Legislative Update: House Begins Appropriations Process and President Campaign Addresses CTE

July 10th, 2020

This week the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies released a Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bill, which includes funding for Career Technical Education (CTE). Read below to learn more about this bill, as well as the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force recommendations for the 2020 presidential campaign. 

House Proposes Increase for Fiscal Year 2021 CTE Funding 

Written by Alisha Hyslop, Senior Director of Public Policy, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Full post can be found here

On July 6, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 appropriations bill. According to the Committee’s press release, the bill includes “$196.5 billion in overall funding, an increase of $2.4 billion above the FY 2020 enacted level and $20.8 billion above the President’s 2021 budget request after accounting for offsets and adjustments.” Policymakers were limited to the approximately 1.22% increase due to statutory budget caps that had been agreed to by both chambers last year.

However, even with this very modest overall increase, there was some good news for CTE in the bill! While the funding level proposed for Perkins does not match the amount suggested by the Administration earlier this year, the bill proposes an $18 million, or 1.4% increase for the Perkins basic state grant, bringing its total funding level to approximately $1.3 billion.

Under the Department of Labor, the bill also includes small increases for WIOA state grant programs, registered apprenticeships and Strengthening Community College Training Grants, among other programs, with a total budget of $10.2 billion for the Employment and Training Administration (a $187 million increase) and $12.7 billion overall (a $254 million increase).

This is the first official congressional step toward funding these programs for the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1. The process has been significantly delayed due to attention on the pandemic response, but is now expected to move forward relatively quickly in the House. The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee marked up the bill on July 7, and the full Appropriations Committee will consider it on Monday. House leaders have expressed interest in passing all 12 appropriations bills, including this one, on the House floor before the August recess. The process remains stalled in the Senate however, so it is likely one or more continuing resolutions will be needed to extend funding at the end of the fiscal year.

While the Perkins increase in the bill doesn’t come close to meeting the funding needs for CTE, particularly as a result of the pandemic, it is a solid first step in this process considering restrictive budget caps. We will continue to work with Congress on appropriations bills and on the next COVID-19 response package to advocate for more resources to ensure all students have access to high-quality CTE programs. 

Biden Announces Unity Task Force Recommendations

This week, former Vice President Joe Biden released new policy recommendations as part of his presidential campaign platform. These recommendations were developed through joint task forces that included Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and supporters of his most recent presidential campaign. The Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations include policy proposals on issues such as climate change, criminal justice reform and health care. The proposals also cover education, workforce development and the economy- including CTE strategies. The document states that the campaign “will work to expand access to career and technical education” and that the country’s education system should support deeper learning and life skills. CTE, and apprenticeships in particular, are also listed as a way to increase opportunities for lifelong learning. The Education Unity Task Force, comprised of eight education experts and advocates, specifically recommends that education funding allow for the scaling of CTE.  

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Final Perkins V Plans Approved and New Senate Coronavirus Relief Bill Introduced

July 3rd, 2020

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) approved all remaining state plans under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Read below to learn more about plan approval and where you can find final materials, as well as a new COVID-19 (coronavirus) response bill that would provide Career Technical Education (CTE) funding and an Executive Order that supports skills-based hiring. 

ED Approves All Perkins V State Plans

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the final state plans under Perkins V were approved by ED. The newest wave of approvals includes Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and West Virginia. Secretary DeVos also shared that nine states submitted combined Perkins V and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state plans, including: Alabama, Delaware, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington. Highlights from the newly approved plans can be found here. Check out Advance CTE’s website for links to all final plans and resources!

Senate Introduces Coronavirus Relief Bill with CTE Funding

Ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced a new coronavirus relief bill this week. The Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA) would provide $430 billion to child care and education activities. 

The proposed act would allocate $1 billion for CTE programs and activities to support state and local CTE needs as a result of the pandemic. This can include updates to physical or digital infrastructure, or expansion of work-based learning supports. The bill includes $345 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund- comprised of $175 billion for K-12 schools, $132 billion for higher education and $33 billion for a Governor’s Fund. Additionally, CCCERA would provide $4 billion to the Federal Communication Commission’s E-Rate program to increase internet access for students and educators. 

Advance CTE is pleased to support this bill, and released a statement in partnership with the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) in response to the introduction. A summary of CCCERA can be found here and the full bill text here

Administration Signs Executive Order on Skills-Based Hiring

President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on Modernizing and Reforming the Assessment and Hiring Federal Job Candidates, stating that the federal hiring process will take a skills-based approach instead of relying on degree attainment. The document requires that the federal job classification and qualification standards be reviewed and revised. Within 120 days all changes will be made available to the public, and updates will go into effect within 180 days. 

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: More Perkins Plans Approved and New Grant Opportunity

June 26th, 2020

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced more state plan approvals under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Read below to learn more about which states have received approval, as well as a new workforce grant program, a proposed infrastructure bill and a new report on reimagining community colleges. 

ED Approves Four More Perkins Plans

Today the U.S. Department of Education approved four more state plans under Perkins V. The newly approved states are Arkansas, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee. Highlights by the department from each plan can be found here. In total, 35 plans have been approved so far. A full list of the states with approved plans, as well as links to the final plans and resources can be found here

ED Announces New Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant Program

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a new higher education grant program with the goal of supporting students in gaining new skills and expanding or reinventing businesses as a result of COVID-19 (coronavirus). This new opportunity, called the Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant Program, is funded by the Education Stabilization Fund that was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act- the third coronavirus stimulus bill that was signed into law in March. 

The State Workforce Board of each of the 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico are eligible to apply for this grant program. Applicants must show that a burden has been created by the pandemic, and propose an initiative that will support the community in one of two ways (language taken directly from the department’s announcement): 

  1. Expanding educational opportunities through short-term, career pathways or sector-based education and training programs
    • Grantees are invited to propose the development or expansion of short-term education programs, including career pathways programs, to help prepare unemployed or underemployed individuals for high demand jobs in their community or region; and/or
    • Grantees are invited to propose the development or expansion of industry sector-based education and training programs that lead to a credential that employers in a given sector recognize and reward; or
  2. Supporting local entrepreneurship through small business incubators
    • Grantees are invited to submit applications that help colleges and universities make their faculty, staff and facilities more accessible to small businesses in their communities, and to ensure that institutions can sustain their operations at a time when enrollments are declining and campus buildings may be underutilized, including through the creation of small business incubators that are on the campus of, or affiliated with, one or more colleges and universities in the state.

Applications must be submitted by August 24, 2020- at which time they will be evaluated by peer reviewers. Awards will be announced in October of 2020.  

House Introduces New Infrastructure Bill

House Democrats introduced the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2)- a $1.5 trillion bill that would repair and rebuild the country’s infrastructure. This wide reaching proposal covers a range of areas from road to schools to broadband access. The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act is included in this legislation, and would invest $130 billion in high-poverty schools while also creating over two million jobs. The bill would also invest $100 billion into expanding broadband Internet access to every part of the country. 

A fact sheet of the bill can be found here and the full text here

Education Organizations Release New Report on Reimagining Community College

Advance CTE participated in a group of 22 educators and policy thinkers led by Opportunity America to release a new report, The Indispensable Institution: Reimagining Community College. The report outlines a roadmap for community colleges to find successful practices as  premier providers of efficient, career-focused education and training. Especially as the country rebuilds in the wake of coronavirus, community colleges are well positioned to provide the upskilling and reskilling that millions of Americans will need. You can find the report here.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Perkins V State Plans Approved and Higher Education Emergency Grant Guidance

June 12th, 2020

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) approved 10 more state plans under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Read below to learn about which states are approved, the new interim guidance regarding eligibility requirements for higher education students to receive emergency funding, as well as hearings on remote learning and reopening schools. 

ED Approves 10 More Perkins V State Plans

Today U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that 10 more states’ Perkins V four-year plans were approved. The newly approved states include Arizona, DC, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. Highlights from each plan can be found here. The department has now approved 25 state plans. Advance CTE is tracking approval and links to final plans here

ED Publishes Rule for Emergency Relief Grants to Higher Education Students

Secretary DeVos shared the updated regulations for eligibility of students receiving Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grants from an institution of higher education through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This guidance doubles down on ED’s April position, and states that students must be eligible for Title IV aid under the Higher Education Act (HEA) to receive this emergency funding. Following the initial guidance, Advance CTE in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) sent a letter to ED with concerns about these exclusions. The CARES Act does not specify that students must be Title IV-eligible to receive HEERF grants. 

The department has said that it will not retroactively enforce this rule for grant funding that has already been distributed by colleges. 

This interim final rule is expected to be added to the Federal Register on June 15, 2020 and will then be open for a 30 day comment period. 

Congress Holds Hearing on Returning to School

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on “Going Back to School Safely,” to discuss how to reopen K-12 schools. There was agreement across the Committee that schools should reopen as soon as safely possible, and that attention must be paid to the education gaps that are being exacerbated during the pandemic. Witnesses included: Dr. Penny Schwinn, Tennessee Commissioner of Education; Dr. Matthew Blomstedt, Nebraska Commissioner of Education; Susana Cordova, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools; and the Honorable John B. King, Jr., President and CEO of the Education Trust. The full video and testimonies from this hearing can be found here

This follows a HELP hearing last week that focused on “Going Back to College Safely”- the full video and testimonies of that hearing can be found here. Witnesses included: Mitchell Daniels, President of Purdue University; Dr. Christina Paxson, President of Brown University; Dr.Logan Hampton, President of Lane College; and Georges Benjamin, MD, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association. 

ED Holds Forum on K-12 Remote Learning 

Earlier this week ED hosted a virtual forum with K-12 education leaders to discuss challenges and successes. The educators represented students in Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. They discussed the learning curve that teachers and students simultaneously experienced during the abrupt transition to online learning. Strategies were also shared such as including activities that do not require electronics in a lesson plan.  A full readout of the forum can be found here.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: First Perkins Plans Approved and Federal Response to COVID-19

May 22nd, 2020

The first round of approved state Perkins V plans were announced today. Read below to learn about which states were granted approvals, as well as the continuing federal response to COVID-19 and the 2020 Presidential Scholars. 

ED Approves First Round or Perkins State Plans

Today, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that the first six state plans under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) have been approved. Perkins V was signed into law on July 31, 2018. Since then, states have submitted and implemented one-year transition plans. Now, states are awaiting approval of the full four-year state plan. The six approved states are Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. ED provides a few highlights from each plan here

Stimulus Package Passes in the House

Late May 15, the House passed a new stimulus bill in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800) is a $3 trillion relief package that includes measures such as funding for state and local governments, support for Coronavirus research, unemployment assistance, an additional round of individual direct payments and expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program. 

The HEROES Act also includes $100.15 billion for education, comprised of $90 billion in formula grants to states for K-12 education and $10.15 billion for higher education. It also provides $3.1 billion for the U.S. Department of Labor, with $2 billion allocated for worker training. 

This bill has some of the Career Technical Education (CTE) provisions that were in the previously introduced Relaunching America’s Workforce Act (RAWA), which Advance CTE supports. Specifically, the HEROES Act includes:

  • Flexibility at the state and local levels during the pandemic for retention of funds so that funds not used during the 2019-2020 school year because of Coronavirus can be retained; 
  • Flexibility for local Perkins recipients to pool funds for supporting secondary to postsecondary or employment transitions for CTE students whose academic year was changed because of Coronavirus; and 
  • Waives some of the professional development requirements during the pandemic. 

However, the HEROES Act does not include CTE-specific funding (which was also part of RAWA). All educational programs have been impacted by Coronavirus, and CTE programs are no exception. CTE programs are also expected to play an important role in economic recovery, especially to reskill and upskill individuals. It is imperative that secondary, postsecondary and adult CTE learners are able to access high-quality CTE programs during the pandemic.  

Next, the Senate will take up the HEROES Act. However, the Senate has conveyed that it will not happen until after the Memorial Day recess at the earliest. In the meantime, we encourage you to let your representative know that you support including the full RAWA CTE related pieces in the next Coronavirus relief bill by following the quick prompt here.

Senate Introduces Broadband Bill

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), along with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY, Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Emergency Educational Connections Act of 2020– which has 36 cosponsors. This bill would allocate $4 billion to ensuring that all K-12 students have internet access during Coronavirus through the E-Rate program. Advance CTE is pleased to support this bill.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate 

Legislative Update: New Stimulus Introduced and Grant Opportunity Announced

May 15th, 2020

This week, the House introduced a new COVID-19 (Coronavirus) stimulus package. Read below to learn more about what is in this bill, as well as a new grant opportunity. 

House Introduces New Stimulus Package in Response to the Coronavirus 

On Tuesday, House Democrats introduced a new stimulus package in response to the Coronavirus- the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800). The $3 trillion relief bill encompasses a large scope of activities, such as funding to state and local governments, small business assistance and funding for Coronavirus research. 

The HEROES Act also includes $90 billion for an education stabilization fund that would go to K-12 and public institutions of higher education. The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) is one of the allowable uses of funds. Approximately $58 billion from the education stabilization fund would be allocated to K-12 education, with approximately $27 billion going to public postsecondary. An additional $10.15 billion is also in the HEROES Act for higher education- this funding can go to all institutions of higher education, and allocates $1.7 billion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions.   

This bill includes some of the Career Technical Education (CTE) provisions that were in the previously introduced Relaunching America’s Workforce Act (RAWA)- which Advance CTE supports. Specifically, the HEROES Act offers the flexibility at the state and local levels for retention of funds for the 2019-2020 academic year and the flexibility for local Perkins recipients to pool funds, as well as waives some of the professional development requirements during Coronavirus- that were all proposed in RAWA. 

However, Advance CTE was disappointed to find that the $1 billion for CTE-specific programs was left out of the HEROES Act. Advance CTE, in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee leadership detailing the importance of including CTE-specific funding and expressing concern that this was not included in the HEROES Act. We encourage you to let your representative know that you support including the full RAWA CTE related pieces in the next Coronavirus relief bill by following the quick prompt here

The House is expected to vote on the bill later this afternoon. The full bill text can be found here, a summary here and the manager’s amendment here

ED Announces New Grant Opportunity Through Student Support and Academic Enrichment

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Supportive Schools (OSSS) recently released a new opportunity to apply for the Expanding Course Access Demonstration Grants Program. This program will provide grants to state education agencies (SEAs) to provide models of well-rounded educational opportunities through course-access programs. The grant program is created with funding though the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)- specifically Title IV Part A that authorized the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants program (SSAE). The SSAE grant program is used to support well-rounded educational opportunities- which includes CTE. 

Grant applications must be submitted by June 26, 2020. OSSS, in collaboration with the Title IV, Part A Technical Assistance Center, will be holding a webinar on May 20, 2020 from 2:00-3:00pm ET for those considering applying. You can register for the webinar here. The webinar will be recorded and available for public view here

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: CTE and Workforce Development in the Next Stimulus Bill and Reporting the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

May 8th, 2020

The federal government continues to work on the next COVID-19 (Coronavirus) stimulus bill and provide guidance on previous ones. Read below to learn more about how Career Technical Education (CTE) can be included in a future Coronavirus package and new information about reporting use of funds for the third stimulus. 

Analysis Continues of the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act

Last week, Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act (RAWA), which Advance CTE is in full support. This bill provides funding and flexibilities for CTE and workforce development programs during Coronavirus with a $15 billion investment that includes $1 billion for CTE programs and activities, as well as $2 billion to re-implement the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program. Last week’s Legislative Update outlined many of the major provisions of RAWA, including the implications for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) and some of the flexibilities for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). 

Some of the additional standout WIOA activities include: 

  • $2.5 billion for employers to provide incumbent worker training;
  • $500 million for states and intermediaries to support existing or expand registered apprenticeships; 
  • $500 million for National Dislocated Worker Grants, to go to training and temporary employment as a result of Coronavirus;
  • $2.5 billion for State Dislocated Worker Grants, to be used for necessary rapid response through Fiscal Year 2022; 
  • $2.5 billion for employers who are offering incumbent worker training; 
  • Increasing the percent of funds that local workforce boards can use for transitional jobs to 40 percent; and 
  • The Governor and local workforce boards can include Coronavirus as a consideration when deciding whether to allow 75 percent of wages to be reimbursed during participation in on-the-job training. 

The WIOA and Perkins V funds in RAWA must be used to supplement, and not supplant state or local funds. If this bill passes, it is imperative to carefully document that the use of funds is supplement and not supplant especially since it can be expected that Coronavrisu will change typical state and local funding structures.

The full programmatic funding breakdown included in RAWA is as follows: 

  • National Dislocated Worker Grants: $500 million;
  • State Dislocated Worker Grants: $2.5 billion;
  • Youth Workforce Investment Activities: $2.5 billion;
  • Adult Employment and Training Activities: $2.5 billion; 
  • Wagner-Peyser/Employment Service: $1 billion;
  • Job Corps: $500 million;
  • Native American Programs: $150 million;
  • Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers: $150 million;
  • YouthBuild: $250 million;
  • Reentry and Employment Opportunities: $350 million;
  • Registered Apprenticeships: $500 million;
  • Adult Education and Literacy: $1 billion;
  • Community College and Industry Partnership Grants: $2 billion;
  • Department of Labor Administration: $90 million;
  • Career Technical Education: $1 billion; and
  • Department of Education Administration: $10 million.

You can view the press release highlighting our full support of RAWA from Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) here. We encourage you to  let your representative know that you support including CTE in the next Coronavirus relief bill by following the quick prompt here. The full bill can be viewed here and a summary of each section here

Department Announces that Colleges Must Publicly Share Use of Stimulus Funds

The U.S. Department of Education announced that institutions receiving Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) – authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – must report information about the funds on a publicly accessible website. The public-facing report must include how much money the institution received, how many students are receiving Emergency Financial Aid grants, how the institution decided which students would receive these grants and any directives that were attached to the funding. 

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate 

Legislative Update: Congress Introduces Stimulus Bill with $1 Billion for CTE

May 1st, 2020

Today, Congress introduced a bill that would provide $15 billion for workforce development and Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. Read below to learn more about what is in this legislation, as well as information that the U.S. Department of Education provided this week in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). 

Congress Introduces Stimulus Proposal for Career Technical Education

Today, Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act as the next Coronavirus stimulus package. This bill focuses on supporting CTE and workforce development programs as a result of the pandemic with a $15 billion investment that includes $1 billion to support CTE programs and activities, as well as $2 billion to re-implement the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program. Advance CTE is pleased to support this bill. 

The legislation includes the following proposals tied to the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V): 

  • Offers flexibility at the state and local levels during the pandemic around retention of funds, so that any funds not used during the 2019-2020 academic year because of Coronavirus can be retained instead of returned to the state for redistribution. 
  • Provides flexibility for local Perkins recipients to pool funds in order to support secondary to postsecondary or employment transitions for CTE students whose academic year was altered due to the pandemic. 
  • Waives some of the professional development requirements during the pandemic. 
  • Authorizes $1 billion for CTE programs and activities, such as digital and physical infrastructure, virtual academic and work-based learning, restocking supplies that were donated to Coronavirus response efforts, work-based learning supports and subsidies for students and employers and ensuring programs are responsive to updated comprehensive needs assessments as a result Coronavirus. 

The bill also addresses activities in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that require new supports due to Coronavirus, including but not limited to: 

  • $2 billion for community college and industry partnership grants by restarting the TAACCCT grant program. 
  • $250 million to support YouthBuild grantees and increase capacity during the pandemic. This would also include flexibilities for use of funds administrative costs, expanded eligibility to those who turned 25 during Coronavirus and increase the length of enrollment during the pandemic. 
  • $350 million for reentry employment opportunities for justice-involved youth, young adults, formerly incarcerated adults and former offenders during and after Coronavirus. 
  • Expanding the eligibility of adult and youth dislocated workers to include those eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Allows all eligible individuals to obtain personalized career services- such as individual employment plans, counseling, career planning and financial literacy training. 
  • Increasing the percent of funds that local workforce boards can use for incumbent worker training to 40 percent. 
  • Providing Governor the ability to reserve an additional 10 percent of funds for areas in their state most impacted by the pandemic. 
  • States must supplement their workforce plans with information about how additional funds will be used for a workforce development strategy that is responsive to the pandemic. 

You can view the press release from Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) here. You can let your representative know that you support including CTE in the next Coronavirus relief bill by following the quick prompt here. The full bill can be viewed here and a summary of each section here

ED Announces $300 million for New Education Stabilization Fund Grants

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) issued guidance on implementing the Education Stabilization Fund, a $300.7 million fund included as one percent of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act- the third stimulus package that was signed in response to the pandemic. This funding is divided between two competitive grants that prioritize states with the highest Coronavirus burden.

  • Education Stabilization Fund-Rethink K-12 Education Models Grants (ESF-REM)
    • Supports State Educational Agencies (SEAs) in states with the highest coronavirus burden to address needs for students, their parents and teachers of elementary and secondary schools.
    • A notice inviting applications can be found here.
  • Education Stabilization Fund-Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grants (ESF-RWP) 
    • Provides funding to support states in creating new programs and pathways, including short-term educational opportunities.
    • A description of the program can be viewed here.
    • A notice inviting applications can be found here.

ED Adds Fact Sheet on Repurposing Equipment and Supplies for Coronavirus

Yesterday, the Department issued a fact sheet that clarified the Department’s position of the ability of grantees and subgrantees to donate or repurpose equipment and supplies that were purchased with Federal grant funds to combat the impact of Coronavirus.. The fact sheet says that yes, this is allowed.

Grantees and subgrantees must keep certain records for three years regarding the repurposing or donation made such as itemizing the supplies being repurposed and the source of federal funds used for the purchase. Additional details, rationale and requirements for the decision are included in the fact sheet, for example the specification that the repurposing should only be done for supplies that are “not currently in use to carry out a grant program to meet the general education needs of students.” 

The Department indicated that this is a temporary authority during the Coronavirus national emergency. 

Department Directs Additional Funding to Minority Serving Institutions

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that $1.4 billion of funding will be allocated to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs) and colleges that serve low-income students. This funding will be used to ensure that students can continue their education during Coronavirus. 

This funding is through the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund authorized in the CARES Act. Funds can be used for distance learning technology, grants for eligible student attendance, faculty and staff training and operational costs.

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

Legislative Update: Federal Responses to COVID-19

April 24th, 2020

The federal government continued to respond to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) this week. Read below to learn more about the newest stimulus bill, information on K-12 and higher education emergency funding, a new proposal to support students without Internet access and expansion of the Second Chance Pell program. 

Congress Passes New Stimulus Bill

This week a new stimulus bill in response to Coronavirus passed in the House and the Senate, the Paycheck Protection and Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 266). The $480 billion package will provide funding to the Paycheck Protection program for small business relief, hospitals and Coronavirus testing efforts. Today, President Donald Trump signed this bill into law. This is the fourth Coronavirus stimulus bill, and pandemic response bills are expected to continue in Congress. 

Department Announces Availability of Emergency K-12 Funding 

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the availability of $13.2 billion in emergency relief funds through the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief (ESSER) Fund under the Education Stabilization Fund- authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This funding can be used to support immediate K-12 education needs as a result of Coronavirus, such as technology, distance learning and long-term planning and will be distributed to the State Education Agency (SEA). Authorized uses include the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Alaska Native Educational Equity, and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act.

90 percent of this funding must be allocated by the SEA to Local Education Agencies (LEAs), in proportion to the amount of Fiscal Year 2019 funds the LEA received under Title I-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Up to 10 percent of the funding can be used by the SEA for emergency needs. After one year, SEAs must return any funds that have not been awarded, to be reallocated by the Secretary. SEAs can apply for ESSER funding until July 1, 2020 by sending a signed Certification and Agreement to ESSERF@ed.gov. Each request will be processed within three business days of receipt. 

  • State allocations for the ESSER Fund can be found here
  • Additional information on the ESSER Fund can be found here
  • The full statement on this funding from the department can be found here

Department Shares Updates on Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund 

Earlier this week, ED released two documents on the disbursement of the $13 billion in the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) authorized through the CARES Act. 50 percent of this funding must be used to directly support students affected by Coronavirus, and the other 50 percent is allocated to allow supporting institutional expenses.

  • Financial aid grants to students: The Frequently Asked Questions document specifies that only students who are eligible for federal aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act are able to receive this funding, specifically students who are eligible to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)  can access the HEERF grants. The Department’s guidance means that some students- such as recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, those who are enrolled in some short-term and non-credit programs, students with certain criminal records and those without a high school diploma-  are not eligible for these financial aid grants. Advance CTE, in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), sent a letter to ED with concerns about these exclusions. 
  • Aid to Institutions of Higher Education: The Department released Frequently Asked Questions  about the use of the other 50 percent of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the institutional portion (HEERF-IHE). In order to be eligible for HEERF-IHE, the institution of higher education must enter into an agreement for the student portion of HEERF.  The CARES Act specifies that institutions can use the funds received to cover any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus.” This legislative language provides sufficient flexibility to allow authorized institutions of higher education to direct HEERF-IHE resources to Career Technical Education (CTE) and adult education programs.

  • Institutional eligibility and allocations for the HEERF Fund can be found here
  • Additional and guidance on both components of HEERF can be found here
  • CARES HEERF-Student certification and agreement can be found here
  • CARES HEERF-IHE certification and agreement can be found here

House Introduces Emergency Funding Bill for Students without Internet Access 

Earlier this week Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced the Emergency Educational Connections Act of 2020 (H.R. 6563). This bill proposes $2 billion for an Emergency Connectivity Fund, administered by the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program, for schools and libraries to support the 8.5-12 million K-12 students without Internet access during the Coronavirus pandemic. This funding would support distance learning resources through the E-Rate program, with priority going to student and staff without Internet access or the necessary equipment to access distance learning. Advance CTE, along with over 50 education organizations, is pleased to support this bill.  

Second Chance Pell Program Expands Participation

Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced an expansion of the Second Chance Pell program, which would almost double the amount of schools participating in this pilot program. Originally created in 2015 as part of the Experimental Sites Initiative (ESI), Second Chance Pell allows incarcerated students in selected schools to be eligible to use federal Pell Grants.

Advance CTE supports Pell Grant eligibility for all incarcerated individuals, and this is included in our HEA recommendations and priorities for future Coronavirus stimulus legislation.

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

Legislative Update: Federal Information in Response to COVID-19

April 17th, 2020

This week, additional federal information was announced in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Read below to learn more about the availability of grant funds for governors, waiver requests that apply to Career Technical Education (CTE) and guidance about donating or loaning medical supplies and equipment. 

Department Announces Availability of Emergency Grants for Governors

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the $2.9 billion for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund – authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act- will be made available to states. The GEER Fund is one of three parts of the Education Stabilization Fund under the CARES Act, and must be used to support education services during the Coronavirus pandemic. Once each state receives money through this grant the State Educational Agency (SEA) will determine which Local Educational Agency (LEA) will receive funding and the governor will grant funding to higher education institutions. The governor can also designate any LEA, higher education institution or “educated related entity” as essential and therefore able to receive this funding.

Included in authorized designation of funds is the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). State CTE Directors can elevate necessary resources and supports to receive money through the GEER Fund. Funds are expected to be distributed within three days of receipt of application.

  • The application, including instructions, can be found here. Once completed it can be digitally signed and a PDF must be emailed to GEERF@ed.gov;
  • State allocations for the GEER Fund can be found here;
  • The notice of availability of the GEER Fund can be found here; and 
  • A letter from Secretary DeVos to governors can be found here

OCTAE Shares Tydings Amendment Waiver for Perkins V

On Thursday, Scott Stump, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE)  in the U.S. Department of Education, shared a letter regarding the CARES Act authorization of SEA waiver requests for section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA), commonly referred to as the Tydings Amendment. The Tydings Amendment allows the flexibility to extend the period that states may use federal grants. The CARES Act provides the opportunity to request the Tydings Amendment to apply to Perkins V funding. The waiver request template can be found here

Department Issues Guidance on Donation or Loan of Personal Protective Equipment and Medical Supplies 

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education released a memo that gives guidance on loaning or donating certain medical supplies or equipment, if that equipment was originally purchased using funds from a Department grant program. The memo indicates that donating personal protective equipment (PPE) or medical supplies to health providers that have been purchased with funds provided by the Department are allowed. Some of the guidance also includes:

  • Direction that grantees can loan or donate PPE (e.g. masks, face shields, gloves), other medical supplies or equipment (e.g, ventilators) or even equipment that can be used to produce these medical supplies, such as 3D printers;
  • The Department will provide grantees and subgrantees a class exception for uses of grant funds, authorized by OMB Memo M-20-20;
  • Requirement that grantees and subgrantees must keep detailed records on donating or loan items and maintain these records for at least three years (page 2);
  • Indication that the Department intends to follow-up with grantees in the future regarding the donations or loans of equipment (page 2); and 
  • Direction that additional questions can be sent to COVID-19@ed.gov.

U.S. Department of Labor Shares Resources on Coronavirus

The U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration shared a set of resources and answers to frequently asked questions regarding Coronavirus on the WorkforceGPS website. Some of the information covers grant management, unemployment insurance, as well as a list of other resources to help state and local workforce leaders and stakeholders respond to the economic impact of Coronavirus.

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

 

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