Short-Term Spending Bill Passes, Senator Alexander Introduces HEA Bill

This past week, a short-term spending bill was finalized to extend government funding through November 21, 2019, and Senator Lamar Alexander introduced new Higher Education Act (HEA) legislation. Read below to learn more about the appropriations process, HEA proposal, new data on Career Technical Education (CTE) and innovation grants from the U.S. Department of Education. 

Short-Term Spending Bill Extends Funding Into November 

On September 27, President Donald Trump signed a short-term spending bill, H.R. 4378, to extend current funding levels-with some exceptions- through November 21, 2019. Since Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) funding was due to expire on September 30, 2019, this continuing resolution postpones a government shutdown and gives appropriators additional time to finalize the long-term FY20 funding bill. The day before the White House signed the continuing resolution, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 82-15, following the House passing of the bill earlier in the month. 

Now, appropriators are working on the full FY20 appropriations bills. So far, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education) proposed FY20 funding bill would allocate under $1.3 billion to CTE State Grants, also known as Perkins Basic State Grants- an amount that is level with the FY19 allocation. The House Labor-HHS-Education FY20 funding bill passed  in June proposed an increase of $47 million for Perkins Basic State Grants. Advance CTE will continue to provide updates as additional information becomes available.

Senator Lamar Alexander Introduces Higher Education Act Legislation

On September 26, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a package of eight bipartisan bills entitled the Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019 (S. 2557). This package includes many of Senator Alexander’s long-held priorities for the Higher Education Act (HEA), including:

    • Permanently extending funding for many Minority Serving Institutions, which expired at the end of September;
    • Simplifying and streamlining FAFSA submissions; 
    • Restoring Pell Grant eligibility for those incarcerated; and
    • Expanding Pell Grants to go to short-term non-degree programs. This is similar to the JOBS Act (S. 239 / H.R. 827) – which Advance CTE supports. However, there are some differences in Senator Alexander’s proposal, such as eliminating the limit to public institutions.   

The proposed package would require that students who repay their student loans under income-driven repayment plans pay a full 10% of their discretionary income.

HELP Committee Ranking Member Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) has expressed concern with Alexander taking a piecemeal approach, and has advocated for a full HEA reauthorization. Many of Murray’s priorities, including comprehensive student loan reform and Title IX issues dealing with campus sexual assault are not included in Alexander’s bill.

New Interactive Data Story on Career Technical Education in High School

The U.S. Department of Education released a new interactive Career Technical Education (CTE) data story, “Bridging the Skills Gap: Career and Technical Education in High School.” Along with the release of the report, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education Scott Stump shared that “CTE opens pathways to success for students whether they choose to pursue postsecondary education or enter the workforce after high school. These data show that students who concentrate in a high-demand CTE field, such as STEM or health sciences, go on to reap benefits from their studies long after graduation.”

The data in this new report examines CTE participation in high schools and student outcomes. Some of the data findings include: 

  • 77% of high school students earn at least one CTE credit;
  • About 75% of public school districts that have CTE programs offer CTE courses that grant dual credit; 
  • High school students who are CTE concentrators have a higher graduate rate than non-CTE concentrators; and
  • High school students who are CTE concentrators participate in postsecondary education within eight years of high school graduation at a higher rate than non-CTE concentrators. 

Check out the full report here for additional information on high school CTE delivery, concentrations and outcomes. 

New Education Innovation and Research Grantees Announced

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced new Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program grantees across 41 school districts, state education agencies and non-profit organizations. A total of $123 million in new grant awards will go to creating or expanding innovative practices that are supported by evidence to increase academic achievement for high-need students. Many of the grantees include rural areas and focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education. 

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

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