Legislative Update: Lawmakers Return to Capitol Hill as Cardona Lays Out Vision for U.S. Department of Education

January 27th, 2023

Over the last two weeks, lawmakers have continued to make important decisions regarding their respective chambers. Elsewhere, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivered a major speech outlining his plans for the department in the coming year, while a slate of Presidential Scholars has been released. 

118th Congress Continues to Take Shape

Earlier this week, both the House and the Senate reconvened after recessing for the recent Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Lawmakers in the House continued to make important decisions related to committee assignments this week, which will have lasting impacts on Career Technical Education (CTE) funding and policymaking for at least the next two years. Of particular note, House Republicans announced that Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) will lead the House Appropriations’ Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-ED) Subcommittee—the entity that determines the budgets for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and Labor (DOL), including related programs. In addition, Republicans have named new members to this committee, as have Democrats recently, but both parties have yet to assign members to specific subcommittees, including Labor-HHS-ED. 

Elsewhere, House Republican Leadership announced that the newly renamed House Education and Workforce Committee will be smaller in size than previous Congresses. Led by Chair Virginia Foxx (R-VA), leadership announced assignments to this committee, which has oversight over CTE policymaking. The full roster of Education and Workforce Republicans will include a mix of new and familiar faces in the new Congress. House Democrats have yet to provide a list of members who will be on the committee this year, although leadership recently confirmed that Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) will serve as Ranking Member. 

In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released Democratic committee roster assignments, including for the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) and Appropriations Committees– the entities with responsibility for CTE policymaking and funding oversight respectively. Of note, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will chair the HELP committee, replacing longtime Chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) who will be leading the Appropriations Committee in the new Congress. In addition, Sen. Markey (D-MA) will be joining the HELP Committee this Congress, filling a vacancy left by Sen. Rosen (D-NV) who has been assigned elsewhere. Republicans have yet to announce similar committee assignments.  A needed “organizing resolution” is the next step in this process within the upper chamber, but Senators have not yet moved forward with this procedural requirement which is part of this delay. 

 As Congress works to organize, Advance CTE will continue to monitor these developments and engage with policymakers as the new 118th Congress continues to take shape. 

Secretary Cardona Lays out ED Priorities and Visits CTE Center

In a major speech on Tuesday, January 24, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona outlined his vision for the U.S. Department of Education for the coming year. The speech entitled, “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” highlighted several priority areas for the Department this year including efforts to boost academic excellence, improve learning conditions, and create more pathways to opportunities for learners.

Significantly, the speech highlighted the importance of CTE saying, in part, “We must challenge our myopic view that emphasizing the importance of career pathways is about limiting students, or the view that it’s four-year-college or bust. Advancing career pathways in high schools is about more options for students, not less. What it does is prepare them for the careers of today with options, and in some cases, their employer will pay for their future education. If we do this well, our graduates will be able to compete on a global stage. It’s my intention to Raise the Bar so we can lead the world in advanced career and technical education.” The full remarks can be found here

Following this speech further into the week, Secretary Cardona made a visit to Francis Tuttle Technology Center– an area technical center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma which has been featured in Congress previously– to tour the facility and highlight the importance of increasing access to CTE pathways programs. More on this visit can be found here.  

ED Announces 2023 Presidential Scholars Slate of Candidates

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education announced 5,000 learners who were named candidates to become U.S. Presidential Scholars—an initiative that annually recognizes 161 high school seniors for academic, technical and artistic achievements. As a reminder, in 2015 this program was expanded to include recognition of high-achieving CTE learners. A panel of educators and experts will review these candidate nominations and, using a variety of criteria including transcripts, test scores and portfolios of work, narrow down the list to approximately 600 semifinalists later this spring. Ultimately, the commission will select the final 161 U.S. Presidential Scholars for the upcoming 59th cohort in the program’s history, expected to be announced this upcoming May. More information on the program can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: 118th Congress Begins to Take Shape

January 13th, 2023

Last weekend, the House formally elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy to be the next Speaker of the House. Earlier this week lawmakers reconvened to adopt a new rules package which determines how the Chamber will operate over the course of the 118th Congress. Elsewhere new leadership for committees overseeing education and workforce development policy have been announced. 

McCarthy Elected Speaker of the House

Early Saturday morning Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was formally elected Speaker of the House after a tumultuous week which saw 14 failed vote attempts to elect a new leader for the chamber. Throughout last week, a small group of House Republicans withheld their support for McCarthy’s speakership bid leading to the week-long impasse. After providing a series of concessions to this group of lawmakers, some of which still have not yet been made public, McCarthy was able to garner most of this group’s support while others voted present, reducing the threshold he needed to win the Speaker’s gavel. Some of these concessions could impact Career and Technical Education (CTE) funding for the coming year, including a promise McCarthy gave to these members to only advance appropriations legislation later this year at or below federal fiscal year 2022 (FY22) funding levels. With a narrow four-seat majority in the House, and with all Democratic lawmakers voting for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), this combination of handshake agreements and concessions provided the support McCarthy needed to secure the Speakership—a critically important leadership position that he has sought since 2015. 

House Adopts New Rules Package

With Speaker McCarthy formally elected, the House recessed until this past Monday where they reconvened and passed a new rules package. These rules outline how the House will operate throughout the 118th Congress, including how legislation will be developed and amended. The package also includes a number of concessions the newly elected Speaker made that are intended to empower rank and file lawmakers at the expense of the Speaker’s office. These concessions include a so-called “motion to vacate” rule, which would allow a single lawmaker to call a vote of no confidence in Speaker McCarthy during this Congress among a slew of other similar rules changes. Additionally, there are new rules that could impact how funding is or is not provided to programs that have authorization periods that have expired. Other new rules in the package would narrow the scope that bills may have to a single subject, making it more difficult to move larger pieces of legislation in the coming year. Advance CTE is continuing to analyze these new rules and their potential impact on CTE funding and policymaking in the new Congress.  

Foxx Selected to Lead Education and Workforce Committee

Following Speaker McCarthy’s election and the adoption of the rules package for the House, the Republican Steering Committee met this week to determine leadership posts for committees. Earlier in the week, the Steering Committee announced that it had selected Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) to become Chair of the newly rebranded Education and Workforce Committee—the entity responsible for education and workforce development policymaking in the House. Chair Foxx won this position over Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) who also sought this role. In order to regain the Chair position, Foxx required a waiver from the Steering Committee due to existing Republican Caucus rules that bar committee leaders from serving in leadership posts for three consecutive terms. 

“Conducting vigorous and sustained oversight of the federal government, especially the Departments of Education and Labor, will be among my top priorities,” she said after the announcement of her selection to lead the committee. In addition to oversight of the Biden Administration, Chair Foxx has shared elsewhere that she plans to push for an overhaul of federal student aid programs, similar to what she and other Republicans on the committee proposed last summer, among a number of other priorities. On the Democratic side of the aisle Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), the former chair of the committee, is expected to take on the Ranking Member role to lead Democrats on the committee in minority in the new Congress. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

 

Legislative Update: New Congress Starts Amidst Uncertainty

January 6th, 2023

Just before the holiday season, the 117th Congress passed an end-of- year spending package which provided an increase for the Career Technical Education (CTE) and other CTE-related funding priorities. The new 118th Congress was set to formally begin this week, but has run into a number of challenges in recent days as explored below.

Congress Passes FY23 Spending Package

Prior to the holiday season, the 117th Congress was struggling to agree on full-year funding legislation for the current 2023 federal fiscal year (FY23). This important piece of legislation was the last remaining agenda item lawmakers needed to pass before concluding the 117th Congress. Just a few days before temporary funding legislation was set to expire, lawmakers released a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package for the remainder of FY23 for all federal operations and programs like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V). Lawmakers in both chambers quickly took up and passed this legislation on a bipartisan basis with the House voting for passage 225-201 and the Senate voting in favor of the package by a margin of 68-29. Shortly after these votes, President Biden signed the package into law (H.R. 2617). 

The new law provides a $3.2 billion increase to the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) budget—an approximately 4 percent increase over FY22 funding levels. Of significant note for the CTE community, the omnibus spending package provides $50 million in additional funding for Perkins V’s basic state grant program— a nearly 4 percent increase over current levels of investment in the program—bringing the total for the formula grant account to roughly $1.43 billion annually. Lawmakers also provided an additional $25 million for Perkins V’s Innovation and Modernization grant program authorized under Sec. 114 of the law which is intended to provide competitive grants to support innovative approaches to CTE. 

In addition, lawmakers increased funding for Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants– an important source of funding for secondary CTE—by $100 million (7.8 percent increase). Elsewhere, the legislation invests an additional $50 million in apprenticeship expansion grants— a 21 percent increase over current levels of investment. Advance CTE applauds this result and is looking forward to working with Congress this year to secure additional investments in CTE as part of the upcoming FY24 federal budget and appropriations process.

118th Congress Begins Amidst Uncertainty

The newly elected members of the House and the Senate convened this week to formally begin the 118th Congress. As a reminder, Democrats retained control of the Senate, increasing their slim majority to 51-49 this Congress, while Republicans took control of the House with a narrow majority of 222-213. In the Senate, the start of the new Congress was a short affair. Senators gathered throughout the day on Tuesday, January 3, to swear in new members, formally name Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) the president pro tempore of the Senate (as the second longest serving Democrat in the chamber), and attend to other logistical housekeeping items necessary for the chamber to begin the new 118th Congress. Following these activities, the Senate recessed until January 23. 

In the House, however, efforts to formally begin the new Congress have been upended by the new Republican majority’s inability to elect a new Speaker of the House. Presumptive front runner for this position, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), has been unable to garner the 218 votes required to become speaker. At the time of this writing the House has attempted 12 votes which have each failed to elect a new speaker. A small contingent of House Republicans are opposing McCarthy. It remains unclear how or when these disagreements within the House Republican Caucus will be resolved. In the meantime, the House has not been able to formally convene for the 118th Congress—including the swearing in of new members—because a speaker has not been elected. Advance CTE will continue to monitor these developments closely.  

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: New House CTE Caucus Leader Announced As Congress Nears Funding Deal

December 16th, 2022

This week the House CTE Caucus announced a new co-chair to lead the caucus in the upcoming 118th Congress. Meanwhile, lawmakers have continued to make progress on federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) funding in the hopes of completing work before the end of the year. 

House CTE Caucus Leadership Announcement

This morning longtime House CTE Caucus Co-chairs Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) announced that Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) will succeed Langevin in the upcoming 118th Congress as the new Democratic co-chair of this bipartisan caucus. Alongside his colleague Rep. Thompson, Rep. Langevin led the House CTE Caucus for over a decade. He is set to retire at the end of the current 117th Congress. “Representative Langevin’s leadership as co-chair of the House CTE Caucus culminates over two decades of dedication to increase the awareness of and support for CTE and its learners,” said Advance CTE’s Executive Director Kimberly Green when this news was announced. “Advance CTE is incredibly grateful for his partnership and dedication, and we wish him the very best in his next chapter. We look forward to working with Representative Bonamici in the next Congress to secure the necessary resources for state leaders to build high-quality, equitable CTE systems for every learner.” 

Our organization is appreciative of Rep. Langevin’s many years of service in support of high-quality CTE programs and the millions of learners they serve across the country. We look forward to continuing this work in the next Congress in collaboration with Rep. Bonamici in this new capacity. 

Lawmakers Near Agreement on FY23 Funding

Congress stayed in session this week as part of a busy lame duck session to attend to a number of “must-pass” items still left on lawmakers’ agendas. Top among this list is the need to pass full-year funding legislation for FY23 . Current stopgap legislation, known as a continuing resolution (CR), extended FY22 funding through December 16 (today) of this year for all federal operations and programs like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V). 

For weeks, lawmakers have struggled to find consensus on topline spending figures for defense and non-defense spending. On Tuesday evening, Congressional leaders announced that they had reached a tentative agreement on the overall size of an FY23 package—an important first step in the wider process of developing a full-year FY23 funding package. At present, this “framework” agreement will reportedly total approximately $1.7 trillion, but specific details regarding this emerging deal have yet to be made public. In the interim, lawmakers passed an additional CR last night, lasting through December 23, to provide themselves with more time as they continue to negotiate the specific program-level spending details underlying this forthcoming funding package. 

As these efforts continue, Advance CTE will continue to work with partners on Capitol Hill to advocate for full-year FY23 funding and to encourage greater investments in CTE as part of this wider process.

ED Hosts STEM Summit

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) hosted a “YOU Belong in STEM” summit at its Washington, D.C. headquarters to support and promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education across the nation. The convening brought together stakeholders to discuss strategies and best practices for how to implement, at scale, high-quality STEM education opportunities, particularly for learners from marginalized backgrounds. More on the effort can be found here

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: Congress Continues Busy Lame Duck Session

December 9th, 2022

Over the last two weeks, lawmakers have continued to work on a number of pressing issues, including funding legislation for the current 2023 federal fiscal year (FY23). Elsewhere the contours of the upcoming 118th Congress– set to convene in January– are continuing to take shape as additional elections are finalized and leadership decisions are made. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released new guidance related to STEM education. 

Lawmakers Struggle to Find Agreement on FY23 Funding

This week, Congress continued to work on a number of important agenda items lawmakers hope to complete during the current lame duck session of Congress. Topping this list, is the need to fund the federal government and related programs beyond December 16—when current stopgap funding legislation is set to expire. This legislation, known as a continuing resolution (CR), has provided an extension of FY22 funding levels for federal operations and programs, like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V), through this date later this month. Lawmakers are still negotiating topline spending totals for the major components of the federal budget. As a reminder, discretionary spending is split between defense and non-defense funding. Democratic lawmakers broadly favor additional non-defense spending, while Republicans are supportive of larger amounts of funding for the military.

This disagreement— how much to allot for both of these spending categories—has remained one of the primary obstacles for Congress to advance full-year spending legislation needed to avert a government shutdown and lapse in appropriations for programs like Perkins V. As this disagreement persists, lawmakers will likely be forced to pass another short-term extension of existing FY22 funding levels to provide themselves more time to negotiate a final deal. It is unclear whether lawmakers will find consensus on this important issue prior to the start of the next Congress, set to begin on January 3, 2023, but both sides are working earnestly to finalize a deal prior to the holidays. 

As these efforts continue, Advance CTE will continue to engage with partners on Capitol Hill to impress upon lawmakers the importance of full-year funding and to encourage greater investments in Perkins V and funding streams of interest to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community in the coming year. 

Democrats Solidify New Senate Majority

As shared previously, the long-awaited midterm elections took place last month which resulted in Republicans retaking control of the House. While nearly all of these electoral races had been resolved, a final Senate runoff election in Georgia between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and challenger Herschel Walker took place. After the polls closed Tuesday evening, Sen. Warnock (D-GA) was declared the winner of this election. With Sen. Warnock’s electoral victory, Democrats will have a 51-49 majority in the Senate as part of the upcoming 118th Congress. This majority will further solidify Democrats’ control of legislative and nomination processes which, over the last two years, had relied on Vice President Kamala Harris to cast tie-breaking votes when the chamber deadlocked. 

Significantly, this slim Democratic majority in the 118th Congress will also mean Democrats will have majorities on individual Senate committees, including the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee which oversees CTE policy, in the coming Congress. With these majorities on committees, Democrats will be able to move nominees and certain legislation that had previously been bogged down by disagreements between the parties over the last two years. Despite these positive developments for Democrats Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an incumbent Democratic Senator from Arizona, announced that she is leaving the Democratic Party to become an independent. Although this complicates Democrats’ newfound Senate majority somewhat, Sinema shared in an interview today that she will not caucus with Republicans which means Democrats are still likely to have a firmer grip on the Senate in the coming two years. 

House Republican Leadership Continues to Take Shape

Elsewhere incoming House Republican leaders are continuing to make decisions regarding who will lead committees of jurisdiction in the coming Congress, including those that will oversee CTE policy next year. Of note, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) was granted a waiver by House Republican leadership recently to run to lead the House Education and Labor Committee next Congress. This waiver will allow Foxx to run for chair, but she is likely to be challenged by one or more other Republican members vying for the position. Advance CTE will continue to monitor this and other developments as the 118th Congress continues to take shape.

ED Issues New STEM Guidance

On Wednesday,  December 6, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) sent a Dear Colleague letter to state educational agencies, local educational agencies, and other stakeholders providing information on how existing federal funds can be used to  support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The letter aims to provide guidance on using funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), as well as other relevant funding streams and legislation, such as Perkins V, to support innovative, equity-focused K-12 STEM education and related activities. It also provides suggested examples and best practices for how to maximize the use of these resources. The letter goes on to emphasize the importance of STEM education in helping students recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare them for a rapidly evolving labor market. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: Congress Returns for a Busy Lame Duck Session

November 28th, 2022

Earlier this month Americans across the country went to the polls to decide the balance of power for the upcoming 118th Congress. Elsewhere Career Technical Education (CTE) champions highlighted the importance of career development while the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released new guidance intended to support career connected learning. 

Midterm Election Results Become Clearer

Earlier this month, the long-awaited midterm elections took place across the country. At the time of our last update, the results from these electoral contests were still coming in with control of both the House and the Senate unclear. Since that time, additional outcomes from these elections have been announced making clear that the Republican Party will take control of the House in the coming 118th Congress. Democrats will retain control of the Senate, although the size of their majority will be determined by a runoff election in Georgia set to take place on December 6.  

As these results continued to trickle in, federal lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill just before Thanksgiving for a short session to begin the process of determining party leadership for both chambers moving forward. In the House, longtime Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her core leadership team announced that they were stepping down. This will pave the way for a new Democratic leadership team, likely to be led by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). For House Republicans, longtime Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is currently working to garner the necessary support to be the next Speaker of the House. The final composition for both party’s leadership teams remains fluid. However, in the Senate, Democrats and Republicans will likely continue to be led by current Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pending final approval from their caucuses. 

In addition to these recent developments, it is also being widely reported that Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) are likely to lead the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee in the next Congress. Leadership announcements for the House Education and Labor Committee are still forthcoming and hinge on the ability of current Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) to secure a waiver from Republican leadership to serve as chair of the committee in the next Congress. Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are widely expected to lead the Senate Appropriations committee which helps to determine funding for programs like Perkins V. 

As additional leadership roles and responsibilities become clearer in the coming weeks, Advance CTE will continue to update the CTE community and provide insights on  implications for federal policymaking. Congress now reconvenes this week for a jam packed “lame duck” session of the current 117th Congress where they must attend to a number of important issues, including federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) funding for programs like the Perkins Act’s basic state grant program. Be sure to check back here for more updates! 

CTE Caucus Co-Chairs Introduce Career Development Resolution 

Longtime House CTE Caucus co-chairs Reps. Thompson (R-PA) and Langevin (D-RI) introduced a resolution earlier this month designating November as National Career Development Month. When introduced, Advance CTE’s Executive Director, Kimberly Green said, “A hallmark of high-quality CTE is career development opportunities that equitably support learners as they explore and pursue their career passion. Advance CTE is proud to support this bipartisan resolution designating November as National Career Development Month from Representatives Thompson and Langevin, which recognizes the crucial role career development contributes to a skilled workforce and learner success in education, work, and in life.” Read more about the resolution here

Department of Education Announces Initiative to “Unlock Career Success”

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently  announced the launch of a new initiative called Raise the Bar: Unlocking Career Success. This is a new Administration initiative supported in conjunction with the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Labor aimed at increasing and expanding access to high-quality college and career pathways programs to help more young Americans pursue careers in in-demand fields, and prepare for careers of the future.  The effort is intended to strengthen ties between K-12 education, postsecondary education, and workforce programs among other priorities. As part of this announcement, the Departments shared that they are also providing $5.6 million in competitive funding for a new grant initiative that aims to expand work-based learning opportunities for students. The department also plans to host regional summits with students, educators, employers and other stakeholders to learn about practices that have led to success and challenges that must be addressed.

Department of Education Publishes Guidance on ARP Funding Use for Career Pathways

The U.S. Department of Education released new guidance through a Dear Colleague letter on how unspent federal funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and other pandemic aid packages can be used for career pathways. The guidance highlights how these resources can be leveraged around four main priority areas including, expanding access to dual enrollment opportunities, providing strong career and college advisement and navigation supports, expanding opportunities for high-quality work-based learning, and giving all students the option to earn industry-sought credentials. Be sure to check out Advance CTE’s resource– published last year– which also provided ideas and guidance to the CTE community regarding how these funds could be used in support of CTE. 

Senate CTE Caucus Hosts Apprenticeship Briefing

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

On November 15, the Senate CTE Caucus, alongside the Swiss and Austrian Embassies, held a Capitol Hill briefing on Women in Apprenticeship to highlight both National Apprenticeship Week and the Austrian and Swiss apprenticeship models. Welcoming remarks were made by Ambassador of Switzerland Jacques Pitteloud and the Austrian Chargé d’Affairs Günther Salzmann. Both expressed a desire to broaden the influence of the Swiss and Austrian apprenticeship models in the United States.

Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) offered additional remarks, highlighting the connection between CTE and apprenticeships. He discussed how recent federal investments will ensure that CTE is at the forefront of preparing apprentices and all learners for good-paying, in-demand jobs. Sen. Hickenlooper also declared that he had officially joined the CTE Caucus!

A panel discussion followed and was moderated by Thomas Mayr of Austria’s Vocational Education and Training department. Apprentices and representatives from four Swiss and Austrian companies, Zurich Insurance of Illinois, Swiss Krono of South Carolina, Egger Wood Products of North Carolina and Engel Machinery of Pennsylvania, each spoke about the recruitment challenges, opportunities, supports needed and benefits of their apprenticeship programs. Each apprentice expressed that if given the chance to pursue an apprenticeship again, they would make the same decision.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: Control of Congress Still Uncertain

November 10th, 2022

This week Americans across the country went to the polls to decide the balance of power for the upcoming 118th Congress. While the final results are still a few days away, all attention on Capitol Hill is focused on the outcomes of these electoral contests.  

Midterm Election Results Remain Close

On Tuesday, November 8th, the long-anticipated midterm elections were held across the nation. The results from these elections are still becoming clear, with the winners of many elections in the House, Senate, and elsewhere likely to be announced over the coming days and potentially weeks ahead. These announcements will determine the balance of power for the upcoming 118th Congress set to begin early next year.

At present, the Republican Party appears to be poised to take control of the House of Representatives. However, the party has dramatically underperformed early predictions regarding their electoral performance. While many races in the House are still undetermined, it is becoming more likely that a narrow margin of control of the lower legislative chamber will be the most likely end result.

In the Senate, four races remain undecided at the time of this writing—Arizona, Alaska, Georgia, and Nevada. The outcome of these elections will determine control of the Senate and each race remains contested at present. Alaska’s Senate race will not impact the control of the upper legislative chamber, given it pits two Republicans against one another, but the outcomes of the remaining three will decide whether Democrats retain control of the chamber or if Republicans will regain the majority. . Results from Arizona and Nevada—expected in the coming days— will likely determine the stakes of a runoff election in Georgia, now set to take place in early December.

Advance CTE will continue to monitor these electoral contests and will share further analysis as the results– along with their implications for the CTE and workforce development policy in the 118th Congress– become clearer.  Advance CTE will host a webinar on November 17 with JFF and New Skills Coalition to discuss the impact of the midterm election on the field and federal policy priorities. 

CTE Caucus Co-Chairs Introduce Cybersecurity Proposal

Last week, House Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus co-chairs Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced the Cybersecurity Skills Integration Act (H.R. 9259). This legislation was introduced in the context of Cybersecurity Awareness Month which aims to highlight the importance of protecting, hardening and securing the nation’s digital infrastructure from unwanted and malicious cyber activity. If enacted, the legislation would create a new $10 million competitive grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). These grants would provide funding to eligible CTE programs that integrate cybersecurity into aspects of their curriculum. More about this bipartisan legislative proposal can be found here

Department of Commerce Releases Strategy for CHIPS Implementation

Over the summer, President Biden signed the bipartisan Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act of 2022 (P.L. 117-167). This legislation was passed to enhance the nation’s advanced manufacturing capacity, particularly regarding the production of semiconductor chips needed in many electronics and related components. The legislation also created several new grant programs aimed at preparing students to enter into STEM and computer science fields. In addition, the law created a $50 billion “CHIPS For America” fund, administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce which, in part, provides new subsidies to semiconductor manufacturers and designers. This fund has four interrelated strategic goals including to, “grow a diverse semiconductor workforce and build strong communities that participate in the prosperity of the semiconductor industry.” The strategy goes on to highlight its anticipated efforts to engage with regional manufacturing and develop stronger public-private partnerships  to provide new and expand existing training programs that can benefit the semiconductor and related industries. Read the full strategy here

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: Congress in Recess Through the Midterms

October 28th, 2022

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

Congress Focuses on Midterms, Will Return Next Month

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

ED Releases New CAR Report Data

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

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

ED Publishes New Postsecondary Rules

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

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

Nation’s Report Card Shows National Drop in Academic Achievement

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

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

Department of Energy Unveils School Infrastructure Grants

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

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: Congress in Recess Through the Midterms

October 24th, 2022

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

Congress Remains in Recess Ahead of Midterm Elections

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

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

ED Launches “YOU Belong in STEM” Initiative

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

FCC Releases Additional Connectivity Funds

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

ED Distributes Funding for School-based Mental Health

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

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

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: Congress Set to Extend FY22 Funding Via CR

September 30th, 2022

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

Congress Closes in on Temporary Funding Extension

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

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

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

ED Distributes $1 Billion in Title IV-A Funding

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

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

Lawmakers Designate September Workforce Development Month

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

DOL Formally Rescinds IRAP Rules

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

OCTAE Launches Future Finder Challenge

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

ED Awards $60 Million for Teacher Pipeline Efforts

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

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

 

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