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

Legislative Update: New Guidance on CTE and COVID-19, CTE Caucus Co-Chairs Write Letter in Support of CTE Funding

April 10th, 2020

This week, the U.S. Department of Education released new information about Career Technical Education (CTE) implementation during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Read below to learn more about what questions the Department has answered, a letter from the Co-Chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, the first round of stimulus funding for higher education and a new youth apprenticeship grant opportunity. 

Education Department Shares Information on Perkins V During the Coronavirus Pandemic 

Today, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) within the U.S. Department of Education published a set of questions and answers about CTE in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic. This document answers some of the frequently asked questions about local plan requirements, consultation and data under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). The Department will provide flexibilities to states in regard to the local plans and the comprehensive local needs assessment and locally determined performance levels. OCTAE also reinforces that consultation does not need to happen in-person. Finally, information is provided about submitting performance data. 

The first round of guidance from OCTAE that was published last week and covers Perkins V state plan submissions and local applications can be found here. Additional rounds of questions and answers from OCTAE will be added to https://cte.ed.gov/grants/covid-19-information

The Education Department also provided information earlier this week about grant funding. Per the document, a grantee or subgrantee can continue to pay an employee paid with grant funds from the Department during the time that the employee is unable to work because their place of work is closed as a result of Coronavirus. If there is not a policy in place to address this type of circumstance, the grantee or subgrantee can create an amendment or write a new policy. In addition, grant funds from the Department can be used to reimburse nonrefundable travel or registration costs if a conference, training or other type of activity related to the grant is cancelled due to Coronavirus. Finally, grantees or subgrantees can purchase travel insurance for future travel plans under a grant from the Department. 

Congressional CTE Caucus Co-Chairs Ask for CTE Funding in Stimulus Bill

This week, Co-Chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, Representatives Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) sent a letter to House leadership asking for the next stimulus bill to include $1 billion for Perkins Basic State Grants. The letter acknowledges the unique challenges that CTE programs face at this time, including interruptions to work-based learning. It also points out that state and local CTE leaders must be responsive to shifting academic strategies as a result of Coronavirus, as well as the changing needs of employers. Representatives Langevin and Thompson highlight the role that CTE students have played during the pandemic, such as donating protective equipment. 

A press release from the Congressmen can be found here

Education Department Announces Stimulus Relief Distribution for Higher Education

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos released a letter outlining the process for the disbursement of the first round of higher education funds included as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund portion of the act includes $12.46 billion allocated to most institutions of higher education to directly support institutions and students affected by Coronavirus. The CARES Act requires that at least 50 percent of this funding should be used to “provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus activities.” These funds can be used for eligible expenses other than tuition, for example food, technology and healthcare. Thursday’s letter addresses the first round of funding that directs more than $6 billion of funds for emergency direct grants to students. Secretary Devos indicated that information on disbursement for the other 50 percent of Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding, to be used for supporting institutions directly, can be expected in the next few weeks.

Additionally, the Department released an institution-by-institution allocation of funds to be awarded from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. 

Department of Labor Announces New Youth Apprenticeship Grant

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) announced the new Youth Apprenticeship Readiness grant opportunity. $42.5 million is available through this grant for in and out-of-school youth apprentices to participate in new or existing Registered Apprenticeship Programs. ETA will fund 15 to 25 Youth Apprenticeship Readiness grants, and each grant will be funded from $1 million to $5 million. The funding amount for each recipient will be based on the number of youth apprentices enrolled in that program. Applications for this grant must be submitted by 4:00pm EDT on May 6, 2020.

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

Legislative Update: Letter on CTE Priorities for COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

April 3rd, 2020

Advance CTE and the Association for Career Technical Education (ACTE) shared a letter this week that discusses the needs of state and local Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders as a result of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Read below to learn more about how Coronavirus is impacting CTE, proposed new rules for higher education distance learning and innovation and how you can recognize April as Second Chance Month. 

Advance CTE and ACTE Write Letter with CTE Priorities for Next Stimulus
This week Advance CTE, in partnership with ACTE, wrote a letter to Congress outlining CTE needs that should be addressed in any additional Coronavirus legislation. The Coronavirus pandemic is impacting the nation’s educational and digital infrastructure, and the CTE community is not immune to these challenges. The letter details the priority areas that need new investments, including: distance learning; digital and physical infrastructure; professional development; equity and access and work-based learning. 

The letter also requests statutory flexibility to: establish a redistribution waiver for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), extend national emergency education waivers to all Perkins eligible agencies, rescind Perkins V supplement not supplant provisions for one year and expand pooling flexibility for Perkins funding. 

The full letter, with details on each priority, can be found here.

Department Proposes Regulations for Higher Education Distance Learning

On Wednesday, Secretary DeVos proposed new rules for Distance Learning and Innovation for higher education students. These regulations were part of the negotiated rulemaking process that began last year, but have been reinforced by the way that institutions are relying on distance learning due to the Coronavirus. The rule would propose measures such as: prioritizing demonstrated learning ahead of seat time; defining regular and substantive interaction between students and instructors; defining a juvenile justice facility; streamlining the requirements for direct assessment programs and; including employers in development of educational programs.

Final regulations were published to the Federal Register on Thursday and can be found here. The full statement from the Department can be viewed here

Administration Announces Second Chance Month

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced that April 2020 will be recognized as Second Chance Month. According to the statement, Second Chance Month will “celebrate those who have set out to create better lives following incarceration and recommit to helping former inmates contribute to the strength and prosperity of our Nation.” The proclamation recognizes the actions that must be taken to reduce recidivism, including expanding Pell Grant eligibility so that those incarcerated are able to receive education and training. 

Expanding Pell Grants to include incarcerated learners is one of Advance CTE’s recommendations to be included in reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Those recommendations can be viewed here.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Phase Three Stimulus Bill Analysis and OCTAE Guidance

April 1st, 2020

The federal government is continuing to respond to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) through legislation and guidance. Read below to learn more about what was in the most recent stimulus bill and guidance affecting the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V).

Administration Signs Phase Three Stimulus into Law

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748), or the CARES Act into law. The CARES Act is the third stimulus package in response to Coronavirus and provides $2.2 trillion for economic relief and resources. There are a number of ways that Perkins V is implicated in the CARES Act. 

  • National Emergency Education Waivers
    This bill provides opportunities for the state educational agency (SEA), Indian tribe or local educational agency (LEA) to request waivers of certain statutory and regulatory provisions. The waiver request must name the federal programs affected, identify the statutory or regulatory requirements that need to be waived, explain how the pandemic prevents ability to comply with the statutory or regulatory requirements and detail how the SEA, Indian Tribe or LEA will prevent any downsides of the waiver. 30 days after enactment of the law, the U.S. Secretary of Education will provide a report to the Senate Committees on Appropriations and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the House Committees on Appropriations and Education and Labor with additional recommendations or waivers under Perkins V and other federal laws. 

    However, 13 states currently have selected a state agency other than the SEA to administer the state’s Perkins funds, also known as the Perkins eligible agency.The CARE’s National Emergency Education Waiver language does not grant this waiver authority to these 13 state agencies with regard to Perkins. Advance CTE is actively advocating for this flexibility to be extended to all Perkins eligible agencies.

  • Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund
    SEAs can apply for emergency relief grants to be used in elementary and secondary schools. Applications must be submitted within 30 days of this bill having been signed, and will be reviewed within 30 days. An LEA that receives money from this grant can use funding for activities under Perkins V, among other federal laws. 

Check out this blog post for additional information about what education and workforce programs are covered in the CARES Act. 

A fact sheet from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions can be found here and the full text can be viewed here

Department Shares Guidance on Perkins V During Coronavirus Pandemic 

On Tuesday, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) within the U.S. Department of Education published guidance on Career Technical Education (CTE) in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic. The guidance includes an extension for states to submit their Perkins V state plans from the original due date of April 15, 2020. If a state submits its plan by June 15, 2020, OCTAE will review by June 30, 2020 and the first installment of Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) Perkins funding will follow the July 1, 2020 schedule. If a state is unable to submit its plan by June 15, 2020, the Department will use authority to extend the transition plan period by three months (to September 30, 2020). In this instance the first FY20 Perkins funding installment will still take place on July 1, 2020, with the condition that the state will submit its full plan by September 15, 2020. 

Additionally, this guidance allows states to award a Perkins V subgrant to a local recipient before fully approving the local application. States can also grant local recipients more time to complete their local applications, beyond the original due date of July 1, 2020. 

A statement on the guidelines from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos can be found here.

You can find a full statement on this guidance from Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) here.  

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Phase Three COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

March 27th, 2020

This week, Congress passed the third stimulus bill in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Read below to learn more about this phase includes, as well as additional measures the U.S. Department of Education is taking at this time. 

Congress Passes Legislation in Response to COVID-19

Earlier today, the House passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748)- or the CARES Act- following the Senate passing of this bill on Wednesday night.The $2.2 trillion package provides economic relief and resources in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), including for education and workforce development programs. Some of the measures in the bill include: 

  • $30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts and institutions of higher education for costs related to Coronavirus. This includes: 
    • $13.5 billion for elementary and secondary education formula-grants for states;
    • $3 billion for Governors to allocate in an emergency capacity to state education agencies most affected; and
    • $14.25 for higher education emergency relief for postsecondary institutions to defray costs that they have incurred or will incur as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • Authority for the Secretary of Education to provide waivers from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, except civil rights laws, that are necessary in response to Coronavirus;
  • Temporary relief for federal student loan borrowers to defer payments, principal and interest for 6 months. This also gives flexibility to students with federal student loans that dropped out of school as a result of Coronavirus;
  • Allows postsecondary students at institutions that closed because of Coronavirus to discount that semester toward their lifetime Pell eligibility; 
  • Continues federal work study payments to students who are no longer able to work as a result of closures;
  • Flexibility for local workforce boards to use Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds for administrative costs (such as digital resources); 
  • $360 million for the Department of Labor to invest in programs to support training and services for dislocated workers, seniors, migrant farmworkers and homeless veterans; and
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to provide unemployment insurance for those who would not typically be covered, but cannot work as a result of Coronavirus.

A fact sheet from the Senate Committee on health, Education, Labor and Pensions can be found here and the full text can be viewed here

Next, this bill will go to the president to be signed into law and implemented. 

Secretary DeVos Orders Relief For Many Student Loan Borrowers

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department will temporarily stop student loan collections and wage garnishments. In addition, the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) will refund $1.8 billion to the 830,000 borrowers who were collected from since March 13, 2020- the date that President Donald Trump announced a hold on federal student loan interest collection, and the ability for borrowers not in default to suspend student loan payments for two months. More information can be found here.

Advance CTE Summarizes Department Resources

The U.S. Department of Education has a page on its website with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) resources and updates for elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. You can access this information at www.ed.gov/coronavirus. Linked here are brief overviews from Advance CTE of what can be found in some of the K-12 materials. Advance CTE will continue to share posts with a breakdown of the resources, so check back for future blogs!

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

Legislative Update: Congress and Administration Respond to COVID-19

March 19th, 2020

In response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Congress and the administration have been taking measures to support the country, including those impacted by the disruption in education. Read below to learn more about what is being done for students and teachers, as well as where to find additional resources. 

U.S. Department of Education Provides Coronavirus Resources 

The U.S. Department of Education added a page to its website with Coronavirus resources and updates for elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. You can access this information at www.ed.gov/coronavirus. The page will be continuously updated by the Department.     

Congress Moves Forward with Coronavirus Response Bill

On Wednesday, the Senate passed an emergency aid package in response to the Coronavirus crisis. This bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives early on Saturday morning. The multi-billion aid package provides economic relief measures, including:

  • Emergency paid leave and benefits; 
  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance; 
  • Coverage of, and expanded access to, Coronavirus testing; and
  • Emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for children who would receive free or reduced-price meals if schools were open.

The bill was then sent to the administration and signed into law. The full bill can be found here and a summary can be found here

President Trump Announces Hold on Federal Student Loan Interest

During a press conference about the federal response to Coronavirus on Friday, President Donald Trump announced  that interest on federal student loans would be eliminated “until further notice.” This will affect over 42 million Americans who owe more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding federal student loans.The U.S. Department of Education is currently working to further develop this plan and issue guidance on what this means for loan recipients and servicers.

On Tuesday, the Administration requested an additional $30 million from Congress to help support the Office of Federal Student Aid in response to the growing loan servicer costs as a result of the interest elimination. 

Congress Proposes Bill to Support Students During Coronavirus Crisis

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP)- with support from Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), Chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor- proposed the Supporting Students in Response to the Coronavirus Act. This bill is intended to support students, teachers and school staff as school closures continue due to Coronavirus. Early childhood programs, K-12 schools and institutions of higher education are all included in this legislation in a number of ways. Some of the measures in this proposal include: 

  • Resources to support schools in implementing and sustaining plans during school closures;  
  • Emergency financial aid for postsecondary students needing food, housing and child care; and
  • Relief for students from paying back student loans during semesters that have been disrupted.  

The full bill text can be found here and a summary can be found here.

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

 

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