Legislative Update: ED Confirms Nominee and DOL Grant Updates

This week, the Senate confirmed the new Undersecretary of Education. Read below to learn about this role, as well as new funding opportunities from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), an update on the budget reconciliation process and newly approved stimulus plans. 

Senate Confirms James Kvaal as Undersecretary of Education

On Tuesday the Senate confirmed James Kvaal as the Undersecretary of Education for the U.S. Department of Education (ED), in a 58-37 vote. This is the third highest position at ED. In his capacity as Undersecretary, Kvaal will oversee the Administration’s higher education work- including federal student aid. Previously, Kvaal was the president of the Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS). He also served in the Obama Administration as the deputy domestic policy adviser at the White House and deputy undersecretary at ED. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona’s statement on Kvaal’s confirmation can be found here

DOL Announces Funding for Registered Apprenticeships in Critical, Nontraditional Industries 

DOL announced that funds are now available for up to four new contracts to Industry Intermediaries in order to launch, promote or expand Registered Apprenticeships in critical industries impacted by COVID-19 (coronavirus) and industries that have not traditionally used apprenticeships to meet employer and sector needs. The request for proposals is geared toward intermediaries looking to expand apprenticeship opportunities in industries disproportionately affected by the pandemic, increase opportunities for under-represented populations and leverage existing resources to support and sustain programs at the local and national levels. This grant will be administered by DOL’s Employment and Training Administration, and additional information can be found here.  

DOL Announces Funding to Expand Job Opportunities for Women in Apprenticeships and Nontraditional Occupations

DOL announced $3.3 million in grant funding to recruit, train and retain more women in pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeships programs, as well as nontraditional occupations. These grants were awarded to organizations in California, Mississippi, New York, Texas and Wisconsin, and were administered by the DOL Women’s Bureau and Employment and Training Administration. Information about grant recipients can be found here.  

House Education and Labor Committee Marks Up Budget Reconciliation Package 

Written by Jori Houck, Media Relations and Advocacy Associate, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here

The House Education and Labor Committee marked up its portion of the House’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, on September 9 and 10. The Committee’s portion of the bill contains a total of $761 billion in new funding, and in a significant victory, $4 billion for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V)! 

The bill also includes a significant number of other investments in programs or initiatives that could benefit CTE programs, students and institutions. Relevant components of the bill include: 

  • Perkins Basic State Grant/Innovation and Modernization: $3 billion in funding through the Perkins Basic State Grant funding stream, with an additional $1 billion in funding for the existing Innovation and Modernization fund, for a total of $4 billion to be distributed through Perkins V. 
  • Tuition-Free Community College: Beginning in financial aid year 2023-24, the bill provides two years of tuition-free community college for eligible students. 
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Allocations: $16 billion for dislocated worker employment and training; $15 billion for adult worker employment and training activities; $9.05 billion for youth workforce investment activities; $3.6 billion for carrying out ex-offender activities. 
  • Registered Apprenticeships, Youth Apprenticeships and Pre-Apprenticeships: $5 billion for grants, cooperative agreements, contracts or other arrangements to create or expand registered apprenticeship programs, youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. 
  • Community College and Industry Partnerships Grants: $2 billion for grants to community colleges to expand workforce development and employment opportunities in high-skill, high-wage or in-demand industry sectors or occupations. 
  • Industry or Sector Partnership Grants: $10 billion for competitive grants to partnerships to expand workforce development and employment opportunities for high-skill, high-wage and in-demand industry sectors or occupations, including information technology, clean energy, infrastructure and transportation, advanced manufacturing, public health home care and early childhood care and education. 
  • Direct Care Workforce: $1.48 billion to award competitive grants to provide competitive wages, benefits, and other supportive services to direct care workers, and for the recruitment, retention and training of direct care workers. 
  • Adult Basic Education: $3.6 billion to support adult education programs under Title II of WIOA. 
  • Rebuild America’s Schools Grant Program: $81 billion from FY 2022-24 for grants to state educational agencies (SEAs), with $39.6 billion awarded in each of FYs 2023 and 2024. Funds would be awarded to local educational agencies to create and implement facilities plans to address health, safety, educational equity, enrollment diversity, environmental sustainability and climate resiliency of public school facilities. 
  • “Grow Your Own” programs: $197 million to address teacher shortages in high-need subjects and locations and to increase the diversity of the education workforce. 
  • Retention and completion grants: $9 billion for retention and completion grants to institutions of higher education. 
  • Pell Grants: increase the maximum aid amount by $500 per year through the 2029-30 school year. 

However, based on the definitions included in the draft legislation, area technical centers (ATCs) have been left out of the free community college proposal in particular. In many states, these public, fully accredited institutions are the primary delivery of postsecondary CTE certificate programs, but because they do not grant associate degrees, ATCs would not be included in this important program. 

ACTE and Advance CTE has sent a letter to Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) of the House Education and Labor Committee expressing concern over the exclusion of ATCs in the Committee’s portion of the Build Back Better Act, and is actively working with Congress to support these critical institutions.   

As this bill moves forward, it is important that CTE stakeholders continue to keep up the pressure on Members of Congress to include important investments in education and workforce development in the budget reconciliation bill, and to ensure all CTE programs are included! 

You can read the full text of the Committee’s print of the Build Back Better Act here. Stay tuned for the latest developments impacting CTE during the budget reconciliation process!

ED Approves More State K-12 Stimulus Plans

ED announced the approval of additional America Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) state plans and distributed remaining funds to those states. The newly approved states and funding levels include: 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

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