NAAE Executive Director
Child Labor Laws—Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
The United States Department of Labor (DoL) is proposing revisions to the child labor regulations issued under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The 211-page proposed rulemaking is available here. A side-by-side comparison of the current regulations and the proposed regulations, prepared by DoL, is available here.
The National Council for Agricultural Education has assembled a group of agricultural education state and national leaders to review the proposed revisions and determine the potential effects on school-based agricultural education programs (specifically potential supervised agricultural education (SAE) impacts). This group has written comments and concerns with the proposed new regulations and a summary of those comments is being prepared.
Fortunately, the comment period on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) addressing child labor in agriculture has been extended to December 1, 2011. This extension will allow us to spend considerable time on this issue at the upcoming NAAE/ACTE convention in St. Louis, November 15-19. At the convention, we will have specific suggestions for individuals and organizations to provide comments to the Department of Labor on this important matter. A representative from each state needs to be prepared to take information provided at the convention back to his/her respective state and gets dozens, if not hundreds, of comments sent in to the Department of Labor.
For those who will not attend the NAAE/ACTE convention, we will post related information to the ag ed listservs and the Advocacy community on NAAE’s Communities of Practice as soon as possible.
It is also critical that our ag ed state teams collaborate and coordinate with their respective state Farm Bureau Federations on this. The American Farm Bureau and many state Farm Bureaus are very involved in these negotiations. So, for those of you who have state ag ed leadership responsibilities—state ag ed association officers, state advocacy leaders, state staff, teacher educators, state FFA alumni leaders, state FFA foundation staff, ag industry leaders, and so forth (your state team ag ed)—please reach out to your state Farm Bureau contact persons and begin to coordinate messaging regarding the NPRM from your state. I suggest you make these contacts immediately (prior to the NAAE/ACTE convention) and develop a communications plan for your state.
It will be very important for our profession to provide hundreds of comments regarding this NPRM. The quantity and quality of comments will make a substantial impact on the decision makers at the U.S. Department of Labor. Thanks, in advance, for making the commitment to participate in this advocacy initiative.
Please direct your questions and/or comments to Jay Jackman at NAAE or Kent Schescke at National FFA.
NAAE members meet with U.S. Education Assistant Secretary, Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, during 2011 National FFA Convention.
L to r: Parker Bane, IL; Craig McEnany, IA; Paul Larson, WI; Sally Shomo, VA; James Cannon, AR; Dr. Dann-Messier, U.S. Dept. of Education; Carl Aakre, MN; Farrah Johnson, FL; Terry Hughes, NY; Ray Nash, MS; and Linda Hall, U.S. Dept. of Education.
The U.S. Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education and the CTE community have begun discussions on the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. At the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium’s (NASDCTEc) fall meeting in Baltimore, U.S. Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education, Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, presented to the state CTE directors questions around four themes to help shape the reauthorization discussions:
- Could the law create an innovation fund, similar to i3, to identify, develop, test, and scale up new practices and delivery systems?
- What should be the priorities for an innovation fund, perhaps technology-based approaches or STEM-focused strategies?
- Are there any other models we ought to consider—such as grants to consortia? Could business and industry and non-for-profit organizations play a key role in any new consortia that are formed?
- Should States be given the flexibility to award funds to locals competitively?
- How shall we reach agreement with states on a common set of student definitions and measurement approaches for fewer, clearer performance indicators?
- Could performance-based funding models—such as those tried out in Montana—play a more central role in a reauthorized bill?
- Should states and local programs be required to offer dual or concurrent enrollment in every federally funded program?
- Should state and local programs be required to award academic credit for CTE courses—such as is offered in New York State?
- How can articulation agreements be more transformed from “just a paper exercise” to a true lever for secondary, postsecondary, and employer collaboration?
- How can we address the pedagogical needs of CTE teachers to effectively and systematically teach academic skills and to use cutting edge technologies?
- How can we assure that states, local programs have the most up-to-date college and career information based on local/regional labor market data and trends so students can make informed decisions about college and careers?
- How can we make parents true partners in the career development and preparation of their children?
ACTE is also working on a process of collecting information related to the next reauthorization of Perkins. Responses to these questions will be used by the ACTE Perkins Task Force to develop more in-depth focus group and survey instruments.
- The federal investment in CTE is limited. What are your top three priorities for the use of Perkins funds? Please rank your choices from one to three with your top choice being “#1.”
- If you could use federal policy to incentivize one change to improve CTE programs, what would it be?
- Considering that Perkins funding is only a small percentage of the average CTE program’s budget, what would be the impact on your ability to prepare students for 21st century careers if it was eliminated?
- What should be the main priorities of a new Perkins law?
- What has been the effect of Programs of Study in your state?
- How do we show our programs have an impact?
NAAE will be working with other ag ed partners to capture responses to these, and other questions dealing with Perkins reauthorization. If you have comments related to what is working well in the current Perkins bill, what’s not working well in the current bill, and what should be added to the next iteration of the Perkins bill, please send your comments to NAAE.
Farm Bill Reauthorization
2012 will mostly bring in a renewed interest and commitment on the part of Congress to reauthorize the Farm bill. Given the state of the economy, the federal deficit, budget, and other considerations, this upcoming farm bill will likely reflect a lot of change from previous bills. The discussions, deliberations, and decisions that are being made by the Super Committee will most likely result a greatly reduced fiscal baseline than previous legislation. As a result many longstanding and traditional programs as well as newly initiated programs will be evaluated, scrutinized, and possibly eliminated if not substantially changed.
Historically, there has not been a lot of involvement or dependency of agricultural education on programs within the farm bill. Over the past 10-15 years, however, specific mentions of school-based agricultural education/FFA have begun to appear. The Secondary and 2-Year Postsecondary Ag Ed Challenge (SPECA) grants program and Rural Youth Development (RYD) grants have provided resources that provide support and benefit to our programs. Going forward we see three primary areas of opportunity and priority, as follows:
- Reauthorization of existing support programs such as SPECA and RYD grants. The SPECA grants provide grants to local programs or consortia for program improvement, enhancement or initiation. The support from these grants provide funding to update curriculum, expand or introduce career pathways in AFNR, or secure supplemental resources that address the needs the local program in meeting the needs of students and career opportunities within the local community.
- Insertion and inclusion of school-based agricultural education where relevant and applicable. Contained within the farm bill are descriptions of several hundred if not thousands of programs that provide support for specific initiatives and challenges facing agriculture. Our goals would be to identify as many of these as possible and see if we can get school-based agricultural education entities, organizations or local programs inserted into the list of eligible and/or intended recipients. If we can do this it could increase the availability of funding as well as elevate school-based agricultural education as a more legitimate means of delivery. Many opportunities exist within the Research and Education title but there are also opportunities across other titles such as Rural Development, Conservation and programs such as Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development.
- Specific program requests around agricultural teacher recruitment and development. One of the most critical needs facing school-based agricultural education is the challenge of recruiting and preparing agricultural education teachers. We would like to position this with policy makers as a way to address bringing more young people into production agriculture and related careers as well as addressing the growing need to develop greater agricultural literacy across the United States.
Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act of 2011
In mid-October, Senator Tom Harkin (IA) introduced the long anticipated Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act of 2011. According to Harkin, the bill will set high expectations for all children to graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills needed for success in college and careers, support teachers and principals to help them provide high quality instruction, ensure disadvantaged students get their fair share of resources, focus federal attention on turning around low-performing schools and closing achievement gaps, and remove federal barriers to give states and communities the flexibility they need to innovate.
The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee met on October 19 to begin markup the draft Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization bill introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (IA). The markup was threatened with delays when Senator Rand Paul (KY) objected to the committee meeting because no hearing had been held on the bill in this session of Congress (although ten hearings were held last session) and he felt there was not enough time to review the bill before the markup. On October 20, Senators Harkin and Enzi (WY) reached an agreement with Senator Paul that in exchange for dropping his objection, the committee will hold a hearing on the bill on November 8, after which the committee reported the bill by a vote of 15-7. Three Republicans, Senators Enzi, Lamar Alexander (TN) and Mark Kirk (IL), joined all Democrats in voting for the bill. Senator Harkin hopes to bring the bill to the floor for debate and a vote before Thanksgiving.