Posts Tagged ‘House Education and the Workforce’

Legislative Update: Congress Continues Busy Lame Duck Session

Friday, December 9th, 2022

Over the last two weeks, lawmakers have continued to work on a number of pressing issues, including funding legislation for the current 2023 federal fiscal year (FY23). Elsewhere the contours of the upcoming 118th Congress– set to convene in January– are continuing to take shape as additional elections are finalized and leadership decisions are made. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released new guidance related to STEM education. 

Lawmakers Struggle to Find Agreement on FY23 Funding

This week, Congress continued to work on a number of important agenda items lawmakers hope to complete during the current lame duck session of Congress. Topping this list, is the need to fund the federal government and related programs beyond December 16—when current stopgap funding legislation is set to expire. This legislation, known as a continuing resolution (CR), has provided an extension of FY22 funding levels for federal operations and programs, like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V), through this date later this month. Lawmakers are still negotiating topline spending totals for the major components of the federal budget. As a reminder, discretionary spending is split between defense and non-defense funding. Democratic lawmakers broadly favor additional non-defense spending, while Republicans are supportive of larger amounts of funding for the military.

This disagreement— how much to allot for both of these spending categories—has remained one of the primary obstacles for Congress to advance full-year spending legislation needed to avert a government shutdown and lapse in appropriations for programs like Perkins V. As this disagreement persists, lawmakers will likely be forced to pass another short-term extension of existing FY22 funding levels to provide themselves more time to negotiate a final deal. It is unclear whether lawmakers will find consensus on this important issue prior to the start of the next Congress, set to begin on January 3, 2023, but both sides are working earnestly to finalize a deal prior to the holidays. 

As these efforts continue, Advance CTE will continue to engage with partners on Capitol Hill to impress upon lawmakers the importance of full-year funding and to encourage greater investments in Perkins V and funding streams of interest to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community in the coming year. 

Democrats Solidify New Senate Majority

As shared previously, the long-awaited midterm elections took place last month which resulted in Republicans retaking control of the House. While nearly all of these electoral races had been resolved, a final Senate runoff election in Georgia between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and challenger Herschel Walker took place. After the polls closed Tuesday evening, Sen. Warnock (D-GA) was declared the winner of this election. With Sen. Warnock’s electoral victory, Democrats will have a 51-49 majority in the Senate as part of the upcoming 118th Congress. This majority will further solidify Democrats’ control of legislative and nomination processes which, over the last two years, had relied on Vice President Kamala Harris to cast tie-breaking votes when the chamber deadlocked. 

Significantly, this slim Democratic majority in the 118th Congress will also mean Democrats will have majorities on individual Senate committees, including the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee which oversees CTE policy, in the coming Congress. With these majorities on committees, Democrats will be able to move nominees and certain legislation that had previously been bogged down by disagreements between the parties over the last two years. Despite these positive developments for Democrats Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an incumbent Democratic Senator from Arizona, announced that she is leaving the Democratic Party to become an independent. Although this complicates Democrats’ newfound Senate majority somewhat, Sinema shared in an interview today that she will not caucus with Republicans which means Democrats are still likely to have a firmer grip on the Senate in the coming two years. 

House Republican Leadership Continues to Take Shape

Elsewhere incoming House Republican leaders are continuing to make decisions regarding who will lead committees of jurisdiction in the coming Congress, including those that will oversee CTE policy next year. Of note, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) was granted a waiver by House Republican leadership recently to run to lead the House Education and Labor Committee next Congress. This waiver will allow Foxx to run for chair, but she is likely to be challenged by one or more other Republican members vying for the position. Advance CTE will continue to monitor this and other developments as the 118th Congress continues to take shape.

ED Issues New STEM Guidance

On Wednesday,  December 6, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) sent a Dear Colleague letter to state educational agencies, local educational agencies, and other stakeholders providing information on how existing federal funds can be used to  support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The letter aims to provide guidance on using funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), as well as other relevant funding streams and legislation, such as Perkins V, to support innovative, equity-focused K-12 STEM education and related activities. It also provides suggested examples and best practices for how to maximize the use of these resources. The letter goes on to emphasize the importance of STEM education in helping students recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare them for a rapidly evolving labor market. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy
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Advance CTE Legislative Update: House Education Committee Holds Perkins Hearing while Senate CTE Caucus Hosts Career Pathways Briefing

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

United States CapitalOn Tuesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing to discuss ways to improve and modernize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins). Due for reauthorization since 2013, the law has been in the early stages of consideration by the committee since an earlier subcommittee hearing last October.

The hearing gave a platform to four witnesses to provide perspectives on how Perkins could be strengthened through future legislation:

Chairman John Kline (R-MN) started the hearing off by emphasizing the bipartisan nature of Perkins and Career Technical Education (CTE), outlining a set of priorities he sees as important to a Perkins reauthorization effort.

During his written testimony, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) spoke at length about his passion for CTE and centered his remarks around several pieces of legislation he has introduced in the Senate to strengthen Perkins and bolster support for CTE. In particular, Sen. Kaine stressed the importance of defining and supporting high-quality CTE programs of study in the next Perkins Act, as he and his colleagues have proposed to do in the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act (ETWA). He also emphasized the significance of appropriately aligning Perkins to the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)— a key theme throughout the day.

Another topic that was repeatedly touched upon on Tuesday related to the need to strengthen other federal programs, such as federal financial aid programs in Title IV of the Higher Education Act, to more effectively support postsecondary CTE programs. While outside the direct scope of Perkins reauthorization, several witnesses as well as members of the committee highlighted this issue as something that would further strengthen postsecondary CTE.

This last point was underscored in particular by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) who pointed out that Perkins funding has depreciated by 24 percent since 1998. Other members of the committee echoed the need for additional funding for Perkins, while others argued that improvements should be made to Perkins to more efficiently make use of the federal investment in CTE. Dr. Sullivan for instance made a compelling argument that future Perkins legislation should focus on incentivizing program and student outcomes, rather than measuring program inputs for the purposes of accountability.

Witnesses also touched upon the importance of strengthening relationships between employers and programs. Jason Bodine of Toyota for instance highlighted his company’s participation in the Advanced Maintenance Technician (AMT) program— a partnership between Jackson State Community College and a consortium of area employers.

Other subjects that came up in the hearing included strengthening supports for career guidance and advisement and the need to increase awareness of CTE opportunities at earlier stages in a student’s life. At the hearing’s conclusion Chairman Kline expressed optimism about the prospects for Perkins reauthorization in this Congress and underlined the need for bipartisan cooperation as discussions continue to take shape on the committee.

All witness testimony and the chairman’s opening remarks can be found here. To watch the archived video of the hearing, click here.

Career Pathways: Exploring the Partnership Pipeline

Last week the Senate CTE Caucus, in conjunction with the Alliance for Excellent Education, hosted a briefing dedicated to exploring partnership opportunities to develop and expand career pathways. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who opened the panel with brief remarks, framed the nature of the problem with a jarring statistic: with 300,000 individuals out of work in Ohio and 160,000 jobs unfilled, closing the skills gap is “incredibly important work right now.”

And just how do we go about equipping young people with the skills to fill these high-demand positions? Dr. Scott Ralls, President of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), described how career pathways could fan out from a 2-year degree program, enabling students to either pursue additional postsecondary education or enter the workforce after obtaining a certificate in a high-demand field like cybersecurity.

Over on the West Coast, Superintendent John Snavely described Porterville Unified School District’s (PUSD) Linked Learning approach. This model combines rigorous academics, career-based classroom learning, work-based learning, and integrated student supports to propel students through relevant career pathways. With support from third-party intermediaries like Innovate Tulare-Kings, which engages regional business partners in Central California to connect students with experiential learning opportunities, PUSD has been able to continue the learning experience outside of the classroom.

The panel discussion can be viewed in its entirety here (beginning 22 minutes in).

Odds & Ends

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager and Austin Estes, Policy Associate 

By Steve Voytek in News, Public Policy
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