NSTA Legislative Update: CTE Bill Signed & Making STEM a Priority in FY2020

President Trump Signs Career and Technical Education Bill

Congress finally passed, and President Trump signed into law, a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act on Tuesday, July 31.

The bipartisan bill, which has not been reauthorized since 2006, will provide $1 billion to states for secondary and post-secondary skill training.  It has the support of governors, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and most education groups and was heavily championed by the Administration, notably the president’s senior adviser Ivanka Trump, who has made workforce issues a priority.  

During the signing of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act President Trump said, “we will continue to prepare students for today’s constantly shifting job market, and we will help employers find the workers they need to compete.”

The new law will apply to the 2019-2020 academic year. It allows states to set their own career and technical education goals and it eliminates an existing negotiation process between states and the Education secretary, who still approves the state plans.

The goals would be built around specific “core indicators” outlined in the bill, such as high school graduation rates and the percentage of CTE students who enroll in post-secondary programs. Schools would also be required to make “meaningful progress toward improving the performance of all career and technical education students.”

Although no specific provisions are related to STEM education, the bill does call out STEM subjects, including computer science, and better connects career and technical education (CTE) to local workforce needs.  

Trump Picks Meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier to Lead White House Science Office

President Trump has selected well-known meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier to head up the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, a decision that was widely praised by members of the scientific community. According to the American Institute of Physics, Droegemeier—who has spent his career at the University of Oklahoma (OU) and is the university’s vice president for research—“has contributed extensively to science policy at the national, state, and professional levels.” Read more about the selection here.

White House Requests Federal Agencies to Prioritize STEM Education in FY2020 Budgets

In a memo on the Administration’s Research and Development Budget Priorities, the White House requested that federal agencies prioritize STEM education and workforce development as they develop their fiscal 2020 budgets.

“Federal R&D dollars focused primarily on basic and early-stage applied research, paired with targeted deregulation, and investment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce development, will strengthen the Nation’s innovation base and position the United States for unparalleled job growth, continued prosperity, and national security,” says the memo signed by Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Michael Kratsios, deputy assistant in the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“Agencies should prioritize initiatives that reskill Americans for the jobs of today and the future,” the memo also says. “Education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), including computer science, will be foundational to preparing America’s future workforce, and should be integrated into instruction through application to real world challenges. Agencies should work to ensure the STEM workforce includes all Americans, including those from urban and rural areas as well as underrepresented groups.”

Administration Puts Spotlight on Workforce Training

Also last week President Trump signed an executive order “to prioritize and expand workforce development” by creating a senior-level National Council for the American Worker panel that will “develop a national strategy for training and retraining workers for high-demand industries.”

An advisory board comprising leaders from the private sector, educational institutions, philanthropic organizations and state governments will also work with the administration “to implement results-driven job-training programs in classrooms and workplaces across the country.”

The report notes that “workers and educational institutions are separated from employers by an information gap that makes it difficult to prepare the workforce with the skills employers seek. The information gap is exacerbated by a dearth of data and weak comparability of skill requirements. Coordination among these parties will be crucial for addressing America’s reskilling challenge.”


White House Presidential Advisor Ivanka Trump outlined the report in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Read the full report here.

Trump Administration to Overhaul Federal Rules on Accreditation

The U.S. Department of Education has published a notice in the Federal Register that it intends to convene a negotiated rulemaking committee in January to develop proposed regulations that would revise current federal rules set in place during the Obama Administration related to the Secretary’s recognition of accrediting agencies and non-traditional education providers .

The proposed topics for negotiation would include:

  • Requirements for accrediting agencies in their oversight of member institutions;
  • Requirements for accrediting agencies to honor institutional mission;
  • Criteria used by the Secretary to recognize accrediting agencies, emphasizing criteria that focus on educational quality;
  • Developing a single definition for purposes of measuring and reporting job placement rates; and
  • Simplifying the Department’s process for recognition and review of accrediting agencies.

Three public hearings will be scheduled to discuss the rulemaking agenda: September 6, 2018, at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC; September 11, 2018 in New Orleans; and September 13, 2018, at Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant, WI. Read the Federal Register notice here.

ICYMI – NSTA Executive Director to Co-Chair National STEM Education Advisory Panel

NSTA Executive Director Dr. David Evans has been appointed by the National Science Foundation to serve as the vice chair for the National STEM Education Advisory. The panel was created to encourage U.S. scientific and technological innovations in education, and to advise a group of federal organizations called the Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education (CoSTEM) on matters related to STEM education. They will also help to update CoSTEM’s 2013-2018 Federal STEM Education 5-Year Strategic Plan.

In addition to David, two classroom teachers and NSTA/NCTM STEM Teacher Ambassadors—K. Renae Pullen and Bruce Wellman— have also been named to the panel and NSTA Past President Arthur Eisenkraft has also agreed to serve.  Read more here and here.

Stay tuned, and watch for more updates in future issues of NSTA Express.

Jodi Peterson is the Assistant Executive Director of Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. Reach her via e-mail at jpeterson@nsta.org or via Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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1 Response to NSTA Legislative Update: CTE Bill Signed & Making STEM a Priority in FY2020

  1. Etzel Brower says:

    This is the first piece of legislation that may truely benefit the U.S. Economy. I hope the funding slates are consistent to maintain what the American Industry needs to compete globally. This event is a salute to the working public, thank you President Trump for signing this bill into law.

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