Legislative Update: Continued debates on federal spending, a new resolution introduced for National Career Development Month and more approved state ARP plans

November 5th, 2021

Congressional Democrats continued to negotiate and debate within their caucus the shape and contents of their forthcoming domestic spending bill. Meanwhile, a key lawmaker in the House has introduced a resolution to recognize November as National Career Development Month. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) approved two more state plans as part of the most recent COVID-19 (coronavirus) aid package passed by Congress earlier this Spring.

House Democrats Revise BBBA and Are Poised to Approve It

On Wednesday, the House Rules Committee unveiled revised text for the Build Back Better Act (BBBA)– $1.75 trillion legislation that would invest in a number of President Biden and Congressional Democrats’ domestic priorities, including Career Technical Education (CTE) and workforce development. As shared last week, this proposal would provide $600 million for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act’s (Perkins V) basic state grant formula program and $100 million for the law’s Innovation and Modernization competitive grant program. In addition, the proposal would provide new funding for several other programs of interest including apprenticeship expansion, “Grow Your Own” teacher and school leader development programs, and additional funding for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Connectivity Fund among other initiatives.

Following the release of this draft proposal, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) issued a joint  statement outlining the organizations’ support for the legislation but calling for the inclusion of Community College and Industry Partnership grant funding. Significantly, this revised version of the BBBA now includes $5 billion for this program. Advance CTE applauds House lawmakers’ acknowledgment of the importance of this proposed investment in the nation’s postsecondary education system and is particularly encouraged to note that certain Area Technical Centers would be eligible to apply for these grants under the current proposal. 

Following the release of this revised text, the House Rules Committee met late into the night on Wednesday, teeing up a possible vote on the legislation sometime on Friday, November 5. The measure, along with legislation investing in the nation’s physical infrastructure, are widely expected to pass by a slim margin in the chamber later today (Friday, November 5) although a vote and related debate have not yet started at the time of this writing. 

Should this current timeline hold, and with both Chambers out on recess next week, the earliest the BBBA could be taken up by the Senate is sometime during the week of November 15. However, key members of the Democratic caucus, particularly Sen. Manchin (D-WV), have so far been noncommittal regarding their support for the proposal as currently constructed in the House. This likely means that the Senate will make changes to the legislation prior to final passage. It remains unclear what potential changes will be made to the bill in order to garner the Senator’s support. As this process unfolds, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for a robust investment in these programs as part of any final legislative agreement.

CTE Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Langevin Introduces Measure Career Development

On Monday, Rep. Langevin (D-RI) introduced a legislative measure in the House expressing support for designating November 2021 as “National Career Development Month.” The resolution highlights the immense importance of career development activities and its impact, including the work of career counselors, that it has on learners. The resolution also elevates a recent Harris Interactive Poll which found that only 13 percent of those surveyed had received career development support from a school or private counselor, or other career specialists.  

ED Approves Two More State ARP Plans

The American Rescue Plan (ARP), passed exclusively by Congressional Democrats earlier this year, authorized $122 billion in additional pandemic aid funding to be disbursed to states and K-12 school districts this past spring. Since that time, ED has distributed two-thirds of this funding to states via a formula detailed in the legislation. The Department held back the remaining third of these funds, however, until states and territories submitted plans detailing how they would make use of these resources to support students as they recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

On Monday, November 4, ED approved two more of these plans, sending these additional funds to California and Colorado. Only five more states, along with Puerto Rico, have yet to have their ARP plans approved. The current status of all state ARP plans, including highlights of plans approved by the Department so far, can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

Welcome Stephen Schatz as the new State CTE Director in Hawai’i

November 4th, 2021

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

Welcome Stephen Schatz as the new State CTE Director in Hawai’i. The University of Hawai’i, which serves as the state’s Perkins eligible agency, houses the team Stephen leads – the Hawai’i P-20 Partnerships for Education. He comes to this role with educational experience that spans from the early grades through postsecondary; He has served as a 3rd grade teacher, a school principal and administrator, and the Deputy Superintendent for the state. Stephen was a stakeholder in the writing of Hawai’i’s Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plan. As Stephen assumes the roles of leading the CTE state team, he will also guide the Hawai ‘i Data eXchange Partnership (Hawai‘i DXP), an inter‐agency team responsible for the statewide longitudinal data system to inform policy and decisionmaking for the improvement of educational outcomes in Hawai‘i.

Uniquely, Hawai’i only has one school district and one higher education system and recently the state’s CTE office merged with the Hawai’i P-20 Partnerships for Education office. Stephen is looking forward to leveraging the islands’ educational landscape, recent governance shift, and his new leadership position as State Director to empower learners from preschool and beyond through fully aligned pathways that connect secondary and postsecondary education with the needs of employers. . Understanding the geographic needs of each community and identifying career interests and passions for learners across the islands, especially in rural and remote areas, while increasing their access to equitable programs of study is of high importance for Stephen and his work to implement a statewide vision for the future of CTE.

Hawai’i is known as a top tourist destination, and the effects of the current global pandemic has challenged and reshaped the makeup of the state’s industry and workforce needs. However, Stephen sees the change in local labor market needs as an opportunity to diversify the state’s economy and allow CTE programs to intentionally contribute to the talent pipeline. Key to this work is increasing interest from business and industry to collaborate with the P-20 system and finding new avenues for business engagement that are fueled by authentic self-interest over pure philanthropy.

When away from the office, you can catch Stephen surfing the island waves or at home in the kitchen cooking his favorite stews.

Please join us in welcoming Stephen to Advance CTE!

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

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media

14 States Recognized in 2021 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence

November 3rd, 2021

Our new career preparation ecosystem, designed under Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) must ensure each learner feels welcome in, is supported by and has the means to succeed. As stakeholders continue to implement this new shared vision, the field calls for state and local leaders to remain committed to high-quality programs and instructors that build a competitive talent pipeline. There also remains an ongoing need for federal, state and local investments in those individuals working directly with learners. 

Last month, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools announced their 2021 Prize for Teaching Excellence winners! This award invests in quality programs and instructors who work directly with learners, a foundational commitment to achieving CTE Without Limits. Annually, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools awards more than $1 million to 18 outstanding skilled trades instructors and programs in public high schools across the country to increase the understanding, support and investment in skilled trades education. Since its inception five years ago, 89 high-quality skilled trades instructors nationwide have been recognized and more than 100,000 students in career pathways have been impacted by these investments.

Teachers and schools awarded have full autonomy over how the prize money can be spent to advance their skills trades education program. As an example from earlier this year, two previous winners used their prizes to develop and implement apprenticeship programs. Both were recognized nationally for their programs.

2019 Prize winner Brent Trankler of Missouri used grant funding from the local Workforce Development Board to develop and implement a Youth Registered Apprenticeship at the Sikeston Career and Technical Center (Sikeston, MO). Trankler has leveraged employer relationships to build the learn-as-you-earn program for learners, allowing for clear pathways to career opportunities after graduation.  

2020 Prize winner Chad Sutton of Indiana recently received approval on his Welding Apprenticeship from the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship. With ongoing stakeholder collaboration between Sutton and his school administration, the local workforce board (NE Indiana Works), the Indiana Office of Work Based Learning and employers from the industry, 40 high school juniors and seniors will be able to participate. Sutton’s welding apprenticeship will be the first of its kind in the state and can serve as a model for leveraging partnerships to scale apprenticeship programs.

This year, winners span across the following 14 states:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Montana
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • West Virginia

For more information on the 2021 Prize for Teaching Excellence winners click here

Meet the grand prize winners here

Visit the Learning that Works Resource Center for state resources on program quality and work-based learning, including apprenticeships. 

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate for Digital Media

High School Graduates Reassessing Postsecondary Plans During COVID-19, Prioritizing Real-World Skills and Alternate Career Pathways

November 2nd, 2021

Postsecondary enrollment has seen dramatic declines during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, particularly for learners with low incomes and learners of color. A report recently published by the Strada Education Network sheds light on the experiences of high school graduates who have delayed their postsecondary education plans in 2020 and 2021. The report builds on survey data of 1,000 recent graduates previously covered by Advance CTE, as well as 17 in-depth interviews with learners. Strada finds that while these high school graduates remain committed to continuing their education, pandemic-related disruptions have caused them to reassess their initial plans and explore alternate pathways to career success. 

Learners across the board have experienced heightened uncertainty about college affordability and traditional career pathways as the labor market destabilized as a result of the coronavirus. Some learners said they were hesitant to enroll in coursework that would likely be conducted online, and concerns about taking care of family members amidst the health risks associated with the pandemic were also prevalent reasons for delaying enrollment, particularly among Black and Latinx learners. The report highlights three major priorities of high school graduates when considering when and how to re-engage with higher education: 

  • Personalizing college and career guidance. This includes learner-focused academic and career counseling services, peer models, and opportunities for open-minded exploration of diverse pathways. One-on-one attention from counselors centered on meeting learners’ unique needs and validating their goals and experiences is a crucial form of support. Learners also expressed a desire to hear and learn from the perspectives of alumni and industry professionals who have taken diverse college and career pathways.
  • Removing financial barriers. Financial concerns became even more pressing as the pandemic introduced more uncertainties for learners’ futures. A lack of funding to pay for college was a major factor in decisions to delay enrollment, and many survey respondents were no longer certain that a college degree would meet their needs. Learners increasingly fear accumulating student loan debt, and many found it difficult to navigate the application process for scholarships that might help to cover the costs. Streamlined and accessible financial aid is key to addressing these barriers.
  • Connecting college and career, and making academics relevant to real-world interests. Learners want to be prepared for a shifting and unpredictable workforce, and flexibility and career relevance in educational programs are critical concerns. Many recognize that a degree does not necessarily guarantee career success and hope to build work-ready skills through immersive hands-on and work-based learning experiences such as apprenticeships. Others hope that additional credentials and certifications will give them an advantage in the labor market. 

These priority areas shed light on effective supports that state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders and educational institutions can implement to promote the success of aspiring postsecondary learners disrupted by the pandemic. Financial assistance, mentoring relationships and personalized advising supports are especially powerful tools for closing the opportunity gaps that hinder the success of learners with low incomes, learners of color and first-generation college students. Despite the uncertainties of today’s labor market, recent high school graduates still believe that postsecondary educational opportunities are essential for both personal and professional development, as well as preparing for and transitioning to meaningful careers. Recognizing the future-focused resilience of these recent graduates and addressing their central areas of concern are important first steps for re-engagement in postsecondary education and career pathways.

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

Legislative Update: Build Back Better Framework Agreement Announced, ED Nominee Update and ECF Funding Requests

October 29th, 2021

This week Congress took a significant first step in enacting President Biden’s wider domestic policy agenda. Additionally, the Senate advanced a key Biden Administration nominee to oversee Career Technical Education (CTE) policy for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) while work continued to implement broadband connectivity efforts to close the homework gap.  

Build Back Better Framework Agreement Announced

Yesterday, President Biden announced that his administration, and  Democratic congressional leaders had come to an agreement on a $1.75 trillion framework to enact a slew of domestic priorities, including those impacting the CTE community. Following this announcement, the House Rules Committee held a hearing to begin formal consideration of the proposed Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376). While the legislation must still move forward via the Congressional budget reconciliation process—a maneuver that allows certain spending legislation to be passed by simple majorities in both legislative chambers—this announcement and related introduction of legislative text marks a significant step forward in Congressional Democrats’ efforts to enact President Biden’s wider domestic agenda. 

If enacted, the proposal would include $600 million for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act’s (Perkins V) basic state grant formula program. The bill also includes a proposed $100 million for the law’s Innovation and Modernization competitive grant program, $1 billion for apprenticeship programs, $113 million for “Grow Your Own” programs to train teachers in high-needs fields, $4.6 billion for industry and sector partnership grants, along with numerous other investments within the wider workforce development space. The proposed legislation would also include $300 million in additional funding for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF)—a key Advance CTE legislative priority to close the homework gap.

Despite this progress, this legislation remains far from being enacted and is still subject to change as lawmakers in Congress continue to debate and negotiate the contents of this package. As this process unfolds, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for a robust investment in CTE and the aforementioned programs via this legislative effort.  

View Advance CTE’s and ACTE’s joint statement on the framework here.

FCC Announces Additional ECF Funding Requests; Biden Administration Nominates New Leadership

Earlier this week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it had received nearly $1.3 billion in requests for funding as part of its second application window for the ECF program. The $7.2 billion ECF program was authorized as part of the American Rescue Plan and allows eligible schools and libraries to apply for financial support to purchase connected devices like laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to serve unmet needs of learners, school staff, and library patrons at home during the ongoing pandemic. This round of funding will provide nearly 2.4 million connected devices to eligible recipients and over 564,000 broadband connections. More details about which schools and libraries will receive funding can be found here.

The day after this announcement, President Biden announced the nomination of  Jessica Rosenworcel to serve as the next commissioner and Chair of the FCC. The Biden Administration also announced that Gigi Sohn has been nominated to serve as another FCC commissioner, likely serving as the administration’s point person on issues pertaining to net neutrality. Senate Democratic leaders are widely expected to move forward with Rosenworcel’s confirmation process relatively soon as this seat must be vacated if she is not confirmed by the end of the year. 

Senate HELP Committee Advances ED Nominees

On Tuesday the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee considered the nominations of several Biden Administration nominees, including two officials to serve in key roles within ED—Sandra Bruce to serve as  the Department’s next Inspector General and Amy Loyd to serve as the next Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Adult, and Technical Education (OCTAE). The committee approved both Loyd’s and Bruce’s nominations, along with five other nominees, via voice vote, advancing both nominees for further consideration by the full Senate chamber some time in the future.

Advance CTE has strongly supported Loyd’s nomination earlier this year and is looking forward to a swift confirmation process to ensure ED has the necessary leadership in place to advocate for high-quality and equitable CTE in the months and years ahead.

 Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Making the Case for a Cross-Disciplinary STEM Core

October 26th, 2021

Submitted by CORD, 2021 Fall Meeting Sponsor

The nature of work is evolving right before our eyes. Technological advancements are transforming existing industries and creating new ones at an unprecedented pace. The World Economic Forum predicts significant disruption in the jobs landscape over the next four years. As many as 85 million current job roles may be displaced while more than 97 million new roles could emerge. Many of those roles will be enhanced by technologies that can collaborate with humans to enrich lives and workplaces in what the National Science Foundation (NSF) describes as the “future of work at the human-technology frontier.” Our challenge as state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders is ensuring future technicians acquire the expanding skill sets necessary for success in a rapidly changing environment. 

Through the NSF-Advanced Technological Education (ATE) supported initiative, Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work, staff at the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD) led a series of research activities designed to identify the knowledge and skills that will be essential for future STEM techniciansThis work has resulted in the Framework for a Cross-Disciplinary STEM Core (The Framework), a set of recommendations for technician education that incorporate knowledge and skills such as Advanced Digital Literacy, Data Knowledge and Analysis, and Business Knowledge and Processes into technician preparation programs. These core content areas are essential to future success in STEM fields because they transcend narrow job specialization and enable technicians to adapt to a complex employment environment. Topics within these areas have been prioritized by educators and industry leaders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Framework offers practical recommendations for implementation, with regional customization, by any community college technical program. Steps toward adoption of the Framework include:

  • Empowering technician educators to integrate multiple disciplines into existing programs and develop new programs that support emerging disciplines and occupations;
  • Convening stakeholders across sectors to collaborate with educators on talent development approaches that make sense locally, yet prepare learners for the global economy; and
  • Discussing with employers the effects of automation and artificial intelligence on their workforce and how you can support their reskilling efforts.

Download the Framework today and discover ways you can advocate for adoption of the Cross-Disciplinary STEM Core in your state.

Digital Badges: Professional Recognition for the Modern Workforce

October 25th, 2021

Submitted by iCEV, 2021 Fall Meeting Sponsor

Skills Verification in the Digital Age

Digital badges are a powerful way to take charge of professional growth and development, and they have become a popular way for individuals to upskill and advance their careers. Businesses, schools and organizations use digital badges to provide skills verification and offer opportunities for career advancement.

Digital badges signify the learner has completed a formally approved set of standards or competencies. Learners earn badges when they complete specific tasks to prove their knowledge and skills. Earning badges is a professional way for learners to share career development experiences with others and highlight their commitment to knowledge expansion in a particular area. 

Because they are an online representation of knowledge, skills and accomplishments, digital badges provide an opportunity to promote those attributes through various channels. Digital badges can be added to email signatures and digital resumes or shared on social media platforms. A digital badge provides verifiable metadata that describes the qualifications and process required to earn the digital badge, making it easier for others to recognize the learner’s expertise and achievements.

Introducing iCEV Digital Badges

iCEV is committed to providing lifelong learners the tools necessary to achieve academic and professional goals. In an ever-changing marketplace, it is essential to communicate skills and credentials effectively. iCEV has partnered with Credly to offer a modernized version of credentials through digital badging. This fall, iCEV will begin offering digital badges to anyone who earns an industry certification hosted on the iCEV Certification Testing Platform; iCEV has already started awarding badges to educators who attend an iCEV professional development event.

iCEV first began awarding digital badges at CTE Inspired, a virtual conference hosted by iCEV. Badges were awarded to presenters, as well as attendees, based on the number of sessions attended. Nearly 2,000 presenters and recipients received an iCEV digital badge by participating in CTE Inspired. 

Whether an individual earns an industry certification or an educator receives professional development credit, the digital badges awarded by iCEV offer a portable, verifiable method for professional accomplishment. Visit our website to learn more about iCEV’s new digital badging initiatives. 

Legislative Update: Short-term Extension of the Debt Limit, Newly Approved State ARP Plans and ECF Applications

October 22nd, 2021

Over the past two weeks, Congress approved a short-term extension of the nation’s borrowing authority and made further progress on Fiscal Year 22 (FY22) appropriations. Federal agencies have also advanced efforts to approve new state American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding proposals and distribute additional funding for broadband connectivity efforts. More recently, the Senate has advanced additional U.S. Department of Education (USED) nominees while President Biden issued an Executive Order aimed, in part, at advancing economic and educational opportunities for Black Americans. 

Short-term Debt Limit Deal Enacted 

During the week of October 11, the House formally considered and approved a short-term increase of the nation’s borrowing authority, known as the debt limit. Lawmakers passed this measure along party lines by a margin of 219-206. Following passage, President Biden signed the legislation into law, which provides $480 billion in additional borrowing authority for the U.S. Treasury Department. This extension is estimated to provide sufficient borrowing authority through early December—a time when Congress must also act to pass a full-year funding measure for the current federal fiscal year (FY22) for programs like the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). 

Prior to this vote, however, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sent a letter to President Biden making clear that his party will likely filibuster future Congressional efforts to pass a longer-term measure to extend or suspend the current debt limit. 

Make Your Voice Heard

The short-term agreement on the debt limit provides more time to Congressional Democrats who are currently debating the size and scope of a forthcoming domestic spending package, modeled off of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda that could potentially provide $4 billion in additional funding for Perkins V. 

At this stage in the negotiations, it is critical that the Career Technical Education (CTE) community makes its voice heard to ensure a Perkins funding increase is included in a final agreement. Be sure to contact your members of Congress to remind them of the importance of investing in CTE. To do so, click here!  

Senate Release Remaining FY22 Spending Bills 

On October 18, the Senate Appropriations Committee released drafts of the remaining nine FY22 spending bills that had not been considered by the committee. Among these was the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) appropriations bill, which provides funding for USED and the related federal programs it oversees. Overall, the proposal would, if enacted, provide $98.4 billion for USED—an increase of $24.9 billion compared to the previous fiscal year. Most of this proposed increase would be devoted to nearly doubling the size of Title I formula funds for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 

Significantly, the bill proposes a $50 million increase for the Perkins V basic state grant program. This proposal aligns with House legislation passed earlier this year by the lower chamber which, if enacted, would provide a total increase of roughly $1.385 billion. 

The proposal is not expected, however, to be formally marked up by the Senate. Rather, these bills will be used as the basis to begin bicameral and bipartisan negotiations for full-year FY22 funding—legislation that must be completed by December 3 when current short-term funding is set to expire. As these efforts progress, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for a robust investment in Pekins V’s basic state grant program as part of the wider FY22 process.

FCC Approves Additional Emergency Connectivity Fund Applications

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced $1.1 billion in new commitments as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF)’s second wave of funding distribution. The funding will cover 2.4 million devices and 1.9 million broadband connections. The approved projects will benefit learners and staff at 2,471 schools, and the patrons of 205 libraries. The FCC has approved over half of the applications filed during the program’s first application window and it is expected that the remaining qualified applications will be approved in the coming weeks. Securing initial funding for the ECF was a key advocacy priority for Advance CTE, at the start of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, as part of wider efforts to close the ‘homework gap.’ 

USED Approves Four More State ARP Plans 

This past spring, Congressional Democrats passed ARP legislation), which authorized $122 billion in supplementary funding for K-12 school districts. Since that time, USED distributed two-thirds of this funding via formula to help schools and states respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Department, however, held back the remaining third of this funding requiring that states and territories submit plans detailing how these new financial resources would be used to support learners coping with the impacts of the public health crisis and related disruptions to schooling. 

As part of this ongoing effort, USED has been periodically reviewing and approving state ARP plans for this purpose. On October 14, the Department approved four more of these plans for Guam, Maryland, Nebraska, and Virginia. Seven states and Puerto Rico are still awaiting approval from the Department, along with the release of these remaining ARP funds. The current status of all state ARP plans, including highlights of plans approved by USED so far, can be found here

President Biden Issues Executive Order to Advance Educational Equity

On October 19, President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) creating a new White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans. The order enumerates several actions that the Biden Administration has already taken or plans to take to provide greater economic opportunity for Black families and communities, close educational achievement gaps for Black learners, improve health outcomes for these communities, and outlines a number of steps the administration plans to take regarding criminal justice reform among other elements. Importantly, the EO envisions CTE as being a key way to achieve some of these objectives stating, in part, that it will “[advance] racial equity and economic opportunity by connecting education to labor market needs through programs such as dual enrollment, career and technical education, registered apprenticeships, work-based learning . . .”

The order goes on to note that, “Eliminating these inequities requires expanding access to work-based learning and leadership opportunities, including mentorships, sponsorships, internships, and registered apprenticeships that provide not only career guidance, but also the experience needed to navigate and excel in successful careers.” In addition, the order establishes an interagency governmental working group, inclusive of federal CTE representatives from USED, to support the initiative’s broad remit. A related factsheet outlining this order can be found here

Senate Confirms OCR Leader While Setting Sights on OCTAE Nomination Next Week 

On October 20, Catherine Lhamon was narrowly approved by the Senate to become the next Assistant Secretary for USED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The vote was evenly split along partisan lines, requiring a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris. Lhamon previously led OCR under President Obama where she oversaw a controversial overhaul of Title IX regulations—a move that has continued to be a primary source of opposition for Republican lawmakers. 

In addition to Lhamon’s confirmation, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee is scheduled to consider the nominations of two other USED officials, including Amy Loyd, to serve as the next Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Adult, and Technical Education (OCTAE) along with Sandra Bruce to be the Department’s next Inspector General next week. Advance CTE has strongly supported Loyd’s nomination and looks forward to a swift confirmation process in the coming weeks and months ahead.   

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

What Happened to the Men?

October 22nd, 2021

Submitted by Brett Pawlowski, NC3T, 2021 Fall Meeting Sponsor

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that floored me – so much that I had to read it a second time. And, I still haven’t figured out how to react, or how big the impact on our society is going to be.

The article, published September 6, is titled “A Generation of American Men Give Up on College: ‘I Just Feel Lost’.” From the article: 

Men are abandoning higher education in such numbers that they
now trail female college students by record levels.

At the close of the 2020-21 academic year, women made up 59.5% of college students,
an all-time high, and men 40.5%, according to enrollment data
from the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research group.
U.S. colleges and universities had 1.5 million fewer students compared with five years ago,
and men accounted for 71% of the decline.

The percentage of women undergrads is at an all-time high – not because more women are going to a two-or four-year college – but because the number of men doing so has fallen off a cliff.

Why would that be?

Men in interviews around the U.S. said they quit school or didn’t enroll because they didn’t see enough value in a college degree for all the effort and expense required to earn one. Many said they wanted to make money after high school.

Another explanation:

“Many young men are hobbled by a lack of guidance, a strain of anti-intellectualism, and a growing belief that college degrees don’t pay off,” said Ed Grocholski, a Senior Vice President at Junior Achievement USA, which works with about five million learners every year to teach about career paths, financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

I don’t know the real reasons, and I certainly don’t know the solutions. But what I do know is that historically, those with higher levels of education have had significantly better financial and life outcomes. There’s every reason to believe that’s still the case going forward. And, the fact that this topic sees so little conversation is alarming. If we don’t address these issues, and we allow so many young men to fall through the cracks, we’re in for a very tough time as a nation.

We join with Advance CTE members in promoting the value of career-connected learning as an essential strategy for engaging and preparing young men and women for their futures. NC3T stands ready to help state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders with coaching, professional development and technical assistance around pathways development and the creation of a profile of a graduate. NC3T also helps to manage work-based learning with its Seamless WBL platform, and it supports career exploration across schools with the new CareerSmart Schools tool. Visit us at NC3T.com for more.

Getting to Know: Stakeholder Engagement at Advance CTE

October 21st, 2021

The “Getting to Know” blog series features the work of State CTE Directors, state and federal policies, innovative programs and new initiatives from the Advance CTE staff. Learn more about each of these topics and the unique contributions to advancing Career Technical Education (CTE) that Advance CTE’s members work on every day.

Meet Dan Hinderliter! Dan is a State Policy Associate at Advance CTE and supports a number of different national projects. As a site liaison for the New Skills ready network, Dan works with two sites (Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana), providing resource and research support while also serving as a direct link to the national project team. He also works on site snapshots, the annual report and quarterly newsletters, as well as major publications that highlight promising national, state and local practices aligned with the principles of the New Skills ready network

Dan also supports the modernization of the National Career Clusters® Framework and spearheads the Year in Review, the annual aggregation of state policy impacting CTE. As part of the Year in Review process, Dan regularly tracks state-level legislation and other policy actions.

Q: Considering your work on the New Skills ready network initiative, how are the six sites leveraging stakeholder engagement to advance career pathways? 

A: Each of the six New Skills ready network sites is working to leverage stakeholder engagement in some capacity to advance career pathways. First, because each of the sites is composed of a variety of stakeholders, engagement with business and industry, postsecondary partners and K-12 institutions has to happen to ensure each voice is involved in and buys into the work of the site. Outside of the project teams, however, most sites are doing some level of stakeholder engagement involving learner and family communications practices. Some sites are surveying parents and learners to understand what resonates with them about available career pathways, while others have done focus groups to understand where there are gaps for learners in specific programs. Columbus, Ohio’s project team hired a minority-led communications firm, with roots in Columbus, to help share consistent messaging and work to understand how each stakeholder can be better supported.

View the 2020-2021 site snapshot for Columbus, Ohio here

Q: Earlier this year, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released State Policies Impacting CTE: 2020 Year in Review where industry partnership was a frequently addressed topic area. Are there any states that can serve as a model for policy actions around stakeholder engagement? 

A: Every year, states enact new legislation that impacts how each state engages with stakeholders, either through input gathering or through information sharing. Many states, including Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho and Missouri (among others), passed legislation this year requiring a state agency to collect and disseminate information that allows learners to make more informed decisions about their futures, including information about in-demand jobs or industry recognized credential attainment. Other states are using legislative action to improve equity and access in part through stakeholder engagement; Oregon and Washington, for example, now require institutions to collect feedback or input from diverse or historically marginalized stakeholder groups to inform new practices and strategies that will increase access to high-quality CTE programs for those groups. At the beginning of 2022, we will release our state policy tracker for 2021 which includes the above legislative actions and others.

Q: One of the foundational commitments within CTE Without Limits is based on stakeholder engagement. How can states, through such partnerships, ensure each learner reaches success in a career of their choice? 

A: Advance CTE’s shared vision, CTE Without Limits, calls for CTE to be incredibly learner-centric and for programs to ensure that the learner voice is incorporated into each decision about career pathways or programs. As states continue to expand access and equity in their CTE programs and work toward dismantling systemic barriers in CTE, the learner voice must be an integral part of these conversations, as only the learner who participated in the program can fully understand the consequences of decisions made at each level. At the same time, states and local institutions can continue to expand offerings by building partnerships with community based organizations to offer learner supports or with business and industry to offer new or improved work-based learning opportunities. By including opportunities for stakeholder groups like learners, their families and local businesses to provide input into decisions surrounding CTE, states can ensure that their career pathways and CTE programs are truly aligned with the needs of their communities.

Q: Lastly, Advance CTE announced the modernization of The National Career Clusters® Framework. How has Advance CTE prioritized stakeholder engagement and the voices of the field in this work? 

A: Though we don’t yet know what our end product will look like at the conclusion of these modernization efforts, we did know the process had to be highly collaborative to ensure everyone buys into whatever the outcome happens to be. As such, we have included a lot of opportunity to incorporate feedback from the field; we convened an expert kitchen cabinet to provide insights about the purpose and uses of the Framework, opened a crowdsourcing portal to collect feedback from the larger field about critical changes they’d like to see, and held workshops to assist in the prototyping of a new Framework. In this next phase of work, we’re hoping to hold focus groups to discuss the future of the Framework. As we near a model for a new, modernized Framework, we are hoping to have many more conversations with stakeholders about how they can implement the Framework in their own state and community to ensure that the modernized Framework is implemented with fidelity.

For resources and tools to increase stakeholder engagement in CTE, visit the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media 

 

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