Posts Tagged ‘Federal Policy’

Legislative Update: Short-term Extension of the Debt Limit, Newly Approved State ARP Plans and ECF Applications

Friday, October 22nd, 2021

Over the past two weeks, Congress approved a short-term extension of the nation’s borrowing authority and made further progress on Fiscal Year 22 (FY22) appropriations. Federal agencies have also advanced efforts to approve new state American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding proposals and distribute additional funding for broadband connectivity efforts. More recently, the Senate has advanced additional U.S. Department of Education (USED) nominees while President Biden issued an Executive Order aimed, in part, at advancing economic and educational opportunities for Black Americans. 

Short-term Debt Limit Deal Enacted 

During the week of October 11, the House formally considered and approved a short-term increase of the nation’s borrowing authority, known as the debt limit. Lawmakers passed this measure along party lines by a margin of 219-206. Following passage, President Biden signed the legislation into law, which provides $480 billion in additional borrowing authority for the U.S. Treasury Department. This extension is estimated to provide sufficient borrowing authority through early December—a time when Congress must also act to pass a full-year funding measure for the current federal fiscal year (FY22) for programs like the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). 

Prior to this vote, however, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sent a letter to President Biden making clear that his party will likely filibuster future Congressional efforts to pass a longer-term measure to extend or suspend the current debt limit. 

Make Your Voice Heard

The short-term agreement on the debt limit provides more time to Congressional Democrats who are currently debating the size and scope of a forthcoming domestic spending package, modeled off of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda that could potentially provide $4 billion in additional funding for Perkins V. 

At this stage in the negotiations, it is critical that the Career Technical Education (CTE) community makes its voice heard to ensure a Perkins funding increase is included in a final agreement. Be sure to contact your members of Congress to remind them of the importance of investing in CTE. To do so, click here!  

Senate Release Remaining FY22 Spending Bills 

On October 18, the Senate Appropriations Committee released drafts of the remaining nine FY22 spending bills that had not been considered by the committee. Among these was the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) appropriations bill, which provides funding for USED and the related federal programs it oversees. Overall, the proposal would, if enacted, provide $98.4 billion for USED—an increase of $24.9 billion compared to the previous fiscal year. Most of this proposed increase would be devoted to nearly doubling the size of Title I formula funds for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 

Significantly, the bill proposes a $50 million increase for the Perkins V basic state grant program. This proposal aligns with House legislation passed earlier this year by the lower chamber which, if enacted, would provide a total increase of roughly $1.385 billion. 

The proposal is not expected, however, to be formally marked up by the Senate. Rather, these bills will be used as the basis to begin bicameral and bipartisan negotiations for full-year FY22 funding—legislation that must be completed by December 3 when current short-term funding is set to expire. As these efforts progress, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for a robust investment in Pekins V’s basic state grant program as part of the wider FY22 process.

FCC Approves Additional Emergency Connectivity Fund Applications

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced $1.1 billion in new commitments as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF)’s second wave of funding distribution. The funding will cover 2.4 million devices and 1.9 million broadband connections. The approved projects will benefit learners and staff at 2,471 schools, and the patrons of 205 libraries. The FCC has approved over half of the applications filed during the program’s first application window and it is expected that the remaining qualified applications will be approved in the coming weeks. Securing initial funding for the ECF was a key advocacy priority for Advance CTE, at the start of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, as part of wider efforts to close the ‘homework gap.’ 

USED Approves Four More State ARP Plans 

This past spring, Congressional Democrats passed ARP legislation), which authorized $122 billion in supplementary funding for K-12 school districts. Since that time, USED distributed two-thirds of this funding via formula to help schools and states respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Department, however, held back the remaining third of this funding requiring that states and territories submit plans detailing how these new financial resources would be used to support learners coping with the impacts of the public health crisis and related disruptions to schooling. 

As part of this ongoing effort, USED has been periodically reviewing and approving state ARP plans for this purpose. On October 14, the Department approved four more of these plans for Guam, Maryland, Nebraska, and Virginia. Seven states and Puerto Rico are still awaiting approval from the Department, along with the release of these remaining ARP funds. The current status of all state ARP plans, including highlights of plans approved by USED so far, can be found here

President Biden Issues Executive Order to Advance Educational Equity

On October 19, President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) creating a new White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans. The order enumerates several actions that the Biden Administration has already taken or plans to take to provide greater economic opportunity for Black families and communities, close educational achievement gaps for Black learners, improve health outcomes for these communities, and outlines a number of steps the administration plans to take regarding criminal justice reform among other elements. Importantly, the EO envisions CTE as being a key way to achieve some of these objectives stating, in part, that it will “[advance] racial equity and economic opportunity by connecting education to labor market needs through programs such as dual enrollment, career and technical education, registered apprenticeships, work-based learning . . .”

The order goes on to note that, “Eliminating these inequities requires expanding access to work-based learning and leadership opportunities, including mentorships, sponsorships, internships, and registered apprenticeships that provide not only career guidance, but also the experience needed to navigate and excel in successful careers.” In addition, the order establishes an interagency governmental working group, inclusive of federal CTE representatives from USED, to support the initiative’s broad remit. A related factsheet outlining this order can be found here

Senate Confirms OCR Leader While Setting Sights on OCTAE Nomination Next Week 

On October 20, Catherine Lhamon was narrowly approved by the Senate to become the next Assistant Secretary for USED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The vote was evenly split along partisan lines, requiring a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris. Lhamon previously led OCR under President Obama where she oversaw a controversial overhaul of Title IX regulations—a move that has continued to be a primary source of opposition for Republican lawmakers. 

In addition to Lhamon’s confirmation, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee is scheduled to consider the nominations of two other USED officials, including Amy Loyd, to serve as the next Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Adult, and Technical Education (OCTAE) along with Sandra Bruce to be the Department’s next Inspector General next week. Advance CTE has strongly supported Loyd’s nomination and looks forward to a swift confirmation process in the coming weeks and months ahead.   

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

By Brittany Cannady in Legislation
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Welcome Allie Pearce to Advance CTE!

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

My name is Allie Pearce, and I am so excited to join Advance CTE as the 2021-2022 Graduate Fellow, helping to advance the organization’s federal policy priorities and initiatives. My work will be anchored in the organization’s federal policy agenda, specifically the reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). While completing this fellowship, I will also lead work centered on federal stimulus funding and equity-based initiatives. 

I am currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Educational Transformation at Georgetown University, with a concentration in Advocacy and Policy. My experiences allow me to approach Career Technical Education (CTE) from an education policy perspective. While attending Grinnell College in my home state of Iowa, I volunteered on a local school bond campaign and worked as a preschool teaching assistant. From there, I worked for a variety of organizations, including the Learning Policy Institute; the Food Research and Action Center; and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Through these opportunities, I examined issues of equity and access in public education through policy research and advocacy. 

Increasing equity and access to high-quality CTE will be more important than ever as the labor market continues to respond to the persisting skills gap and systemic inequities exacerbated by COVID-19. I am humbled to join Advance CTE at such a critical time, and I look forward to being a part of innovative systemic change.

In my free time I enjoy visiting the national monuments, hiking with my two dogs, checking in virtually with my family back in Iowa and watching women’s college basketball (go Hawkeyes!).

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

By Brittany Cannady in Uncategorized
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Legislative Update: Next Steps for Congress to Avoid a Government Shut Down and FCC Grants to Close the Homework Gap

Friday, September 24th, 2021

This week, funding legislation moves through Congress to avoid a government shut down. Read below to learn about the next steps needed, as well as Advance CTE’s support of proposed funding for Career Technical Education (CTE), newly announced awards for exemplary CTE programs and the first wave of grants to close the homework gap. 

Debt Ceilings, Reconciliation, Infrastructure and Avoiding A Government Shut Down

There are a number of related but separate spending measures working their way through Congress, which create for a confusing and volatile federal landscape. 

Advance CTE Joins Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) in Applauding Committee Passage of the Build Back Better Act

Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) applauded the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee on passing its portion of the Build Back Better Act, which includes $4 billion in dedicated funding for CTE programs, and nearly $80 billion total in funding for workforce development programs. Advance CTE joined Rep. Krishnamoorthi’s press statement celebrating the robust funding levels for CTE and workforce development programs. Advance CTE’s Executive Director Kimberly Green shared that “this legislation includes significant, increased funding and new investments that are crucial for states, schools and colleges to deliver high-quality CTE programs that are responsive to the evolving needs of industry and to close skill gaps.” Advance CTE is calling on the Senate to maintain or exceed these levels in the Build Back Better Act. Lend your voice and advocacy of this funding level through ACTE’s advocacy portal

U.S. Department of Education announces Blue Ribbon Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education announced the 325 schools that were selected as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2021. The selection is based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among subgroups. Additional criteria were added for this year’s secondary school applicants to describe the “curriculum supports college and career readiness (e.g., dual credit courses, college prep classes, Career Technical Education (CTE), apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship opportunities, industry-recognized credentials). This may also include student leadership, community and civic responsibilities, entrepreneurship skills, or work-based learning opportunities that align with essential or emerging careers.” Check out the database of schools to see if any of your state’s schools that offer exemplary CTE programs were selected for this honor. 

First Round of Emergency Connectivity Fund Grants Announced

Today, the FCC announced an initial wave of $1.2 billion from the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program to support 3,040 schools, 260 libraries, and 24 consortia across all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. “The funding will support 3,081,131 devices and 774,115 broadband connections and help connect over 3.6 million students who, according to their schools, would otherwise lack devices, broadband access, or both.” second application filing window will open on September 28, 2021 and close on October 13, 2021.  During this window, applicants can submit requests for funding for purchases through June 30, 2022 to meet the needs of learners, school staff, and library patrons who would otherwise lack access to basic educational opportunities and library services.   

Kimberly Green, Executive Director

By Brittany Cannady in Uncategorized
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This Week in CTE

Friday, May 7th, 2021

Developed with input from nearly 200 national, state and local education and workforce development leaders and supported by 40 national organizations, Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education lays out five inter-connected and equally critical principles.

Only through shared commitment and shared ownership among leaders and practitioners at all levels can we realize the possibility and aspiration of a new career preparation ecosystem that provides each learner with limitless opportunity. The This Week in CTE blog series will highlight state and local examples where CTE Without Limits has been made actionable. If you would like to highlight how your CTE program creates limitless opportunities for each learner in this blog series, please email Brittany Cannady, bcannady@careertech.org

 

This Week in CTE: May 3-7, 2021

Each learner engages in a cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem 

CTE programming in Phenix City, Alabama is anchored by credentials of value and includes opportunities for work-based learning leading to careers defined by high-skill, high-wage and in-demand. Congratulations Kiara and all other learners who are now certified! 

 

Each learner feels welcome in, is supported by, and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem

Pickaway-Ross Career & Technology Center’s (Ohio) SkillsUSA members will advance to the national competition this year with the help of local industry leaders! CTSO members were able to use skills gained from on-the-job training to compete, virtually, on the state level in leadership and skills-building activities. Through industry collaboration, learners were able to utilize industry machinery in their respective events.

“PRCTC, overall, was well represented by some amazing competitors and delegates,” said Jennifer Widdig, one of Pickaway Ross’ SKillsUSA advisors. “I loved seeing the excitement in the students and how proud they were to show off their skills and trades.”

Read more in this blog entry published on the Pickaway-Ross district blog. 

 

Each learner skillfully navigates their own career journey

As seen in CTE Without Limits, stakeholders across the CTE community must intentionally develop processes to allow labor market information (LMI) to reach learners in ways that are transparent, reliable and filled with real-time information on career opportunities, earnings, and how their educational decisions will impact their access to support services.

This week Advance CTE, in partnership with Education Strategy Group through JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s New Skills ready network, released Practical Guidance for Aligning Career Pathways to Labor Market Data in the Time of COVID-19. This policy brief is the first in a series designed to help build better pathways and offers promising practices for enhancing the career preparation ecosystem locally and state-wide by leveraging LMI to align programs to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand occupations. 

More LMI resources can be found in the Learning that Works Resource Center

 

Each learner’s skills are counted, valued, and portable

This week we celebrated National Skilled Trades Day! 

Each learner can access CTE without borders

Advance CTE released a new policy brief that provides recommendations for CTE leaders on how to address short-and long-term priorities with the new funding authorized through the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Now, there is an opportunity for states to put in place transformative and bold solutions to support each learner in the career preparation ecosystem without limitations. State CTE leaders have a strong foundation to build upon, having recently done the hard work of crafting their Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans. These new federal investments present a one-time opportunity to accelerate change, incubate innovation, disrupt systems that perpetuate inequities, and redesign with intention. States must strategically approach how to operationalize these funds to create a career preparation ecosystem that ensures each learner can access limitless opportunity.

Read the full resource and other COVID-19 state resources here.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media

By Brittany Cannady in Uncategorized
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