With Learners, Not for Learners: A Toolkit for Elevating Learner Voice in CTE

August 19th, 2021

Today, Advance CTE and the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE) released With Learners, Not for Learners: A Toolkit for Elevating Learner Voice in CTE. This toolkit provides state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders with actionable resources, guidance and tools to ensure CTE learner voices are elevated and heard for the improvement of CTE policies and practices.

Learner voice is often neglected even though learners themselves are affected directly by decisions made about CTE programs and have invaluable first-hand experiences. It is therefore critical that learners be engaged as key stakeholders in the decision making process within CTE programs. By empowering learners to share feedback regarding their CTE experiences through intentional and ongoing feedback loops, CTE programs can better address learner needs, break down barriers — particularly for historically marginalized populations — and improve quality. 

Meet Autumn Steffens, CTE learner from Wisconsin! Autumn was part of the CTE Learner Voice Shared Solutions Workgroup composed of national and state leaders and learners from across the country to co-develop this toolkit. Autumn and the other learners in the workgroup shared their critical perspectives with the group to inform the toolkit’s content.

Q: Why is incorporating learner voice into CTE program design and delivery important?

Autumn: CTE learners are the people that you [state leaders] are trying to help. Including our voices and letting us be heard is vital to see improvement in the current CTE program. You need first-hand experience from learners in the modern school system to give input and ideas of how we can improve the CTE program. Having learners in the program design area is important because we need people behind the curtain to make the decisions and put out a plan to make the CTE program better. Also, having learners at the front lines in the delivery of the program is vital because other learners need someone to set an example and be the face of the new CTE program. 

Q: What impact do you hope this toolkit has on the CTE field?

Autumn: This new toolkit will hopefully impact all of the learners who are not as confident in their CTE program, yet. Having a toolkit that will directly affect learners whose voices were not heard originally will inspire them to continue in their CTE journey. More learners will be motivated to join the CTE program and they will grow as not just learners, but people as well.

The full resource and supplemental tools can be found here

Christina Koch, Policy Associate

Communicating CTE: Strategies and Message Tailoring to Reach Historically Marginalized Learners and Families

August 17th, 2021

Recruiting learners into CTE programs should not be limited to class registration season; repeated exposure to messages about the value and benefit of Career Technical Education (CTE) help each learner feel welcome and seen. This is especially true for programs that have historically marginalized some populations from full access and participation. The start of the school year is an ideal touch point to raise awareness about CTE as learners begin new academic experiences and explore paths to career and college success. 

Advance CTE released updated national research in April 2021 on messages and messengers about the value of CTE that resonate with middle and high school families both participating in and considering CTE. This update intentionally focused on exploring equity in tested messages, with an oversample of Black and Latinx families and families experiencing low income. 

Several key findings resonated across gender, race/ethnicity, income and participation, including confirmation of the value of real-world skills as the top prevailing message for families about CTE; a strong interest in career exploration and skillbuilding as priorities for families’ education experience; and significant higher levels of satisfaction by those participating in CTE with their overall education experience. 

While the findings provide evergreen, consistent messages that can reach all families, it is important to remember that these messages and dissemination methods should be tailored to address the needs, aspirations and potential access barriers of each family, particularly historically marginalized populations. 

Several equity considerations emerged from this research for Black and Latinx families and families experiencing low income, including: 

  • Families Value Accessible and Digestible Online Sources of Information about CTE: Black prospective families and current learners across race and income ranked Google searches in their top two sources for information about CTE. Prospective families experiencing low income and prospective Black parents/guardians ranked school websites in their top two information sources.   CTE leaders should develop processes to ensure that online sources of information about CTE are up-to-date, utilize digestible terms and are available on platforms and in languages that are accessible to each family.
  • Learners are more prepared for and likely to complete postsecondary education through CTE: Historically marginalized families not participating in CTE were much more likely to indicate their learner would only complete “some college” compared to those currently in CTE.   Among families with low income currently participating in CTE, 55 percent planned for  their learner to complete a postsecondary degree compared to 42 percent of prospective families. Among current Latinx families, the increase was even more robust, with more than 60 percent of families planning for their learner to complete a postsecondary degree compared to 36 percent of prospective families. CTE leaders should communicate CTE as an avenue that offers more options for career and college success and be specific about opportunities to prepare for and jumpstart postsecondary education.
  • Learners in CTE Value Opportunities to Make Connections: Black and Latinx learners and learners experiencing low income, particularly those currently in CTE, had stronger preferences than White learners for messages about CTE that emphasize opportunities to make connections and build relationships with like-minded individuals.  CTE leaders should consider utilizing CTE’s value in making connections with like-minded peers, instructors, mentors and employers as a secondary message to ‘Preparing for the Real World’ and be specific on how opportunities to make connections are accessible to each learner.

These findings have important implications for how CTE can close equity gaps, as well as what aspects of CTE should be elevated when conducting outreach to historically marginalized populations. Communications should be specific about the equitable opportunities provided through CTE to prepare for and jumpstart postsecondary education, as well as to gain visibility and networks through connections and hands-on experiences with like-minded educators, peers and employers . 

Historically marginalized families will be empowered to make informed decisions that lead to college and career success when they encounter communications that include specific programmatic offerings, are easily accessible to supplement in-person sources with language, and include visuals that reflect the intended audiences. Additionally, careful consideration should be given to confirming messages shared with families match the quality and outcomes of CTE programs provided in the region or locality. 

Advance CTE provides ready-made resources for local and state CTE leaders to evaluate and refresh their messages and recruitment materials. Visit the Engaging Families and Learners for a variety of resources that break down the research and support implementation, including a Core Messages resource that provides customized message themes with an equity lens and Dos and Donts to put the research into action. 

Back to school month is a great opportunity to utilize fast digital graphics in presentations and on social media with persuasive and impactful statistics on how CTE delivers for families. It is also an ideal checkpoint to utilize Advance CTE’s parent engagement tool to start or maintain engagement strategies with historically marginalized families, including developing processes to receive feedback from learners and parents/guardians on recruitment practices and CTE programs, utilizing CTE alumni in recruitment materials, and equipping trusted sources with tested messages to share in spaces beyond the classroom. 

Visit the Learning that Works Resource Center for additional communications resources, including reports on implementing Advance CTE’s communications research in 11 states since 2017. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

Legislative Update: OCTAE Assistant Secretary Nomination and Senate Budget Resolution

August 13th, 2021

This week, the nomination for Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) was announced. Read below to learn more about the nominee, as well as updates on the Senate budget resolution and infrastructure bill and the latest approved state stimulus plans. 

The White House Nominates the Assistant Secretary for OCTAE

On Tuesday the White House announced its intent to nominate Dr. Amy Loyd to serve as Assistant Secretary for OCTAE. Currently, Dr. Loyd serves as OCTAE’s Acting Assistant Secretary. Before this role, she was a Vice President at JFF (Jobs for the Future) where she designed and led programs across the country that improved education and workforce outcomes. She also oversaw JFF’s work in workforce development with a lens on economic advancement, state policy, federal policy, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Dr. Loyd previously was the Director of Education at Cook Inlet Tribal Council, leading a network of schools in providing culturally responsive education, training and wraparound services to the Alaska Native and Native American communities

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona shared a statement of support for Dr. Loyd’s nomination. Next, there will be a Senate confirmation hearing and vote on this nomination.   

Senate Democrats Release Budget Resolution for $3.5 Trillion Reconciliation Package

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

On Monday, Senate Democrats released their Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget resolution, setting the stage for a $3.5 trillion “budget reconciliation” package that would implement major changes to social programs, climate policy and other domestic policies.

The instructions within the resolution directs committees of jurisdiction to produce their pieces of the reconciliation package by September 15, then each would be bundled together for floor debate as a single piece of legislation. This piece of legislation could be approved by the Senate with a majority vote and would not be subject to the 60-vote threshold needed to move most bills forward in that chamber. The proposal estimates about $1.75 trillion in offsets, including tax increases on upper-income households and corporations, among other savings efforts. The resolution also includes a specific mandate that ensures no taxes are raised on families earning less than $400,000 a year.

More specifically to education programs, the reconciliation instructions include $726.4 billion for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, the biggest allotment to any committee. Within that figure, the budget resolution assumes the committee will provide funding for programs like universal prekindergarten, free postsecondary tuition, job training and workforce development programs, community health centers and educator investments. It is important to remember that just because something is included initially within the budget resolution, it doesn’t mean it will eventually make it into the final package. It is critical that we continue to advocate to policymakers for CTE and workforce development funding throughout the rest of the process.

Senate Passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Package
This week, the Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure proposal in a 69-30 vote. The package will cost $1.2 trillion over eight years, including $550 billion in new spending. The bill includes a $65 billion investment in broadband. This would provide grants to states for broadband and middle-mile deployment, as well as support for broadband affordability. The expansion of eligible private activity bond projects to include broadband infrastructure is also included in this investment. Additional education-related provisions include: 

  • $5 billion for clean-energy school buses;
  • $1.5 billion for the establishment of the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program;
  • $500 million for competitive grants to schools for energy efficiency improvements;
  • $200 million for the removal of lead contamination in school drinking water; and
  • $200 million to support voluntary testing or compliance monitoring for and remediation of lead contamination in drinking water at schools and child care programs

Next, this bill will be taken under consideration by the House. 

ED Approves More State K-12 Stimulus Plans

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

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Vision Commitments ‘Vlog’ Episode 4: Leveraging Data to Create New Frontiers for Career Technical Education

August 11th, 2021

This summer, Advance CTE is pleased to partner with experts from supporting organizations of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) to conduct video panels to delve into four of the five foundational commitments that connect the vision principles. 

Our fourth panel featuring Credential Engine and the Data Quality Campaign builds on previous episodes that named data infrastructure as a priority to advance the vision principles and foundational commitments. Each panelist identified first steps for policy and process, states with promising practices, and organizational culture changes necessary to ensure data advances rather than impedes equitable outcomes for CTE learners. 

Both speakers agreed that policy infrastructure that removes silos and allows for the collection of more data on learner outcomes, particularly beyond K-12, must be present before any meaningful technical infrastructure investments occur. The need for leadership-level cross agency governance incorporating diverse voices beyond data ‘owners’ across K-12, postsecondary and workforce systems to advance data connectivity; and data capture and reporting conducted ‘in the sunshine’ were recurring first step themes. Promising practices for data system connectivity and transparency in California, Texas and Connecticut were also elevated. 

Episode Quotes: 

“Data system silos follow the silos that we have in our institutions. It’s already challenging for a learner to be in K-12 and take postsecondary courses [at the same time] while also holding an internship…those silos are going to be reflected at the data infrastructure at the state and local level as well.” – Brennan McMahon Parton, Vice President, Policy and Advocacy, Data Quality Campaign

“CTE lives in that intersection between K-12, postsecondary and industry and we have to get everyone to the table to share information in secure ways when it comes to individual student records, but in very open ways when it is around what people earning and learning so that we can give the best picture to that student when they are navigating their own pathway.” – Scott Cheney, CEO, Credential Engine 

Thank you to Advance CTE’s Austin Estes for serving as a facilitator and to our panelists for their expertise and insights. 

Watch previous episodes that discuss steps CTE leaders can take to prioritize qualitydiversity, equity and inclusion and effective public-private partnerships in realizing CTE Without Limits. We hope this series has been helpful in identifying and connecting priorities in vision implementation across all five principles. 

Visit our vision page to read the full vision, access vision communication and implementation resources, and view recordings of our summer Lunch and Learn webinar series focused on the five vision principles. Don’t forget to register for our next lunch and learn session featuring The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), KnowledgeWorks, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on August 17. 

Vision the Learning that Works Resource Center for additional reports and tools to guide next steps to enhance data and accountability and credentials and assessments

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

Translating Insights to Action: Using Data to Identify and Address CTE Opportunity Gaps

August 10th, 2021

State and local leaders should always center equity when making decisions related to Career Technical Education (CTE) to ensure that each learner feels welcome in, is supported by and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem. This approach is called using an equity lens. But without access to reliable, comprehensive and disaggregated data, it can be challenging to understand when and where equity gaps occur.

To help state and local leaders better access and understand their data, Advance CTE developed a suite of tools — including a dynamic and customizable dashboard — that can be used to facilitate a comprehensive CTE opportunity gap analysis process. After more than a year of development and piloting, Advance CTE is accepting applications for a Train-the-Trainer workshop on conducting an opportunity gap analysis in September. Registration for the training program closes this Thursday, August 12.

Opportunity Gap Analysis Dashboard ScreenshotThe CTE opportunity gap analysis training was piloted last summer in partnership with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Minnesota is organized into 26 consortia to implement the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), each representing the community or technical college and school districts in their service area. Each consortium sent secondary and postsecondary representatives to the pilot workshop.

The training was conducted in two parts. In the first session, participants learned about the CTE opportunity gap analysis process, a four-step, inquiry-based process to unearth, prioritize and address the most urgent CTE opportunity gaps.

Reflective Approach to Equity in CTEIn the second session, participants reviewed their own dashboards — which they prepared in advance with data from the state office — in order to identify learner subgroups that were over- or under-represented across different CTE programs compared to the overall learner population. Participants used a fishbone diagram to identify and map underlying root causes and reviewed intervention strategies and supporting evidence to target recruitment, enrollment and inclusivity of diverse learner populations in CTE. Using this information, they began to develop equity-focused action plans. The workshop, which was aligned with Minnesota’s Perkins V professional development series, was designed to help participants center equity in their Perkins V applications and action plans.

One lesson participants learned from the workshop is that too much data can be overwhelming. The dashboard helped local district and college leaders focus their attention on the data that matters the most and use that data to glean insights and take action.

Next month, Advance CTE is offering the CTE opportunity gap analysis training to state CTE leaders, free of charge. Selected participants will receive a five-hour training, access a suite of materials, and conduct their own opportunity gap analysis process in their own states. A stipend and technical support will be provided to support implementation.

The registration deadline is this Thursday, August 12. Applicants should be state CTE leaders with responsibility and influence over Perkins V administration, program design and approval, equity and inclusion, special populations, methods of administration and/or CTE data. Learn more at https://careertech.org/opportunity-gap and direct questions to Austin Estes at aestes@careertech.org.

Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research

Legislative Update: ED Announces Expansion of Second Chance Pell and Return to School Roadmap

August 6th, 2021

This week the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released information about the expansion of Pell Grant eligibility. Read below to learn more about what this means, as well as ED’s “Return to School Roadmap” and a new wave of approved state K-12 stimulus plans. 

ED Announces Expansion of Second Chance Pell Program 

ED announced the expansion of the Second Chance Pell experiment for the 2022-2023 award year. This will allow up to 200 colleges and universities to offer prison education programs with support from the Pell Grant program- an increase from the 131 that are currently participating. So far, the Second Chance Pell experiment has provided education opportunities to thousands of justice-involved individuals who previously did not have access to federal need-based financial aid, and over 7,000 credentials have been earned. 

ED plans to implement the recently-enacted legislative changes to allow eligible learners in college-in-prison programs to access Pell Grants beginning on July 1, 2023. The Department also announced plans to publish regulations on the program ahead of its implementation. Institutions can submit an application to participate in the new cohort of Second Chance Pell. 

Advance CTE supports permanent Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated individuals, and is pleased that the program is expanding. 

ED Releases Return to School Roadmap 

On Monday ED released the “Return to School Roadmap,” a resource to support students, schools, educators and communities as they prepare to return to safe and healthy in-person learning this fall. In the upcoming weeks, the Roadmap will lay out actionable strategies to implement the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) updated guidance for K-12 schools. The Roadmap includes three “Landmark” priorities that schools, districts and communities are encouraged to focus on to set all learners up for success, including: 

  • Prioritizing the health and safety of students, staff and educators; 
  • Building school communities and supporting students’ social, emotional and mental health; and 
  • Accelerating academic achievement. 

ED will release resources for practitioners and parents on each of the priorities, highlight schools and districts that are using innovative practices to address the priorities and elevate ways that the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and other federal funds can be used to support the priorities.

Along with the launch of the Roadmap, ED released: 

  • A fact sheet for schools, families and communities on the Roadmap, reviewing the three “Landmark” priorities, as well as elevating schools and districts that are addressing each in effective ways.
  • A guide for schools and districts outlining what schools can do to protect the health and safety of students, including strategies to increase access to vaccinations and implement the CDC’s recently updated K-12 school guidance.
  • A checklist that parents can use to prepare themselves and their children for a safe return to in-person learning this fall.

Upcoming resources and supports from ED as part of the Roadmap include: 

  • Holding town halls with parents and parent organizations to highlight ways schools and districts are preparing to keep learners safe during in-person learning, while also attending to social, emotional and mental health supports in addition to academic supports.
  • Working with partners across the federal government to provide support to schools and districts and answer questions about increasing vaccination access. 
  • Releasing implementation tools for learners, educators and parents to address the above three priority areas, as well as provide information on how ARP funds can be used to expand access to mental health supports for learners and educators.
  • Updating Volumes 1 and 2 of the ED COVID-19 Handbooks. 

The White House also released a fact sheet on the Administration’s efforts to safely reopen schools and support learners.

ED Approves More State K-12 Stimulus Plans

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

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

CTE Without Limits Summer Lunch and Learn #2 Recap: Centering Learners, Self, and Systems in Equity Journey Key Themes for Implementing Second Vision Principle

August 5th, 2021

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

The second principle of CTE Without Limits aims to support Career Technical Education (CTE)  leaders as they to identify and dismantle systems that perpetuate systemic barriers and discrimination that limit access, opportunity and outcomes for learners across every aspect of CTE design, delivery and evaluation. This panel featured Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Senior Fellow for National Skills Coalition; Mimi Lufkin, CEO Emerita of National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE); and Dr. Stephanie McGencey, Executive Director of American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF). 

Key Themes 

  • Equity Investments in Self and System: The moderator and panelists each acknowledged throughout the session that success in this principle requires an individual learning journey on equity and realizing what lenses are missing from your and the collective table before examining and collaborating on systems change.  
  • Elevating Learner Voice and Diversity is a Win-Win: Dr. McGencey emphasized that learners can teach us what they are living, gaps in CTE experiences, and what they need from systems if they are given the spaces to do so. Bergson-Shilcock offered the example of an airport faucet sensor that did not recognize high-melanin skin tones as a simple but powerful analogy of the lifelong impacts systems have on learners when diverse voices are not at the table.  

Recommendations for Implementation

  • Expanding DEI in CTE: Each panelist offered tangible steps for state CTE leaders to build diverse and culturally competent CTE workforce and experiences, including intentional outreach to leaders of color such as employers and Greek life organizations to build connections and gain valuable perspectives; increased flexibility in on-ramps and licensure for teaching professions; and prioritizing cultural competence in professional development. 
  • Utilizing Equity Impact Phases: Lufkin offered a modified change management model, UA2  used by NAPE on their continual journey of equity education: Unaware -> Aware -> Understand -> Action. 
  • Getting Started Matters: “neutrality is the side of the status quo” and “it’s not about winning, but about moving forward” are two powerful statements that emerged from multiple comments about the importance of just getting started on advancing equity  while also building consistent checkpoints to revisit and re-center learner voice, marginalized learners and ‘known unknowns’ of equity perspectives. 

Visit the CTE Without Limits web page to read the full vision and access resources to communicate  the vision to stakeholders, including full recordings of each session and a new vision partner initiative repository documenting national initiatives across the five principles. 

Register for Advance CTE’s fourth lunch and learn scheduled for August 17 at 3:00PM ET featuring Jonathan Alfuth, State Policy Director for KnowledgeWorks; Molly Bashay, Senior Policy Analyst – Education, Labor & Worker Justice for The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); and Niki DaSilva, Manager for Programs and Policy a the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Center for Education and Workforce.  A recap of the first session of the series can be found here

New Postsecondary State CTE Fellowship Takes Equity-Centered Approach to Address Leadership Talent Pipeline Diversity 

August 2nd, 2021

Today, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced a new initiative to strengthen and diversify the postsecondary state Career Technical Education (CTE) talent pipeline. The Postsecondary State CTE Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTESponsored by ECMC Foundation (Fellowship), will announce its first cohort in October 2021. 

Building state CTE systems where learners of color feel welcome, supported and have the means to succeed is critical to improving equitable CTE access and outcomes. To accomplish this, learners need to see themselves in the educators and administrators of our educational institutions and systems. Simply put, we need more diversity in the state CTE leadership pipeline. While CTE learner populations overall mirror the nation’s demographics, our state CTE leadership composition is largely White. This Fellowship aspires to take a first step at building a more robust and diverse state postsecondary CTE leadership pipeline. 

Fellowship Design and Support 

The Fellowship recruitment process is designed with intentional actions to reach professionals of color, with the goal of the majority of the Advance CTE- ECMCF Fellows being racially diverse. The strengths-based curriculum is designed to build strategic leadership skills rooted in equity and collaboration. Finally, the individualized supports, including coaches, will meet the aspiring leader where they are at. Here is a bit more about the Fellowship:

  • Collaboration and Input from Leaders of Color: Advance CTE established a National Advisory Committee for the Fellowship, consisting of national organizations and state-level institutions and eight CTE leaders of color. This National Advisory Committee is guiding every step of the Fellowship –  from curriculum to the evaluation of outcomes; and will help select each cohort of Fellows.
  • Intentional and Individualized Supports: The Fellowship includes several features that strive to remove barriers to participation, including a $1,800 stipend; conducting workshops virtually; monthly, individual coaching sessions from national and state CTE leaders; and access to all Fellowship coaches to build connections and receive support from topic-area experts.  
  • Spaces to Build Meaningful Networks and Build Social Capital: Each Fellowship cohort is intentionally small, with a maximum of 15 Fellows, to allow for the development of meaningful connections, and networking spaces will be provided outside of the workshop sessions. Additionally, Fellows will attend and be given the opportunity to present at meetings and conferences hosted by Advance CTE and the ECMC Foundation as another means to build connections, social capital and gain visibility at a national level.
  • Project with Professional Impact: Fellows must complete a real-world project in their workplace or community. Fellows will receive individualized support from their coach throughout the design, planning and execution of the project and will present the project’s results and impact with the National Advisory Committee. 

Visit the Fellowship web page for more information and a promotional toolkit to share the Fellowship with a potential applicant. The deadline for applications for the first cohort is September 15, 2021. 

Visit the Learning that Works Resource Center for more resources to enhance equity and access in CTE programs and talent pipeline initiatives. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate for Communications and State Engagement

Legislative Update: House Appropriations Process and Infrastructure Deal

July 29th, 2021

This week, the appropriations process moved forward in the House. Read below to learn more about the latest movement, as well as an update on a bipartisan Senate infrastructure agreement, newly released higher education stimulus funds and information on how to apply for the Emergency Connectivity Fund.

House Appropriations Process Moves Forward 

This week the House Rules Committee determined which of the proposed 197 amendments filed for the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) bill would be approved for debate. Ultimately, 15 education-related amendments will be considered. One of the amendments, introduced by Representative Cindy Axne (D-IA), adds $5 million for community colleges that provide training programs for dislocated workers. The Labor-HHS-Ed appropriations bill is part of a seven-bill minibus package (H.R. 402) under consideration by the full House. 

Senate Reaches Agreement on Infrastructure Deal 

On Wednesday night the Senate voted, 67-32, to begin consideration of a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure package that includes $550 billion in new spending. While work on the full bill text has not been finished and released, a fact sheet of the agreement can be found here

The bill includes a $65 billion investment in broadband. This would provide grants to states for broadband deployment, as well as support for broadband affordability, expansion of eligible private activity bond projects to include broadband infrastructure and support for middle-mile deployment efforts. The breakdown of the full broadband funding is as follows: 

  • $40 billion in formula-based grants to states, territories and DC for broadband deployment. This funding also includes a 10 percent set-aside for high-cost areas. Each state and territory would receive an initial minimum allocation, of which a portion could be used for technical assistance in either establishing or supporting a state broadband office; 
  • $600 million for private activity bonds, which would finance broadband deployment for projects in rural areas where a majority of households do not have access to broadband; 
  • $2 billion to support rural areas;
  • $2 billion to the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program; 
  • $2.75 billion in formula-based and competitive grants to promote digital inclusion and equity for communities; 
  • Creation of a state grant program for the construction, improvement or acquisition of middle-mile infrastructure; and 
  • Support for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Broadband Benefit program, which subsidizes broadband services for eligible households. 

ED Announces $3.2 Billion in Emergency Higher Education Grants

Today the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced $3.2 billion in additional emergency grants under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). This funding will support learners at institutions of higher education, as well as provide resources to institutions to help recover from the pandemic. $2.97 billion of the funding is from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), and is comprised of the the following: 

  • $1.6 billion to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); 
  • $143 million to Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs); and 
  • $1.19 billion to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and under-resourced institutions eligible for the Strengthening Institutions Programs (many of which are community colleges). 

Additionally, $225 million of the total funding comes from grants under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CCRRSAA) to support public and non-profit institutions and their students with unmet needs related to the pandemic. 

Additional information on the ARP, CARES Act and CCRRSAA- including the latest HEERF programs- can be found here

FCC Shares Instructions on Emergency Connectivity Fund

The FCC announced that a webinar on the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) and frequently asked questions will be held on August 3 at 2:00pm ET. Additionally, the FCC provided step-by-step instructions of how to apply for the ECF. Applications for schools and libraries to receive this funding for the 2021-2022 school year are open through August 13. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Vision Commitments ‘Vlog’ Episode 3: Maximizing the Return on Investment for Industry Engagement to Build CTE Without Limits

July 29th, 2021

This summer, Advance CTE is pleased to partner with experts from supporting organizations of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) to conduct video panels to delve into four of the five foundational commitments that connect the vision principles. 

Our third panel featuring the Corporation for Skilled Workforce (CSW), National Skills Coalition (NSC) and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation discussed the growth and potential of public-private partnerships and the need for this collaboration across all stages of program development, including design, delivery and evaluation. Each panelist shared their insights on policy frameworks and next steps to more easily facilitate public-private partnerships and better connect systems of education, industry and workforce, as well as recommendations to improve trust-building and communication with industry partners to fully realize the value of CTE. 

All panelists agreed that the positive shift of public-private partnerships towards long-term investments with industry as “end customers” rather than one-time requests for input can strongly benefit CTE, and identified key components to successful partnerships including consistent engagement, braided funding that incentivizes partnership and level-setting on success and performance metrics. Equity was another common theme, with panelists emphasizing the importance of evaluating equity at each program stage, leveraging partnerships to bring diverse voices into program development, and utilizing partnerships to advance skills-based hiring. 

You don’t want to miss CSW’s Vickie Choitz’ road trip analogy as a policy framework for advancing collaboration in purpose, funding and performance metrics in partnerships – it starts at the 8:20 mark! 

Episode Quotes 

“While today the quality of CTE has vastly improved, the involvement of business and other private organizations can act as a way to build trust with those communities that vocational programs of the past failed to appropriately serve.”                                                                  Brianna McCain, State Policy Analyst, National Skills Coalition 

“In order for [employers] to see a positive return on investment they need to capitalize on those relationships. None of us can do this alone – it’s going to take these really effective public-private partnerships to make a difference for learners and ensure their experiences are worthwhile for both educators and employers.”                                                                            Jaimie Francis, Executive Director of Programs & Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce

“It’s important to make sure that your structures support partnership building [so that] partnerships are the default – funding, regular meeting structure, etc. so that partnership is the way of doing business rather than trying to swim against the tide.”  – Vickie Choitz, Director of Federal, State & Local Systems Change, Corporation for Skilled Workforce 

Thank you to Advance CTE’s Meredith Hills for serving as a facilitator and to our panelists for your expertise and insights. 

Watch previous episodes that discuss steps CTE leaders can take to prioritize quality and diversity, equity and inclusion in realizing CTE Without Limits. Our final episode will focus on harnessing actionable, transparent and trustworthy data. 

Visit our vision page to read the full vision, access vision communication and implementation resources, and view recordings of our summer Lunch and Learn webinar series focused on the five vision principles. Vision the Learning that Works Resource Center for tools to evaluate and advance public-private partnerships in CTE systems and programs through employer engagement and systems alignment