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CTE Developments You May Have Missed This Summer

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August 30, 2012

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CTE Developments You May Have Missed This Summer

The dog days of summer are waning, and many of you are already back in the classroom for the start of the year. As CTE stakeholders, you know that summer is not really a break for the educator, and we know that most of you haven’t had the time to keep up with the goings-on of Congress. So, we wanted to take this opportunity to remind you of a few important events from this summer that will affect your classroom.

First, there have been several developments from the Administration. The Department of Education this summer introduced a new version of the Race to the Top (RTTT) program, this time for districts. Some states previously declined to participate in the Race to the Top state program, so the department decided to bypass states this time. Now, individual school districts, or consortia of districts, may apply for an RTTT grant to improve personalized learning plans for students.

The department also approved 32 waivers releasing some states from key provisions in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. States seeking approval had to submit their own plans for attaining college- and career-readiness goals to be approved for release from some accountability measures, such as adequate yearly progress benchmarks.

Starting off the summer in Congress, the House Education and Workforce Committee held a markup to make amendments to and reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The bill squeaked through committee on party lines, and now sits idle while larger issues make their way to the front of the legislative pack.

Those larger issues this summer tended to be more on the gargantuan side, and dealt with the federal budget and appropriations process. The House and Senate remained divided on developing a federal budget, which eventually led both sides to give up and move to the appropriations process without determining how much money the federal government actually has to spend.

The process of funding individual programs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, known as appropriations, immediately hit the rocks when the Senate determined they had $158 billion to appropriate to labor, health and human services, and education programs overall, while the House allocated $8 billion less for the same programs. Despite the difference, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees recommended level funding for Perkins in FY 2013. Though the appropriations process is far from over, Congress is expected to vote on a Continuing Resolution (CR) in September that will keep federal funding on autopilot until March and postpone all final decisions on FY 2013 funding until then.

That leads to the other big budget issue of the year, sequestration. Originating from the 2011 Budget Control Act that required Congress to trim $1.2 trillion from the budget over the next 10 years by any means they can agree on, cuts or revenue, or face mandatory across-the-board cuts (sequestration) to most federal programs. Without congressional action to stop it, sequestration will go into effect in January 2013, cutting approximately 8.4% from domestic programs, including Perkins, ESEA and WIA.

In order to attempt to avoid these drastic cuts, we have joined a large coalition of organizations representing healthcare, education, transportation, law enforcement and other non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs. This coalition has fought to bring education to the forefront of the discussion over sequestration, but we can’t do it alone. It’s imperative that throughout these first months of school, and past the election, you continue to keep the pressure on your elected officials.

Continue your efforts of calling and writing your Representative and Senators to remind them that CTE matters, and we at ACTE will continue to visit with them and their staff on Capitol Hill.

Stay tuned for the latest information as these policy issues unfold, and have a great school year!

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