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Posts Tagged ‘Post Secondary Access and Affordability’

Legislative Update: House Postpones Markup of Perkins Funding Bill

Friday, July 26th, 2013

House Postpones Markup of Perkins Funding BillCapitol

A markup that was scheduled this week for the House of Representatives’ FY 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-Education) appropriations bill, which includes Perkins funding, has been postponed by the House Appropriations Committee until further notice.

Earlier this month, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its Labor-HHS-Ed bill, which would restore Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (Perkins) funding to pre-sequestration levels. The Senate bill provides a $3.52 billion, or 5.4 percent, increase for discretionary education spending compared to FY 2013. In stark contrast, the overall funding level for the approved House Labor-HHS-Ed bill is 19 percent below current funding levels and is expected to contain deep cuts to many programs.

Experts project that, due to disparate proposals from each chamber, the FY 2014 appropriations process will not be easily resolved. Congress is required to pass a funding measure by the end of September. Please take the opportunity to contact your Representative to let them know why Perkins funding needs to be maintained and how it would impact Career Technical Education (CTE) programs across your state and district.

Senate Introduces Bipartisan WIA Legislation

This week, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) officially introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The Workforce Investment Act of 2013, or S.1356, contains some positive elements for CTE, including prioritization of career pathways and programs that lead to industry-recognized credential and high-demand jobs. Unfortunately, the bill also proposed to fund One-Stop infrastructure and other activities from state allocations of One-Stop partners.

While only postsecondary Perkins programs offer training services as partners in the One-Stop system under WIA, Perkins funding supports both secondary and postsecondary CTE programs with individuals deciding how to split overall funding between secondary and postsecondary CTE. The bill proposes a 1.5 percent contribution, or $17 million overall, that would come from Perkins administrative funds, and would result in a 30 percent cut to the administrative funds that are available to most states. This has been a longstanding issue and will likely continue to be a sticking point as WIA reauthorization progresses.

NASDCTEc provided input to the committee on this issue prior to the release of the bill, and we will continue to work with committee staff to address this significant issue. Please contact your Senators to let them know how the One-Stop infrastructure proposal would negatively impact CTE in your state. Ask them to oppose this method for supporting WIA infrastructure and, instead, to carve out administrative funding in WIA to pay for its own infrastructure.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has scheduled a markup of the WIA bill next Wednesday.

Senate Passes Bill on Student Loans

The Senate passed a bill this week that would allow students to lock in currently low interest rates on student loans. In future years, fixed rates would depend on current market conditions. The Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, or S.1334, passed by a vote of 81 to 18 and will next go to the House for approval.

Of interest for CTE stakeholders, Senators Patty Murray and Al Franken (D-MN) introduced an amendment that would, in part, restore the Ability to Benefit provisions of the Higher Education Act for certain students enrolled in evidence-based career pathways programs. While the amendment was not included in the final version of the Senate bill, there is opportunity for it to resurface in the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Senate Confirms New Labor Secretary

Last week, the Senate voted to confirm President Obama’s pick for labor secretary, Thomas Perez, on a party-line vote of 54-46. Prior to this role, Perez served as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. As labor secretary, Perez replaces Hilda Solis, who held the position from 2009 through January 2013.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

By Kara in Legislation, News, Public Policy
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First Presidential Debate Addresses Economy, Education and Deficit

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Last night President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney met in Denver for the first of three presidential debates. This debate, moderated by Jim Lehrer, focused on domestic issues, with both candidates frequently citing the need to improve public education in order to prepare students with the skills they need to succeed. When asked about how he would go about creating new jobs, President Obama stated that we have improve our education system, hire more math and science teachers, keep college affordable, and create two million more openings at community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that exist today.

Governor Romney explained that his plan for economic recovery would include streamlining workforce training programs. He referenced the finding from a GAO report that there are 47 job training programs (including Perkins, according to GAO) reporting to eight different federal agencies. Romney suggested that these programs would be better managed at the state level, saying, “Overhead is overwhelming. We’ve got to get those dollars back to the states and go to the workers so they can create their own pathways to get in the training they need for jobs that will really help them.”

Lehrer then moved on to how each candidate would tackle the growing deficit. Romney said that, firstly, he would apply the following test to all federal programs: Is the program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, he would eliminate it. Second, he would move programs that he believes could be run more efficiently at the state level and send them to the state. Finally, he would increase government efficiency by reducing the number of employees, and combining some agencies and departments. President Obama stated that, in addition to raising revenues, he would cut programs that are not helping the economy grow. He pointed out his Administration has already eliminated a number of federal programs, including 18 ineffective education programs.

In response to a question about the role of the federal government in public education, Governor Romney said that he thinks that federal education funds should follow the student, allowing parents to decide where to send their child to school. President Obama stated that the great work being done by community colleges with business support to train people for jobs, also requires some federal support.

Obama and Romney then sparred over budget proposals and how they can impact choices about support for federal education programs. Obama questioned how Romney would be able to pay for his support of education programs when his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan’s, budget proposal would cut federal education spending by 20 percent. Romney countered by saying, “I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding and—and grants that go to people going to college…I don’t want to cut our commitment to education. I want to make it more effective and efficient.” However, if Romney were to implement Ryan’s budget plan, and keeps his promise to not cut education that would mean deeper cuts for other areas of the federal government.

The next Presidential debate will take place on October 16, 2012 and will focus on foreign and domestic policy. Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Ryan will meet for their only debate next Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST and will also cover foreign and domestic policy.

Nancy Conneely, Director of Public Policy

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Senate Hearing Focuses on College Affordability; Witness Calls for Streamlining Federal Reporting Requirements

Friday, September 14th, 2012

At a hearing this week — Improving College Affordability: A View From the States – members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee heard from higher education stakeholders about the obstacles that keep postsecondary education out of reach for many students. Dr. Camille Preus, Commissioner of the Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, spoke about how the Federal government can encourage and support states in making postsecondary education more affordable:

The federal government also could help states in their efforts to be more efficient by aligning the various reporting requirements that it imposes on institutions of higher education. These requirements differ for various programs, such as the HEA and the Workforce Investment and the Carl D. Perkins Act, and these in turn differ from information that states themselves require. A concerted effort needs to be undertaken to eliminate these inefficiencies. Many community colleges have only one individual who is responsible for meeting all reporting requirements. Sometimes states becoming directly involved in providing needed information. In addition, the federal government needs to be much more aggressive in ensuring that appropriate state educational entities have access to data that will enable them, in concert with institutions, to identify the earnings of students after they have left institutions. These data in turn will help colleges to maximize resource allocation.

In the context of better aligning workforce and training programs, NASDCTEc has also recommended that common measures across programs such as WIA, Perkins, Trade Adjustment Assistance, and Adult Education would provide more interconnectivity in the workforce system as programs collaborate and work together to ensure the alignment of goals. Our recommendaitons also call for data sharing across federal programs in order to ease the burden that programs and providers face in collecting accountability information, and foster an environment of collaboration and efficiency in the workforce and education systems.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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NCES Report Examines Gaps in Higher Education Access and Persistence

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

In 2008, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Education to produce a report examining the gaps in educational participation and attainment of White males versus Black, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander males, and the participation and attainment of their female counterparts. This month, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the report, and the findings indicate that gaps in persistence and access continue. The findings include:

Read the full report: Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

 

By Kara in Research
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Legislative Update: Sequestration, Student Loan Rates

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Congress Asks OMB for Detailed Impact of Sequestration

While there has been much talk about the devastating impact of sequestration on federally-funded programs, there have not been a lot of details to help states and districts prepare. To help increase transparency around this issue, Senators Patty Murray (WA) and John McCain (AZ) recently introduced a bipartisan amendment to the Farm Bill that would require the Office of Management of Budget to submit to Congress a detailed analysis of the impact of sequestration cuts on both defense and non-defense discretionary programs, including education programs like Perkins. Specifically, it would require OMB to provide figures for the number of educator job lost, the number of students no longer able to access education programs, and education resources lost by states and districts. This report would have to be completed within 60 days of the Farm Bill’s passage. If the bill does not pass, the Senators intend to attach the amendment to any future bills that the Senate takes up.

In the House, the Budget Committee unanimously reported H.R. 5872, the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012. Like the Murray-McCain amendment, this bill would require the Office of Management and Budget to detail how defense and non-defense programs would be affected by the automatic cuts.

Deal Reached on Student Loan Interest Rates

Democrats and Republicans in Congress have reached a deal to prevent the interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1, 2012. The deal will extend the 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans for one year. The extension will be paid for through two offsets. First, changes would be made to pension plans. The second, smaller offset would affect students: limiting how long new borrowers could receive in-school interest subsidies to 150 percent of the average time it takes to complete a degree. Currently there are no limits.

The House and Senate are scheduled to vote today on the bill to which this provision is attached. We will keep you updated on any developments.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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ED Seeks Student Input on Improving Education

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

On February 1, the Department of Education launched the National Education Startup Challenge, asking students to develop innovative, real world solutions to improve education. Students from across the country are invited to submit a business plan and a video pitch for a for-profit or non-profit startup that includes an innovative strategy, product or service designed to address one of these four topics:

Students in grade 6 through postsecondary, as well as out-of-school youth, are eligible to participate. The deadline for submissions is May 1, 2012.

For more information visit the National Education Startup Challenge Web site.

 Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in News
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President Focuses on Education and Skills Training in State of the Union

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

In his State of the Union address last night President Obama called keeping the middle class alive “the defining issue of our time.” Throughout his speech, he set out proposals to foster an economy “built to last” predicated on education, a skilled workforce, high-paying jobs, energy independence and fairness that would help bolster the middle class.

The President highlighted the skills gap that exists in industries such as manufacturing, information technology and clean energy: “Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job.” In an effort to solve this problem, he called for a national commitment to train two million individuals with the skills they need to land a job, with a focus on partnerships between businesses and community colleges. The President is scheduled to release his FY13 budget on February 13. We hope that his commitment to address the skills gap and provide resources for unemployed individuals will be reflected in his proposal for Perkins Act funding.

President Obama also focused on the current job training system, saying that he wants “to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people…have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help they need.” His hope is that streamlining the system will get people back to work more quickly in the jobs that exist today, and better prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. While he does not mention the Workforce Investment Act specifically, the program has been due for reauthorization since 2003 and has been top priority for the both the House and the Senate this session. Given the President’s mention of the workforce system, we are hopeful that this signals a desire to reauthorize WIA in the coming year.

The President also touched on other education issues such as high school dropouts, calling on states to require students to stay in school until graduation or until they turn 18. In terms of college access and affordability, the President urged Congress to keep student interest rates low and extend the tuition tax credit. He also asked institutions of higher education to keep costs down and was blunt in his commitment to making postsecondary education more affordable, saying, “If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down.”

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Making the Case for Keeping the Federal Role in Education

Monday, April 25th, 2011

There has been much talk in recent months from freshman and Tea Party Congressmen about the role of the federal government in education, and even calls to abolish the U.S. Department of Education. In a new paper released this month by the Center on Education Policy (CEP), Get the Federal Government Out of Education? That Wasn’t the Founding Fathers’ Vision, Jack Jennings lays out several reasons why limiting the federal government’s role in education would be “a wrong-headed, simplistic move.”

First, federal involvement in education is not a new phenomenon. Laws from the 1700s granted federal lands to new states that could be used for public education. These policies existed even before Washington was elected president, and lasted 170 years until the Eisenhower Administration.

Second, it would limit the ability of states and local districts to use tax dollars to support public education. While only 8% of funding for public education comes from the federal government, the federal tax code, through a number of deductions and exclusions from federal taxation, incentivizes states and locals to use their tax dollars for public education. According to CEP, these indirect subsidies for education earned through the federal tax code were worth somewhere between $42 billion to $48 billion for all levels of education in 2009.

Third, federal student financial aid makes college more affordable, leading individuals to good jobs and a better life. Almost three-fourths of student aid comes from the federal government, and if this aid did not exist, many students would be unable to access postsecondary education and training.

Fourth, the federal government has long supported equal educational opportunities for minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and the poor. For example, according to Jennings, the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 was enacted for the purpose of providing “vocational” education to new immigrants and those with low levels of education.

Finally, broad education reforms at that federal level, rather than piecemeal interventions at the local level, will help to raise the United States’ academic achievement and competiveness among other countries. During the last four presidential administrations, reforms such as increased accountability and uniform standards, have gained traction at the federal and national levels.

By Nancy in Publications
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FIPSE Grants Now Available

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Last week the Office of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education announced that applications for new discretionary grants under the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) Comprehensive Program are now available. According the Federal Register notice announcing the awards, the Comprehensive Program “supports innovative grants and cooperative agreements to improve postsecondary education. It supports reforms, innovations, and significant improvements of postsecondary education that respond to problems of national significance and serve as national models.”

Institutions of higher education (IHE) or combinations of IHEs and other public and private nonprofit institutions and agencies are eligible to apply. Approximately $20 million in grants will be available (pending Congressional appropriation). Grants will range from $500,000–$750,000 over three years, with $150,000-$200,000 being awarded for the first year. The Department estimates that 28 grants will be awarded.

There are three competitive and two invitational priorities that applicants should be aware of:

Competitive Preference Priorities (applicants can receive up to an additional two points for each priority met):

  1. Increasing postsecondary success
  2. Enabling more data-based decision-making
  3. Improving productivity

Invitational Priorities:

  1. Curriculum alignment
  2. Reducing instructional costs

The deadline to apply is May 23, 2011.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Secretary Duncan Hails CTE During National Roundtable Event

Monday, January 31st, 2011

On Thursday the Obama Administration hosted a series of roundtables on topics that were highlighted in the President’s State of the Union Address. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sat down to answer questions from the public about education issues. Among the issues that were raised were how to balance the reform agenda with state budget shortfalls, Obama’s plan for a new ESEA, how to foster critical thinking in a time of multiple choice tests, and college access and affordability.

At the 29 minute mark, a participant from Jersey City, NJ asked “Why have high schools abandoned vo-tech programs? Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, auto mechanics all make decent livings, yet our schools do not offer young people proper education in these fields. These are the kids who choose to dropout.”

Duncan admitted that the United States “probably did a better job in the career technical training 30, 40 years ago, and somehow we lost our way a bit there.” He went on to say that we need to invest in both the careers mentioned in the question, as well as new careers that are needed in this technologically advanced age.

He went on to say that the debate about college or careers is a false one; students need both to be successful. By giving students the choice of both college and careers as early as high school and middle school, we can help keep them engaged before they drop out, and help them to figure out the right path to reach their goals.

Secretary Duncan’s response was noteworthy because he used the term “career technical training” rather than “vocational education,” as he has in many of his previous speeches and statements. This shows the progress that Secretary has made over the last two years in educating himself about CTE and that he sees it as something beyond the vocational education programs of the past.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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