Hill Visits with Congresswoman Clark's + Senator Warren's Legislative Staff

At the end of NASBE's Legislative Policy Conference, Student Representative Nathan Moore and I visited with legislative staff in Congresswoman Katherine Clark's and Senator Elizabeth Warren's DC offices. We shared concerns about the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (CTE), E-rate + Lifeline Programs, and FY17 and FY18 Budgets.

Perkins CTE Recent studies have shown that CTE dual enrollment programming may be a particularly effective high school and college completion strategy. The House reauthorized CTE last year, following on a bill introduced by Congresswoman Katherine Clark and Congressman Glenn Thompson.
  • There's broad, bi-partisan support for career and technical education and House and Senate education committees are working again this year to update the law.
  • Although it's not expected Congress will change the law significantly, the reauthorization process offers an opportunity to address key State Board recommendations for improving the quality of CTE programs and expanding opportunities for students to access them.
  • This work naturally connects to ESSA's requirement that States align their core academic and CTE standards. Congress should commit to ensuring that more students, particularly students in low-income communities, have access to high quality CTE opportunities aligned to higher education, business, and industry needs.
E-rate + Lifeline Programs Lawmakers should strongly support the E-rate + Lifeline Programs, which are critical tools for connecting students to broadband services.
  • Last year, the FCC updated the 30-year-old Lifeline program to permit low-income families to use the subsidy for broadband services. (Lifeline was established by the FCC in 1985 to help poor households gain access to "plain old telephone service"). Recognizing the increasingly vital importance of broadband access to daily life, including addressing the "homework gap", the FCC hopes the 2016 program update will help more families acquire home broadband services at meaningful connection speeds.
  • Among other changes, the new Lifeline will provide support for stand-alone mobile or fixed broadband Internet access service, require WiFi functionality, and ensures minimum connection speeds.
  • Although greater funding will ultimately be needed to ensure all low-income families have access to broadband, the FCC's action is a strong step in the right direction. The FCC's decision complements the agency's work to update the E-rate program in 2015. The FCC's E-rate update was long overdue and provided critically needed new support to expand WiFi in schools and grow the program to better meet the broadband required to meet students' and teachers' needs.
Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 Appropriations Priorities Congress should fully fund the Every Student Succeeds Act's (ESSA's) programs, with a focus on the law's major formula programs and other initiatives designed to promote educational equity. The president's proposed budget eliminates ~ $9.2 billion from the Department of Education's (ED's) budget.
  • Congress is working to complete ED's Fiscal Year 2017 budget by April 28 (the date when the current temporary funding bill expires), while also beginning the Fiscal Year 2018 spending process. This unusual procedural overlap, coupled with proposed deep spending cuts, means that State Board Members and other leaders must be strong advocates for federal education investments.
  • The strict federal spending caps by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (sequestration) remain in effect and Congress will soon make difficult decisions about how to allocate limited federal resources. The president asked Congress to increase defense spending by over $50 billion. Under his proposed budget, non-defense programs would be reduced to pay for this defense increase, including significant cuts to ESSA's Title II (professional development for teachers and school leaders), career and technical education, and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program (after school and extended learning time programs).
  • Congress may not approve the president's proposals and education champions will work hard to help Members of Congress understand the critical role that federal funding plays in supporting schools, especially the significant additional funding provided to States and districts for serving low-income, disabled, and English learner students.
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Select Resources:
Career/Vocational Technical Education on DESE's website, includes frameworks and other interesting info about C/VTE

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education released its report on The Degree Gap June 8, 2016

NASBE maintains an online State Policy Database of College, Career, & Civic Readiness Regulations Governing Education Systems in the US

From the Office of Management and Budget: President's FY18 Proposed Budget (see pp. 17-18 for ED)