Posts Tagged ‘HELP Committee’

Legislative Update: Walsh Testifies on FY23 as FCC Releases New Funding

Friday, June 24th, 2022

Over the last two weeks, the U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh testified before Congress on the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget request while lawmakers in the House advanced FY23 appropriations legislation with implications for Career Technical Education (CTE) funding. Advance CTE also endorsed legislation aimed at promoting career awareness this week, while the Senate held a hearing on the pandemic’s impact on students’ learning. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission disbursed additional connectivity funds as part of a wider effort to provide affordable access to high-quality internet connections and devices, while the U.S. Department of Education (ED) published new rules for Title IX. 

Labor Secretary Walsh Testifies on USDOL FY23 Budget Request 

Last week U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh testified before the House Education and Labor Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding his Department’s FY23 budget request. Secretary Walsh and members of the committees discussed a wide range of topics including apprenticeship programs and other issues impacting workforce development efforts. Archived webcasts of these hearings, including testimony, can be found here and here

House Lawmakers Release and Markup FY23 Education Funding Bill

On Thursday, June 23, the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing to consider and markup the FY23 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Bill. If enacted the bill would provide a 13 percent increase for ED and a nearly 12 percent increase for DOL over FY22 enacted funding levels. According to a preliminary summary document from the committee, the legislation proposes a $45 million increase for the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins V) basic state grant program a 3.3 percent increase over FY22 enacted levels. The bill would also provide an additional $75 million for Student Support and Academic Enrichment state grants– a program authorized under Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act.  In addition, the legislation proposes significant increases to core formula programs authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) as well as for apprenticeship programs. 

Late Thursday evening the subcommittee advanced this legislation by voice vote for further consideration by the full House Appropriations Committee—a next step that is currently scheduled for June 30. An archive webcast of the markup, including bill text, can be found here. Additional details about this spending package are still forthcoming and Advance CTE anticipates having additional clarity regarding the committee’s priorities next week ahead of the full committee markup. 

Advance CTE Endorses Career Counseling and Awareness Legislation 

This week, Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) introduced the Creating Opportunities to Thrive and Advance Act (COTA)– legislation that, if enacted, would expand career counseling and awareness efforts funded by WIOA. Specifically, the legislation would allow certain WIOA funds to be used to allow for public outreach efforts highlighting CTE programs that lead to in-demand occupations and sectors. Advance CTE endorsed this legislation this week with the organization’s Executive Director Kimberly Green commenting, in part, “Understanding the career options available in high-growth, high-wage and in-demand fields is crucial for success in today’s economy. Advance CTE commends the introduction of this legislation which will promote awareness of the Career Technical Education programs that lead to these opportunities, helping to ensure more learners are empowered to pursue rewarding careers now and in the future.” More information about the bill can be found here.

Senate HELP Committee Holds Pandemic Learning Hearing

On Wednesday, June 22, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing titled “Supporting Students and Schools: Promising Practices to Get Back on Track.” The hearing focused on the impact of the pandemic on student learning and how schools are working to reverse student learning loss and get them back on track. During the question and answer portion of the hearing, Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) raised the issue of teacher shortages in critical areas such as CTE. She noted, in part, that “in Nevada, we’re hearing that we have about 1500 CTE educator positions, currently unfilled due to insufficient resources” and asked witnesses how best this persistent challenge could be addressed moving forward. An archived webcast, including witness testimony, can be accessed here

ED Proposes New Title IX Rule

On Thursday, June 23, the U.S. Department of Education proposed a set of changes to Title IX regulations—rules that are intended to prohibit sex discrimination at federally funded schools. The announcement coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Title IX and would expand these protections for transgender students among a host of other changes that determine how K-12 and postsecondary institutions must respond to complaints of sexual discrimination, harassment, or assault. The proposal will be published on the Federal Register soon, with ED inviting the public to comment and provide feedback on the proposal. In the meantime, an unofficial version of the proposal can be accessed here.

ED Hosts Pathways Event

On Tuesday, June 21, the U.S. Department of Education hosted a virtual event titled “Pathways in Action.” The event convened experts and stakeholders including community colleges, employers, school districts, workforce development boards, and community-based organizations to share perspectives and best practices for how to advance high-quality career and college pathways for more learners. The event also emphasized the various roles that federal agencies have in implementing these pathways efforts as well as identifying areas where more improvements are needed to ensure that each learner can benefit from these opportunities. The convening is part of ED’s wider efforts to promote a proposed “Career Connected High Schools” initiative as part of its FY23 budget request. More on the event can be found here.  

DOL Hosts Good Jobs Summit 

Also on Tuesday, June 21, the U.S. Department of Labor hosted a “Good Jobs” summit– a full day event highlighting how the Biden Administration is administering and prioritizing job quality through federal investments. The summit featured the release of a “Good Jobs Principles” which identifies specific aspects of what constitutes quality employment. Launched at the start of 2022 and led by DOL, the Good Jobs initiative is a multi-agency effort to promote and improve quality employment opportunities for more workers. More information can be found here. In addition to these efforts, President Biden recently announced a Talent Pipeline Challenge which encourages stakeholders to commit to supporting workforce development efforts, including aspects of these ongoing initiatives. 

FCC Announces New Funding Commitments

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the first wave of funding commitments from its most recent third filing window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). Created as part of the American Rescue Plan, the ECF Program 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 COVID-19 pandemic. Securing initial funding for the ECF was one of Advance CTE’s legislative priorities during the public health emergency. This new wave of funding includes over $244 million in funds to support 259 schools, 24 libraries and 1 consortium. $5.1 billion in total funding has been approved to date as part of previous ECF funding windows.  

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy
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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 Increases Nation’s Debt Limit

Friday, December 17th, 2021

This week Congress formally raised the nation’s borrowing authority while Congressional Democrats have continued to struggle to advance a forthcoming domestic spending package, known as the Build Back Better Act (BBBA), before the end of the year. Lawmakers are expected to recess soon for the remainder of the year and are expected to return in early January 2022.  

Congress Increases Nation’s Debt Limit

On Thursday, December 16, President Biden signed legislation to increase the nation’s borrowing authority, known as the “debt ceiling,” by $2.5 trillion. As a reminder, the debt ceiling is the total allowable amount that the federal government is legally permitted to borrow to pay for expenses already incurred. This increase is expected to provide sufficient borrowing authority until sometime in 2023. Congressional Republicans had been withholding their support for further action on this issue, arguing that Democrats should simply pass the measure without their support. However, this would not be possible given the Senate’s required 60 vote threshold to pass legislation capable of withstanding a filibuster.

Late last week, lawmakers reached an agreement to exempt the debt limit extension from the Senate’s filibuster rules, allowing for passage in the chamber without Republican support. Lawmakers crafted a narrow, bipartisan legislative package that temporarily suspended the Senate’s filibuster authority for a single bill that would increase the nation’s borrowing limit by this agreed upon amount. Using this procedural maneuver, Senators were able to clear the bill by a majority vote. On Tuesday, December 14, the Senate (50-49) and the House (221-209) passed a $2.5 trillion dollar debt limit increase and President Biden subsequently signed it into law later this week.

BBBA Negotiations Continue

Democratic lawmakers are continuing to negotiate the president’s $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act (BBBA). Congressional Democrats hope to pass this legislation via the Congressional budget reconciliation process which allows certain legislation to pass by simple majorities in both chambers of Congress, thus circumventing a likely Republican filibuster in the Senate. The legislation would provide significant new investments for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), including $600 million for the law’s basic state formula grant program, $100 million for its Innovation and Modernization competitive funding stream and a slew of other Career Technical Education (CTE) and workforce development investments of interest to the CTE community. 

Over the weekend, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee posted new text of the BBBA ahead of discussions with the chamber’s parliamentarian that have continued throughout the week. Discussions with the parliamentarian process are a formal process used to determine which provisions may, or may not, be included in the BBBA to align with Congress’ budget reconciliation process. However, opposition from Senator Joe Manchin (R-WV) has remained a key obstacle to the bill’s passage. As this delay continues, it is increasingly likely that the Senate will recess for the holidays for the remainder of the month of December and resume consideration of the BBBA when Senators return to Capitol Hill on January 3, 2022. President Biden has, more recently, conceded that Democrats are unlikely to pass the BBBA prior to the end of the year and has said he is still committed to passing the bill through the Senate “as early as possible.” 

ED Announces New Innovation and Research Grants

On Monday the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced $182 million in new grant awards for 30 school districts, institutions of higher education, and other entities to participate in the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program. Authorized as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the EIR program is intended to provide funding to create, develop, and otherwise implement evidence-based and innovative approaches to improving student achievement and attainment. The full list of grantees can be found here

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

By Brittany Cannady in Legislation
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Betsy DeVos’s Narrowing Path to Confirmation

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

On Tuesday the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee voted to advance Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education nominee, out of committee. The vote was narrowly decided along party lines with 12 Republicans voting for and 11 Democrats voting against her nomination.

Since then, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) both announced they would not be voting for the nominee, putting Betsy DeVos’s nomination on very shaky ground. That leaves her with just 50 Republican votes, meaning the final decision may fall to Vice President Mike Pence, who casts a vote in the Senate in the event of a tie.

Shortly before the Senate HELP committee vote, DeVos released written responses to 139 questions from Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). Among them was a question related to reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins). DeVos called Perkins reauthorization “an important priority,” and added that she aims to work with the HELP committee to update the law to “provide flexibility at the state and local levels” and “ support transparency of data so parents, students, and other taxpayers can see how well their programs are working.”

Early this morning, the Senate voted 52-48 to end cloture, a procedural hurdle that needed to be cleared before the Senate would be able to conduct the final vote on DeVos’s confirmation. The final vote is now scheduled for Monday, February 6.

Trump Appoints Jerry Falwell, Jr. to Task Force for Higher Education

According to the Chronicle for Higher Education, Jerry Falwell, Jr., President of Liberty University, will be advising the Trump administration on higher education policy. He was appointed this week to lead a task force that will study issues related to accreditation, student loan forgiveness, campus sexual assault and more. While Falwell’s positions on such issues are unclear, he has made statements indicating that he aims to scale back the role of the federal government in postsecondary education.

Meanwhile, Lots of Support for CTE on the Hill

Last week, House and Senate CTE Caucus co-chairs received a letter urging them to resume Perkins reauthorization. The letter, which was signed by 85 organizations and businesses, praised Perkins as a tool for meeting the needs of the 21st century economy and helping employers close critical skills gaps. Advance CTE was a co-signer of the letter.

Additionally, Senate Democrats last week introduced a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that aims to create more than 15 million jobs. The bill is an attempt at bipartisanship in response to President Donald Trump’s comments, both on the campaign trail and during his inauguration, that rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure is a priority in the early months of his administration. Included in the bill is $75 billion for school construction projects, which will be disbursed to schools based on need.

In the House, Republicans introduced a resolution on Thursday under the 1996 Congressional Review Act to revoke Obama-era regulations for accountability and teacher preparation under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). While the regulations were already frozen temporarily under a recent executive order from the White House, this resolution would revoke the regulations entirely. Further, President Trump’s administration would be prohibited from issuing “substantially similar” regulations, casting uncertainty over the future of ESSA implementation. The resolution must be approved by both the House and the Senate before going into effect.  

Finally, to help celebrate CTE month, the Senate CTE Caucus will be hosting an event that examines the role and impact of federal CTE policy.  Once this event is confirmed, we will share a link so you can participate virtually, as the event will be livestreamed.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate and Kimberly Green, Executive Director

By admin in Legislation, News, Public Policy
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Betsy DeVos on CTE: Students Need to Have a Full Menu of Options

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

On Friday, Donald Trump is scheduled to be sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States. While the Senate has yet to hold a floor vote to confirm any of the President-elect’s cabinet nominees, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) held a hearing Tuesday evening for Mrs. Betsy DeVos, President-Elect Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Department of Education.

While much remains unknown about President-Elect Trump’s education agenda and his priorities for the coming year, during her opening statement DeVos stated that we need to “embrace new pathways of learning,” by “support[ing] all postsecondary avenues, including trade and vocational schools and community colleges.”

Later in the hearing, Sen. Tim Scott (R-NC) pressed her again on increasing flexibility for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. A lifelong advocate for student choice, DeVos responded that “students really need to have a full menu of options,” including “technical schools, community colleges [and] apprenticeships.”

DeVos is not new to CTE. She and her husband Richard “Dick” DeVos Jr., billionaire entrepreneur and heir to the Amway enterprise, co-founded an aviation-themed charter school in Grand Rapids, MI. West Michigan Aviation Academy opened in 2010 and includes a rigorous curriculum that integrates both academic and technical education. According to the school’s website, Aviation Academy also hosts regular job shadowing events, during which industry professionals come to campus to speak with and mentor students.

The hearing was not without disagreements, however. While Republicans on the HELP Committee largely praised DeVos’s philanthropic background and advocacy for school choice, Senate Democrats pressed her on outstanding conflicts of interest (DeVos has yet to disclose all of her financial engagements to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics) and her position on issues such as accountability, campus sexual assault and guns in schools.  

A confirmation vote is tentatively scheduled for next Tuesday, though Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) assured concerned Democrats on the Committee that they will have an opportunity to submit additional questions to DeVos prior to that date. He also said he would delay the vote if DeVos’s ethics review letter is not available from the U.S. Office of Government Ethics by that time.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By admin in News, Public Policy
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