Posts Tagged ‘Homework Gap’

Legislative Update: COMPETES Act, ECF Funding and a New Vision for Education

Friday, January 28th, 2022

This week Democratic lawmakers in the House introduced legislation broadly aimed at increasing the competitiveness of the American economy, while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) distributed additional connectivity aid, and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivered a major speech regarding his vision for educational recovery. 

House Leadership Unveil COMPETES Act

Late Tuesday, January 25, Democratic leaders in the House introduced the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act (H.R. 4521)—legislation that is broadly aimed at increasing the global competitiveness of the American economy by making targeted investments in the nation’s technology, research and manufacturing capacity, among other elements. Of note, the legislation includes the House’s proposal to reauthorize the National Apprenticeship Act (NAA) which, if enacted, would provide significant new resources and direction for the expansion of apprenticeship programs nationwide. Additionally, the legislation proposes to infuse $9 billion into the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program. Finally, the proposal would also create several new competitive grant programs aimed at expanded student access to STEM and computer science courses at the K-12 level. 

A narrower version of this legislation was introduced and passed by the Senate last summer, but the proposal did not advance any further since that time. Should the House pass this bill in its current form, both chambers will need to reconcile significant differences between these proposals. The House Rules Committee is expected to meet next week to craft a rule for the full House to consider, amend and vote on the legislation in the coming weeks. A factsheet for the House bill can be found here and a section-by-section summary can be accessed here

FCC Announces Eighth Wave of ECF Funding

On Tuesday, January 25, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced over $240 million in new funding commitments as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund’s (ECF) eighth round of awards. The funding will support over 600,000 students and provide 683,000 connected devices and 182,000 broadband connections to eligible schools, libraries, states and consortia. Securing initial funding for the ECF as part of the American Rescue Plan was one of Advance CTE’s legislative priorities in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the organization is continuing to work with other national groups to obtain additional resources to continue the program to help close the “homework gap.” To date, the ECF program has helped over 12 million students nationwide. More information can be found here

Secretary Cardona Lays Out New Vision for Education

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivered a speech at the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters on Thursday, January 27, laying out his vision for education as the nation continues to recover from the current pandemic. In his remarks, Secretary Cardona laid out four key priority areas and related actions including: supporting students throughout the pandemic, addressing persistent opportunity and achievement gaps, making postsecondary education more accessible and affordable, and ensuring educational pathways lead to successful careers. Of note for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, Secretary Cardona called for the creation of stronger career pathways and for, “Each high school in the country [to] have at least one career counselor oso that every high schooler has great options when they graduate.” More information on the speech can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

By Brittany Cannady 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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Legislative Update: Build Back Better Framework Agreement Announced, ED Nominee Update and ECF Funding Requests

Friday, October 29th, 2021

This week Congress took a significant first step in enacting President Biden’s wider domestic policy agenda. Additionally, the Senate advanced a key Biden Administration nominee to oversee Career Technical Education (CTE) policy for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) while work continued to implement broadband connectivity efforts to close the homework gap.  

Build Back Better Framework Agreement Announced

Yesterday, President Biden announced that his administration, and  Democratic congressional leaders had come to an agreement on a $1.75 trillion framework to enact a slew of domestic priorities, including those impacting the CTE community. Following this announcement, the House Rules Committee held a hearing to begin formal consideration of the proposed Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376). While the legislation must still move forward via the Congressional budget reconciliation process—a maneuver that allows certain spending legislation to be passed by simple majorities in both legislative chambers—this announcement and related introduction of legislative text marks a significant step forward in Congressional Democrats’ efforts to enact President Biden’s wider domestic agenda. 

If enacted, the proposal would include $600 million for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act’s (Perkins V) basic state grant formula program. The bill also includes a proposed $100 million for the law’s Innovation and Modernization competitive grant program, $1 billion for apprenticeship programs, $113 million for “Grow Your Own” programs to train teachers in high-needs fields, $4.6 billion for industry and sector partnership grants, along with numerous other investments within the wider workforce development space. The proposed legislation would also include $300 million in additional funding for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF)—a key Advance CTE legislative priority to close the homework gap.

Despite this progress, this legislation remains far from being enacted and is still subject to change as lawmakers in Congress continue to debate and negotiate the contents of this package. As this process unfolds, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for a robust investment in CTE and the aforementioned programs via this legislative effort.  

View Advance CTE’s and ACTE’s joint statement on the framework here.

FCC Announces Additional ECF Funding Requests; Biden Administration Nominates New Leadership

Earlier this week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it had received nearly $1.3 billion in requests for funding as part of its second application window for the ECF program. 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 learners, school staff, and library patrons at home during the ongoing pandemic. This round of funding will provide nearly 2.4 million connected devices to eligible recipients and over 564,000 broadband connections. More details about which schools and libraries will receive funding can be found here.

The day after this announcement, President Biden announced the nomination of  Jessica Rosenworcel to serve as the next commissioner and Chair of the FCC. The Biden Administration also announced that Gigi Sohn has been nominated to serve as another FCC commissioner, likely serving as the administration’s point person on issues pertaining to net neutrality. Senate Democratic leaders are widely expected to move forward with Rosenworcel’s confirmation process relatively soon as this seat must be vacated if she is not confirmed by the end of the year. 

Senate HELP Committee Advances ED Nominees

On Tuesday the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee considered the nominations of several Biden Administration nominees, including two officials to serve in key roles within ED—Sandra Bruce to serve as  the Department’s next Inspector General and Amy Loyd to serve as the next Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Adult, and Technical Education (OCTAE). The committee approved both Loyd’s and Bruce’s nominations, along with five other nominees, via voice vote, advancing both nominees for further consideration by the full Senate chamber some time in the future.

Advance CTE has strongly supported Loyd’s nomination earlier this year and is looking forward to a swift confirmation process to ensure ED has the necessary leadership in place to advocate for high-quality and equitable CTE in the months and years ahead.

 Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

By Stacy Whitehouse in Legislation
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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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