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Career & Technical Education Funding News

Friday, January 5, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Erik Sides
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January 4, 2018

Federal Funding

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget and appropriations process began with the release of President Trump’s initial budget framework(known as a “skinny budget”) in March, with the full budget request following in May. The Trump budget proposed drastic cuts in federal support for CTE, including a $168 million cut in the Perkins Basic State Grant! While it also recommended an additional $20 million for the Perkins National Programs to establish a new competitive grant, that program would have only supported a small number of CTE programs in STEM fields. Additionally, the budget request for the Department of Labor included a 40 percent reduction to adult, youth and dislocated worker state formula grants under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Both Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta appeared before congressional committees to defend the Administration's budget plan where they received criticism from members of both parties over the proposed cuts.

This spring, lawmakers had an opportunity to sign letters in support of Perkins funding. The effort was again led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), as well as Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI). These letters received record support on Capitol Hill—140 members of the House of Representatives and 34 Senators championed federal funding for CTE in FY 2018. Later in the year, the Appropriations Committees inboth chambersapprovedfunding billsthat maintained the Perkins Basic State Grant at $1.118 billion. However, Congress was unable to complete its appropriations work by the end of the fiscal year in September, which necessitated a stopgap continuing resolution (CR) to provide temporary funding for the federal government through December. This CR included an across-the-board cut to keep overall spending within the required budget caps for the year. Because of the way Perkins funds are budgeted and dispersed, the cut impacted Perkins state grant advance funding that was disbursed on October 1. The cut could be restored (and has routinely been in years past) if Congress approves a full-year funding bill. However, congressional leaders and the Trump Administration opted to continue to punt on important funding decisions until at least January 19, leaving the cuts in place for the foreseeable future.

Perkins Reauthorization

The 115th Congress brought with it a continued focus on Perkins reauthorization, as the House Education and the Workforce Committee picked up where it left off in 2016 with a hearing on Perkins in February. ACTE Administration Division V.P. Janet Goble wasinvited to testifybefore the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee. Later in the spring, members of the committeereintroducedan updated version of the House Perkins reauthorization bill, this year identified as H.R. 2353. The bill is very similar to the measure that passed the House in 2016, but made some tweaks to language around the state and secretarial roles, and made slight improvements to the application of the “CTE Concentrator” definition, our largest outstanding concern in the bill. H.R. 2353 was marked up by the committee on May 17, and then passed unanimously by the full House in June. The bill includes many of ACTE’s priorities for reauthorization, and we were pleased to support its passage.

The bill now awaits Senate action, which has been stalled for the last year due to disagreements over the issue of “secretarial authority” – how much authority the U.S. Department of Education should have over state CTE plans, performance and programs. Throughout the bill’s progress, ACTE worked closely with Congress to provide technical assistance on key issues, and is continuing to work with the Senate on a path forward.

Higher Education Reauthorization

In 2017, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) continued to be a major piece of federal education policy pending in Congress. In early December, the House Education and the Workforce Committee approved, on a party-line vote, thePromoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act(H.R. 4508)—the House Republican plan to reauthorize HEA. The measure includes a number of possible changes to the existing higher education law that would impact postsecondary CTE. The bill proposes a single definition for an institution of higher education that includes community colleges, postsecondary vocational institutions, area technical schools and for-profit colleges alongside four-year colleges and universities.

The PROSPER Act would allow students to use financial aid for programs under 600 clock hours in length, which is a step toward expanding access to short-term education and training. ACTE has endorsed the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, which would extend Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in short-term education programs.

The most concerning piece of the PROSPER Act is the plan to eliminate support for teacher education and development. The bill would do away with all funding for teacher preparation programs, as well as TEACH Grants and public service loan forgiveness programs that benefit educators. To address the nationwide shortage of CTE teachers, ACTE supports the Technical Education and Career Help Act, which would permit partnerships of school districts and postsecondary institutions to access funding for the development of CTE teacher prep efforts. Some additional highlights from the bill:

  • Consolidates financial aid into a “one grant, one loan, and one work-study” system
  • Authorizes a competitive grant to expand access to in-demand apprenticeships
  • Requires accrediting agencies to have an employer representative
  • Simplifies the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

The Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress also spent the year taking aim at federal higher education regulations. Congress voted to block a rule, finalized at the end of the Obama Administration, that required states to report on the quality of teacher preparation programs and alternative routes to teaching. Additionally, the Department of Education formed a negotiated rulemaking panel to rewrite the gainful employment regulation—the group held its first meeting in December.

ESSA Implementation

The multi-year implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the overhaul of federal K-12 policy passed by Congress in 2015, came to fruition in 2017. The new school year marked the deadline for all states to submit their ESSA state plans, and transition to the new law. In the spring, 16 states and the District of Columbia submitted their ESSA plans, while the remaining 34 states turned over their proposals to the Department of Education in September. Among the 16 plans that have been approved so far, a common theme is the use of career readiness measures for accountability.

In 2017, Congress continued to exercise its oversight role in ESSA implementation. The House and Senate education committees held ESSA hearings, which included discussion of student attainment of industry-recognized credentials in high school, measures of career readiness, and the integration of academic and CTE content in the classroom. Congressional Republicans also moved to roll back K-12 regulations that were implemented by the Obama Administration.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act was signed into law on August 16. Among other advances for student veterans, the bill corrected an issue that has prevented veterans from using their Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits at area career and technical education schools—postsecondary CTE institutions that award certificates demonstrating technical competency. The bill has cleared the way for student veterans to use their education benefits for hybrid education programs and distance learning at area CTE schools. ACTE worked closely with Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) to include these important CTE provisions in the bill.

Congressional CTE Caucus

In early 2017, the Senate CTE caucuswelcomeda new co-chair, Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), who joins Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). In the House, Reps. Thompson and Langevin continued their service as co-chairs. ACTE worked in coordination with the Senate CTE Caucus to organize briefings on infrastructure, the history of CTE and professional development for CTE educators. The Senate caucus also hosted a reception featuring student projects in conjunction with the 2017 National Policy Seminar, and the House CTE Caucus once again held a “CTE 101” briefing.

To honor CTE Month and the 100-year anniversary of the Smith-Hughes Act, ACTE worked with the Senate caucus to circulate a bipartisan resolution commemorating February as CTE Month. Introduced by Sen. Kaine, the resolution passed overwhelmingly with a record 30 cosponsors.

Administration Action

The new Administration brought not only new policies and politics to Washington, but also new personnel. Following a contentious vetting process, Betsy DeVos wasconfirmedas secretary of education in February. At the department’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), President Trump named Dr. Michael Wooten as deputy assistant secretary. Dr. Wooten will serve as the acting head of OCTAE while an official nominee is selected for the post. Michigan state lawmaker Tim Kelly was nominated for the assistant secretary position this fall, but his nomination was withdrawn over controversial comments he posted online.

The Trump Administration issued an executive order in June that established a task force on expanding apprenticeships. Sec. DeVos also participated in a “back-to-school” tour, which included a CTE site visit, and has visited a number of other CTE programs throughout the year. The second-ever class of 20 CTE presidential scholars was named in May. Additionally, the Department of Education announced the results of the Ed Sim Challenge, which encouraged the development of educational simulations to strengthen CTE.

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017

  1. ED Announces Revised Perkins State Allocations(9/26/17)
  2. Trump Cuts to CTE Excluded From House Funding Bill(7/14/17)
  3. Trump Administration Talks CTE; Budget Yet to Come(3/30/17)
  4. Goods Jobs Without a BA(7/26/17)
  5. House Passes Perkins Reauthorization Bill(6/22/17)
  6. President Signs Executive Order Promoting Apprenticeships(6/15/17)
  7. Sec. DeVos' Back-to-School Tour Includes CTE Visit(9/15/17)
  8. Congress Passes Temporary Funding Bill(9/11/17)
  9. House Passes Tax Reform; Senate Bill Advances(11/20/17)
  10. Trump Budget Pushes Big Cuts for Perkins(5/23/17)

Looking Ahead to 2018

The second year of the Trump Administration is shaping up to be just as contentious as the first. Though the president and congressional Republicans celebrated the end of 2017 with the passage of a tax bill (ACTE opposed the measure), the year was largely defined by legislative inaction. With a deeply partisan Congress and a volatile White House buffeted by a steady stream of controversies, any effort to make progress on major policy issues, including infrastructure spending, immigration and health care reform, will likely be an uphill struggle in 2018. Additionally, the mid-term elections in November will ensure that the latter part of the year is dominated by campaign politics. Despite the strong potential for dysfunction in Washington, there are a number of outstanding education and workforce issues on the 2018 policy agenda.

The reauthorization of HEA will be a continued priority on Capitol Hill, with the full House expected to take up the PROSPER Act in the coming months. Unlike the PROSPER Act, however, the Senate may opt to craft a bipartisan HEA bill that can gain support from both sides of the aisle, which could come at some point in early 2018. Whatever course the higher education reauthorization takes in the upper chamber, simplifying financial aid programs and reducing the cost of college will be key themes in the Senate bill. Similarly, the deadlock over Perkins reauthorization in the Senate may finally break in 2018, though ideological differences continue to divide Republicans and Democrats into the new year. It is also unclear how Congress might attempt to translate the Administration’s “school choice” priorities, and recent executive actions on apprenticeships, into legislation.

Since Congress failed to pass a full-year appropriations bill last year, action will be needed on an FY 2018 funding bill in the coming weeks. This effort will be further complicated by the start of the FY 2019 budget cycle, which will begin in earnest with the release of the Administration’s budget request in February. Expect that President Trump will again seek deep cuts to domestic program, including education and workforce training. However, it seems increasingly likely that a multi-year budget deal that includes an increase in the funding caps for both defense and non-defense funding can gain bipartisan support in Congress. It’s acritical time to advocatefor a strong federal investment in CTE. Help us make 2018 matter by joining us in Washington on March 5-7, for ACTE’s National Policy Seminar!

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