Posts Tagged ‘Federal Policy’

Legislative Update: House to Consider Workforce Legislation Next Week 

Friday, May 13th, 2022

This week lawmakers in the House set the stage to consider the reauthorization of federal workforce development legislation, while the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced plans to issue new rules regarding disability policy and the Biden Administration unveiled new connectivity efforts. 

House to Consider WIOA Next Week 

Next Monday, May 16, the House Rules Committee will meet to develop a rule for floor consideration of H.R. 7309– legislation that, if enacted, would reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). As shared previously, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) sent a letter to lawmakers outlining remaining concerns with the proposal while also supporting many aspects of the legislation, particularly the proposed reforms contained in the bill related to the sharing of One-Stop Center infrastructure costs amongst partner programs like postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE). Advance CTE expects a floor vote sometime next week, where lawmakers in the House will consider a number of amendments to the underlying legislative proposal. A list of potential amendments to be considered can be found here

Education Department Announces Plans to Amend Section 504

Late last week, May 6, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that it intends to promulgate new regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Currently, Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability for programs and initiatives funded with federal dollars. These regulations apply to pre-K-12 and postsecondary institutions that receive federal grants as part of their operations. ED plans to gather public input from a wide variety of stakeholders ahead of issuing new proposed rules aimed at further protecting the rights of students with disabilities. 

Biden Administration Promotes Affordable Connectivity Efforts

On Monday, May 9, the Biden Administration held a series of events intended to promote federal efforts to make high-speed internet affordable for more Americans. The bipartisan infrastructure law passed by Congress last year, known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), created the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)—an initiative that provides subsidies to eligible households to pay for broadband internet services. This was a key legislative priority for Advance CTE during last year’s negotiations as a way to ensure more learners have access to vitally important broadband connections. Twenty internet service providers signed on to an agreement to cap household costs for these connections at no more than $30 per month.

The Administration has also launched GetInternet.gov—a website to assist individuals in accessing this benefit as part of these efforts. In addition to these announcements, Jessica Rosenworcel, Chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has recently proposed to allow federal E-rate funding to be used to install Wi-Fi on school buses. If enacted, this policy change would provide a new source of funding for additional student-focused connectivity efforts such as this. 

Guest Blog Post: Virginia State CTE Director Reflects on Secretary Cardona Teacher Appreciation Week Visit 

This week, Virginia State CTE Director David Eshelman penned a guest post on Advance CTE’s Learning that Works blog recapping U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Senator Tim Kaine’s (D-VA) visit to the RTR teacher residency program at Armstrong High School in Richmond, Virginia. This stop  launched a series of visits and events made by Sec. Cardona to celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week as we shared last week.

Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

In conjunction with the House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and ACTE are working to encourage Senators and Representatives over the next several weeks 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
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Guest Post: Virginia State CTE Director Reflects on Secretary Cardona Teacher Appreciation Week Visit

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

On Monday, May 2, 2022, Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) kicked off Teacher Appreciation Week at Armstrong High School in Richmond, Virginia. As the State Director for Career, Technical, and Adult Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia, I am reminded almost daily of the challenges school division administrators face to fill vacancies throughout the entire teaching profession. Filling teacher vacancies, particularly in critical needs areas, like Career and Technical Education (CTE), is mission critical to meet workforce demand. I was excited for Virginia to be chosen as a model to highlight the urgent need for a robust educator workforce, and how CTE  programs with robust supports that bridge secondary and postsecondary institutions can fill that need. 

This event highlighted the Richmond Teacher Residency (RTR) program. The teacher residency program is very similar to an apprenticeship. The power of the model was demonstrated during this visit,  where multiple graduates shared the impact of this program for their career. 

Despite overwhelming research that teacher quality is the most important school-based factor in student achievement — and that teacher impact on student learning is cumulative and long-lasting — historically marginalized students are typically taught by the least prepared, least experienced, and least effective teachers. RTR addresses this issue by preparing and retaining high-quality teachers to ensure that every student gets a quality education.

RTR is a school-based teacher preparation program that integrates research with practice to equip participants, known as residents, with the knowledge, skills, and experience to be effective in high-needs and hard-to-staff classrooms.  Participants emerge with a graduate degree in education from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), a teacher’s license, and a full year’s experience with a strong mentor teacher. Tuition is fully covered, and residents receive a $5,000 stipend with additional stipends available for those teaching in science and math fields. 

The outcome? Residents who are ready to step into the classroom as impactful teachers. Residents who are ready to take student learning to the next level. Residents who are ready to lift up communities — one classroom at a time. This program requires at least a three year commitment. One student highlighted has remained with his school for ten years.

In 2011-2012, the program began as the Richmond Teacher Residency Program serving only Richmond City Public Schools. In 2018, the program’s name was changed to RTR as  it expanded outside of Richmond city boundaries. With RTR, learning knows no boundaries. Now, RTR is serving four Virginia school divisions: Chesterfield County Public Schools, Henrico County Public Schools, Petersburg Public Schools and Richmond City Public Schools.

Our partnership with VCU will continue to grow. Up to this point, VCU has only offered a graduate level teacher residency program. VCU has not started at the high school level yet, but other states have through their teachers for tomorrow and educators rising programs. These classes are an introduction to teaching. Some instances have dual enrollment, so the credits can then apply to a degree in education. Currently, VCU is working on an undergraduate residency program where students would be in a school for a full year while they are getting their degree. I would love to see this program incorporated at the secondary level through Virginia teachers for tomorrow and educators rising. 

According to Kim McKnight, Director of the Center for Teacher Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University and executive director of RTR Teacher Residency, the program is only as strong as your weakest resident or mentor teacher, so it is critical to do an extensive interview, application, and matching process. Residents are the next generation of teachers and mentors grow a teacher in their classroom, so it is important they are both properly trained and have the dispositions needed for a career in education. A lesson learned is a shared cost investment from school divisions, state funding, local philanthropy and any other business partners will help for long-term financial sustainability. This model began with large federal grants but a shared cost is critically important.

Highlighting a program like RTR was a great way to kick off Teacher Appreciation Week in Virginia. As a relatively new CTE state director, it does not take long to figure out the importance of partnerships from secondary, postsecondary, higher education, and business and industry. Virginia is very fortunate to have the support from Senator Tim Kaine. Sen. Kaine is not only a supporter of RTR from its inception but a clear advocate for Career and Technical Education, understanding its role in meeting future workforce demand throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. 

Visit the RTR Residency web page for more information about the program. 

 

David Eshelman, Director, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Virginia Department of Education 

Kim McKnight, Director of the Center for Teacher Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University and Executive Director, RTR Teacher Residency

By Stacy Whitehouse in Communicating CTE
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Legislative Update: Congress Set to Return Next Week

Friday, April 22nd, 2022

This week lawmakers in the House have continued to circulate a Dear Colleague letter in support of funding for the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins V) and the high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) programs it supports. In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) signed an agreement with the Austrian government related to apprenticeships while the Congressional CTE Caucuses continue to grow. 

Congress Set to Return Next Week

Over the last two weeks, lawmakers in Congress have been in respective states and districts for their annual springtime recess. Both the House and Senate are scheduled to return next week to resume work on a host of issues. Chief among these agenda items is continued work on the federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget and appropriations process. These efforts formally began with the release of President Biden’s FY23 budget request a few weeks ago. Lawmakers are in the process of analyzing and considering aspects of this request, which will include opportunities for the heads of federal agencies—including U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona—to testify before relevant Congressional committees regarding the contours of the budget request.

Next week, Secretary Cardona is scheduled to testify before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies about the Biden Administration’s FY23 funding requests for programs overseen by the U.S. Department of Education, like Perkins V). As a reminder, CTE Caucus Co-chairs Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter in the House calling for robust funding for Perkins V as part of this process. Advance CTE encourages its members to contact your members of Congress soon and ask them to sign-on to this important letter to ensure a strong funding result as part of the wider federal budget and appropriations process this year. To do so, click here

Federal Agencies & Austria Sign Apprenticeship MOU 

Late last week, the heads of the U.S. Departments of Labor (USDOL), Education (ED), and Commerce, along with the Austrian Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs Dr. Margarete Schramböck announced that their respective agencies had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to expand Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs) in the United States among Austrian companies. In 2020, Austria invested $17.8 billion in the U.S., primarily in the IT, software, and industrial equipment sectors. Federal agencies have signed similar MOUs in recent years with Germany and Switzerland, each aiming to increase awareness about RAPs and related career pathway opportunities. Read the signed MOU here

Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

In conjunction with the House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and ACTE are working to encourage Senators and Representatives over the next several weeks 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
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Legislative Update: Equity Plans Unveiled by Federal Agencies as FY23 Efforts Get Underway

Friday, April 15th, 2022

This week House Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus co-chairs began circulating a Dear Colleague letter aimed at securing robust funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V). In addition, federal agencies unveiled equity action plans outlining planned efforts to advance equity throughout the federal government. 

FY23 Perkins V Funding Letter Being Circulated for Sign-on 

It has been quiet on Capitol Hill this week, with lawmakers in both chambers currently in states and districts for the annual springtime Congressional recess. Both the House and the Senate are expected to return later this month during the week of April 25. With the release of President Biden’s federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget request to Congress earlier this month, it is widely anticipated that lawmakers will focus attention on the FY23 budget and appropriations cycle when they return. 

Ahead of these efforts, House CTE Caucus co-chairs Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) are leading a “Dear Colleague” letter to be sent to the leadership of the House Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittees. The letter requests robust funding for Perkins V in the House’s forthcoming FY23 appropriations bill. This letter is an important way for members to gauge support for programs like the Perkins basic state grant program as they make critical funding decisions for how to allocate finite federal resources as part of this process. 

While the President’s FY23 request was disappointing, Advance CTE and its partners are working with Congress to ensure Perkins V is provided the funding necessary to ensure access to all learners have access to high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. We are therefore encouraging you to get in touch with your members of Congress and ask them to sign-on to this important Dear Colleague letter. To do so, click here

Biden Administration Unveils Equity Agendas

On Thursday, April 14, federal departments and agencies collectively released “Equity Action Plans”. These plans are part of President Biden’s January 20, 2021 executive order aimed at advancing equity and support for underserved communities throughout the federal government. As part of these efforts, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) also unveiled its specific equity action plan which broadly aims to undertake work in five main areas:

The full plan can be found here

Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

In conjunction with the House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and ACTE are working to encourage Senators and Representatives over the next several weeks 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
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Equip, Empower, Elevate: Advance CTE’s 2021 Annual Report

Thursday, April 7th, 2022

In June 2021, the Advance CTE and The Center to Advance CTE’s Boards of Directors unanimously approved a new three-year strategic plan with three key strategic priorities — to EQUIP Advance CTE to lead with a focus on quality and equity, EMPOWER members to realize the CTE Without Limits vision, and ELEVATE high-quality and equitable CTE.

As we reflect on 2021, we are excited to share the collective progress we made towards accomplishing these strategic priorities. In 2021, Advance CTE and its members: 

Looking ahead to 2022:

View Advance CTE’s 2021 Annual Report: careertech.org/who-we-are 

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director 

By Brittany Cannady in Advance CTE Announcements
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Legislative Update: FY22 Omnibus Signed Into Law

Friday, March 18th, 2022

This week President Biden signed a full-year spending package for the current fiscal year, providing several increased investments of note to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. In addition, Advance CTE continues to encourage its members and partners to support legislation to improve learner access to Pell Grants for high-quality, short-term postsecondary CTE programs. Finally, be sure to encourage your Senators and Representatives to join the House and Senate CTE Caucuses if they have not already done so! 

President Biden Signs FY22 Omnibus Into Law

As we shared last week, Congress successfully passed a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package which provides full-year funding for the remaining six months of the current 2022 federal fiscal year (FY22). This spending package provides support for federal education and workforce development programs, including the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). On Tuesday, March 15, President Biden formally signed the legislation into law. The legislation provides an additional $45 million for Perkins V’s basic state formula grant program (an increase of nearly 3.5 percent). The legislation makes a host of other notable investments to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, including increased investments in apprenticeship expansion efforts, career education programs at community colleges, and other important funding beneficial to expanding CTE opportunities to more of the nation’s learners. 

With the FY22 funding process now complete, the FY23 budget and appropriation process can now formally begin. This process typically begins with the release of the President’s budget request to Congress, which Advance CTE expects to be released in the coming weeks. Once the Biden administration’s budget request is published and sent to Congress, lawmakers will formally begin efforts to craft the necessary spending bills (12 in total)  that compose the federal budget. Ahead of these efforts, the Senate confirmed Shalanda Young to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) this week by a margin of 61-36. This agency is tasked with leading the formulation of the Biden Administration’s FY23 budget request and will be a key stakeholder in future FY23 federal appropriations negotiations this year. As these efforts and more continue to take shape, Advance CTE is working to ensure robust investments in CTE. 

In the meantime, be sure to check out Advance CTE’s updated Perkins funding resource reflecting the new investments made by Congress in FY22. 

Sign-on to Support Pell Grants for High-Quality CTE Programs

Advance CTE and its partners have continued to advocate for the enactment of the JOBS Act– legislation that would make long-overdue improvements to the federal Pell Grant program by expanding eligibility for high-quality shorter-term postsecondary CTE programs. As lawmakers continue to negotiate and craft forthcoming legislation to increase the competitiveness of the American economy, this reform would significantly enhance the nation’s ability to provide pathways for workers and learners to earn valuable postsecondary credentials needed in today’s economy. 

To help ensure lawmakers understand the importance of this legislation and the role it has in ensuring that postsecondary education is truly working for everyone, Advance CTE encourages state and local CTE affiliates, including individual nonprofit CTE institutions serving postsecondary learners, to sign-on in support of this letter ahead of anticipated legislative action later this year. Please share and add your support by the end of this month! 

Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

In conjunction with the House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education are working to encourage Senators and Representatives over the next several weeks to join their respective CTE Caucuses if they have not done so already. 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 Legislation
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Legislative Update: Full-Year Spending Package for FY22 with CTE Implications

Friday, March 11th, 2022

This week Congress passed a long-awaited full-year spending package for the 2022 federal fiscal year (FY22). The legislation provides encouraging increases for programs of interest to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. In addition, Advance CTE encourages its members and partners to sign-on in support of the  Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, legislation that would make much-needed reforms to the federal Pell grant program. Finally, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has made a number of new announcements, including the availability of new discretionary grant funding. 

House Passes FY22 Omnibus Spending Legislation With CTE Funding Increase

After relying on a series of short-term funding extensions (known as Continuing Resolutions or CRs) for the first six months of FY22, Congress is finally on the precipice of enacting a full-year, comprehensive spending legislation. In the early morning hours of Wednesday, March 9, lawmakers in the House unveiled a $1.5 trillion FY22 omnibus spending bill which combines all 12 regular appropriations bills covering the entirety of the federal government and related programs for the current federal fiscal year into a single legislative package. Initially, this package also contained additional supplemental aid to address the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and to meet unaddressed needs from the pandemic.

Late Wednesday night lawmakers in the House passed this omnibus package, via separate votes, on a bipartisan basis—after stripping out additional pandemic aid due to lack of support but leaving the Ukrainian aid in place—sending the package to the Senate for further consideration. Late last night the Senate took up and passed the omnibus by a margin of 68-31. With current federal funding set to expire late today (March 11), Advance CTE expects President Biden to sign the legislation into law imminently, so as to avoid a lapse in federal appropriations. 

Overall, the legislation provides an additional $2.3 billion for the U.S. Department of Education (ED)– a 3.2 percent increase over 2021 federal fiscal year (FY21) levels. The FY22 omnibus also contains a number of new investments of note to the CTE community. These include $45 million in additional funding for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act’s (Perkins V) basic state grant program. This new level of investment brings total Perkins V state grant funding to $1.38 billion (a 3.4% increase compared to FY21 levels). In addition, the omnibus provides $60 million in additional funding (a 5 percent increase) for Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants contained in Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The bill also increases the maximum award amount for Pell Grants by $400, bringing this new total to $6,895 per grant.

The omnibus also provides roughly $500 million in additional funding for the DOL, representing an increase of 3.6 percent for the agency. Significantly, the legislation provides $50 million in additional funding to expand registered apprenticeship programs (a 27 percent increase), bringing total funding for this purpose to $235 million for FY22. Overall, the legislation increases funding for programs authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) by $249 million, bringing the total for these activities to $5.66 billion (a roughly 4.6 percent increase compared to FY21). Finally, $50 million of the overall funding being provided to WIOA is dedicated specifically to expanding career training and education programs offered at community colleges, including consortia of other eligible postsecondary institutions. 

Advance CTE applauds these and other critically important investments made through this legislation and will continue to provide the CTE community with additional updates regarding this legislation’s impact on states, districts, schools, and institutions in the future. In the meantime, Advance CTE’s federal policy agenda can be found here

Lend Your Support to Pell Grant Modernization 

Advance CTE and its partners have continued to advocate for the enactment of the JOBS Act – legislation that would make long-overdue improvements to the federal Pell Grant program by expanding eligibility for high-quality shorter-term postsecondary CTE programs. As lawmakers continue to negotiate and craft forthcoming legislation to improve the competitiveness of the American economy, this reform would drastically enhance the nation’s ability to provide pathways for workers and learners to earn valuable postsecondary credentials needed in today’s economy. 

To help ensure lawmakers understand the importance of this legislation and the role it has in ensuring American global economic competitiveness, Advance CTE encourages state and local CTE affiliates, especially nonprofit CTE institutions, to sign-on in support of this letter ahead of anticipated legislative action later this year. 

DOL and DOT Sign MOU 

On Monday, March 7, the DOL and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) formalizing their commitment to collaborate in two main areas: 

This MOU is intended to support the ongoing implementation of the bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed last year. A press release on the announcement can be found here

DOL Grant Opportunities

Over the past few weeks, DOL has published the following discretionary grant opportunities which may be of interest to the CTE community:

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

By Brittany Cannady in Legislation
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Legislative Update: Advance CTE and ACTE Host Congressional CTE Month Briefing 

Friday, February 18th, 2022

This week the Advance CTE and ACTE co-hosted a Congressional briefing with Career Technical Student Organizations, while over two-thirds of the Senate supported a resolution designating February as Career Technical Education (CTE) month. The Senate HELP Committee also held a briefing exploring issues impacting workforce development while lawmakers worked to extend current funding levels through mid-March. In addition, the FCC announced the disbursement of additional connectivity funding while the U.S. Department of Education (ED) made important updates to its College Scorecard.

Advance CTE and ACTE Host Congressional CTE Month Briefing 

On Tuesday, February 15, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) hosted a bicameral Congressional briefing featuring learners from several Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs): 

Moderated by Advance CTE’s Executive Director Kimberly Green, the briefing highlighted the value of CTE and elevated CTSO learner experiences from both K-12 and postsecondary perspectives. The event also featured remarks from CTE Caucus Co-chairs Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN). During Rep. Langevin’s opening comments, the long-time House CTE Caucus co-chair noted, in part, that “A dependable, skilled, and prepared workforce is more critical to our economy than ever, and CTE lays the foundation for students to succeed both now and in the future.” Sen. Young emphasized his ambitions to grow CTE opportunities throughout the nation by co-chairing the Senate CTE Caucus noting that, “3 of 5 jobs in Indiana require more than a high-school diploma but less than a four year degree. More than half of workers in the state do not yet have this level of education.”

Following these remarks from congressional CTE champions, Green posed a series of questions to the CTSO student panel. For Deddens, the FCCLA First Vice President noted that “. . . being a national officer has allowed me to advocate for change in community and state and meet people of diverse backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. Being in CTSOs opens these lines of communication.” National TSA President Rangu noted the impact her first national TSA convention had on her, noting “It was empowering for me to see someone that looked like me [be a national leader] so I felt confident to step into that position and serve as a role model for others.” Tyagi, HOSA’s International President Elect, emphasized the importance of his mentors noting “…[they]  instilled the importance of giving back to communities to secure a future of health that has no boundaries and will take care of every individual.” DECA Collegiate President Spohn emphasized how CTE was “. . . the first time I was in a classroom where what I was being taught was applicable to what I wanted to do with my life and career.”

Senate Passes CTE Month Resolution With Overwhelming Bipartisan Support

In the evening following the CTSO panel, the Senate considered a bipartisan resolution designating February as CTE Month. The Senate unanimously passed this resolution without objection which garnered the support of over two-thirds of the Senate with 68 total co-sponsors. In a speech just before the resolution’s passage Senator Kaine (D-VA), the lead sponsor of the resolution remarked , “By formally recognizing CTE Month through this resolution, we hope to bring greater awareness to improving access to high-quality career and technical education for millions of America’s students and our Nation’s ongoing economic competitiveness.” The House recently introduced a similar resolution and is in the process of recruiting additional co-sponsors. Be sure to encourage your Member of Congress to support this resolution by the end of the month by clicking here

Senate HELP Committee Holds Workforce Development Hearing 

On Tuesday, February 15, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing to examine workforce development policies and related strategies collectively aimed at helping workers find and obtain family sustaining employment. The hearing focused particularly on individuals with barriers to employment and the value and impact wraparound support services–like childcare, transportation, and career navigation supports–have in helping workers overcome these existing challenges. 

During the question and answer portion of the hearing, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) highlighted his and Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) ongoing sponsorship of the JOBS Act– legislation that, if enacted, would provide Pell Grants for high-quality, shorter-term training programs at postsecondary institutions to more effectively support workers and learners. Advance CTE has long supported this legislation and continues to call for its enactment by Congress this year. A video archive of the hearing, including related written testimony, can be found here.  

Congress Passes FY22 Funding Extension Through Mid-March 

The formal start of the current federal fiscal year 2022 (FY22) began on October 1, 2021. Since that time, lawmakers in Congress have been unable to come to agreement on full-year funding for the current 2022 federal fiscal year (FY22). Congress has passed a series of short-term funding measures—known as a continuing resolution (CR)—to extend current FY21 funding levels through FY22. To date, these actions have averted a federal government shutdown and lapse in appropriations for laws like Perkins V. However, the most recent of these CRs is set to expire February 18, 2022. 

Last week, lawmakers in the House passed another CR to extend current funding levels, yet again, for federal operations and programs through March 11. This measure passed the chamber by a margin of 272-162 and is intended to provide lawmakers additional time to work out a full-year funding agreement for FY22. Late last night, the Senate followed suit passing the legislation by a margin of 65-27. Focus now turns back to Congressional appropriators who are reportedly working to finalize full-year funding for programs like Perkins V’s basic state grant program. As these efforts unfold, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for a comprehensive FY22 funding bill and a robust investment for the CTE. 

ED Makes Updates to College Scorecard

Last week the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced several enhancements to the College Scorecard broadly aimed at making it more useful for prospective learners and their families. Among the changes made is a new earnings threshold metric, which shows the percentage of former students whose earnings exceed those of the average high school graduate. This measure is intended to demonstrate a return on investment for entering postsecondary education. A similar measure is currently being considered as part of forthcoming changes to “gainful employment” rules which ED is currently negotiating with stakeholders. A recent examination of these updated College Scorecard data by Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that more than half of students at roughly 30 percent of postsecondary institutions earn less than a high school graduate after 10 years. 

FCC Announces Ninth Wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund Commitments

Last week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a ninth wave of funding commitments totaling over $125 million as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). The $7.2 billion ECF program was authorized as part of the American Rescue Plan and allows eligible schools and libraries to apply for financial support to purchase connected devices like laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to serve unmet needs of students, school staff, and library patrons at home during the ongoing pandemic. Securing initial funding for the ECF was one of Advance CTE’s legislative priorities since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This round of commitments will support 270,00 students by providing funding to over 340 schools, 20 libraries, and 6 consortia who are set to receive 330,000 connected devices and over 39,000 broadband connections. More on the announcement can be found here

 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Legislation
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Legislative Update: Congress Returns With Funding Deadline Looming

Friday, January 7th, 2022

The Senate returned to a snow-covered Capitol Hill this week, while the House is due to return next week. By mid next month, lawmakers must once again act on FY22 appropriations along with a slew of other agenda items for 2022. In addition, federal agencies have unveiled new broadband connectivity efforts, updated equity requirements for educational aid provided last year, and sought to address bus driver shortages plaguing school districts across the nation.

Congress Returns With Funding Deadline Looming

Earlier this week, the Senate formally reconvened to begin the second session of the 117th Congress. The House is scheduled to follow suit next Monday, January 10. As lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week and next, they will be confronted with a number of important agenda items, including determining a path forward for Democrats’ domestic spending package, known as the Build Back Better Act (BBBA). However, first among these is the fast-approaching date of February 18, which is when funding for the current 2022 federal fiscal year (FY22) is set to expire. Last year, Congress enacted a short-term extension of FY21 funding levels to keep the federal government open and related federal programs funded. This extension was intended to provide lawmakers additional time to find agreement on a full-year FY22 funding bill, which would last through September 30 of this year. As these efforts get underway, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for the significant funding needs of the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. 

FCC Launches New Connectivity Program and Grants New Waiver Flexibilities

On December 31, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officially launched the Affordable Connectivity Program—an initiative authorized by the recently enacted bipartisan infrastructure legislation (known also as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act). The program allots $14.2 billion in supplementary funding for eligible individuals to acquire subsidies for internet service bills and one-time discounts for certain internet capable devices. More on the announcement can be found here.

In addition to these efforts, the FCC also issued an order on Tuesday, responding to seven requests to waive the Emergency Connectivity Fund’s (ECF) $400 cap for the purchasing of connected devices. The $7.2 billion ECF program was authorized as part of the American Rescue Plan and was a key Advance CTE legislative priority to help respond to the “homework gap.” The ECF allows eligible schools and libraries to apply for financial support to purchase connected devices like laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to serve unmet needs of students, school staff, and library patrons at home during the ongoing pandemic. This week’s order granted five out of the seven requested waivers capping the allowable cost of these devices. 

ED Unveils New Proposed MOEq Requirements

On Monday,  the U.S. Department of Education (ED) published updates to requirements for states and local school districts regarding the implementation of “Maintenance of Equity” (MOEq) provisions contained in the American Rescue Plan (ARP). This announcement follows earlier guidance from USED on this topic. Published in the Federal Register, the proposal details a series of new reporting requirements that states and school districts would need to complete by December 31, 2022. The Department is seeking feedback from the public on this proposal and comments are due to the Department by February 2, 2022. Additional information on the announcement can be found here.

School Bus Driver Certification Waivers Announced

Also on Tuesday, ED and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a series of actions to address the nation’s ongoing shortage of school bus drivers. Among these planned responses, ED and USDOT jointly committed to waiving certain requirements from commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) to reduce the entry requirements to train new bus drivers. The waiver took effect Monday, January 3, and is set to expire March 31 of this year. Bus operators receiving a CDL under this temporary waiver will only be permitted to work within a single state. More information regarding this announcement can be found here.

ED Approves Last Round of State ARP Plans

The American Rescue Plan (ARP), passed last spring, authorized $122 billion in additional pandemic aid funding to be disbursed to K-12 schools over the last year. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) distributed two-thirds of this funding to states via a formula detailed in the legislation during 2021. However, ED held back the remaining third of these funds until states and territories submitted plans detailing how they would make use of these resources to support students as they recover from the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last few weeks in December, the Department approved the remaining state ARP plans that were awaiting review by ED, including those for Florida, Mississippi, and Vermont. All state ARP plans, including highlights and related press releases, can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

By Stacy Whitehouse in COVID-19 and CTE, Public Policy
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Advance CTE 2021 Fall Meeting Staff Reflections

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

On October 27 and 28, over 270 state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders gathered for Advance CTE’s 2021 Fall Meeting. Through timely plenary discussions, breakout and networking sessions, members and supporters were able to reflect on the transformations of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, gain knowledge on the latest research and promising practices in states, and create community by building networks with leaders in similar roles. 

Advance CTE staff departed the meeting feeling energized and excited about the many ways our members are going above and beyond to advance the event theme, “Meeting CTE’s Moment”. This post shares top outcomes of Fall Meeting with reflections from Advance CTE staff. 

1. Highlighting High-Quality, Equitable State Practices: Speakers from 22 states and 19 national organizations highlighted innovative state practices, and more importantly provided tangible lessons learned and first steps for leaders to implement the initiatives in their own state. 

“The amazing work being shared by CTE leaders across the country was truly inspiring. The statewide mentorship program and New Teacher Institute in Missouri are best practices models for the nation to emulate. Allowing Local Education Agencies (LEA) to serve as an Educator Preparation Program (EPP) is an outstanding example of out-of-the-box thinking. Despite the crippling disparity in pay compared to the surrounding states, the program has yielded high retention rates by providing new teachers with the supports necessary to be effective practitioners. The jewel of the Fall Meeting, in my opinion, was South Carolina’s presentation on the combined efforts between the state’s CTE and Special Education departments to provide access to high-quality programs of study. The innovative process of evaluating the enrollment and performance of students with disabilities by specific disabilities is a model for developing equitable systems for all learners. I’m excited to see the strategies for improving academic success developed from the analysis and I hope the methodology becomes a national trend.” – Dr. Kevin Johnson, Sr., Senior Advisor

“One of my favorite parts of the Fall Meeting was the opportunity state leaders had to share challenges they were facing with top of mind topics and directly problem-solve with national CTE leaders. In a breakout session sharing the latest research on employer engagement, Director of Public Policy James Redstone from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) offered advice to states on how to structure programs and outreach to better meet employer needs. In a session on connecting Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and CTE, renowned national SEL leader Dr. Scott Solberg was able to share best practices and common challenges gained from a network of over 20 states led by Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Despite limits to capacity, our members are always so eager to keep innovating. Hearing lessons learned in states from a national perspective is so valuable in order to make the most of the resources and take the work on these topics and more to the next level.” – Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate, Communications and State Engagement

2. Elevating Learner Voice and Learner-Center Systems: Fall Meeting featured a dedicated    series of breakout sessions focused on elevating high-quality examples of national tool and state initiatives that centered learners in policy and practice. Sessions on Advance CTE’s recently released learner voice toolkit  and social capital featured CTE learners.

“The 2021 Fall Meeting intentionally focused on leveraging the learner voice within state CTE decisionmaking. I was thrilled to witness Advance CTE being joined by two esteemed learners over the two-day meeting: Autumn Steffens and Daraja Brown. Secondary learner Autumn shared her hopes for future learner engagement, “It makes me feel seen as a learner and will help with my decisionmaking in the future.” Postsecondary learner Daraja shared how she has leveraged her social capital to advance through career pathways, “It is important for me to find the different professionals, teacher and mentors that I connect with on a personal level…someone that is in my corner and cares about me and my professional development.” Ultimately, it is important that state and local CTE leaders with the ability to influence CTE policy and programming leverage stakeholders from all levels, including learners. By these actions, state and local CTE leaders are taking every opportunity to advance CTE, particularly under the new shared vision, to ensure each learner achieves career success.” – Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate, Digital Media

“Beyond reconnecting with so many familiar faces, I always love the opportunity to hear from national researchers and partners about exciting or important work in the field, especially those that highlight inequities or illustrate how to better leverage the work we all do to support all learners. Timely research from Strada Education Network and the Urban Institute really demonstrated for me the importance of reaching out to learners at the margins of education, whether they are learners disrupted by the pandemic or learners who don’t have access to high quality postsecondary CTE due to gaps in technology access. At the same time, our members bring these learners to the forefront and are working to design CTE programs that are high-quality and equitable. I always leave our meetings excited about the future of CTE!” – Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate 

3. Building Community: Fall Meeting not only provided an engaging chat feature where attendees routinely shared ideas and celebrated their peers, but also featured two role-alike sessions where leaders networked by professional role, identity and stakeholder level. For the first time, leaders of color also had a dedicated space to connect.

“Advance CTE members are no strangers to virtual meetings, and yet no one felt like strangers to each other. The sense of community and camaraderie was apparent via warm “good to see you” chats and among presenters who were meeting for the first time or reconvening for the hundredth time in a breakout session. We know that members have missed being in person together, but I find encouragement and meaning in the Fall Meeting as a culmination of building a virtual community over the past two years.” – Sara Gassman, Senior Associate, Member Engagement & Professional Learning

“The highlight for me was watching our members shout out each other and other members of their team for their incredible work to advance high-quality and equitable CTE! It was heartening and refreshing to see so many old and new colleagues and peers recognize their fierce commitment to CTE and innovative practices for a wide array of policies, such as establishing standing up new advisement systems, expanding equitable early postsecondary opportunities, building local capacity for identifying and closing opportunities gaps, and recruiting and retaining a more diverse CTE workforce, to name a few! Our members are doing amazing work and I love seeing that work recognized and celebrated by their peers across the country.” – Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director 

4. Advancing CTE Without Limits and Exploring the Future of CTE: Fall Meeting was grounded in the five principles that comprise Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits), and each series of breakout sessions sought to challenge the limits of state leaders to transform systems so that each learner can achieve success in the career of their choice. 

“Just seven months after CTE Without Limits was released, it was incredible to see how state CTE leaders are thinking about operationalizing the principles. I had the privilege of listening in on Lisa Stoner-Torbert’s session on Delaware’s PIPEline for career success program for learners with disabilities, which demonstrates how flexible career pathways, aligned funding and cross-sector partnerships can provide historically marginalized learners the means to succeed in their chosen career pathways.” – Austin Estes, Data & Research Manager

“Another standout moment was during the Ensuring Access to CTE for All Learners Through Equitable Recruitment and Admissions Requirements session. The speaker, Ms. Tiara Booker-Dwyer, Assistant State Superintendent, Maryland State Department of Education, so eloquently shared the importance of diversity in advancing our vision for CTE through a visual “band” analogy. She explained the need to have “all instruments” represented in order to produce great music and how the lottery system in their state was not allowing for “all instruments” to have a chance to be part of the band. Her example provided the why behind the work as she shared policy and practices their state edited to create more equitable access to programs. The co-presenters for the session from the state of Massachusetts’ Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Cliff Chuang, Senior Associate Commissioner and Elizabeth Bennett, Associate Commissioner of CCTE, also incorporated CTE Without Limits in their concrete examples of how they have revised state policy and law to create a path for all learners to be recruited and admitted in high-quality CTE programs in their state. 

It was great to hear and learn from state leaders and funders who believe and are invested in the CTE Without Limits vision. State leaders were inspired to innovate, be bold and take action to execute the vision without limits in their respective states.”  – Nithya Govindasamy, Senior Advisor 

5. Connecting Federal Policy to State Action: Fall Meeting attendees had the opportunity to receive updates on the latest federal policies and supports from senior officials at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). 

“The highlight of the Fall Meeting for me was the opportunity to facilitate a discussion with DOL on the lasting effects of the pandemic on the labor force and the future of work. The discussion elevated the necessity for alignment across secondary, postsecondary and the workforce and the opportunity for CTE to bridge that alignment. It was clear that DOL is supportive of the work our members are conducting in all states. and that the administration wants to continue to fund initiatives that support the economic recovery of our nation and challenge our limits on innovative programming and learner engagement in high-quality career pathways.” – Jeran Culina, Senior Policy Associate  

If you were not able to attend the Fall Meeting, don’t worry – Advance CTE’s Spring Meeting is not too far away. Advance CTE is carefully considering the safety and needs of members as we determine the best format and capacity for this event, and more information will be coming soon. In the meantime, visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center to access the reports, resources and tools shared during Fall Meeting. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Advance CTE Fall Meeting
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