Negotiations Continue for FY2019 Education Appropriations
The House and Senate returned to Washington this week, as senior Appropriations Committee members are building support for the Fiscal Year 2019 funding bill (H.R. 6470 /S. 3158) that the Senate recently passed. This appropriations bill for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Defense includes $2 billion in higher budget allocations that House leaders agreed to this week. It would provide more than a $375 million increase for Title I programs, special education, and Title IV programs for student support and academic enrichment. Also, the appropriations bill reported by the House Appropriations Committee would increase funding for Perkins Career and Technical Education grants by $115 million.
As appropriators negotiate a final bill, they have also responded to questions about federal funds being used to procure firearms for school safety. While Senate leaders agreed to exclude authorizing language in their respective FY2019 funding bills, House appropriators have discussed a number of authorizing provisions (also known as “policy riders”), such as language clarifying that no federal funds can be used to purchase firearms. However, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, has stated that, "We think federal law already prohibits the use of federal funds for that [use of ESSA funds to purchase firearms for school safety operations]. If states and localities want to do it, they can do it with their own money.”
Less than 10 days remain on the House legislative calendar this month before the start of the new federal fiscal year on October 1. Therefore, Congress may pass a short-term continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown until a final agreement is reached. NSBA supports the Senate-passed appropriations bill, along with the increases approved in July by House appropriators for Perkins CTE and the Impact Aid program that benefits school districts with non-taxable federal properties within their boundaries. We will provide updates as negotiations continue and are optimistic that the measure may be completed next week.
House Education Committee Members Examine Apprenticeships Programs
Earlier this week, the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development convened a hearing to examine ways Congress can support workforce development and skills acquisition. Subcommittee Chairman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) said, “by strengthening on-the-job technical education and apprenticeship programs, we can streamline the connection between education and the workforce and encourage more Americans to pursue in-demand jobs, improving their own earning potential and the national workforce as a whole.”
The hearing included testimony from workforce development executives, a regional training officer, and a corporate leader. The dialogue was informed by questions submitted by our state associations regarding school district-industry partnerships for work-based learning opportunities, as well as initiatives to acclimate students in earlier middle grades to career and technical education.
The witnesses emphasized the challenges associated with finding skilled laborers for in-demand jobs and noted that many of the positions they are trying to fill are linked to high wages and provide long-term job security. They encouraged the Subcommittee to recognize the value of academic paths that do not include a four-year degree and urged members to streamline the process for identifying registered apprenticeship programs. During the hearing, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) highlighted dual and concurrent enrollment programs in Colorado, which have helped first generation college students. Rep. Susan Bonamici (D-OR) asked the witnesses about the value of wrap around services for underserved and underrepresented groups to which witnesses replied that they are critical for student success. Several Subcommittee members asked witnesses about the apprenticeship process; and, witnesses discussed that it could take up to two years to bring a student into a registered apprenticeship program, depending on their knowledge and skill. Committee members and witnesses agreed that much of the innovation and necessary supports for success are at the local level, but that federal and state investments are still needed.
Chairman Guthrie and Subcommittee Ranking Susan Davis (D-CA) established the House Apprenticeship Caucus earlier this year and partnered to introduce the APPRENTICE Act (H.R.6425) to establish a new competitive federal apprentice grant program.
House Members Introduce Companion to Senate “Homework Gap” Bill
Earlier this summer, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced legislation (S.2958) that would make Wi-Fi access on school buses an eligible use of E-Rate funding. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) recently introduced a companion “homework gap” bill (H.R. 6296) in the House. The measures are pending before the Senate and House commerce committees.
Sec. DeVos Travels to South America for G20 Education Ministers' Meeting
This week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos led the U.S. delegation for a G20 education ministers meeting in Argentina and conducted site visits and meetings with Chilean education officials. The G20 meeting focused on how G-20 countries can work together to equip students with the skills required for jobs of the future. The summit included an emphasis on identifying strategies for equipping students with STEM expertise as well as critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills. In her prepared remarks that were released by the Department of Education on Wednesday, Secretary DeVos said “[w]e…must constantly look for new opportunities and embrace new approaches in education. Ultimately, students demand that we fundamentally rethink education, and the 21st century global economy requires that we do so.”
FCC Seeks E-Rate Administrator Board Nominees
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Wireline Bureau published a notice in the Federal Register this week seeking nominees to serve on the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) board. USAC oversees the E-Rate program, including reviewing thousands of program applications each year. The FCC is specifically seeking a nominee to fill a board position allocated to the education community. The position is currently held by Dr. Miguel Hernandez, State Superintendent, Office of Coordinated Service and Support, Monticello, AR. Dr. Hernandez does not plan to continue serving in the position. NSBA is working with the Education and Libraries Networks Coalition to identify a consensus nominee and welcomes suggestions for this important position. Nominations must be submitted to the FCC no later than October 8.
Courtesy NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of September 7, 2018