Posts Tagged ‘Presidential Scholars’

House Lays Out Next Steps for FY25 | Legislative Update

Friday, May 24th, 2024

Over the last two weeks, lawmakers in the House laid out next steps for the the federal appropriations process while Congressional leaders elsewhere made announcements related to artificial intelligence (AI) and workforce development. Elsewhere, lawmakers are considering a new Farm Bill proposal while a new cohort of Presidential Scholars was recently announced. 

House Lays Out Roadmap for FY25 Appropriations

House Appropriations Committee Chair Tom Cole (R-OK) announced in recent weeks preliminary allocation totals for each of the 12 individual appropriations bills that compose the federal budget for the upcoming 2025 federal fiscal year (FY25). Known as 302(b) allocations, these topline funding totals are used by appropriations leaders on the committee to craft FY25 funding legislation later this year. This includes the Labor-HHS-ED funding bill which provides support for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) among other education and workforce development programs. The proposed 302(b) allocation for the Labor-HHS-ED funding bill is significantly lower than the total provided for this component of the federal budget in FY24. This means that the House Appropriations Committee is likely to propose significant cuts to domestic programs falling under this legislation as the Committee put forward last year.

In addition, Chair Cole released a tentative schedule to consider each of the dozen appropriations bills. The Labor-HHS-ED measure is expected to be considered at the subcommittee level on June 27 and by the full Appropriations Committee on July 10. This week the full House Appropriations Committee approved these 302(b) allocations on a party line vote 32-21. Similar announcements are still forthcoming in the Senate. As these efforts take shape, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for the significant funding needs of the Career Technical Education (CTE) community and other key education and workforce priorities this year.  

Senate Releases New AI Roadmap

A bipartisan group of Senators led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Senator Todd Young (R-IN), released a long-anticipated report regarding AI. The report or “roadmap” lays out a vision for future federal policymaking efforts, including a set of recommendations for Congress and the Biden administration to consider as AI technologies continue to mature and expand in their use. The report covers several policy areas including workforce development, encouraging the development of career pathways that lead to opportunities in AI. The roadmap also recommends that policymakers consider new regulatory frameworks to mitigate the potential negative impacts AI technologies may have on incumbent workers and ways to promote worker skills training opportunities in this area. Broadly, the report calls on the federal government to invest at least $32 billion on an annual basis to support the further development of AI technologies, promote wider innovation, and ensure wider equitable adoption and use of these emerging technologies.

View the AI Roadmap

Department of Commerce Unveils Workforce Policy Agenda

Recently the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced a Department Administrative Order (DAO) that establishes a workforce policy agenda for the agency. The agenda is intended to assist DOC in the ongoing implementation of several broad federal investments including the CHIPS and Science Act which contains several workforce development components to support the legislation’s broader aims of developing a more robust advanced manufacturing and semiconductor capacity here in the United States. The DAO lays out a set of principles to guide workforce development investments as well as wider Biden administration goals of developing quality employment opportunities for a broader cross-section of Americans.

Read the DAO

House Examines HHS FY25 Budget

Last week, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing to examine the policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The hearing featured testimony from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra who spoke to the Biden administration’s recent federal fiscal year 2025 (FY25) budget request. Secretary Becerra responded to a wide range of questions including the importance of policies and investments supporting access to quality childcare as well as wider healthcare workforce needs.

View an archived webcast of the hearing, including the Secretary’s written testimony and related opening statements from lawmakers

CTE Presidential Scholars Announced

This week the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars announced the 60th cohort of U.S. Presidential Scholars—an initiative that annually recognizes 161 high school seniors for academic, career and technical and artistic achievements. The selection process takes into consideration a number of criteria including transcripts and test scores. Each year, this program features 20 CTE scholars for their outstanding achievements and recognizes related accomplishments.

View the full list of scholars 

House Agriculture Committee Plans Vote on Federal Nutrition Programs

The House Agriculture Committee considered the 2024 Farm Bill this week, a $1.5 trillion legislative package that includes significant changes to federal agriculture and school nutrition programs. The legislation, unveiled by Committee Chairman G.T. Thompson (R-PA) earlier this week, includes major components of the Creating Access to Rural Employment and Education for Resilience and Success (CAREERS) Act (H.R. 7015)—legislation that Advance CTE supported and endorsed earlier this year. Advance CTE has expressed support for the inclusion of the CAREERS Act among other aspects of the proposal. The committee considered the legislation yesterday and approved measure by a margin of 33-21. 

DOL Unveils New AI and Worker Well-Being Principles

This week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a set of principles on AI and worker well-being. The principles were developed in response to an earlier Executive Order (EO) from President Biden on AI last year and are intended to support workforce development professionals and employers in the deployment, development, and subsequent use of AI and related technologies. The principles focus particularly on mitigating potential negative impacts on workers of AI while balancing the need for innovation and economic growth.

Read the principles 

Steve Voytek, policy advisor

By Layla Alagic in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Impasse on Debt Ceiling Continues

Friday, May 12th, 2023

This week lawmakers continued to negotiate a pathway forward regarding the nation’s borrowing authority, while the House examined federal investments in workforce development and the Senate hosted U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to testify on the Biden Administration’s federal fiscal year 2024 (FY24) budget request. Elsewhere, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced this year’s Presidential Scholars and circulated new guidance encouraging postsecondary institutions to assist in wider K-12 learning recovery efforts. 

Debt Ceiling Impasse Continues

Earlier this week, top Congressional leaders from both parties in the House and Senate met at the White House with President Biden to determine a pathway forward for increasing the nation’s statutory borrowing authority (known informally as the debt ceiling or debt limit). Recent estimates from the U.S. Treasury Department have indicated that the federal government will exhaust its current options by June 1 of this year. Failure to raise the debt ceiling would result in a national default on the nation’s existing debt obligations and would have devastating economic consequences.

Since the beginning of the year, House Republicans have demanded a litany of policy and spending concessions from Democrats and the Biden Administration in exchange for raising the debt limit. These concessions include significant and dramatic cuts to domestic discretionary program funding, including Career Technical Education (CTE) programs funded by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (as amended by the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act; Perkins V). Democrats in Congress and President Biden have maintained that the debt limit should be extended without preconditions to avoid a default and negotiate separately on these other issues unrelated to the nation’s borrowing authority. 

Unfortunately, the meeting that took place on Tuesday failed to provide a clear path forward beyond this current impasse. With the debt limit deadline fast approaching, lawmakers have directed their staff to begin behind-the-scenes negotiations on a potential compromise and are expected to reconvene sometime in the near future. This situation remains fluid and Advance CTE  will continue to closely monitor developments related to this situation and the potential impacts it may have on the CTE community. 

House Holds WIOA Hearing 

On Thursday, May 11, the House Education and Workforce Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Subcommittee held a hearing titled “Examining America’s Workforce Challenges: Looking for Ways to Improve Skills Development.” The hearing featured testimony from an array of witnesses ranging from employers to workforce development leaders and other stakeholders who provided perspectives and recommendations regarding ways to update and improve the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The hearing is a likely precursor to further House Education and Workforce Committee consideration of this legislation and focused particular attention on aspects of current law that could be changed to improve training services and related activities supported by WIOA. In addition, the hearing also highlighted the importance of resourcing state workforce development and CTE systems to improve results and related outcomes for workers and learners. An archived webcast of the hearing, including witness testimony and opening statements, can be accessed here

Secretary Cardona Testifies on FY24 Budget in the Senate 

Also on Thursday, May 11, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) hosted U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, to testify on the Biden Administration’s FY24 budget request for his agency. During the hearing Labor-HHS-ED Subcommittee Chair, Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), questioned Secretary Cardona at length regarding CTE and the ways in which states, local education agencies and postsecondary institutions are using basic state grant funding from Perkins V to support high-quality CTE programs. During this line of questioning, Chair Baldwin noted that CTE learners graduate high school at higher rates than their non-CTE peers and also emphasized that they are more likely to go on to pursue further education and training. 

Notably, Secretary Cardona highlighted a number of CTE programs that he had recently visited that currently make use of existing Perkins V formula resources and noted how closely current Perkins V grant recipients, including employer partners, are collaborating to provide opportunities for learners. As shared previously, however, the Biden Administration is currently requesting $200 million in funding for the creation of a new competitive grant program– a proposal Advance CTE and others have shared significant concerns over. An archived webcast of the hearing, including Secretary Cardona’s testimony can be found here

Presidential Scholars Announced

This week the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars announced the 59th cohort of U.S. Presidential Scholars—an initiative that annually recognizes 161 high school seniors for academic, career and technical and artistic achievements. The selection process takes into consideration a number of criteria including transcripts and test scores. Each year, this program features 20 CTE scholars for their outstanding achievements and recognizes related accomplishments. A full list of scholars can be found here

ED Encourages Federal Work Study to Help With Learning Recovery

On Wednesday, May 10, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague letter to postsecondary and school district leaders regarding the federal work study program and wider efforts to support K-12 student populations recover from lost instructional time during the pandemic. The primary purpose of the letter was to encourage postsecondary institutions to use Federal Work Study funding—provided to institutions as part of the Higher Education Act— to support opportunities for enrolled students to serve as tutors, mentors and other supportive roles. Additionally, the letter encouraged the use of the funds to assist in the implementation of afterschool and out-of-school time programs aimed at helping students recover lost learning and instructional time due to the pandemic. The letter also highlighted other funding sources that can be used in support of similar efforts. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

By Jodi Langellotti in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Lawmakers Return to Capitol Hill as Cardona Lays Out Vision for U.S. Department of Education

Friday, January 27th, 2023

Over the last two weeks, lawmakers have continued to make important decisions regarding their respective chambers. Elsewhere, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivered a major speech outlining his plans for the department in the coming year, while a slate of Presidential Scholars has been released. 

118th Congress Continues to Take Shape

Earlier this week, both the House and the Senate reconvened after recessing for the recent Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Lawmakers in the House continued to make important decisions related to committee assignments this week, which will have lasting impacts on Career Technical Education (CTE) funding and policymaking for at least the next two years. Of particular note, House Republicans announced that Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) will lead the House Appropriations’ Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-ED) Subcommittee—the entity that determines the budgets for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and Labor (DOL), including related programs. In addition, Republicans have named new members to this committee, as have Democrats recently, but both parties have yet to assign members to specific subcommittees, including Labor-HHS-ED. 

Elsewhere, House Republican Leadership announced that the newly renamed House Education and Workforce Committee will be smaller in size than previous Congresses. Led by Chair Virginia Foxx (R-VA), leadership announced assignments to this committee, which has oversight over CTE policymaking. The full roster of Education and Workforce Republicans will include a mix of new and familiar faces in the new Congress. House Democrats have yet to provide a list of members who will be on the committee this year, although leadership recently confirmed that Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) will serve as Ranking Member. 

In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released Democratic committee roster assignments, including for the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) and Appropriations Committees– the entities with responsibility for CTE policymaking and funding oversight respectively. Of note, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will chair the HELP committee, replacing longtime Chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) who will be leading the Appropriations Committee in the new Congress. In addition, Sen. Markey (D-MA) will be joining the HELP Committee this Congress, filling a vacancy left by Sen. Rosen (D-NV) who has been assigned elsewhere. Republicans have yet to announce similar committee assignments.  A needed “organizing resolution” is the next step in this process within the upper chamber, but Senators have not yet moved forward with this procedural requirement which is part of this delay. 

 As Congress works to organize, Advance CTE will continue to monitor these developments and engage with policymakers as the new 118th Congress continues to take shape. 

Secretary Cardona Lays out ED Priorities and Visits CTE Center

In a major speech on Tuesday, January 24, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona outlined his vision for the U.S. Department of Education for the coming year. The speech entitled, “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” highlighted several priority areas for the Department this year including efforts to boost academic excellence, improve learning conditions, and create more pathways to opportunities for learners.

Significantly, the speech highlighted the importance of CTE saying, in part, “We must challenge our myopic view that emphasizing the importance of career pathways is about limiting students, or the view that it’s four-year-college or bust. Advancing career pathways in high schools is about more options for students, not less. What it does is prepare them for the careers of today with options, and in some cases, their employer will pay for their future education. If we do this well, our graduates will be able to compete on a global stage. It’s my intention to Raise the Bar so we can lead the world in advanced career and technical education.” The full remarks can be found here

Following this speech further into the week, Secretary Cardona made a visit to Francis Tuttle Technology Center– an area technical center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma which has been featured in Congress previously– to tour the facility and highlight the importance of increasing access to CTE pathways programs. More on this visit can be found here.  

ED Announces 2023 Presidential Scholars Slate of Candidates

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education announced 5,000 learners who were named candidates to become U.S. Presidential Scholars—an initiative that annually recognizes 161 high school seniors for academic, technical and artistic achievements. As a reminder, in 2015 this program was expanded to include recognition of high-achieving CTE learners. A panel of educators and experts will review these candidate nominations and, using a variety of criteria including transcripts, test scores and portfolios of work, narrow down the list to approximately 600 semifinalists later this spring. Ultimately, the commission will select the final 161 U.S. Presidential Scholars for the upcoming 59th cohort in the program’s history, expected to be announced this upcoming May. More information on the program can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

By Jodi Langellotti in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: House Advances WIOA Reauthorization 

Friday, May 20th, 2022

This week the House passed legislation that would make updates to federal workforce development legislation, while elsewhere lawmakers examined the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget request. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education announced the latest class of Presidential Scholars, while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made additional funding announcements and DOL convened a meeting on apprenticeship programs. 

House Advances WIOA Reauthorization Proposal

On Tuesday, May 17, lawmakers in the House passed H.R. 7309– legislation that would reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). This legislation was passed largely along party lines by a margin of 220-196. If enacted, this legislation would make important reforms to the sharing of One-stop Center infrastructure costs amongst required partner programs, including postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) programs receiving funding from the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins V). The proposed legislation would also codify the Workforce Data Quality Initiative, authorizes additional funding for this effort to modernize state workforce data systems, and would make related improvements to data system infrastructure. The proposal strongly emphasizes equitable access and opportunity for workers and learners of all ages in a variety of ways among many other encouraging aspects of the legislation. 

Notably, the legislation was amended during floor consideration to encourage CTE representation on local workforce development boards– a key priority for Advance CTE. Yet, despite these improvements to current WIOA law, Advance CTE looks forward to further refining this proposal as part of the wider legislative process as shared previously. This includes addressing issues with a more narrow definition for “eligible youth” in addition to developing more reciprocal connections between state CTE and workforce development systems. With House passage complete, the legislation now moves to the Senate where its future remains unclear. As this process  moves forward, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for thoughtful and meaningful coordination and alignment between CTE and the publicly funded workforce development system. 

House Examines DOL FY23 Budget 

Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing examining the Biden Administration’s FY23 budget request for DOL. U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh testified before lawmakers on the subcommittee, highlighting many aspects of this request including its support for apprenticeship programs and his Department’s role in promoting the Administration’s Good Jobs Initiative. An archived webcast of the hearing can be found here

DOL Convenes Apprenticeship Advisory Committee 

On Monday, May 16, DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship (OA) hosted a quarterly meeting for its Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (ACA). Authorized by the National Apprenticeship Act, the ACA is intended to help the Department expand, modernize, and diversify registered apprenticeship programs, including by expanding these programs into nontraditional sectors of the economy and ensuring equitable access for all workers. The meeting focused on ways stakeholders can achieve these objectives, which included a set of recommendations for the agency to consider. Among these recommendations, the committee encouraged officials to consider further clarifying aspects of high-quality pre-apprenticeship programs in future guidance. Materials for the meeting, including related presentations, can be found here

FCC Announces New Funding Commitments

On Tuesday, May 17, the FCC announced that it had committed $50 million in additional awards as part of a 15th wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program support. Created as part of the American Rescue Plan, the ECF Program allows eligible schools and libraries to apply for financial support to purchase connected devices including laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to serve unmet needs of students, school staff, and library patrons at home. This round of funding will support 46 schools, 7 libraries, and 2 consortia across the country, including for students in American Samoa, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The FCC’s third filing window for applications closed last week with additional award announcements expected in the near future.

Biden Administration Announces Presidential Scholars

Late last week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars announced the 58th cohort of U.S. Presidential Scholars—an initiative that annually recognizes 161 high school seniors for academic, career technical, and artistic achievements. The selection process takes into consideration a number of criteria including learners’ transcripts and test scores. Each year, this initiative highlights the achievements of 20 CTE scholars for their outstanding achievements. A full list of scholars can be found here

June Meeting Series 

On June 22nd, Advance CTE will be joined by partners from the Association for Career and Technical Education and Association of Community College Trustees to provide a federal policy update as part of Advance CTE’s Equip, Empower, Elevate: June Meeting Series. The series consists of three, three-hour events on June 8, 15, and 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. ET.  Those interested in attending one or more sessions can register here by May 25, 2022. 

Be Sure to Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

The House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and ACTE are currently working to encourage Senators and Representatives to join their respective CTE Caucuses, if they have not done so already. To find out if your Members of Congress have joined their respective Caucus, you can review House and Senate membership lists. Membership in these caucuses is an important way for lawmakers to signal their support for CTE and the millions of learners across the country who enroll in these programs. To encourage your Senator or member of Congress to join, click here and scroll down to the request form corresponding to your needs.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy
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Advance CTE Legislative Update: CTE Presidential Scholars Announced as ESSA Implementation Continues and Obama Administration Makes Skills Announcements

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

United States CapitalYesterday the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) announced the 52nd class of U.S. Presidential Scholars that, for the first time since the program’s inception, now counts Career Technical Education (CTE) students among the nation’s highest achievers.

“We’ve added 20 more slots to honor our highest achieving students in career and technical education, reflecting the Department’s belief that a quality education must be a well-rounded education that prepares students for college, careers and any other civic service,” USDE Secretary John King said in a statement yesterday.

As we have shared previously, President Obama signed Executive Order 11155 last June— a move that expanded the existing Presidential Scholars program to include up to 20 CTE students as part of the program. Created in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson, the U.S. Presidential Scholars program identifies the nation’s highest-achieving students and honors them at an annual award ceremony in D.C. Advance CTE applauded the CTE expansion of this program and will continue to urge policymakers to raise the profile of CTE through efforts and initiatives such as this.

More info can be found here and a full list of Presidential scholars can be found here.

ESSA Implementation Continues

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)— a law that replaced No Child Left Behind and reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act— states, districts, USDE, and other stakeholders have been busy figuring out the best way forward for implementing the new law.

While the defining theme of ESSA has been a devolution of policymaking authority from the federal level to the jurisdictions of states and local districts, USDE is still responsible for facilitating the development of a limited set of regulations to assist in the law’s ongoing roll-out. Known as “negotiated rulemaking”, this is a collaborative process by which a panel of stakeholders and USDE negotiate the terms of specific regulations required for ESSA implementation.

The panel was tasked with coming to consensus on issues affecting student assessments and the law’s “supplement, not supplant” requirement— a provision that requires that federal funds from ESSA not take the place of existing state and local spending, but rather supplement those efforts.

The panel was able to reach consensus on the issues related to assessment, but unfortunately not on supplement, not supplant rules. As a result, USDE will now write its own regulations on this issue setting up a likely fight with Congressional Republicans who have been vocally opposed to USDE’s proposals for the rule to date. Before publishing these rules for public comment, ESSA requires a fifteen day Congressional review period where these disagreements will likely be highlighted further.

Separate from the formal rulemaking process, USDE is also planning to develop non-regulatory guidance to further assist states, districts, and other stakeholders in implementing the new law. Although ESSA makes clear that such guidance cannot be “legally binding”, USDE hopes that this guidance can help the public understand the law better, provide a window into how the department interprets ESSA, and to provide examples of best practices to support implementation. The department is asking for input from the field on what topics this guidance should cover and recommendations can be submitted to essa.guidance@ed.gov. Comments must be submitted by May 25, 2016.

Advance CTE will continue to monitor and engage with implementation of ESSA in the coming year. A helpful timeline for that process can be found here.

White House Announces $100 Million in Free Community College Grants

On April 25, Vice President Joe Biden announced a plan to expand upon their America’s College Promise initiative with a $100 million competitive grant. The effort, which President Obama first proposed during his 2015 State of the Union address, aims to provide two years of free community college to eligible students — an ambition that has already spurred some 27 free community college programs across 15 states. Details about the timing and process for awarding grants are forthcoming, though the White House did release a fact sheet with information about its investments in postsecondary education and its wider skills agenda.

Department of Labor Launches $90 Million ApprenticeshipUSA Program

Separately, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) announced that it is now accepting applications for ApprenticeshipUSA, a $90 million grant competition to increase “job-driven” apprenticeships in the U.S. The first competition, which closes on May 15, makes available $9.5 million for State Accelerator Grants — state-level grants to expand access to and diversify participation in Registered Apprenticeships. States wishing to apply for an Accelerator Grant can find information such as the timeline and process for awarding grants here. USDOL plans to make an additional $50 million available to states later this spring and will invest the remaining $30 million to help employers launch and grow apprenticeship programs.

Odds & Ends

 Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager and Austin Estes, Policy Associate 

By Steve Voytek in News, Public Policy
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NASDCTEc Legislative Update: A Pile of Work Awaits Congress in September as the CTE Presidential Scholars Program Continues to Take Shape

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

United States CapitalThe annual Congressional August recess is in full swing, with most lawmakers and staff spending the time off in their districts and home states with constituents. This four week respite from the daily Congressional grind will be short-lived, as lawmakers will be faced with a tremendous amount of work upon their return to Capitol Hill. In addition to the fast approaching September 30th deadline to fund the federal government and programs, Congress will also have to raise the debt ceiling sometime later this fall, renew funding for public works and infrastructure projects, weigh in on the Administration’s Iran deal, successfully conference an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) bill, and address a host of other outstanding issues all in the coming months.

Ironically, the heavy workload this fall is a product of Congress’ own making—many of these issues were considered as recently as this year and were temporarily put aside as compromise proved to be too difficult. As a result, lawmakers will likely be grappling with many of the above issues simultaneously and the ones related to federal funding, such as the need to raise the debt ceiling and fund federal programs for FY 2016, will likely have resolutions that are closely intertwined. While a clear path forward is still far from certain, Congressional leadership will be weighing many different options. However, with only 10 legislative days left when they return, a “Continuing Appropriations Resolution” or CR—a temporary extension of current funding levels into the next federal fiscal year— is growing increasingly more likely.

Lying at the heart of this stalemate are Republicans and Democrats who remain at odds over the sequester caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). These limits on federal spending, have hampered Congress’ ability to piece together the 12 appropriations bills necessary to fund the federal government. Without changes to the underlying BCA legislation, a move appropriators from both Parties say they want, finding compromise on FY 2016 funding has been extremely difficult.

With the upcoming ESEA conference between the House and the Senate scheduled to follow the current recess, this current impasse over funding will likely be significant hurdle for the conferees to overcome as this battle will likely play out before or during those talks.

NASDCTEc has continued its work on both of these fronts where we have encouraged lawmakers to retain the important CTE provisions found in both the House and Senate ESEA bills while separately calling for an end to the damaging sequester caps that have undercut the federal investment in CTE.

As Congress spends its time meeting with their constituents this month, NASDCTEc invites the wider CTE community to reach out to their members of Congress to reinforce importance of these two goals as the summer draws to an end. Be sure to check back here as things continue to develop.

The JOBS Act—Making Pell Work for Students

Prior to the August recess, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), co-chair of the Senate CTE Caucus and a long-time champion of CTE, introduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act (S. 1900)—a bill that would extend Pell grant program eligibility to students enrolled in qualifying short-term training programs.

Under current law the Pell Grant program— like other federal financial aid available under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA)— is not available to students taking “noncredit courses.” Postsecondary CTE programs, which typically offer certifications or other postsecondary credentials, often fall under this category. Current Pell Grant program eligibility requirements have a minimum seat-time of 300 instruction hours over the course of at least 16 weeks. This frequently leaves out short-term postsecondary CTE programs which are essential to equipping students with the relevant skills needed for the 21st century economy— something that NASDCTEc encourages Congress to address during the reauthorization of HEA.

The JOBS Act seeks to address this issue by reducing those program length requirements by half, to at least 150 clock hours over a period of 8 weeks. In order to qualify, programs must be offered at a postsecondary institution, which would include area CTE centers and community colleges, lead towards the completion of a recognized postsecondary credential (as defined by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act), and be aligned to area workforce needs.

NASDCTEc was extremely pleased to support and endorse this legislation upon its introduction and remains hopeful that these ideas make their way into the wider reauthorization of HEA. Read more about the bill here.

Presidential Scholars Program Continues to Take Shape

As we shared a few months ago, President Obama signed an amendment to Executive Order 11155—a move that expanded the existing Presidential Scholars program to include up to 20 CTE students each year in the program.

The first year of this expansion will take place in the upcoming 2015-16 school year where the Chief State School Officers will nominate CTE scholars based on five criteria: academic rigor, technical competency, ingenuity / creativity, and the degree to which the student represents “the nation’s economic sectors and demographic characteristics.”

Student nominations are due from each Chief State School Officer by October 15, 2015 where the next step of the process will require additional application materials from selected students. By May 2016, the Commission on Presidential Scholars will announce the list of students to be honored at the White House in June.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) has encouraged State CTE Directors to engage with their State’s chief school officer ahead of the nomination process and to more widely disseminate the announcement. More detailed information can be obtained on OCTAE’s PCRN website and general information about the expansion can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

By Steve Voytek in Legislation, News, Public Policy
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