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Federal Flash: Democrats and Republicans Work Together to Advance Important Education Bill

After a stalemate that lasted for nearly two years, Republicans and Democrats on the Senate education committee finally came together to unanimously pass important education legislation with benefits for all students.

Also featured in this week’s Flash are just-released details on proposed education funding numbers for Title I and other selected education programs for fiscal year 2019, and news on immigration and the Supreme Court ruling with major consequences for teacher unions.

Career and Technical Education Bill One Step Closer to Finish Line

After a stalemate that lasted for nearly two years, Republicans and Democrats on the Senate education committee came together to unanimously pass a renewal of the federal law supporting career and technical education. The Perkins reauthorization is long overdue – the last time Congress addressed Perkins was in 2006. The Senate’s bill makes some important updates to the law, including a stronger emphasis on work-based learning and dual enrollment.

Republicans like that the bill limits the authority of the Education Secretary. For example, states would no longer have to negotiate their annual performance targets with the U.S. Department of Education. Democrats like the accountability provisions within the law, including a requirement for the performance of historically underserved students to be included within the performance targets.

The Trump Administration also likes the bill…so much so that Ivanka Trump attended the Committee’s vote on the bill. But there really wasn’t much for her to see, everything had been worked out behind the scenes.

There were no votes on amendments or contentious debates. Several senators spoke to express their support for the bill, including Senators Tim Kaine of Virginia, Todd Young of Indiana, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. They co-chair the Senate’s CTE Caucus and noted the inclusion of language from legislation they have championed, including the CTE Excellence and Equity Act that is strongly endorsed by All4Ed.


New Leadership at the Department of Education

In addition to passing the reauthorization, the committee also approved the nomination of Scott Stump to serve as Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the Department of Education. Now, the Perkins bill and the person who will lead its implementation at the Department are both heading to the full Senate for a vote. The full House passed its proposal last year, so there is a good chance the president could sign a final bill by the end of the year.


Big News on Education Funding

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, the Senate subcommittee that funds the Department of Education unveiled its proposed funding levels for fiscal year 2019 which starts on October 1 with bipartisan support. You may recall that the House released its bill, but it was definitely not bipartisan.

The Senate proposes to increase Title I funds by $100 million, which would bring the total for Title I to $15.9 billion. The House included no increase. The Senate proposes an increase of $125 million for Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, for a total of $1.25 billion. This is the flexible program for districts that can be used to increase access to rigorous coursework, wraparound services, and digital learning. The House proposed a smaller increase of $100 million.

For career and technical education, the Senate would keep last year’s funding level, but the House would increase funding by $102 million for a total of $1.29 billion. The Senate also provides $160 million for apprenticeships, a $15 million increase. The House provides an increase of $5 million.

As for next steps – in the House, the full committee still needs to vote on the bill. That vote has been delayed twice and will likely take place after the July 4th recess. In both the House and the Senate, these bills will likely be combined with other funding bills and then passed together. Congress is trying to complete the task of funding the federal government as close as possible to September 30, which is the end of the 2018 federal fiscal year.


Immigration Update and Supreme Court Ruling

Finally, as you’ve likely heard on the news, the House failed to pass the second immigration bill by 100 votes, making the path forward for DACA and DREAMERS quite unclear. Also, the Supreme Court issued its ruling on Janus v AFSCME, deciding that workers will not be required to pay “fair-share” fees used by public sector unions – including the two major teacher unions – in support of collective bargaining.

This blog post represents a slightly edited transcript of the June 29 episode of Federal Flash, the Alliance for Excellent Education’s five-minute (or less!) video series on important developments in education policy in Washington, DC. The video version is embedded below. For an alert when the next episode of Federal Flash is available, email at