Push for Apprenticeships is Focus of Workforce Development Week

June 14th, 2017

It’s “Workforce Development Week” for the Trump Administration. Events throughout the week have involved remarks from key officials and a visit to a technical college in Wisconsin, but the biggest news is expected later this week.  See below for additional details on the week’s events, a new report from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) and Advance CTE, and an announcement from Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Monday: Ivanka Trump Talks Perkins, Apprenticeship Raised in Cabinet Meeting,  

On June 12, Ivanka Trump appeared on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” and provided an overview of Workforce Development Week. She discussed the skills gap, the upcoming visit to a technical college in Wisconsin, apprenticeships, and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins). Ivanka Trump commented on the Carl D. Perkins Act noting that, “It’s a very good piece of legislation. They’re refining it and extending it, but it’s all about skills-based education and really making sure people have the technical skills to succeed in this modern economy.”

Also on June 12, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta presented on apprenticeships and distributed this policy memo, which outlines the need for skilled workers, highlights key facts about apprenticeship in the United States and requests that, “each Agency head support the Administration’s apprenticeship initiative by removing obstacles to apprenticeship growth that may be present in current regulations or practices.”

Tuesday: Visit to Waukesha County Technical College

On June 13, President Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Secretaries Devos and Acosta visited Waukesha County Technical College in Wisconsin and then held a roundtable discussion with Governor Scott Walker and students and instructors from the college. Topics addressed in the discussion’s opening remarks from President Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Governor Walker included the skills gap, the importance of skills-based programs and apprenticeships to address that gap, and the Governor’s recent announcement about a grant to support apprenticeships for high school students. Members of Congress have been weighing in on Workforce Development Week and we appreciate Senator Baldwin’s response that called attention to the President’s proposed cuts to Career Technical Education (CTE).

Wednesday: New Apprenticeship Bill, Report

Senators Cantwell (D-WA) and Collins (R-ME) introduced the Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2017 on June 14 (find the summary here). According to a press release from Senator Cantwell’s office, the bill would:

  • “Create a $5,000 tax credit for up to three years for companies that hire and pay employees enrolled in a federal- or state-registered apprentice program. Additionally, employers participating in a multi-employer apprenticeship program, the credit rate would be $3 per hour each individual works.
  • Allow senior employees near retirement to draw from pensions early if they’re involved in mentoring or training new employees. Workers must be at least 55, and have reduced work hours to spend at least 20 percent of their time training or educating employees or students.
  • Help veterans get into skilled jobs that match their military experience sooner by allowing credit in apprenticeship requirements for previous military training.”

Curious about how apprenticeship programs relate to CTE? Check out this new resource from OCTAE and Advance CTE that details how eight programs connect secondary CTE to apprenticeship.

What’s Next for Workforce Development Week?

News reports from Inside Higher Ed and others anticipate that President Trump will make an announcement this week about expanding apprenticeship efforts and increasing the federal investment in apprenticeship. In addition, the President is expected to sign an executive order related to apprenticeships.

Secretary DeVos Announces Rulemaking Committees

On June 14, Secretary DeVos announced that the Department of Education (ED) would create two rulemaking committees on regulations surrounding Borrower Defense Repayment and Gainful Employment. With regard to Gainful Employment, the press release noted that “As the Department worked on implementing this regulation, it became clear that, as written, it is overly burdensome and confusing for institutions of higher education.”

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

Secretary DeVos Defends Cuts to Career Technical Education, Continues to Promote School Choice

June 7th, 2017

Congress returned from last week’s recess ready to dive into the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget and appropriations process – and we’re ready to advocate on your behalf! Please continue to send your stories about what the proposed 15 percent cut to the Perkins Basic State Grant would mean for you to Katie Fitzgerald, kfitzgerald@careertech.org and we will follow up with you about featuring your story in our advocacy communications. Find more on the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee’s hearing on the FY18 Department of Education (ED) Budget and details on the Administration’s proposed initiatives around school choice below.

Secretary DeVos Defends Cuts to Career Technical Education

Keep your calls to Congress coming! It’s not too late to reach out to your Members of Congress to encourage them to support a strong investment in Perkins. Because of your advocacy, CTE was in the spotlight during the FY18 Budget hearing for ED (you can watch it online here) held by the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. The proposed cuts to CTE came up quickly, as the subcommittee’s Chairman, Senator Blunt (R-MO) pointed them out specifically in his opening statement:

In reviewing this budget request it is difficult to know whether you made cuts because you believe the programs are truly ineffective or because your budget number required these reductions just to reach the bottom line. For example, I believe significant reductions to programs like Career and Technical Education, TRIO, and Federal Work Study will make it harder for students to get into and complete college, and go on to well-paying jobs.”

While Secretary DeVos did not have the opportunity to respond during the opening statements, she did have the opportunity to do so when Senator Shelby (R-AL) asked about the perceived implications of the proposed cuts to the Perkins Basic State Grants in light of the continued need for skilled workers. Secretary DeVos responded by saying that there’s an opportunity to look at how some CTE efforts have been siloed, that there is some overlap between CTE and programs administered through the Department of Labor, and that there is a need to think holistically about how higher education legislation can support opportunities in CTE. Secretary DeVos provided a similar answer and emphasized the need to foster innovation when Senator Baldwin (D-WI) asked how the $20 million for competitive grants would make up for over $1.5 billion lost via formula grants through Perkins, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and the Student Success and Academic Enrichment grants (authorized under Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act). Senator Schatz (D-HI) mentioned CTE in his remarks and Senator Murphy (D-CT) referenced the “massive cuts in CTE” when addressing the Administration’s school choice proposal (more details below).

More Than $1.4 Billion in Increases for School Choice in FY18 ED Budget Proposal

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee’s hearing on the FY18 Department of Education Budget included many questions about the additional $1 billion in Title I funding for school choice and the increases for other programs that would focus on it. What are the specific funding levels and purposes of the programs? The ED press release describes them as follows:

  • $1 billion increase for Title I for new Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success (FOCUS) grants. FOCUS grants would provide supplemental awards to school districts that adopt student-centered weighted student funding formulas combined with open enrollment systems.
  • $250 million increase for the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program for competitive awards for applicants to provide scholarships for students from low-income families to attend the private school of their parents’ choice.
  • $167 million increase for the Charter Schools Grants program to strengthen State efforts to start new charter schools or expand and replicate existing high-performing charter schools while providing up to $100 million to meet the growing demand for charter school facilities.”

It is ultimately up to Congress to determine the fate of these programs and the others included (and excluded) in the Administration’s FY18 Budget Proposal for ED: appropriators make the call as to whether ED programs are funded and the level at which to fund them. We will continue to provide updates as Congress works through the budget and appropriations process for FY18.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

President’s Budget Proposal Raises Questions

May 26th, 2017

As we reported, the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) was released on Tuesday. This proposal includes a $168 million cut to the Perkins Basic State Grant, a 15 percent decrease from the current level of funding, while increasing $20 million for National Programs for competitive grant program to spur innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. Find our full statement on the budget here. We have details on the budget itself, a briefing at the U.S. Department of Education (ED), the Congressional hearing on ED’s budget, and a resource update below. Additionally, we encourage you to send us your stories on how these budget cuts would impact CTE programs in your state.

Budgets for Departments of Education and Labor Slashed

Overall, when comparing the proposed FY18 ED budget to the FY17 levels appropriated by Congress (including the Pell grant rescissions included in both), the total cut is $7.9 billion (12 percent). Some notable proposed cuts are outlined below:

  • Student Support and Academic Enrichment state grants, new grants under Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) are eliminated. These block grants received $400 million in FY17 and were authorized by ESSA to receive $1.6 billion for FY18. They have a variety of allowable uses, one of which includes CTE programs and activities that meet the requirements of ESSA’s definition for a “well-rounded education.”
  • Pell grants are reduced by $42.7 million and the maximum award size is frozen at the 2017 level, but year-round Pell grants are supported. However, the proposal also includes a $3.9 billion rescission that would lower the reserve amount available in the future.
  • Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants are reduced by $96 million (16 percent).

Find charts with the ED numbers for FY17 compared to the President’s FY18 budget proposal and the overall federal investment in education over time from the Committee for Education Funding here.

The proposed FY18 budget for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) cuts $2.5 billion (21 percent) when compared to the FY17 levels appropriated by Congress. Some notable proposed cuts are outlined below:

  • State formula grants provided through Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) are reduced by over $1 billion (40 percent).
  • Apprenticeship grants are reduced by $5 million.

You can find a helpful table that compares FY17 appropriations to the President’s FY18 budget proposal for key programs under WIOA, DOL, ED, and more from the National Skills Coalition here.

Budget Events Draw Crowds, Questions

On Tuesday afternoon, ED held a briefing on the President’s budget (you can find the slide deck and more here). Secretary Betsy DeVos gave opening remarks, Erica Navarro, the Budget Service Director at ED, presented, and then the floor was open for questions. Many questions focused on how programs up for elimination would be phased out, questions to clarify specific numbers, and the rationale for particular cuts). When Advance CTE posed a question about the rationale behind the cut to the proposed $168 million (or 15 percent) to Perkins Basic State Grants, the response was that ED wanted to give Congress flexibility in the reauthorization process. In addition, we asked about the proposed $20 million increase to National Programs (which has historically been used for research and evaluation of CTE programs) and were provided with a similar answer to what appears in the ED Budget summary document: that it is meant to spur innovation in STEM CTE programs. The overall theme of this briefing was that “tough choices” had to be made.

On Wednesday, Secretary DeVos appeared in front of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee to discuss ED’s budget (you can watch the hearing here). In contrast to the day before, the main themes were state and local control, parental choice, and an emphasis on the idea that past approaches haven’t worked (see the written testimony from Secretary DeVos here). The hearing drew a large crowd and Members of Congress used the entire time allotted for the hearing for their questions, which focused on a wide variety of programs in the budget and the role of ED more broadly in regard to accountability. Representatives Womack (R-AR), Moolenaar (R-MI) and DeLauro (D-CT) all spoke in favor of CTE. Secretary DeVos recalled her visits to community colleges with CTE programs, discussed the importance of multiple pathways to success in the workforce, and reinforced her support of dual-enrollment programs, but did not address the proposed $168 million cut to Perkins Basic State Grants. Rep. DeLauro pointed out the irony of this at the end of the hearing, as have others, including AFT and the Atlantic.

What Would the Cut to Perkins Mean for you? Send Us Your Stories!

One of the most effective ways to illustrate to Members of Congress the importance of a strong investment in Perkins is real stories about what a cut to those funds would mean on the ground (you can find your state’s potential allocation in FY18 here – see page 21). What would a cut mean for your program? Could fewer students enroll? Would it mean that students will have to use outdated equipment? Send your stories about what cuts to Perkins would mean for you to Katie Fitzgerald, kfitzgerald@careertech.org and we will follow up with you about featuring your story in our communications.

ICYMI: Perkins Reauthorization Update

H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins) was marked up by the House Education and the Workforce Committee last week. Find our updated summary and analysis here, which incorporates changes from the mark up.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

Congress Shows Support for Perkins on the Heels of Proposed Cuts

May 23rd, 2017

Career Technical Education (CTE) gains major win in the House Education and the Workforce Committee, followed by a potentially devastating 15 percent cut to CTE proposed in the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget. Find information on the budget, legislation related to the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins), and cybersecurity and the workforce below.

President’s Budget Proposal Cuts Perkins 15 Percent

The President’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Budget was released earlier today. This proposal includes a $168 million cut to the Perkins Basic State Grant, a 15 percent decrease from the current level of funding. This cut is especially disappointing given the Administration’s public support of CTE. Just last month President Trump said, “Secretary DeVos is working to ensure our workers are trained for the skilled technical jobs that will, in the future, power our country.” This proposal also includes an increase of $20 million for National Programs, which according to the Department of Education’s FY18 Budget Summary and Background Information would “support a competition to promote the development, enhancement, implementation, or expansion of innovative CTE programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.”

In a statement released earlier today, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) stated, “This proposed $168 million cut from state grants for CTE significantly reduces states’ abilities to use these resources to improve and expand CTE programs based on their specific needs. It’s incredulous that an Administration that wishes to devolve authority to the states proposes to increase its own funding at the federal level by $20 million; this essentially equates to taking funds out of the pockets of states, colleges and schools to a create a new, untested program run by the Secretary of Education.” Find the rest of the statement about the President’s FY18 Budget here.

Allocations for other Department of Education programs can be found here and the Committee for Education Funding will post an updated budget chart here as soon as possible. The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee will have a hearing on the Department of Education Budget on Wednesday, May 24 at 11 a.m. ET (watch it live here), during which Secretary DeVos is scheduled to testify.

It is also important to note that previous administrations have proposed similar cuts to Perkins (and even elimination of the investment entirely), but that Congress has continued to approve appropriations bills that surpassed the amounts outlined in past Presidents’ proposals. Now is the time to reach out to your Members of Congress to encourage them to support a strong investment in Perkins.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Unanimously Passes H.R. 2353 

On May 17, the House Education and the Workforce Committee marked up H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (the bill that would reauthorize Perkins). You can watch the mark up here and see the letter that Advance CTE and ACTE sent to the committee outlining our support of many provisions included in H.R. 2353 and our main outstanding concern around how the bill defines a secondary CTE concentrator.

Cybersecurity and the Workforce: Implications for CTE

On May 11, President Trump signed an executive order entitled, “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure.” Among other provisions, the order includes a “Workforce Development” component that directs the Secretaries of Education, Commerce, Homeland Security, Defense and Labor along with the Office of Personnel Management to “jointly assess the scope and sufficiency of efforts to educate and train the American cybersecurity workforce of the future, including cybersecurity-related education curricula, training, and apprenticeship programs, from primary through higher education,” and submit a report with the findings and recommendations to the President within 120 days.

The need for a workforce with the knowledge and skills to succeed in the cybersecurity sphere was also the topic of a recent Senate CTE Caucus briefing. The panelists, Casey O’Brien, the Executive Director and Principal Investigator at the National CyberWatch Center, Sophie Webb-Lopez, Deputy Director at the Department of Homeland Security, Aaron Cohen, Director of Cyber Skills Development at Symantec Corporation, Margaret Leary, the Chair of the Cybersecurity Program at Northern Virginia Community College, and David Tobey, Assistant Professor at Indiana University South Bend and Founder and CEO at VivoWorks Inc., discussed the challenges facing the cybersecurity workforce, including the need for professionals who are innovative and can apply technology to solving problems. They also shared how competency-based education, broader understanding and awareness of the issue, and high-quality CTE programs can play a role in solving these problems.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy 

All Eyes on Perkins Reauthorization

May 16th, 2017

With the House Education and the Workforce Committee slated to mark up H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (the bill that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins)), this week, Career Technical Education (CTE) has been getting a lot of airtime in Washington, D.C. Updates about CTE events, bills, and support in Congress are below.

Watch the Action Live: H.R. 2353 Mark Up Tomorrow 

On Wednesday, May 17 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, the House Education and the Workforce Committee will mark up H.R. 2353. At this time, members of the Committee will consider and discuss amendments to the legislation. You can watch the mark up tomorrow live here and follow Advance CTE on Twitter at @CTEWorks for up-to-the-minute updates. Advance CTE sent a letter to the Committee outlining our support of many provisions included in H.R. 2353 and our main outstanding concern around how the bill defines a secondary CTE concentrator.

Chairwoman Foxx Discusses CTE at AEI

On May 16, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx of the House Education and Workforce Committee delivered remarks, engaged in a brief discussion with Andy Smarick, the Morgridge Fellow in education at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and answered questions from the audience about CTE. Chairwoman Foxx encouraged the audience to be mindful of the language we use to describe CTE, emphasized the strong academic outcomes of CTE students, and reinforced the need to share success stories about programs that prepare students for the workforce (and you can find Advance CTE’s resources to promote CTE programs here). In addition, she highlighted how H.R. 2353 provides opportunities for state and local CTE leaders to engage and partner with business and industry. Highlights and a recording of the event can be found online here.

Senate “Dear Colleague” Letter Garners 34 Signatures in Support of Perkins

On May 9, a “Dear Colleague Letter” was sent to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee to request an increase in the investment in Perkins State Grants to $1.3 billion (it is currently funded at $1.17 billion) in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Appropriations Bill. The letter garnered 34 signatures from Senators across 25 states. Please check to see if your Senators signed the letter here and if so, send a thank you note! Advance CTE will also be thanking these Senators and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) for leading the charge to collect signatures!

College Transparency Act Introduced

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the College Transparency Act on May 15. The bill would “establish a secure, privacy-protected postsecondary student data system at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Colleges would report data to this new data system in lieu of the current, burdensome reporting mechanisms, and NCES would be responsible for presenting the information in a user-friendly manner for students and the public, while safeguarding student privacy” according to this one-pager released by the bill’s sponsors.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

In Kentucky and Arkansas, Lawmakers Authorize New ESSA Accountability Plans

April 13th, 2017

Education Week last month reported that “as state legislative sessions forge ahead, you’ll start to see states’ Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) accountability plans vetted by lawmakers as the new law requires.” This is partly a result of statutory requirements in the law that mandate consultation with the governor and members of the state legislature. But it is also due to the fact that many state ESSA plans promise changes to assessments, accountability and standards that must be made by the legislature or state board of education.

With the first submission window for ESSA state plans now officially open, implementation of the new federal law has been top of mind for many states. As they finalize their ESSA plans, state policymakers have been working in parallel to implement core strategies within their education systems.

Kentucky Plans to Measure Industry Credential Attainment

In Kentucky, for example, Governor Matt Bevin signed a revised state accountability system into law. While Kentucky has been recognized as a leader in career readiness accountability — the state’s Unbridled Learning system uses a weighted point system that values college and career achievement equally — SB1 applies a fresh coat of paint, aligning the system with ESSA requirements and recalibrating the weighted point system to better incentivize relevant career learning experiences. Namely, the law:

  • Adopts a “Postsecondary Readiness” indicator measuring apprenticeship participation and achievement of industry-recognized credentials in addition to college credit, performance on college admissions exams and concurrent enrollment.
  • Directs the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board and the Department of Education to annually produce a list of industry-recognized credentials eligible for credit under the accountability system. Credentials are to be identified by local workforce investment boards and weighted according to industry demand.
  • Eliminates inclusion of the WorkKeys career readiness assessment in the accountability system.

Arkansas Provides Accountability Guidelines for Department of Education

Meanwhile, Arkansas lawmakers passed — and Governor Asa Hutchinson signed — a law authorizing the Department of Education to develop a state accountability system and providing certain guidelines. The law largely mirrors the requirements set forth in ESSA, which requires state to report indicators related to academic performance, growth, graduation rates and English Learner progress. But lawmakers also provided nine suggested indicators for the Department of Education to consider, including one measure of the percent of students earning Advanced Placement credit, concurrent credit, International Baccalaureate credit or industry-recognized credentials.

If the Arkansas Department of Education chooses to pursue this route, it will join several other states that are considering career readiness indicators in their statewide accountability systems. As we shared last week, about half of states planning to submit ESSA plans during the first review window are considering career readiness indicators, including measures of industry credential attainment.

Other CTE-Related Legislation Hitting Governors’ Desks this Session

ESSA-related legislation is inching along in other state houses nationwide. In the meantime, state lawmakers have kept themselves busy, continuing a years-long trend to strengthen and scale relevant career pathways. Though this list is not exhaustive, here is a snapshot of what states have passed so far in the 2017 legislative session:

  • Idaho and Utah saw increases in state-appropriated funding for CTE.
  • Two bills passed in Virginia will allow school districts to waive certain CTE teacher licensure requirements and require community colleges to accept credit for state-approved apprenticeships.
  • Arkansas’ new Future Grant program repurposes $8.2 million to cover two years of tuition and fees for Arkansas students to study at a state technical or community college, provided that their course of study is in a high-demand field and they elect to work in the state for three years after graduating.
  • South Dakota voted to reorganize the state technical college system under the authority of a new Board of Technical Education, following through on a ballot mandate approved by voters in November.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

And They’re Off! Early ESSA Plans Signal Enthusiasm for Career Readiness

April 6th, 2017

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), reauthorized in 2015 under President Obama, affords states great opportunity to promote career readiness by updating state accountability systems, providing supports for teachers and leaders, and ensuring students can access a “well-rounded education,” including opportunities such as Career Technical Education (CTE). With the first submission window for ESSA plans now officially open, several states have stepped up to the plate, signaling a new era of career readiness.

Amid Transitions in Washington, States Move Forward as Planned

This week’s submission window comes after recent changes to the ESSA plan submission process threatened to derail the timeline. After Congress exercised its rarely-used Congressional Review Act authority earlier this year to revoke certain ESSA regulations, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged states to stay the course and continue their implementation efforts as planned. Earlier in March, Sec. DeVos released an updated template reorganizing the structure of the state plan and eliminating a few requirements from the Obama administration’s version, providing additional flexibility to states. While this reduced the turnaround time for states to prepare their final plans, states are permitted to submit plans as late as May 3 to provide the governor 30 days to review the final version, as required by statute.

States took these changes in stride, though some are reconsidering their approach to public data reporting. The accountability regulations repealed by Congress earlier this year encouraged the use of a “summative rating” to differentiate school performance. Now that the rule no longer applies, many states are rolling back A-F school report cards in favor of multi-measure dashboards. These changes are largely a response to criticism from local superintendents and other stakeholders who claim that summative reporting is overly simplistic and fails to provide a nuanced picture of school quality.

At Least Ten of First Eighteen States to Count Career Readiness in their Accountability Systems

Eighteen states have signaled they will submit ESSA plans during the initial review window, which opened on April 3. Of those, nine have already submitted plans to the U.S. Department of Education. While Montana and Ohio originally opted to submit by the April 3 deadline, they have since delayed their plans to allow more time for stakeholder engagement. They, along with the remaining states, will submit in September.

A review of draft public-comment plans reveals some promising strategies to strengthen CTE and career preparation opportunities. Of the 18 states submitting plans this week, at least ten plan to use some form of career readiness indicator in their accountability systems. These include:

  • Connecticut, which plans to adopt three measures of college and career readiness, including preparation for coursework, preparation for exams and postsecondary entry. These measures examine preparation for two-and four-year colleges as well as participation and success in CTE courses and workforce experiences.
  • Michigan, where policymakers exceeded federal requirements and identified a total of seven different indicators (ESSA requires five). Under the state’s plan, the accountability system will measure “Advanced Coursework,” to include successful completion of dual enrollment, middle early college, CTE, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate coursework. The Advanced Coursework indicator, along with other non-academic indicators, will together be weighted at 14 percent of the total score.
  • Nevada, which aims to adopt a “College and Career Readiness” indicator measuring ACT assessment scores, completion of college credit bearing coursework (AP, IB and dual enrollment) and industry-recognized credential attainment. That indicator will make up 25 percent of the state’s overall accountability score.

Other states such as Colorado plan to adopt additional indicators a later date once better systems have been developed to reliably collect and report data. Colorado plans to convene its accountability workgroup again this spring and will explore possible measures of career readiness, including completion of advanced coursework, students graduating with college credit or an industry credential, and post-graduation employment. 

Additional career readiness strategies are present throughout state draft plans. In North Dakota, state policymakers singled out ESSA’s “well-rounded education” requirements to promote CTE, competency-based learning, personalized learning and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) programs. The state plans to use ESSA’s Student Support and Academic Achievement Grants (authorized under Title IV Part A) to strengthen well-rounded education opportunities and prepare students for postsecondary success.

And in Maine, the Department of Education plans to continue its ongoing Intersections Workshops, which bring together academic and CTE teachers to identify intersections across different content standards. This work was originally started after the state adopted a competency-based education system in 2012.

The first round of state ESSA plans indicates enthusiasm and willingness to leverage federal policy to support career readiness. And even states that do not currently have the technical capacity to do so are taking steps to adopt such measures. With months remaining until the second submission deadline in September, we encourage states to examine ESSA’s increased flexibility and seize the opportunity to strengthen career readiness systems statewide.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

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

February 28th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

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

February 22nd, 2017

Transition Update from the Trump Administration

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

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

Buzz on the Hill around CTE Month

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

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

Perkins Reauthorization A Top Priority for 115th Congress

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

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

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

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

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Betsy DeVos’s Narrowing Path to Confirmation

February 3rd, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, Lots of Support for CTE on the Hill

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

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

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

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

Austin Estes, Policy Associate and Kimberly Green, Executive Director

 

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