Legislative Activity

House Committee on Education and the Workforce Approves Reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act

 The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved H.R. 5587, theStrengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. Introduced by Reps. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA), the legislation reauthorizes and reforms the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to prepare more Americans to enter the workforce with the skills they need to compete for high-skilled, in-demand jobs. The bill passed the committee by a vote of 37 to 0.

The bipartisan bill received support from over 200 groups and effectively modernizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which has funded career and technical education programs since being passed in 1984. It requires the Department of Education to cede control over how states measure success in their programs. It also gives middle schools access to funds, provides opportunities for dual enrollment in secondary and post-secondary programs, increases use of technology and emphasizes employment opportunities for disenfranchised students.

Four amendments were passed unanimously, including one to allow the use of state and local funds to include arts and design skills in CTE and one to ensure states receive 90 percent of the previous year’s funding. A detailed summary of the legislation can be found here.

House Appropriations Subcommittee Approves Labor-HHS-Education Spending Bill

On July 7, the Labor- HHS- Education subcommittee advanced a funding bill along party longs. The bill seeks to redirect about $1.3 billion Pell Grant surplus money, scales back funding on other education programs, and blocks a number of Obama administration policies, including the “gainful employment” rule targeting for-profit colleges, the overtime rule, and the fiduciary rule.

The legislation would increase the maximum Pell Grant available to students to $5,935 next year from the current $5,815, but has received harsh criticism from Democrats for taking away money from the $7.8 billion surplus as a cut to the program.

Unlike the companion Senate bill, the House legislation does not restore year-round Pell Grants. The subcommittee rejected an amendment along party lines introduced by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) that would have reinstated the benefit, which was eliminated in 2011. Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) said that while he opposed including year-round Pell in the bill, it was an idea that’s “on the table for discussion” with the Senate. The measure now heads to the full House Appropriations Committee where it is expected to be marked up next week.

House Democrats Urge More Computer Science Funding

 A group of 20 House Democrats are requesting $250 million in new funding for computer science education. Members of the New Democratic Coalition sent a July 1 letter to House appropriators urging them to fund new competitive grants to help school districts expand their computer science offerings, especially for underrepresented students. This request is more than double what President Obama proposed earlier this year as part of its “Computer Science for All” initiative.

Members of Congress Send Letter to Higher Education Organizations on Changes to FAFSA

On July 6, 26 members of Congress sent a letter to the heads of six major higher education organizations calling on them to ensure their member colleges respect recent changes that created an “early FAFSA.” The new regulations allow students to use two previous years’ tax data, which means FAFSA will be available three months sooner on October 1, instead of January 1, 2017. Lawmakers are concerned colleges and universities will move up their priority financial aid deadlines, effectively putting students most in need of additional time to consider financial options at a greater disadvantage.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Wednesday, July 13, the House Committee on Appropriations will markup the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations bill.
  • On Thursday, July 14, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a hearing titled, “ESSA Implementation: Perspectives from Stakeholders on Proposed Regulations.”

Regulatory Activity

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Final Rules

On June 30, the Departments of Labor and Education published final rules to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  The regulations seek to modernize the education and workforce system and represent a more integrated, job-driven approach to support communities and expand job growth.  Both Departments received input from stakeholders, including employers and other community leaders. The rules detail the goals of an alert and effective education and workforce and how partners can work to achieve those goals.

The final rules consist of a joint rule, issued by both agencies in collaboration with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development. The joint rule implements co-administered state planning, performance accountability, and one-step delivery system requirements.  There is also a Department of Labor rule implementing activities under Title I (Adult, Dislocated Worker, Youth, Job Corps, and National Programs) and Title III (amending the Wagner-Peyser Act); and three Department of Education rules implementing requirements of Title II (Adult Education and Family Literacy Act) and Title IV (amending the Rehabilitation Act of 1973).  The regulations and accompanying resources are available at the Labor Employment and Training Administration (ETA) WIOA site, the Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) WIOA site, and the Education Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) WIOA site.