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Posts Tagged ‘Legislation’

Legislative Update: Congress in Recess, Continuing Resolution, For-Profit Hearing

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Congress Recesses Until November

Despite returning to Washington just two weeks ago, members of Congress returned home yesterday to campaign in their states ahead of the mid-term elections. Congress is expected to return the week of November 15, then recess again for the week of Thanksgiving and be back the week of November 29, until done. Senate Majority Whip, Dick Durbin (IL), said this week that the lame duck session will focus on three items an omnibus spending package, a middle-income tax extension and a strategic arms control treaty with Russia.

Continuing Resolution to Keep Government Running

Because Congress did not pass any appropriations bills this session, they have passed a continuing resolution that will keep the government open and federal programs running at FY2010 levels until December 3, 2010. Their goal is to pass an omnibus appropriations bill before the session ends in December.

Senate Hearing on For-Profit Schools

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held the latest in a series of hearings on for-profit schools this week. Yesterday’s hearing, “The Federal Investment in For-Profit Education: Are Students Succeeding?,” focused on the success rates of students at these schools and the impact that attending these schools can have on personal debt. In his opening statement, Chairman Tom Harkin (IA) revealed the following statistics that his staff has compiled in a new report:

“We will be having yet another hearing in early December, and then be looking at sometime next year coming up with some kind of legislative changes,” Harkin said during the hearing.

Ranking Member Michael Enzi (WY) was quick to point out that many of these problems are not limited to proprietary schools, but exist across the higher education spectrum, including public and private 4-year colleges and universities and community colleges, and that for-profits should not be singled out.

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Senate Moves Forward on Education Jobs Fund

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

After a series of fits and starts, Congress is nearing the finish line on passing the education jobs fund. Today, the Senate invoked cloture on an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill containing the education jobs fund. The amendment provides $10 billion for education jobs and $16.1 billion for federal Medicaid payments. The funding in this amendment would be fully paid for, and would reduce the deficit by $3 million over ten years and $1.371 billion over eleven years. While the amendment still needs to be passed, the cloture vote marked forward progress on the stalled amendment. If the 30 hours of post-cloture time is not yielded back, that vote will be around 5 pm tomorrow, and if the Senate passes the bill (only 51 votes are needed), it will have to go to the House for a vote.  The House left for summer recess last week, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) just announced that the House will be called into session next week to pass the bill once the Senate completes action.

By Nancy in Legislation
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Strategic Efforts Urged in Addressing Low Performing High Schools

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

In Prioritizing the Nation’s Lowest-Performing High Schools, the Alliance for Excellent Education calls legislators to address the approximately two thousand high schools which account for half the nation’s dropouts.

The Alliance for Excellent Education states that “Effectively performing legislative triage now will yield economic benefit to the nation and to the millions of individual students who will graduate from high school with a diploma that prepares them for success in college, careers, and life.”

By Ramona in Legislation, Publications
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Secretary Duncan Set to Advance Administration Priorities Through ESEA

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

As reported by Education Week yesterday, Arne Duncan’s first year as Secretary of Education “could place him among the most influential leaders in his department’s 30-year history.” Given oversight of unprecedented amounts of education aid in the economic stimulus package, Secretary Duncan has been able to advance administration priorities such as charter schools, teacher performance pay, common academic standards, and turnarounds of low-performing schools through reform efforts such as the Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation grant programs.

While Department officials have indicated that they plan to implement many of these same reforms through a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) this year, there is no guarantee that the law will be passed anytime soon. ESEA was due for reauthorization in 2007, but Congress and the Bush Administration failed to work out differences surrounding accountability and teacher effectiveness based on student achievement.  This time around, Secretary Duncan faces critics such as teachers unions and those who believe he is placing too much emphasis on testing.

But Secretary Duncan plans to meet with the chairmen and ranking minority members of the education committees and the subcommittees in both houses of Congress about ESEA soon after the State of the Union Address. “The heart of our strategy is to secure bipartisan support and enthusiasm for this on the very front end,” said communications chief Peter Cunningham. He also plans to meet with teachers unions and the corporate and philanthropic communities.

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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FY 2010 Appropriations Process Finally Completed

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Last week President Obama signed legislation that provides funding for six appropriations bills that had not yet been signed into law.  This includes the bill that funds the U.S. Department of Education.  As we have been aware for months, as this bill has slowly moved through Congress, there is no additional funding for programs supported through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. These programs are all flat funded at the same level as last year.

So this closes the books on the FY 2010 Federal appropriations process.  The opening act of the FY 2011 process begins soon.  The first step is the release of the President’s recommendations for FY 2011 which are unveiled in early February.  We will of course continue to monitor and influence this process at the Administration level and then after February, when the focus turns to Congress writing appropriations bills, we will be working on Capitol Hill to remind our elected officials of the important role career technical education has in developing a well educated public and a skilled American workforce.

By admin in Legislation
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ECS Releases New CTE Brief

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Last month the Education Commission of the States issued their most recent StateNote, Noteworthy State Legislation for Improving Career and Technical Education, a brief that outlines legislation in the states that aims to address the needs of students and the workforce.  The brief breaks down the legislation by category (e.g., Accountability, Career Ready Certification, Dual Enrollment) and details “what’s special?” about the bills.

This is a great resource to see what is going on in other states and what could be replicated in your state!

By Nancy in Publications
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Luncheon to discuss NCLB reauthorization: more questions than answers

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

NCLB reauthorization:  When’s it going to happen?  What’s it going to look like?  How will the stimulus factor in?  No one knows for sure.

Today, I attended a luncheon hosted by Women in Government Relations that featured Gary Huggins of the Commission on NCLB at the Aspen Institute and Danica Petroshius, former Clinton Administration and HELP Committee staffer.  The focus of the luncheon was the reauthorization of NCLB (or ESEA as people are calling it again these days); the discussion centered on the work that the Commission did in 2007, the focus of their efforts now, the role that Race to the Top might play, and the timing of reauthorization.

In 2007, the Commission on NCLB hosted a series of hearings and issued a report based on those hearings that offered recommendations for strengthening NCLB.  The report covered areas such as accountability, data, highly qualified teachers, and school improvement.  This year the Commission plans to take the same approach – they will conduct hearings in the fall/winter and issue a report next spring on what needs to be done in the next reauthorization of ESEA.  Their areas of focus this time around include high schools, school improvement, teacher and principal effectiveness, accountability and innovation.

The Race to the Top funds are seen as the Administration’s vehicle for school reform and were referred to several times during the discussion as “shadow NCLB.”  People tend to think that either the President is content to further his reform agenda through Race to the Top without having to tackle reauthorization, or that the four pillars of reform in Race to the Top will be the foundation for the next iteration of ESEA.

As for timing, some in the group speculated that reauthorization would not be for another 2 to 3 years.  There are a variety of reasons for this, and we touched on just a few.  The key reason that reauthorization failed in 2007 was because there was no consensus around accountability and teacher effectiveness based on student achievement.  Since those issues have only grown bigger in the last two years, it seems unlikely that opposing sides want to take on NCLB; however they must be addressed in order for reauthorization to happen.  The passing of Senator Kennedy also seems to dim the chances for a bipartisan effort on these contentious issues.  And finally, healthcare is eating up time on the legislative calendar this session, thus making the reauthorization of NCLB unlikely in the near future.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Appropriations Bills Voted on in July-Perkins funding likely flat for FY 2010

Friday, July 31st, 2009

This week, the Senate took their turn at writing and approving an FY 2010 appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (Labor HHS, Education) . On Tuesday the Labor HHS Education Subcommittee approved their version of the bill and on Thursday the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill. The bill maintains flat funding for Perkins Basic State Grants, National Programs, and Tech Prep. This is consistent with what was included in President Obama’s budget submission and in the version of the Labor HHS Education Appropriations Bill approved by the House of Representatives last week. Reliable sources in the Senate have reported that the Senate will likely not vote on this bill before the Senate adjourns for August recess and that they will consider the bill in September.

By admin in Legislation
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Oates and Kanter testify at WIA hearing

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

The Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing this morning focused on modernizing the Workforce Investment Act.  As a sign that the subcommittee wants to better coordinate the workforce system with education, both Jane Oates, the Assistant Secretary for ETA at the Department of Labor, and Martha Kanter, the Under Secretary of Education, testified on the first panel of witnesses.   Both Oates and Kanter stressed that the workforce system and education must work together to improve training and job prospects for today’s workers and students.  Their Departments have been working together on joint issues and plan to continue this collaboration.  More specifically, they want to work on integrating literacy and remedial education with skills training.  As for how Congress can better align the work of these two agencies, Oates suggested common performance measures that cut across both Labor and Education, while Kanter advocated for integrated data systems.

When asked about the President’s vision for the workforce system, Kanter stated that his community college initiative will help create the most competitive and highly educated workforce in the world through an increase in the number of degrees completed and credentials obtained.  She pointed out that these credentials may be completed at community colleges, CBOs, or through industry.  Oates described the President’s vision as a multi-pronged approach of which WIA and the community college initiative are two important pieces.

At the end of the panel, Senator Patty Murray (WA) asked how each of their agencies define “post-secondary education” in light of the President’s call for every American to get at least one year of post-secondary education.  Kanter said that the Department of Education views it broadly as “advanced training after high school”, including industry certifications.  Oates said that the Department of Labor sees credentials as a step towards an Associates or Bachelors degree.

By Nancy in Legislation
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Perkins Flat Funded in House Appropriations Markup

Friday, July 10th, 2009

The House Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee passed its markup of the FY 2010 spending bill this morning.  Perkins has been level funded at $1.2 billion.   Details released by the subcommittee today are broad and the bill is not scheduled to be officially released until the full committee markup on Tuesday July 14.  However, the Committee for Education Funding has cited sources on the subcommittee that state that this date will probably be pushed back later in the week. The Senate Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education is scheduled to markup their bill during the week of July 20.

If your member is on the Appropriations Committee please ask them to support Perkins funding when the Committee considers the bill.  If your member does not serve on Appropriations, please ask them to contact the leadership of the Appropriations Committee and let them know that they support Perkins CTE funding.  To find out who your representative is and to send them an email, go to:  https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

By Nancy in Legislation
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