Legislative Update: Template for Stimulus Funds and Workforce Legislation

This week new information was shared about how states and districts can receive education stimulus funding. Read below to learn more about the application process to access these funds, as well as continued hearings for Administration appointees and workforce legislation introduced in Congress.  

ED Releases State Plan Template for Stimulus Funds 

On Wednesday the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the release of the state plan application for use of resources under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund. In March, states were given access to two-thirds of the ARP ESSER funds, and the remaining third will be made available once state plans are approved by ED. The plan must include how states will:

  • Ensure the state and districts are demonstrating transparency in their planning; 
  • Identify and meet the needs of students most impacted by the pandemic; 
  • Choose effective evidence-based interventions; and 
  • Prioritize educational equity, inclusive stakeholder engagement and strong fiscal safeguards. 

State level stakeholder engagement for this application must include: students; families; Tribal Nations; civil rights and/or disability rights organizations; teachers, principals, school leaders, other educators, school staff and their unions, school and district administrators; superintendents; charter school leaders; and other stakeholders representing the interests of children with disabilities, English learners, children experiencing homelessness, children and youth in foster care, migratory students, children who are incarcerated and other underserved students.

Not only will the applications provide information about how this funding will be used, but it will also inform ED’s technical assistance to states and districts and its approach to monitoring implementation of funds. 

Plans must be submitted by June 7, 2021. The full press release can be found here

HELP Committee Confirms Undersecretary of Education
Written by Michael Matthews, Government Relations Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Full post can be found here

This week President Biden’s nominee for under secretary of education, James Kvaal, was confirmed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. This follows last week’s nomination hearing in front of the Senate HELP Committee. Kvaal previously served as deputy under secretary of education under the Obama Administration and more recently the president of The Institute for College Access and Success..

Kvaal faced tough questioning from Senators on both sides of the aisle on issues ranging from the president’s agenda around free college and student loan forgiveness, to his previous opposition of expanding Pell grant eligibility to high-quality short-term job training programs. More specifically, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) started off his questioning by asking Kvaal if he believed that high-quality short-term workforce training is higher education, to which he simply replied, “I do.” This has long been a point of contention with many in the higher education community, with some believing that these programs should be considered workforce development and not education. Kvaal went on to further state, “I agree that career and technical education programs can lead to really meaningful career job opportunities. They deserve the same amount of support and the same amount of respect that other types of higher education programs do. And, if I’m confirmed, I’m confident we can work together to support high-quality training programs, including those that are shorter than 15 weeks.” Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Jim Hickenlooper (D-CO) also voiced their support for CTE, apprenticeships and STEM during their five-minute remarks.

House Announces Plan to Reauthorize WIOA 

House Committee on Education and Labor Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) announced the start of a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Committee leadership shared the below joint statement:

“America’s workforce development programs are critical to the success of workers, employers, and our economy. Committee Democrats and Republicans are working together to advance a bipartisan reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that offers workers the opportunity to gain in-demand skills and provides employers the talent they need to succeed and grow. We look forward to holding a series of public hearings to advance this important work and continue the tradition of bipartisan support for workforce development programs.”

Advance CTE’s recommendations for WIOA reauthorization can be found here, and include priorities for connecting education and the workforce, aligning federal policy to the 21st century workforce, supporting successful outcomes for in-and out- of school youth, improving data and accountability and elevating career pathways.  

Congress Introduces Infrastructure Bill 

The Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills (BUILDS) Act was reintroduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) (Co-Chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus), Representatives Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) (Co-Chairs of the House CTE Caucus), as well as Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). This bill promotes sector partnerships made up of local businesses and industry organizations, workforce boards, labor representatives and education and training providers to support workforce training programs in infrastructure-related jobs. It also includes support services to help participants succeed in work-based learning. Advance CTE is pleased to support the BUILDS Act. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

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