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Legislative Update: Budget, NCLB Waivers, ESEA

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Senate Urges OMB to Maintain Perkins Funding in FY13 Budget

A group of Senators led by Richard Blumenthal (CT) sent a letter this week to Jeffrey Zients, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, asking him to maintain FY12 Perkins Act funding for CTE programs in FY13. President Obama is scheduled to release his budget on Monday, and we hope that support from these Senators will encourage the Administration to maintain Perkins funding.

After the President releases his budget, Congress will begin work on their budgets and start the appropriations process. Members of both the House and Senate have expressed interest in drafting “Dear Colleague” letters to their respective chambers to garner support for Perkins Act funding.

Ten States Receive NCLB Waivers

President Obama this week announced that ten states will receive waivers for No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements, so long as they implement college and career ready standards and reform their accountability systems. The ten states are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. States receiving waivers no longer have to meet 2014 performance targets set by NCLB but must set new performance targets for improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps.

“After waiting far too long for Congress to reform No Child Left Behind, my Administration is giving states the opportunity to set higher, more honest standards in exchange for more flexibility,”  said President Obama. “Today, we’re giving 10 states the green light to continue making reforms that are best for them.  Because if we’re serious about helping our children reach their potential, the best ideas aren’t going to come from Washington alone.  Our job is to harness those ideas, and to hold states and schools accountable for making them work.

Twenty-eight other states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have indicated that they will seek waivers later this spring. Additional materials can be found here: http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility

House ESEA Bills Include CTE Provisions

Last month the House Education and the Workforce Committee released discussion drafts of two ESEA reauthorization bills. Yesterday, Committee Chairman John Kline (MN) formally introduced the bills, the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.

We worked with Congressional staff, as well as other policy groups, to get elements of the Education for Tomorrow’s Jobs Act (a bill we told you about in the fall), included in both bills. In the Student Success Act, grantees’ local plans will have to include a description of how they use funds to support programs that coordinate and integrate “career and technical education aligned with state technical standards that promote skills attainment important to in-demand occupations or industries in the state and the state’s academic standards and work based learning opportunities that provide students in-depth interaction with industry professionals.”

The Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act allows locals to use funds professional development for teachers and school leaders that is “evidence-based, job embedded, and continuous, such as professional development on integrated, interdisciplinary, and project based teaching strategies, including for career and technical education teachers.”

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: FERPA, WIA, Race to the Top, ESEA

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Department Releases Final FERPA Regulations

The U.S. Department of Education released its final regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act yesterday after soliciting public comments earlier this year. In a statement released by the Department, they stated that “The regulations announced today will strengthen the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) by protecting the safety of student information, increasing the Department’s ability to hold those who misuse or abuse student data accountable and ensuring our taxpayer funds are invested wisely and effectively.”

We are still working through the regulations and will update you on anything that relates to CTE.

NSC Releases State-by-State Impact Analysis of Proposed Cuts to WIA

In their draft Labor-HHS-Education funding bill released last month, the House proposed to cut Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs by more than $1.9 billion for FY12. To help states better understand the impact of these cuts, the National Skills Coalition developed a state-by-state impact analysis of proposed cuts to the WIA Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth programs in FY12. Their analysis finds that as many as 6.5 million jobseekers would lose access to employment and training services if the House funding levels are enacted.

Seven States Apply for Third Round of Race to the Top Grants

As we told you last week, the nine runner-up states in the last round of Race to the Top grants are eligible to apply for the latest round of grants totaling $200 million. The seven states that submitted applications are: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. South Carolina did not submit an application, and California submitted an incomplete application, according to the Department of Education.

States will now have to submit a budget by December 16 for how they would use the grant and identify which part of their Round 2 application they want funded. The Department will announce the winners by the end of December.

Secretary Duncan Voices Concern about ESEA Draft

In a recent radio interview on Bloomberg EDU, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan expressed his concerns with the Senate’s draft ESEA bill. While the Department has been happy with the bipartisan process of crafting the bill, it is not happy with much of the bill’s content, especially teacher evaluation and accountability. However, Duncan hopes that this is just a starting point, and that the bill can be further strengthened:

“There are some good things in the bill, but you don’t want to walk away from accountability, you don’t want to walk away from focusing on achievement gaps, you don’t want to walk away from making sure we’re rewarding great teachers and great principals and shining a spotlight on excellence in education. So you want a good process, but at the end of the day you want really strong policy. And it’s early innings, obviously, in the bill that came out of the Senate HELP committee, and we think it can be strengthened going forward. So I applaud the work that’s gone on so far, clearly not a finished product, but a long way to go.”

 

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

 

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Eleven States Submit ESEA Waiver Applications

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Eleven states submitted applications to the U.S. Department of Education on Monday to obtain a waiver under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB): Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. These states’ applications will be examined by peer reviewers after Thanksgiving, and winning states will be notified by mid- January.

As part of their applications, states were asked to demonstrate how they plan to implement college- and career-ready standards and tie state tests to them; adopt a differentiated accountability system that focuses on the bottom 15 percent of schools; and craft guidelines for teacher- and principal-evaluation systems that will be based partly on student growth and be used for personnel decisions. The waivers will eliminate the 2014 deadline for bringing all students to proficiency in math and reading, eliminate NCLB sanctions for schools, and provide district officials with greater flexibility to use Title I funds.

Thirty-nine states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have signaled their intent to apply for an NCLB waiver. The next deadline for states to submit applications is in mid-February.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

 

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: ESEA, Bills Introduced

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Senate Marks Up ESEA

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee met on Wednesday to begin markup the draft Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization bill introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (IA) last week. The markup was threatened with delays when Senator Rand Paul (KY) objected to the Committee meeting longer than two hours after the Senate convened on Wednesday. This is a procedural rule, rarely employed in the Senate, that is almost always waived. Senator Paul was concerned that no hearing had been held on the bill this session (10 were held last session) and he felt there was not enough time to review the bill before the markup. On Thursday, Senators Harkin and Enzi (WY) reached an agreement with Senator Paul that in exchange for dropping his objection, the Committee will hold a hearing on the bill on November 8.

The Committee reported the bill last night by a vote of 15-7. Three Republicans, Senators Enzi, Lamar Alexander (TN) and Mark Kirk (IL), joined all Democrats in voting for the bill. Senator Harkin hopes to bring the bill to the floor for debate and a vote before Thanksgiving.

During the markup, Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) introduced an amendment to expand internships and apprenticeships, with the goal of alleviating dropouts and providing skills training. Because the amendment would require locals to use the money for this purpose, several Senators opposed it, but said they would support it if it were an allowable use of funds. Blumenthal agreed to withdraw the amendment and change the language, but wants to be sure that there are strong incentives for locals to use funding for internships and apprenticeships.

Bills Introduced

Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act

This week Senators Menendez (NJ), Reid (NV), Harkin (IA), Stabenow (MI) and Casey (PA) introduced S. 1723, Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act.  The bill contains the provision of the American Jobs Act that provides $35 billion to create or protect education jobs, as well as jobs for police officers and firefighters.  The jobs supported in this bill are not just teachers, but any public school K12 employee.

However, last night the Senate failed to invoke cloture on the bill by a vote of 50-50. All Republicans voted against it, as did Senators Lieberman (CT), Nelson (NE) and Pryor (AR). As result, the bill will not be voted on.

Preparing Students for Success in the Global Economy Act

Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Al Franken (MN), Mark Begich (AK), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) introduced S. 1675, Preparing Students for Success in the Global Economy Act. This bill aims to increase student access to courses in STEM subjects and provide additional resources to recruit, train, and support STEM teachers.

Grantees must include in their applications a description of how their activities will be coordinated with other programs and activities, including Perkins-funded CTE programs. Local subgrantees must also describe in their applications how grant funds will be coordinated with programs and activities, including Perkins-funded CTE programs.

“If we don’t train our children for the jobs of the future, we won’t be able to compete in the future,” Merkley said. “Whenever I talk to companies like Intel back in Oregon, they tell me that STEM education is key, and in far too many schools, the resources aren’t there to prepare our students for careers in engineering and science. This legislation will help address this deficit.”

 

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: Appropriations, ESEA

Friday, September 16th, 2011

House Introduces Continuing Resolution to Fund Government through November

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday introduced a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government running beyond the end of the fiscal year, September 30. The bill, H.J.Res 79, would fund the government at a rate of $1.043 trillion. This figure represents the amount to which Congress and the Obama Administration agreed in the recent debt-ceiling deal. This is a 1.409% cut from the fiscal year 2011 level, and would mean a cut to Department of Education discretionary programs of $962 million. If passed, the CR will expire on midnight, November 18, 2011.

CTE Highlighted in House Hearing on School Accountability

The House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing, “Education Reforms: Examining the Federal Role in Public School Accountability” which examined the appropriate federal role in accountability, namely the Adequate Yearly Progress requirement in ESEA. During the hearing, Rep. Glenn Thompson (PA), co-chair of the Congressional CTE Caucus, asked the panel how they think Congress should define “college ready.” The witnesses agreed that all students should be prepared for higher level math, science and reading, because many careers today require it. Alberto Carvalho from Miami-Dade Public Schools said that while every student should be prepared for college, it should not be done at the expense of “demonizing” CTE. He went to say that CTE in this country has been wasted and that we as a country need to recognize the value of CTE if we want to remain competitive.

Bills Introduced

Senate Republicans Introduce ESEA Bills

This week, a group of Republican Senators — Sens. Lamar Alexander (TN), Richard Burr (NC), Johnny Isakson (GA), and Mark Kirk (IL) — introduced a series of bills that would reauthorize key pieces of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. These bills would address what the Senators view as major problems with the current law by giving states and local school districts greater flexibility to:

• Improve state accountability systems
• Improve teacher and principal professional development programs
• Consolidate federal education programs to give state and local education leaders more freedom in meeting local needs
• Expand the number of charter schools

For more details on each bill, please see this press release from Sen. Alexander.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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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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Building 21st Century Skills through Sustainability Education

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Guest Blog Post By Victoria Waters, CEO and Founder of Green Education Foundation (GEF), [email protected]

According to a 2008 United Nations Study, there may be as many as 6.3 million new solar power jobs by 2030, and as many as 3.5 million jobs centered on improving the energy efficiency of buildings. Are our students ready to compete for those and other new economy jobs? The demand for “green collar” workers is coming, and in many cases is already here. Today, unfortunately, we are being outflanked; Brazil and China lead the world in renewable employment globally, according to a 2010 study by Clean Edge, a clean-tech research firm. The imperative is recognized at the highest levels; in September 2010, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated, “As the President says: ‘This is not just going to boost our economy in the short term; this is going to lay a platform for the future.’ Education and sustainability are the keys to our economic future—and our ecological future.”

The opportunity to empower and prepare the 14 million students enrolled in CTE programs is profound. According to a 2009 study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, more than half the expected newly available clean-energy jobs will be accessible to workers with high school degrees or less. The study states that an investment of $150 billion a year in clean energy — roughly one percent of national GDP — would result in 1.7 million new jobs, with roughly 870,000 of them accessible to workers with high school degrees or less.

In CTE programs nationwide, momentum is building; the NASDCTEc is working to infuse sustainability into each of the 16 National CTE Career Clusters. For example, in the context of the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources cluster, educators will consider with their students the impact of an input selection on profitability, environmental impact, and the health and wellness of workers. Green Education Foundation (GEF)’s innovative School as a Teaching Tool lesson set for K-8 and Green Building Course for high school students are being leveraged by a number of CTE programs to incorporate sustainability concepts into the Architectural and Construction cluster. The Green Building Course and the School as a Teaching Tool use the school as a learning laboratory to conduct extensive building energy and water audits, and the high school course requires students to present recommendations for building improvements to school administrators, including energy rebate information and retrofit opportunities.

One critical unaddressed component that is key to delivering on the promise of sustainability education is teacher enablement. Today, educators often do not have the experience or training to confidently teach sustainability in the context of their subject matter. GEF is launching a Green Teacher Program for K-12 faculty with the goal of providing the knowledge, skills, and curricular resources essential for teachers to integrate sustainability education into their current disciplines.

GEF and NASDCTEc understand that empowering K-12 students and their teachers with sustainability education is vital to a paradigm shift, to change our collective thinking and our future. What do you think? How can we better prepare our young minds for a sustainable future? We welcome your thoughts and the opportunity to continue the dialogue at [email protected] .

Dean Folkers, Deputy Executive Director

By Dean in News, Resources
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29th Annual Entrepreneurship Education FORUM

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Plan now to attend the leading Entrepreneurship Education networking conference in the USA. The National FORUM is to be held November 4-7, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The conference will be held at the Hilton Netherland Plaza, a beautiful and historic hotel in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. This is a time for learning how to start, operate, and enhance entrepreneurial preparation programs for students from elementary, middle, high schools and colleges as well as community based educators. Educators from through-out the life-long learning spectrum attend to learn and share ideas. One of the highlights is the entrepreneurs who will share their living case studies so that educators can learn how to direct those with whom they work toward successful entrepreneurial ventures.

Scholarships are available for teachers which include conference registration, and two nights stay in the conference hotel. All that is left for the educator to fund is the travel expense and perhaps a substitute teacher for a day. The deadline for scholarship applications is September 23, 2011.

Great featured speakers, teacher directed learning sessions, as well as interactive round table sessions allow for enjoyable learning and networking. Check out the information regarding the National FORUM at www.entre-ed.org and click on FORUM on the left rail. Get prepared now to attend the National Forum this November!

Dean Folkers, Deputy Executive Director

By Dean in Meetings and Events, Resources
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Survey Finds College and Career Readiness a Priority

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

A recent survey indicates that parents, teachers, and business executives broadly agree that all high school graduates should be college and career ready. However, responses vary when participants were asked to describe the priority of preparing college- and career-ready students.

The survey, MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Preparing Students for College and Careers, was completed by 1,000 public school teachers (grades 6 to 12), 2,002 public school students (grades 6-12), 580 parents of public school students (grades 6 to 12), and 301 business executives from Fortune 1000 companies.

College- and Career-Ready Students:

Most parents, teachers, and business leaders report that preparing college- and career-ready high school graduates should be a priority. About half of teachers and half of business executives consider this the highest priority, while a much larger percentage of parents (73 percent) rate producing college- and career-ready graduates as the highest priority in education.

Further, 84 percent of students and 77 percent of business executives state that attaining some level of postsecondary education is a necessary step to provide students with future career opportunities.

Skills for Future Success:

The majority of English and math teachers surveyed believe that clear and persuasive writing skills benefit students more than advanced knowledge of math or science. Almost all of the business executives agree that critical thinking, problem-solving and writing skills are the most essential skills for high school graduates.

About 64 percent of teachers, parents, and executives find international issues and knowledge about other cultures to be absolutely essential knowledge for college- and career-ready students.

The survey also included questions about attending college, paying for college, and education reform efforts. MetLife’s report concluded that preparing college- and career-ready students appears to be a priority for various stakeholders, but opinions vary on how to attain this goal and whether or not it should be an expectation for all students.

By Kara in Research
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Legislative Update: Budget, Jobs Hearing, ESEA, Fast Track to College Act

Friday, January 28th, 2011

House Republicans Set Budget Levels for FY11

This week the House passed House Resolution 38, which directs Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (WI) to issue budget allocations for FY 11 non-security discretionary spending at FY 08 levels or lower. The House approved the resolution by a vote of 256-165, with all Republicans and 17 Democrats voting for it. Allocations at FY08 levels would mean a 13.6 percent cut in federal programs across the board, and would result in a $9.42 billion reduction in spending for education programs from the current funding level.

Chairman Ryan is slated to provide the House Appropriations Committee with figures the week of February 7  that they can use to prepare a continuing resolution (CR). House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) wants a vote on the CR the week of February 14 before the current CR expires in March. President Obama is also scheduled to release his FY12 budget the week of February 14.

House Holds Hearing on American Workforce

The House Education and Workforce Committee held its first hearing of the 112th Congress this week, State of the American Workforce, which focused on the current state of the U.S. workforce and strategies to encourage the private sector to hire new workers. In his testimony, Gov. Bob McDonnell (VA) spoke about his state’s goal to graduate an additional 100,000 postsecondary students, especially in high demand STEM fields. During questioning, Rep. Bobby Scott (VA) asked if “vocational education opportunities” would be part of this plan, and McDonnell stated that two-year certificates and Associate degrees will help individuals obtain well paying jobs.

Administration and Senate Vow to Work Together on ESEA This Year

On a call with media this week Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, along with the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee’s chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), ranking member Sen. Mike Enzi (WY), and Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN), the ranking member of the subcommittee overseeing K-12 policy, said that they intend to move quickly and in a bipartisan manner on a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Some areas of agreement included: changing the AYP system, focusing on the lowest performing schools, advancing teacher evaluation systems, and disaggregating data by subgroups.

Harkin stated that he would like to have a bill ready for mark up by the Easter recess, and on the floor by the summer. He said the committee is going begin writing the legislation, without further hearings (the committee held 10 hearings last year).

Fast Track to College Act

This week Herb Kohl (WI) introduced S. 154, Fast Track to College Act, which would authorize the Secretary of Education to make grants to support early college high schools and other dual enrollment programs in an effort to reduce high school dropout rates and improve access to college for students.

By Nancy in Legislation
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