Legislative Update: House Passes BBBA and New Guidance from ED

November 23rd, 2021

Democratic lawmakers in Congress have made progress on a domestic spending package aimed at investing in the nation’s human capital infrastructure, including Career Technical Education (CTE). Meanwhile, a House subcommittee recently examined how states and school districts are making use of education-related pandemic aid while the U.S. Department of Education (ED) issued new nonregulatory guidance, announced changes to civil rights data collections and more.  

House Passes Build Back Better Act (BBBA)

After months of intense debate and negotiations, House Democrats successfully passed the Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376) on November 19. The passage of this legislation is an important next step in Congressional Democrats’ ongoing efforts to pass a wide-ranging domestic spending package to complement the recently passed and enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). While the IIJA was passed via the regular legislative process, Congressional Democrats are making use of the budget reconciliation process which allows certain legislation, like the BBBA,  to be passed by simple majorities in both Chambers of Congress (thereby avoiding a likely Republican filibuster of the legislation). 

In the lead up to the BBBA’s passage in the House, the Congressional Budget Office released an official “scoring” of the legislation, including for the bill’s education and workforce development provisions. This was a key point of contention for some House Democrats who wanted this score prior to a formal vote. Following the release of this score, the BBBA was passed narrowly along party lines by a margin of 220-213. The BBBA now heads to the Senate where the lawmakers in the upper chamber are widely expected to make additional changes to the legislation in the coming weeks ahead. 

As shared previously, this version of the BBBA would provide $600 million for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act’s (Perkins V) basic state grant formula program and $100 million for the law’s Innovation and Modernization competitive grant program. If enacted, the legislation would address a host of Advance CTE’s policy priorities and would also provide $5 billion for Community College and Industry Partnership grants while also ensuring that certain Area Technical Centers are eligible to apply for this funding. As the BBBA works its way further through the legislative process, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for these important investments as part of a final package which is widely expected to be complete by the end of the year. 

House Subcommittee Examine Pandemic Aid Spending

On November 17 the House Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and its Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee held a joint hearing titled “Examining the Implementation of COVID-19 Education Funds.” ED’s second highest ranking official, Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten, along with James Kvaal, ED’s top official for postsecondary education, provided testimony and answered questions as part of this hearing. The purpose of the hearing was to scrutinize state, district and institutions’ use of over $160 billion in collective pandemic-related funding provided since March 2020 to help the nation’s educational systems respond to and recover from the public health crisis. 

The nearly four hour hearing explored a wide range of topics including ED’s ongoing efforts to monitor and oversee how these funds are being used by states, school districts and postsecondary institutions. In addition, lawmakers expressed a strong desire to ensure that this monitoring and oversight process ensures these funds are being spent in ways Congress intended. Relatedly, lawmakers also discussed efforts to develop reliable measures of student performance to more accurately assess the impact of programs and initiatives being funded with these pandemic relief resources. An archived webcast of the hearing, including witness testimony, can be found here

ED Issues New Guidance Related to Student Transportation 

This month, ED published new guidance related to the use of pandemic aid dollars for student transportation. The guidance, in the form of a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), provides answers to several questions related to the use of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding to provide transportation services to eligible students. Of note for the CTE community, this guidance affirms that school districts are permitted to use these funds, in certain circumstances, to provide transportation for students participating in after-school learning and enrichment programs. The full guidance can be found here

MOU Signed to Expand Apprenticeship Programs 

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves and Switzerland’s President Guy Parmelin signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) as part of a series of events and announcements marking the nation’s 7th annual National Apprenticeship Week (NAW). The MOU will expand and make wider use of apprenticeships among Swiss companies operating in the United States. More information on the announcement can be found here

ED Soliciting Feedback Regarding Civil Rights Data Collection 

On November 18, ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that it has submitted to the Federal Register for public comment a proposed Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) Information Collection Request package for the 2021–22 school year. OCR plans to introduce new data categories by proposing the following data which were informed by listening sessions with stakeholders:

  • The addition of COVID-19 (coronavirus) data elements to learn the extent to which schools are offering remote and/or in-person instruction to students during the school year;
  • Revisions to restraint and seclusion definitions;
  • The restoration and expansion of data about preschool students and teachers, including data elements regarding preschool students with disabilities who receive special education and related services and those who are English Learners; the extent to which schools have teachers with one or two years of experience; and teacher certification status; and
  • The addition of a nonbinary option to male/female data categories for those schools and districts that already collect that data, to ensure the CRDC captures accurate and inclusive information about all student identities and student experiences, where the data are available.

Comments regarding these proposed changes to the CRDC information collection are due by January 18, 2022. The full announcement, including the portal to submit input, can be found here

Odds & Ends 

  • ED approved Puerto Rico’s plan for using $990 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding on November 18 to support K-12 schools and students. More information about the plan is located here
  • President Biden announced plans to nominate Glenna Gallo to serve as Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Ms. Gallo currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent of Special Education for the Washington state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Welcome Marcette Kilgore as the New State CTE Director in Texas

November 23rd, 2021

Advance CTE commits to investing in formal leadership development for our members. The New State Director Institute (NSDI) uses a cohort model to welcome and support first-year State Career Technical Education (CTE) Directors. Each cohort is connected with mentors and other national leaders; provided leadership tools and resources; and offered instructional workshops designed to assist them as they develop and implement their state-wide visions for CTE. This and upcoming blogs in the Getting to Know blog series will introduce you to the Fall 2021 NSDI cohort! 

Welcome Marcette Kilgore as the new State CTE Director in Texas. The Texas Education Agency, which serves as the state’s Perkins eligible agency, houses the team Marcette leads. Marcette brings a wealth of knowledge of industry to her position. During her time in the insurance industry, Marcette learned about the power of CTE. This interest and passion resulted in her pursuing a second career in education. She became a CTE instructor, then progressed along the career ladder from assistant principal to director of human resources to district CTE coordinator to her current position. 

Marcette’s early priorities include onboarding new staff, while also immersing herself in the multiple large scale projects such as a standards validation and alignment process to ensure all learners are prepared with the skills that industry leaders are requiring. Another major, related priority is the state’s work to ensure approved industry recognized credentials are both rigorous and provide learners with a pathway into a high-wage, high-demand career. 

Marcette identified key areas of growth for the Texas CTE system including more intentional alignment with locals on statewide projects, streamlining of professional development for CTE and non-CTE educators and administrators and expanded partnerships with industry to strengthen career pathway alignment to labor market needs. 

What motivates Marcette to do this work? She believes strongly in ensuring that learners have access to and the opportunity to align their interests, passion and talents with career pathways that provide an opportunity to earn a family-sustaining wage. 

When away from the office, you can catch Marcette traveling across the country to sneak in some cuddles with her grandchildren. 

Please join us in welcoming Marcette to Advance CTE!

Learn more about the work in Texas by viewing their CTE state profile and the state resource page in the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Jeran Culina, Senior Policy Associate 

Increasing Apprenticeship Opportunities Through State Policy

November 18th, 2021

Preparing to enter the workforce is no easy task, especially as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continues to transform the world of work. It is critical that apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship and youth apprenticeship programs exist to allow learners of all ages to participate in significant work-based learning opportunities that connect their learning with on-the-job skills that they can leverage as they grow in careers of their choice. Pre-apprenticeship programs, for example, demonstrate significant benefits, including creating more equitable access to high-wage, in-demand careers and improving the success of apprenticeship programs more holistically. In the past year, at least 19 states enacted legislation impacting work-based learning opportunities, including expanding access to apprenticeships, allowing credit to be earned for out-of-school-time learning, and increasing transparency in communication about apprenticeships. The following policies represent a small sample of pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship, and work-based learning policies already passed in 2021:

  • Arkansas SB491 establishes definitions for pre-apprenticeship and youth apprenticeship to support statewide coordination of these models. The law also requires a member representing the Division of Career and Technical Education to be added to the Arkansas Apprenticeship Coordination Steering Committee.
  • Colorado HB1007 creates a state apprenticeship agency within the Department of Labor and Employment to grow apprenticeship programs in high-demand occupations and oversee the quality of existing apprenticeship programs. A state apprenticeship council is also created to oversee Registered Apprenticeship programs and consists of representation from Career Technical Education (CTE).
  • Indiana HB1549 creates a catalog of work-based learning, pre-apprenticeship and Registered Apprenticeship opportunities statewide to help provide more information to Indiana residents, among other education-related matters.
  • North Dakota HB1478 enables a school board to allow learners in grades 6-12 to earn course credit through educational opportunities such as work-based learning, pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships, internships and industry certifications with a sponsoring entity such as a business, for- or non-profit organization or trade association.
  • Tennessee HB0842 requires each public high school to designate an apprenticeship training program contact. The Department of Education will then compile and publish an aggregate contact list of all program contacts statewide on an annual basis.
  • Texas SB1095 directs school districts to notify each parent of a ninth grader or above about the availability of CTE or other work-based education programs available in the district including internships, externships or apprenticeship programs.

Advance CTE’s 2021 Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) calls for a cohesive, flexible and responsive career preparation ecosystem that allows learners to participate in aligned and connected work-based learning systems, like industry-aligned apprenticeships. Visit our CTE Without Limits landing page for our call to action and the Learning that Works Resource Center for more resources surrounding work-based learning, including pre-apprenticeship and Registered Apprenticeship.

Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate

Vlog: Opportunity America on Leveraging Non-degree Programs During Workforce Development

November 17th, 2021

Opportunity America in partnership with Lumina Foundation and Wilder Research set out to explore the role of community colleges in providing job-focused education and training in their new community college study, The Indispensable Institution. Opportunity America is a Washington think tank and policy shop promoting economic mobility – work, skills, careers, ownership and entrepreneurship for poor and working Americans. 

Advance CTE’s newest video blog features Tamar Jacoby, President of Opportunity America, as we discuss the report and in particular delve into the study’s exploration of the potential of non-degree programs to serve the needs of a national workforce realignment.  

Our conversation focuses on the profile of a non-degree learner and the next steps for state leaders in greater utilization of non-degree programs, particularly in the areas of funding, data, and industry alignment.

The study reinforces that significant work ahead for the attainments of non-credit learners be fully counted by institutions in degree and non-degree pathways, as well as a high need for data infrastructure that fully documents participation in and outcomes of non-degree learners. The good news is that this study indicates non-credits learners are strongly aligned to job-focused programs, and there is great potential to strengthen and align these programs with industry as labor realignments continue. 

Gaining a better understanding of non-credit learners is critical for each learner’s skills and learning to be fully valued, counted and portable as outlined in Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits)

It is clear there is more to learn about the non-degree arena and its learners in community colleges. Visit the Opportunity America report site to view the full study and interactive data portal.

Jeran Culina, Senior Policy Associate 

Initiative Q&A: The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation

November 16th, 2021

Last week, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced the 15 Fellows joining the inaugural cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation that began this month. These aspiring leaders hail from 12 states, include 13 leaders of color, and represent multiple dimensions of equity as well as secondary and postsecondary institutions at the local, district and state level. 

The Fellowship strives to address the growing shortage of state postsecondary CTE leadership by closing racial representation gaps and removing equity barriers to leadership advancement to continue to foster high-quality, equitable state postsecondary CTE systems that support the needs of each learner. 

The following Q&A with Senior Advisor Dr. Kevin Johnson, Sr. provides additional insight on the structure and goals of the Fellowship as well as how the initiative will benefit members. 

Expanding CTE instructor and leadership pipelines is one of the most pressing issues facing the field. Why did Advance CTE decide to focus on state postsecondary CTE leadership? 

Postsecondary learners face more barriers than ever to accessing and completing postsecondary education. At the same time, historically marginalized learners, particular black and Latinx learners and learners experiencing low income, are still experiencing disproportionate impacts from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. There is an urgent need for diverse, equity-minded leaders in state CTE who reflect the experiences and needs of learners, and are equipped with the skills and networks to improve learner outcomes through systems transformation. Advance CTE’s deep experience supporting state CTE leaders and our commitment to innovation to advance high-quality, equitable CTE is a great intersection to step into a new space to not only empower today’s leaders but cultivate the leaders of the future. 

States are facing a severe CTE instructor shortage and often don’t have the capacity to focus on cultivating the state leadership pipeline. This Fellowships strives to enhance leadership representation across multiple dimensions of equity, with a particular focus on racial equity, while also cultivating an equity-focused leadership mindset to enhance learner access and outcomes in postsecondary CTE programs. 

What are the biggest barriers to leadership advancement for professionals historically marginalized from these opportunities, and how does this Fellowship aim to remove these barriers? 

The same systemic barriers facing learners in reaching their full career potential also exist in our state CTE systems that prevent historically marginalized professionals from reaching their full leadership potential. We are encouraged that State Directors are willing to conduct the difficult but critical work to remove those barriers, and this Fellowship can serve as a learning model. 

Many leadership position requirements still value level of education over skills and experience, particularly experiences gained through industry or positions outside of the education system. Additionally, because historically marginalized leaders, particularly those of color, are less likely to see themselves in leadership positions, they face more barriers to developing meaningful and trusting professional relationships or feeling welcome and psychologically safe in networks that are critical to leadership advancement. Furthermore, in rural and smaller geographic areas, professional and leadership development opportunities may be limited at the state level. Advance CTE has the national resources and network to fill that need. 

The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation strives to remove barriers to leadership advancement through an intensive, interactive curriculum; intentional spaces to develop networks with Fellows and national CTE leaders; individual coaching to strengthen knowledge on both equity and postsecondary CTE; and a real-world fellowship project that allows each Fellow to remove equity barriers right where they live and work. 

What promising practices do you hope to gain from this initiative that can be shared with states? 

This Fellowship is just one building block for a much stronger and permanent foundation that must be built to identify and cultivate state leadership talent from a variety of CTE-focused professions. We hope to identify the supports that aspiring leaders need most for leadership that they are not currently receiving in their home states, and empower states to implement those supports in their professional development programs. There will be two cohorts of 15 fellows served through this Fellowship, and we have already gained valuable lessons learned on effective communication tools, outreach and other components of program recruitment that will be shared with members. Finally, we will gain significant knowledge on building and managing spaces of mentors and mentees to build meaningful relationships among groups historically marginalized from leadership advancement.

I know the Fellowship has just begun, but what excites you most about this group of Fellows so far? 

The first workshop for this cohort was held last week. I am most excited about our Fellows’ enthusiasm for learning not only from Advance CTE staff and their coaches, but from each other. Each Fellow brings a rich diversity of professional and personal experience from industry, secondary and postsecondary institutions, workforce and state institutions that is so important to help these aspiring leaders develop a well-rounded understanding of how systems interact, as well as how to remove silos to ensure each learner has the means to achieve success in the career of their choice without limits. 

How can state leaders participate in future cohorts? 

It is not too early for professionals with extensive experience in delivering or supporting postsecondary CTE programs to consider applying for our second Fellowship cohort.  

Applications will open in Spring 2022, and the next cohort will begin in Summer 2022. 

Additional details about the Fellowship, including profiles for each Advance CTE-ECMCF Fellow can be found on Advance CTE’s Fellowship web page. If you are not an Advance CTE member, sign up to receive our CTEWorks newsletter to stay informed on key program dates. Visit the Learning that Works Resource Center for additional resources on access and equity and instructor and leader quality

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

Legislative Update: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Highlights

November 16th, 2021

On November 15, President Biden signed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R.3684). The new law provides $1.2 trillion in total funding over ten years, including $550 billion in new spending during the next five years. The new funding includes $284 billion for the nation’s surface-transportation network and $266 billion for other core infrastructure. 

The nation’s schools and learners will benefit from many of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s investments, including: 

  • $55 billion for upgrading the nation’s water systems, including $200 million dedicated to eliminating lead contamination in schools; 
  • $5 billion for school districts to acquire clean-energy school buses; and
  • $500 million for schools and non-profit organizations to improve energy efficiency.

The new law also reauthorizes and extends, until 2023, the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, which provides supplemental assistance to schools in 700 counties that have federal forest land.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes significant funding for broadband infrastructure that will help close the “Homework Gap:” 

  • $42.45 billion for a new Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program to help states close the digital divide in rural and other areas that lack sufficient broadband connectivity; 
  • $2.75 billion for the Digital Equity Act to support digital inclusion activities and promote increased broadband adoption; and 
  • $14.2 billion for the Broadband Benefit Program, renamed by the new law as the “Affordable Connectivity Program,” to provide $30 per month broadband service subsidies (higher in some limited circumstances) to qualified low-income households. 

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides new policy and funding for workforce development initiatives, including: 

  • Directing the U.S. Department of Energy to create three competitive grants for fiscal year 2022: 
    • $10 million for training individuals to conduct energy audits or surveys of commercial and residential buildings; 
    • $10 million for colleges and universities to establish training and assessment centers focused on energy-efficient construction; and 
    • $10 million for non-profit organizations that collaborate with employers to deliver training in energy efficiency and renewable energy industry skills.
  • $5 million for a Transportation Workforce Outreach Program promoting awareness of career opportunities across the transportation sector;
  • Establishing a new Commercial Vehicle Apprenticeship pilot program to provide up to 3,000 apprentices younger than 21 with 120 hours of experience driving commercial motor vehicles; and 
  • Authorizing the U.S. Department of Transportation funded training to be delivered by vocational schools in addition to community colleges. The existing DOT transportation workforce development curriculum program is expanded to include hands-on training opportunities.

Advance CTE 2021 Fall Meeting Staff Reflections

November 10th, 2021

On October 27 and 28, over 270 state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders gathered for Advance CTE’s 2021 Fall Meeting. Through timely plenary discussions, breakout and networking sessions, members and supporters were able to reflect on the transformations of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, gain knowledge on the latest research and promising practices in states, and create community by building networks with leaders in similar roles. 

Advance CTE staff departed the meeting feeling energized and excited about the many ways our members are going above and beyond to advance the event theme, “Meeting CTE’s Moment”. This post shares top outcomes of Fall Meeting with reflections from Advance CTE staff. 

1. Highlighting High-Quality, Equitable State Practices: Speakers from 22 states and 19 national organizations highlighted innovative state practices, and more importantly provided tangible lessons learned and first steps for leaders to implement the initiatives in their own state. 

“The amazing work being shared by CTE leaders across the country was truly inspiring. The statewide mentorship program and New Teacher Institute in Missouri are best practices models for the nation to emulate. Allowing Local Education Agencies (LEA) to serve as an Educator Preparation Program (EPP) is an outstanding example of out-of-the-box thinking. Despite the crippling disparity in pay compared to the surrounding states, the program has yielded high retention rates by providing new teachers with the supports necessary to be effective practitioners. The jewel of the Fall Meeting, in my opinion, was South Carolina’s presentation on the combined efforts between the state’s CTE and Special Education departments to provide access to high-quality programs of study. The innovative process of evaluating the enrollment and performance of students with disabilities by specific disabilities is a model for developing equitable systems for all learners. I’m excited to see the strategies for improving academic success developed from the analysis and I hope the methodology becomes a national trend.” – Dr. Kevin Johnson, Sr., Senior Advisor

“One of my favorite parts of the Fall Meeting was the opportunity state leaders had to share challenges they were facing with top of mind topics and directly problem-solve with national CTE leaders. In a breakout session sharing the latest research on employer engagement, Director of Public Policy James Redstone from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) offered advice to states on how to structure programs and outreach to better meet employer needs. In a session on connecting Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and CTE, renowned national SEL leader Dr. Scott Solberg was able to share best practices and common challenges gained from a network of over 20 states led by Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Despite limits to capacity, our members are always so eager to keep innovating. Hearing lessons learned in states from a national perspective is so valuable in order to make the most of the resources and take the work on these topics and more to the next level.” – Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate, Communications and State Engagement

2. Elevating Learner Voice and Learner-Center Systems: Fall Meeting featured a dedicated    series of breakout sessions focused on elevating high-quality examples of national tool and state initiatives that centered learners in policy and practice. Sessions on Advance CTE’s recently released learner voice toolkit  and social capital featured CTE learners.

“The 2021 Fall Meeting intentionally focused on leveraging the learner voice within state CTE decisionmaking. I was thrilled to witness Advance CTE being joined by two esteemed learners over the two-day meeting: Autumn Steffens and Daraja Brown. Secondary learner Autumn shared her hopes for future learner engagement, “It makes me feel seen as a learner and will help with my decisionmaking in the future.” Postsecondary learner Daraja shared how she has leveraged her social capital to advance through career pathways, “It is important for me to find the different professionals, teacher and mentors that I connect with on a personal level…someone that is in my corner and cares about me and my professional development.” Ultimately, it is important that state and local CTE leaders with the ability to influence CTE policy and programming leverage stakeholders from all levels, including learners. By these actions, state and local CTE leaders are taking every opportunity to advance CTE, particularly under the new shared vision, to ensure each learner achieves career success.” – Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate, Digital Media

“Beyond reconnecting with so many familiar faces, I always love the opportunity to hear from national researchers and partners about exciting or important work in the field, especially those that highlight inequities or illustrate how to better leverage the work we all do to support all learners. Timely research from Strada Education Network and the Urban Institute really demonstrated for me the importance of reaching out to learners at the margins of education, whether they are learners disrupted by the pandemic or learners who don’t have access to high quality postsecondary CTE due to gaps in technology access. At the same time, our members bring these learners to the forefront and are working to design CTE programs that are high-quality and equitable. I always leave our meetings excited about the future of CTE!” – Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate 

3. Building Community: Fall Meeting not only provided an engaging chat feature where attendees routinely shared ideas and celebrated their peers, but also featured two role-alike sessions where leaders networked by professional role, identity and stakeholder level. For the first time, leaders of color also had a dedicated space to connect.

“Advance CTE members are no strangers to virtual meetings, and yet no one felt like strangers to each other. The sense of community and camaraderie was apparent via warm “good to see you” chats and among presenters who were meeting for the first time or reconvening for the hundredth time in a breakout session. We know that members have missed being in person together, but I find encouragement and meaning in the Fall Meeting as a culmination of building a virtual community over the past two years.” – Sara Gassman, Senior Associate, Member Engagement & Professional Learning

“The highlight for me was watching our members shout out each other and other members of their team for their incredible work to advance high-quality and equitable CTE! It was heartening and refreshing to see so many old and new colleagues and peers recognize their fierce commitment to CTE and innovative practices for a wide array of policies, such as establishing standing up new advisement systems, expanding equitable early postsecondary opportunities, building local capacity for identifying and closing opportunities gaps, and recruiting and retaining a more diverse CTE workforce, to name a few! Our members are doing amazing work and I love seeing that work recognized and celebrated by their peers across the country.” – Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director 

4. Advancing CTE Without Limits and Exploring the Future of CTE: Fall Meeting was grounded in the five principles that comprise Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits), and each series of breakout sessions sought to challenge the limits of state leaders to transform systems so that each learner can achieve success in the career of their choice. 

“Just seven months after CTE Without Limits was released, it was incredible to see how state CTE leaders are thinking about operationalizing the principles. I had the privilege of listening in on Lisa Stoner-Torbert’s session on Delaware’s PIPEline for career success program for learners with disabilities, which demonstrates how flexible career pathways, aligned funding and cross-sector partnerships can provide historically marginalized learners the means to succeed in their chosen career pathways.” – Austin Estes, Data & Research Manager

“Another standout moment was during the Ensuring Access to CTE for All Learners Through Equitable Recruitment and Admissions Requirements session. The speaker, Ms. Tiara Booker-Dwyer, Assistant State Superintendent, Maryland State Department of Education, so eloquently shared the importance of diversity in advancing our vision for CTE through a visual “band” analogy. She explained the need to have “all instruments” represented in order to produce great music and how the lottery system in their state was not allowing for “all instruments” to have a chance to be part of the band. Her example provided the why behind the work as she shared policy and practices their state edited to create more equitable access to programs. The co-presenters for the session from the state of Massachusetts’ Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Cliff Chuang, Senior Associate Commissioner and Elizabeth Bennett, Associate Commissioner of CCTE, also incorporated CTE Without Limits in their concrete examples of how they have revised state policy and law to create a path for all learners to be recruited and admitted in high-quality CTE programs in their state. 

It was great to hear and learn from state leaders and funders who believe and are invested in the CTE Without Limits vision. State leaders were inspired to innovate, be bold and take action to execute the vision without limits in their respective states.”  – Nithya Govindasamy, Senior Advisor 

5. Connecting Federal Policy to State Action: Fall Meeting attendees had the opportunity to receive updates on the latest federal policies and supports from senior officials at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). 

“The highlight of the Fall Meeting for me was the opportunity to facilitate a discussion with DOL on the lasting effects of the pandemic on the labor force and the future of work. The discussion elevated the necessity for alignment across secondary, postsecondary and the workforce and the opportunity for CTE to bridge that alignment. It was clear that DOL is supportive of the work our members are conducting in all states. and that the administration wants to continue to fund initiatives that support the economic recovery of our nation and challenge our limits on innovative programming and learner engagement in high-quality career pathways.” – Jeran Culina, Senior Policy Associate  

If you were not able to attend the Fall Meeting, don’t worry – Advance CTE’s Spring Meeting is not too far away. Advance CTE is carefully considering the safety and needs of members as we determine the best format and capacity for this event, and more information will be coming soon. In the meantime, visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center to access the reports, resources and tools shared during Fall Meeting. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

 

Welcome Dr. Tunisha Hobson to Advance CTE!

November 9th, 2021

Advance CTE welcomes Dr. Tunisha Hobson as State Policy Manager.  Dr. Hobson will support the New Skills ready network, an initiative under the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Global Career Readiness investment, while working to provide equitable opportunities for each learner. Dr. Hobson will manage and support the state policy team at Advance CTE; she will lead state policy strategy, overseeing efforts for providing technical assistance to states, track state policy and elevate best practices for high-quality, equitable career pathways under Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). 

Dr. Hobson is a native of Memphis, TN and earned a Bachelor in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management and Marketing, Master in Education Curriculum and Instruction, Education Specialist in Administration and Supervision, and Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Tennessee State University. She has almost two decades of experience working with students and educators in all levels of education within areas ranging from literacy improvement initiatives to Career Technical Education (CTE).

Dr. H, as she is affectionately called by colleagues and learners, has worked in charter and traditional public, urban and suburban districts serving as a school administrator, marketing teacher, CTE high school department chair, DECA advisor, work-based learning coordinator, and a member of the Tennessee Department of Education’s work-based learning leadership council along with the textbook adoption panel. She is also a graduate of the Relay Graduate School Instructional Leadership Professional Development Program where she has gained experience in providing quality instructional leadership practices. Dr. H is an education advocate, specifically in the CTE realm, and has worked with Tennessee SCORE as a Fellow where she focused on strengthening work-based learning practices in Tennessee. Dr. H went on to become a regional lead within the fellowship program, supporting fellows along their advocacy journeys. Outside of the school building, Dr. H became a published author! Leveraging her career experiences, Dr. H released her book, Take Notes, This Is On the Test

Dr. H has traveled to five continents beyond North America and believes in expanding her cultural experiences while helping others. She enjoys traveling the world, watching sports, reading a good book, spending time with family and friends and documenting her journey. She is excited to join the Advance CTE team and continue supporting learning that works!

Legislative Update: Historic Investment in the Nation’s Infrastructure

November 8th, 2021

Congressional Democrats continued to negotiate and debate two interrelated pieces of legislation over the weekend, including investments in the nation’s physical infrastructure as well as a set of wider domestic spending priorities. Late Friday evening, lawmakers came together and passed a historic investment in the nation’s infrastructure while setting up a timeline to pass the remainder of President Biden’s domestic agenda.

House Democrats Pass Infrastructure Bill and Aim to Complete Budget Reconciliation by mid-November 

Since the spring, Congressional Democrats have pursued a “two-track” legislative strategy tying together legislation that would invest in the nation’s physical infrastructure (i.e. roads, bridges, waterways, and connectivity), known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF), along with complementary legislation intended to invest in the human infrastructure via the Congressional budget reconciliation process. These domestic priorities related to human infrastructure are necessary, at least in part, to preparing the skilled workforce needed to make the BIF’s vision for the nation’s future infrastructure a success. Connecting the two pieces of legislation–together representing the totality of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda–has been Congressional Democrats’ core strategy to garner the necessary support in both chambers to pass both of these bills this year. 

On Friday, this months-long effort bore fruit as House lawmakers passed the BIF, which will invest $550 billion in the nation’s physical infrastructure over the next decade. Projects for this investment will range from updates to the electrical grid to the electrification of busses and improvements for roads and other transit hubs. Significantly, the bill includes $65 billion for the expansion of broadband connectivity efforts along with $200 million for lead pipe remediation in public K-12 schools. 

In the lead up to the BIF’s passage late Friday night, however, lawmakers continued to struggle to find the necessary votes within the Democratic Caucus to pass the Build Back Better Act (BBBA)– legislation that would invest $1.75 trillion over the next several years in a slew of complementary domestic priorities including Career Technical Education (CTE) and workforce development (as shared last week). 

Several lawmakers in the House withheld their support for this bill citing the need for a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score detailing the costs and related benefits of the legislation. As a consequence, Democratic leaders and key members of the caucus struck a deal to pass the BIF while committing to a vote on the BBBA during the week of November 15. Following the BIF’s passage, President Biden issued a statement early Saturday morning in support of the legislation while also committing to the passage of the BBBA aligned with this agreement. 

Yet it remains unclear when the CBO score will become available and whether House lawmakers will vote on the BBBA, as agreed to Friday evening and codified in a related rule, during the week of November 15. Despite this uncertainty, House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) circulated a Dear Colleague letter on Sunday re-committing to this timeline when the House reconvenes next week. Should the House pass the BBBA during the week of November 15, a timeline for its consideration and passage in the Senate remains much more opaque. As this process continues to unfold, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for a robust investment in CTE, via the BBBA, to ensure the historic investments Congress made in the nation’s infrastructure can be made a reality.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Welcome Jennell Ives as the New State CTE Director in Oregon

November 8th, 2021

Advance CTE commits to investing in formal leadership development for our members. The New State Director Institute (NSDI) uses a cohort model to welcome and support first-year State Career Technical Education (CTE) Directors. Each cohort is connected with mentors and other national leaders; provided leadership tools and resources; and offered instructional workshops designed to assist them as they develop and implement their state-wide visions for CTE. This and upcoming blogs in the Getting to Know blog series will introduce you to the Fall 2021 NSDI cohort! 

This summer, Oregon welcomed Jennell Ives as the new Director of the Secondary Postsecondary Transitions Team. In this position, located in the Oregon Department of Education, Jennell is also the designated State CTE Director. She is a leader and innovator with a relentless commitment to improving the educational experiences of learners. She has a passion for building direct connections between learning during school and the lives and futures of Oregon’s youth. Jennell has been with the Oregon Department of Education for 11 years and served the agency in various capacities: Health Science Specialist, Accelerated & Personalized Learning Specialist, leading the Standards and Instructional Supports team, launching High School Success, and Perkins Grant lead & Career and Technical Education Investments.  Prior to moving to Oregon, she was director of Global Education at the Wildlife Conservation Society based in New York.

Jennell’s priorities for the state are deeply rooted in Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) and increasing equity and access for each learner. With the implementation of Oregon’s Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plan and CTE Without Limits, Jennell and her team will focus on: 

  • Building state-wide CTE programs of study;
  • Establishing flexible learning opportunities for learners that extend access across school districts;
  • Increasing opportunities in CTE for learners with disabilities;
  • Prioritizing funding approaches to support and sustain professional development in rural CTE; and
  • Expanding career guidance for learners to start in elementary/middle school and extends through work-based learning and postsecondary opportunities.

Jennell anticipates the biggest challenges for this role to be CTE teacher recruitment and retention (which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic), expanding the involvement of stakeholders in shaping CTE in Oregon and communicating the value of CTE to learners and their families. 

However, these challenges come with much opportunity! Jennell is most excited about the opportunity to engage with employers and the workforce industry to create CTE statewide programs of study and the opportunity to build regional networks for teachers to be supported delivering such programs of study.

We asked Jennell to share one thing she would wish to be an expert in at the snap of her fingers. While we were expecting to hear about having gold medal talent in an Olympic sport, Jennell answered in true leadership fashion with the wish to communicate and build strong relationships and networks. She is rolling up her sleeves and is ready to do the “slow and hard work” to ensure the career preparation ecosystem in Oregon meets the needs of each learner. 

Please join us in welcoming Jennell to Advance CTE!

Learn more about the work happening in Oregon by viewing their CTE state profile and the state resource page in the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media 

 

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