Legislative Update: ED Confirms Nominee and DOL Grant Updates

September 17th, 2021

This week, the Senate confirmed the new Undersecretary of Education. Read below to learn about this role, as well as new funding opportunities from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), an update on the budget reconciliation process and newly approved stimulus plans. 

Senate Confirms James Kvaal as Undersecretary of Education

On Tuesday the Senate confirmed James Kvaal as the Undersecretary of Education for the U.S. Department of Education (ED), in a 58-37 vote. This is the third highest position at ED. In his capacity as Undersecretary, Kvaal will oversee the Administration’s higher education work- including federal student aid. Previously, Kvaal was the president of the Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS). He also served in the Obama Administration as the deputy domestic policy adviser at the White House and deputy undersecretary at ED. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona’s statement on Kvaal’s confirmation can be found here

DOL Announces Funding for Registered Apprenticeships in Critical, Nontraditional Industries 

DOL announced that funds are now available for up to four new contracts to Industry Intermediaries in order to launch, promote or expand Registered Apprenticeships in critical industries impacted by COVID-19 (coronavirus) and industries that have not traditionally used apprenticeships to meet employer and sector needs. The request for proposals is geared toward intermediaries looking to expand apprenticeship opportunities in industries disproportionately affected by the pandemic, increase opportunities for under-represented populations and leverage existing resources to support and sustain programs at the local and national levels. This grant will be administered by DOL’s Employment and Training Administration, and additional information can be found here.  

DOL Announces Funding to Expand Job Opportunities for Women in Apprenticeships and Nontraditional Occupations

DOL announced $3.3 million in grant funding to recruit, train and retain more women in pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeships programs, as well as nontraditional occupations. These grants were awarded to organizations in California, Mississippi, New York, Texas and Wisconsin, and were administered by the DOL Women’s Bureau and Employment and Training Administration. Information about grant recipients can be found here.  

House Education and Labor Committee Marks Up Budget Reconciliation Package 

Written by Jori Houck, Media Relations and Advocacy Associate, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here

The House Education and Labor Committee marked up its portion of the House’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, on September 9 and 10. The Committee’s portion of the bill contains a total of $761 billion in new funding, and in a significant victory, $4 billion for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V)! 

The bill also includes a significant number of other investments in programs or initiatives that could benefit CTE programs, students and institutions. Relevant components of the bill include: 

  • Perkins Basic State Grant/Innovation and Modernization: $3 billion in funding through the Perkins Basic State Grant funding stream, with an additional $1 billion in funding for the existing Innovation and Modernization fund, for a total of $4 billion to be distributed through Perkins V. 
  • Tuition-Free Community College: Beginning in financial aid year 2023-24, the bill provides two years of tuition-free community college for eligible students. 
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Allocations: $16 billion for dislocated worker employment and training; $15 billion for adult worker employment and training activities; $9.05 billion for youth workforce investment activities; $3.6 billion for carrying out ex-offender activities. 
  • Registered Apprenticeships, Youth Apprenticeships and Pre-Apprenticeships: $5 billion for grants, cooperative agreements, contracts or other arrangements to create or expand registered apprenticeship programs, youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. 
  • Community College and Industry Partnerships Grants: $2 billion for grants to community colleges to expand workforce development and employment opportunities in high-skill, high-wage or in-demand industry sectors or occupations. 
  • Industry or Sector Partnership Grants: $10 billion for competitive grants to partnerships to expand workforce development and employment opportunities for high-skill, high-wage and in-demand industry sectors or occupations, including information technology, clean energy, infrastructure and transportation, advanced manufacturing, public health home care and early childhood care and education. 
  • Direct Care Workforce: $1.48 billion to award competitive grants to provide competitive wages, benefits, and other supportive services to direct care workers, and for the recruitment, retention and training of direct care workers. 
  • Adult Basic Education: $3.6 billion to support adult education programs under Title II of WIOA. 
  • Rebuild America’s Schools Grant Program: $81 billion from FY 2022-24 for grants to state educational agencies (SEAs), with $39.6 billion awarded in each of FYs 2023 and 2024. Funds would be awarded to local educational agencies to create and implement facilities plans to address health, safety, educational equity, enrollment diversity, environmental sustainability and climate resiliency of public school facilities. 
  • “Grow Your Own” programs: $197 million to address teacher shortages in high-need subjects and locations and to increase the diversity of the education workforce. 
  • Retention and completion grants: $9 billion for retention and completion grants to institutions of higher education. 
  • Pell Grants: increase the maximum aid amount by $500 per year through the 2029-30 school year. 

However, based on the definitions included in the draft legislation, area technical centers (ATCs) have been left out of the free community college proposal in particular. In many states, these public, fully accredited institutions are the primary delivery of postsecondary CTE certificate programs, but because they do not grant associate degrees, ATCs would not be included in this important program. 

ACTE and Advance CTE has sent a letter to Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) of the House Education and Labor Committee expressing concern over the exclusion of ATCs in the Committee’s portion of the Build Back Better Act, and is actively working with Congress to support these critical institutions.   

As this bill moves forward, it is important that CTE stakeholders continue to keep up the pressure on Members of Congress to include important investments in education and workforce development in the budget reconciliation bill, and to ensure all CTE programs are included! 

You can read the full text of the Committee’s print of the Build Back Better Act here. Stay tuned for the latest developments impacting CTE during the budget reconciliation process!

ED Approves More State K-12 Stimulus Plans

ED announced the approval of additional America Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) state plans and distributed remaining funds to those states. The newly approved states and funding levels include: 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Legislative Update: House Marks Up Education & Labor Reconciliation Bill

September 13th, 2021

Written by Jori Houck, Media Relations and Advocacy Associate, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here

The House Education and Labor Committee marked up its portion of the House’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, on September 9 and 10. The Committee’s portion of the bill contains a total of $761 billion in new funding, and in a significant victory, $4 billion for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V)! 

The bill also includes a significant number of other investments in programs or initiatives that could benefit CTE programs, students and institutions. Relevant components of the bill include: 

  • Perkins Basic State Grant/Innovation and Modernization: $3 billion in funding through the Perkins Basic State Grant funding stream, with an additional $1 billion in funding for the existing Innovation and Modernization fund, for a total of $4 billion to be distributed through Perkins V. 
  • Tuition-Free Community College: Beginning in financial aid year 2023-24, the bill provides two years of tuition-free community college for eligible students. 
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Allocations: $16 billion for dislocated worker employment and training; $15 billion for adult worker employment and training activities; $9.05 billion for youth workforce investment activities; $3.6 billion for carrying out ex-offender activities. 
  • Registered Apprenticeships, Youth Apprenticeships and Pre-Apprenticeships: $5 billion for grants, cooperative agreements, contracts or other arrangements to create or expand registered apprenticeship programs, youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. 
  • Community College and Industry Partnerships Grants: $2 billion for grants to community colleges to expand workforce development and employment opportunities in high-skill, high-wage or in-demand industry sectors or occupations. 
  • Industry or Sector Partnership Grants: $10 billion for competitive grants to partnerships to expand workforce development and employment opportunities for high-skill, high-wage and in-demand industry sectors or occupations, including information technology, clean energy, infrastructure and transportation, advanced manufacturing, public health home care and early childhood care and education. 
  • Direct Care Workforce: $1.48 billion to award competitive grants to provide competitive wages, benefits, and other supportive services to direct care workers, and for the recruitment, retention and training of direct care workers. 
  • Adult Basic Education: $3.6 billion to support adult education programs under Title II of WIOA. 
  • Rebuild America’s Schools Grant Program: $81 billion from FY 2022-24 for grants to state educational agencies (SEAs), with $39.6 billion awarded in each of FYs 2023 and 2024. Funds would be awarded to local educational agencies to create and implement facilities plans to address health, safety, educational equity, enrollment diversity, environmental sustainability and climate resiliency of public school facilities. 
  • “Grow Your Own” programs: $197 million to address teacher shortages in high-need subjects and locations and to increase the diversity of the education workforce. 
  • Retention and completion grants: $9 billion for retention and completion grants to institutions of higher education. 
  • Pell Grants: increase the maximum aid amount by $500 per year through the 2029-30 school year. 

However, based on the definitions included in the draft legislation, area technical centers (ATCs) have been left out of the free community college proposal in particular. In many states, these public, fully accredited institutions are the primary delivery of postsecondary CTE certificate programs, but because they do not grant associate degrees, ATCs would not be included in this important program. 

ACTE and Advance CTE has sent a letter to Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) of the House Education and Labor Committee expressing concern over the exclusion of ATCs in the Committee’s portion of the Build Back Better Act, and is actively working with Congress to support these critical institutions.   

As this bill moves forward, it is important that CTE stakeholders continue to keep up the pressure on Members of Congress to include important investments in education and workforce development in the budget reconciliation bill, and to ensure all CTE programs are included! 

You can read the full text of the Committee’s print of the Build Back Better Act here. Stay tuned for the latest developments impacting CTE during the budget reconciliation process!

CTE Without Limits Summer Lunch and Learn #5 Recap: Rethinking Challenges as Opportunities to Build CTE Without Borders

September 8th, 2021

Advance CTE wrapped up its five-part summer lunch and learn series delving into each of the five principles of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). Each session features a panel of leading voices from organizations across learning and work followed by interactive group discussions on the information shared and next steps.

The fifth principle of CTE Without Limits aims to advance policies and actions that enable mobility and access to high-quality education experiences for each learner, with a particular focus on interstate compacts and investment in research and development to advance quality and equity in virtual learning. The August 31 panel featured Stephen Pruitt, President of Southern Regional Education Board (SREB); Dale Winkler, Vice President of Student Improvement for SREB; and Christina Sedney, Director of Policy Initiatives and State Authorization, Policy Analysis and Research for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). 

Both organizations named CTE Without Limits as a valuable opportunity to apply a CTE lens to decades of work with states to remove geographic and policy barriers to expand education opportunities for each learner in their respective regions. 

Key Themes 

Establish shared goals with individual value – Sedney and Pruitt acknowledged that expanding the borders of CTE delivery both within and beyond state borders is complex and involves the input and commitment of many stakeholders. Sedney offered several tangible tips to build effective interstate stakeholder collaboratives, including establishing shared goals early in the process with an extra step – communicating the value of the goals to each stakeholder to encourage long-term commitment. Winkler reinforced the value of shared goals as a means to change how this work is approached from a limited, barrier-based mindset to a transformative, goals-centered mindset. 

Leverage challenges as inter- and intrastate opportunities – In the breakout session, Pruitt pointed to the potential of this principle to address some of the most pressing issues facing the field, including instructor shortages and program access for rural learners. He provided the example of an instructor living in a border town that with effective interstate agreements could split teaching time between multiple states. Sedney named the recent influx of federal investment in broadband access as a “real moment of opportunity” to allow populations historically marginalized from accessing more flexible and virtual program delivery in both urban and rural areas to be able to do so. 

Keep quality and equity at the forefront –  Pruitt and Winkler elevated the importance of robust professional support for instructors to ensure that the current “crisis delivery model” of many virtual CTE offerings can transition to meaningful, high-quality programming for each learner. They also called out the need for further data analysis and research on outcomes from virtual learning to determine optimal curriculum structure and engagement models as well as to measure the impact of models on program completion and credential attainment.  Disaggregation of this data is pivotal to learning the full story of these outcomes. 

Resources to Get Started 

SREB and WICHE provide multiple resources that apply lessons learned from decades of practice building effective interstate connections and systems. Additional resources from other partners aligned with Principle 4 can be explored in Advance CTE’s vision partner initiative repository

SREB has a variety of resources aligned to Principle 5, including a listing of CTE-focused virtual labs and activities, as well as webinars and reports exploring the opportunities and challenges of open educational resources (OER). 

WICHE leads multiple regional initiatives that can be considered as models for the state level across multiple vision principles, including the Interstate Passport for postsecondary transfer and a Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange piloted in six states.  

Recordings of all previous Lunch and Learn sessions and additional vision implementation resources can be found on Advance CTE’s vision page.

Continue your journey of deeper learning and evaluation of CTE Without Limits at Advance CTE’s virtual Fall Meeting October 27-28, 2021. The theme is “Meeting CTE’s Moment”, with plenary and breakout sessions highlighting top-of-mind areas for implementation and featuring current state practices aligned with vision principles. Visit the Fall Meeting page to view the full meeting agenda and register today to secure early bird registration savings of $50.

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement

  

 

Legislative Update: Resolution to Double Federal Funding for CTE and Budget Reconciliation Update

September 3rd, 2021

This week, a resolution was introduced in the House to double the federal investment in Career Technical Education (CTE). Read below to learn more about this bill, as well as how to advocate for CTE and workforce development programs in the current budget reconciliation process, next steps for a dual enrollment experimental site, the second round of emergency connectivity fund applications and a new guide on leading conversations and work that address racial inequities in CTE.  

House Representatives Introduce Resolution to Double Federal Funding for CTE

On Wednesday, Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced a resolution to double federal funding for CTE. Specifically, the resolution calls for $10 billion over the next 10 years in new funding for programs under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) and innovative evidence-based CTE. The resolution calls attention to the important role of Perkins V and CTE in training the skilled workforce of the future and increasing earning potential and career opportunities. It also points to the insufficient amount of Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) federal funding for CTE, which will not fully support the long-term economic realignment and skills training the country is facing. 

Advance CTE is pleased to endorse this bill. The full resolution text can be found here

House Moves Ahead with Budget Reconciliation – Your Advocacy is Needed

Written by Jori Houck, Media Relations and Advocacy Associate, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here

Following the passage of a budget resolution by the House and Senate, the House Committee on Education and Labor and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will begin drafting their portions of the larger budget reconciliation package. At this stage of the process, the key funding decisions for CTE are being made by members of these committees. 

The Biden Administration has proposed $10 billion over 10 years for CTE programs in the reconciliation bill as a part of the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request and American Jobs Plan. More broadly, the Biden Administration is calling for $100 billion in funding for workforce development. However, amidst competing priorities and limited resources available for education spending in the bill, these funds may not be included. In addition, there are numerous discussions underway about how to provide up to two years of free college through the bill, and how to support postsecondary retention and completion. Advance CTE and ACTE are proactively working to ensure that CTE programs at area CTE centers and certificate programs at other institutions are included in any of these proposals. 

The House Education and Labor Committee is expected to begin considering its portion of the budget reconciliation package as soon as Thursday, September 9, and is putting that proposal together now. The Senate HELP Committee is expected to follow soon after, so now is the time to act! 

ACTION NEEDED:
CLICK HERE to ask your Members of Congress to weigh in with their colleagues on the Senate HELP Committee and House Education and Labor Committee to ask them to support these three priorities in the budget reconciliation bill: 

  • Include the Biden Administration’s proposed investment of $10 billion over 10 years for CTE programs; 
  • Match the Biden Administration’s $100 billion request for workforce development funding overall, including CTE funding; and 
  • Ensure that CTE programs are included in any postsecondary proposals, such as free college and college retention and completion initiatives, including programs at area CTE centers. 

ED Ends Dual Enrollment Experimental Sites Initiative

This month, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) notified over two dozen higher education institutions  that are part of the ED Pell Experimental Sites Initiative for dual enrollment that the experiment will be finished at the end of 2021-2022 academic year. Next, the dual enrollment Pell experiment will be evaluated and a report will be submitted to Congress analyzing the data collected and offering policy recommendations for future initiatives to increase Pell grants to dual enrollment. 

FCC Opens Second Application Window for Emergency Connectivity Fund

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it has received $5.137 billion in requests to fund 9.1 million connected devices and 5.4 million broadband connections, including schools and libraries in both rural and urban communities, as part of the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The first filing window closed on August 13, and resulted in applications from all 50 states, D.C., American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The FCC will open a second application filing window from September 28 to October 13 in light of the outstanding demand. A state-by-state breakdown of funding requests can be found here

Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) highlighted this widespread demand in a press release that called for passing of the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Students Succeed (SUCCESS) Act, which was introduced in July

Advance CTE Releases Guide to Engaging in Work on Racial Equity and CTE

Historically, CTE has systematically upheld barriers to each learner accessing and being successful in the career preparation ecosystem. With Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education and Perkins V placing an intentional focus on historically minoritized communities and learners with special population status, state CTE leaders have a responsibility to engage in anti-racist conversations between all levels of stakeholders to advance equitable CTE policies and practices. This week, Advance CTE released Brave Dialogues: A Guide to Discussing Racial Equity in Career Technical Education to provide tools to become better equipped and motivated to begin and continue in discussions to right the wrongs in CTE and to support state CTE leaders in creating an environment in which their state teams, local intermediaries, business partnerships and more have the language and comfort to discuss challenges and opportunities related to racial equity in CTE. 

This new resource is a part of the Making Good on the Promise Series confronting the negative aspects of CTE’s legacy and defining the key challenges learners face today. 

View Brave Dialogues: A Guide to Discussing Racial Equity in Career Technical Education here.  

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

CTE Without Limits Summer Lunch and Learn #4 Recap: Knowledge Building and Transparency Key Themes for Implementing Fourth Vision Principle

September 2nd, 2021

Advance CTE continued its five-part summer lunch and learn series delving into each of the five principles of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). Each session features a panel of leading voices from organizations across learning and work followed by interactive group discussions on the information shared and next steps. 

The fourth principle of CTE Without Limits aims to fully count, value and transport each learner’s skills through systematic transformations that capture learning at stages and settings, build systems that translate competencies into portable credit, and advance a culture of hiring that values skills over degrees. The August 17 panel featured Jonathan Alfuth, State Policy Director, KnowledgeWorks; Molly Bashay, Senior Policy Analyst for Education, Labor & Worker Justice, The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); and Niki DaSilva, Manager of Programs and Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Center for Education and Workforce. 

Throughout the session, it was clear that equity must be a key driver for this principle to be fully realized. When each learner’s skills are fully counted, valued and portable, systems will be able to respect and validate all skillbuilding experiences and remove historic barriers to paths to career success with family-sustaining wages. 

Key Themes 

  • Transparency and flexibility are key to learner-centered systems: Creating systems that make it easy for both employers and learners to value all prior learning requires flexibility both in remaining responsive to evolving workforce needs and in piloting intentional strategies to engage learners historically marginalized from opportunities to fully count skills and experiences. Alfuth elevated the importance of easily accessible and transparent policies on how prior learning is counted, valued and transferred to aid learners as they navigate their path to career and college success and offered work in California as a promising example. 
  • The need to overcome information and administrative barriers: Bashay identified one the greatest challenges to fully leveraging credit for prior learning is lack of learner knowledge about these opportunities. In many cases, system are too complex and create significant  barriers for learners, particularly those from historically underserved populations, from taking the extra steps to have experiences fully counted. Similarly, DaSilva pointed out that many employers often narrow their talent pipeline due to lack of knowledge about changing opportunities for learning and how to leverage data to identify skill needs and incorporate them into the hiring process. CTE partnerships with employers are a valuable avenue for states to streamline systems and close these knowledge gaps. 
  • Quality standards are critical to fully counting learning: Alfuth elevated the importance of establishing clear quality standards both in state policy and in memorandums of understanding (MOUs) between secondary and postsecondary institutions to ensure credit for prior learning and particularly early postsecondary opportunities are fully valued. These standards can also help employers make better connections between credit and the skills they are seeking in new hires. 

Recommendations for Implementation

  • Start by redefining academic success as a first step: Bashay emphasized that a key first step to expanding access to credit for prior learning and early postsecondary opportunities is changing mindsets so that all, not just ‘some’ or ‘advanced’ students, can access these opportunities. This includes state CTE leaders taking steps for CTE coursework and experiences to be valued at the same level as core academic coursework. 
  • Utilize existing resources and best practices: Alfuth and DaSilva both lifted up state policy frameworks created by their respective organizations as valuable starting points as states consider how to include credit for prior learning as part of systems transformation for personalized learning and competency-based hiring.
  • Interstate transfer key area for growth: While the session reinforced the robust work that is being done to study and advance credit for prior learning, panelists and participants pointed out several areas to take current progress to the next level, including moving beyond intrastate connectivity to include out-of-state institutions. 

The fifth and final lunch and learn held August 31 featured Stephen Pruitt, President of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB); Dale Winkler, Vice President of School Improvement for SREB; and Christina Sedney, Director of Policy Initiatives and State Authorization, Policy Analysis and Research for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). 

Recordings of previous Lunch and Learn sessions and additional vision implementation resources can be found on Advance CTE’s vision page.

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

Brave Dialogues to Advance CTE Without Limits

September 1st, 2021

Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits), calls on leaders in Career Technical Education (CTE) to identify and dismantle the institutional and systemic barriers that limit access, opportunity and outcomes for learners, particularly those who have been historically marginalized and excluded from high-quality CTE programs. While the field has come a long way from the days of tracking learners into terminal vocational programs that denied their full potential, CTE still has work to do to ensure each learner feels welcome in, is supported by, and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem. 

State CTE leaders have made commitments to advancing equity in CTE, most notably in their Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) plans. However, there is often a disconnect between these commitments and the data which show persistent opportunity gaps for learners with special population status, learners from low-income families and learners of color. In order to understand this disconnect, state CTE leaders and CTE practitioners must engage in brave dialogues about the systemic and structural challenges facing learners who have been historically marginalized and excluded in order to take bold steps in developing effective policies, programs and practices rooted in equity. 

Brave Dialogues: A Guide to Discussing Racial Equity in Career Technical Education is a resource designed to support state CTE leaders and practitioners in these efforts. Structured around a framework towards critical self-reflection, this guide asks participants to reflect on how they are positioned within organizations that have historically marginalized learners and consider ways they can actively dismantle the systems and structures that still persist today. As part of critical self-reflection, leaders critically examine the role of school programs, departments, hiring practices, enrichment courses and other school structures. In CTE, that may include examining entrance requirements for certain programs of study or whether all learners have equitable access to all programs of study offered by a school or district. 

The primary audience for this guide is state CTE leaders who are encouraged to use this as a resource with their staff and local practitioners including teachers, faculty, counselors, career advisors, principals, deans, instructional staff, work-based learning coordinators, learner support staff, etc. This guide can be used in various contexts including professional development; diversity, equity and inclusion training; exploration of opportunity gaps; data-driven decisionmaking and funding initiatives; and the Perkins V comprehensive local needs assessment. 

Participants in brave dialogues explore important concepts such as identity awareness, implicit bias, privilege, equity vs equality, structural racism, and how to approach policy and practice with an equity-minded lens. This guide recognizes that there is often great discomfort in discussing race, particularly racial inequities. Ultimately, the goal is for users of this guide to become better equipped and motivated to advance anti-racist CTE policies and practices. Anti-racist policies and practices are not race neutral; rather, they are crafted in recognition that historically, CTE — and education more broadly — has systematically perpetuated inequities among certain learner populations. Thus, anti-racist policies and practices are designed to actively dismantle those systems and create an environment where all learners have the resources and opportunities needed to thrive.

Advance CTE hopes this guide can support state CTE leaders in furthering their commitment to advancing equity in CTE. Through brave dialogues, CTE leaders can truly create a career preparation equity system without limits that is fully flexible and responsive to the diverse needs of each learner.

For more resources on access and equity in CTE, please visit the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Budget Reconciliation and Demand for Broadband Funding

August 27th, 2021

This week, the House adopted a budget resolution that allows for progression on the budget reconciliation process. Read below to learn more about the implications and timeline, as well as an update on national demand for broadband funding, a grant program for displaced workers and newly approved stimulus funding plans.

House Adopts Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Resolution

Written by Michael Matthews, Government Relations Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here

On Tuesday, the House adopted the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget resolution, by a 220-212 party-line vote. The resolution is significant because it officially starts the reconciliation process, paving the way for the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan to be passed by a simple majority. The Senate already adopted the budget resolution on a party-line vote earlier this month.

The House vote also included the rule for floor debate governing a separate voting rights bill and eventually the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, for which Democratic leaders have set a tentative vote date of September 27.

Now that the reconciliation rules have been adopted in both chambers through the budget resolution, committees can begin officially writing their respective pieces of the larger $3.5 trillion package. For example, the education committees have been allocated over $700 billion to fund initiatives under their jurisdiction, ranging from Pre-K programs to free college, and including any workforce development or CTE investments.  

Within the resolution, there is a deadline of September 15 to have bills done on the committee level, so they can be combined into one large proposal for passage on the floor of each chamber. However, with many moving parts and disagreements even among Democrats it seems somewhat unlikely that the reconciliation bill will be done by the prescribed deadline and may go later into the fall.

There are a handful of moderate Senate Democrats, namely Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), who have publicly expressed concern over the price tag of the reconciliation bill. With a 50-50 tie in the Senate, it is critical that all Democrats are on board to ensure its passage. This means that there will likely be longer negotiations that may pare down the bill before it is brought to a vote.

FCC Announces Over $5 Billion in Funding Requests for Emergency Connectivity Fund

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it has received $5.137 billion in requests to fund 9.1 million connected devices and 5.4 million broadband connections, including schools and libraries in both rural and urban communities, as part of the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The first filing window closed on August 13, and resulted in applications from all 50 states, D.C., American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The FCC will open a second application filing window from September 28 to October 13 in light of the outstanding demand. A state-by-state breakdown of funding requests can be found here

On Wednesday Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) highlighted this widespread demand in a press release that called for passing of the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Students Succeed (SUCCESS) Act, which was introduced in July.  

DOL Announces Grants for Workers Displaced by the Pandemic

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the availability of an increased $90 million of funding grants for employment opportunities for displaced workers, historically marginalized communities or groups and those unemployed for an extended period of time or who have exhausted unemployment insurance or other pandemic unemployment insurance programs. This means that funding for Comprehensive and Accessible Reemployment through Equitable Employment Recovery (CAREER) National Dislocated Worker Grants, announced in June, is more than doubled. Applications for CAREER National Dislocated Worker Grants are open through August 31 and can be used for one of the following activities: 

  • Delivering comprehensive workforce services, including career, training and supporting services to help participants gain employment; or
  • Purchasing, building or expanding virtual technology platforms, software systems or services for job search, career guidance, training or other allowable activities. 

ED Approves More State K-12 Stimulus Plans

ED announced the approval of additional America Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) state plans and distributed remaining funds to those states. The newly approved states and funding levels include: 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Getting to Know Advance CTE and Top Messages to Recruit Learners of Color

August 26th, 2021

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 Stacy Whitehouse! Stacy is the Senior Associate for Communications and State Engagement at Advance CTE and supports strategic communications for the organization’s initiatives. Stacy oversees the organization’s media relations strategy and provides communications guidance to states through technical assistance. She serves as the project lead for Advance CTE’s most recent round of communications research on communicating CTE to families and learners, supported by the Siemens Foundation.

Q: Recently, Advance CTE released new research that tested messages for attracting students and families to CTE, particularly those from historically marginalized communities. How was this research conducted with equity in mind?

A: The most recent release of our communications research followed up on similar work released in 2017. For the second round of research, we intentionally designed the national survey to elevate equity considerations by disaggregating all questions and oversampling Black and Latinx families and families experiencing low income. The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic forced all focus groups into a virtual environment, allowing for a more equitable pool of participants to be sampled.

The research analysis matters as much as the research design. Our research analysis didn’t shy away from finding and elevating existing equity considerations both in message tailoring and in identifying equity and access gaps. Overall, we were pleased to see that many of the findings and messages resonated across race, ethnicity, gender, income and participation in CTE. 

Q: Which key messages from the research are most important to elevate with learners from historically marginalized communities? 

A: The top messages in this research resonated with families and learners across race, ethnicity and income: CTE learners gain real-world skills, explore careers to find their passion, and have more options for college and career success. 

However, the findings indicate that some messages should be elevated more than others. In particular, the value of CTE in jumpstarting and preparing learners for postsecondary education is important because our findings indicate historically marginalized populations participating in CTE were significantly more likely to plan to complete a two or four year degree than those considering CTE. 

Additionally, messages about CTE’s value in making connections with like-minded peers, instructors and employers resonated more strongly with Black and Latinx learners than White learners. This is especially encouraging for CTE’s potential to close historic equity gaps that are crucial to career advancement. 

Q: What did the research findings identify as one area of opportunity for CTE to meet the needs of Black and Latinx learners?

A: We were pleased to find that families participating in CTE achieved equitable levels of satisfaction across almost all aspects of their education experience, including quality of classes and teachers, opportunities for advanced classes, and opportunities to explore careers and build skills. 

However, one area that emerged as needing significant improvement for Black and Latinx learners were opportunities for internships, as well as opportunities to make connections and network with employers. While White learners in CTE achieved satisfaction levels 30 percentage points higher than White learners not in CTE, Latinx learners were only about 10 percentage points more satisfied and Black learners achieved no increase at all. This is concerning considering that “making connections” is a popular message among Black and Latinx learners; that message cannot fully resonate unless we improve the quality and equity of opportunities to make connections and network with employers. 

Earlier this year we released a framework that provides five action areas for states to focus on when working to advance equity in work-based learning systems. 

Q: There are a variety of avenues for families to get information about CTE both in and outside of school. Was there a difference between trusted sources for varying learner populations? 

A: Teachers and school counselors were consistently chosen as the top sources for information about CTE by families both considering and participating in CTE. However, there were a couple of slight nuances that emerged in the findings. 

First, Black and Latinx families were more likely to identify online sources of information, such as Google searches and school searches, as a top source for information about CTE than White families. Local and state leaders can capitalize on this finding by using accessible terminology, offering language translation, providing access for all abilities, and utilizing multiple platforms to ensure information about CTE is accessible to each family at any time. 

Second, Black and Latinx parents/guardians were significantly more likely to choose school counselors as a top source than Black and Latinx learners. The research doesn’t provide concrete answers for this gap, but it does reinforce the importance of relationship building and diversity for these trusted sources. 

Q: Are there any further considerations for CTE leaders when communicating with historically marginalized populations? 

A: I’d like to elevate two points: 1) the importance of representation in trusted messengers and 2) incorporating learner voice in the communications process. Our research showed teachers and school counselors are top sources, but historically marginalized learners need to see themselves in these sources so each learner can feel welcome and heard in these programs, particularly career pathways with historically large representation gaps. 

Just as these findings came directly from families and learners, CTE programs, outreach events, materials and communication campaigns need to include learners in the design, execution and evaluation to ensure the initiatives are reaching and resonating with their intended audiences. I’m excited that this research is another opportunity to build routines for learner-centered systems.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media

Highlighting Equity in State Policy

August 25th, 2021

State leaders, particularly state legislators, have a unique role to play in ensuring equitable access to high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE). As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, access and technology gaps have been laid bare, revealing inequities in opportunities for marginalized learner populations. While policies addressing access and equity concerns remained a high priority for legislators in years past, 2021 has been no different; this year to date, almost 30 pieces of state legislation have passed in 17 states addressing this issue. Enacted policies focus on elevating learner voice, examining historically inequitable systems and removing barriers to entry, or providing financial support for historically underrepresented populations. The following policies represent a small sample of equity-focused policies already passed in 2021:

  • Colorado SB119 affirms the value of increasing access to industry-recognized credentials for high school students, especially in the wake of COVID-19. The law also requires districts to communicate specific information about work-based learning opportunities and industry-recognized credentials to students and families, and requires the state Department of Education to submit an annual report and communicate similar data to districts.
  • Louisiana SB148 creates the M.J. Foster Promise Program, which provides financial assistance up to $3200/year to a low-income learner enrolling in a two-year or shorter postsecondary program in a high-demand, high-wage occupational field aligned with Louisiana’s workforce priorities and leading toward an industry-recognized credential. 
  • Oregon SB623 directs the State Workforce and Talent Development Board to establish a Committee for Continuous Improvement to conduct an assessment of the Oregon workforce development system. The assessment must incorporate input from historically marginalized groups and other stakeholders and focus on identifying barriers, improving experiences and access to programs, and improving alignment between agencies and nonprofit organizations to ensure individuals impacted most by COVID-19 are prioritized and served.
  • Virginia HB1820 expands allowable work activities for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients to include participation in educational activities that lead to a postsecondary credential from an accredited higher education institution or other postsecondary school. The credential could include a program resulting in a degree or accredited industry-recognized credential, certification or license.
  • Washington SB5194 recognizes the disparate impacts faced by “first-generation college-attending students, students with disabilities, and underrepresented minority students” when applying for or remaining in postsecondary programs, specifically at community and technical colleges. The law announces legislative findings of a need to expand investment in community and technical colleges to guarantee equitable access and requires that all community and technical colleges must submit biennial plans to achieve racial diversity, equity, and inclusion starting July 30, 2022. 

Advance CTE’s 2021 Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) commits to “All dimensions of equity, including educational, racial, socioeconomic, gender and geographic, and meeting the unique needs of each individual learner,” and promotes many of the same actions connected to these legislative outcomes, including elevating learner voice, supporting equity audits and realigning systems to increase access and funding for marginalized learners. Visit our CTE Without Limits landing page for our call to action and the Learning that Works Resource Center for more access and equity resources.

Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: ED and DOL Initiative and Resources from Advance CTE

August 20th, 2021

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) shared information on an initiative to help unemployed Americans with postsecondary opportunities. Read below to learn more about what this includes, as well as new resources from Advance CTE on elevating the learner voice and addressing challenges in improving equity and access in Career Technical Education (CTE). 

ED and DOL Announce Efforts to Help Unemployed Workers Pursue Postsecondary Education

ED, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), launched an initiative to help connect millions of unemployed Americans to postsecondary education, especially those displaced from employment during the pandemic. To help individuals find educational opportunities and training that lead to good jobs, ED and DOL will alert institutions of higher education and state workforce agencies about how they can help unemployment insurance (UI) beneficiaries access postsecondary education. 

ED updated the guidance to financial aid administrators of postsecondary institutions about their authority to use “professional judgement” for individual financial aid applicants and adjust recently unemployed applicants’ income to zero- helping to ensure that learners receive the maximum benefit to which they are entitled. Moving forward, DOL will alert state workforce agencies that UI recipients are often eligible for postsecondary education funding such as federal student aid. ED also launched a new landing page that states can share with UI beneficiaries to help them identify opportunities at colleges that are also eligible training providers under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). 

Advance CTE and ACTE Release a Toolkit to Elevate the Learner Voice in CTE 

On Thursday, Advance CTE and the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE) released With Learners, Not for Learners: A Toolkit for Elevating Learner Voice in CTE. This toolkit provides actionable resources, guidance and tools to ensure CTE learner voices are elevated and heard for the improvement of CTE policies and practices. Learner voice is often neglected even though learners themselves are affected directly by decisions made about CTE programs and have invaluable first-hand experiences. It is therefore critical that learners be engaged as key stakeholders in the decision making process within CTE programs. By empowering learners to share feedback regarding their CTE experiences through intentional and ongoing feedback loops, CTE programs can better address learner needs, break down barriers — particularly for historically marginalized populations — and improve quality.

The full resource and supplemental tools can be found here.

Advance CTE Shares Resources for Equity in CTE 

Advance CTE is sharing resources, tools and supports to help navigate the challenges to overcoming equity and access barriers in CTE. As described in Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits), there is a critical responsibility to identify and dismantle historical barriers and construct systems that support each learner in accessing, feeling welcome in, fully participating in and successfully navigating their career journey. Check out this toolkit that includes: 

  • Equity and access resources and blogs; 
  • Social media posts; and
  • Professional learning opportunities. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

 

Series

Archives

1