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Posts Tagged ‘WIA’

Legislative Update: No Debt Deal Yet, Duncan Testifies Before Senate Subcommittee, WIA Postponed, No Timeline for ESEA, Bills Introduced

Friday, July 29th, 2011

No Deal Yet

Debt ceiling talks picked up this week as scores from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on debt legislation were released. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (NV) plan would reportedly cut the deficit by $2.2 trillion, more than Speaker Boehner’s (OH) legislation.

While support for Boehner’s plan seemed to increase throughout the week, the GOP could not persuade enough members to support the measure last night and a vote on Boehner’s bill was postponed indefinitely. Many Senators contend that the bill would be quickly rejected if and when it makes it to the Senate floor.

Congress has until next Tuesday, August 2nd to come to a deal before the country hits its default deadline.

Duncan Testified at Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing

At a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing this week, Senators were surprised to learn that spending at the Department of Education increased by 20 percent over the last two years. Education secretary Arne Duncan revealed that the increased spending was mostly due to the rise in Pell grant use, a conversation that dominated most of yesterday’s hearing. Duncan also brought up the Race to the Top and I3 funds as priorities, though several members questioned these approaches. Duncan stressed that all students need a well-rounded education and that youth and adults need “new skills for the jobs of tomorrow” but there was no mention of Career Technical Education as a method of delivering these goals.

View a webcast of the hearing here.

WIA Markup Postponed

The August 3rd markup of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) has been removed from the Senate calendar. A new date has not been set.

No Timeline Set for ESEA

Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), chairman of the Senate’s Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, was unable to give a timeline this week when asked about a schedule for marking up the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) bill. Harkin stated that his discussions with the HELP committee’s top Republican, Sen. Michael Enzi (WY), are progressing but they still disagree on major issues like accountability, teachers and comparability. While Harkin would like to see a bipartisan ESEA bill passed, this seems very unlikely to happen before the start of the new school year.

For the first time since Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s controversial offer to grant waivers to states on aspects of the old law, Sen. Harkin suggested that he may be open to Duncan’s waiver idea if no progress is made on reauthorizing ESEA.

Bills Introduced:

Developing Innovative Partnerships and Learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA) Act

Rep. Judy Chu (CA) and Rep. David Loebsack (IA) reintroduced H.R. 2637, the Developing Innovative Partnerships and Learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA) Act to encourage collaboration among communities, schools and social-service programs to find solutions for challenges faced by struggling students to reduce dropout rates. The bill would award grants to states, who would award subgrants to local consortia. Grantees may, but are not required to, use funds to implement dual enrollment programs, early college high schools, and strategies for dropout prevention. Grants may also be used to fund opportunities for job training, career counseling, internships, and Career Technical Education.

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: House Committee Passes ESEA Flexibility Bill; WIA Markup Rescheduled; Debt Talks Continue; All Children Are Equal Act; and Veterans Opportunity to Work Act

Friday, July 15th, 2011

House Committee Passes 3rd ESEA Bill

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved this week the third in a series of five bills designed to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The third bill, the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, passed the Committee despite strong opposition from Democrats and accusations of civil rights violation. Read more.

Workforce Investment Act

The Senate showed an effort to move forward with reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) last month when they released a discussion draft for comment. However, markup of the bill continues to be pushed back and is now scheduled to occur on August 3rd.

Debt Talks

With only two weeks left to take action, Congress still struggles to compromise on the debt ceiling. Republican House leaders will vote next week on a plan that would increase the debt ceiling if Democrats agree to $2.4 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years, in addition to passing a balanced budget amendment.

Obama disagrees with the Republican House plan, saying that “I have not seen a credible plan that would allow you to get to $2.4 trillion without really hurting ordinary folks.” The President continues to urge Congress to create a plan before a default occurs in early August.

Senator Mitch McConnell (KY) and Senator Harry Reid (NV) are working together to outline a plan that would give President Obama authority over the debt ceiling but would also demand its incremental increase.

Bills Introduced:

All Children Are Equal Act (ACE)

Rep. Glenn Thompson (PA) introduced H.R. 2485, the All Children Are Equal Act, to increase Title I funding through ESEA for rural districts with high numbers of low-income families. Currently, Title I funds are distributed through a complicated formula based on the size and concentration of poverty in a district. The formula often results in large, urban districts receiving much larger shares of funding than poor, rural districts. Thompson’s bill would place less weight on population to increase the formula’s focus on student poverty. The bill aims to provide more equitable distribution of funds for disadvantaged students in rural areas.

Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011

Rep. Jeff Miller (FL) introduced H.R. 2433, the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, a bill to provide retraining assistance for veterans through community college or technical schools. The bill would require attendees to participate in a full-time program leading to an associates degree or certificate and a job in a high-demand field.

By Kara in 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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Final WIA/Perkins Dear Colleague Letter Signed by 29 Senators

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Thank you for reaching out to your Senators to support Perkins and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funding through Sen. Blumenthal’s recent Dear Colleague letter. The letter was closed out last Friday with a respectable 29 signatures from the following Members:

Blumenthal (CT)
Collins (ME)
Rockefeller (WV)
Snowe (ME)
Begich (AK)
Kerry (MA)
Gillibrand (NY)
Levin (MI)
Leahy (VT)
Wyden (OR)
Sanders (VT)
Lautenberg (NJ)
Franken (MN)
Cantwell (WA)
Merkley (OR)
Kohl (WI)
Schumer (NY)
Stabenow (MI)
Tim Johnson (SD)
Tom Udall (NM)
Boxer (CA)
Akaka (HI)
Menendez (NJ)
Cardin (MD)
Durbin (IL)
Whitehouse (RI)
Tester (MT)
Reed (RI)
Lieberman (CT)

The letter will be sent to the chairman and ranking member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee for review.

By Kara in 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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Sec. Duncan, Experts Talk WIA and Jobs for Youth

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

As the country still struggles with the effects of the Great Recession, employment opportunities for less-seasoned workers are the hardest to find. Without prior job experience, teenagers face particularly bleak prospects. The current level of unemployment for teenagers is at an all-time high. Yesterday, Jobs for America’s Graduates, a non-profit organization, convened several governors, corporate executives and organization leaders to brainstorm ways to boost academic and economic outcomes for high-risk youth in the midst of the unemployment crisis.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan kicked off the event by reiterating a point that he frequently makes: successful local programs need to be taken to scale. When an attendee asked how to prepare high school students beyond academia, Duncan pointed to “great” Career Technical Education (CTE) and early college programs as ways to make school more relevant to students. Though the Secretary acknowledges the benefits of CTE, states and localities scramble to prepare for major funding cuts to CTE effective later this year.

A staffer from Senator Harkin’s office commented that Senators are now working on the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to better leverage government resources and increase alignment between programs. He noted that many Senators were struck by the results of a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that identified many areas of wasteful spending due to program overlap.

Speaker Boehner’s Assistant on Policy echoed that Republican Members feel justified in making cuts to job training programs because of the GAO report. She also stated that Perkins is not on the schedule for review in the near future.

Panelists and participants agreed that skilled positions must be presented as respectable career options for students. Many followed Duncan’s suggestions to replicate best practices, and some suggested that states make high-impact practices mandatory. Other ideas included: increasing service learning opportunities, raising the compulsory age for dropping out from age 16, and including graduation rates as an accountability measure. Though CTE was not a central part of the conversation, most participants agreed that job training and education, key aspects of CTE, must be further integrated.

By Kara in Legislation, News, Public Policy
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House Hearing on Consolidating Federal Job Training Programs

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

The House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training held a hearing yesterday to consider ways to consolidate and improve federal job training programs.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (NC), chairwoman of the Subcommittee, voiced concern about wasteful spending after a recent report, produced by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), noted that 44 of 47 federal job training programs overlap with at least one other program.

The Subcommittee and witnesses reviewed instances of program overlap, as well as state and local efforts to consolidate job training programs. Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation and the Texas Workforce Commission were cited as successful examples. Witnesses from both states advocated for program consolidation and described the positive effects in their states.

The author of the GAO report, also a witness, recommended collocating services and staff through a one-stop shop approach.

A witness from the Center for Law and Social Policy was concerned about losing valuable job training programs. She said that programs may overlap, but that does not mean the services are duplicative.

Rep. Ruben E. Hinojosa (TX) agreed that job training programs are valuable, and emphasized that adult education and workforce development must be a priority. He also would like to see the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) improved and reauthorized in this Congress.

Click here to view the archived hearing and transcripts.

By Kara in Public Policy
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Spring Meeting: Legislative Implications for CTE

Friday, April 29th, 2011

The CTE community should prepare for a fight to restore federal Perkins funds, which took its first hit in the FY11 appropriations bill, warned education policy experts at the NASDCTEc /OVAE Joint Spring Leadership Meeting last week.

The FY11 funding bill cut $140.2 million from Perkins, including completely eliminating funding for Tech Prep and cutting Basic State Grants by $37.3 million, said Jamie Baxter, Advocacy Manager of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).  The cut will impact funds for the 2011-2012 school year.

Moreover, experts predict that the FY11 bill indicates that funding levels for FY12 may be poised for a similar fate. Thus far, the House has passed their FY12 budget resolution, which proposes to set non-security discretionary spending below 2008 levels and freeze it for five years. The resolution sets spending for Department of Education programs at $360 billion, which is the same as the FY06 level.

Rachel Gragg, Federal Policy Director for National Skills Coalition, said there is a new urgency to push for reauthorization of legislation such as the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which funds education and training programs that are of interest to the CTE community. Rising concerns regarding duplicative and ineffective programs will likely endanger funding for such legislation. The strategy to maintain funding would be to expedite reauthorization with the assurance that new language will ensure the support of quality effective programs, she said. On a similar note, Perkins is up for legislation in 2012.

Spiros Protopsaltis, Education Policy Advisor for Senate Committee of Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, urged the CTE community to focus on advocacy efforts that highlight the strong role CTE plays in preparing students for college and career. Addressing that broad overall goal will appeal to Congress and the Administration, which are seeking investments that will prepare students to compete in the global economy and position the nation to succeed.

“CTE has an important role to play,” Protopsaltis said.

By Erin in 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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