Legislative Update: Congress Examines FY23 Budget and Teacher Shortages 

May 27th, 2022

This week Congress made progress on several U.S. Department of Education (ED) nominations, while also examining ways to address nationwide teacher shortages and ED’s fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget request. In addition, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona offered support to a community in Texas in the wake of tragedy while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)  distributed additional connectivity funding and ED hosted a summit on mental health. 

Secretary Cardona Issues Statement Regarding the Tragedy in Texas

On Tuesday, May 24, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona issued a statement in the wake of the tragic shooting that occurred at an Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. He shared, in part, “My heart is aching for all the families in Uvalde, Texas who are living through every parent’s greatest fear and worst nightmare: a shooting in their children’s school . . . My team at the Department of Education is offering every available federal resource—including through our Project SERV (School Emergency Response to Violence) program and on-the-ground support—to help the families, educators, staff, and greater Robb Elementary School community recover from this trauma and loss.”

House Holds Teacher Shortage Hearing

On Wednesday, May 25, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing examining the persistent issue of educator shortages throughout the nation. Witnesses included representatives from think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation and the Learning Policy Institute, as well as American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. Witnesses and lawmakers discussed the causes of teacher shortages and debated best-practice solutions to address them. These strategies included efforts to reduce certification requirements for teachers as one way to reduce barriers to entry into the classroom. As a reminder, Advance CTE recently endorsed the RAISE Act recently– a proposal that would provide tax credits for K-12 instructors– as one way to begin to address these persistent challenges. An archived webcast of the hearing, including witness testimony, can be found here.

Senate Advances ED Nominees

Also on Wednesday, May 25, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held an executive session meeting to consider several Biden Administration nominees. These nominations included LaWanda Toney to be the next Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) as well as Nasser Paydar to be Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education at the Department. During the session, Senators advanced each of these nominees out of committee for further consideration by the full chamber in the future. 

In addition to this committee-level activity, the full Senate took an important procedural step to advance Amy Loyd’s nomination to be the next Assistant Secretary for Career, Adult, and Technical Education at ED—an action that implies that Ms. Loyd will likely be confirmed sometime soon.

Cardona Testifies on FY23 Budget

Yesterday, May 26, the House Education and Labor Committee hosted U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona who testified about the Administration’s fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget request for the U.S. Department of Education. As a reminder, the Administration’s FY23 budget was created prior to FY22 funding levels being finalized by Congress. As a consequence, the Biden Administration proposed an “artificial cut” to the Carl D. Perkins Act’s basic state grant program. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) questioned Secretary Cardona about this issue, asking why the Department appeared to propose less funding for this program for the upcoming fiscal year. Secretary Cardona responded, in part, that “. . . we totally support the funding for that . . . in fact we really believe a big part of the work moving forward at the Department of Education is to really engage in career connected high schools and making sure that the through lines between our high schools and two year schools and workforce partners or four year schools is tighter across the country.”  An archived webcast of the hearing, including witness testimony, can be found here.

ED Hosts Virtual Mental Health Summit

On Monday, May 23, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) hosted a virtual summit titled “From Recovery to Thriving: Supporting Mental Health and Students With Disabilities.” The summit highlighted the Department’s ongoing work to implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and shared resources aimed at students to support their mental health. In particular, the event examined ways in which states and local communities can better develop and support more inclusive pathways programs for learners struggling with mental health challenges or disabilities. More information on the summit can be found here

FCC Announces $2.8 billion in New Funding

On Wednesday, May 25, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it had received $2.8 billion in funding requests as part of its third application window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program. Funding for the ECF as part of the American Rescue Plan was one of Advance CTE’s legislative priorities during the pandemic as a key strategy to help close the “homework gap.” This latest round of funding will support 5,120,453 connected devices and 4,285,794 broadband connections for eligible schools and libraries. However, with only an estimated $1.5 billion remaining in the program the FCC anticipates it will need to prioritize applicants with the greatest need first, particularly those in rural communities. 

June Meeting Series Registration Deadline Extended

On June 22nd, Advance CTE will be joined by partners from the Association for Career and Technical Education and Association of Community College Trustees to provide a federal policy update as part of Advance CTE’s Equip, Empower, Elevate: June Meeting Series. The series consists of three, three-hour events on June 8, 15, and 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. ET.  Those interested in attending one or more sessions can register here by June 2, 2022. 

Be Sure to Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

The House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and ACTE are currently working to encourage Senators and Representatives to join their respective CTE Caucuses, if they have not done so already. To find out if your Members of Congress have joined their respective Caucus, you can review House and Senate membership lists. Membership in these caucuses is an important way for lawmakers to signal their support for CTE and the millions of learners across the country who enroll in these programs. To encourage your Senator or member of Congress to join, click here and scroll down to the request form corresponding to your needs.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Nick Rodriguez Keynote at Spring State Leadership Retreat Highlights Five Lessons in Leadership

May 27th, 2022

After what can only be described as two of the most turbulent years in recent memory, Advance CTE was finally able to reconvene this month in Baltimore, Maryland to host a Spring State Leadership Retreat. The event welcomed 64 participants representing 37 states, in roles ranging from state CTE directors to workforce and education leaders.

The Retreat’s keynote was presented by Nick Rodriguez, CEO of Delivery Associates, a leader in systems transformation whose work has helped both government and industry organizations to become efficient and equitable change makers. 

Attendees listened attentively as Nick presented his Inspired Leadership General Session, “Seizing the Moment: Leadership & Opportunity in Uncertain Times.” He acknowledged the challenging times we still find ourselves in, but also underscored the importance of how attendees can leverage their roles, voices, and leadership to advance our shared commitments to quality and equity as articulated in CTE Without Limits

Nick shared “Five Lessons in Leadership” as a framework to guide leaders through times of crisis, like the ones we are living in today: 

He walked participants through each of these principles by recalling recent anecdotes and lessons from his work abroad, from Pakistan to New Zealand. The theme was always the same: with adversity comes opportunity. 

Following the keynote presentation, attendees strengthened connections with peers and deepened knowledge on solutions to pursue systemic change and effectively support state teams. Attendees enjoyed speed networking, shared solutions ideation, a panel on state implementation of the CTE Without Limits vision and regional get-to-know-you meetings. 

Register by June 2 to join Advance CTE’s next virtual professional development opportunity —  the EQUIP, EMPOWER, ELEVATE: Virtual June Meeting Series

Three events over three hours with dynamic keynote speakers and content-rich breakouts will be held June 8, 15, and 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. ET. 

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate 

CTE Without Limits Spotlight: Panel Highlights Leadership Priorities for Vision Implementation

May 25th, 2022

On Friday, May 13, attendees at Advance CTE’s Spring State Leadership Retreat heard from three State CTE Directors participating in Advance CTE’s state cohort to begin implementation of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). Moderated by Advance CTE Senior Advisor Nithya Govindasamy, panelists shared how CTE Without Limits has inspired meaningful cross-sector conversations, and key leadership lessons to build trust, center learners and sustain partnerships. 

Background 

The panel consisted of three state directors: Sarah Heath of Colorado, Katie Graham of Nebraska and Maria Swygert of South Carolina. At the start of the panel, each leader provided a brief overview of the focus of their initial vision implementation work. 

Colorado’s focus is Principle 2: Each learner feels welcome in, is supported by, and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem to empower state and local leaders to have knowledgeable and meaningful conversations about equity gaps in data. Heath shared “we saw the work isn’t working,” that too many leaders could interpret the data but didn’t feel empowered to discuss and act on it. Through participation in the cohort, Colorado strives to build will and support for change through a statewide equity action plan with a focus on expanding equity-focused professional development opportunities for state and local CTE leaders. 

Nebraska’s focus is advancing Principle 3: Each learner skillfully navigates their own career journey with a focus on learners with disabilities. State CTE staff will partner with special education and vocational rehabilitation services agencies to scale strong existing state collaboration to the local level. This includes alignment of policy, communications and professional development initiatives.

South Carolina’s focus is Principle 1: Each learner engages in a cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem to achieve ‘next-level collaboration’ through more uniform processes and local support for conducting the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) process. This will be accomplished through an assessment survey to each of their twelve cross-sector regional teams consisting of secondary, postsecondary and workforce leaders, as well as a state-level meeting to create an action plan based on survey results. 

Building and Sustaining Meaningful Cross-Sector Partnerships 

Each leader shared strategies they found to be effective in building and sustaining meaningful cross-sector partnerships. State Director Katie Graham emphasized the importance of cultivating personal relationships with leaders before you need them for project work. She shared that her choice to focus on learners with disabilities was inspired in part by her strong personal relationships with state staff connected to special education and vocational rehabilitation that simply started with conversations about their work years ago, rather than a specific request to share funding or resources. 

State Director Sarah Heath elevated that building partnerships requires several steps, and should not begin with an ask for shared funding. Using a “gather, train, then share” approach, Colorado began their partnerships by finding shared goals and planning meetings and initiatives together. This was followed by providing mutual support on logistics and information, including conversations on common definitions, data collection and use, and data metrics to find common ground. 

The directors also highlighted the importance of establishing intentional strategies that build trust and provide information that reinforces shared goals. State Director Maria Swygert shared that each quarter her office compiles a two-page report connecting the latest employment, graduation, placement and other key data points. This tool is shared with more than 70 partners statewide to reinforce the shared goal of improving learner and workforce outcomes. Graham shared that the growth of her partnership with those serving learners with disabilities resulted in a meeting where 19 needs assessment plans, including the CLNA, were streamlined to reduce the burden on local leaders and make connections among the data being collected. 

Leadership Lessons Learned 

Each leader was asked to share leadership lessons learned as a result of this work to build and sustain meaningful, learner-centered partnerships. Acknowledging and addressing capacity issues rose to the forefront. For states that may view the vision as yet another item for their to-do list, Heath emphasized that CTE Without Limits should not be seen as a separate approach, but rather a ‘value-add’ that takes the intent and goals of existing strategic plans, state vision statements, and other planning document to the next level and keeps learner needs at the center of all conversations. 

Heath also shared that vision implementation work made her more comfortable with learning to let go of work, even though it may be important, that did not specifically advance learner needs or their state strategic plan. Swygert shared that the relationship-building conducted through this cohort allowed her to feel more comfortable not doing all the work alone and trusting the expertise and leadership of other state staff serving learners, including those not directly involved in CTE. 

Each leader emphasized the value of vulnerability, transparency and honesty, especially in the early stages of relationship building with other state leaders, so that no damaging assumptions are made. Heath shared her mindset of “we all have room to grow in the work, and we want to grow together.” Graham shared a conversation she had with a state leader where she was only seeking to learn more about their role, but the latter assumed they were seeking funding instead of a meaningful partnership. So additional time was needed to build the trust to share the desired information. 

Additional Resources 

The CTE Without Limits cohort will receive funding, individual coaching and intensive technical support from Advance CTE through October 2022. An additional CTE Without Limits Community of Practice is open for state leaders to participate in bimonthly cross-state calls to share challenges and solutions aligned to the five vision principles. Sixteen states are currently participating — those interested in joining can contact Senior Policy Associate Hinderliter at dhinderliter@careertech.org

For additional conversations with state and national leaders on advancing CTE Without Limits, visit Advance CTE’s webinars page for recordings of a spring virtual learning series aligned to each of the vision’s five principles. 

Visit Advance CTE’s vision page for awareness and implementation resources, including its step-by-step assessment and action planning guide, Pushing the Limits: A Roadmap for Advancing CTE Without Limits that will be the basis for Advance CTE’s state cohort work.

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

Legislative Update: House Advances WIOA Reauthorization 

May 20th, 2022

This week the House passed legislation that would make updates to federal workforce development legislation, while elsewhere lawmakers examined the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget request. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education announced the latest class of Presidential Scholars, while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made additional funding announcements and DOL convened a meeting on apprenticeship programs. 

House Advances WIOA Reauthorization Proposal

On Tuesday, May 17, lawmakers in the House passed H.R. 7309– legislation that would reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). This legislation was passed largely along party lines by a margin of 220-196. If enacted, this legislation would make important reforms to the sharing of One-stop Center infrastructure costs amongst required partner programs, including postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) programs receiving funding from the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins V). The proposed legislation would also codify the Workforce Data Quality Initiative, authorizes additional funding for this effort to modernize state workforce data systems, and would make related improvements to data system infrastructure. The proposal strongly emphasizes equitable access and opportunity for workers and learners of all ages in a variety of ways among many other encouraging aspects of the legislation. 

Notably, the legislation was amended during floor consideration to encourage CTE representation on local workforce development boards– a key priority for Advance CTE. Yet, despite these improvements to current WIOA law, Advance CTE looks forward to further refining this proposal as part of the wider legislative process as shared previously. This includes addressing issues with a more narrow definition for “eligible youth” in addition to developing more reciprocal connections between state CTE and workforce development systems. With House passage complete, the legislation now moves to the Senate where its future remains unclear. As this process  moves forward, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for thoughtful and meaningful coordination and alignment between CTE and the publicly funded workforce development system. 

House Examines DOL FY23 Budget 

Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing examining the Biden Administration’s FY23 budget request for DOL. U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh testified before lawmakers on the subcommittee, highlighting many aspects of this request including its support for apprenticeship programs and his Department’s role in promoting the Administration’s Good Jobs Initiative. An archived webcast of the hearing can be found here

DOL Convenes Apprenticeship Advisory Committee 

On Monday, May 16, DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship (OA) hosted a quarterly meeting for its Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (ACA). Authorized by the National Apprenticeship Act, the ACA is intended to help the Department expand, modernize, and diversify registered apprenticeship programs, including by expanding these programs into nontraditional sectors of the economy and ensuring equitable access for all workers. The meeting focused on ways stakeholders can achieve these objectives, which included a set of recommendations for the agency to consider. Among these recommendations, the committee encouraged officials to consider further clarifying aspects of high-quality pre-apprenticeship programs in future guidance. Materials for the meeting, including related presentations, can be found here

FCC Announces New Funding Commitments

On Tuesday, May 17, the FCC announced that it had committed $50 million in additional awards as part of a 15th wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program support. Created as part of the American Rescue Plan, the ECF Program allows eligible schools and libraries to apply for financial support to purchase connected devices including laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to serve unmet needs of students, school staff, and library patrons at home. This round of funding will support 46 schools, 7 libraries, and 2 consortia across the country, including for students in American Samoa, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The FCC’s third filing window for applications closed last week with additional award announcements expected in the near future.

Biden Administration Announces Presidential Scholars

Late last week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars announced the 58th cohort of U.S. Presidential Scholars—an initiative that annually recognizes 161 high school seniors for academic, career technical, and artistic achievements. The selection process takes into consideration a number of criteria including learners’ transcripts and test scores. Each year, this initiative highlights the achievements of 20 CTE scholars for their outstanding achievements. A full list of scholars can be found here

June Meeting Series 

On June 22nd, Advance CTE will be joined by partners from the Association for Career and Technical Education and Association of Community College Trustees to provide a federal policy update as part of Advance CTE’s Equip, Empower, Elevate: June Meeting Series. The series consists of three, three-hour events on June 8, 15, and 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. ET.  Those interested in attending one or more sessions can register here by May 25, 2022. 

Be Sure to Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

The House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and ACTE are currently working to encourage Senators and Representatives to join their respective CTE Caucuses, if they have not done so already. To find out if your Members of Congress have joined their respective Caucus, you can review House and Senate membership lists. Membership in these caucuses is an important way for lawmakers to signal their support for CTE and the millions of learners across the country who enroll in these programs. To encourage your Senator or member of Congress to join, click here and scroll down to the request form corresponding to your needs.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

CTE Without Limits Spotlight: Q&A with Nancy Hoffman of JFF on ‘No Dead Ends’

May 18th, 2022

Earlier this year, Jobs for the Future (JFF) issued a policy brief, “No Dead Ends: How Career and Technical Education Can Provide Today’s Youth With Pathways to College and Career Success.” This resource aligns with the current vision for the future of Career Technical Education (CTE), Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education  where each learner is able to navigate their journey to career success without limits. 

“No Dead Ends” offers a series of federal and state policy considerations that are informed by the insights of leading secondary and postsecondary practitioners. The brief also spotlights several states with strong policy conditions.

Advance CTE spoke with college and career pathways expert Nancy Hoffman of JFF to learn more about the report. Below, she shares her reflections, research, and policy recommendations for how state and local CTE leaders can realize the mindset of “without limits.”

The Advance CTE team encourages members to draw on the ideas and evidence in this blog to advance aims around equity, economic mobility, and systems alignment. 

Advance CTE: It’s great to speak with you, Nancy. Can you share what a “without limits” vision means to you and how it ties into JFF’s call for “no dead ends”? 

Nancy Hoffman: The first time I heard the phrase “no dead ends” was in 2005 on a tour of Switzerland’s vocational education and training (VET) system. Swiss VET engages the majority of Swiss teenagers in a mix of school and paid apprenticeships with two to three days of paid work each week. The VET system is designed to provide youth with multiple pathways (see graphic  and page 6 of this report). All progression routes are open to all youth “without limits” as aligned with the CTE Without Limits vision, and the system is “permeable,” meaning there are “no dead ends” to pathways that a 15-year-old VET student chooses. Career exploration begins early with all middle schoolers spending a week with an employer in an occupation of interest.  Students get help understanding choices in the school curriculum as well as in each town’s career advising center. The apprentice may end up, as many do, with a bachelor’s degree from a university of applied sciences, even a Ph.D., and may change from one field or company to another. 

While the United States has come a long way in embracing a new narrative about career and technical education (CTE), dismissive attitudes remain. Unlike in Switzerland, our public discourse separates going to college from career preparation, despite the fact that everyone goes to college to get a career—whether pursuing an industry certification or a Ph.D. JFF’s No Dead Ends publication takes a hard look at how to remove the remaining stigmas seen in policy, in practice, and in the public perception that CTE students are “not college material” and are in a “remedial” pathway that will lead to jobs with low wages demanding only basic skills.

To continue to move CTE perceptions in a positive direction, the JFF brief requires action on three levers: higher visibility for CTE, better allocation of resources, and incentives that reward CTE programs in the same way as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and other such markers of readiness for postsecondary education. No Dead Ends also demands that all programs for college and career preparation be assessed with an equity lens. Ironically, the institutional racism that historically funneled students of color and low-income students into CTE is now shutting them out in some states. In many regions, CTE is becoming an attractive way for privileged students to get hands-on experience in high tech, engineering, health care, and the like. 

Advance CTE: JFF’s No Dead Ends report emphasizes the importance of “career identity,” which corresponds to Principle 3, “Each Learner Skillfully Navigates Their Own Career Journey.” What does career identity mean, and how can it be supported for each learner? 

Nancy Hoffman: As we have come to learn, career advising is not the same as supporting a young person’s journey to career or vocational identity. At JFF, we define career identity as the link between a person’s motivations, interests, and competencies and their potential career roles. 

Child development researcher Dr. Robert Halpern has written extensively on the need for schools to nurture the vocational identities of teenagers. He notes how little support most schools provide in helping young people “attend to their vocational selves: to confirm and disconfirm interests; think about and understand vocation (and vocational knowledge) in deeper, more differentiated ways; learn about vocational possibilities and understand what it means to be prepared for specific kinds of work; and understand how to prepare for work and the length of time that requires.” Halpern put it, “When thinking about career paths, young people are asking not simply ‘what do I want to do?’ but ‘who do I want to be?”  Young people begin to ask such questions as early as middle school, but most middle school curriculum does not integrate the study of careers and career exploration into the curriculum. Indeed, this gap inspired JFF to create Possible Futures, a program for grades 6 through 10 that provides a fun and engaging career exploration program, helping young people gain the foundational knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to make critical decisions about their future with confidence.

Advance CTE: No Dead Ends tackles how to make sure all high-quality pathways are accessible to each learner. Looking through an equity lens, what issues commonly arise with CTE generally and work-based learning experiences, more specifically?  

Nancy Hoffman: As the Gates Foundation’s Striving to Thriving project powerfully documented through thousands of interviews, Black and Latinx young people see their race or ethnicity as an asset. Yet our education and employment systems are sending them contradictory signals about what their proper aspirations ought to be, where they will be welcomed, and most important, whether they will be welcomed for who they are.   

As researcher Nat Malkus notes, schools may fail to notice the “hidden tracking” within CTE. Students headed to four-year colleges tend to enroll in what Malkus calls “New Era CTE” (e.g. computer science, engineering, health care) and students wanting a certification or unsure of their next steps, are guided toward traditional trades course– not all of which provide access to well-paying jobs. The distribution of students within CTE can mirror the domination of an occupation by a particular race/ethnicity, gender, or other personal characteristic. This means, for example, populating IT and computer science courses with college-bound white males, while young women of color take internships in helping professions. 

Local and state leaders must be alert to sorting mechanisms within CTE. Do privileged students get the high-tech internships while low-income students take on jobs where there may be a lot to learn? And then do they continue on such a path to a career that almost guarantees low wages? Equity gaps widen especially when schools lack a placement system and ask students to find their own employer-supported internship. Most challenging is how schools identify, respond to, and take action to prevent placing students in unwelcoming or even racist workplaces or unwittingly reinforcing occupational segregation. A recent JFF blog, “Identifying the ‘Fruit and Root’ of Systemic Racial Inequity,” notes the pernicious use of the word “fit,” which can be a cover for racism, as in “she won’t fit into our company’s culture.” The authors argue that “the seemingly neutral concern about “fit” has proven to be problematic, and tends to cover for a preference for a homogenous culture in the workplace. Employers want to hire people of color, but the people of color they hire are subtly forced to conform to existing norms—of dress, behavior, speech–to truly belong.”  

Advance CTE: No Dead-Ends lays out several key policy considerations for strengthening college and career pathways, supporting career identity developing, and expanding access to high-quality work-based learning experiences. To conclude our conversation, could you share a couple of these policy recommendations? 

Nancy Hoffman: Defining a high-quality CTE program is a foundational step for developing state systems that better serve learners. In No Dead Ends, JFF suggests that states should consider clearly articulating key quality standards for “fundable” CTE programs. States should also consider tying funding eligibility to these quality standards to ensure resources are used effectively. For example, Delaware not only created a statewide definition of CTE but required each program of study to adhere to three key principles: (1) prepare students for career success and post-secondary education; (2) align with workforce needs and are developed in partnership with relevant stakeholders; and (3) improve student achievement by connecting academic and career success measures. However, states don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Perkins V has a good definition for CTE, and states can use that as a jumping-off point to ensure high-quality programming. 

In the brief, JFF also recommends that the federal government define career identity development and give states guidance on how to operationalize this aim. Current definitions coming out of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) note that a high-quality program of study includes career and academic guidance. However, while advising is critical, policy must more deeply encourage the development of career identity which should be framed as a key aspect of adolescent development overall. When Perkins is reauthorized in a few years, JFF believes the law should include a definition of this term, and OCTAE should release clearer guidance. These efforts will help promote more robust college and career coaching for students.

Visit Advance CTE’s website to learn more about the CTE Without Limits vision, and the Learning that Works Resource Center for more guidance on  advancing equity in CTE experiences. 

Nancy Hoffman, JFF and Stacy Whitehouse, Advance CTE

Welcome Brice Thomas to Advance CTE!

May 17th, 2022

Hello!

My name is Brice Thomas and I’m excited to be a part of the Advance CTE team. I serve as a policy associate directly supporting Advance CTE’s state policy initiatives. I lead state policy tracking for legislation impacting Career Technical Education (CTE) while also contributing to projects including research and resource management associated with building high-quality career pathways. I also manage the Learning that Works Resource Center.

I received my undergraduate degree in Business Administration but was immediately drawn to working in education, serving as a college registrar. I also worked as a membership associate for a trade association and served as a regional organizer for a major political campaign. After which I realized education was truly my passion. Most recently, I was as an elementary school teacher for five years. During this time in my professional career journey, I completed my Master’s in Education Policy and Leadership from American University. I’m excited to bring my varied experiences and perspective to support Advance CTE’s members and CTE learners.
Outside of work I’m known to sing a bit of karaoke, explore museums, discover new restaurants, write poetry, or go on misadventures with my friends.

Brice Thomas, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: House to Consider Workforce Legislation Next Week 

May 13th, 2022

This week lawmakers in the House set the stage to consider the reauthorization of federal workforce development legislation, while the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced plans to issue new rules regarding disability policy and the Biden Administration unveiled new connectivity efforts. 

House to Consider WIOA Next Week 

Next Monday, May 16, the House Rules Committee will meet to develop a rule for floor consideration of H.R. 7309– legislation that, if enacted, would reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). As shared previously, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) sent a letter to lawmakers outlining remaining concerns with the proposal while also supporting many aspects of the legislation, particularly the proposed reforms contained in the bill related to the sharing of One-Stop Center infrastructure costs amongst partner programs like postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE). Advance CTE expects a floor vote sometime next week, where lawmakers in the House will consider a number of amendments to the underlying legislative proposal. A list of potential amendments to be considered can be found here

Education Department Announces Plans to Amend Section 504

Late last week, May 6, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that it intends to promulgate new regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Currently, Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability for programs and initiatives funded with federal dollars. These regulations apply to pre-K-12 and postsecondary institutions that receive federal grants as part of their operations. ED plans to gather public input from a wide variety of stakeholders ahead of issuing new proposed rules aimed at further protecting the rights of students with disabilities. 

Biden Administration Promotes Affordable Connectivity Efforts

On Monday, May 9, the Biden Administration held a series of events intended to promote federal efforts to make high-speed internet affordable for more Americans. The bipartisan infrastructure law passed by Congress last year, known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), created the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)—an initiative that provides subsidies to eligible households to pay for broadband internet services. This was a key legislative priority for Advance CTE during last year’s negotiations as a way to ensure more learners have access to vitally important broadband connections. Twenty internet service providers signed on to an agreement to cap household costs for these connections at no more than $30 per month.

The Administration has also launched GetInternet.gov—a website to assist individuals in accessing this benefit as part of these efforts. In addition to these announcements, Jessica Rosenworcel, Chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has recently proposed to allow federal E-rate funding to be used to install Wi-Fi on school buses. If enacted, this policy change would provide a new source of funding for additional student-focused connectivity efforts such as this. 

Guest Blog Post: Virginia State CTE Director Reflects on Secretary Cardona Teacher Appreciation Week Visit 

This week, Virginia State CTE Director David Eshelman penned a guest post on Advance CTE’s Learning that Works blog recapping U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Senator Tim Kaine’s (D-VA) visit to the RTR teacher residency program at Armstrong High School in Richmond, Virginia. This stop  launched a series of visits and events made by Sec. Cardona to celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week as we shared last week.

Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

In conjunction with the House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and ACTE are working to encourage Senators and Representatives over the next several weeks to join their respective CTE Caucuses, if they have not done so already. To find out if your Members of Congress have joined their respective Caucus, you can review House and Senate membership lists. Membership in these caucuses is an important way for lawmakers to signal their support for CTE and the millions of learners across the country who enroll in these programs. To encourage your Senator or member of Congress to join, click here and scroll down to the request form corresponding to your needs.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Guest Post: Virginia State CTE Director Reflects on Secretary Cardona Teacher Appreciation Week Visit

May 12th, 2022

On Monday, May 2, 2022, Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) kicked off Teacher Appreciation Week at Armstrong High School in Richmond, Virginia. As the State Director for Career, Technical, and Adult Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia, I am reminded almost daily of the challenges school division administrators face to fill vacancies throughout the entire teaching profession. Filling teacher vacancies, particularly in critical needs areas, like Career and Technical Education (CTE), is mission critical to meet workforce demand. I was excited for Virginia to be chosen as a model to highlight the urgent need for a robust educator workforce, and how CTE  programs with robust supports that bridge secondary and postsecondary institutions can fill that need. 

This event highlighted the Richmond Teacher Residency (RTR) program. The teacher residency program is very similar to an apprenticeship. The power of the model was demonstrated during this visit,  where multiple graduates shared the impact of this program for their career. 

Despite overwhelming research that teacher quality is the most important school-based factor in student achievement — and that teacher impact on student learning is cumulative and long-lasting — historically marginalized students are typically taught by the least prepared, least experienced, and least effective teachers. RTR addresses this issue by preparing and retaining high-quality teachers to ensure that every student gets a quality education.

RTR is a school-based teacher preparation program that integrates research with practice to equip participants, known as residents, with the knowledge, skills, and experience to be effective in high-needs and hard-to-staff classrooms.  Participants emerge with a graduate degree in education from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), a teacher’s license, and a full year’s experience with a strong mentor teacher. Tuition is fully covered, and residents receive a $5,000 stipend with additional stipends available for those teaching in science and math fields. 

The outcome? Residents who are ready to step into the classroom as impactful teachers. Residents who are ready to take student learning to the next level. Residents who are ready to lift up communities — one classroom at a time. This program requires at least a three year commitment. One student highlighted has remained with his school for ten years.

In 2011-2012, the program began as the Richmond Teacher Residency Program serving only Richmond City Public Schools. In 2018, the program’s name was changed to RTR as  it expanded outside of Richmond city boundaries. With RTR, learning knows no boundaries. Now, RTR is serving four Virginia school divisions: Chesterfield County Public Schools, Henrico County Public Schools, Petersburg Public Schools and Richmond City Public Schools.

Our partnership with VCU will continue to grow. Up to this point, VCU has only offered a graduate level teacher residency program. VCU has not started at the high school level yet, but other states have through their teachers for tomorrow and educators rising programs. These classes are an introduction to teaching. Some instances have dual enrollment, so the credits can then apply to a degree in education. Currently, VCU is working on an undergraduate residency program where students would be in a school for a full year while they are getting their degree. I would love to see this program incorporated at the secondary level through Virginia teachers for tomorrow and educators rising. 

According to Kim McKnight, Director of the Center for Teacher Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University and executive director of RTR Teacher Residency, the program is only as strong as your weakest resident or mentor teacher, so it is critical to do an extensive interview, application, and matching process. Residents are the next generation of teachers and mentors grow a teacher in their classroom, so it is important they are both properly trained and have the dispositions needed for a career in education. A lesson learned is a shared cost investment from school divisions, state funding, local philanthropy and any other business partners will help for long-term financial sustainability. This model began with large federal grants but a shared cost is critically important.

Highlighting a program like RTR was a great way to kick off Teacher Appreciation Week in Virginia. As a relatively new CTE state director, it does not take long to figure out the importance of partnerships from secondary, postsecondary, higher education, and business and industry. Virginia is very fortunate to have the support from Senator Tim Kaine. Sen. Kaine is not only a supporter of RTR from its inception but a clear advocate for Career and Technical Education, understanding its role in meeting future workforce demand throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. 

Visit the RTR Residency web page for more information about the program. 

 

David Eshelman, Director, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Virginia Department of Education 

Kim McKnight, Director of the Center for Teacher Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University and Executive Director, RTR Teacher Residency

Legislative Update: Secretary Cardona Testifies and Makes State CTE Visit

May 6th, 2022

Over the last two weeks U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified before House appropriators while also leading several efforts to celebrate the importance of teachers and promote much-needed reforms to the Pell Grant program. Elsewhere, lawmakers introduced legislation to attract and retain a robust teacher workforce while the U.S. Secretary of Labor and the Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee highlighted the importance of workforce development and apprenticeship programs. 

Secretary Cardona Testifies on FY23 Budget

On Thursday, April 28, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies regarding the Biden Administration’s 2023 federal fiscal year (FY23) funding requests for programs overseen by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). This hearing is part of wider, ongoing efforts in Congress to consider aspects of President Biden’s FY23 budget request released a few weeks ago. During his formal testimony, Secretary Cardona focused on the need to close opportunity and achievement gaps by investing more in educational programs, addressing student mental health needs, growing the educator workforce, and building creative on-ramps to more affordable college and career pathways. During the hearing, lawmakers discussed a wide range of issues, including STEM education and lingering stigmas attached to “skilled trades” instruction. An archived webcast of the hearing, including Secretary Cardona’s testimony, can be found here

Although the Carl D. Perkins Act’s (Perkins V) basic state grant program was not mentioned explicitly during this hearing, House CTE Caucus co-chairs Reps. Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson (R-PA) successfully led a Dear Colleague letter calling for robust funding for this program ahead of Cardona’s appearance. Nearly a third of Representatives in the House, 127, signed on in support of this letter– a reflection of the strong support the program has in Congress. 

Lawmakers Introduce RAISE Act 

Coinciding with national Teacher Appreciation Week, Sen. Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Schiff (D-CA) introduced the Respect, Advancement, and Increasing Support for Educators (RAISE) Act– legislation that, if enacted, would provide a sliding scale of refundable annual tax credits specifically for teachers. Tax credit amounts would be determined by school poverty levels where teachers work. Importantly, CTE instructors who meet state certification requirements would be eligible for up to $15,000 in tax credits. Advance CTE is proud to endorse this legislation and urges its swift enactment to help address persistent teacher shortages across the country. More information on the proposal can be found here

Cardona Promotes Pell Grant Modernization 

Secretary Cardona attended an event celebrating Second Chance Month last week, where ED announced it had invited 73 postsecondary institutions to participate in the third round of the Second Chance Pell Experiment– an effort that expands access to Pell grants for incarcerated individuals. During this event Secretary Cardona also expressed support for the expansion of the Pell Grant program for high-quality short-term CTE programs. As a reminder, lawmakers in Congress are debating whether to include a short-term Pell Grant program provision as part of wider conference negotiations over economic competitiveness legislation. Recently the Senate held a series of procedural votes to formally begin this negotiation process. Advance CTE has continued to advocate in favor of this change which is modeled after legislation long sponsored by Sens. Kaine (D-VA) and Portman (R-OH). 

ED Celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week 

This week commemorates Teacher Appreciation Week—a time to honor the contribution of teachers nationwide. As part of these efforts,. Secretary Miguel Cardona kicked off the week with a visit to Richmond, Virginia to tour high school and postsecondary CTE programs with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). The event also included a visit to Richmond’s Teacher Residency Program which aims to attract and retain teachers in high-needs subject areas. Later in the week, Cardona hosted a roundtable further celebrating teachers and the invaluable contributions that they make each day. At this event, the Secretary discussed a public service loan forgiveness waiver announced last fall aimed at discharging student debt carried by eligible teachers. 

Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

In conjunction with the House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and ACTE are working to encourage Senators and Representatives over the next several weeks to join their respective CTE Caucuses, if they have not done so already. To find out if your Members of Congress have joined their respective Caucus, you can review House and Senate membership lists. Membership in these caucuses is an important way for lawmakers to signal their support for CTE and the millions of learners across the country who enroll in these programs. To encourage your Senator or member of Congress to join, click here and scroll down to the request form corresponding to your needs.

Odds & Ends 

  • On Monday, May 2, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and House Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) visited several programs in Newport News, Virginia to elevate the importance of workforce development and apprenticeship programs. 
  • Last week, USED hosted a summit examining the impact the American Rescue Plan (ARP) has had on student learning. As part of this convening, USED announced that federal guidance for the ARP’s state and local fiscal recovery program had been updated to more explicitly allow funding to support educational activities, including school construction. 
  • On Thursday, April 28, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened the third application window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). The ECF program provides financial support for eligible schools and libraries to purchase connected devices to address unmet needs of students, staff, and patrons. 

 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Getting to Know Advance CTE’s Strategic Priorities: Equip, Empower, Elevate

May 5th, 2022

The “Getting to Know” blog series will feature the work of State CTE Directors, state and federal policies, innovative programs and new initiatives from the Advance CTE staff. Learn more about each one of these topics and the unique contributions to advancing Career Technical Education (CTE) that Advance CTE’s members work on every day.

Meet Kimberly Green! Kim is the Executive Director of Advance CTE. Kim’s role at Advance CTE is to provide strategic direction to all of the organization’s workstreams to ensure Advance CTE is boldly advancing toward the accomplishment of the strategic priorities and theory of action, both of which aspire to ensure equitable career success for each learner. 

Q: Given your history and tenure at Advance CTE and in the field, how have you seen the organization evolve into what is now the 2021-2024 strategic plan?

A: January 2023 will mark 30 years for me at Advance CTE; that is a lot of time and tenure to have seen things change. The name of our organization changed (NASDCTEc to Advance CTE). We expanded state memberships to cover a “team” rather than just one individual from each state. Internally, our staff has grown significantly, with our team members living and working literally across the entire country. The breadth and depth of our work shifted to reflect the evolving needs of our members and the CTE community. We deepened and expanded our federal policy work and added in robust state policy, communications, data/accountability, equity,  etc. research, professional development and technical assistance. We launched revolutionary and impactful streams of work like the National Career Clusters Framework ® and the CTE: Learning that Works for America campaign, etc.; these efforts have incubated and supported a significantly increased level of support and interest in CTE and career readiness among the public and state policymakers.

What hasn’t changed is our steadfast commitment to serving our members. For nearly every year of these 30 years, all states were members of Advance CTE. This is something I am extraordinarily proud of! We are steadfast in our commitment to supporting leaders, encouraging transformative leadership and “be(ing) the change we want to see in the world” (quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi). Our efforts to coalesce our community and stakeholders toward a common, bold vision is a hallmark of who we are at Advance CTE.  We don’t shy away from taking on the important and difficult work, like efforts to address the legacy and currency of racial equity gaps in CTE, all the while remaining vigilant to hold the bar high in terms of quality expectations. 

Q: If you had to choose, which accomplishment from 2021 are you most excited about?

A: This is hard! There is much to choose from but I’d probably have to say releasing CTE Without Limits, which is a north star for our work and launching the Postsecondary State Career Technical Education Leadership Fellowship at Advance CTE – Sponsored by ECMC Foundation which will help to strengthen and diversify the pipeline of talent to fill state leadership positions in CTE. 

Q: What do you see as the major priority for the organization moving into the second quarter of 2022? 

A: We are getting ready to host our Spring State Leadership Retreat this month (May 2022). I am excited to see our members again – in person! I am also excited to re-connect and build new relationships, strengthen existing relationships, and to learn from and alongside our members. 

Q: CTE Without Limits states that the work ahead will require commitment and shared ownership from all stakeholders. Are there any upcoming opportunities that will equip, empower and elevate the field? 

A: Our Virtual June Meeting Series is going to be amazing! This three-event series will offer premier professional content to inspire attendees and arm them with replicable polices and practices to advance high-quality and equitable CTE, plus the opportunity to build their peer network across the country.

Every day, I am honored to serve our members in the CTE community. I am inspired by their commitment to be bold, lead change and to do the work that requires a deep and abiding persistence. In some ways their work is hidden; learners and other stakeholders often don’t know the important role that state leaders have in setting policies that close equity gaps or ensure their classrooms have qualified instructors and latest equipment. They don’t know the advocacy efforts state leaders lead to to build supportive environments in order to secure the investments needed so that more learners can have access to CTE. But I see the work our members do … and I am grateful.

Kimberly Green, Executive Director

 

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