Legislative Update: ED Confirms Nominee and DOL Grant Updates

September 17th, 2021

This week, the Senate confirmed the new Undersecretary of Education. Read below to learn about this role, as well as new funding opportunities from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), an update on the budget reconciliation process and newly approved stimulus plans. 

Senate Confirms James Kvaal as Undersecretary of Education

On Tuesday the Senate confirmed James Kvaal as the Undersecretary of Education for the U.S. Department of Education (ED), in a 58-37 vote. This is the third highest position at ED. In his capacity as Undersecretary, Kvaal will oversee the Administration’s higher education work- including federal student aid. Previously, Kvaal was the president of the Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS). He also served in the Obama Administration as the deputy domestic policy adviser at the White House and deputy undersecretary at ED. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona’s statement on Kvaal’s confirmation can be found here

DOL Announces Funding for Registered Apprenticeships in Critical, Nontraditional Industries 

DOL announced that funds are now available for up to four new contracts to Industry Intermediaries in order to launch, promote or expand Registered Apprenticeships in critical industries impacted by COVID-19 (coronavirus) and industries that have not traditionally used apprenticeships to meet employer and sector needs. The request for proposals is geared toward intermediaries looking to expand apprenticeship opportunities in industries disproportionately affected by the pandemic, increase opportunities for under-represented populations and leverage existing resources to support and sustain programs at the local and national levels. This grant will be administered by DOL’s Employment and Training Administration, and additional information can be found here.  

DOL Announces Funding to Expand Job Opportunities for Women in Apprenticeships and Nontraditional Occupations

DOL announced $3.3 million in grant funding to recruit, train and retain more women in pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeships programs, as well as nontraditional occupations. These grants were awarded to organizations in California, Mississippi, New York, Texas and Wisconsin, and were administered by the DOL Women’s Bureau and Employment and Training Administration. Information about grant recipients can be found here.  

House Education and Labor Committee Marks Up Budget Reconciliation Package 

Written by Jori Houck, Media Relations and Advocacy Associate, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here

The House Education and Labor Committee marked up its portion of the House’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, on September 9 and 10. The Committee’s portion of the bill contains a total of $761 billion in new funding, and in a significant victory, $4 billion for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V)! 

The bill also includes a significant number of other investments in programs or initiatives that could benefit CTE programs, students and institutions. Relevant components of the bill include: 

  • Perkins Basic State Grant/Innovation and Modernization: $3 billion in funding through the Perkins Basic State Grant funding stream, with an additional $1 billion in funding for the existing Innovation and Modernization fund, for a total of $4 billion to be distributed through Perkins V. 
  • Tuition-Free Community College: Beginning in financial aid year 2023-24, the bill provides two years of tuition-free community college for eligible students. 
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Allocations: $16 billion for dislocated worker employment and training; $15 billion for adult worker employment and training activities; $9.05 billion for youth workforce investment activities; $3.6 billion for carrying out ex-offender activities. 
  • Registered Apprenticeships, Youth Apprenticeships and Pre-Apprenticeships: $5 billion for grants, cooperative agreements, contracts or other arrangements to create or expand registered apprenticeship programs, youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. 
  • Community College and Industry Partnerships Grants: $2 billion for grants to community colleges to expand workforce development and employment opportunities in high-skill, high-wage or in-demand industry sectors or occupations. 
  • Industry or Sector Partnership Grants: $10 billion for competitive grants to partnerships to expand workforce development and employment opportunities for high-skill, high-wage and in-demand industry sectors or occupations, including information technology, clean energy, infrastructure and transportation, advanced manufacturing, public health home care and early childhood care and education. 
  • Direct Care Workforce: $1.48 billion to award competitive grants to provide competitive wages, benefits, and other supportive services to direct care workers, and for the recruitment, retention and training of direct care workers. 
  • Adult Basic Education: $3.6 billion to support adult education programs under Title II of WIOA. 
  • Rebuild America’s Schools Grant Program: $81 billion from FY 2022-24 for grants to state educational agencies (SEAs), with $39.6 billion awarded in each of FYs 2023 and 2024. Funds would be awarded to local educational agencies to create and implement facilities plans to address health, safety, educational equity, enrollment diversity, environmental sustainability and climate resiliency of public school facilities. 
  • “Grow Your Own” programs: $197 million to address teacher shortages in high-need subjects and locations and to increase the diversity of the education workforce. 
  • Retention and completion grants: $9 billion for retention and completion grants to institutions of higher education. 
  • Pell Grants: increase the maximum aid amount by $500 per year through the 2029-30 school year. 

However, based on the definitions included in the draft legislation, area technical centers (ATCs) have been left out of the free community college proposal in particular. In many states, these public, fully accredited institutions are the primary delivery of postsecondary CTE certificate programs, but because they do not grant associate degrees, ATCs would not be included in this important program. 

ACTE and Advance CTE has sent a letter to Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) of the House Education and Labor Committee expressing concern over the exclusion of ATCs in the Committee’s portion of the Build Back Better Act, and is actively working with Congress to support these critical institutions.   

As this bill moves forward, it is important that CTE stakeholders continue to keep up the pressure on Members of Congress to include important investments in education and workforce development in the budget reconciliation bill, and to ensure all CTE programs are included! 

You can read the full text of the Committee’s print of the Build Back Better Act here. Stay tuned for the latest developments impacting CTE during the budget reconciliation process!

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 newly approved states and funding levels include: 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Legislative Update: House Marks Up Education & Labor Reconciliation Bill

September 13th, 2021

Written by Jori Houck, Media Relations and Advocacy Associate, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here

The House Education and Labor Committee marked up its portion of the House’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, on September 9 and 10. The Committee’s portion of the bill contains a total of $761 billion in new funding, and in a significant victory, $4 billion for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V)! 

The bill also includes a significant number of other investments in programs or initiatives that could benefit CTE programs, students and institutions. Relevant components of the bill include: 

  • Perkins Basic State Grant/Innovation and Modernization: $3 billion in funding through the Perkins Basic State Grant funding stream, with an additional $1 billion in funding for the existing Innovation and Modernization fund, for a total of $4 billion to be distributed through Perkins V. 
  • Tuition-Free Community College: Beginning in financial aid year 2023-24, the bill provides two years of tuition-free community college for eligible students. 
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Allocations: $16 billion for dislocated worker employment and training; $15 billion for adult worker employment and training activities; $9.05 billion for youth workforce investment activities; $3.6 billion for carrying out ex-offender activities. 
  • Registered Apprenticeships, Youth Apprenticeships and Pre-Apprenticeships: $5 billion for grants, cooperative agreements, contracts or other arrangements to create or expand registered apprenticeship programs, youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. 
  • Community College and Industry Partnerships Grants: $2 billion for grants to community colleges to expand workforce development and employment opportunities in high-skill, high-wage or in-demand industry sectors or occupations. 
  • Industry or Sector Partnership Grants: $10 billion for competitive grants to partnerships to expand workforce development and employment opportunities for high-skill, high-wage and in-demand industry sectors or occupations, including information technology, clean energy, infrastructure and transportation, advanced manufacturing, public health home care and early childhood care and education. 
  • Direct Care Workforce: $1.48 billion to award competitive grants to provide competitive wages, benefits, and other supportive services to direct care workers, and for the recruitment, retention and training of direct care workers. 
  • Adult Basic Education: $3.6 billion to support adult education programs under Title II of WIOA. 
  • Rebuild America’s Schools Grant Program: $81 billion from FY 2022-24 for grants to state educational agencies (SEAs), with $39.6 billion awarded in each of FYs 2023 and 2024. Funds would be awarded to local educational agencies to create and implement facilities plans to address health, safety, educational equity, enrollment diversity, environmental sustainability and climate resiliency of public school facilities. 
  • “Grow Your Own” programs: $197 million to address teacher shortages in high-need subjects and locations and to increase the diversity of the education workforce. 
  • Retention and completion grants: $9 billion for retention and completion grants to institutions of higher education. 
  • Pell Grants: increase the maximum aid amount by $500 per year through the 2029-30 school year. 

However, based on the definitions included in the draft legislation, area technical centers (ATCs) have been left out of the free community college proposal in particular. In many states, these public, fully accredited institutions are the primary delivery of postsecondary CTE certificate programs, but because they do not grant associate degrees, ATCs would not be included in this important program. 

ACTE and Advance CTE has sent a letter to Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) of the House Education and Labor Committee expressing concern over the exclusion of ATCs in the Committee’s portion of the Build Back Better Act, and is actively working with Congress to support these critical institutions.   

As this bill moves forward, it is important that CTE stakeholders continue to keep up the pressure on Members of Congress to include important investments in education and workforce development in the budget reconciliation bill, and to ensure all CTE programs are included! 

You can read the full text of the Committee’s print of the Build Back Better Act here. Stay tuned for the latest developments impacting CTE during the budget reconciliation process!

Legislative Update: Resolution to Double Federal Funding for CTE and Budget Reconciliation Update

September 3rd, 2021

This week, a resolution was introduced in the House to double the federal investment in Career Technical Education (CTE). Read below to learn more about this bill, as well as how to advocate for CTE and workforce development programs in the current budget reconciliation process, next steps for a dual enrollment experimental site, the second round of emergency connectivity fund applications and a new guide on leading conversations and work that address racial inequities in CTE.  

House Representatives Introduce Resolution to Double Federal Funding for CTE

On Wednesday, Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced a resolution to double federal funding for CTE. Specifically, the resolution calls for $10 billion over the next 10 years in new funding for programs under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) and innovative evidence-based CTE. The resolution calls attention to the important role of Perkins V and CTE in training the skilled workforce of the future and increasing earning potential and career opportunities. It also points to the insufficient amount of Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) federal funding for CTE, which will not fully support the long-term economic realignment and skills training the country is facing. 

Advance CTE is pleased to endorse this bill. The full resolution text can be found here

House Moves Ahead with Budget Reconciliation – Your Advocacy is Needed

Written by Jori Houck, Media Relations and Advocacy Associate, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here

Following the passage of a budget resolution by the House and Senate, the House Committee on Education and Labor and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will begin drafting their portions of the larger budget reconciliation package. At this stage of the process, the key funding decisions for CTE are being made by members of these committees. 

The Biden Administration has proposed $10 billion over 10 years for CTE programs in the reconciliation bill as a part of the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request and American Jobs Plan. More broadly, the Biden Administration is calling for $100 billion in funding for workforce development. However, amidst competing priorities and limited resources available for education spending in the bill, these funds may not be included. In addition, there are numerous discussions underway about how to provide up to two years of free college through the bill, and how to support postsecondary retention and completion. Advance CTE and ACTE are proactively working to ensure that CTE programs at area CTE centers and certificate programs at other institutions are included in any of these proposals. 

The House Education and Labor Committee is expected to begin considering its portion of the budget reconciliation package as soon as Thursday, September 9, and is putting that proposal together now. The Senate HELP Committee is expected to follow soon after, so now is the time to act! 

ACTION NEEDED:
CLICK HERE to ask your Members of Congress to weigh in with their colleagues on the Senate HELP Committee and House Education and Labor Committee to ask them to support these three priorities in the budget reconciliation bill: 

  • Include the Biden Administration’s proposed investment of $10 billion over 10 years for CTE programs; 
  • Match the Biden Administration’s $100 billion request for workforce development funding overall, including CTE funding; and 
  • Ensure that CTE programs are included in any postsecondary proposals, such as free college and college retention and completion initiatives, including programs at area CTE centers. 

ED Ends Dual Enrollment Experimental Sites Initiative

This month, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) notified over two dozen higher education institutions  that are part of the ED Pell Experimental Sites Initiative for dual enrollment that the experiment will be finished at the end of 2021-2022 academic year. Next, the dual enrollment Pell experiment will be evaluated and a report will be submitted to Congress analyzing the data collected and offering policy recommendations for future initiatives to increase Pell grants to dual enrollment. 

FCC Opens Second Application Window for Emergency Connectivity Fund

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it has received $5.137 billion in requests to fund 9.1 million connected devices and 5.4 million broadband connections, including schools and libraries in both rural and urban communities, as part of the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The first filing window closed on August 13, and resulted in applications from all 50 states, D.C., American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The FCC will open a second application filing window from September 28 to October 13 in light of the outstanding demand. A state-by-state breakdown of funding requests can be found here

Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) highlighted this widespread demand in a press release that called for passing of the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Students Succeed (SUCCESS) Act, which was introduced in July

Advance CTE Releases Guide to Engaging in Work on Racial Equity and CTE

Historically, CTE has systematically upheld barriers to each learner accessing and being successful in the career preparation ecosystem. With Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education and Perkins V placing an intentional focus on historically minoritized communities and learners with special population status, state CTE leaders have a responsibility to engage in anti-racist conversations between all levels of stakeholders to advance equitable CTE policies and practices. This week, Advance CTE released Brave Dialogues: A Guide to Discussing Racial Equity in Career Technical Education to provide tools to become better equipped and motivated to begin and continue in discussions to right the wrongs in CTE and to support state CTE leaders in creating an environment in which their state teams, local intermediaries, business partnerships and more have the language and comfort to discuss challenges and opportunities related to racial equity in CTE. 

This new resource is a part of the Making Good on the Promise Series confronting the negative aspects of CTE’s legacy and defining the key challenges learners face today. 

View Brave Dialogues: A Guide to Discussing Racial Equity in Career Technical Education here.  

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Legislative Update: Budget Reconciliation and Demand for Broadband Funding

August 27th, 2021

This week, the House adopted a budget resolution that allows for progression on the budget reconciliation process. Read below to learn more about the implications and timeline, as well as an update on national demand for broadband funding, a grant program for displaced workers and newly approved stimulus funding plans.

House Adopts Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Resolution

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

On Tuesday, the House adopted the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget resolution, by a 220-212 party-line vote. The resolution is significant because it officially starts the reconciliation process, paving the way for the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan to be passed by a simple majority. The Senate already adopted the budget resolution on a party-line vote earlier this month.

The House vote also included the rule for floor debate governing a separate voting rights bill and eventually the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, for which Democratic leaders have set a tentative vote date of September 27.

Now that the reconciliation rules have been adopted in both chambers through the budget resolution, committees can begin officially writing their respective pieces of the larger $3.5 trillion package. For example, the education committees have been allocated over $700 billion to fund initiatives under their jurisdiction, ranging from Pre-K programs to free college, and including any workforce development or CTE investments.  

Within the resolution, there is a deadline of September 15 to have bills done on the committee level, so they can be combined into one large proposal for passage on the floor of each chamber. However, with many moving parts and disagreements even among Democrats it seems somewhat unlikely that the reconciliation bill will be done by the prescribed deadline and may go later into the fall.

There are a handful of moderate Senate Democrats, namely Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), who have publicly expressed concern over the price tag of the reconciliation bill. With a 50-50 tie in the Senate, it is critical that all Democrats are on board to ensure its passage. This means that there will likely be longer negotiations that may pare down the bill before it is brought to a vote.

FCC Announces Over $5 Billion in Funding Requests for Emergency Connectivity Fund

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it has received $5.137 billion in requests to fund 9.1 million connected devices and 5.4 million broadband connections, including schools and libraries in both rural and urban communities, as part of the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The first filing window closed on August 13, and resulted in applications from all 50 states, D.C., American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The FCC will open a second application filing window from September 28 to October 13 in light of the outstanding demand. A state-by-state breakdown of funding requests can be found here

On Wednesday Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) highlighted this widespread demand in a press release that called for passing of the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Students Succeed (SUCCESS) Act, which was introduced in July.  

DOL Announces Grants for Workers Displaced by the Pandemic

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the availability of an increased $90 million of funding grants for employment opportunities for displaced workers, historically marginalized communities or groups and those unemployed for an extended period of time or who have exhausted unemployment insurance or other pandemic unemployment insurance programs. This means that funding for Comprehensive and Accessible Reemployment through Equitable Employment Recovery (CAREER) National Dislocated Worker Grants, announced in June, is more than doubled. Applications for CAREER National Dislocated Worker Grants are open through August 31 and can be used for one of the following activities: 

  • Delivering comprehensive workforce services, including career, training and supporting services to help participants gain employment; or
  • Purchasing, building or expanding virtual technology platforms, software systems or services for job search, career guidance, training or other allowable activities. 

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 newly approved states and funding levels include: 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Legislative Update: ED and DOL Initiative and Resources from Advance CTE

August 20th, 2021

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) shared information on an initiative to help unemployed Americans with postsecondary opportunities. Read below to learn more about what this includes, as well as new resources from Advance CTE on elevating the learner voice and addressing challenges in improving equity and access in Career Technical Education (CTE). 

ED and DOL Announce Efforts to Help Unemployed Workers Pursue Postsecondary Education

ED, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), launched an initiative to help connect millions of unemployed Americans to postsecondary education, especially those displaced from employment during the pandemic. To help individuals find educational opportunities and training that lead to good jobs, ED and DOL will alert institutions of higher education and state workforce agencies about how they can help unemployment insurance (UI) beneficiaries access postsecondary education. 

ED updated the guidance to financial aid administrators of postsecondary institutions about their authority to use “professional judgement” for individual financial aid applicants and adjust recently unemployed applicants’ income to zero- helping to ensure that learners receive the maximum benefit to which they are entitled. Moving forward, DOL will alert state workforce agencies that UI recipients are often eligible for postsecondary education funding such as federal student aid. ED also launched a new landing page that states can share with UI beneficiaries to help them identify opportunities at colleges that are also eligible training providers under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). 

Advance CTE and ACTE Release a Toolkit to Elevate the Learner Voice in CTE 

On Thursday, 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 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.

The full resource and supplemental tools can be found here.

Advance CTE Shares Resources for Equity in CTE 

Advance CTE is sharing resources, tools and supports to help navigate the challenges to overcoming equity and access barriers in CTE. As described in Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits), there is a critical responsibility to identify and dismantle historical barriers and construct systems that support each learner in accessing, feeling welcome in, fully participating in and successfully navigating their career journey. Check out this toolkit that includes: 

  • Equity and access resources and blogs; 
  • Social media posts; and
  • Professional learning opportunities. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

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

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

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

Legislative Update: House, Senate and Administration Support for $100 Billion in Workforce Investment

July 23rd, 2021

This week, the House Education and Labor Committee held a press conference calling for a $100 billion federal investment in workforce programs. Read below to learn more about the outlook for this investment, as well as a House letter in support of workforce funding, a bicameral bill to close the homework gap, the newest approved stimulus funding plans and Senate letter in support of educator investments. 

House Education and Labor Committee Holds Press Conference on Workforce Investments

Written by Jori Houck, Media Relations and Advocacy Associate, Associate for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here

On July 22, the House Education and Labor Committee held a press conference featuring Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten, Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), manufacturing business owner Traci Tapani of Wyoming Machine and National Skills Coalition Executive Director Andy Van Kleunen to express the urgent need to include the $100 billion investment in workforce development laid out in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan proposal as a part of the upcoming reconciliation package.

Chairman Scott noted that workforce development programs have not been properly funded, particularly in any of the pandemic-related stimulus packages, and workers are seeking the skills necessary to be competitive in the workforce. Adding to Chairman Scott’s observations, Secretary Walsh expressed that Career Technical Education (CTE) is an area of priority – 22 million jobs have been lost to the pandemic, and the country is falling behind the pace of change in the workforce. 

Education Deputy Secretary Marten identified CTE as providing critically important opportunities for students and noted that the $10 billion in CTE investments proposed by the Biden Administration will help scale best practices, provide an evidence base for successful CTE programs and support middle and high school career pathways. Marten also cited statistics showing CTE enrollment leads to higher high school graduation rates, increased college enrollment and higher earnings gains. 

Secretary Walsh, Deputy Secretary Marten, Senator Klobuchar and Representative Bonamici each emphasized the importance of apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and work-based learning. Bonamici highlighted the need to invest in traditionally underinvested workers; Klobuchar drew attention to the fact that every dollar spent on apprenticeships in Minnesota will increase the state’s GDP by $20. 

Bringing the business-owner perspective, Traci Tapani of Minnesota-based Wyoming Machine celebrated the skilled workers who helped the country during the pandemic, but cautioned that the country cannot forget their efforts, and labor shortages have gotten progressively worse for the last decade. Equity efforts are also an area of need, according to Tapani. 

Van Kleunen called on Congress not to negotiate away the $100 billion investment in workforce training originally included in the Administration’s American Jobs Plan (AJP) to help provide those most impacted by the pandemic a chance at a fulfilling career. Citing a figure that 89% of voting Americans think that Congress needs to invest substantially in workforce training, Van Kleunen concluded that investments in workforce development are vital to economic recovery. 

In response to press questions, Chairman Scott expressed his belief that new workforce spending would be included in the final passage of the bill, but he is not approaching negotiations with any deal breaker in mind. Sen. Klobuchar continued that the Senate’s focus is on a bipartisan infrastructure package, in addition to focusing on the budget reconciliation process. 

You can watch the full press conference at the House Education and Labor Committee’s YouTube channel

House Sends Letter Calling for $100 Billion for Workforce Development in Reconciliation Bill

On Thursday, Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Steven Horsford (D-NV) sent a letter signed by 101 members of the House to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The letter requests that at least $100 billion in new spending for workforce development be included in the upcoming reconciliation package. The letter shares data on unemployment trends, worker upskilling and reskilling needs and economic recovery. In light of the changing  21st century economic landscape, the letter also states that federal spending on workforce programs and employment services is at its lowest levels in 50 years and funding for community college CTE programs has decreased by 38% over the last 20 years.  

The letter calls for a minimum of $100 billion in new investments for workforce development programs, including: 

  • CTE; 
  • Registered apprenticeships; 
  • Adult workforce training and dislocated worker programs; 
  • Youth career pipeline programs and re-entry employment opportunities; and
  • The full spectrum of training and career pathway supportive services, including income support, counseling and case management. 

The press release can be viewed here and the full letter here

Congress Introduces Bicameral Legislation to Close the Homework Gap

This week Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chriss Van Hollen (D-MD), as well as Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity Fund to Ensure Students Success (SUCCESS) Act. These members of Congress were joined by 15 other Senators and 25 House members to introduce the bill. The SUCCESS Act would build on the Emergency Connectivity Fund that was established under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and provide schools and libraries with $8 billion per year over five years to ensure Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers and internet-enabled devices are available to students, staff and library patrons. This bill continues congressional efforts to close the homework gap seen by 12 to 17 million students who do not have internet access at home. 

The SUCCESS Act would provide the necessary continued funding once the one-time investment provided by the ARP expires. Advance CTE is pleased to support this bill. 

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 seven approved states and funding levels include:

Kaine Leads Letter Urging Investment in Educator Workforce 

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), a Co-Chair of the Congressional CTE Caucus, led a letter signed by 13 other Senators to Senate leadership urging them to invest in a well-prepared, diverse, supported and stable educator workforce in upcoming infrastructure legislation. The letter is aligned with the proposed educator investments from the American Families Plan (AFP). Senator Kaine consistently supports workforce development in education. He recently reintroduced the Preparing and Retaining Educational Professionals (PREP) Act, with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), to address teacher and principal shortages. 

The press release can be found here and the full letter here

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Legislative Update: House Appropriations Bill and Announcements from ED

July 14th, 2021

This week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies released its Fiscal Year 22 (FY22) funding bill. Read below to learn more about the proposed increase for Career Technical Education (CTE) and other implications for the CTE community, as well as new information from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) about stimulus funding, federal aid and department appointees. 

House Appropriations Subcommittee Releases FY22 Bill

Written by Alisha Hyslop, Director of Public Policy, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here.

On July 11, the House Appropriations Committee released the first draft of its FY22 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill, which funds education and workforce development programs including Perkins. In the bill, the Perkins Basic State Grant received a $50 million increase over the FY21 level, and $30 million above what the President recommended in his budget proposal in May, for a total funding level of $1.38 billion. While this is still not enough to meet the critical needs in CTE as the economy and educational system recover from the pandemic, it is a step in the right direction.

The bill also matched the President’s request for a $100 million competitive grant program to carry out evidence-based middle and high school career and technical education innovation programs, although few details are included about what this program would entail. Few details are also included about a piece of legislative language that is dropped into the bill to more closely tie apprenticeship programs to Perkins, but more information on that provision will be available as the Committee releases more supporting documents.

Overall, the bill provides $14.7 billion for the Department of Labor, an increase of $2.2 billion above the FY21 level, and a total of $102.8 billion for the Department of Education, an increase of $29.3 billion above the FY21 level. Most of the increases, particularly at the Department of Education, are concentrated on a few large programs that were campaign priorities of the Biden Administration, including Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which received a $19.5 billion increase (more than doubling its current funding), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which received a $3.1 billion increase, and Pell Grants, where the maximum annual award for each student was increased by $400 to a total of $6,895. Additional funding levels of interest to the CTE community include:

  • Federal Work Study – $43 billion, a $244 million (21%) increase over FY 2021
  • ESEA Title II – Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants – $2.3 billion, a $150 million increase over FY 2021
  • ESEA Title IV-A – Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants – $1.3 billion, an $85 million increase over FY 2021
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act State Grants – $3.1 billion, an increase of $250 million above the FY 2021 level
  • Registered Apprenticeships – $285 million, an increase of $100 million above the FY 2021 level
  • Strengthening Community College Training Grants – $100 million, an increase of $55 million over the FY 2021 level
  • Adult education – $738.7 million, a $50 million increase over FY 2021

The bill was considered briefly by the Subcommittee on July 12 and approved by voice vote. A report on the draft bill was released on July 14. Additional discussion and amendments are expected in the full Appropriations Committee markup, scheduled for Thursday, July 15, then the bill will need to be approved by the full House, and a similar process will begin in the Senate. There is a long way to go in this year’s appropriations process, so stay tuned for additional information and opportunities to take action!

ED Approves First State K-12 Stimulus Plans 

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

  • Arkansas: $418,634,738
  • Massachusetts: $611,331,608 
  • Rhode Island: $138,468,766 
  • South Dakota: $127,339,745 
  • Texas: $4,148,464,081 
  • Utah: $205,578,303 
  • Washington, D.C.: $128,932,230 

The state plans share how each state will use the ESSER funds to safely reopen and sustain the operation of schools, as well as address the needs of students, including by equitably expanding opportunities for students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. 40 states have submitted plans, and you can view submitted and approved plans here. ED is also working with states that were unable to submit plans by the June 7 deadline. 

ED Announces Temporary Changes to the Federal Aid Verification Process

On Tuesday, ED announced temporary changes to the federal student aid verification process for the 2021-2022 academic year with the intention of providing relief to millions of students and colleges impacted by the pandemic. Verification is an administrative process by which ED requires a subset of federal aid applicants who are eligible for Pell Grants to submit additional documentation to verify the information in their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Because non-Pell-eligible applicants are not included in income verification, the process can be disproportionately burdensome for students from low-income households and students of color. The temporary changes to the verification process will focus on identity theft and fraud, and will be coupled with tools ED already uses to monitor suspicious activity. 

ED Announces More Biden-Harris Appointees

More political appointees to ED were announced to lead various parts of the agency, including: 

  • Katy Neas, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
  • Toby Merrill, Deputy General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel
  • Hayley Matz Meadvin, Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary
  • Chris Soto, Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary
  • Antoinette Flores, Senior Advisor for ARP Implementation, Office of Postsecondary Education
  • Deven Comen, Chief of Staff, Office of Communications and Outreach
  • Abel McDaniels, Special Assistant, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

 

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