Legislative Update: Senate HELP Hearing and National CTE Month

This week the Senate held a hearing as part of the confirmation process for a new U.S. Secretary of Education. Read below to learn more about how Career Technical Education (CTE) was prevalent throughout the hearing, as well as a House resolution to recognize February as National CTE Month and the next steps in passing another stimulus bill. 

Senators Highlight CTE at Hearing for Dr. Miguel Cardona 

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on the nomination of Dr. Miguel Cardona to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Education. In opening remarks from committee Chair Patty Murry (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC), both discussed the challenges facing the education space during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The two committee leaders also raised the overarching issue of the pandemic’s exacerbating impact of future student success. 

In Dr. Cardona’s opening testimony, he shared that he will work to ensure that all students have access to college and career pathways upon graduation from high school. Throughout the hearing Dr. Cardona also stated that he is a proud CTE graduate of Wilcox Technical High School in Meriden, Connecticut. Dr. Cardona’s full testimony can be viewed here.  

CTE was a prominent theme throughout the hearing. Senate CTE Caucus Co-Chairs Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) asked Dr. Cardona CTE-centered questions. Senator Baldwin discussed the value of CTE in the middle grades, secondary and postsecondary education, especially during this time of economic recovery- and posed the question of how the incoming secretary would support CTE. Dr. Cardona’s response spoke to the need to build pathways to colleges and career opportunities as early as the middle grades. Senator Kaine emphasized the need to eliminate the stigma that is too often associated with CTE, and Dr. Cardona agreed that the perception of CTE must evolve. 

Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Tina Smith (D-MN) all also raised the value of CTE during their statements. 

Dr. Cardona currently serves as the Connecticut Education Commissioner- prior to this position he was an educator in Connecticut for two decades, first as an elementary school teacher and then as a principal, and was named Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year in 2012. During his career, Dr. Cardona has also served as Co-Chair of the Connecticut Legislative Achievement Gap Task Force, Co-Chair of the Connecticut Birth to Grade Three Leaders Council and Adjunct Professor at the University of Connecticut Department of Educational Leadership. It is notable that Dr. Cardona attended and graduated from a technical high school. 

The full hearing can be viewed here

House Introduces Resolution to Recognize February as National CTE Month

Congressmen Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), Co-Chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, introduced a resolution that recognizes February as National CTE Month. The resolution highlights the value of CTE programs for all learners, as well as the role that CTE plays in economic recovery. The press release from Congressmen Langevin and Thompson includes a statement from Advance CTE Executive Director Kimberly Green: 

“We are proud to support the CTE Month resolution, honoring the learners, educators, supporters and stakeholders who are navigating a challenging time for our education system. It has been heartening to see current and former CTE learners on the frontline of the pandemic – as educators, scientists, manufacturers, transportation professionals and healthcare workers. CTE plays a crucial role in helping learners stay engaged in their education, ensuring they are prepared with the knowledge and skills needed no matter what the future economy holds. At the same time, postsecondary CTE is paramount to the upskilling and reskilling for the millions of Americans who are still out of work, preparing them for living-wage and in-demand careers. We appreciate elevating these important issues during CTE Month.”

House Takes Step to Move Forward with New Stimulus Bill

The House approved a budget measure on a 218-212 vote that allows movement on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal through a reconciliation process. Ultimately, a reconciliation bill is able to be passed in the Senate with a simple majority without the concerns  of a filibuster. This follows Monday’s introduction by House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth (D-KY) of a budget resolution with reconciliation guidance for committees, including the Committee on Education and Labor. In the Senate, Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a budget resolution that has reconciliation guidance for committees including the HELP Committee. 

Now, committees- including House Education and Labor and Senate HELP- will prepare to draft and share corresponding pieces of the stimulus proposal. As a reminder, President Biden’s plan would allocate $170 billion for K-12 and higher education. This would be broken down by $130 billion for elementary and secondary education, $35 billion for higher education and $5 billion for governors. Committees must submit their proposals by February 16, 2021, after which the House and Senate Budget Committees will put all committee proposals together into a reconciliation bill for each chamber to consider.

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

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