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Posts Tagged ‘president’

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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House Fails to Pass Balanced Budget Amendment

Friday, November 18th, 2011

As part of the debt ceiling deal negotiated this summer, Congress must vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Today, the House voted on H.J. Res. 2, which would stipulate that the government cannot spend more than it brings in each year. The amendment would also require a three-fifths vote by both chambers to raise the debt ceiling and a three-fifths vote to approve a deficit.

The amendment, which required support from two thirds of members to pass, was defeated by a vote of 261 to 165. Four Republicans voted against the measure, and 25 Democrats voted for it.

Democrats opposed the measure because of the impact it could have on an already weak economy. President Obama’s reelection campaign issued a statement yesterday that said: “If passed, the Republican proposal would require deep spending cuts that could jeopardize everything from education and Medicare to nutrition and health programs for at-risk children.”

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation
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President Announces NCLB Flexibility Plan

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

This morning, President Obama revealed its waiver plan for states and districts to use in order to ease No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements. According to the White House, states can request flexibility from specific NCLB mandates as long as they are transitioning students, teachers, and schools to a system aligned with college- and career-ready standards for all students, developing differentiated accountability systems, and undertaking reforms to support effective classroom instruction and school leadership. The flexibility package announced today was developed with input from chief state school officers from 45 states.

“To help states, districts and schools that are ready to move forward with education reform, our administration will provide flexibility from the law in exchange for a real commitment to undertake change. The purpose is not to give states and districts a reprieve from accountability, but rather to unleash energy to improve our schools at the local level,” President Obama said.

The flexibility package will begin to have an impact during the 2011-2012 school year, and will have increasing impact in subsequent years. However, this plan is intended to be a temporary fix until Congress reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

For more details on the flexibility package, see the U.S. Department’s website.

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Texas Tops States in FFA Membership: FFA Members Recognized by President Obama

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Texas tops the list of states with the largest FFA membership with 81,694 students, followed by California with 70, 555, Georgia with 31,616, Missouri with 25,096 and Oklahoma with 23,562. The 10 largest FFA chapters are all in California.

Texas also tops all states for largest FFA membership growth during the 2010-11 school year, followed by California, North Carolina, Georgia and Utah.

In the past year, more than 17,000 new students have joined FFA, setting a new all-time high in the organization’s membership since the organization was founded in 1928.

During the 2010-11 school year, FFA membership grew to a record 540,379 students, up 17,070 students from 523,309 members in the 2009-10 school year. The number of FFA chapters in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands also grew with the creation of 106 new, chartered FFA chapters.

More information

FFA was also in the news recently when National FFA officers and State FFA officers from Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin were present at the recent Rural Economic Forum, to hear remarks by President Obama. The Forum was hosted by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa. During the President’s remarks, he pointed out the FFA members in the audience and said that with their enthusiasm and energy, they are ready to take American agriculture to the next level. Video of remarks

More information

FFA is a Career Technical Education (CTE) student organization, a CTE partner organization to NASDCTEc. FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National Career Clusters™ Framework includes Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources as one of the Career Clusters™.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

By Ramona in News
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Legislative Update: Obama Jobs Plan, FY12 Appropriations, Bills Introduced

Friday, September 9th, 2011

President’s Jobs Package Focuses on Education

Last night, before a joint session of Congress, President Obama unveiled his proposal to create jobs and grow the economy. With unemployment hovering around 9%, the Administration hopes that this plan turn around the economy. Broadly, the American Jobs Act proposes to extend existing and implement new tax cuts, and invest in areas such as infrastructure, housing aid, and education. This $400 billion plan will be paid for using savings identified by the newly-appointed Congressional deficit reduction committee.

Related to education, and CTE in particular, there are some promising elements:

$35 billion to prevent public sector job layoffs – This includes educators, police officers and firefighters. Up to 280,000 education jobs are vulnerable to cuts this school year due to state budget troubles. The fund would support state and local efforts to retain teachers, counselors, tutors, and classroom assistants.
$30 billion school modernization fund – This fund would support efforts to modernize at least 35,000 public schools. The money could be used to update labs, renovate facilities and increase internet access. Priority will be given to rural schools and schools in the most need. The funding includes $5 billion dedicated to community colleges.
$5 billion for low-income youth and adults – This funding will focus on expanding employment opportunities for communities that have been hardest hit by the recession. Called the Pathways Back to Work Fund, it will make it easier for workers to remain connected to the workforce and gain new skills for long-term employment. This initiative will include:
o Support for summer and year-round jobs for youth
o Subsidized employment opportunities for low-income individuals who are unemployed
o Support for local efforts to implement promising work-based strategies and to provide training opportunities, including:
 Sector-based training programs
 Acquisition of industry-recognized credentials
 Career academies that provide students with academic preparation and training
 Free evening and weekend basic computer training classes, adult basic education and integrated basic education

FY 12 Appropriations
The House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education markup scheduled for this morning has been cancelled, with no new date announced. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) has said that the House will vote on a continuing resolution during the week of September 19 that it will likely run through November 18. Congress is hoping to finalize the appropriations process by that date and will use an omnibus appropriations bill, rather than separate bills by subcommittee.

In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee approved a funding level for Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee that is $17.9 billion above the $139.2 billion set by the House. While the $157.1 billion allocation for the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee is $23.7 billion below the Administration’s FY12 budget request and $300 million below FY1 levels, this is encouraging news. Despite the fiscal climate, it is clear that the Senate understands the importance of education programs.

Bills Introduced

Technical school training subsidy bill
Rep. John Barrow (GA) introduced H.R. 2851, a bill that would amend the Workforce Investment Act to establish a technical school training subsidy program. The bill would provide competitive grants to the states to provide funds to local workforce investment boards for technical school training subsidies in local areas through the One-Stop system. Subsidies received by individuals shall be used to assist them in paying the cost of tuition for career and technical education at a technical school.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Higher Education Regulations in Effect, Debt Talks Continue, Bills Introduced

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Higher Education Regulations Proposed by Dept. of Ed. in Effect

In June, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved H.R. 2117, the Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act, to repeal unnecessary credit hour and state authorization regulations to protect institutions of higher education and students from excessive burdens (See NASDCTEc’s blog “House Approves Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act”).

As a series of higher education regulations proposed by the Department of Education were recently put into effect, those in opposition are expressing their disapproval. Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce stated “These regulations are just another example of federal intrusion into areas best left to states and education leaders. At a time when individuals should be encouraged to pursue higher education, the department has created new regulations that will deny access to important education programs and weaken the nation’s workforce.” To read the House Education and the Workforce’s summary of the issue, click here.

Debt Ceiling Talks Update

President Obama echoed yesterday a statement that he has made before about the deficit-reduction talks: “Nothing is agreed to until everything’s agreed to.”

While Obama continues to meet with both Republican and Democratic leaders, no deal has been made. The President called yesterday’s talks “very constructive” and said that Congress would continue work over the weekend to achieve a deal. In an effort to compromise with Republicans, Obama is urging Democrats to consider a plan that would require big changes for Social Security and Medicare in exchange for increased revenues.

The U.S. Treasury imposed an August 2nd deadline for a deal before a default will occur. Leaders will continue to meet over the weekend to work on a deal.

Bills Introduced:

State and Local Funding Flexibility Act

Yesterday, Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee John Kline introduced H.R. 2445, the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, which would give states and school districts much greater flexibility in funneling federal funds toward local education priorities. The bill is the third in a series of five bills that the Committee has proposed as a part of ESEA reauthorization. A summary of the bill is available here. NASDCTEc will provide more information on the bill as it becomes available.

Put America to Work Act

Rep. Ellison (MN) introduced H.R. 2368, the Put America to Work Act of 2011, that would direct the Secretary of Labor to make grants to state, locals and tribes with the purpose of creating job opportunities for unemployed and underemployed residents in distressed communities.

Preserve State/Institution Authority on Authorization and Credit Hour

Sen. Burr (NC) introduced S. 1297, a bill that would preserve state and institutional authority relating to state authorization and the definition of a credit hour. This bill contests a package of regulations recently put into effect by the U.S. Department of Education to create a federal definition of a credit hour and also requires increased authorization for institutes of higher education. See also “Higher Education Regulations” article above for more information.

Bill to Amend WIA and Promote Manufacturing

Sen. Rockefeller (WV) introduced S. 1329, a bill to amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to create a pilot program that would facilitate the provision of education and training programs in the field of advanced manufacturing. The bill has been read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).

By Kara in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Debt Ceiling, WIA Markup Delayed, Bills Introduced

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Leaders in Washington continue to struggle as the August 2nd deadline for lifting the federal debt ceiling approaches (See “Debt Limit Deal” in last week’s update). At President Obama’s request, the Senate recess scheduled for next week has been cancelled to continue work on the debt ceiling.

Obama held a press conference this week to reaffirm that revenues must be included in any deficit reduction plan. Republicans and Democrats remain at an impasse over the inclusion of revenues in the package, but Obama stated that both parties had already identified more than $1 trillion in spending cuts. In his speech, the President referred to his support of a manufacturing initiative that would enable 500,000 workers to receive skills and training to fill manufacturing job vacancies. He also said that education will continue to be funded.

Sen. Daniel Inouye, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, released a statement yesterday strongly opposing cuts to areas of non-defense discretionary spending, such as education. Sen. Inouye wrote “The focus of our deficit talks should not be on domestic discretionary spending, but on the real reason why we are not running a surplus: historically low revenues, soaring mandatory spending, and the cost of war.”

In other news, the Senate was scheduled to markup the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) this week but the markup has been pushed back to mid-July.

Bills Introduced:

Manufacturing Reinvestment Account Act

Sen. Blumenthal (CT) introduced S. 1237, the Manufacturing Reinvestment Account Act, that would make it easier for manufacturers to invest new capital into equipment, facilities, and job training to enable them to grow and create more jobs. This bill supports President Obama’s recent initiative to increase job training in the manufacturing sector.

Women and Workforce Investment for Nontraditional Jobs (Women WIN Jobs) Act

Rep. Polis (CO) introduced H.R. 2315, the Women and Workforce Investment for Nontraditional Jobs (Women WIN Jobs) Act. The bill would help recruit, train and place more women into high tech and advanced manufacturing fields. Currently, women account for only one-quarter of the workforce in these areas.

Reengaging Americans in Serious Education by Uniting Programs (RAISE UP) Act

Sen. Stabenow (MI) introduced S. 1279, the Reengaging Americans in Serious Education by Uniting Programs Act (RAISE UP). The bill would coordinate existing programs to improve services to youth who have dropped out of high school. Students would be put on track to attain a high school diploma, postsecondary credential, and career that provides a family-sustaining wage.

America Recruits Act

Sen. Warner (VA) introduced S. 1247, the America Recruits Act, that would develop and recruit new, high-value jobs to the United States and encourage off-shore jobs to be brought back and filled by American workers.

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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Obama Supports Initiative to Increase Manufacturing Job Training

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

President Barack Obama announced his support today for expanding Skills for America’s Future, an industry-led initiative to partner community colleges and businesses to meet the demands of the labor market. Specifically, Obama stressed the importance of increasing job training in the manufacturing sector, an area that he views as critical to strengthening and rebuilding the economy.

Plans to increase the reach of Skills for America’s Future include helping 500,000 community college students to earn industry-recognized credentials, and providing a website to connect job-seekers to businesses. The President added that more high school students will have an opportunity to earn college credits. The initiative would benefit industry as well as students by addressing the current mismatch between skills earned by students and those required to fill vacant positions.

Applause erupted from the audience, filled with business and non-profit leaders, when Obama pushed Congress to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) soon. He wants the new legislation to build on innovative and effective programs, and to eliminate ineffective programs.

“Right now, there are people across America with talents just waiting to be tapped, sparks waiting to be lit,” Obama said. “Our job is to light them and there’s no time to lose when we’ve got folks looking for work, when we’ve got companies that need to stay competitive in this 21st Century economy, and when we know that we’ve got to rebuild the middle class. A lot of that’s going to have to do with how well we do in manufacturing and how well we do in jobs that are related to making products here in the United States of America.”

Career Technical Education (CTE) offers tremendous opportunities for and access to training in the manufacturing sector. Industry-verified Knowledge and Skills Statements ensure that students graduate from CTE programs with the skills demanded by industry.

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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Obama: ‘Replace No Child Left Behind This Year’

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

In his weekly radio address, President Barack Obama highlighted a Memphis school’s successful turnaround as a model for school reform. Citing efforts made by the school’s teachers, principals and parents, Obama advocated for more locally-driven education rather than a top-down approach with heavy federal government involvement. He urged that changes in legislation need to take place this year.

Obama stated that, “We need to promote reform that gets results while encouraging communities to figure out what’s best for their kids. That’s why it’s so important that Congress replace No Child Left Behind this year – so schools have that flexibility.” The President also pushed for his education initiative, Race to the Top, to grant competitive funding to states whose innovative reform efforts yield positive results.

Though Obama calls for a rewrite of the law by the 2011-2012 school year, Rep. John Kline (MN) stated last week that the timeline isn’t feasible.

While the Senate presses for more comprehensive legislation, the House will pursue a piecemeal approach by proposing several separate bills in the upcoming months. The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce will begin the process by holding a markup of an ESEA repeals bill this Wednesday. The proposed bill, Rep. Hunter’s Setting New Priorities in Education Spending Act, would eliminate 43 education programs.

By Kara in Legislation, News, Public Policy
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Update on FY11 Budget Cuts; Tech Prep Eliminated, BSG Cut

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

We learned yesterday afternoon from Congressional sources that the $138 million cut to CTE in the FY11 appropriations bill will be the total elimination of Tech Prep and an additional $35 million cut from the Basic State Grant. The rationale given was that the President had also proposed cutting Perkins in this FY12 budget. It seems that without Democratic or Republican support, we were a target during the tense negotiations last week.

In addition to the cuts to Perkins, we have learned that the following other programs have been cut or eliminated:

The bill would, however, fund a new $125 million DOL-administered “Workforce Innovation Fund” that would provide competitive grants to states or other partnerships for projects that “demonstrate innovative strategies or replicate effective evidence-based strategies” to strengthen and align the workforce system to improve participant outcomes.

Please note that in addition to the cuts listed above, the bill includes a 0.2 percent across-the-board reduction for all non-defense programs, which is not reflected in these totals.

By Nancy in Legislation
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