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Legislative Update: Appropriations, ESEA

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Congress Passes Three Week Continuing Resolution

On Tuesday the House passed H.J. Res. 48, the most recent three week continuing resolution for FY 2011, by a vote of 271 to 158.  The bill cuts government funding by $6 billion, but Tech Prep and Perkins are spared from cuts in this bill. Yesterday the Senate passed H.J. Res 48 by a vote of 87-13, avoiding a government shutdown once again. Congress now has until April 8 to come together to pass a long term funding bill.

President Calls for ESEA Reauthorization This Year

In a speech Monday at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, VA President Obama called on Congress to fix No Child Left Behind (NCLB) before school starts for the nation’s elementary and secondary students this fall. The President noted that the goals of NCLB were on the right track, but that there are considerable problems with the law that need to be fixed. For example, under the current law, more than 80 percent of our schools will be labeled as failing.

“We need to make sure we’re graduating students who are ready for college and a career,” President Obama said. “In the 21st Century, it’s not enough to leave no child behind. We need to help every child get ahead. We need to get every child on a path to academic excellence.”

By Nancy in Legislation
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House Introduces Three Week CR, Perkins Not Targeted

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

On Friday afternoon, the House Appropriations Committee introduced a new continuing resolution (CR) for FY11 that would fund the federal government for an additional three weeks beyond March 18, when the current CR is set to expire. This bill proposes to cut an additional $6 billion in the form of rescissions, reductions, program terminations, and eliminated earmarks.

Perkins Act funding is not one the cuts in the bill. However, the Career Pathways Innovation Fund is slated for elimination with the rationale that both the President and the Senate also targeted the program for cuts, and that the program received $500 million in mandatory funding in last year’s health care bill.

The House is expected to vote on this bill on Tuesday. It will then go the Senate for their consideration. While Perkins was not in this bill, further cuts will be made before the FY11 bill is complete. Please continue to call both your Representatives and Senators to make the case that Perkins funding should be maintained because of the benefits to students in their districts and states.

By Nancy in Legislation
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House Introduces Short Term CR to Avoid Government Shutdown

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

On Friday the House Appropriations Committee unveiled a short term continuing resolution (CR) that, if passed by the Senate and signed by the President, would fund the government until March 18, allowing time for a compromise to be reached on a longer term funding bill. Passage of this CR will prevent a government shut down that could otherwise occur on March 4. The CR contains funding to allow government agencies and programs to continue operating at current spending levels for the next two weeks, except for several programs that will be terminated or cut.

These cuts and eliminations total $4 billion in spending reductions, however, Tech Prep is not one of the programs targeted for cuts in this bill. While this is significant, and shows that the advocacy efforts of the CTE community are making an impact, the fight is not over. This bill buys Congress additional time to work out a compromise, but Republicans in the House remained committed to deep cuts, of which Tech Prep could still be one.

Please continue to call your Members of Congress to urge them not to cut Perkins Tech Prep funding!

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: Appropriations, ESEA

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Debate on FY11 CR Continues in the House

The House planned to hold votes yesterday on H.R. 1, the continuing resolution (CR) that proposes to cut $100 billion from federal programs, including $103 million from Perkins Tech Prep. However, the vast number of amendments (many of which call for deeper cuts) has kept debate going late into the night this week. The House is now expected to conclude debate and hold a vote tomorrow.

The bill will then move to the Senate the week of February 28, where it is not expected to pass. The Senate has said they will introduce their own short term resolution, but House Speaker John Boehner (OH) has said that he will not vote for a CR that does not include cuts, which could result in a government shutdown.

Remember to call your Member of Congress TODAY to ask them to preserve Tech Prep funding!

President Meets with Congressional Leaders to Discuss ESEA

Yesterday morning President Obama with the “Big 8,” the education committee chairmen and ranking members, and subcommittee chairmen and ranking members of the committees that oversee K-12 education issues. This group includes Sens. Tom Harkin (IA), Mike Enzi (WY), Jeff Bingaman (NM), and Lamar Alexander (TN); and Reps. John Kline (MN), George Miller (CA), Duncan Hunter (CA), and Dale Kildee (MI).

According to the White House, the group discussed redefining the federal role in education, raising expectations for students and schools, boosting teacher effectiveness, and providing greater flexibility to support innovation and improvements. The timing of the meeting shows that the Obama Administration is committed to reauthorizing ESEA this year.

By Nancy in Legislation
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House Bill Would Cut Community College Grants

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

The House is scheduled to consider a bill today that would reauthorize the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program under “suspension of the rules,” which requires a 2/3 vote for passage. Without reauthorization, most TAA programs will expire February 12, 2011. The House bill would extend authorization for the TAA for Communities program and Sector Partnership Grants until June 30, 2011.

The primary purpose of the TAA program is to provide assistance to workers who lost their jobs as a result of foreign trade, but it also includes the Community College Career Training Grant Program (CCCTGP). The bill includes a $238 million cut to CCCTGP in FY 2014 as a budgetary offset. Therefore, if the bill becomes law, community colleges would receive only $262 million in FY 2014, rather than the $500 million currently allocated.

Even if the bill passes the House, it will still have to clear the Senate and be signed by the President, who pushed very hard for these community college grants to be funded. Be sure to call your Member of Congress today to make sure they know how vital community college programs are for retraining workers and getting our economy back on track!

By Nancy in Legislation
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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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State of the Union Focuses on Education, CTE Student Sits with First Lady

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

In his second State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama set a broad agenda for improving the economy and maintaining the United States’ status as a global super power. Calling this our “Sputnik moment,” the President urged Congress, private businesses and the American people to work together to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.

Recognizing that the world has changed and that a high degree is no longer sufficient to earn a family sustaining wage, Obama focused on the ways that education can help turn around the economy. First, he cautioned against “pour[ing] money into a system that’s not working” and highlighted the ways that his Race to the Top grants have reformed education through the adoption of new standards. He also stated that Race to the Top should be the foundation for the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind this year. Among the other education priorities that he addressed were: raising the status of the teaching profession, increasing the number of STEM teachers, making postsecondary more accessible and affordable, and training individuals for new careers and new jobs.

He also stressed the importance of community colleges in meeting the demands of out fast-changing economy and singled out Kathy Proctor, a student at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina who is earning her degree in biotechnology at the age of 55 because the furniture factories in her town have disappeared.

However, despite the President’s call for greater investment in things like innovation, education and infrastructure, last night he proposed a five-year freeze on non-defense discretionary spending beginning this year. This comes after House Republicans have pledged to return appropriations levels to FY08 or FY06 levels. So while we don’t know what spending levels will look like after the CR expires in March, it seems certain that there not be any funding increases this year.

On a brighter note, Brandon Ford, a junior at the Academy of Automotive and Mechanical Engineering at West Philadelphia High School was invited to be a guest in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box last night. Brandon was recognized for his participation in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE competition, in which teams from across the globe compete to create production-ready, highly fuel efficient vehicles. Brandon and his team went up against corporations, universities and other well-funded organizations from around the world, advancing all the way to the elimination round.  Congratulations, Brandon!

By Nancy in News, Public Policy
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ED Stakeholder Forum: 2011 Priorities and New Data “Dashboard”

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

At yesterday’s Education Stakeholders Forum, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlined the Administration’s education priorities for 2011. Chief among these goals is the reauthorization of ESEA. Duncan told the group that he met Rep. John Kline (MN), Chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, last week to discuss putting together a bipartisan bill. Duncan stated that there are many areas where the two agreed, including a smaller federal role in education, flexibility at the local level (but a high national bar), growth models, research and development, and broadening the curriculum beyond reading and math. Duncan conceded that “there are a whole host of reasons” why reauthorization may not happen this year, but he is optimistic that it will.

Second, the President intends to place a big emphasis on the importance of education in his State of the Union speech tonight. Third, despite the importance of education, the Department understands that states and local districts are in a position of having to make very tough cuts, and the Department would like to help states and locals make the best decisions they can.

Fourth, the Department has made postsecondary access and affordability a priority in 2010 and intends to continue that in 2011. They have already simplified the FAFSA forms and have announced applications of the Community College and Career Training Grants. The Department is also pushing for higher Pell grant maximum awards.

And finally, Duncan and other Department officials unveiled the “United States Education Dashboard,” a website that compiles a number of indicators that they believe give a holistic, big picture view of education in the United States and that are related to the President’s goals for education reform. The Department hopes that these indicators will help them find the gaps in the data and allow them to invest more in these areas. The Dashboard will also serve to inform policies and can be used to determine the most impactful interventions.

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Veterans’ Training Bill, Appropriations, America COMPETES

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Veterans’ Training Bill Passed; Expands Eligibility to Area CTE Centers

Late last week the House passed the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 by a vote of 409-3, after it was cleared by unanimous consent in the Senate earlier in the week. The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature. This bill will allow veterans to use their benefits at educational institutions that do not award associate or higher degrees, such as area career technical schools, career schools, and apprenticeship programs. This would be a change from the current Post-9/11 GI Bill, which does not allow participants to use funds at a non-degree granting institution. The new eligibility provisions will go into effect on October 1, 2011. This is a tremendous victory for CTE and a recognition of the high quality programs that our area CTE centers offer!

Congress Passes Short-Term Continuing Resolution

The House on Tuesday passed a continuing resolution (CR) by a vote of 193 to 165 that would fund the government and all federal programs at FY10 levels through March 4. The Senate approved the bill earlier on Tuesday by a vote of 79-16. With the shift in power in the House, and the weakened Democratic hold over the Senate, there is sure to be a more partisan fight over spending as expiration of the CR draws near in March. Soon-to-be Speaker of the House John Boehner (Ohio) has already said that he wants to roll back federal spending to 2008 levels.

America COMPETES Act Passed by Congress

The House this week passed the America COMPETES Act by a vote of 228 to 130, after it was approved by unanimous consent in the Senate last week. The bill now heads to President Obama for his signature. The goal of the bill is to improve the competitiveness of the United States by investing in innovation through research and development. There are a variety of provisions in the bill that will impact STEM education, such as the coordination of federal STEM education efforts, grants to increase the number of STEM teachers, and other improvements in STEM education. Because Congress wanted to pass this bill before the current session of Congress ends, the House had little choice but to accept the Senate version of the bill which scales back funding from the original House bill and reauthorizes the bill for three years instead of five.

By Nancy in Legislation
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White House Launches “Skills for America’s Future”

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

At a meeting before the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) yesterday, President Obama announced a new initiative, Skills for America’s Future, which focuses on improving industry partnerships with community colleges to ensure that students obtain the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the workforce.

President Obama said, “We want to make it easier to join students looking for jobs with businesses looking to hire. We want to put community colleges and employers together to create programs that match curricula in the classroom with the needs of the boardroom. Skills for America’s Future would help connect more employers, schools, and other job training providers, and help them share knowledge about what practices work best. The goal is to ensure there are strong partnerships between growing industries and community college or training programs in every state in the country.”

To reach these goals, the President has asked members of PERAB to reach out to business and industry and ask them to partner with their local community colleges. The following businesses have already committed to being partners:

The goals of this initiative will help make the United States number one in terms of college graduates by 2020, by ensuring that 5 million community college students graduate and earn certificates by the end of the decade. Skills for America’s Future will be housed at the Aspen Institute, and more information can be found at www.skillsforamerica.org.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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