Posts Tagged ‘Department of Education’

Legislative Update: Lawmakers Announce New Spending Deal

Friday, January 12th, 2024

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

Congressional Leaders Announce FY24 Topline Agreement

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

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

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

House Education Subcommittee to Hold Hearing Next Week

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

ED Issues Guidance on Pandemic Funding

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

ED Proposes Grant Rule Changes

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

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

By Layla Alagic in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Congress Advances New Legislation While Apprenticeship Regulations Are Unveiled

Friday, December 15th, 2023

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

House Education and Workforce Committee Advances WIOA Reauthorization

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

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

House Leaders Markup New Workforce Pell Proposal 

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

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

HELP Committee Clears Bipartisan Education Sciences Reform Act Reauthorization

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

DOL Proposes Major Changes to Apprenticeship Regulations With CTE Implications 

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

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

By Layla Alagic in Public Policy
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Delaware CTE Youth Leaders Take the Mic

Thursday, December 7th, 2023

Last month, I had the privilege of attending a briefing at the U.S. Department of Education, led by a group of Career Technical Education (CTE) learners from the state of Delaware. Their expertise and passion demonstrated the true power, inspiration and innovation that can come from centering learners in matters of policy and practice within CTE.

Over the last year, Delaware participated in Advance CTE’s Leveraging Learner Voice to Strength CTE’s technical assistance cohort and this visit to Washington DC was a culmination of this effort. Over the year, Delaware recruited CTE youth leaders to participate in two cohorts:

To prepare these learners to serve as leaders at both the state and local levels, Delaware worked with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago to provide training around culturally responsive instruction and practices. 

Presenting to senior leadership within the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), including Assistant Secretary, Dr. Amy Loyd, learners explained the construct of culturally responsive teaching practices that they collectively developed and refined as the CTE Youth Leadership Team and how they are individually committing themselves to the implementation of culturally responsive teaching in their roles as CTSO leaders and CTE peers. Jennae Overton, state president of Business Professionals of America (BPA), led the presentation and Ahmad Edwards, who participates in Future Health Professionals (HOSA), offered thoughts on what culturally responsive teaching means to him as a CTE youth leader, noting “I will implement culturally responsive practice [by] honoring each student’s voice. I want every student to be able to open up and express how they feel about a certain topic.” 

Armed with a greater understanding of culturally responsive practices and the ins and outs of CTE in Delaware, the learners are now engaging their school-level leaders and teachers on how they can improve access and equity at the district, school and classroom levels. Dr. Wickert reflected that “As a result of this work, we have become more thoughtful on local engagement,” adding that even though the state has invested dollars to encourage a greater focus on equity at the local level, it wasn’t moving the bar as quickly or as far as they had hoped. “With the learners driving this mission and work, I believe it will have a greater impact at the classroom level,” said Dr. Wickert.

As Dr. Michael Hill-Shaner, the Education Associate/Culturally Competent Workforce Lead at the Delaware Department of Education regularly says, “It’s our job to build the stage, turn on the lights and pass the mic.” This briefing and the arc of the last year demonstrate the true power of passing the mic. I personally cannot wait to see what these learners do next and how Delaware and other states continue to live up to the promise of the second principle of CTE Without Limits so that each learner can truly feel welcome in, be supported by and have the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem.  

Additional Resources:

Kate Kreamer, Executive Director

By Layla Alagic in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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Research Round-up: Building and Expanding Registered Apprentice Programs through Community College Partnerships

Thursday, November 30th, 2023

Advance CTE’s “Research Round-Up” blog series features summaries of relevant research reports and studies to elevate evidence-backed Career Technical Educational (CTE) policies and practices and topics related to college and career readiness. This month’s blog elevates state examples of how federal funding might be used to administer youth apprenticeship. These findings align with Advance CTE’s vision for the future of CTE where each learner’s skills are counted, valued, and portable. 

Overview

In celebration of Apprenticeship Month, we’re elevating two reports from New America that provide state CTE leaders with helpful information about opportunities to leverage (or braid) funding to support youth apprenticeship or registered apprenticeship (RA) programs.

Background

Earlier this spring, New America published a blog, “Leveraging Existing Federal Funding Streams for Youth Apprenticeship,” in response to memos from the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) outlining how the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) can be applied in more flexible and innovative ways to support youth apprenticeship. New America then published a research study in early November on the challenges and opportunities facing community colleges that want to expand apprenticeship opportunities to their students. This report, “Community Colleges and Apprenticeship: The Promise, the Challenge” expands on key blog recommendations; notably, that state CTE leaders should consider using federal funds to partner with an experienced intermediary organization to build out RA programs statewide

Apprenticeship Intermediaries

An apprenticeship intermediary is similar to “workforce intermediaries” in the public workforce system, which has a long history of facilitating connections between public and private services and workers. Unlike Registered Apprenticeship, which is well defined and regulated by the DOL, there is no definition of an “apprenticeship intermediary” in federal statute. In their study, New America utilizes the definition coined by the federal government, “An apprenticeship intermediary helps to build, launch, and run apprenticeship programs in collaboration with other apprenticeship partners. Just as many organizations may participate in apprenticeship partnerships—including employers, and often also labor organizations, secondary and postsecondary institutions, community-based organizations (CBOs), and industry organizations or associations—an equally wide array of organizations may perform intermediary functions.” 

Intermediaries typically support program development and delivery; stakeholder engagement; monitoring, evaluation, and support services; and strategy and field building. These responsibilities make community colleges a strong contender to serve in this role as many of these services are already built into the institution.

Findings

This study found that community colleges are uniquely positioned to support the expansion of apprentices by acting as apprenticeship intermediaries”

Recommendations

State and system policy plays a key role in supporting community colleges as apprenticeship intermediaries. State CTE leaders seeking to leverage community colleges to expand apprenticeship participation can:


For further reading

Leveraging Existing Federal Funding Streams for Youth Apprenticeship also addresses the use of federal funds for teacher preparation programs.

Please visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center for additional resources about the benefits of expanding apprenticeships and strategies for leveraging community college partnerships.

Amy Hodge, Membership and Policy Associate

By Layla Alagic in Research
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Legislative Update: FY24 Funding Deadline Approaches

Thursday, November 9th, 2023

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

Agreement on FY24 Funding Remains Out of Reach

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

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

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

ED Issues Dear Colleague Letter Regarding Obligations to Address Discrimination

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

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

By Layla Alagic in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: House Elects New Speaker

Thursday, October 26th, 2023

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

Rep. Mike Johnson Elected Speaker of the House

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

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

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

ED Publishes New Postsecondary Regulations

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

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

By Layla Alagic in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Senate Returns from August Recess to Busy Fall Agenda

Friday, September 8th, 2023

The Senate returned to Capitol Hill this past Tuesday following its annual August recess while lawmakers in the House are expected to return next week. Elsewhere, policymakers have started to collect ideas regarding how Artificial Intelligence (AI) will impact education and workforce development, while the U.S. Secretary of Education launches a back-to-school bus tour, announces educator diversity efforts and issues new guidance related to teaching and learning in schools. 

Senate Reconvenes for New Work Period

The Senate reconvened this week following its annual August recess. Lawmakers in the House are due back to Capitol Hill next week. On their return to Washington, D.C., the Senate has focused primarily on addressing Congress’s failure to complete work on the fiscal year 2024 (FY24) budget before the new fiscal year begins on October 1. Just before August recess, the Senate appropriations committee successfully advanced all 12 of the individual appropriations bills that compose the federal budget on a bipartisan basis but these proposals have yet to be approved by the full chamber and reconciled with forthcoming proposals in the House. 

Lawmakers in the House, meanwhile, have been unable to similarly advance their own spending proposals, including legislation providing funding for Career Technical Education (CTE) via the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V*). More importantly, the House and Senate’s proposed funding levels for FY24 differ substantially, with lawmakers in the lower chamber proposing significant cuts to federal spending which do not conform to the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA)—a legislative agreement reached earlier this year that prevented a default on the nation’s debt obligations.

Stopgap legislation, known as a continuing resolution (CR), will likely be needed to avert a government shutdown when the new fiscal year begins later this month. Federal lawmakers are continuing to negotiate a path forward. Conservative lawmakers in the House recently issued a series of policy and spending demands in exchange for their support for any CR, including prioritizing spending levels that fall well below those required by the FRA. House Republicans, led by Speaker McCarthy (R-CA), have further indicated that they want a shorter-term CR rather than one lasting through the end of the year while the Senate and the Biden Administration want a temporary funding extension lasting until the holiday season to provide more time to negotiate a full-year appropriations package.

Given the significant differences between the House and Senate FY24 spending proposals and the positions currently taken by the House, Senate, and the White House, negotiations are expected to be extremely contentious in the coming weeks and months ahead. As these talks move forward, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for robust funding for critical funding streams important to the CTE community. Be sure to let your Senators and Representatives know how important CTE funding is by clicking here

Ranking Member Cassidy Issues Request for Information on AI

On September 6, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Cassidy (R-LA) published a new white paper on artificial intelligence and the potential implications for policy areas falling under the HELP Committee’s jurisdiction. AI is still an emerging topic for Congress with two hearings scheduled next week in the Senate within the Judiciary and Commerce Committees.

Ranking Member Cassidy has requested feedback from the public and stakeholders regarding several issues likely to arise in the coming years as AI is further deployed and leveraged in different facets of daily life, including in education and workforce development. Specifically, the Ranking Member seeks feedback on whether and how AI can be used in educational settings, how education leaders promote a better understanding of AI, both among students and their peers, and how these technologies can be used to improve student learning while not diminishing learners’ critical thinking skills. Notably, the white paper includes several questions related to whether and how CTE systems and programs can leverage AI and provide learners more opportunities to pursue pathways in related fields. 

ED Launches Back to School Bus Tour

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona has been on a “Back to School Bus Tour 2023: Raise the Bar”—a week-long multi-state trip across the nation to highlight the work schools, districts, institutions, and states are doing to support students as they collectively return to classrooms over the next few weeks. The tour includes stops in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota and features priorities and initiatives that the agency has been promoting throughout the Biden Administration, including its “Career Connected High School” efforts which are intended to promote key pillars of high-quality CTE. More information about the tour can be accessed here. In addition, the Department also recently published a factsheet highlighting the Biden Administration’s ongoing efforts to support learners as they return to school this fall. 

ED Announces Educator Diversity Efforts

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has announced that it will host two convenings in late October to find, promote and encourage wider educator diversity efforts. The first of these national meetings will be a Conference on Equity in Opportunity and will be held in Denver October 26-27. The second meeting, the Teach to Lead Summit, will take place in Denver on October 27. The announcement also highlighted recent ED efforts to prioritize teacher diversity including through investments in teacher quality partnership grants, August Hawkins Centers of Excellence programs, and the Supporting Effective Educator Development. More information can be found here

Office of Civil Rights Issues New Guidance on Race and School Programming

Late last month, ED’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued new guidance regarding how and in what ways schools may include programming aimed at fostering racially inclusive communities. The guidance updates OCR’s legal interpretation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which provides further clarity regarding under what circumstances schools may develop curricula and provide programs that promote racially inclusive school communities. “Today’s resource shares with school communities practical guidance about whether and when federal civil rights laws permit – and in some cases require – schools to take actions related to race, as well as whether and when these same laws may require that schools not act based on race,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon during the release of this guidance. The full letter can be accessed here

*As amended by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

By Layla Alagic in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Career Counseling Legislation Introduced & Efforts to Address Teacher Shortages Unveiled

Friday, August 4th, 2023

While Congress left Washington, D.C. this week to return to home districts and states as part of its annual August recess, the Biden Administration made a series of announcements related to educator preparation efforts and cyber workforce needs. Elsewhere, Advance CTE recently endorsed career counseling legislation introduced in the House. 

Congress Goes on Recess

This week lawmakers in both chambers of Congress returned to their districts and states for the annual August recess. Congress is expected to return in early September to a long list of important issues, including the need to find consensus on full-year federal fiscal year 2024 (FY24) appropriations. Advance CTE anticipates that lawmakers will most likely need to consider several potential pathways forward to bridge the significant spending gap between the House and Senate’s respective visions for FY24 funding, especially regarding funding for important education and workforce development programs like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V*). 

When Congress’s FY24 spending negotiations resume after the recess, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for robust funding for Perkins V and other vitally important investments in education and workforce development. In support of these efforts, we encourage the Career Technical Education (CTE) community to contact their members of Congress during this crucial period of time to ask them to support recently advanced appropriations legislation in the Senate which would provide a $40 million increase in funding for Perkins V’s basic state grant program. 

Lawmakers Introduce Career Counseling Legislation

Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by House CTE Caucus Co-chairs Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) introduced the Creating Opportunities to Thrive Act (COTA). Advance CTE is proud to endorse this legislation which would expand federal support for career counseling programs and allow for more comprehensive public outreach via the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). “[WIOA] is an integral part of the national workforce education and training system, and this bill takes important steps to maximize WIOA so that every learner is aware of the resources they need to support their journey to career success,” Advance CTE’s Executive Director, Kate Kreamer said upon introduction. Broadly COTA is intended to ensure that more learners across the nation are aware of the services, supports, and programs offered by WIOA and other federal investments in skills development. More on the legislation can be found here

ED & Labor Announce New Teacher Preparation Efforts

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a number of new efforts to improve the educator talent pipeline and address persistent nationwide shortages of qualified instructional personnel. The agencies announced the development of new national apprenticeship standards for K-12 teachers, developed by a collection of organizations known as the pathways alliance. These standards serve as a template for interested states and local stakeholders to develop and implement their own registered apprenticeship programs (RAPs) for the teaching profession.

In addition, ED and DOL have announced the availability of $27 million in new funding for educator preparation programs, an additional $65 million for DOL to help develop and scale more K-12 teacher RAPs, identified a new intermediary to further expand on these efforts, and issued a policy brief highlighting promising best practices amongst states. More on this announcement can be found here.

Biden Administration Issues New Cyber Education and Workforce Strategy

On Monday, July 31, the Biden Administration announced that it had completed its first-ever National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy (NCWES). This strategy is intended to address the education and workforce needs of the cyber and information technology sectors of the economy. Advance CTE provided input into this strategy as it was under development. The announcement includes a number of commitments from public and private entities and makes a number of recommendations for improving education and workforce development efforts to more effectively support this segment of the economy. More on the strategy can be accessed here

*As amended by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

 

By Jodi Langellotti in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: House Advances FY24 Appropriations With Steep Cuts to Domestic Programs

Monday, July 17th, 2023

This week, lawmakers in the House advanced newly proposed funding legislation for the upcoming 2024 federal fiscal year (FY24). Elsewhere, Senators have introduced new data and research legislation that would improve career readiness opportunities for learners. 

House Appropriators Advance FY24 Labor-HHS-ED Legislation

Lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill recently for a busy three-week work period ahead of Congress’ annual August recess. Topping the agenda is the need to address annual appropriations legislation for FY24 . The recent passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), which outlines topline spending caps for FY24 and FY25 that aim to roughly freeze federal funding at current FY23 levels, was widely expected to provide lawmakers greater clarity regarding how to move forward with this process.

Shortly after the passage of the FRA, however, House Republican leadership announced plans to move forward with a series of spending bills that further reduce federal spending to FY22 funding levels, rather than FY23 levels of investment as required by the FRA. Shortly after this announcement, Senate leaders outlined plans for FY24 which align much more closely with the requirements of the FRA. In practical terms, these divergent approaches to FY24 appropriations are putting Congress on a likely path towards conflict over the direction of federal spending later this year.

In recent weeks, the House and Senate appropriations committees have advanced legislation for roughly half of the dozen individual spending bills that compose the federal budget. Late last week, Republican leaders on the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (Labor-HHS-ED) Appropriations Subcommittee unveiled the text of their proposed FY24 Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill–annual legislation which provides funding for programs like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V).* This legislation proposes an overall cut of 28 percent to the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) budget when factoring existing appropriations that would be rescinded under the proposal and a 29 percent reduction in funding for the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) budget. Despite these significant proposed reductions in funding, the legislation proposes to level-fund Perkins V’s basic state formula grant program at existing FY23 levels. 

Concerningly, however, the bill would dramatically reduce and in some cases entirely eliminate a slew of education and workforce development programs overseen by ED and DOL that intersect with or otherwise complement CTE. For instance, Title I funding from the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) would be reduced by 80 percent, while core Title I funding for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) would be reduced by more than half of current funding levels. While Advance CTE appreciates Congress’ recognition of continuing to invest in Career Technical Education (CTE), these proposals would significantly disrupt the ability of schools, districts, and institutions to provide high quality learning opportunities for all students. In light of this, Advance CTE and partners issued a statement opposing this proposal and calling on the House to reverse course on this approach to FY24 funding. 

On Friday, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Subcommittee marked up and advanced this legislation along party lines. Timing for comparable appropriations efforts in the Senate regarding their Labor-HHS-ED bill are still forthcoming. Regardless, both chambers will need to reconcile differences between these visions for FY24 funding in the coming weeks and months, before the formal start of FY24 on October 1. As these efforts continue to move forward, Advance CTE is closely monitoring the process and engaging with partners on Capitol Hill to ensure the funding needs of the CTE community are realized as part of the ongoing budget and appropriations process for FY24.

*As amended by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

Senators Introduce CTE Data Bill 

Last Thursday, Senators Baldwin (D-WI), Young (R-IN), and Kaine (D-VA) introduced the Data for American Jobs Act (S. 2290). This legislation would make a series of updates to the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) to increase the law’s focus on CTE and more closely align state data systems and related federal investments to increase data transparency and quality. “Achieving career success for every learner through CTE requires actionable, transparent and trustworthy data. Advance CTE is pleased to support the Data for American Jobs Act, which takes important steps to leverage national research efforts and resources to promote a better understanding of CTE and advances modernized and interconnected data infrastructure for states,” said Kate Kreamer, Advance CTE’s Executive Director, upon the introduction of the legislation. The legislation comes ahead of potential consideration of ESRA by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee expected later this Congress. 

P3 Pilot Applications Announced

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) issued a notice inviting applications for selection as a Performance Partnership Pilots for disconnected youth (P3). This pilot authority has been authorized by Congress since 2014 and is aimed at better supporting disconnected youth populations by allowing ED and other federal agencies to waive certain requirements of existing federal funding streams like ESSA, Perkins V, and other similar investments. In doing so, recipients of these funds can braid and blend federal resources more easily, allowing for greater coordination of services for these populations. More on the announcement, including how to apply, can be found here

Energy Department Announces School Infrastructure Funding

In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $178 million in new grant funding it has made available to local school districts in 22 states via the Renew America’s Schools grant program. This grant program was created as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden. The program aims to help schools and districts make improvements to facilities that improve energy efficiency and foster healthier learning environments. More information about the grants can be found here

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Congress Set to Return Next Week to a Busy Agenda

Friday, April 14th, 2023

Over the last two weeks both chambers of Congress have remained on spring recess and are expected to return next week. Meanwhile, leaders in the Senate are seeking input regarding the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) while the Biden Administration announces new grant opportunities and regulatory proposals. 

Secretary Cardona Set to Testify Next Week

The House and the Senate are expected to return next week following a two-week recess. When lawmakers return to Capitol Hill, they will likely turn their attention to the fiscal year (FY24) budget and appropriations process among several other priority areas, including the need to raise the nation’s borrowing authority.

As part of this process, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona is scheduled to testify before the House Appropriations Committee next Tuesday, April 18. The hearing will focus on the Biden Administration’s recent FY24 budget request to Congress and will provide an opportunity for committee members to examine the proposals contained in the request. This hearing will be the first of several committee discussions on this topic expected to take place over the coming weeks and months as Congress deliberates about the FY24 budget.  

ED Seeks Peer Reviewers

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently published a request for peer reviewers for a slew of upcoming competitive grant programs administered by the agency. These efforts include upcoming grant competitions authorized by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act’s (Perkins V) Innovation and Modernization (I&M) grant program– a competitive grant initiative overseen by ED’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE).  Peer reviewers serve a critical function of objectively reviewing grant applications for various discretionary grants that ED oversees each year, including these forthcoming I&M grants. Those interested in applying to serve as a peer reviewer can do so here.

First Lady Highlights Career Pathway Efforts in Vermont

Last week, First Lady Jill Biden visited an electric aerospace company based in Vermont to highlight the company’s ongoing work in the clean energy sector and its efforts to provide career pathways for local students. The First Lady was joined by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Vermont Governor Phil Scott, and other federal, state, and local officials. In particular the visit highlighted North Country Career Center, an area technical center serving K-12 students and adult learners in the area, and provides a number of Career Technical Education (CTE) pathways to growing, in-demand sectors of the state’s economy. “What you are doing in this community is the future of our workforce and how we grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out. These aren’t red ideas or blue ideas. They’re American ideas,” said Biden during the visit. Additional coverage can be found here.

DOL Announces $80 Million in New Grant Funding for Infrastructure Jobs 

Last week the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced $80 million in new funding for the Building Pathways to Infrastructure Jobs grant program– an initiative intended to support recent Congressional investments in the nation’s infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, and clean energy sectors. Postsecondary institutions, state and local governments, and other related stakeholders are eligible to apply for grants ranging from $500,000 to $5 million to develop career pathways programs that lead to jobs in these critical sectors of the American economy. More information regarding the funding opportunity announcement can be found here

Senate HELP Committee Seeks Input on ESRA

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) recently issued a request for information (RFI) regarding the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA), Educational Technical Assistance Act, and the National Assessment of Education Progress Authorization Act. In particular, the HELP Committee is seeking input from the public and stakeholders on a range of issues that should be addressed in a potential reauthorization of these laws. Among other aspects, these pieces of legislation authorize a wide range of education-related research, technical assistance, and statistical collections. Feedback in response to this request is due by close of business on April 19. A letter outlining a series of questions related to the RFI can be found here

ED Proposes New Title IX Rule

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) proposed a new rule regarding student athletic eligibility under Title IX—a longstanding federal civil rights law that is intended to prevent sex-based discrimination. The proposal specifically seeks to address the issue of transgender athletes’ eligibility to play on sports teams in accordance with their gender identity. The proposed rule would prevent schools and institutions from adopting or implementing policies that broadly ban transgender students from athletics participation but leaves additional flexibility for schools and institutions to make further determinations based on their unique circumstances. The proposal comes as House Republicans continue to advance legislation (H.R. 734) that would broadly restrict transgender students from participating in school sports. The full proposed rule can be found here and will be open for public comment for 30 days.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy
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