President Biden Delivers State of the Union Address | Legislative Update

March 8th, 2024

This week President Biden delivered his annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Elsewhere, lawmakers continued to make progress on federal funding while the U.S. Department of Labor made new apprenticeship announcements. 

President’s State of the Union Address

This week both the House and Senate were in session ahead of a new funding deadline and the President’s annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress last night. The President’s address to Congress featured a range of topics, including how recent federal bipartisan legislation focused on infrastructure and the nation’s advanced manufacturing capacity have helped to spur greater demand for skilled workers. Notably, the President highlighted the importance of Career Technical Education (CTE) noting that his administration is working to connect “…businesses and high schools so students get hands-on experience and a path to a good-paying job whether or not they go to college.” 

The President also highlighted a number of other education and workforce priorities including increasing college affordability, broadening access to early learning opportunities, and increasing access to after-school and summer programs. President Biden also called for the creation of a climate corps, modeled off the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps programs, to provide opportunities for individuals, especially youth, to gain experience in clean energy fields. A full transcript of the address is available here

Congress Advances a New Appropriations Minibus

Earlier this week in the House, lawmakers formally advanced a package containing half of the dozen annual spending bills that compose the federal budget. The measure, known as a minibus, passed by a margin of 339-85. The legislation provides full-year funding for the remainder of the 2024 federal fiscal year (FY24) for several federal agencies including the Agriculture and Transportation Departments among others. The Senate is now in the process of considering this legislation ahead of a deadline later tonight when funding is set to expire for this slate of funding bills. While this measure is expected to clear the Senate and be signed into law by the President, the timing of passage remains uncertain at this time.

Once this effort is complete, lawmakers are expected to turn their attention to the remaining six funding bills that are still awaiting full-year FY24 funding. Among this tranche of funding bills is the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) funding measure, which provides funding for the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Labor (DOL), along with the programs that these agencies administer like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Funding for this portion of the federal budget is currently set to expire on March 22. Agreement on this slate of funding bills is still forthcoming. 

Although the FY24 process is not yet complete, President Biden is expected to release his FY25 budget request to Congress this Monday, March 11. As the FY24 appropriations process begins to wind down and as FY25 formally begins, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for a strong investment in Perkins V’s basic state grant program and other funding streams that support high-quality CTE programs and related opportunities. 

Advance CTE Executive Director Appointed to Apprenticeship Advisory Committee

This week, DOL announced the appointment of a new cohort of leaders to serve on its Advisory Committee for Apprenticeship. Advance CTE’s Executive Director, Kate Kreamer, was among those formally appointed to this important advisory role for the Department which will provide guidance and recommendations to the agency on apprenticeship policy over the next two years. 

In addition to this announcement, President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) this week aimed at expanding the use of apprenticeship programs within federal agencies and through federal grantmaking and contracting efforts. The EO includes the creation of an interagency task force to help formulate policies and strategies for the federal government to implement this directive, including prioritizing the hiring of individuals who complete registered apprenticeship programs (RAPs) and pre-apprenticeship programs. The order comes after the issuance of a new Training and Employment Notice (TEN No. 23-23) outlining new expectations for pre-apprenticeship programs. Advance CTE is encouraged by these recent efforts and looks forward to providing formal comment on DOL’s recent proposal to overhaul regulations pertaining to RAPs and other apprenticeship models later this month.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

New Short-Term FY24 Funding Deal Announced | Legislative Update

March 1st, 2024

This week lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill following an extended recess period. With a critical funding deadline landing this week, Congress announced a new short-term extension of existing federal funding to provide more time for ongoing negotiations to continue. Elsewhere, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced that he is stepping down while new apprenticeship grants have been announced by federal agencies. 

Lawmakers Announce New Short-Term Funding Agreement

Two critical funding deadlines for federal fiscal year 2024 (FY24) have swiftly approached: today, March 1, and next week on March 8, when existing FY24 funding is set to expire. As Advance CTE has been sharing for the last several weeks, Congressional leaders have been struggling to find consensus on full-year FY24 appropriations legislation, including the measure that provides funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V). 

With time running short, Congressional leaders have been meeting throughout the week to chart a path forward. Late Wednesday evening, Congressional leaders announced a new bipartisan FY24 funding agreement extending these deadlines, at current FY23 funding levels, through March 8 and 22. The new continuing resolution (CR) agreement splits the dozen annual funding measures that compose the federal budget into two tranches. These two tranches now equally divide these measures with half now expiring next Friday, March 8, and the remainder on March 22. Of note for the Career Techincal Education (CTE) community, the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) funding measure, which provides funding for the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Labor (DOL) along with programs these agencies administer, lands on the latter of these dates.

This agreement is intended to provide lawmakers with additional time to resolve outstanding issues related to full-year FY24 funding. These issues reportedly continue to center on the inclusion of additional and controversial policies, known as “policy riders,” which some Republican lawmakers are seeking to attach to FY24 funding measures while Democrats have remained opposed. Yesterday, the House passed this additional short-term CR by a 320-99 margin. The Senate quickly took up this latest CR and passed it by a wide, bipartisan basis 77-13. The measure now heads to President Biden’s desk where it will be signed into law prior to the existing March 1 funding deadline. Advance CTE is continuing to advocate for a robust investment in CTE via Perkins V’s basic state grant program as part of this wider process and looks forward to its timely completion soon. 

Senate Minority Leader McConnell Announces Retirement

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced earlier this week that he plans to step down from his leadership role later this year and retire at the end of his current Senate term (lasting through 2026). McConnell has led the Senate Republican Conference since 2007. Multiple senators, including John Thune (R-SD), John Cornyn (R-TX), and John Barrasso (R-WY) are widely expected to vie to succeed McConnell later this year. A formal election for the next Senate Republican leader is expected to take place sometime after the upcoming November elections.

DOL Announces $200M in New Apprenticeship Funding  

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the availability of nearly $200 million in new discretionary funding to expand registered apprenticeship programs (RAPs). This latest round of apprenticeship funding includes roughly $100 million in funding for State Apprenticeship Expansion grant funding and $95 million for a second phase of its Apprenticeship Building America, Round 2 (ABA2) grant initiative. Of note for the CTE community, the ABA2 grants include a new priority for applications that emphasize RAP alignment with education systems. 

The funding announcement goes on to indicate that additional priority will be given to applications that include CTE and those that also promote postsecondary credit attainment that can articulate for a degree. These funding opportunities are intended to align with DOL’s wider efforts to update apprenticeship regulations, including broadening training opportunities into more non-traditional economic sectors and for underrepresented populations while emphasizing greater intentional alignment with education systems, including CTE. More information on the grant announcements can be found here and here.

HELP Committee Renominates Julie Su

Earlier this week the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee reconsidered Julie Su’s nomination to be the next U.S. Secretary of Labor. As a reminder, Su has been serving in an acting capacity as the head of DOL since her nomination stalled in the Senate last year following opposition from Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and all Senate Republicans. The committee advanced Su’s nomination on a party line vote, 11-10, but it remains unclear if she will garner the necessary support within the full chamber to be formally confirmed. A time to further consider her nomination has not yet been scheduled. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Lawmakers Celebrate CTE Month, Progress on FY24 Remains Uncertain | Legislative Update

February 16th, 2024

Over the last two weeks, lawmakers in the House and Senate have continued to formally recognize the importance of Career Technical Education (CTE) and celebrated February as CTE Month® in a number of ways. Elsewhere, appropriations leaders continue to work on federal funding measures, Advance CTE endorsed several new pieces of legislation and federal agencies released new equity plans. 

New Challenges Emerge in FY24 Funding Process

The Senate remained in session last weekend to pass a highly anticipated supplemental national security aid package. Following that action, the Senate adjourned and is not expected to return to Capitol Hill until February 26. Meanwhile, the House met for an abbreviated work period this week where Republican lawmakers impeached Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. This action in the House will trigger a trial in the Senate when lawmakers return later this month. Due to Senate rules that require addressing this issue upon their return, this upcoming trial may impact ongoing negotiations, largely occurring behind the scenes, on federal fiscal year 2024 (FY24) spending, including the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations measure that funds the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) and other programs administered and overseen by the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Labor (DOL).

At this time, it remains unclear how lawmakers will ultimately move forward with FY24 appropriations legislation beyond the upcoming expiration dates of current funding rapidly approaching on March 1 and March 8. Reportedly, appropriations leaders are currently negotiating potential “policy riders” that some lawmakers are seeking to attach to these funding measures, including Labor-HHS-ED. House lawmakers are currently scheduled to return after a recess period on February 28, leaving only a few days to determine a pathway forward. As these efforts continue to take shape, Advance CTE is continuing to advocate for robust funding for Perkins V’s formula grant program.

CTE Month Continues With Co-Chair Appearances and a New Senate Resolution

Yesterday, House CTE Caucus co-chairs Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) made an appearance on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal program to talk about the importance of CTE and the role it plays in the wider economy. The two leaders fielded questions from viewers and spoke at length about their experiences with CTE, the importance of the federal investment made by Perkins V and highlighted the immense value CTE programs provide to learners, especially by providing multiple pathways to postsecondary education, training and careers. These lawmakers also introduced the Counseling for Career Choice Act, bipartisan legislation that would strengthen career counseling services available to K-12 students. Advance CTE was proud to endorse this legislation upon introduction. In addition, House Education and Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) provided floor remarks celebrating CTE month and emphasizing the important role CTE programs have in providing learners with valuable and durable skills. 

On the other side of the Capitol, Senate CTE Caucus co-chair Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Todd Young (R-IN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Ted Budd (R-NC) introduced and passed a bipartisan resolution recognizing February as CTE month within the chamber. “This month and every month, let’s work to expand access to CTE, including by passing my JOBS Act to allow students to use Pell Grants for job training programs, and build an economy that works for everyone,” Senator Kaine remarked upon its passage. 

Advance CTE applauds all of these lawmakers for their ongoing leadership on this issue and extends our community’s deep appreciation for continuing to elevate and highlight the significant importance of CTE this month and throughout the year.

Bipartisan Childcare CTE Bill Introduced

Earlier this week, Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR), Mike Lawler (R-NY) and Bonamici introduced the Early Childhood Workforce Advance Act. The legislation would provide new resources for CTE programs and aims to address significant workforce shortages in this critical sector of the economy. “The Early Childhood Workforce Advancement Act intentionally leverages CTE programs and ensures that these efforts are connected to ongoing state and local efforts to strengthen early educator workforce pipelines,” Advance CTE’s Executive Director Kate Kreamer shared upon the bill’s introduction. More information on the proposal can be found here.

ED Publishes Updated Equity Action Plan

At the beginning of the week, ED formally released its 2023 update to the Department’s existing “Equity Action Plan,” outlining new commitments to advance equity in education. ED identified five key focus areas: improving college access and completion rates for underserved students; ensuring equitable resources for learning recovery; expanding educational opportunities for justice-impacted individuals to improve outcomes; advancing equity in career and technical education; and increasing mental health resources in underserved communities. In the plan, ED notes that it hopes to improve data transparency with regards to Perkins V data, host a future webinar series on equity in CTE and propose broadened equity indicators as part of its priorities for potential legislative updates to Perkins V in the years ahead. Read the full plan here.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

CTE Month Gets Underway, FY24 Negotiations Continue | Legislative Update

February 2nd, 2024

This week marks the formal start of Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month® which lawmakers have started to formally recognize on Capitol Hill. Elsewhere appropriations leaders continue to negotiate full-year funding for the current fiscal year. 

Congress Continues to Negotiate FY24 Budget

This week, appropriations leaders continued negotiations on federal fiscal year 2024 (FY24) funding for the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies. As shared previously, lawmakers recently extended federal funding on another short-term basis through March 1 and March 8 of this year to allow more time for negotiations on this critical issue. Lawmakers have reportedly come to an agreement on allocations for each of the dozen spending bills that compose the federal budget, known as 302(b) allocations. This includes the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill which provides funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act’s (Perkins V) state grant program along with other important federal investments in education and workforce development. 

While the specific allocations have not yet been made public, this agreement represents a critical next step in the wider FY24 process and is an indication that these discussions are progressing toward an expected resolution ahead of the upcoming funding deadlines in early March. As these efforts continue to take shape, Advance CTE and partners are continuing to advocate for a strengthened investment in Perkins V’s formula grant program. 

CTE Month Kicks-Off 

Yesterday, House CTE Caucus co-chairs Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) formally introduced a Congressional resolution recognizing February as CTE month. “We are pleased to support the 2024 Career Technical Education Month resolution as a celebration of CTE’s contributions to our learners and communities, and applaud the leadership of the House CTE Caucus, led by Representatives Thompson and Bonamici, to highlight CTE’s central role in advancing economic opportunity for every learner across the nation,” Advance CTE’s Executive Director, Kate Kreamer, said upon introduction. The House caucus is currently circulating this resolution for additional support. Be sure to ask your representative to co-sponsor this year’s CTE month resolution.

In addition, co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus led by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), R. Michael Young (R-IN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Ted Budd (R-NC) are leading a similar CTE Month resolution in the chamber. More information on the status of this resolution can be found here with our partners at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Be sure to encourage your senators to support this effort if they have not done so already! 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

FY24 Funding Progress Slows, U.S. Department of Education Announces Career-Connected Grants | Legislative Update

January 26th, 2024

This week lawmakers struggled to make progress on federal appropriations for the current fiscal year while the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced new career-connected high school grants. Elsewhere, federal agencies formally unveiled a significant new regulatory proposal related to apprenticeships. 

Congress Extends FY24 Funding for Another Month

As shared last week, Congress passed an additional short-term extension of federal funding, known as a continuing resolution, which extends FY23 funding levels for federal programs through March 1 and March 8 later this year. The “laddered” CR is intended to provide lawmakers more time to negotiate full-year appropriations for federal fiscal year 2024 (FY24) which began last October. Of note for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V), which is included in the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill, is set to expire on the latter of these two dates in March. 

While this development is an encouraging step in the wider FY24 process, appropriations leaders must still establish individual allocations for each of the dozen bills that compose the federal budget. Known as 302(b) allocations, lawmakers have continued to struggle this week to successfully negotiate these funding levels including for the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill. Until 302(b)s are determined, lawmakers cannot move forward with negotiations on program-level funding, including for Perkins V’s basic state grant program and other important investments in education and workforce development. It remains unclear how lawmakers will come to a resolution on this important issue with current reports indicating that little progress has been made this week. As these efforts continue to take shape, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for robust funding for the foundational federal investment made by Perkins V. 

U.S. Department of Education Announces Career-Connected High School Grants

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited the Advanced Technical Center—an area career technical school located in Washington, DC and recently featured in the Washington Post for its impact on chronic student absenteeism in DC. During the visit, Secretary Cardona announced a slate of new grants as part of his agency’s career-connected high school initiative

Advance CTE has previously highlighted that the activities authorized under this new discretionary grant program can already be funded using resources from Perkins V’s basic state grant program. In announcing 19 grant awards in total as part of this effort, which will benefit 17 states, the agency indicated that it received 160 applications for this funding totaling nearly $850 million. These applications for funding demonstrate significant unfilled demand for CTE programming which can only be addressed through a strengthened systemic investment via Perkins V’s state grant program. “The Biden-Harris Administration is going to keep on fighting to provide every student in every community with career-connected learning,” Cardona said as part of the announcement. More information on these grants can be found here

DOL Moves Forward With Apprenticeship Regulations Impacting CTE

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) formally published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) last week which is intended to significantly update and overhaul the existing regulatory framework for registered apprenticeship programs. As shared previously, this NPRM also includes a new “CTE Apprenticeship” component with implications for state CTE agencies and systems. Yesterday, DOL hosted a webinar providing a high-level overview of this proposal. An archived webcast, including related presentation materials, can be accessed here. Comments on the NPRM are due March 18 and can be submitted through this comment portal.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: Maryland State CTE Director Testifies As Congress Extends FY24 Funding

January 19th, 2024

This week Richard Kincaid, Maryland’s State Career Technical Education (CTE) Director, testified in the House while Congress passed a much-needed extension of federal funding as negotiations continue on federal fiscal year 2024 (FY24) appropriations. 

Lawmakers Pass Last-Minute CR

Lawmakers in the House and the Senate continued to negotiate a path forward on FY24 appropriations this week as two funding deadlines drew closer. As shared last week, Congressional leaders and the White House announced a new deal on aggregate spending levels, known as toplines, for the defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) portions of the federal budget. This agreement came after months of unsuccessful negotiations between the chambers since the formal start of FY24 on October 1, 2023. 

A new deal on federal topline spending has been a critical next step in moving forward with the dozen funding measures that compose the federal budget since the start of FY24 last fall. While this is an important next step, current federal funding—extended by two separate continuing resolutions (CRs)— was set to expire today and on February 2. Lawmakers therefore had to act quickly this week to avert a partial government shutdown as these negotiations continued. With a snowstorm hitting Washington, D.C. just before the January 19 deadline lawmakers were able to find consensus this week on another set of CRs that extends federal funding through early March. These measures cleared the Senate first on a 77-18 margin and later in the House, under an expedited legislative process, by a margin of 314-108. Notably, nearly half of the House Republican conference voted against this short-term funding extension.  

The Labor-HHS-ED funding measure, which provides funding for education and workforce development investments like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V), is included within a tranche of seven other funding measures that have FY23 funding levels extended through March 8. The remaining four funding bills, which would have expired today, have also been extended through March 1 by this short-term extension. The House is now on recess until January 29 while the Senate remains in session deliberating on federal appropriations and other legislative agenda items.   

As these efforts continue, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for a robust and strengthened investment in Perkins V’s basic state grant program and other investments of interest to the wider CTE community. 

Maryland State CTE Director Testifies Before House Lawmakers

Yesterday, January 18, the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, led by Reps. Aaron Bean (R-FL) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) held a hearing titled  “Preparing Students for Success in the Skills-Based Economy.” Notably, Richard Kincaid, Senior Executive Director for the Maryland State Department of Education’s Office of College and Career Pathways and a member of Advance CTE, testified at the hearing along with several other witnesses including Kelly Mosley, a local CTE Director in Clay County Florida, along with Danny Corwin, Executive Director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools.

Richard’s testimony focused on Maryland’s ongoing efforts to provide pathways to opportunity for all students. Specifically, his remarks highlighted the state’s work to implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a multi-billion dollar statewide investment that aims to provide “…all students [with] equitable access to rigorous education that prepares them for college, career and life…” among other aspects of the effort. Richard also highlighted the state’s use of American Rescue Plan funding via the Elementary and Secondary School Relief (ESSER) program which has supported a substantial expansion of youth apprenticeship programs in the state. 

More broadly the hearing touched on a number of topics related to secondary CTE, including and especially the need to invest additional resources into these efforts to provide more opportunities for learners. For instance, during her line of questioning, Rep. Bonamici, also the co-chair of the House CTE Caucus and Ranking Member of this subcommittee, highlighted that the federal investment in CTE, made by Perkins, has eroded considerably over the last few decades and asked what additional funding could do for states like Maryland. Kincaid answered, in part,  that “…using Perkins as a lever to reinvest additional funding into these programs would be a game changer for places like Maryland that rely on federal funds to move this agenda forward…” 

Elsewhere, recent research conducted by Advance CTE on secondary CTE financing was also highlighted by witnesses, including Harbor Freight’s Corwin who shared a startling datapoint with lawmakers– funding for CTE represents just three percent of all K-12 spending in the United States. More importantly, without the federal investment made by Perkins V’s basic state grant program, this percentage drops to just one percent of all K-12 spending across the nation, underscoring the enormous importance of strengthening and drastically increasing federal funding for CTE. 

Advance CTE applauds lawmakers in the House for holding this hearing and providing these witnesses an opportunity to highlight how important it is to increase opportunities for learners to engage with high-quality CTE opportunities in their communities. An archived webcast of the hearing, including witness testimony, can be accessed here

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: Lawmakers Announce New Spending Deal

January 12th, 2024

Over the last few weeks lawmakers have begun to make progress towards agreement on full-year funding for the federal budget. In addition, the House is expected to host a hearing next week examining how to best prepare students for the workforce. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) issues new guidance related to pandemic aid funding and proposes new rules for federal grant programs. 

Congressional Leaders Announce FY24 Topline Agreement

Just before returning to Capitol Hill following Congress’ annual holiday recess, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that they had reached agreement on aggregate spending levels, also known as toplines, for defense and non-defense discretionary portions of the federal budget. The agreement largely aligns with the requirements contained in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA)—legislation enacted last year that suspended the nation’s statutory borrowing limit while establishing a budget framework for federal fiscal years 2024 (FY24) and FY25. This agreement also included a “side deal” agreed to by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Congressional Democrats and the Biden administration to provide approximately $69 billion in additional funding, beyond what was contained in the FRA, to avoid substantial cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs like federal investments in Career Technical Education (CTE).

The agreement is a critical next step in the FY24 budget and appropriations process that has been ongoing since October 1 of last year. Appropriations leaders must now work to negotiate 302(b) allocations—funding levels for each of the 12 individual appropriations bills that compose the federal budget and then subsequently determine program-level funding for federal initiatives and programs like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V). Current federal funding, which has been operating under two separate continuing resolutions (CRs) that temporarily extended FY23 funding levels for separate portions of the federal budget, is set to expire on January 19 and February 2 respectively. Lawmakers will need to act by these dates, likely via another short-term CR, to avert a partial or full shutdown of the federal government as they continue to negotiate program allocations under this new FY24 agreement.

Complicating the pathways forward, a faction of conservative House Republicans has voiced significant opposition to this topline agreement and has recently made efforts to stymie legislative progress on this issue in protest of the accord. It remains unclear at this time how Congressional leaders in both chambers will chart a course forward as they continue to develop and finalize FY24 appropriations legislation. As these efforts continue to take shape, Advance CTE will be advocating for a strengthened investment in Perkins V’s basic state grant program, along with other critical investments in education and workforce development of interest to the wider CTE community. 

House Education Subcommittee to Hold Hearing Next Week

Next Thursday, January 18, at 10:15 a.m., the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Aaron Bean (R-FL), plans to hold a hearing titled: “Preparing Students for Success in the Skills-Based Economy.” The subcommittee has not yet published the witness list for the hearing but it is expected to focus broadly on strategies and efforts to prepare learners for growing and in-demand careers. The hearing will be live-streamed here

ED Issues Guidance on Pandemic Funding

On Tuesday, January 9, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) issued a guidance letter outlining the process K-12 schools and districts must undertake to obtain an extension to spend down remaining federal aid provided by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department is encouraging grantees to request an extension on this year’s spending deadline by December 31, 2024 and outline how such an extension will contribute to the core goals and objectives of these funds. More information on how to apply for additional funding flexibilities, including related forms, can be accessed here.

ED Proposes Grant Rule Changes

This week ED also published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that aims to amend the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). The proposed rule would make a series of technical updates to EDGAR, which provides an overarching framework for the agency’s administration of discretionary and formula grant programs. The proposed changes range from technical updates to substantive revisions intended to streamline existing regulations, align EDGAR more closely with other more recently passed federal legislation and increase flexibility in grant administration. In the NPRM, ED estimates the proposed rule would result in a net reduction of burden for grantees. Most amendments are technical in nature or provide additional flexibilities. ED is soliciting comments from the public for the next 45 days and will close on February 26.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

Legislative Update: Congress Advances New Legislation While Apprenticeship Regulations Are Unveiled

December 15th, 2023

This week both the House and Senate considered and advanced several pieces of legislation with implications for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. Elsewhere the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published proposed regulations that would overhaul the existing framework for registered apprenticeship programs and significantly expand the scope of these rules in relation to CTE programs funded by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V).  

House Education and Workforce Committee Advances WIOA Reauthorization

This week the House Education and Workforce (E&W) Committee marked up and advanced H.R. 6655, A Stronger Workforce for America Act (ASWA). The legislation would reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was last updated in 2014. Notably for the CTE community, the legislation proposes significant changes to youth funding authorized by the legislation, including changes to the underlying definition for eligible youth populations that would allow for greater coordination and alignment with CTE programs. ASWA would also encourage greater local alignment of CTE programs of study and career pathways programs. The legislation would also codify the Workforce Data Quality Initiative and the Strengthening Community College Workforce Development Grant program– two key Advance CTE WIOA priorities– along with a host of other proposed changes to current law. However, Advance CTE is still analyzing additional elements of the legislation that were less encouraging and plans to issue a more comprehensive response regarding the legislation shortly. 

The bipartisan legislation was advanced out of the E&W Committee on Tuesday by a margin of 44-1. The proposal is expected to be further considered by the full House of Representatives sometime next year when Congress returns from its holiday recess. 

House Leaders Markup New Workforce Pell Proposal 

As shared previously, Reps. Stefanik (R-NY) and DeSaulnier (D-CA), along with House Education and Workforce Committee Chair Foxx (R-NC) and Ranking Member Scott (D-VA), recently introduced H.R. 6586, the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act (BWPA) last week. The bipartisan legislation is a compromise between previously introduced legislation sponsored by the E&W Committee Chair and Ranking Member earlier this Congress. The expansion of Pell eligibility for high-quality, shorter-term CTE programs has been a longtime priority of Advance CTE

Notably, the legislation was amended during markup in several ways, including a new provision requiring coordination with state Perkins eligible agencies in determining programmatic alignment to high-skill, high-wage or in-demand occupations and sectors. The BWPA also contains a slew of new eligibility criteria that would be overseen and implemented by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), state workforce development boards and higher education accreditation agencies. Advance CTE and the Association for Career Technical Education issued a letter in response to the BWPA shortly after its passage out of the E&W Committee on a margin of 37-8. Advance CTE is encouraged by this latest development and looks forward to working with Congress as this issue moves forward in the legislative process. 

HELP Committee Clears Bipartisan Education Sciences Reform Act Reauthorization

Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee formally introduced the Advancing Research in Education Act (AREA) — bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize and update the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA). This legislation makes important updates to ESRA, including significant reforms to the State Longitudinal Data System Grant program and broader education research and technical assistance functions overseen by the ED. As shared previously, Advance CTE has strongly supported many of the core components of AREA, particularly provisions that complement and relate to CTE, and has formally supported the legislation ahead of a scheduled markup this past Tuesday. The HELP Committee subsequently advanced this proposal on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis, 20-1. AREA now moves to the full Senate for further consideration by the upper chamber. 

DOL Proposes Major Changes to Apprenticeship Regulations With CTE Implications 

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes significant and wide-ranging changes to the regulatory framework for registered apprenticeship programs. Of note for the CTE community, the NPRM suggests a significant expansion of the regulatory requirements related to a new program model DOL is currently referencing as “CTE Apprenticeships.” The NPRM includes a number of other new regulatory requirements that would relate to CTE programs funded by Perkins V. Advance CTE is in the process of analyzing this proposal and will have more to share on this NPRM soon. A 60-day comment period will begin when the draft proposal is formally published to the Federal Register. In addition, DOL has scheduled a webinar in early January to provide an overview of the NPRM. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

Legislative Update: Congress Announces a Flurry of Education and Workforce Development Legislation

December 8th, 2023

This week, the Senate introduced a legislative proposal that would make significant updates to legislation that authorizes federal research and data functions, while lawmakers in the House introduced new bipartisan proposals that would reform the Pell Grant program to make shorter-term Career Technical Education (CTE) programs eligible for funding as well as a comprehensive reauthorization proposal for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). 

HELP Committee Unveils Bipartisan Education Sciences Reform Act Reauthorization

Earlier this week the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unveiled the Advancing Research in Education Act (AREA) — bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize and update the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA). ESRA authorizes many critical federal education data and research functions and this proposal would make significant updates to many aspects of this legislation. Specifically, AREA would make education research more responsive to the needs of learners, teachers and other education stakeholders while increasing the use of rigorous evidence to better support teaching and learning. Of note for the CTE community, this legislation would broaden the scope of these activities to include a stronger focus on learners’ labor market and workforce outcomes. 

Advance CTE has been engaged throughout this wider reauthorization process, including by supporting the introduction of the Data for American Jobs Act (DAJA) earlier this year. Encouragingly many aspects of this proposal have been incorporated in the current committee draft proposal. A mark-up of AREA is scheduled for next week on Tuesday, December 12 at 10 a.m. ET. Read the HELP committee summary on the proposed changes contained in AREA.

House Leaders Release New Workforce Pell Proposal 

On Tuesday, December 5, Reps. Stefanik (R-NY) and DeSaulnier (D-CA), along with House Education and Workforce Committee Chair and Ranking Member Foxx (R-NC) and Scott (D-VA), introduced H.R. 6586, the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act (BWPA). This legislation is a compromise proposal that combines aspects of previously introduced short-term Pell Grant legislative proposals sponsored by Chair Foxx and Ranking Member Scott respectively. The BWPA would establish a number of eligibility criteria that would be overseen and implemented by state workforce development boards, higher education accreditors and the U.S. Department of Education intended to ensure program quality and rigor. Advance CTE is encouraged to see additional bipartisan movement on this critical issue and is continuing to analyze the bill for implications for the CTE community. More information can be accessed in this fact sheet and related summary

House Committee Introduces Comprehensive WIOA Reauthorization Proposal

Yesterday, December 7, the House Education and Workforce (E&W) Committee introduced H.R. 6655, A Stronger Workforce for America Act (ASWA). The legislation would comprehensively reauthorize WIOA and make significant changes to core aspects of this legislation including related to eligible training provider lists and the provision of training services provided by the system. Encouragingly, the proposal would make significant improvements to workforce data infrastructure and linkages, codify grant programs for community college training initiatives and would strengthen alignment between career pathways and CTE programs of study among other aspects of the legislation. Advance CTE and partners are continuing to review this proposal and anticipate further consideration of the legislation sometime early next week. 

FY24 Funding Negotiations Make Little Progress

As shared previously, Congress recently passed another short-term extension of federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) funding just before Thanksgiving. This continuing resolution (CR) created a “laddered” approach to funding federal operations with Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) appropriations extending funding through February 2, 2024 (along with seven other funding bills), while four other bills expire January 19, 2024. 

Since that time, however, lawmakers have struggled to make meaningful progress toward negotiating full-year FY24 appropriations legislation. This includes a lack of agreement on “topline” levels for the federal budget needed to develop individual sub-allocations for each of the 12 individual spending bills that compose federal operations, including the Labor-HHS-ED measure which provides funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) and other programs of interest to the CTE community.

As a reminder, conservative lawmakers in the House have spent most of the calendar year seeking to advance legislation that would significantly and dramatically cut funding for the entire federal budget, including for many workforce development and education programs. Most recently, this faction of House Republicans now appears to be softening demands for steep cuts to federal spending, including these investments. Despite this modest progress, agreement between lawmakers on this critical topline issue still appears to be out of reach this week. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) recently floated the idea of a year-long CR if agreement could not be reached soon. However, leaders in the Senate have vocally opposed this idea.

As these efforts continue to take shape, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for robust and strengthened funding for Perkins V’s state grant program and other funding priorities of the CTE community. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

Legislative Update: Congress Returns from Recess

December 1st, 2023

Congress returned this week from its Thanksgiving recess with a list of important agenda items that must be addressed before the end of the year. Elsewhere, the U.S. Department of Education announced new funding for full-service community schools while federal agencies announced the availability of free COVID-19 testing kits for schools. 

Agreement on Full-year FY24 Funding Remains Elusive

Prior to Thanksgiving, Congress passed another short-term extension of federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) funding. The continuing resolution (CR) bifurcated the 12 individual spending bills that fund federal operations into two separate groups, each with a different expiration date. Of note for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) appropriations component of this legislation would extend funding for programs like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) through February 2, along with seven other funding bills, while four other funding measures are set to expire on January 19 of next year.

With these new funding extensions now in place, lawmakers must still work to negotiate full-year FY24 funding legislation. However, lawmakers appear to be currently prioritizing other items on the legislative agenda before turning to this important issue. As these efforts take shape, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for the significant funding needs of the CTE community as part of the wider FY24 appropriations process. 

ED Announces New Community School Funding

On Tuesday, November 28, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the distribution of roughly $74 million in new funding for full-service community schools — comprehensive K-12 schools that are intended to provide more holistic and comprehensive wraparound services and related supports to learners and families to improve wider outcomes. “I am proud that the Biden-Harris Administration is expanding the number of community schools across the country as an evidence-based strategy to Raise the Bar in education and to deliver on our commitment to support students, families, and whole communities,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona stated as part of the announcement. The new round of funding will target schools in four new states, including Idaho, Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio. Read more in the press release.

COVID-19 Test Kits Available for Schools 

This week the U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new effort to distribute COVID-19 testing kits free of charge to schools across the country. “The Biden-Harris Administration remains a committed partner with schools in keeping our students and teachers safe and healthy,” said ED’s Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development Roberto Rodriguez as part of the announcement. Read more in the press release.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

 

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