Legislative Update: Lawmakers Announce New Spending Deal

January 12th, 2024

Over the last few weeks lawmakers have begun to make progress towards agreement on full-year funding for the federal budget. In addition, the House is expected to host a hearing next week examining how to best prepare students for the workforce. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) issues new guidance related to pandemic aid funding and proposes new rules for federal grant programs. 

Congressional Leaders Announce FY24 Topline Agreement

Just before returning to Capitol Hill following Congress’ annual holiday recess, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that they had reached agreement on aggregate spending levels, also known as toplines, for defense and non-defense discretionary portions of the federal budget. The agreement largely aligns with the requirements contained in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA)—legislation enacted last year that suspended the nation’s statutory borrowing limit while establishing a budget framework for federal fiscal years 2024 (FY24) and FY25. This agreement also included a “side deal” agreed to by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Congressional Democrats and the Biden administration to provide approximately $69 billion in additional funding, beyond what was contained in the FRA, to avoid substantial cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs like federal investments in Career Technical Education (CTE).

The agreement is a critical next step in the FY24 budget and appropriations process that has been ongoing since October 1 of last year. Appropriations leaders must now work to negotiate 302(b) allocations—funding levels for each of the 12 individual appropriations bills that compose the federal budget and then subsequently determine program-level funding for federal initiatives and programs like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V). Current federal funding, which has been operating under two separate continuing resolutions (CRs) that temporarily extended FY23 funding levels for separate portions of the federal budget, is set to expire on January 19 and February 2 respectively. Lawmakers will need to act by these dates, likely via another short-term CR, to avert a partial or full shutdown of the federal government as they continue to negotiate program allocations under this new FY24 agreement.

Complicating the pathways forward, a faction of conservative House Republicans has voiced significant opposition to this topline agreement and has recently made efforts to stymie legislative progress on this issue in protest of the accord. It remains unclear at this time how Congressional leaders in both chambers will chart a course forward as they continue to develop and finalize FY24 appropriations legislation. As these efforts continue to take shape, Advance CTE will be advocating for a strengthened investment in Perkins V’s basic state grant program, along with other critical investments in education and workforce development of interest to the wider CTE community. 

House Education Subcommittee to Hold Hearing Next Week

Next Thursday, January 18, at 10:15 a.m., the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Aaron Bean (R-FL), plans to hold a hearing titled: “Preparing Students for Success in the Skills-Based Economy.” The subcommittee has not yet published the witness list for the hearing but it is expected to focus broadly on strategies and efforts to prepare learners for growing and in-demand careers. The hearing will be live-streamed here

ED Issues Guidance on Pandemic Funding

On Tuesday, January 9, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) issued a guidance letter outlining the process K-12 schools and districts must undertake to obtain an extension to spend down remaining federal aid provided by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department is encouraging grantees to request an extension on this year’s spending deadline by December 31, 2024 and outline how such an extension will contribute to the core goals and objectives of these funds. More information on how to apply for additional funding flexibilities, including related forms, can be accessed here.

ED Proposes Grant Rule Changes

This week ED also published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that aims to amend the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). The proposed rule would make a series of technical updates to EDGAR, which provides an overarching framework for the agency’s administration of discretionary and formula grant programs. The proposed changes range from technical updates to substantive revisions intended to streamline existing regulations, align EDGAR more closely with other more recently passed federal legislation and increase flexibility in grant administration. In the NPRM, ED estimates the proposed rule would result in a net reduction of burden for grantees. Most amendments are technical in nature or provide additional flexibilities. ED is soliciting comments from the public for the next 45 days and will close on February 26.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

Setting Sights on the Future: Opportunities and Supports for Perkins Plan Revisions

December 19th, 2023

As we approach the end of 2023, many of us are thinking about the road ahead for 2024, celebrating with our families and creating resolutions for the new year. While December and January are often an opportunity for personal reflection, 2024 offers an additional opportunity to reflect on the intentions for Career Technical Education (CTE) set out in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) via the state plan process, and the impact those plans have had on our systems and learners. 

While most states are primarily updating state-determined performance levels (SDLPs) as required every four years by law, others are using this opportunity to make larger, substantive changes or write a new state plan. This post offers some insights on what we are hearing from state CTE leaders so far about their goals for state plan updates, and the spaces and resources Advance CTE is providing to support this process. 

As the Office of Career Technical and Adult Education of the U.S. Department of Education reminded us with their program memo earlier this fall, Perkins state plans are a powerful strategic lever to align CTE policy and implementation with a state’s broader vision for education and workforce. A strength of Perkins V is the periodic, coordinated opportunity for states to evaluate and refine their targets and strategies in concert with one another. This coordinated cycle allows state leaders to learn from and alongside one another while also designing Perkins state plans that meet the specific needs of their state and learners. 

As a former State CTE Director myself, I regularly considered how well our state plan aligned with and reinforced our strategic priorities of expanding access to CTE, improving the quality of CTE programs of study and continuing to intentionally align the secondary and postsecondary CTE system with the needs of employers. Reviewing the state plan against our progress and goals helped us ensure that the plan served as a progress-centered north star, rather than a reflection of the status quo. We leveraged everything from the performance indicators we chose, to the way we defined those metrics, to our size, scope and quality definitions as levers to continually drive towards serving more learners in high-quality programs that served as launchpads for future success. While the process of reviewing and updating state Perkins plans can be time-consuming, it is time well spent, and framing the opportunity as something state leaders get to do rather than something they have to do helps keep the focus on what matters most – continually improving the CTE experience for learners. 

As state leaders work through this process in 2024, Advance CTE is here to be a partner not only through spaces for states to learn from each other, but through resources that recenter and challenge state leaders to consider and address challenges facing our systems and learners.  The conversations began at Advance CTE’s 2023 Fall Meeting in October with sessions on translating Perkins plan to system-wide culture change and lasting impact, ranging from, accountability to reserve fund usage seeded great cross-state learning opportunities. 

To keep these conversations going, this month Advance CTE launched a suite of supports designed to ensure your Perkins state plan serves as a powerful lever to achieve your state vision for career technical education, and more broadly CTE Without Limits. These supports include: 

In our first Perkins Planning Office Hours, we heard great discussions on setting meaningful and achievable SDPLs and the impact of setting all local recipient targets at the state target versus engaging in a process to negotiate targets locally. State leaders also discussed stakeholder engagement and messaging substantive plan changes to impacted audiences to maximize relevant feedback. Visit Advance CTE’s event page to register for future office hours.

Just like many of us set intentions and resolutions at the start of the new year, the Perkins state plan allows us to do just that for our CTE systems, educators and learners. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going and we look forward to continuing these conversations with you in the new year!

Emily Passias, Deputy Executive Director

Legislative Update: Congress Advances New Legislation While Apprenticeship Regulations Are Unveiled

December 15th, 2023

This week both the House and Senate considered and advanced several pieces of legislation with implications for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. Elsewhere the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published proposed regulations that would overhaul the existing framework for registered apprenticeship programs and significantly expand the scope of these rules in relation to CTE programs funded by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V).  

House Education and Workforce Committee Advances WIOA Reauthorization

This week the House Education and Workforce (E&W) Committee marked up and advanced H.R. 6655, A Stronger Workforce for America Act (ASWA). The legislation would reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was last updated in 2014. Notably for the CTE community, the legislation proposes significant changes to youth funding authorized by the legislation, including changes to the underlying definition for eligible youth populations that would allow for greater coordination and alignment with CTE programs. ASWA would also encourage greater local alignment of CTE programs of study and career pathways programs. The legislation would also codify the Workforce Data Quality Initiative and the Strengthening Community College Workforce Development Grant program– two key Advance CTE WIOA priorities– along with a host of other proposed changes to current law. However, Advance CTE is still analyzing additional elements of the legislation that were less encouraging and plans to issue a more comprehensive response regarding the legislation shortly. 

The bipartisan legislation was advanced out of the E&W Committee on Tuesday by a margin of 44-1. The proposal is expected to be further considered by the full House of Representatives sometime next year when Congress returns from its holiday recess. 

House Leaders Markup New Workforce Pell Proposal 

As shared previously, Reps. Stefanik (R-NY) and DeSaulnier (D-CA), along with House Education and Workforce Committee Chair Foxx (R-NC) and Ranking Member Scott (D-VA), recently introduced H.R. 6586, the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act (BWPA) last week. The bipartisan legislation is a compromise between previously introduced legislation sponsored by the E&W Committee Chair and Ranking Member earlier this Congress. The expansion of Pell eligibility for high-quality, shorter-term CTE programs has been a longtime priority of Advance CTE

Notably, the legislation was amended during markup in several ways, including a new provision requiring coordination with state Perkins eligible agencies in determining programmatic alignment to high-skill, high-wage or in-demand occupations and sectors. The BWPA also contains a slew of new eligibility criteria that would be overseen and implemented by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), state workforce development boards and higher education accreditation agencies. Advance CTE and the Association for Career Technical Education issued a letter in response to the BWPA shortly after its passage out of the E&W Committee on a margin of 37-8. Advance CTE is encouraged by this latest development and looks forward to working with Congress as this issue moves forward in the legislative process. 

HELP Committee Clears Bipartisan Education Sciences Reform Act Reauthorization

Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee formally introduced the Advancing Research in Education Act (AREA) — bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize and update the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA). This legislation makes important updates to ESRA, including significant reforms to the State Longitudinal Data System Grant program and broader education research and technical assistance functions overseen by the ED. As shared previously, Advance CTE has strongly supported many of the core components of AREA, particularly provisions that complement and relate to CTE, and has formally supported the legislation ahead of a scheduled markup this past Tuesday. The HELP Committee subsequently advanced this proposal on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis, 20-1. AREA now moves to the full Senate for further consideration by the upper chamber. 

DOL Proposes Major Changes to Apprenticeship Regulations With CTE Implications 

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes significant and wide-ranging changes to the regulatory framework for registered apprenticeship programs. Of note for the CTE community, the NPRM suggests a significant expansion of the regulatory requirements related to a new program model DOL is currently referencing as “CTE Apprenticeships.” The NPRM includes a number of other new regulatory requirements that would relate to CTE programs funded by Perkins V. Advance CTE is in the process of analyzing this proposal and will have more to share on this NPRM soon. A 60-day comment period will begin when the draft proposal is formally published to the Federal Register. In addition, DOL has scheduled a webinar in early January to provide an overview of the NPRM. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

A Look at Connecticut’s Reshoring Strategies and Apprenticeship Growth in CTE

December 12th, 2023

This blog is the second in a series on promising practices and emerging policies in reshoring. In the first blog in this series, Reshoring is Only Possible with High-Quality Career Technical Education, we elevated promising practices for Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders that enhance employer participation, program quality and learner outcomes. This blog will provide an example from Connecticut on how messaging, policy and leveraging current and expanded partnerships can increase access to work-based learning opportunities for all learners.

Connecticut state outlineConnecticut’s 2019 Senate Bill 356 “An Act Establishing the Connecticut Apprenticeship and Education Committee” (Public Act No. 19-68) established the Connecticut Apprenticeship and Education Committee with the express purpose of better informing middle and high school learners about careers in manufacturing. The committee is also charged with identifying potential pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship training program integrations for smoother transitions for learners. Additionally, the committee works as an intermediary between CTE programs within high schools and higher education institutions and various industry partners to identify opportunities for alignment, thereby helping the programs qualify for grants and additional funding opportunities.

Prior to the formation of the committee, this work was led by the Connecticut Manufacturing Committee. In 2018 the Manufacturing Committee published Introducing Students to Manufacturing: Best Practices Guide and Program Resources as a resource for districts working to engage learners with manufacturing. Some suggestions from the report were: 

  • Develop curricula that incorporate an introduction to modern manufacturing
  • Promote authentic experiential learning opportunities through internships, pre-apprenticeship and summer programs
  • Incorporate manufacturing relationships into middle and high school through industry site visits, manufacturing-themed events and presentations/workshops from manufacturers

Promising practice: Expand partnership capacity among small businesses and local systems

The Apprenticeship and Education Committee’s makeup is structured to support continued partnership and collaboration among state, local and industry stakeholders, pulling from a wide range of public and private sector partners to ensure that the program is well-informed:

  • CT Department of Economic and Community Development
  • CT Department of Labor
  • Connecticut Technical Education and Career System
  • Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology
  • Connecticut Manufacturers Collaborative
  • Connecticut Employment and Training Commission 
  • Advanced manufacturing centers at regional community technical colleges
  • Manufacturing companies and employee organizations representing manufacturing workers
  • Educators, guidance counselors, principals, superintendents

Promising practice: Provide transparency across programs to help learners make informed decisions for work-based learning options

Annually, the committee compiles an annual report of the available apprenticeship programs at public and independent institutions of higher education in the state that offer manufacturing training.  In consultation with the manufacturing industry, the committee must report whether these apprenticeship programs are meeting workforce needs. This report includes:

  • The degree, certification, license or credential awarded upon completion
  • The period of time and requirements for completion
  • The enrollment process
  • The cost of attendance

This important information helps to provide learners with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions for their work-based learning choices. The annual report is available through the state’s Department of Education website and a print copy is distributed to each local and regional board of education. 

Promising practice: Provide exploratory programs for experiential learning that can help learners connect their interests to available pathways

Another important component of the policy mandates that there must be exploratory programs such as hands-on learning opportunities for students in middle and high schools to learn about careers in the manufacturing industry. These types of experiential learning opportunities help learners better connect available pathways with their interests.  

Connecticut has seen a 43% increase in participation in work-based learning programs

All of these efforts and supports have been paying dividends as Connecticut has seen strong growth in participation in work-based learning programs. From 2020 to 2021 participation rose by 43% to more than 1,000 learners across Connecticut’s 17-school CTE system. Continuing to enhance the knowledge of available apprenticeships and industry partners is important to support growth in work-based learning participation. 

For more reading on apprenticeships, check out the following publications in the Learning that Works resource center:

Paul Mattingly, Senior Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Congress Announces a Flurry of Education and Workforce Development Legislation

December 8th, 2023

This week, the Senate introduced a legislative proposal that would make significant updates to legislation that authorizes federal research and data functions, while lawmakers in the House introduced new bipartisan proposals that would reform the Pell Grant program to make shorter-term Career Technical Education (CTE) programs eligible for funding as well as a comprehensive reauthorization proposal for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). 

HELP Committee Unveils Bipartisan Education Sciences Reform Act Reauthorization

Earlier this week the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unveiled the Advancing Research in Education Act (AREA) — bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize and update the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA). ESRA authorizes many critical federal education data and research functions and this proposal would make significant updates to many aspects of this legislation. Specifically, AREA would make education research more responsive to the needs of learners, teachers and other education stakeholders while increasing the use of rigorous evidence to better support teaching and learning. Of note for the CTE community, this legislation would broaden the scope of these activities to include a stronger focus on learners’ labor market and workforce outcomes. 

Advance CTE has been engaged throughout this wider reauthorization process, including by supporting the introduction of the Data for American Jobs Act (DAJA) earlier this year. Encouragingly many aspects of this proposal have been incorporated in the current committee draft proposal. A mark-up of AREA is scheduled for next week on Tuesday, December 12 at 10 a.m. ET. Read the HELP committee summary on the proposed changes contained in AREA.

House Leaders Release New Workforce Pell Proposal 

On Tuesday, December 5, Reps. Stefanik (R-NY) and DeSaulnier (D-CA), along with House Education and Workforce Committee Chair and Ranking Member Foxx (R-NC) and Scott (D-VA), introduced H.R. 6586, the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act (BWPA). This legislation is a compromise proposal that combines aspects of previously introduced short-term Pell Grant legislative proposals sponsored by Chair Foxx and Ranking Member Scott respectively. The BWPA would establish a number of eligibility criteria that would be overseen and implemented by state workforce development boards, higher education accreditors and the U.S. Department of Education intended to ensure program quality and rigor. Advance CTE is encouraged to see additional bipartisan movement on this critical issue and is continuing to analyze the bill for implications for the CTE community. More information can be accessed in this fact sheet and related summary

House Committee Introduces Comprehensive WIOA Reauthorization Proposal

Yesterday, December 7, the House Education and Workforce (E&W) Committee introduced H.R. 6655, A Stronger Workforce for America Act (ASWA). The legislation would comprehensively reauthorize WIOA and make significant changes to core aspects of this legislation including related to eligible training provider lists and the provision of training services provided by the system. Encouragingly, the proposal would make significant improvements to workforce data infrastructure and linkages, codify grant programs for community college training initiatives and would strengthen alignment between career pathways and CTE programs of study among other aspects of the legislation. Advance CTE and partners are continuing to review this proposal and anticipate further consideration of the legislation sometime early next week. 

FY24 Funding Negotiations Make Little Progress

As shared previously, Congress recently passed another short-term extension of federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) funding just before Thanksgiving. This continuing resolution (CR) created a “laddered” approach to funding federal operations with Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) appropriations extending funding through February 2, 2024 (along with seven other funding bills), while four other bills expire January 19, 2024. 

Since that time, however, lawmakers have struggled to make meaningful progress toward negotiating full-year FY24 appropriations legislation. This includes a lack of agreement on “topline” levels for the federal budget needed to develop individual sub-allocations for each of the 12 individual spending bills that compose federal operations, including the Labor-HHS-ED measure which provides funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) and other programs of interest to the CTE community.

As a reminder, conservative lawmakers in the House have spent most of the calendar year seeking to advance legislation that would significantly and dramatically cut funding for the entire federal budget, including for many workforce development and education programs. Most recently, this faction of House Republicans now appears to be softening demands for steep cuts to federal spending, including these investments. Despite this modest progress, agreement between lawmakers on this critical topline issue still appears to be out of reach this week. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) recently floated the idea of a year-long CR if agreement could not be reached soon. However, leaders in the Senate have vocally opposed this idea.

As these efforts continue to take shape, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for robust and strengthened funding for Perkins V’s state grant program and other funding priorities of the CTE community. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

Legislative Update: Congress Returns from Recess

December 1st, 2023

Congress returned this week from its Thanksgiving recess with a list of important agenda items that must be addressed before the end of the year. Elsewhere, the U.S. Department of Education announced new funding for full-service community schools while federal agencies announced the availability of free COVID-19 testing kits for schools. 

Agreement on Full-year FY24 Funding Remains Elusive

Prior to Thanksgiving, Congress passed another short-term extension of federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) funding. The continuing resolution (CR) bifurcated the 12 individual spending bills that fund federal operations into two separate groups, each with a different expiration date. Of note for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) appropriations component of this legislation would extend funding for programs like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) through February 2, along with seven other funding bills, while four other funding measures are set to expire on January 19 of next year.

With these new funding extensions now in place, lawmakers must still work to negotiate full-year FY24 funding legislation. However, lawmakers appear to be currently prioritizing other items on the legislative agenda before turning to this important issue. As these efforts take shape, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for the significant funding needs of the CTE community as part of the wider FY24 appropriations process. 

ED Announces New Community School Funding

On Tuesday, November 28, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the distribution of roughly $74 million in new funding for full-service community schools — comprehensive K-12 schools that are intended to provide more holistic and comprehensive wraparound services and related supports to learners and families to improve wider outcomes. “I am proud that the Biden-Harris Administration is expanding the number of community schools across the country as an evidence-based strategy to Raise the Bar in education and to deliver on our commitment to support students, families, and whole communities,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona stated as part of the announcement. The new round of funding will target schools in four new states, including Idaho, Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio. Read more in the press release.

COVID-19 Test Kits Available for Schools 

This week the U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new effort to distribute COVID-19 testing kits free of charge to schools across the country. “The Biden-Harris Administration remains a committed partner with schools in keeping our students and teachers safe and healthy,” said ED’s Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development Roberto Rodriguez as part of the announcement. Read more in the press release.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: Congress Extends Funding Through Early Next Year

November 17th, 2023

This week, Congress passed another short-term extension of current funding for all federal programs and operations through early 2024. The measure maintains current funding levels for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) along with other critical investments in education and workforce development. 

Congress Approves Funding Extension

After weeks of uncertainty, newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) announced plans over the weekend to advance legislation that would temporarily extend current federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) funds through early next year. The legislation bifurcates the 12 individual spending bills that compose the federal government into two separate tranches — known as a “laddered” continuing resolution (CR) — with two separate expiration dates of January 19 and February 2. Of note for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) appropriations component of this legislation would extend funding for programs like Perkins V and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) through the February 2 deadline.

The laddered CR approach was initially met with skepticism by some lawmakers, as the strategy does not appear to fundamentally change the underlying dynamics of Congress’ current challenges in finding common ground on full-year FY24 spending. Nonetheless, the measure was introduced in the House this week and passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority by a margin of 336-95. Notably, 93 Republicans and two Democrats voted against the measure—a dynamic that, just a few months ago, led to the surprising ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier this fall. The laddered CR was quickly taken up by the Senate where it was passed on a bipartisan basis by a margin of 87-11. The bill was just recently signed into law by President Biden before current funding legislation was set to expire later today (November 17).

Ostensibly, the passage of a CR is intended to provide lawmakers more time to negotiate FY24 appropriations legislation. However, both chambers have struggled to make progress on their respective slates of appropriations legislation. Meanwhile, in the House, Republican leaders were forced to pull the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill from further consideration after it became clear the measure would likely not have the necessary support to clear the chamber. House leaders were forced to pull other spending measures from consideration for similar reasons the last few weeks as well.

While the passage of the CR will avoid a government shutdown for the remainder of this calendar year, it remains unclear how Congress will use this additional time to either pass additional individual appropriations legislation, negotiate a larger full-year FY24 package or take an alternative route altogether. Advance CTE is continuing to engage with partners on Capitol Hill to ensure that the funding needs of the CTE community are realized as part of this wider process. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

Legislative Update: FY24 Funding Deadline Approaches

November 9th, 2023

This week, lawmakers struggled to find common ground on a path forward on federal fiscal year 2024 (FY24) funding as a new deadline next week quickly approaches while the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance regarding federal civil rights obligations. 

Agreement on FY24 Funding Remains Out of Reach

This week, lawmakers continued to struggle to find consensus on a pathway forward on FY24 funding. As a reminder, the short-term extension of current FY23 funding levels, known as a continuing resolution (CR), is set to expire next week on November 17. Since neither chamber has made significant progress on individual FY24 appropriations legislation this week, lawmakers must now find consensus on another approach before this fast-approaching deadline.

Earlier this week, House Republicans met to consider several possible strategies, including a “laddered CR” approach, which would stagger deadlines of various appropriations bills over the next several weeks. However, House Republicans did not reach consensus on this, and it remains unclear how Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) plans to proceed. Recent reports indicate that the House may try to consider an extension of funding sometime early next week. Meanwhile, in the Senate, leaders are reportedly working on a forthcoming proposal to extend current funding levels. However, most recently, Republican Senate leaders have called for additional funding for issues at the southern border, which has complicated progress in the chamber. 

With only five legislative days until next week’s deadline, lawmakers appear to be no closer to finding agreement on FY24 funding due to these outstanding differences. Advance CTE is monitoring this process closely and engaging with partners on Capitol Hill to ensure that the funding needs of the Career Technical Education (CTE) community are met through this wider process. 

ED Issues Dear Colleague Letter Regarding Obligations to Address Discrimination

Over the last several weeks, several hate-based or bias-based incidents across the nation have occurred with increasing frequency following rising tensions in the Middle East. In response, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague letter to schools and institutions re-emphasizing their responsibilities and obligations under the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to provide students with environments free of discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. In addition, the House Education and Workforce’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development is holding a hearing on the same topic next week while members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee are holding a roundtable drawing attention to this issue. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: Consensus on FY24 Remains Elusive as Artificial Intelligence Comes into Focus

November 3rd, 2023

This week, Congress has continued to make modest progress on appropriations legislation for the federal government while lawmakers and President Biden have begun to consider how to manage the coming use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. 

Congress No Closer to Agreement on Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Education Spending

With new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) in place and another possible government shutdown only two weeks away, a new sense of urgency has swept Capitol Hill as lawmakers worked to pass several appropriations measures in both chambers this week. In the House, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) appropriations bill — legislation that provides funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) and other important Career Technical Education (CTE) related investments—has been moved directly to the House floor for consideration and a vote is scheduled sometime the week of November 13. As a reminder, if enacted, this proposal would reduce funding for Title I of the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) by 80 percent and would substantially cut funding or entirely eliminate many other education and workforce development programs like the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). 

The Senate has not yet scheduled further consideration of its own version of this legislation which most recently advanced out of the Appropriations Committee and is awaiting consideration by the upper chamber. Unlike the House version of this legislation, which would freeze current funding for Perkins V’s basic state grant program, the Senate’s proposal would provide a much-needed $43 million increase in support for the primary federal investment in CTE. 

Under the new leadership of Speaker Johnson, the House has continued to pass other spending proposals that would drastically cut federal funding for a variety of programs, falling well below the topline spending targets outlined in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) — a bipartisan agreement that was passed by Congress earlier this year which avoided a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt obligations. At the same time, the Senate has continued to advance spending proposals that conform to the FRA agreement. With both chambers proposing wildly different visions for FY24 funding, it remains unclear how lawmakers will move forward by the middle of this month. Unless agreement can be reached by the beginning of 2024, an across-the-board sequester cut to all federal programs, mandated by the FRA, will come into effect. As these efforts continue to unfold, Advance CTE is continuing to work with partners on Capitol Hill to ensure the funding needs of the wider CTE education community are met as part of this process. 

Biden Administration Unveils Artificial Intelligence Executive Order

On Monday, October 30, President Biden issued a wide-ranging Executive Order regarding the “Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence” (AI). The measure has several components of note for the CTE community including how to support workers displaced by AI, strategies for attracting and retaining AI talent and directing federal agencies to explore how to strengthen or expand pathways programs leading into AI or adjacent occupational fields. The Executive Order also directs the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to develop resources, policies, and guidance on AI in education within one year and similarly directs the Departments of Labor, Commerce and others to produce similar recommendations on legislative and regulatory actions that can better support workers and learners navigate a world changed by the implementation of AI and related technologies. Learn more about these efforts in this factsheet.

Senate Examines AI’s Impact on the Workforce

Earlier this week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions’ Subcommittee on Employment and Workforce Safety held a hearing titled, “AI and the Future of Work: Moving Forward Together.” The hearing featured testimony from witnesses representing the private sector and explored the potential impacts that AI will likely have on work as well as potential strategies to mitigate negative effects. A key theme of the hearing centered on the growing importance of lifelong learning, including the need to reform ways that the federal government supports learners pursuing postsecondary education. To that end, Senator Kaine (D-VA) highlighted the importance of Congress passing the JOBS Act – legislation that would expand Pell Grant eligibility for high-quality, shorter-term CTE programs. 

ED Distributes New Funding for Educator Diversity and Compensation Efforts

Late last week, the U.S. ED announced that it was awarding $115 million in new funding via the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program — an initiative authorized by ESSA. These funds will support nearly 30 projects that aim to address teacher shortages while also increasing instructional staff diversity. This investment “… will help states and school districts recruit and retain new talent, increase compensation, and address educator shortages that we know disproportionately impact students from our communities of color, students from low-income backgrounds, students with disabilities and English learners,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said, in part, as part of the announcement

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: House Elects New Speaker

October 26th, 2023

After weeks without a leader, lawmakers in the House elected Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA) to be the next Speaker of the House. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) published new postsecondary regulations. 

Rep. Mike Johnson Elected Speaker of the House

After over three weeks without a leader, the House elected a new Speaker on Wednesday — Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA). Over the last several weeks a slew of earlier candidates failed to garner the necessary support for this role, including Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), and most recently, Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN). Following these failed candidacies, House Republicans reconvened late Tuesday night this week to conduct another informal straw poll to determine a new candidate for the Speakership. After winnowing a field of eight declared candidates, Johnson ultimately prevailed over Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) by a margin of 128-29. The next day, acting Speaker Patrick McHenry (R-NC) reconvened the chamber to vote for a new Speaker where Johnson prevailed over current Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) by a margin of 220-209.

Speaker Johnson was first elected to Congress in 2016 and has served most recently on the House Judiciary and Armed Services Committees. He has also Chaired the Republican Study Committee and was Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference prior to his ascent to the Speakership. Notably for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, Johnson has been a member of the House CTE Caucus. However, not much else is known about Speaker Johnson’s wider education or workforce development priorities. In the lead up to his candidacy, he has committed to an aggressive timeline to advance federal fiscal year 2024 (FY24) spending bills over the next few weeks and months ahead. 

With the election of a new Speaker, lawmakers must now turn to a growing agenda that must be addressed this fall. This work includes determining a pathway forward on FY24 funding, with a new deadline of November 17 fast approaching. As the House determines its next steps, Advance CTE will continue to engage with partners on Capitol Hill to ensure that the funding needs of the CTE community are met as this process continues to take shape. 

ED Publishes New Postsecondary Regulations

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) published final regulations regarding oversight and accountability for postsecondary institutions. The final rules package includes components related to institutional financial responsibilities, related administrative capacity, certification procedures, and changes to ability to benefit requirements – efforts aimed at afforded postsecondary access to learners who have not yet attained a high school diploma or equivalency. Advance CTE provided comment during the initial publication of these rules and is continuing to analyze them for implications for the wider CTE community. More information on the rules package can be found in this press release

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

 

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