ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION®
As the new Administration and 115th Congress continue to organize and begin work for the new year, leaders from both branches of government have spoken out about CTE and Perkins reauthorization in recent days.
On February 15, new House Education and the Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) published an op-ed in Real Clear Education about the Committee’s agenda for the year. While most of the piece focused on rolling back regulations, she did include CTE as a priority:
One of the first steps will be strengthening career and technical education (CTE). CTE has helped a lot of students gain the knowledge and skills they need to compete in the workforce. Recently, we came close to achieving reforms that would provide states more flexibility, reduce administrative burdens, improve accountability and better ensure students are prepared for in-demand jobs. It is my hope we will finish this important work in the coming months.
In addition, on February 16, new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke before the American Association of Community Colleges and Association of Community College Trustees National Legislative Summit. In her speech, she spoke highly of community and technical colleges and their partnerships with business and industry, and made some specific comments about CTE:
The President’s 100-day action plan is his contract with the American voter. This plan notes the importance of expanding vocational and technical education – the types of career and technical education that community colleges excel at providing – and making two- and four-year college degrees more affordable. He has called multiple paths for postsecondary education “an absolute priority” for his Administration, and I share that vision.
Unfortunately, there are also already reports about potential budget cuts and program elimination at the Department of Education as well, so it will be critical for advocates to speak out in support of critical federal funding to support CTE.
Posted by Alisha Hyslop on 02/20/2017 at 12:08 PM in Executive Branch, Perkins | Permalink
This week, Labor Secretary Nominee Andrew Puzder withdrew his name from consideration, topping a chaotic first month for the Trump Administration. Puzder, the CEO of fast food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., had been a controversial pick to head the Department of Labor since he was tapped by the president last December. His confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which was scheduled to take place just hours after he announced his withdrawal, had been postponed multiple times because the complexity of his personal finances made it difficult for government ethics officials to identify possible conflicts of interest. Concerns about his past opposition to increasing the federal minimum wage and expand worker protections through regulations, as well as allegations of domestic abuse and the recent revelation that a former member of his household staff was not legally allowed to work in the country, ultimately cost him the support of both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. Puzder’s departure comes just a week after Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was narrowly confirmed by the Senate, marking the first time in history that the vice president has had to cast a tie-breaking vote for a cabinet nominee.
The White House announced on Thursday that Alexander Acosta, dean of Florida International University's law program and a former National Labor Relations Board member, will take Puzder’s place as nominee for secretary. The Department of Labor is responsible for overseeing many federal employment and training initiatives, including most programs authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Registered Apprenticeship system and Job Corps among others.
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 02/17/2017 at 01:54 PM in Executive Branch | Permalink
Recently, the House of Representatives voted to overturn several of the Obama Administration’s regulations on education. The first rule addresses state accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The regulation was finalized by the Department of Education under President Obama in November, but enforcement of the rule was suspended when the new Administration took over in January. It was intended to clarify use of multiple measures, including new indicators of school quality and student success, in state accountability systems, as well as the design and delivery of state and district annual report cards.
The move has raised uncertainties about how states should proceed in completing and submitting their ESSA plans. The new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who was narrowly confirmed to lead the department last week, attempted to assuage concerns in a recent letter to state school chiefs. She pledged to keep the Obama Administration’s state plan submission deadlines (either April 3 or September 18, 2017), though she indicated that the department will create a revised plan template that includes only the information that is “absolutely necessary” for states to submit. This could prove problematic for states that have largely finished their plans, as the new template will not be available until mid-March.
The House also moved to block a rule affecting teacher preparation programs that was finalized in October. It requires states to report on the quality of both traditional teacher preparation as well as alternative routes to teaching programs, and to link program quality to eligibility for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education grants. Both measures are part of a larger effort by the White House and congressional Republicans to roll back many of the regulations implemented by the previous Administration.
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 02/13/2017 at 02:56 PM in ESEA, Executive Branch, HEA | Permalink
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos to lead the U.S. Department of Education. All Democrats, along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME), opposed the nomination, forcing Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote. This was the first time in history a cabinet nomination was decided by the Vice President.
As we previously outlined when her nomination was announced, Secretary DeVos’ background is centered on her pro-charter school advocacy. Her lack of experience in public schools led to a contentious confirmation hearing, where her nomination advanced on a party-line vote, and to opposition to her nomination on the floor. During the hearing, she outlined her support for “all postsecondary avenues, including trade and vocational schools, and community colleges.”
In response to a written question submitted after the hearing, Sec. DeVos affirmed her support for Perkins reauthorization, calling it an “important priority.” She also talked about providing flexibility at the state and local levels, aligning various federal laws and supporting data transparency.
ACTE will engage with Secretary DeVos to share our priorities for Perkins reauthorization and CTE more broadly, and will continue working all policymakers in Congress and the executive branch to represent and advocate for the interests of the CTE community.
Posted by Jarrod Nagurka on 02/07/2017 at 02:26 PM in Executive Branch, In the News | Permalink
Betsy DeVos, ED
On Tuesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted along party lines (12-11) to advance the nomination of Betsy DeVos to serve as the next secretary of education. DeVos, a wealthy heiress and charter school advocate with no prior experience as an educator, was nominated by the president to lead the department in November.
During her confirmation hearing on January 17, she made positive statements about CTE—offering few specific policy positions. In written comments provided to the HELP committee after the hearing, she pledged to work with the committee on Perkins reauthorization and called for “flexibility at the state and local levels.” However, she has not commented on the Administration’s plans for funding Perkins in future budget requests, nor has she committed to keeping CTE funds out of an expected proposal from the Administration to repurpose federal education dollars for school choice. Also unknown, her plans for the department’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, and whether she would seek to downsize or eliminate the office and its role in providing technical assistance to states and supporting CTE research. ACTE has worked with the committee and its members to seek clarity from Mrs. DeVos on these and other CTE issues, and we will make those answers available if/when they are provided to us.
DeVos’ nomination will now be voted on by the full Senate, but getting the chamber’s approval is not a foregone conclusion. Democrats, as well as several Senate Republicans, have raised concerns about her commitment to public education. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus and HELP committee members, are among those opposing the nomination. For more updates on the new Administration, follow us on the CTE Policy Watch Blog.
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 02/01/2017 at 03:30 PM in Executive Branch | Permalink
Editorial Note: The following is only intended to recap issues that were discussed at the hearing related to CTE. You can read a more comprehensive recap of the hearing from EdWeek here, or watch the hearing in its entirety here.
Last week, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). Like all nomination hearings, Mrs. DeVos began with a prepared statement. In it, she briefly touched on her support for “all postsecondary avenues, including trade and vocational schools, and community colleges.”
Following the opening remarks, each Senator had an opportunity to ask questions, and CTE issues were raised by two of the committee members. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) highlighted the value of CTE in his question time. He used the hearing to explain how the Perkins funding formula discourages some rural schools in Wyoming from applying because the amount of funding they would receive would not justify the time and effort it takes to apply.
During Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) questioning, he stated that CTE doesn’t get enough “good attention.” He also spoke of what he called the “bachelor’s addiction” in today’s education ecosystem and the need to tackle the stigma associated with CTE. Senator Scott also expressed support for giving technical schools additional flexibility to align marketplace needs with program offerings. Mrs. DeVos reaffirmed her belief in the importance of having a variety of alternative pathways for students, but did not offer any specific comments on CTE.
While Senators Enzi and Scott were the only committee members to speak directly about CTE, other issues of importance to ACTE were also raised, such as federal funding, the implementation of ESSA, and both the Higher Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. For example, in response to a variety of questions, Mrs. DeVos would not commit to protecting funding for public schools or to continuing to implement recent ESSA accountability regulations or gainful employment rules. Few specifics were offered by Mrs. DeVos on any of the issues raised.
Parts of the hearing were particularly contentious, with numerous disagreements about both policy and procedure, as well as potential conflicts of interest. Sensitive topics such as guns in schools and sexual assault on college campuses were also raised, and you can find more details in the editorial note above.
The HELP Committee was originally scheduled to vote on Mrs. DeVos’ nomination on Tuesday, January 24, but that vote has been delayed until January 31. If approved, her nomination will then be considered by the full Senate.
Posted by Jarrod Nagurka on 01/23/2017 at 05:02 PM in Executive Branch, In the News | Permalink
CTE, DeVos, ED, HELP, Trump
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education released the first debt-to-earnings rates for career training programs calculated under gainful employment regulations. The programs covered include most for-profit programs, as well as certificate programs at private non-profit and public institutions.
In this first year, more than 800 programs failed to meet the gainful employment standards, as defined by estimated annual loan payments for alumni that exceed 30 percent of discretionary income and 12 percent of total earnings. The vast majority of these underperforming programs—98 percent—are offered at for-profit colleges.
In addition, 1,239 more programs are in the grey “zone”, with annual loan payments between 20 and 30 percent of discretionary income and 8 and 12 percent of total earnings. After four consecutive years of failing or “zone” rates, programs will lose federal student aid eligibility.
According to the Department, “when student debt is taken into account, community colleges—where students borrow at lower rates and lower dollar amounts—perform particularly well when matched up against comparable for-profit programs.”
Posted by Catherine Imperatore on 01/23/2017 at 07:51 AM in Data and Research, Executive Branch | Permalink
Recently, President Obama asked each member of his cabinet to write an “Exit Memo” to highlight the Administration’s accomplishments over the past eight year, and identify those policy areas where further effort is needed in the years to come. Secretary of Education John King noted the 2015 passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which included new provisions to the federal K-12 education law that can help support secondary CTE. He also continued to push for the America’s College Promise proposal, which would provide two years of free community college for all students, as well as other innovative practices, like a pilot project to expand Pell Grant eligibility to students in dual enrollment programs, that could make postsecondary education more affordable.
At the Department of Labor, Secretary Tom Perez noted their continued efforts to support the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which was signed into law by the president in 2014. He also emphasized the department’s work on apprenticeships, including $90 million provided for the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative, and the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium, which encouraged colleges to make it easier for apprentices to earn credit for their work. You can find all these Exit Memos here.
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 01/09/2017 at 11:43 AM in Executive Branch | Permalink
Earlier this year, states submitted either a Unified or Combined state plan to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, originally signed into law in 2014. State plans were due in the spring, and covered the program years from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018.
Now that plans have been formally approved by the Departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Agriculture (depending on included programs), they are available for public review, search and download from the Department of Education’s website at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/rsa/wioa/state-plans/index.html.
You can download plans by state, or search by key topic areas. With more connections than ever between WIOA and CTE, it is important for CTE stakeholders to understand their states implementation plans. This is a great resource to review to see how your state stacks up and to glean best practices from other states as implementation moves forward.
Posted by Alisha Hyslop on 01/03/2017 at 02:57 PM in Executive Branch, WIOA | Permalink
Earlier this month, the Department of Education announced its first Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant competition, newly authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act. This new grant program builds on the prior “Investing in Innovation (i3)” competition and is designed to support “state and local efforts to develop, implement and take to scale innovative and evidence-based projects.”
In this new competition, however, both states and local school districts are eligible to apply for funding, and they may also collaborate with a wide range of groups to implement projects.
Three types of grants will be available:
Applications for EIR grants are due April 13, 2017, but an intent to apply should be submitted by February 13. Winners will be announced in the fall of 2017, although the total available is still subject to congressional appropriations.
Posted by Alisha Hyslop on 12/30/2016 at 11:42 AM in ESEA, Executive Branch | Permalink
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