Washington Update, July 28, 2023

Dear Colleagues:

By the time this update makes it to your inbox, Congress will be on their way out of DC for  August recess. The Senate leaves town having approved all 12 of their FY2024 appropriations bills on a bipartisan basis. The House Committee has approved 10 bills with only Republican support, and has not yet considered its Labor-HHS-Education or Commerce-Justice-Science bills. When Congress returns in September, the House will only be in session for three weeks, while the Senate will be in session for four weeks before the end of the fiscal year. This will be a critical time for advocacy efforts as many suspect we may be heading towards either an October 1st  government shut down or a full year continuing resolution.

1. Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY2024 Labor-HHS-Education Spending Bill

On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee released and approved its FY2024 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill by a 26-2 bipartisan vote. The bill includes a small, $147 million increase for the Department of Education and a nearly $1 billion increase for early childhood programs within the Department of Health and Human Services. Compared to the House bill, the Senate bill does not eliminate any programs and provides an over $100 million increase to 5 programs within the Department including:

  • Title I state grants – up $175 million (1.0%), to $18.6 billion
  • IDEA Part B state grants – up $175 million (1.2%), to $14.4 billion
  • Student aid administration – up $150 million (7.4%), to $2.2 billion
  • In HHS, Child Care and Development Block Grants – up $700 million (9%), to $8.7 billion
  • In HHS, Head Start – up $275 million (2.3%), to $12.3 billion

Additional programs with increases ranging from $10 million to $40 million include:

  • Career Technical education state grants – up $40 million (2.8%), to $1.5 billion
  • Title IV-A – up $20 million (1.4%), to $1.4 billion
  • IDEA grants for infants – up $20 million (3.7%), to $560 million
  • IDEA personnel preparation up $20 million (17.0%), to $135 million
  • Teacher Quality Partnerships up $13 million (18.6%), to $83 million.
  • Impact Aid – up $10 million (0.6%), to $1.6 billion
  • Maximum Pell Grant – the bill provides the same amount of new funding for Pell grants as in FY 2023 but increases the maximum award by $250 to a total of $7,645. The bill also rescinds $200 million of previously appropriated Pell Grant funding, but the combination of new funding plus funding in the program’s ongoing reserve/surplus can easily cover increased costs.

Key Programs Related to Educator Preparation:

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies praised the bill and the efforts of the committee saying in part,  “Our bipartisan legislation improves the lives of working families, and I am proud to have delivered for the American people.”

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee echoed her colleagues sentiment saying:
“At root, this bill is about making sure kids and families across the country have the support they need to be able to thrive—and that’s why I am so glad that despite the challenging circumstances, we were able to sustain and build on absolutely critical investments in everything from health care and education to supporting workers and retirees…This bill will help more families get the child care they need with another much-needed boost in child care funding, will make Pell Grants go farther for students, and will strengthen our investments in K-12 schools across the country…”

The Senate Appropriations Committee has now approved all twelve of its FY 2024 bills on a bipartisan basis; the House Committee has approved 10 bills with only Republican support, and has not yet considered its Labor-HHS-Education or Commerce-Justice-Science bills.

You can watch the markup of the Labor HHS Education bill here;
Read the complete bill text here;
Access to complete committee report here;
Read the Democratic press release here;
Read the GOP press release here

2. U.S. Departments of Education and Labor Announced a Series of new Efforts to Expand Registered Apprenticeships

On Thursday, the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor announced a series of new efforts to expand Registered Apprenticeships for educators and invest in teacher preparation programs. As outlined in a press release from the Department of Education, these efforts advance a key focus area of the Department of Education’s Raise the Bar: Lead the World initiative to boldly improve learning conditions by eliminating educator shortages and build on a joint letter sent by the Secretaries of Education and Labor last summer, which called on state education and workforce leaders to take action to address educator shortages. Thursday’s announcement includes:

  • New National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards (NGS) for Registered Apprenticeships for K-12 teachers developed by The Pathways Alliance;
  • More than $27 million from the Department of Education to support educator preparation programs;
  • More than $65 million from the Department of Labor to develop and scale Registered Apprenticeship programs in critical sectors across 45 states—with 35 targeting education;
  • The Department of Labor is announcing a new industry intermediary to launch, promote and expand Registered Apprenticeship programs for K-12 educators; and
  • A policy brief authored by the Department of Education that highlights how states are taking strategic steps outlined by the Biden-Harris Administration to support the effective recruitment, preparation, and retention of teachers.

In a statement, Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona said in part:
“Teacher apprenticeships are a key strategy in our plan to Raise the Bar in education and improve learning conditions in our schools by ending the educator shortage and providing all students with great teachers who are prepared to succeed in the classroom from day one… Providing opportunities for future teachers to earn while they learn has created an affordable and exciting pathway into the teaching profession that can help states build a talented and diverse pipeline of educators at a moment when doing so has never mattered more. I’m thrilled that in just one year, the Biden-Harris Administration has helped grow the number of states with Registered Apprenticeship programs for teachers from two to 21, and look forward to these new guidelines helping get all 50 states get onboard.” 

Erin Mote from The Pathways Alliance highlighted the importance of the guidelines for apprenticeship standards saying:  “More than just guidelines, these standards represent our collective commitment to nurturing a preparation pipeline that supports broad access to high-quality preparation and champions diversity and inclusivity for educators.”

The Department of Education also announced new awards totaling more than $27 million to support these efforts, including:

  • $14.5 million in Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grants. These awards are intended to improve the quality of prospective and new teachers by improving educator preparation programs and supports for new teachers.
  • $12.7 million in Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) funds to support the implementation of evidence-based practices that prepare, develop, or enhance the skills of educators. These grants also will enable recipients to develop, expand, and evaluate practices that can serve as models to be sustained, replicated, and scaled and include career advancement opportunities for current teachers.

The Department of Labor for its part announced the award of over $65 million in formula and competitive grants to 45 states and territories to develop and scale registered apprenticeship programs in education and other critical sectors.

3. In the States: Florida Approves New Standards for Teaching African American History

Last week, education officials in Florida approved new standards for teaching African American history. The standards are being considered by many as an effort to  “purposefully omit or rewrite key historical facts about the Black experience.” Embedded within the standards is instruction on “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit” and lessons that touch on acts of violence perpetrated “against and by” African Americans. Additionally, Black history lessons for younger students require students to only recognize Black investors an artists. A Florida teacher who expressed concerns surrounding students only having to recognize such individuals saying, “As a teacher, we focus on the verb in the standards, and these are the lowest level of cognitive rigor.”

The Florida Education Associated submitted a letter in opposition of the standards to the Florida Board of Education, saying in part:
“Today – in the year 2023, we stand as a diverse coalition demanding you adhere to the law and adopt standards that require the instruction of history, culture, experiences, and contributions of African Americans in the state’s K-12 curriculum as directed in FS 1003.42. We owe the next generation of scholars the opportunity to know the full unvarnished history of this state and country and all who contributed to it- good and bad.”

The new standards are backed unanimously by the state Board of Education and encompass the “anti-woke” policies touted by Republican Governor and 2024 Presidential Candidate, Ron DeSantis.

4. New Resources for Educators

  • Learning Policy Institute is out with a new tool which offers a state by state analysis of factors influencing teaching shortages, supply, demand, and equity.
  • OSEP released updated supervision policy guidance, which takes immediate effect, to ensure and strengthen the rights and protections guaranteed to children with disabilities and their families under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Congress and Washington Update will be on recess throughout August, returning to your inbox September 8th.

Wishing you all a restful August before the start of the fall semester. On a personal note, I want to thank each of you for reading, sharing, and your ongoing advocacy efforts throughout the year. The work does not happen without each of you and I am especially grateful for your ongoing support.

Until…September….see you on Twitter!

If you need anything in the interim, have an interesting story related to the educator shortage, want to grab a virtual coffee, please never hesitate to email me at kbrennan@kbstrategies.org