Posts Tagged ‘Department of Education’

Legislative Update: New Congress Starts Amidst Uncertainty

Friday, 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

By Jodi Langellotti in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Congress Returns for a Busy Lame Duck Session

Monday, 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

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Congress in Recess Through the Midterms

Friday, 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

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Congress in Recess Through the Midterms

Monday, 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

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Congress Set to Extend FY22 Funding Via CR

Friday, 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

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Senate Passes Reconciliation Bill While CHIPS Legislation is Signed into Law

Monday, August 8th, 2022

Over the last week, Senate Democrats united and passed significant new climate and healthcare legislation which is expected to be voted on  by the House later this week. Elsewhere President Biden signed new advanced manufacturing legislation into law while the Commerce Department announced new American Rescue Plan grantees. Meanwhile, House Republicans unveiled new postsecondary education legislation while the Senate confirmed a new postsecondary leader at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). 

Senate Passes Long-awaited Reconciliation Package

Over the weekend, the Senate remained in session to consider the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (H.R. 5376)– legislation that would make significant new investments in the nation’s capacity to produce and use greener sources of energy while expanding healthcare access for millions of Americans. The bill will generate more than enough new federal revenue to offset these investments while also decreasing the federal deficit by over $300 billion. Earlier iterations of this proposal, known as the Build Back Better Act, included significant new investments in Career Technical Education (CTE) and workforce development, but lawmakers were unable to come to consensus on these and many other initiatives originally included in this package. Senate Democrats were able to pass this legislation by a simple majority vote via the chamber’s budget reconciliation process. The House is now expected to take up and pass this proposal later this week. 

President Biden Signs CHIPS & Science Act Into Law

As we shared previously, Congress recently approved the Chips and Science Act (H.R. 4346). This legislation will provide substantial new funding for the nation’s advanced manufacturing sector to increase the capacity to produce semiconductor chips– a component that is needed in many pieces of consumer electronics used by millions of people daily. On August 2, President Biden formally signed this legislation into law. Advance CTE and its partners were disappointed that language regarding the expansion of federal Pell grants for high-quality, shorter-term CTE programs was not included in the final package, along with a number of other important proposals initially considered as part of this legislation. 

However, the bill will provide some modest workforce development investments targeted specifically at sectors of the economy needed to produce semiconductor chips that may be of interest to the CTE community as the legislation is implemented in the months and years ahead. These investments include funding to broaden the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program to support workforce training partnerships benefiting manufacturers as well as $200 million in new funding for the National Science Foundation to promote wider workforce development recruitment into these fields. Advance CTE is continuing to analyze this legislation and will be monitoring the implementation of this law in future for further opportunities that may be created as a result of the bill’s recent enactment. 

House Republicans Introduce Short-term Pell Proposal 

Last week, House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC), committee member Elise Stefanik (R-NY), along with Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) introduced the Responsible Education Assistance through Loan (REAL) Reforms Act. This legislation would make a number of changes to existing federal student loan programs which have been at the center of continued disagreement between Congressional Democrats and Republicans. In addition to these provisions, the legislation includes a slightly reframed proposal that would allow learners to use federal Pell grants in certain shorter-term CTE programs. The bill includes a different set of requirements for these programs to qualify for Pell grants, including provisions that would require graduates to realize earnings gains that exceed the costs of the program. While a similar proposal was not ultimately included in the recently passed CHIPS and Science Act legislation noted elsewhere, its inclusion here demonstrates continued congressional support for the need to provide better support for learners pursuing postsecondary educational pathways with more direct linkages to careers. A fact sheet about the REAL Reforms Act can be found here

Commerce Department Announces Good Jobs Grantees 

On August 3 the U.S. Department of Commerce announced $500 million in new grants for 32 regional workforce partnerships across the country. These grants were part of the Department’s “Good Jobs Challenge,” a grant initiative funded by the American Rescue Plan passed exclusively by Congressional Democrats last year. Awardees will be pursuing a number of education and training initiatives connected to key economic sectors to help support the ongoing recovery from the pandemic. Among the 32 grantees to secure funding through this program was Hampton Roads Workforce Council– a local workforce center in House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott’s (D-VA) district which he recently visited to promote these efforts. 

Senate Confirms Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education 

Last Thursday the Senate formally confirmed Nasser Paydar to be the next Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE). Paydar was previously the Chancellor of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the Executive Vice President of Indiana University. In a statement following his confirmation, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona welcomed this new development saying, in part, “Dr. Paydar brings to the U.S. Department of Education more than three-and-a-half decades of experience as a university leader and educator, during which time he has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to creating accessible pathways to college and careers for students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.” 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Legislation, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: House Advances FY23 Perkins V Funding Measure

Friday, July 1st, 2022

This week the House Committee on Appropriations considered and marked up its federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill– legislation that would provide funding to the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor as well as the programs that these agencies administer and oversee. 

House Lawmakers Advance FY23 Education Funding Bill

The House Committee on Appropriations has been busy the last few weeks finalizing each of the 12 individual spending bills that compose the federal government budget. As shared last week, the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies marked up and passed the federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Bill. This bill was further amended and later approved by the full committee on Thursday, June 30, by party-line vote 32-24. This legislation, which provides funding for the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Labor (DOL), as well as the programs these agencies administers, will now be knitted together later this month as part of a wider FY23 spending package House Democrats hope to pass in the near future. 

If enacted, the funding measure would provide $45 million for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act’s (Perkins V) basic state grant program– a funding increase that exceeds President Biden’s request for this program and is aligned to what Congress provided in FY22. As CTE programs grapple with inflation and employers struggle to meet their labor needs, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education have continued to work with partners on Capitol Hill to secure an even larger investment in FY23 for this critically important program. The proposal also includes $50 million in additional funding for President Biden’s “Career Connected High School” initiative which, if enacted, would provide competitive grants to consortia of applicants. In addition, related report language from the bill would direct ED to improve data collection efforts to better understand CTE teacher shortages. 

Advance CTE expects the full House chamber to take up all 12 individual spending bills that compose the federal budget later this month. Further activity in the Senate on federal appropriations is still forthcoming and will likely resume when lawmakers return from their annual July 4 recess on July 11. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

By Stacy Whitehouse in Uncategorized
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Legislative Update: Congress Examines FY23 Budget and Teacher Shortages 

Friday, May 27th, 2022

This week Congress made progress on several U.S. Department of Education (ED) nominations, while also examining ways to address nationwide teacher shortages and ED’s fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget request. In addition, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona offered support to a community in Texas in the wake of tragedy while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)  distributed additional connectivity funding and ED hosted a summit on mental health. 

Secretary Cardona Issues Statement Regarding the Tragedy in Texas

On Tuesday, May 24, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona issued a statement in the wake of the tragic shooting that occurred at an Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. He shared, in part, “My heart is aching for all the families in Uvalde, Texas who are living through every parent’s greatest fear and worst nightmare: a shooting in their children’s school . . . My team at the Department of Education is offering every available federal resource—including through our Project SERV (School Emergency Response to Violence) program and on-the-ground support—to help the families, educators, staff, and greater Robb Elementary School community recover from this trauma and loss.”

House Holds Teacher Shortage Hearing

On Wednesday, May 25, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing examining the persistent issue of educator shortages throughout the nation. Witnesses included representatives from think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation and the Learning Policy Institute, as well as American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. Witnesses and lawmakers discussed the causes of teacher shortages and debated best-practice solutions to address them. These strategies included efforts to reduce certification requirements for teachers as one way to reduce barriers to entry into the classroom. As a reminder, Advance CTE recently endorsed the RAISE Act recently– a proposal that would provide tax credits for K-12 instructors– as one way to begin to address these persistent challenges. An archived webcast of the hearing, including witness testimony, can be found here.

Senate Advances ED Nominees

Also on Wednesday, May 25, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held an executive session meeting to consider several Biden Administration nominees. These nominations included LaWanda Toney to be the next Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) as well as Nasser Paydar to be Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education at the Department. During the session, Senators advanced each of these nominees out of committee for further consideration by the full chamber in the future. 

In addition to this committee-level activity, the full Senate took an important procedural step to advance Amy Loyd’s nomination to be the next Assistant Secretary for Career, Adult, and Technical Education at ED—an action that implies that Ms. Loyd will likely be confirmed sometime soon.

Cardona Testifies on FY23 Budget

Yesterday, May 26, the House Education and Labor Committee hosted U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona who testified about the Administration’s fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget request for the U.S. Department of Education. As a reminder, the Administration’s FY23 budget was created prior to FY22 funding levels being finalized by Congress. As a consequence, the Biden Administration proposed an “artificial cut” to the Carl D. Perkins Act’s basic state grant program. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) questioned Secretary Cardona about this issue, asking why the Department appeared to propose less funding for this program for the upcoming fiscal year. Secretary Cardona responded, in part, that “. . . we totally support the funding for that . . . in fact we really believe a big part of the work moving forward at the Department of Education is to really engage in career connected high schools and making sure that the through lines between our high schools and two year schools and workforce partners or four year schools is tighter across the country.”  An archived webcast of the hearing, including witness testimony, can be found here.

ED Hosts Virtual Mental Health Summit

On Monday, May 23, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) hosted a virtual summit titled “From Recovery to Thriving: Supporting Mental Health and Students With Disabilities.” The summit highlighted the Department’s ongoing work to implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and shared resources aimed at students to support their mental health. In particular, the event examined ways in which states and local communities can better develop and support more inclusive pathways programs for learners struggling with mental health challenges or disabilities. More information on the summit can be found here

FCC Announces $2.8 billion in New Funding

On Wednesday, May 25, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it had received $2.8 billion in funding requests as part of its third application window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program. Funding for the ECF as part of the American Rescue Plan was one of Advance CTE’s legislative priorities during the pandemic as a key strategy to help close the “homework gap.” This latest round of funding will support 5,120,453 connected devices and 4,285,794 broadband connections for eligible schools and libraries. However, with only an estimated $1.5 billion remaining in the program the FCC anticipates it will need to prioritize applicants with the greatest need first, particularly those in rural communities. 

June Meeting Series Registration Deadline Extended

On June 22nd, Advance CTE will be joined by partners from the Association for Career and Technical Education and Association of Community College Trustees to provide a federal policy update as part of Advance CTE’s Equip, Empower, Elevate: June Meeting Series. The series consists of three, three-hour events on June 8, 15, and 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. ET.  Those interested in attending one or more sessions can register here by June 2, 2022. 

Be Sure to Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

The House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and ACTE are currently working to encourage Senators and Representatives to join their respective CTE Caucuses, if they have not done so already. To find out if your Members of Congress have joined their respective Caucus, you can review House and Senate membership lists. Membership in these caucuses is an important way for lawmakers to signal their support for CTE and the millions of learners across the country who enroll in these programs. To encourage your Senator or member of Congress to join, click here and scroll down to the request form corresponding to your needs.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy, Uncategorized
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Share Ideas on Career Pathways through New “Innovation Forum” Blog

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

An increasingly competitive economy is forcing Career Technical Education (CTE) and workforce leaders to “do more with less.” A new resource launched by the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education (through the Office of Vocational and Adult Education), and Health and Human Services this week encourages workforce leaders and partners to maximize their efforts by sharing innovative ideas and best practices on career pathways.

According to the Department of Labor, the resource, called the “Innovation Forum,” is geared towards organizations serving adults and youth, and was designed as a platform for sharing ideas on “new ways to govern, invest and manage funds, and deliver services.”

The forum is set up as a blog, and participants are encouraged to submit blog posts and to comment on posted blogs. The most recent post, “Career Pathways Come to Life,” highlights the recent National Career Pathways Network Conference in Florida. Read more about how to submit a blog post here.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

By admin in News, Resources
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ED Launches Open Source Tool for Educators

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

In an effort to improve accessibility to high quality educational resources, the U.S. Departments of Education and Defense teamed up with a variety of organizations to produce an online “Learning Registry.”

As described by the Education Department, the Learning Registry is not a website or a repository; rather, it is a “communication system that allows existing educational portals and online systems to publish, consume, and share important information about learning resources with each other and the public, while respecting the privacy of individual users.”

The source’s creators hope to provide a tool for teachers to find the resources they need to directly support teaching and learning. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called the Registry “an important step toward reaching our goal of personalizing learning and differentiating instruction.”

According to its main page, the Learning Registry system is an open technology framework to which anyone can create and publish content for uses such as sharing metadata describing learning resources; ratings, reviews, comments and other annotative data; and alignment to educational standards.

View Learning Registry’s technical guides to learn more.

By admin in News, Resources
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