Feds, States Grappling with Career and Tech Ed

DC Shuttle …

Congress Advancing Perkins CTE Reauthorization. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee marked up a bill to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. A bipartisan agreement has been reached to update the law. The legislation directs how the federal government spends about $1 billion each year on career and technical education (CTE) programs. If passed by the Senate, this would be the law’s first significant overhaul in more than a decade. The House passed a bipartisan bill (H.R. 2353) last summer. In the Senate, HELP Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has pushed to limit the education secretary’s authority under the law. The bill gives states broad authority to develop their own plans for improvement, but if states don’t meet their goals at a certain level, then the education secretary can hold them accountable. White House adviser Ivanka Trump has met with Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill in recent months to urge Congress to act on a career education bill, and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has encouraged lawmakers to take up the issue. The Senate bill, like the version that passed the House, would eliminate a negotiation process between states and the education secretary around goals for CTE. Under the legislation, states would have to build their plans around specific “core indicators,” such as high school graduation rates and the percentage of CTE students who enroll in postsecondary programs. States would also have to track performance of students by subgroups. The Senate bill would give states two years to meet their goals or face a possible loss of federal funding. Under current law, they have three years. The House version scrapped that requirement altogether. On a related note, the Senate HELP Committee voted Tuesday to approve the nomination of Scott Stump to be assistant secretary of education for career, technical and adult education.

Senate Committee Holds Education Appropriations Markup. The Senate Appropriations subcommittee held a markup of its $179.3 billion version of the education spending bill (S.1771). On Thursday, the full Senate Appropriations Committee then marked up and approved the legislation. The Senate Subcommittee released initial details of its fiscal 2019 spending bill. The bill would represent a $2.2 billion increase over fiscal 2018 enacted levels, according to a summary. The bill would provide $71.4 billion for the Education Department, a $541 million increase over 2018. The subcommittee panel approved the bill without objection. Despite uncertainty due to the House Appropriations Committee, the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee leaders expressed optimism about getting the bill to the full Senate floor. “This is not a particularly easy bill for us to do,” said subcommittee Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO). He said the Committee would package the bill with appropriations for the Defense Department to ensure passage.

House Committee Postpones Education Appropriations Markup, Again. The House Appropriations Committee planned to mark up its version of a $177.1 billion Labor-HHS-Education spending measure on Tuesday. However, the Committee postponed the markup for the second time in as many weeks. Republicans believed that Democrats would use the hearing to discuss separating children for their parents at the border. The Committee did release a report to accompany the bill, which summarized the proposed changes. The House’s overall would provide around $2 billion less for the overall bill compared to the Senate bill. The House bill would provide a slight increase of $43 million for the Department of Education. The House’s Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee approved the bill two weeks ago over objections from Democrats, who were waiting for the full committee markup to offer dozens of amendments. The markup was originally scheduled for two weeks ago, but then was postponed to Tuesday. Last Monday, it was postponed again until after the July 4 recess.

House Holds Hearing on Government Reorganization Plan. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the Trump administration reorganization plan that would create a new agency called the Department of Education and the Workforce. Senate HELP Chair Alexander has said he’ll review the idea. At the hearing, House Education Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) praised the proposal. The plan would need to be approved by Congress.

Meeting of the Federal Commission on School Safety. Education Secretary DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a listening session in Lexington, Ky., for the Federal Commission on School Safety. Sessions also visited Reno, Nev., to address the National Association of School Resource Officers School Safety Conference. Representatives of the commission heard from state and local government agencies as well as the public. Separately, Mick Zais, deputy secretary of education, addressed school safety before the Security Industry Association’s GovSummit, and again before the Education Commission of the States’ national forum.

Senate Confirms Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. The Senate confirmed Frank Brogan as assistant secretary of education for elementary and secondary education by a voice vote. Brogan was formerly chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and led Florida’s state higher education system. He also served as lieutenant governor of Florida under Gov. Jeb Bush. DeVos said in a statement that she was “delighted” Brogan was confirmed. “Frank has spent much of his career tirelessly working on behalf of America’s students,” she said. “As a former public school teacher and administrator, I know he will be vital to our work here at the department.” Brogan has been working at the department since last fall as a principal deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. He has also been serving as the acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education since earlier this year.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of July 2, 2018. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.


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