House Considers COMPETES Act
Last week, House Democratic leadership introduced the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521) - legislation intended to increase the nation’s global competitiveness by making targeted investments in the nation’s technology, research, and manufacturing capacity among other efforts. Of interest to the K-12 community, the proposal would create several new competitive grant programs aimed at expanded student access to STEM and computer science courses. The legislation also includes the House’s proposal to reauthorize the National Apprenticeship Act (NAA) which, if enacted, would provide significant new resources for pre- and youth-apprenticeship programs typically aimed at high school students.
Throughout the week, lawmakers offered amendments to this legislation and debated various aspects of the proposal. Earlier today, the full House chamber passed this legislation by a margin of 222-210. The passage of H.R. 4521 will tee up conference negotiations between the House and the Senate, allowing lawmakers to reconcile the differences between this legislation and a narrower version passed by the Senate last year. A factsheet for the House bill can be found here and section-by-section summary can be accessed here.
USED Releases New ARP Guidance to Address Teacher and Staff Shortages
On Monday, January 31, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) released new guidance resources to state and local K-12 stakeholders aimed at helping school districts leverage federal pandemic aid to address critical teacher and staff shortages. Nearly every community in the country is facing shortages of qualified teachers and staff and these are felt even more acutely within harder-to-fill positions such as special education and paraprofessionals. The Department’s new guidance outlines ways schools, districts, and states can make use of federal pandemic aid funding—made available via the American Rescue Plan— to address these shortages. These new resources can be accessed here and here. In addition, this week the Department also launched a new peer-to-peer learning network, encouraging recipients of the ARP’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund to share innovative use cases and best practices for using these resources. The new tool can be found here.
OCTAE Hosts Equity in Career-Connected Education Summit
On Wednesday, February 1, the U.S. Department of Education’s (USED) Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) hosted a summit focused on efforts to advance equity within Career and Technical Education (CTE). The convening was part of the Department and OCTAE’s ongoing efforts to implement President Biden’s Executive Order 13985, which seeks to advance racial equity and provide support to underserved communities through federal efforts and initiatives. The event also coincided with the beginning of “CTE Month” which lasts throughout February. Secretary Cardona provided opening remarks as part of the summit saying, in part, that access to “high-quality CTE is life-changing” for students. More on the event can be found here.
USDA Adopts Final Rules for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) adopted a Final Rule that imposes slightly stricter limits on sodium, requires more whole grain-rich items to be served as part of school meal programs and allows schools to continue serving 1 percent flavored milk. This new regulation reverses a less rigorous set of school lunch requirements adopted by the previous administration. The rule is set to go into effect July 1, 2022.
USED published notice on a discretionary grant program for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services:
Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities – Preparation of Special Education, Early Intervention, and Related Services Leadership Personnel – This grant program focuses on personnel development and preparation in special education, early intervention, and regular education to work with children with disabilities, including infants and toddlers. The priority for this discretionary grant – Preparation of Special Education, Early Intervention, and Related Services Leadership Personnel – focuses on existing doctoral degree programs that specialize in personnel in special education, early intervention and related services to act in leadership positions. These positions may include researchers, personnel preparers in IHEs, or as leaders of SEAs, lead agencies, LEAs, early intervention services programs, or schools. The Administration requested $250,000,000 for the Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities program for fiscal year 2022 - $6,250,000 will be used for this program specifically. The deadline for applications for this grant program is April 1, 2022, and further information is available here.
- H.R.6565 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To establish an alternative use of certain Federal education funds when in-person instruction is not available. Sponsor: Rep. Jacobs, Chris [R-NY-27]
- H.R.6564 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To require educational agencies and institutions to provide in-person instruction to students as a condition of receiving Federal education funds, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Green, Mark E. [R-TN-7]
- H.R.6544 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) EARN IT Act of 2022 Sponsor: Rep. Garcia, Sylvia R. [D-TX-29]
- H.R.6532 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act Sponsor: Rep. DeSaulnier, Mark [D-CA-11]
- H.R.6526 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Healthy Meal Time Act of 2022 Sponsor: Rep. Schrier, Kim [D-WA-8]
- S.3554 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) A bill to establish an alternative use of certain Federal education funds when in-person instruction is not available. Sponsor: Sen. Scott, Tim [R-SC]
- S.3544 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) A bill to authorize funding for section 619 and part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Sponsor: Sen. Hassan, Margaret Wood [D-NH]
- Courtesy of NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of February 4, 2022