Legislative Update: Congress in Recess Through the Midterms

October 28th, 2022

The last two weeks, lawmakers in Congress have remained in recess ahead of the upcoming midterm elections set to take place November 8. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released new CTE data while the agency finalized new rules for postsecondary education. 

Congress Focuses on Midterms, Will Return Next Month

Both the Senate and House are currently only holding pro forma sessions until after the fast-approaching midterm elections take place on November 8. Lawmakers will return to Washington, D.C. to resume debate regarding the federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) appropriations process and other year-end priorities on November 14 as part of the “lame duck” session of the current 117th Congress. Advance CTE expects this year-end session to continue until December 16 when temporary federal funding legislation is scheduled to expire and could extend as far as December 24 before adjourning. 

ED Releases New CAR Report Data

This week the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) published performance and enrollment data from states’ Consolidated Annual Report (CAR) submissions as part of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V). These data reflect learner performance during the 2020-21 program year and represents the first year that state performance data has been published under Perkins V since its reauthorization in 2018. Notably, these data make use of Perkins V’s new concentrator and participant definitions and also include new secondary CTE program quality indicators introduced by the legislation among several other changes. 

The data indicate a slight uptick in CTE enrollments, with 12 million CTE participants across the nation, including 8.3 million at the secondary level and 3.5 million at the postsecondary level. In addition, CTE concentrators had a graduation rate of 96 percent– substantially higher than the national average for all learners . The full set of data can be found here. Advance CTE is continuing to analyze and evaluate these data for other important trends and findings and will share those with the broader CTE community in the future. 

ED Publishes New Postsecondary Rules

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education finalized a new set of postsecondary rules intended to restrict proprietary school access to federal student aid and expand access to these funds for incarcerated learners. This final set of regulations was developed as part of a negotiated rulemaking panel tasked with finding consensus on these and several other issues of importance to postsecondary education. The first regulation– known informally as the 90/10 rule–stipulates that for-profit institutions cannot derive more than 90 percent of their revenue from federal sources. This new rule further limits what funding “counts” towards this calculation. The second rule focuses on whether and how for-profit institutions can convert to nonprofit status (known as change in ownership). The third and final major component of this rules package expands Pell grant program eligibility to include justice-connected learners. 

These new regulatory changes are set to go into effect July 2023. The full announcement can be found here

Nation’s Report Card Shows National Drop in Academic Achievement

On Monday, October 24, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published results from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Known informally as the nation’s report card, the NAEP is a nationally representative assessment that measures learner academic achievement in grades 4 and 8 in core academic subjects such as reading, math, science and other fields of study. The results released this week illustrate troubling trends in learner scores in math and reading between 2019 and 2022, with the majority of states reporting a decline in learner achievement in these subject areas for learners at both grade levels and across socio-economic and other learner subpopulations. 

Reacting to the NAEP results, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said, in part, “The results released today from the National Assessment of Educational Progress are appalling, unacceptable, and a reminder of the impact that this pandemic has had on our learners. The data also represent a call to action for the important work we must do now for our students—especially those who have suffered the most during the pandemic.”

Department of Energy Unveils School Infrastructure Grants

On Wednesday, October 26, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $80 million in new funding availability to support K-12 schools in making needed infrastructure upgrades and related improvements. The funding was authorized as part of last year’s American Rescue Plan which authorized a “Renew America’s Schools” program and allotted $500 million for similar activities. K-12 schools, charter school boards and local education agencies can all apply for this first tranche of funding ahead of a January 2023 application deadline. More information on the program can be found here

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

State CTE Policy Update: Ohio’s Manufacturing Pathways

October 27th, 2022

October 7 was National Manufacturing Day but, in Ohio, the celebration lasts the entire month. . Ohio uses this time to raise awareness of the various manufacturing pathways available to learners in the state and inspire those learners to join. Ohio already has significant investments in the manufacturing economy which generates more than $125 billion. However, knowledge of how many different skill sets and jobs are available in the industry is still not widespread. By taking advantage of Manufacturers Month, this post highlights the innovative ways Ohio is uplifting the manufacturing pathway as well as leveraging the support of The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA), which is bringing awareness to various grants and programs, some of which have been made recently available to Ohio residents. 

In August, the OMA was named one of the 32 finalists for the “Good Jobs Challenge” grant, a $500 million grant created by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Over the next three years, around 1,000 of the OMA’s member-employers will benefit from the new funding, which is designed to support local industry partners in their efforts to coordinate, develop and promote workforce solutions in manufacturing. The OMA is currently seeking to enroll 6,000 individuals in one or more training programs that lead to a job offer or upskilling opportunity.

In addition to the work OMA is doing to promote the manufacturing pathway, Ohio offers the TechCred program, an initiative highlighted in Advance CTE’s area technical center research, which is designed to reimburse employers that pay for credentialing of their employees. This program specifically targets technology-focused credentials but has an easy-to-use website for employers to check which credentials are reimbursable and allow them to submit new tech credits for consideration. The program has been active since 2019 and has provided over 48,000 tech-focused credentials to Ohio manufacturing employees.

Ohio has also used legislation to advance manufacturing pathways beyond Manufacturer Month. Last year Senate Bill 166 was enacted that mandates that the Department of Education in partnership with JobsOhio create a program that provides funding to incentivize work-based learning programs offered to learners in a Career Technical Education (CTE) program and allows the creation of virtual and hybrid CTE programs to be offered. These work-based learning programs must be aligned with Ohio state standards but may also be offered remotely or through a hybrid modality to learners enrolled in a CTE program. This legislation is a great step towards enabling learners to access CTE without borders by ensuring that virtual opportunities are quality, equitable and meaningful.

Ohio is doing its part to create a strong manufacturing ecosystem that is accessible to its learners. All states can participate in manufacturing month by following some of their examples by:

  • Building and supporting strong industry partnerships;
  • Building pathways and removing barriers for necessary industry credentials; and
  • Providing innovative and equitable work-based learning opportunities for learners.

Here are some helpful resources:

Brice Thomas, Policy Associate 

Legislative Update: Congress in Recess Through the Midterms

October 24th, 2022

The last few weeks, lawmakers in Congress have remained in recess ahead of the upcoming midterm elections set to take place November 8. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has launched a new STEM initiative while other federal agencies have made several recent grant announcements regarding connectivity efforts and mental health. 

Congress Remains in Recess Ahead of Midterm Elections

Both the House and Senate are currently on an extended recess ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. While the chambers are formally out of session, they are holding pro forma sessions during this time to continue committee-level work on a number of existing agenda items. Before going on this extended recess, Congress was able to successfully pass short-term funding legislation, known as a continuing resolution (CR). This CR extends current fiscal year 2022 (FY22) funding levels for all federal programs, including the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins V), through December 16. By that date, lawmakers will next need to act by either passing an additional funding extension at that time or completing work on a more comprehensive funding proposal for the federal government. 

The length of the CR is intended to provide Congress additional time to campaign ahead of the fast-approaching midterm elections November 8. It is broadly hoped that when the outcomes of these elections become clearer, lawmakers will be able to reach consensus during the “lame duck” session of Congress. As these efforts get more fully underway, Advance CTE will continue to work with its partners in Congress to secure robust funding levels for the Perkins V basic state grant program and other priority Career Technical Education (CTE)  funding streams. 

ED Launches “YOU Belong in STEM” Initiative

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently announced a new initiative aimed at encouraging learners to explore and pursue pathways in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. The effort pulls together a number of existing ED activities and related priorities highlighting various opportunities to promote STEM education for learners at both the K-12 and postsecondary levels. In the coming weeks, the Department intends to release additional guidance, technical assistance, and related information for how to deepen and expand on these efforts in the future. 

FCC Releases Additional Connectivity Funds

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced another round of Emergency Connectivity Fund Program (ECF) funding totaling nearly $78 million. Authorized by the American Rescue Plan, the ECF provides funding to schools and libraries to purchase broadband plans and devices for students, school staff, and library patrons and has been a key Advance CTE federal policy priority since the start of the pandemic. These latest funding commitments are from the first and third application windows for the ECF program and will benefit nearly 175,000 students from Delaware, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Texas.  

ED Distributes Funding for School-based Mental Health

In the wake of several tragic mass shootings earlier this year, Congress passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (S. 2938). The new law modestly tightened the nation’s gun laws while investing significant new funding into K-12 education to support safer schools and promote learner mental health. On Monday, October 3, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it had published two grant funding opportunities as part of this legislation.

The first of these is the School-based Mental Health Services Grant program which will provide competitive grants to state (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs), along with consortia of these entities, to apply for funding to increase the number of school-based mental health services available to students. There is more than $144 million available for these grants. More information on how to apply, including related deadlines, can be found here. The second grant announcement is related to the Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration grant program. This competitive grant effort is intended to provide financial support to SEAs, LEAs, and postsecondary institutions to hire additional staffing capacity for similar purposes. Additional information regarding this initiative can be accessed here.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: Congress Set to Extend FY22 Funding Via CR

September 30th, 2022

The last two weeks, lawmakers in Congress have sought to pass temporary funding legislation intended to avoid a government shutdown. Elsewhere federal agencies have made changes to apprenticeship regulations and distributed new funds for teacher professional development and schools, while Congress celebrates Workforce Development Month. 

Congress Closes in on Temporary Funding Extension

As shared previously, lawmakers in the House and Senate have not been able to reach consensus this year on the 12 individual spending bills that fund federal government operations and programs. As a result, lawmakers have been negotiating a continuing resolution (CR)—short-term legislation that simply extends current fiscal year 2022 (FY22) funding levels for a specific period of time. With the formal start of FY23 set to begin tomorrow (October 1), a CR will avert a government shutdown and related lapse in funding for federal programs like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V). 

Late Monday evening, September 26, Senate Democrats published the text of a CR to extend current fiscal year 2022 (FY22) funding levels through December 16, 2022. The proposed legislation also includes additional emergency funding for a wide array of other pressing national priorities, such as recent natural disasters and the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine; a summary of the CR’s major provisions can be accessed here. As reported last week, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) had hoped to attach environmental permitting reform legislation to this package which was a primary source of contention for both sides seeking agreement. On Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Manchin dropped this request when it became clear there was not enough support in the chamber to include it in this legislative measure. Following these behind-the-scenes discussions, the Senate took a series of votes and ultimately passed this CR by a margin of 72-25.

This measure was passed by the House earlier today along party lines. The passage of the CR is one of the last agenda items for Congress before the upcoming midterm elections. Lawmakers will likely spend most of their time between now and the elections in home states and districts campaigning. Lawmakers must revisit FY23 funding in December by either passing another temporary spending bill or completing work on the annual budget. As these efforts continue, Advance CTE will continue to work with its partners on Capitol Hill to secure robust investments in CTE, including Perkins V’s basic state grant program and other CTE community federal funding priorities.

ED Distributes $1 Billion in Title IV-A Funding

This past summer, Congress approved a bipartisan gun and school safety package in response to several mass shootings that took place across the nation. Dubbed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (S. 2938), the legislation made a number of modest changes to gun policy including strengthening background checks for gun purchases to include a review of juvenile justice records for individuals under the age of 21. In addition, the legislation invested significant new funding into K-12 schools to assist with mental health efforts within communities. These funds include an additional $1 billion for Every Student Succeeds Act’s (ESSA) Title IV-A Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program—specifically to help states and school districts foster safer and healthier learning environments in schools.

On September 29, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) disbursed these funds to states and issued a Dear Colleague letter to chief state school officers encouraging them to emphasize student social-emotional learning and mental health needs, engagement with students and families, and prioritizing funding to meet the needs of the nation’s most underserved learners with these newly authorized federal resources. More information about the initiative can be found here.  

Lawmakers Designate September Workforce Development Month

Earlier this month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced S. Res. 780—a measure designating September 2022 as “National Workforce Development Month.” The effort garnered bipartisan support from nearly a third of the Senate upon introduction and was recently considered and agreed to in the upper chamber. A companion resolution was also introduced in the House and sponsored and led by Rep. Bonamici (D-OR). These resolutions are intended to elevate workforce development efforts across the nation and draw attention to the importance of investing in related systems of skill development. 

DOL Formally Rescinds IRAP Rules

Over the last few years, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) sought to create a parallel subset of apprenticeship programs known as “Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs” (IRAPs). Compared to registered apprenticeship programs (RAPs), IRAPS had relatively fewer programmatic requirements and would be recognized by third-party entities authorized by DOL (known as standards recognition entities or “SREs”). While IRAPs were formally launched under the previous presidential administration, relatively few programs were ever fully implemented. For this and many other reasons, DOL formally published a new rule this week rescinding IRAPs’ existing federal authorization. Existing IRAPs and SREs are “. . . encouraged to consider registering their programs with DOL or a State Apprenticeship Agency (SAA). Such entities are encouraged to reach out to the Apprenticeship Director in their State to receive technical assistance and explore such options further.”

OCTAE Launches Future Finder Challenge

Late last week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) announced a $1 million “Future Finder Challenge” to accelerate the development of tools and related technologies that can support career navigation efforts for adults. “Developing digital career navigation tools for adult learners will expand equitable access to career opportunities — which will increase upward mobility and strengthen the broader American workforce,” OCTAE’s Assistant Secretary Amy Loyd, Ed.L.D., said during the announcement which was also intended to celebrate National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. The challenge is structured as an “open innovation invitation” to spur the development of services, products, and programs that can more effectively support individuals search for and navigate opportunities in the labor market. A related press release from the department can be found here.

ED Awards $60 Million for Teacher Pipeline Efforts

On September 27, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it had awarded $60 million in new grant funding for the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant program. The SEED program is intended to support evidence-based efforts that “. . . prepare, develop, or enhance the skills of [k-12] educators.” This round of grantmaking awarded 22 three-year grants which, according to the Biden Administration, brings the FY22 total for additional support for teachers to $285 million. More information on this announcement can be accessed here.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

State CTE Policy Update: Examining CTE Instructor Compensation Strategies

September 22nd, 2022

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its report “State of the States 2022: Teacher Compensation Strategies” earlier this month. This report takes a deep dive into the compensation strategies each state and the District of Columbia use to continue to recruit and retain talented instructors.

Instructors are the backbone of high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) and are essential to ensuring that each learner is fully supported by the career preparation ecosystem of their state. “Teacher Compensation Strategies” divides compensation strategies into three different categories: 1) Differentiated pay; 2) Performance pay, and 3) Pay for prior work. While the first two offer their own merit, and all can perhaps be used in some combination, pay for prior work may offer an elegant solution for staffing CTE teachers.

A common barrier to CTE teacher recruitment and retention is matching instructor salaries, which are historically lower than industry salaries talented CTE instructors often transfer from. In an effort to reduce the gap, states can offer instructors an increase in pay based on experience from non-school related careers relative to the subject matter they are teaching. This strategy embraces the promise to capture and value all learning that occurs, wherever and whenever it occurs. Below are some highlights from the report on the current application of this strategy::

  • When it comes to paying for prior experience, only five states—California, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, and North Carolina—grant extra pay for relevant prior experience in another industry and allow administrators the discretion to determine its relevance.  
  • Six states—Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Texas, West Virginia—allocate pay for prior experience in non-academic industry in selected cases only. The majority of those states limit this extra pay to teachers of CTE only. Hawaii limits this extra pay to those who have prior military experience.  
  • Thirty-nine states make no mention of adjustments in starting salary for prior relevant experience for individuals entering teaching from other professions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the states currently using pay for prior experience strategies, North Carolina and Louisiana took two different approaches. North Carolina, per the report, awards one year of credit per two years of relevant, non-education work experience pre-bachelor degree, and a one-for-one exchange post attaining a bachelor’s. Louisiana school districts are required to develop compensation plans that take into account effectiveness, experience, and demand with no one factor being given a weight of more than 50 percent. The report highlights that language surrounding this particular strategy is often vague which makes it hard to track if it is being enacted.

With teacher attrition at unprecedented levels and teacher recruitment levels dropping, state CTE leaders have the opportunity to provide innovative solutions to teacher compensation. You can read the full report here: State of the States 2022: Teacher Compensation Strategies. Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center provides additional tools on embedding credit for prior learning and other state approaches to fully documenting skills. 

Brice Thomas, Policy Associate 

Legislative Update: Lawmakers Continue to Negotiate FY23 While House Examines Youth Apprenticeships 

September 16th, 2022

This past week, lawmakers continued to negotiate federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) funding while the House hosted a hearing about youth apprenticeship’s role in supporting small businesses. Elsewhere, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) made a number of announcements this week related to teacher preparation, assessments and more. 

Congress Negotiates a Continuing Resolution

As shared previously, federal legislators recently returned to Capitol Hill for a three-week work period before the upcoming midterm elections. While there are many legislative items lawmakers hope to attend to during this time, providing more time to complete the federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) appropriations process is the top priority at the moment. As a reminder, the federal fiscal year begins on October 1. Both the House and Senate have thus far been unable to find agreement on the 12 individual spending bills that fund federal operations and programs. Consequently, Congress is currently quickly negotiating a continuing resolution (CR)—short-term legislation that will extend current fiscal year 2022 (FY22) funding levels for a specific period of time.

At present, the CR will likely extend current FY22 funding levels for all federal operations and programs, like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V), until sometime after the midterm elections. Lawmakers are currently debating whether to include a variety of other provisions, including supplemental funding for the natural disasters, the war in Ukraine, and environmental permitting to this legislation. These talks are fluid and expected to continue through next week. Advance CTE expects a CR to extend current FY22 funding levels until mid-December. As these talks continue, our organization will continue to advocate for robust investments in Perkins V, including other federal Career Technical Education (CTE) funding priorities.

House Hosts Youth Apprenticeship Hearing

On September 15, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development held a hearing entitled “Back to School, Back to Startups: Supporting Youth Apprenticeship, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development.” The hearing focused on the impact the pandemic has had on small businesses and strategies to help these firms identify and hire the talent they need to be successful. The hearing highlighted testimony from Noel Ginsburg, the Founder and CEO of CareerWise, a national organization focused on promoting youth apprenticeship, as well as Shani Watkins, the Director of West Sounds Technical Skills Center, an area technical center located in Bremerton, Washington. 

During the hearing lawmakers explored a wide variety of innovative workforce development strategies targeted at youth that can provide important on-ramps from secondary  education into the labor force. Watkins in particular highlighted the importance of CTE for ensuring youth workforce success and emphasized the critical need to foster meaningful partnerships with employers. The hearing also highlighted the urgent need to expand federal financial aid and support for these programs and wider efforts. An archive of the hearing can be found here

ED Announces New Teacher Grants

On Monday, September 12, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced $25 million in new awards intended to support teacher recruitment, retention, diversification, and preparation efforts. The Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grant program’s latest round of grants will make 22 five-year investments in several institutions of higher education intended to fund teacher preparation programs in high-needs communities throughout the country. More information on the announcement can be found here.

ED Issues Assessment Letter

On Tuesday, September 13, ED circulated a Dear Colleague letter to Chief State School Officers regarding the upcoming release of state assessment data from the 2021-22 school year. In anticipation of these releases, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona reiterated best practices for using and interpreting assessment data. The letter goes on to encourage states to use these results in a “constructive” manner. The letter can be found here.

DOJ to Appeal Title IX Ruling

Also on Tuesday, September 13, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that they intend to appeal a recent federal court ruling temporarily blocking the Biden Administration from implementing its recently issued proposed rules to help schools, districts and institutions implement the requirements of Title IX. These rules have recently been available for public comment which garnered nearly 146,000 individual pieces of feedback. The full appeal can be found here.

ED Releases Title IV-A Guidance

Yesterday, September 15, ED released new guidance to implement the recently passed Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA)—legislation intended to help reduce gun violence in schools. Among the provisions contained in the BSCA was an additional, supplementary investment of $1 billion in ESSA’s Title IV-A Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program. These one-time supplementary funds are intended to help schools and districts provide for safer and healthier learning environments for students and have additional requirements for their use. The guidance provides important details regarding how these funds—which were released yesterday— can and should be spent for these purposes. Read the letter here.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: Lawmakers Return to Capitol Hill as Advance CTE Hosts Assistant Secretary Amy Loyd and the Biden Administration Works to Address Teacher Shortages

September 9th, 2022

Over the last two weeks, lawmakers have returned from their annual August recess to address upcoming federal funding deadlines. Meanwhile, Advance CTE hosted Assistant Secretary Dr. Amy Loyd to launch its fall policy conversation series while the Biden Administration makes a series of announcements related to teacher shortages, new U.S. Department of Education (ED) nominees, and more. 

Lawmakers Return to Capitol Hill

Federal legislators have been in home states and districts since early August as part of Congress’ annual summertime recess. This week lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill and are facing a fast-approaching deadline at the end of the month to pass federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) funding legislation. For most of the year, Democrats and Republicans have been unable to find consensus on the 12 individual spending bills that compose the federal government and which are due annually by September 30. Given this lack of agreement, lawmakers have re-focused their attention this week on negotiating shorter-term, stop gap funding legislation, known as a Continuing Resolution (CR). This legislative measure will simply extend current FY22 funding levels for all federal operations and programs, like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V), for a specified amount of time. 

At the moment, lawmakers are negotiating the length of time this CR will cover and what, if any, additional provisions—beyond the extension of FY22 funding levels—will be included. Advance CTE currently anticipates that this CR will last until after the upcoming midterm elections set for November. As these talks continue, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for robust investments in Perkins V’s basic state grant program and other programs of interest to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. 

Advance CTE Hosts Discussion with Assistant Secretary Dr. Amy Loyd 

On Wednesday, September 6, Advance CTE’s Executive Director Kimberly Green hosted Dr. Amy Loyd — the recently confirmed Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) at ED — for a wide ranging discussion regarding her pathway to CTE and her plans for the office’s future direction. The conversation highlighted Dr. Loyd’s unique career and educational experiences, which began in New Mexico, and her wider work on CTE policy as a state, local, and national leader. In particular, Loyd emphasized the importance of culturally responsive instruction and the need for CTE programs to reflect the communities they serve. A recording of the discussion can be found here

President Biden Nominates New Head for RSA

Late last Friday, September 2, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Danté Quintin Allen to be the next Commissioner of the Rehabilitative Services Administration (RSA) at ED. The RSA is tasked with supporting states to deliver vocational rehabilitation and related services for individuals with disabilities to ensure they are able to find and sustain employment, live independently, and integrate with the wider community, and fully participate in the labor market. Allen currently serves as the Executive Director for CalABLE—a statewide program in California that provides savings and investment plans for individuals with disabilities. More information on the announcement can be found here. A date for further consideration in the Senate of Allen’s nomination has not yet been set. 

Cardona Announces Back-to-School Tour

On Wednesday, September 7, the U.S. Department of Education announced that the department will be undertaking a back-to-school bus tour beginning next week. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, First Lady Jill Biden, Second Gentleman Douglass Emhoff, and a number of other high-ranking USED officials will be participating in the week-long, multistate bus tour which will includes stops in Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Starting September 12, the tour is intended to highlight a number of the Administration’s efforts to support states, schools, students and families during the new school year. More about the tour can be found here

Biden Administration Announces Additional Actions to Address Teacher Shortages

Late last month,  the Biden Administration announced a series of additional actions aimed at addressing persistent nationwide teacher shortages. These efforts include new partnerships with the private sector to help increase awareness about career pathways leading to the teaching profession and the creation of new jobs portals to help facilitate connections between prospective candidates and teaching opportunities. In addition, the Administration highlighted  “Grow Your Own” CTE programs to prepare the next generation of educators as a key recommended strategy for more states and communities to consider when addressing teacher shortages. 

Notably, the Administration also announced that the next round of apprenticeship expansion grants—  $100 million in discretionary funding provided to DOL to promote and expand registered apprenticeship programs for priority populations and targeted economic sectors—will focus primarily on programs providing pathways to the teaching profession. More on this announcement can be found here.  

DOL Announces New Community College Grants 

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) unveiled the most recent round of Strengthening Community Colleges Training (SCCT) grants. Administered by DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), these grants are intended to bolster community colleges’ ability to deliver high-quality skills development programs that lead to in-demand industries and related careers. “These grants are designed to empower community colleges to ensure their curriculum meets the needs of employers in their communities and equips workers with valuable skills,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh stated as part of this announcement. More information on these grants, including the most recent awardees, can be found here

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

State CTE Policy Update: Exploring Louisiana’s Back on Track Pilot Program for Justice-Connected Learners

September 1st, 2022

State Career Technical Education (CTE) policy initiatives and programs vary across the nation; innovations across states can offer helpful insights for state CTE leaders to continue to support each learner’s path to success in the career of their choice without limits.  

This post provides an overview of Louisiana’s recently enacted Act 370 (H.B. 323) 2022 Regular Session, known as the “Back On Track Louisiana Pilot Program”, and how it connects with CTE programs to support justice-connected individuals.

The “Back On Track Louisiana Pilot Program” aims to reduce recidivism in Louisiana by offering incarcerated individuals the tools they need, such as driver’s licenses and bank accounts, to skillfully navigate their reentry into the workforce. It also provides a CTE funding mechanism and establishes a mandate for data accountability within correctional education spaces.

Program Background 

This legislation stands out as an innovative means to not only incentivize high-quality correctional education programs by rewarding outcomes with additional funding. It allows for the flexibility needed to make the program effective for individual populations and meet each program’s needs. With the appropriate connections between state agencies such as the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) and the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC), the Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC) can leverage industry partnerships and maximize the effectiveness of the credential programs they offer within their correctional facilities. 

With the “Back On Track Louisiana Pilot Program”, justice-involved learners who are incarcerated will have the opportunity to earn multiple credentials of value that align with Louisiana’s Industry Based Credential (IBC) Focus List compiled by the Louisiana IBC Council. These credentials of value ensure learners are prepared for high-skill, high-wage, in-demand occupations that support the future workforce of the state. This effort aligns with other funding mechanisms to support correctional education and high-quality programs such as the state’s utilization of Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) federal funds. In Louisiana, the state allocates a portion of its Perkins funds to DPSC to ensure learners experiencing unique circumstances such as incarceration have access to relevant workforce education and training. Offering learners in correctional facilities the opportunity to explore career pathways will not only allow them to reenter the workforce and their communities as a whole but will also strengthen CTE programming in an often overlooked population.

Funding Flexibility 

The legislation provides guidelines for funding and accountability while also establishing a framework for sheriffs to personalize their programs. The language of the law requires jails and prisons to collect the information of participating incarcerated and paroled individuals regarding specific success metrics. While these metrics track measures for these individuals to successfully reintegrate into their communities, there are several explicitly targeting CTE initiatives, namely whether the inmate: 

  • Achieved literacy skills of at least a 10th-grade reading level
  • Earned a high school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Earned an industry-based credential (IBC)
  • Secured employment opportunity prior to release

To ensure each sheriff has a scalable funding system for their program, DPSC calculates half of the average number of days of incarceration of the enrolled individual multiplied by the amount the Department pays the sheriff each day for the housing of inmates in parish jails. As an additional incentive for the successful execution of the program, sheriffs will receive a bonus stipend per incarcerated individual based on the percentage of targets successfully attained. Funds will be used for equipment, instructional materials and instructors, allowing smaller programs to flourish as well as larger programs. 

Program Customization 

Authority for this legislation is housed at the DPSC, which already offers ten programs eligible for Perkins V funding: Automotive Technology, Building Technology, Carpentry, Collision Repair, Construction Project Management, Electrician, Heavy Equipment Operator, HVAC, Small Engine, and Welding. The prison system has employed a method to train and hire correctional facility instructors for the Industry Based Credential (IBC) classes offered at each facility. Each participating facility ensures that all justice-connected tutors/instructors remain up to date in their training by providing funding to renew all pertinent certifications, as needed. CTE instructors are supervised by a prison education coordinator who is responsible for maintaining the cohesiveness of the entire education department.

The “Back On Track Louisiana Pilot Program” is a new initiative seeking to provide more accessible and equitable CTE credential programs to justice-involved learners. The following resources provide additional on connections between CTE and corrections education: 

Brice Thomas, M.Ed, Policy Associate

*Special thanks to Dr. Brittney Baptiste Williams, State Director for Career and Technical Education, Louisiana for her insights that contributed to this post. 

Legislative Update: Congressional Democrats’ Reconciliation Bill Signed Into Law as President Biden Makes Significant Announcement on Student Debt

August 26th, 2022

Over the last few weeks, President Biden signed another significant legislative package ushered through Congress by Democrats while apprenticeship programs celebrated an important anniversary as the Administration took further action on student loan debt. 

Inflation Reduction Act Signed Into Law

As shared previously, congressional Democrats recently announced that after a year and half of on-again-off-again negotiations they had finally found agreement on a legislative package that would make significant new investments in healthcare and climate change while raising revenues to offset the federal deficit by roughly $306 billion. Dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (H.R. 5376), Democrats in Congress were able to advance this legislation using the budget reconciliation process– a legislative maneuver that allows lawmakers to approve legislation via a simple majority vote (and thus avoiding a likely Republican filibuster in the Senate). Previous versions of this proposal, known last year as the Build Back Better Act, envisioned significant new investments in Career Technical Education (CTE) and workforce development, but lawmakers were unable to come to consensus on these and many other initiatives originally included in this package. 

While the package does contain some modest investments in workforce and education, primarily focused within the climate provisions of the package, potential opportunities for the CTE community regarding these new sources of funding will become clearer in the months ahead as the law begins to be implemented by various federal agencies. This more streamlined bill was cleared by the House in recent weeks and signed into law by President Biden on August 16. More information about the bill can be accessed here

Registered Apprenticeships Celebrate 85th Anniversary

This month marked the 85th anniversary of the enactment of the National Apprenticeship Act (NAA)– federal legislation first passed and last updated by Congress in 1937. Also known as the Fitzgerald Act, this legislation created the federal system of registered apprenticeship overseen and administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In recognition of this milestone DOL has launched a new “ApprenticeshipUSA” brand to cultivate a better understanding amongst the public regarding registered apprenticeship programs (RAPs). Additionally, the agency has launched an online dialogue about the future of RAPs, soliciting feedback for how to improve these programs and related systems. This online portal for public input will remain open through September 5, 2022 and can be accessed here

As a reminder, National Apprenticeship Week is fast approaching (November 14-20), so be on the lookout for more updates from DOL in the coming weeks ahead for how to promote RAPs in local communities throughout the nation.     

President Biden Takes Executive Action on Student Debt 

On Wednesday, August 24, President Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona unveiled the Administration’s plans to forgive up to $10,000 of federal student loan debt for borrowers making $125,000 or less annually. The plan would provide up to $20,000 in similar forgiveness for those who previously received a federal Pell grant and meet the same income eligibility requirements. In addition to this executive action, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced newly proposed regulations regarding how individuals pay back federal student loans in the future. Among these proposed changes are new plans to forgive loan balances after 10 years of payments for loan balances of $12,000 or less. ED estimates that this change would have the practical effect of allowing nearly all community college borrowers to be debt-free within 10 years. 

The White House’s factsheet on this executive action can be found here. Information regarding ED’s newly proposed income-driven repayment rules can be accessed here

CTE Research Network Grant Application Opportunity 

Last week, ED published a new grant opportunity inviting qualified applicants to lead the CTE Research Network. Authorized under the national activities section (Sec. 114) of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) and overseen by ED’s National Center for Education Research under the Institute of Education Sciences, the CTE research network is dedicated to researching various topics impacting CTE of national importance. Applications for this grant opportunity are due by February 23, 2023. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: Senate Passes Reconciliation Bill While CHIPS Legislation is Signed into Law

August 8th, 2022

Over the last week, Senate Democrats united and passed significant new climate and healthcare legislation which is expected to be voted on  by the House later this week. Elsewhere President Biden signed new advanced manufacturing legislation into law while the Commerce Department announced new American Rescue Plan grantees. Meanwhile, House Republicans unveiled new postsecondary education legislation while the Senate confirmed a new postsecondary leader at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). 

Senate Passes Long-awaited Reconciliation Package

Over the weekend, the Senate remained in session to consider the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (H.R. 5376)– legislation that would make significant new investments in the nation’s capacity to produce and use greener sources of energy while expanding healthcare access for millions of Americans. The bill will generate more than enough new federal revenue to offset these investments while also decreasing the federal deficit by over $300 billion. Earlier iterations of this proposal, known as the Build Back Better Act, included significant new investments in Career Technical Education (CTE) and workforce development, but lawmakers were unable to come to consensus on these and many other initiatives originally included in this package. Senate Democrats were able to pass this legislation by a simple majority vote via the chamber’s budget reconciliation process. The House is now expected to take up and pass this proposal later this week. 

President Biden Signs CHIPS & Science Act Into Law

As we shared previously, Congress recently approved the Chips and Science Act (H.R. 4346). This legislation will provide substantial new funding for the nation’s advanced manufacturing sector to increase the capacity to produce semiconductor chips– a component that is needed in many pieces of consumer electronics used by millions of people daily. On August 2, President Biden formally signed this legislation into law. Advance CTE and its partners were disappointed that language regarding the expansion of federal Pell grants for high-quality, shorter-term CTE programs was not included in the final package, along with a number of other important proposals initially considered as part of this legislation. 

However, the bill will provide some modest workforce development investments targeted specifically at sectors of the economy needed to produce semiconductor chips that may be of interest to the CTE community as the legislation is implemented in the months and years ahead. These investments include funding to broaden the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program to support workforce training partnerships benefiting manufacturers as well as $200 million in new funding for the National Science Foundation to promote wider workforce development recruitment into these fields. Advance CTE is continuing to analyze this legislation and will be monitoring the implementation of this law in future for further opportunities that may be created as a result of the bill’s recent enactment. 

House Republicans Introduce Short-term Pell Proposal 

Last week, House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC), committee member Elise Stefanik (R-NY), along with Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) introduced the Responsible Education Assistance through Loan (REAL) Reforms Act. This legislation would make a number of changes to existing federal student loan programs which have been at the center of continued disagreement between Congressional Democrats and Republicans. In addition to these provisions, the legislation includes a slightly reframed proposal that would allow learners to use federal Pell grants in certain shorter-term CTE programs. The bill includes a different set of requirements for these programs to qualify for Pell grants, including provisions that would require graduates to realize earnings gains that exceed the costs of the program. While a similar proposal was not ultimately included in the recently passed CHIPS and Science Act legislation noted elsewhere, its inclusion here demonstrates continued congressional support for the need to provide better support for learners pursuing postsecondary educational pathways with more direct linkages to careers. A fact sheet about the REAL Reforms Act can be found here

Commerce Department Announces Good Jobs Grantees 

On August 3 the U.S. Department of Commerce announced $500 million in new grants for 32 regional workforce partnerships across the country. These grants were part of the Department’s “Good Jobs Challenge,” a grant initiative funded by the American Rescue Plan passed exclusively by Congressional Democrats last year. Awardees will be pursuing a number of education and training initiatives connected to key economic sectors to help support the ongoing recovery from the pandemic. Among the 32 grantees to secure funding through this program was Hampton Roads Workforce Council– a local workforce center in House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott’s (D-VA) district which he recently visited to promote these efforts. 

Senate Confirms Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education 

Last Thursday the Senate formally confirmed Nasser Paydar to be the next Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE). Paydar was previously the Chancellor of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the Executive Vice President of Indiana University. In a statement following his confirmation, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona welcomed this new development saying, in part, “Dr. Paydar brings to the U.S. Department of Education more than three-and-a-half decades of experience as a university leader and educator, during which time he has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to creating accessible pathways to college and careers for students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.” 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

 

 

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