Friday, August 25, 2006

Legislative Outlook from the American School Counselor Association

Legislative Outlook
August 25, 2006
Source: The American School Counselor Association

While Congress enjoys the last days of its August Recess, we thought we
would remind you of what has-or has not-happened this year. While there
was high hopes for the passage of a number of pieces of education
legislation earlier this year, to date, only one has reached the
President's desk. This provides a summary of the status of a number of
bills important to education advocates.

Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act (Passed!)

Summary: The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education
Act(Perkins) provides federal assistance for secondary and postsecondary
vocational education programs at the high school level and at technical
postsecondary and community colleges. A series of bills intended for
this same purpose date as far back as 1917, but Perkins was originally
passed in
1984 and most recently reauthorized in 1998.

Reauthorization status:
* House - The Vocational and Technical Education for the Future Act

(H.R. 366) was passed by the House on May 4 (416-9).
* Senate - The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education
Improvement Act of 2005 (S.250) was passed by the Senate on March 10
Passed conference committee; signed by President Bush on August 12.

Higher Education Act

Summary: The Higher Education Act (HEA) authorizes the federal
government's major student financial aid programs; services to help
students complete high school and enter and succeed in postsecondary
institutions; aid to institutions; and aid to improve K-12 teacher
training at postsecondary institutions. Ninety five percent of the
funding is disbursed through Title IV - aid to students. Initially
passed in 1965 and last reauthorized in 1998, the Higher Education Act
is on the legislative calendar in both chambers of Congress to be
reauthorized through FY 2008.

In February of this year, the "Higher Education Reconciliation Act" was
passed and enacted as part of larger deficit reduction legislation.
This law, PL 109-171, includes those provisions of the original
reauthorization proposals that cost or spend money-basically, changes to
the federal student aid programs found in Title IV of the Higher
Education Act were enacted via this bill. These provisions resulted in
a number of changes to the federal student aid programs, and created two
new programs-the American Competitiveness and National Science and
Mathematics Access to Retain Talent grant (ACG and SMART Grant)
programs. Despite this action, the Act has yet to be reauthorized in a
comprehensive manner.

Reauthorization status:

* Senate - The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
(HELP)Committee passed the Higher Education Amendments of 2005 (S. 1614)
on September 8, 2005. S. 1614 was later included as part of S. 1932,
the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, but the majority of it was stripped
in conference with the House. Senate HELP Committee Chairman Mike Enzi
(R-WY) has said he would like to see S. 1614 on the floor of the Senate
before the close of the 109th Congress, but it seems unlikely.
* House - The College Access and Opportunity Act (H.R. 609) was
passed by the House on March 30 (221-199). Pending Senate floor action.

Head Start

Summary: Head Start, established in 1965, is a comprehensive child
development and early education program for low-income children, ages
birth to five years old, and their families. The goal of Head Start is
to help disadvantaged children become better prepared to succeed in
school and in life. It also provides an array of comprehensive services
such as health screenings (including mental health) and services;
nutrition; dental and vision services; and extensive parental
involvement and education to the families of low-income children. The
program currently serves over 900,000 children and families annually.

Reauthorization status:

* House - The School Readiness Act of 2005 (H.R. 2123) was passed
the House on September 22 (231-184).
* Senate - The Head Start Improvements for School Readiness Act
(S.1107) was passed unanimously by the Health, Education, Labor, and
Pensions (HELP) Committee on May 25.Pending Senate floor action.

Workforce Investment Act

Summary: The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) authorizes the federal
government's primary programs for preparing the nation's workforce. As
part of its goal to create a seamless workforce development system for
workers and employers, WIA created one-stop career centers where
job-seekers have access to labor market information, job counseling and
job training to help them get back on their feet.

Reauthorization status:
* House - The Job Training Improvement Act (H.R. 27) was passed by
House on March 2 (224-200).
* Senate - Workforce Investment Act Amendments of 2005 (H.R.
27-while utilizing the House bill number, the Senate bill was a unique
bill and not a mirror image of the House) was passed by the Senate on
June 29 by unanimous consent.Pending conference.

Articles of Interest
The Washington Post (08/22/06). The Future of D.C. Public Schools:
Traditional or Charter Education?

The New York Times (08/22/06). "Study of Test Scores Finds Charter

The Washington Post (08/21/06). "Butterflies Abound as First-Year
Await Day One."

The Washington Post (08/06/06). "Class Questions."

The Los Angeles Times (08/25/06). "Bush Administration Opposes

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