central to accomplishing that test.” – Toyota

“By reauthorizing the Perkins Act and reinforcing CTE programs, educators and their partners in the business community can improve student outcomes and provide the skills required to be successful in the workforce … We urge the House to swiftly pass H.R. 5587 and for the Senate to consider companion legislation in the near future with the goal of sending a Perkins Act reauthorization bill to the president’s desk in 2016.” – Associated Equipment Distributors

“[H.R. 5587] would provide agriculture education programs the funding assistance needed to create a well-rounded practical approach to learning through classroom education.” – American Farm Bureau Federation

“Among the provisions we believe will be particularly effective in driving improvements in career education: the incentives for CTE programs to incorporate work-based learning and recognition of the value of industry-driven occupational certifications. Both work-based learning and industry credentials are indispensable elements of effective career and technical education.” – Opportunity America

Workforce Development Organizations Consider the Value of New Bill

“The bill makes substantial improvements in the federal CTE law: encouraging the development of high quality programs of study; emphasizing the importance of work-based learning; encouraging the expansion of dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high school opportunities; requiring that CTE programs are aligned with the skill needs of employers in in-demand industries and occupations; and better aligning CTE with innovations and programming established in the newly implemented Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).” – Jobs for the Future

Op-Eds on Perkins

“The revised Perkins bill now must pass the full House and Senate. Passage of the legislation will be critical to the future of American education and our economic competitiveness. We are hopeful that the House committee’s unanimous, bipartisan approval signals that Republicans and Democrats, supported by business and labor, educators, community leaders, parents and students who are united behind common-sense solutions will result in an update of our education system, leading to a stronger economy and more opportunities for our young people.” – Stanley Litow

“The proposed reauthorization will strengthen connections between CTE programs and business and industry. Doing so will help more precisely identify the career fields, along with the skills and credentials, needed regionally.” – Mark MacCarthy

“If passed, the new Perkins Act would be a small but important step toward making sure that students get on the pathway to prosperity that’s right for them.” – Charles Sahm

“[H.R. 5587] stressed educational partnerships that align secondary and postsecondary institutions, employers, and career and technical education programs to meet local and regional labor needs now and in the future, meaning students can pursue a career path equipped with the knowledge of where job opportunities exist in their local community.” – Jim Postl

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Ask Your Members of Congress to Support Perkins Reauthorization!

September 8th, 2016

United States CapitalOn Tuesday, Congress returned from its annual summer recess to begin the final stretch of the 114th Congress. Lawmakers have been out of session since mid-July, but that doesn’t mean everyone s has been away from the Capitol. In fact, work has continued in both the House and the Senate to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins).

As we shared earlier this summer, the House Education and the Workforce Committee unanimously approved the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act—the first comprehensive Perkins reauthorization legislation to be considered by Congress since the current law’s passage in 2006. This month the House chamber has the opportunity to build on this strong showing of bipartisan support by voting on this bill.

Ahead of further consideration of Perkins in the House, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released a statement of support urging both Chambers of Congress to move forward with its efforts to renew Perkins before the end of the year.

In order to make sure this legislation gets across the finish line, we need your help! Please take a few minutes to contact your member(s) of Congress and let them know how important Perkins reauthorization is to your community, your state, and our country.

You can find your member of Congress by visiting here. By visiting ACTE’s CTE Action Center you can contact your Senators and Representative directly to express your support for moving the Perkins reauthorization process forward. We also encourage you to take to social media to make the case for Perkins and CTE. Sample tweets are available here.

As Perkins reauthorization continues, be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Bipartisan Interest in Perkins Grows with Pending Legislation on the Hill

August 31st, 2016

As we shared earlier this summer, the House Education and the Workforce Committee approved a bill to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act last month with a 37-0 vote. Prior to and after the introduction of this reauthorization proposal, members from both houses of Congress have continued to introduce legislation to make their priorities for Career Technical Education (CTE) known. Three bills of interest — two in the Senate and one in the House — aim to expand dual credit opportunities for CTE students, increase representation of nontraditional genders in high-wage career pathways, and equip students with the skills they need to be successful in the workforce. While these bills have little chance of advancing further on their own, they do represent areas of interest for members as Perkins reauthorization continues to take shape in Congress.

The Workforce Advance Act (S. 3271)

Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in July introduced the Workforce Advance Act, which aims to expand dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities for CTE students across the country. According to Sen. Bennet, dual and concurrent enrollment strategies have “helped more [Colorado students] enroll and do well in college.” The bill would amend the permissible uses of Perkins funds at the state and local levels to include tuition, books, fees and transportation costs for students completing dual or concurrent enrollment courses. The bill would also allow Perkins funds to be used for professional development costs for teachers seeking to obtain credentials needed to teach these courses. At the national level, the Workforce Advance Act would allow the Department of Education to use CTE national activities to research strategies for expanding dual or concurrent enrollment programs in high schools.

The Patsy T. Mink Gender Equity in Education Act of 2016 (S. 3417)

Citing gender disparity in high-wage career pathways, the Patsy T. Mink Gender Equity in Education Act aims to help schools fully implement Title IX, a federal law that prevents sex discrimination in education. The bill, introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), would create an Office for Gender Equity under the Department of Education that would be responsible for helping educational entities in their implementation of Title IX. The Office would provide technical assistance, share best practices, administer a new competitive grant program and more. Under the bill, the Office would also be responsible for training Title IX coordinators annually.

The Four C’s for Careers Act (H.R. 5663)

And in the House, Representative Ryan Costello (R-PA) introduced legislation to promote what he calls the “four C’s CTE providers should promote in their curriculum: critical thinking, communications, collaboration, and creativity.” According to Rep. Costello, these are the skills that industry leaders say will best prepare students for success in the workforce. The bill, a bipartisan piece of legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), would amend Perkins to promote these four skills through a number of educational strategies, including blended learning, public-private partnerships, and data-driven career counseling. The bill would also encourage participation with local industry leaders by allowing states to use Perkins funds for a needs assessment to identify the strategies, tools and resources needed to promote greater engagement with industry partners.

While Advance CTE has not endorsed these proposals, we will continue to work with these offices to ensure that some of these key concepts find their way into future Perkins legislation. Stay tuned for future updates on all things Perkins as the 114th Congress heads into its final stretch.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Advance CTE Legislative Update: Summer Round-Up

August 2nd, 2016

United States CapitalPerkins Reauthorization Wrap-Up

With Congress adjourned for an extended summer recess, it’s important to take stock of what’s been happening on Capitol Hill these past few months, particularly with regards to Career Technical Education (CTE). Before their break, Congress took formal steps to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins), continued to oversee ESSA implementation, and has made efforts to advance funding legislation for the coming federal fiscal year (FY).

On June 28th, the House Education and the Workforce Committee released a much anticipated bill to reauthorize Perkins—the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 5587). Sponsored by Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA), the bipartisan legislation was marked up by the full committee on July 7th and subsequently approved by a margin of 37-0.

“We are encouraged by this important step towards reauthorizing Perkins,” said Kimberly Green, Advance CTE Executive Director, at the time the bill was introduced. “We appreciate the bipartisan efforts that went into drafting this bill and look forward to working to ensure the reauthorized bill helps increase access to and success in high-quality CTE programs.”

The bill seeks to align Perkins to other federal legislation such as ESSA and WIOA while streamlining the requirements of the law to more effectively support high-quality CTE. Many elements of Advance CTE’s Perkins priorities can be found in H.R. 5587 and the organization supported the advancement of this legislation through committee. Advance CTE’s letter of support for H.R. 5587 can be found here.

We expect the full House to consider this legislation when Congress reconvenes later this autumn. In the meantime, Advance CTE and the Association for Career Technical Education (ACTE) have developed a comprehensive summary and analysis of H.R. 5587 which can be accessed here.

Many additional resources including the archived webcast of committee markup, members’ written statements, and considered amendments can be found here.

While this bipartisan effort in the House to reauthorize Perkins is encouraging, there is still much that must be done for the legislation to make its way across the finish line before the end of the 114th Congress. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee has continued behind-the-scenes discussions on its own Perkins legislation. It is therefore still possible to see additional Perkins-related activity later this year, but with a limited number of legislative days left on the calendar full Perkins reauthorization will still require a concerted effort from lawmakers in both chambers. As these efforts continue to take shape be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis.

Congressional Appropriations Committees Approve FY 2017 Spending Bills

Lawmakers overseeing federal funding bills have also been working on legislation to fund federal programs, including the Perkins Act. In June the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHSED) appropriations bill on a party-line vote. The legislation would level-fund the Perkins basic state grant program at $1.118 billion. However, this result for Perkins is important to keep in context—this year saw the return of budget caps mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). These tight caps resulted in $220 million in cuts to education programs in the LHHSED bill making the maintenance of existing Perkins funding an important achievement for the CTE community. Notably, the bill would also restore year-round Pell grants which is a key Advance CTE postsecondary priority.

Following suit, the House Appropriations committee approved its own LHHSED FY 2017 funding bill. This legislation would also provide level funding for Perkins’ basic state grant program. However, much like with the Senate, the committee’s decision to maintain Perkins funding is best understood in context— other education programs under this bill were cut by even more than in the House proposal. Unlike with the Senate, the House bill does not restore year-round Pell grants although it would increase the maximum Pell award to $5,935 annually (a move that is also mirrored in the Senate proposal).

Despite these efforts, it is unlikely that either of these LHHSED bills will be advanced individually any further prior to the start of 2017 federal fiscal year set to begin on September 30th. It is therefore highly likely that Congress, as it has done for the past several years, will pass a “continuing resolution” (CR) which would temporarily extend current funding levels into the next fiscal year. Be sure to check back as efforts to fund federal programs, including Perkins, continue to firm up.

ESSA Implementation

As we have shared previously, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has been developing rules and regulations to govern the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In the spring, the law’s mandated negotiated rulemaking committee met to determine how to regulate ESSA’s “supplement, not supplant” and assessment provisions. These efforts brought about a great degree of disagreement between USDE, which ultimately made a series of proposals on these issues, and Congressional Republicans, who viewed these proposals as being outside the allowable scope of ESSA.

Disagreements over how to appropriately implement ESSA’s provisions have continued to chew away at the bipartisan consensus that helped move ESSA across the finish line late last year. This has become even more apparent in a series of congressional hearings where Republican lawmakers and U.S. Secretary of Education John King have increasingly been at odds over these issues (more on that here, here, and here).

In June, USDE released additional draft regulations—known as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)—on the law’s accountability, public reporting, and state plan provisions. Of particular note are how the draft rules address ESSA’s newly required state accountability indicators of “school quality and student success” which allow states the opportunity to measure and value indicators of student postsecondary and career readiness. Advance CTE and ACTE provided comments to USDE on these aspects of the regulations which can be viewed here.

USDE has continued to update its own resource page with helpful materials to support the law’s ongoing implementation process. Recently the department circulated a Dear Colleague letter highlighting ways in which states and communities can support a “well-rounded education”—a key concept of the new law that now includes CTE. Additionally, the Council of Chief State School Officers has produced an extremely useful guide for engaging stakeholders during ESSA plan development and the Collaborative for Student Success, a new website, collects state-specific information on states’ efforts to implement the new K-12 law.

Odds & Ends

  • After a six month delay, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services released final regulations for the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The most consequential set of rules for the CTE community can be found here which addresses state WIOA state planning, the performance accountability system, the one-stop system, and the sharing of one-stop center infrastructure costs.
  • USDE released a Dear Colleague letter providing guidance and clarification on gender equity within CTE. The letter focuses on requirements found in the Perkins Act as well as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded programs, including Perkins. Read the letter here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Election 2016: Where the National Parties Stand on CTE

August 1st, 2016

With the Democratic National Convention now over, both major parties have officially selected their nominees for the 2016 election. Coinciding with the nomination festivities, each party voted on and approved a party platform that outlines its priorities for the coming years. Once again, both Republicans and Democrats have affirmed commitments to Career Technical Education (CTE) through their respective platforms, demonstrating that CTE remains a solidly bipartisan issue.

Republican Party Platform Promotes CTE, Work-based Learning

The GOP’s position on education echoes much of what we’ve been hearing in Congress with regards to local-control over matters of education. Nevertheless, the platform promotes CTE as one of “the policies and methods that have actually made a difference in student advancement.” The platform further urges “school districts to make use of teaching talent in the business community, STEM fields, and the military,” to leverage non-traditional expertise in support of student learning. The party also promotes technical colleges and work-based learning, and advocates for public policies that “recognize that a four-year degree from a brick-and-mortar institution is not the only path toward a prosperous and fulfilling career.”

Democrats Aim to Expand Access to Middle Class Jobs

In the Democratic camp, the party approved a progressive platform calling for increased access to high-quality education and more pathways to the middle class for students of all backgrounds. The platform targets high costs and “predatory for-profit schools” as barriers to achieving this vision. It proposes to “make community college free” and crack down on for-profit schools that don’t “enable students to complete their degrees and prepare them for work.” The party also commits to investing in “high-quality STEAM classes [and] computer science education” as well as expanding “linked learning models and career pathways” across the country.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

National CTE Organizations Weigh In on House Perkins Reauthorization Efforts

June 29th, 2016

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and Advance CTE today commended the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s release of the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act,” a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

“We applaud our partners in Congress for their work to begin the Perkins reauthorization process in releasing this bill, as well as the spirit of bipartisanship that has made that work possible,” said ACTE Executive Director LeAnn Wilson. “We can now turn our attentions to carefully examining the legislative language to ensure that the priorities of CTE students and professionals will be supported throughout the new law. We look forward to continuing to work with committee leaders as the reauthorization process unfolds, as America’s students, workforce and economy deserve nothing less than a thoughtful new bill.”

“We are encouraged by this important step towards reauthorizing Perkins,” said Kimberly Green, Advance CTE Executive Director. “Helping all learners successfully navigate pathways to post secondary education and careers is a national priority shared by state leaders, educators, employers and Congress and Perkins has a critical role in achieving this goal. We appreciate the bipartisan efforts that went into drafting this bill and look forward to working to ensure the reauthorized bill helps increase access to and success in high-quality CTE programs.”

Both organizations remain committed to working with the House Education and the Workforce Committee, as well as their partners in the U.S. Senate, to find a path forward for Perkins.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Advance CTE Legislative Update: Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2017 Perkins Funding Bill as Stakeholders Review Newly Proposed ESSA Regulations

June 10th, 2016

United States CapitalYesterday, the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $161.9 billion funding measure for federal programs falling under the jurisdictions of the U.S. Departments of Labor (Labor), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education (ED) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. The overall allocation of funding made available for this bill, known as a 302(b) allocation, was $270 million below FY 2016 levels. This meant that programs falling under this part of the budget all faced reductions in order to stay within the new FY 2017 cap even before individual funding decisions were made by the committee this week.

The legislation, as passed yesterday, would provide level funding for state formula grants under the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins)— approximately $1.117 billion overall for law’s Title I program or the same amount the program has received since FY 2014.

The bipartisan bill, the culmination of negotiations between Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Patty Murray (D-WA) is the first time Labor-HHS-ED funding legislation has passed the full Senate Appropriations Committee since 2009.

Overall the bill reduces ED’s budget by $220 million from the previous fiscal year although this figure does not take into account changes that would be made to the department’s largest program—federal Pell grants. A key piece to understanding the committee’s decision-making on this legislation date back to March when, at that time, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected a $7.8 billion surplus for Pell grants in the coming fiscal year.

In light of these additional funds, Senate appropriators have proposed to use a portion of this year’s Pell surplus to reinstitute “year-round Pell”— a provision the Obama Administration scrapped in 2011 as a cost savings measure which allows students to use their Pell awards during the summer months and accelerate their postsecondary studies. The bill also increases the maximum Pell award for the 2017-18 academic year to $5,935 although year-round recipients are capped at 150% of that maximum.

The Senate Appropriations Committee however took another chunk out of this surplus by also proposing to use a significant portion of it to fund other non-student-aid items in the budget, including a $2 billion proposed funding increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Many higher education organizations, as well as the Congressional Tri-Caucus, voiced strong opposition to this proposal saying, in part, “Students cannot afford to continue subsidizing other areas of the budget.”

Advance CTE agrees with these concerns and believes that any additional funding freed up as a result of a Pell surplus should be used exclusively for education. However, such a move by lawmakers further underscores the importance of increasing or dissolving current “budget caps” that have been in place for several years as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, legislation that constrains the amount of resources available for important investments in our nation’s education system among other vital national priorities.

In addition to these provisions, the recently passed bill also proposes to cut Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state formula programs by 3% or $73.8 million while providing a 10% increase for USDOL’s apprenticeship grant program to $100 million overall.

With the Senate’s work on a Labor-HHS-ED bill complete for the time being, attention turns to the House of Representatives where the appropriations committee in that chamber is widely expected to consider their version of the bill before recessing in mid-July. Although the deadline for all FY 2017 funding legislation is September 30th, the limited amount of legislative days left on the Congressional calendar will likely necessitate a temporary stop-gap funding measure—known as a continuing resolution— to put difficult (and final) federal budget decisions for FY 2017 until after the Presidential election this November.

Nevertheless, these appropriations bills will likely be used as a starting point for future negotiations on federal spending later this year. They are important mileposts for what the CTE community should expect with regards to education and workforce development funding for the coming fiscal year, but it is important to keep in mind that this legislation has not been enacted.

Be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis on the federal appropriations process as events continue to unfold.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Proposed ESSA Rules

As part of the ongoing implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), legislation that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) released a draft version of rules outlining proposed requirements for state plans, accountability systems, and reporting responsibilities.

This new batch of proposed regulations— known as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)— is open for public input and comment until August 1, 2016. Overall the NPRM hews closely to the newly passed law, providing substantial new flexibility to states and locals with regards to implementation. By comparison, another departmental proposal on so-called “supplement-not-supplant” regulations was met with far more concern earlier this month as we shared previously.

Interested stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback to the department for how to improve upon this proposal by the above deadline. A summary of the rules can be found here, the full proposal is over this way, and comments can be submitted via this portal.

Odds & Ends

  • Earlier this week, Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled a new legislative agenda aimed at tackling poverty and ensuring economic opportunity for more Americans. The report offers four broad recommendations for the reauthorization of the Perkins Act. Read more here starting on page 27.
  • Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) spoke at length on the Senate floor this week about a high-quality CTE program in his state and encouraged his colleagues to continue their efforts to reauthorize the Perkins Act. Watch his remarks here.
  • Last month USDE announced the 44 postsecondary institutions selected as part of its “experimental sites” initiative for Pell grants. The efforts will, on a limited and piloted basis, allow an estimated 10,000 students to use $20 million in Pell Grants to take dual and concurrent enrollment courses. Read the list of institutions here and more information on the effort can be found here.
  • USDE has announced another delay in the ongoing implementation of its “gainful employment” rule which aims to hold certain postsecondary institutions accountable for their students’ debt-to-earnings ratios. The hold-up relates to USDE’s release of “completers lists”— data that is necessary to determine these ratios. This interim step was originally slated for release last winter and has now been delayed until “later in June”. More on the delay from the department is available here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

 

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