UPDATES TO PREVIOUS BILLS
S. 3395 – Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act
Action: Introduced in Senate on 8/28/18, referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The bill passed this committee on 9/5/18 and will move on to a vote in the House.
S.3393 – Council on Rural Community Innovation and Economic Development Act of 2018
Sponsor: Sen. Catherine Corte Masto (D-NV)
Co-Sponsor: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
Synopsis: This bill creates a standing Council on Rural Community Innovation and Economic Development that would work across executive departments, agencies and offices to streamline the work of agencies and programs that specifically work to support rural communities. This council would work to maximize the impact of federal investments and promote economic prosperity and quality of life in those communities and encourage the use of innovative technologies that resolve local and regional challenges.
S.3408 – Reaching English Learners Act
Sponsor: Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Co-Sponsor: Sens. Kirsten Gillibran (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Related Bill: H.R. 4838
Synopsis: The Reaching English Learners Act would create a grant program for colleges and universities under Title II Part B of the Higher Education Act to support the development of teacher preparation programs that train future teachers to instruct English learners (ELs). To secure a grant, higher education institutions would be required to partner with local education agencies to build or strengthen teaching programs that provide qualified teacher candidates with skills related to:
Helping ELs in prekindergarten, elementary, and secondary school programs:
(1) achieve at high academic levels and meet state standards adopted under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); and
(2) attain English proficiency;
Recognizing and addressing the social and emotional needs of ELs;
Appropriately identifying and instructing ELs with disabilities; and
Promoting parental, family, and community engagement in EL educational programs.
Actions: On 9/5/18, read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Sponsor Comments: “Ten percent of public school students in the United States are English learners. That means 10 percent of public school students face a language gap that puts them at risk of falling behind academically,” said Cortez Masto. “I’ve introduced this bill to address the critical English language teacher shortage and help make sure that English learners have the resources they need to learn on equal footing with their peers.”
Jessica’s Take: Cortez Masto developed this bill after a conversation with a Washoe County School District teacher enlightened her about the challenges facing EL teachers in the district. Under ESSA, schools are compelled to advance equity among our nation’s students by ensuring protections for disadvantaged or high-need youth. ELs, as Cortez Masto soon discovered, are disadvantaged and of high need. Five million students in U.S. public schools—or one in 10 students—are ELs, which are defined under ESSA as students between the ages of three and 21 who encounter barriers to academic success due to difficulty speaking, reading, writing, or understanding English. Teaching ELs requires a specific and unique set of teaching skills, and the number of qualified EL teachers is desperately low, with 32 states reporting shortages. This means that thousands of schools across the country cannot meet the basic academic needs of ELs.
A report from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education reveals that the majors students select don’t often align with what schools actually need in terms of personnel, while ELs comprise roughly 10 percent of the K-12 public school population. And a 2017 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report found that teachers who work with English-learners are often underprepared.
The Reaching English Learners Act would provide grants to colleges and universities so that they could offer work-based learning opportunities to aspiring EL teacher and provide the necessary coursework for teacher candidates to qualify for EL teaching certifications. These grant recipients would also need to submit reports on the effectiveness of the EL teaching program to the Department of Education. The act has received endorsements from the Hispanic Associations of Colleges and Universities (HACU), the Joint Committee for Languages (JCL), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), and the TESOL International Association. A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), and it has bipartisan support.
Despite the unanimously Democratic sponsorship of this bill, its bipartisan support in the House and strong emphasis on immigration reform might bode well for its passage. Nonetheless, paying the schools to provide this vital training doesn’t necessarily equate to college students deciding to go into this particular line of work. Marketing and promotions of EL teaching might just be the next funding need.
S.AMDT.3825 – to S.AMDT.3695: To provide for the conduct of a study on the relationship between intimate partner violence and traumatic brain injury.
Sponsor: Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Co-sponsors: Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Dean Heller (R-NV)
Synopsis: This amendment would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on federal efforts to study the impact of traumatic brain injuries among victims of domestic violence, as well as issue recommendations on how to improve public education and provide better treatment for survivors.
Actions: On 8/23/18, Senate Amendment 3825 was proposed by Sen. McConnell for Sen. Cortez Masto as an amendment to S.A.3695, to provide for a study to be conducted on the relationship between intimate partner violence and traumatic brain injury. S.A. 3825 was passed in Senate by unanimous consent.
Sponsor Comments: “Since my time as Nevada’s Attorney General, I have fought to ensure that victims of domestic violence receive the support, treatment, and resources they need. In Las Vegas, one in three women have been affected by domestic violence. I am proud that my bipartisan amendment to research the link between domestic violence and traumatic brain injuries was passed,” said Cortez Masto in a press release. “This legislation will help ensure that we have the data necessary to identify potential brain damage in survivors of abuse and help them heal and recover.”
Jessica’s Take: In May 2018, National Public Radio (NPR) published a report examining the evidence of links between intimate partner violence and traumatic brain injuries. Some estimates suggest that 20 million victims of domestic violence each year could suffer traumatic head injuries. Some researchers suggest these injuries may be comparable to pro athletes who receive numerous, sustained blows to the head. However, there are few studies on the strength of the relationship or the total number of people impacted by this issue. This amendment, passed with unanimous, bipartisan support, will enable these studies to take place, helping to pave the way for further legislation to combat domestic abuse, protect its survivors, and bring its perpetrators to justice.
H.R.6791 – Cyber Ready Workforce Act
Sponsor: Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
Co-sponsors: Reps. Daniel Donovan (R-NY), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Set Moulton (D-MA)
Synopsis: The Cyber Ready Workforce Act would establish a grant program within the Department of Labor whereby the Secretary of Labor shall award grants, on a competitive basis, to workforce intermediaries, to support the creation, implementation, and expansion of registered apprenticeship programs in cybersecurity. Support services provided to apprentices may include career counseling, mentorship, and assistance with transportation, housing, and child care costs.
Action: On 9/12/18, introduced in House and referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Sponsor Comments: “The demand for talent in cybersecurity is sky-high, and we’re putting ourselves at risk if we don’t address this shortage in our workforce,” said Rosen in a press release. “I’m committed to ensuring that businesses and government have the skilled people and critical tools they need to enhance our nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure, help industry thrive, and strengthen our national security. Everything we do in today’s economy is shaped by technology, and I will continue to work with my House colleagues to ensure our families and communities are better protected against cyber threats.”
Jessica’s Take: The statistics on cybercrime rates are terrifying. Globally, it was the second most reported crime in 2016, and the average cybercriminal resides on a network for 146 days — 40 percent of the year —before being detected. The U.S. had the most data breaches of any other country in 2016, by a large margin, and data breaches are increasingly the norm, not the exception.
So who can help resolve these crimes and bring these criminals to justice? Well, that’s the problem. Recent estimates say that there will be as many as 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions in the industry by 2021. And a 2017 Global Information Security Workforce study says that two-thirds organizations lack the cybersecurity personnel needed to address this growing threat.
Apprenticeships are shown to help address workforce shortages and create pathways to high-paying jobs, but many employers don’t know how to integrate an apprenticeship model into their workplaces or have the resources to implement them. That’s where this bill comes in. This bill establishes grants that would enable employers to fund apprenticeships and even the necessary support resources — child care, transportation and even housing costs — to maintain these apprenticeships that would prepare needed professionals for cyber security positions.
Jacky Rosen has established herself as the tech-friendly representative in Congress, having posed a number of bills aimed at promoting tech jobs and tech company growth, which may help to distance her from her senatorial race opponent, the “old-guard” Dean Heller. The Learning Center and CompTIA have given their endorsement to this bill.